Homemade {Skinny} Pumpkin Spice Latte

“Well, hello, flavors of fall…..”

This time of year, a little bit of fall has been sprinkled into everything.. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, pumpkin patches await, and the flavors of fall await, from breads, cookies & hot morning (or afternoon) drinks.  I love a good pumpkin spice latte.  So I figured, why not try my hand at making my own at home and I did.  And it turned out DELICIOUS!  And now I want to share it with YOU!

Please note: This recipe was for one serving of latte but you can double or triple it to make as many servings as you would like. 🙂

It starts out with a little bit of almond milk.   We usually keep almond milk on hand, and it’s one of my main go-to’s as an alternative for regular milk, calorie wise.  So to make this a “skinny” latte (meaning less calories) I thought that it would be great.

Then I added just a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

If you mean business with your vanilla then you will:

(1) Use pure and not imitation extract and

(2) You might even use something like this, that I found at Trader Joes.  I like it because the flavor is bold and you can taste the difference when added to your recipes.

A dash of nutmeg.

We can’t have a fall-themed warm & cozy treat without nutmeg.  You just can’t..

One tablespoon of canned pumpkin puree.  This is two 1/2 tablespoons, in the picture below.

And 1/8 cup of sugar.  You can adjust the amount or type of sugar if you’d like.  Agave, maple, honey, brown sugar, or sugar in the raw also sound like great options.

And stir, with a whisk.  You want your pumpkin to be completely blended in to your milk mixture.  Remember, this is a latte, and a latte usually means a steamed milk.  So we’re going to cook this pumpkin in while it’s steeping with the milk.  So that we have a nice, smooth, well-blended pumpkin spiced latte.

Once it’s fully blended we will turn on the heat.  You’ll want to continue the stir this over medium high heat in your saucepan for about 7 minutes.

Once that’s done, add it to your favorite mug, top with whipped cream and some cute sprinkles and you’re good to go.

 

Now to make sure that this treat, truly was “skinny”, I used this fat-free whipped cream:

So what yummy treats are you loving this fall?  Are you going to try to make any at home?

homemade {skinny} pumpkin spice latte

(Makes 1 serving)

3/4 cup of almond milk

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

a pinch of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon of pumpkin puree

1/8 cup of sugar (substitute amount or type of sweetener for your liking)

Directions

In a small saucepan, add almond milk, vanilla, nutmeg, pumpkin, sugar and stir.  Stir with a whisk until all of your ingredients are fully blended and there are no visible clumps of pumpkin puree left.

Over medium high heat, continue to stir for 5-7 minutes until the mixture has come to a light boil and starts to steam.  Remove from heat and pour into a mug of your choice.  Top with whipped cream & garnish with your favorite seasonal sprinkles.  Enjoy!

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Glazed Donuts

It’s time to make the donuts! 

I’ve been itching at the chance to make some delicious baked homemade donuts this fall.  It’s been a while since I’ve made any donuts & since we’re still in the middle of “pumpkin spice everything” I thought, what better type of homemade donuts to make then, pumpkin spice donuts?!

Who can resist anything pumpkin during fall, right?

* This post may contain affiliate links.  See side bar for full disclosure. *

In a large mixing bowl, I combined all of my dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder & pumpkin pie spice) until completely smooth.

Then I added all of my wet ingredients (the eggs, the oil, & the vanilla) along with pumpkin.

 

I mixed until completely smooth & then set it aside and got my donut baking pan ready.

 

After I sprayed my donut pan with a generous dose of non-stick pan spray, I filled each section 3/4 of the way with my pumpkin batter.  Here is the pan that I used.

A gave them a gently shake and tap on the counter to even them out and then baked them in a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes.

Part-way through (at about 12 mins) I couldn’t resist, I had to peak just to make sure that they were coming along okay.

After 18 minutes I removed them from the oven and let them set for about 6 to 10 minutes while I made the dipping glaze.

(I set them out on my baking rack after ten minutes, to allow them to cool & to get them ready for the glaze).

I melted 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, and 2 cups of powdered sugar & whisked until smooth.

One at a time, I dipped them in the glaze, and some I drizzled over.

I added a mix of toppings, from top left – plain pumpkin spice glaze, glaze and white sprinkles, glaze with half gold sugar/ half clear crystal sugar.  Bottom left: mini chocolate chip, glaze striped, and pumpkin spice glaze pecan.

This by far, is my favorite thing that I have made all fall!

pumpkin spice glazed donuts

Dry Ingredients
1 3/4 cup + two tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salts
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

Wet Ingredients
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (almost all of one 12 oz. can)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Glaze
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

directions

In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and pumpkin pie spice) until fully combined.  Add in the egg, oil, and canned pumpkin.  Stir until fully blended.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Fill cavities 3/4 of the way with pumpkin batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and then remove from pan.  Set on a baking rack to cool.  Place parchment paper underneath the baking rack to prepare for glazing and toppings.

To make the glaze:

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter until boiling.  Add the pumpkin pie spice.  Remove from heat.  Wait 2-3 minutes and then add the heavy whipping cream, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool 5 minutes, then add the powdered sugar, stirring constantly.  When the top of the glaze is cool to the touch, begin to dip or drizzle over donuts.  Enjoy!

 

 

4th of July Red {Mint} Blue Punch

This 4th of July, I’ve come up with something fresh delicious & practically takes no time to make for your 4th July gatherings.  It’s my Red, {Mint} & Blue 4th of July punch.

 

 

Start with 2 cups of boiled water in a pourable, heat safe container.

Add one teaspoon of Wilton Royal Blue gel food coloring.  Add it to the hot water and stir to let it dissolve & cool to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, you’ll need one of these star ice cube trays that I found for less than $1.50 at Walmart or you could also use a standard ice tray.  In the end, it’s the same effect.  The blue ice lends the blue color to the punch whether you use stars or not.  (I thought that the stars were cute).

 

Pour the cooled blue water carefully into the ice tray as best you can.  You will only need one batch of ice cubes.

In a large half gallon water pitcher, squeeze the juice of 4 limes & add two cups of granulated sugar.

Stir to dissolve the lime juice and sugar & fill the pitcher 3/4 of the way full with filtered water.

Add in your blue ice cubes and slices of fresh strawberries.

Here’s a little tip: To keep my strawberry slices from turning to mush in my punch, I sliced them up the night before and put them in the freezer until I was ready for them.

Add in a handful of fresh mint leaves & your done!

 

 

So what are you bringing to the 4th of July picnic this year?

The Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

A homemade pie crust – one that is made from scratch, and by you (not your mother, or your grandmother, your husband, one of your kids, your neighbor or your aunt) can seem like a daunting task.  It’s certainly easier (but far less rewarding) to just buy one from the store.

I have finally found a recipe that I can follow, that’s not crushed graham cracker crumbs or cookies of some sort.  I mean, a real McCoy, 100% legit, Martha-Stewart-I-see- you, type of a pie crust.  Finally, this is it!

My grandmother had shared her pie crust-making secrets with me years ago.  Truth be known- I never bothered to follow her specific instructions until now.

“Meeka,” she’d say, “You’ve got to make sure that your butter is cold, and the other ingredients are room temperature (like your flour, sugar, etc.)” and “You have to be sure and use ice water.”

Ice water.

Okay, that sounds simple enough.  This should be easy to follow.  Right?  Ice water seems easy enough to come by.   Unless, you choose to translate the term, “ice water” into “lukewarm water” or at best, “cold water straight out of the tap.”  It should produce the same results, right?  Not.

Even with the clearest of instructions, I have never once followed her recipe to a “T”.   Consequently, my pie crusts have never turned out just right.  They have never been anything that I could be proud of.  I have always wanted a 100% homemade pie from start to finish.  And now, I have finally, finally found the crust recipe, that I have been looking for!

Homemade Pie Crust Recipe

(This recipe makes one pie crust)

1 1/4 all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of cold butter (cut into cubes)

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 of ice water

Directions:

Starting with very cold butter, cut the butter into cubes.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add in all of the cubed butter, and begin to blend with a pastry blender, until crumbly.

Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time.  *Note: This should be ice water, and not room temperature water, nor the coldest water that you can manage to get from the tap.

Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to mix with the pastry blender gently.  Add enough water until the mixture begins to form into a dough.

 

Once the dough begins to stick to the pastry blender, scrape all of it off and back into the bowl, with a fork and then scoop everything into a gallon size ziplock bag.   This is my little trick to keep my hands clean while having full control over kneading the dough.  Additionally, I don’t mind the kids helping me to make the dough, nor do I have to worry about the cleanliness of their hands when they’re kneading the dough on the outside of the bag.  #momwin #bakerwin

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes and then flatten into a disc.

Firm up the edges, for a perfectly round disc-should you prefer.  And then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

I doubled the recipe and made two pie crusts, hence why I had extra flour & butter when I began to mix with my pastry mixer.

After 2 hours, remove the dough from plastic and place it on a floured surface, flour the top of the disc, and begin to roll out with your rolling pin.

If you’re fancy enough, roll the flattened dough up around your rolling pin and then unroll it on to your pie plate.  (I did not do that with this one, but did it with my top crust).

Crimp around the edges of the pie crust using about a finger spacing in between.

Line the unbaked pie shell with aluminum foil and then fill with dry uncooked beans.  This will help your pie shell not to fill with air bubbles while it bakes.

Bake on 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and your ready to go.  See?  Now that wasn’t so bad after all.

Will you try this recipe?  Maybe even get it under your belt before the holidays?  I want to hear from you.  Drop me a comment below or email me at: thingsshemakes@gmail.com

 

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream

This homemade knock-off ice cream recipe is a delicious & affordable treat that you can make at home, to enjoy this summer.

One of my very favorite things to make during the summer is delicious homemade ice cream.  My kids love when I take them out for a nice cold treat when it’s hot out, but I thought, how much better to get them involved in the process in making their own delicious treat?

The steps to making this particular recipe is simple and starts with one of my favorite appliances, my Cuisinart ICE-20 Automatic 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker, White

Which clearly, needs the outer cover to be replace, because I’ve used this thing quite a bit (since 2002).  So, it’s seen a few days of homemade ice cream recipes & then some.

I found this particular brand of ice cream at the local Publix supermarket & loved it!  It had a subtle coconut flavor and itty-bits of fresh coconut texture.

Since I had most of the ingredients on hand.  I decided to go for it.  The only thing that I needed to make this recipe happen was heavy whipping cream.

So with that here we go.

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1/4 cup of whole milk

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

A churn style ice-cream maker (with an ice cold freezer basket)

In a large mixing bowl, combine, heavy cream, coconut flakes and sugar until fully blended.

In a separate bowl blend plain yogurt and milk until smooth.

Combine milk & yogurt mixture to coconut and cream mixture and fully blend.

Once, you’ve got that done, begin setting up your ice cream maker.

*Note: After each time we use our ice cream maker, I wash out the inner basket, dry it completely and place in a plastic bag, back in the freezer.  

The purpose of placing in the plastic bag is so that nothing gets inside of it.  And the purpose of keeping it in the freezer even when you have no upcoming plans of using it, is so that when you are ready to whip up a batch of ice cream, you’re good to go, without waiting a day or two for the basket to freeze.

After your ice cream machine is all set up, another little trick that I’ve learned is to pour the cream mixture in without the final lid being on.  So, pour the mixture in before you place the lid on it.  I have always put the final lid on like a cap and then have had to come back to clean mix off of the edges and sides of it.  Now, I realize that I could have skipped that clean up step all-together.

Since your basket is already frozen, this should take no more than 20-30 minutes.  If your basket is not frozen solid and just cold, your ice cream may never fully form.  Even putting that liquid into the freezer as is, will not turn it into full-on, ice cream.

Because we added plain yogurt to this, the texture is extra creamy and the little bits of the Trader Joe’s coconut flakes makes the texture of this, just that much more awesome!

I may or may not have been taking little samples from this batch before my ice cream was even done.

The bonus for me was that I kept the container from the previous “store” batch for this, and reused it once my ice cream was through.

This was simply delicious.

Will you try this?  I hope that you try this.

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1/4 cup of whole milk

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

A churn style ice-cream maker (with an ice cold freezer basket)

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, granulated sugar, and coconut flakes until completely blended.

In a separate and smaller bowl, combine plain yogurt and milk until smooth.

Add yogurt mixture to coconut cream mixture and completely combine.

Set up ice cream machine, complete with completely frozen freezer basket.

Before attaching the cover/lid, pour cream mixture into the basket, and then set cover/lid in place on top.

Hit the “on” button to churn mixture for 20-30 minutes or until completely thick and creamy.  After 30 minutes, ice cream should be set.  Use a large metal spoon or wooden spatula to serve ice cream immediately or store in an airtight container in your freezer until you’re ready to eat.

Enjoy!

 

Garden-To-Table Cooking with American Girl

The girls and I had a wonderful day, whipping up some recipes at Williams Sonoma from the American Girl Doll, Garden-to-Table Cookbook.

 

They were preparing two recipes: one was a mixed berry cobbler and the other we’re vegetarian roll-ups.

They had a lot of fun taking turns, using the different equipment, slicing and prepping the fresh produce.

I love seeing them in action making their own creations & to see their pride in their accomplishments.

This cookbook is also one that balances basic cooking skills as well as hands on recipes that the girls will enjoy creating time & time again.

I found myself gazing the equally beautiful tablescapes laid out through out the store.  I love that this one incorporates the newly popular (faux) succulents as accents for the decor.

I’m so glad that we got to try out some new & fun recipes and that we had a little Mommy & me time today!

Frozen Corn Treats for Your Chickens

I loved this idea that I found on how to make your very own frozen corn treats for your feathered-kind.  I know all too well, that our chickens can easily overheat or dehydrate if not careful during the summer months in the South.  So this idea, was just perfect for us & simple too!

Ingredients/Supplies:

1 15 ounce can of kernel corn

a large tablespoon

a muffin pan

Directions:

(1) With a large tablespoon, equally divide the corn into each of the cavities in the muffin pan.

(2) Double back with the liquid and evenly divide it among corn.

(3) Freeze for 3 hours or until frozen solid.

(4) Allow 5-10 minutes to thaw before trying to serve the chickens.  This allows the edge of the ice to melt just enough for you to fit a butter knife in an lift the frozen corn cupcakes out.

 

*Notes: This can also be done with an ice tray or with a silicon muffin pan to make for easy removal.

I hope that your chickens will enjoy.  I know that mine will come the 90+ degree weather that is in the forecast for today.

My Giant Samoa Cookie

I made this version of a giant Samoa cookie for our Girl Scout End Year Celebration last year & have made it again, this year.  Now, I  want to share it with you!

Giant Samoa Cookie

Ingredients:

Cookie Base-

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Samoa Topping-

  • 3 cups shredded coconut, sweetened

  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted

  • 425 grams soft caramels

  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

  2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Watch the video here to get a visual of this technique.

  1. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch-thick. Use a bowl or plate to cut it into a large circle (make sure it will fit on your baking sheet!). Transfer the circle to a sheet of parchment paper, then place on a baking sheet. Slice a smaller circle out of the center to create a ring. Prick the surface with a fork, then bake at 325F for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Cool completely on the baking sheet.

  1. Evenly sprinkle the shredded coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, until the coconut is toasted. Set aside.

  1. Spread about half of the melted chocolate onto the underside of the shortbread cookie, completely covering the base. Transfer the cookie to the freezer or fridge for the chocolate to set, while you make the topping.Place the soft caramels, milk and salt in a pot and set to medium heat. Stir constantly until the caramel has completely melted. Pour the caramel into a bowl with the toasted coconut, reserving about 1/3 cup of caramel. Mix the coconut and caramel mixture together.

  1. Spread the remaining caramel onto the non-chocolate side of the shortbread cookie. Generously spoon the coconut caramel mixture on top. Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate on top of the coconut. Enjoy!

So that’s it!  These are all pics from my very own creations.  All of the pictures in this post were from this year & last.    I hope that you enjoy & that you make it for your next Girl Scout celebration!

 

 

Sweet Cream Cookies

I love making homemade cookies.  Each year, usually around Christmas, Thanksgiving or holidays (or anytime), I break out a batch of cookies & every now and again, I hit on a favorite.  THIS particular cookie has been a real favorite of the ones that I’ve made for my own family & relatives alike.

I call it my Sweet Cream Cookie because although the originally recipe says that it’s “Stawberries & Cream”, I have used so many different varieties of fruit fillings to fill the center with.

 

I’ve done these cookies with guava, blackberry, strawberry, apricot, blueberry, and lime.  They’re absolutely delicious with whatever fruit flavored filling, you fill them with.

Where did I get the original recipe?  From this Cookie Magazine here:

It was one of those $9.99 magazines that you see at the checkout counter that actually looks different from the rest, and I don’t mean in just the content.

It’s the quality of the cover & the quality of the image of the recipe.  And if you’re used to cooking & baking, then you can sometimes just look at the cover image that’s on the magazine & know that the recipes that are inside are going to be GREAT.  Then, you’ll usually look down to check the price of said cover and it’s, oh, $9.99 or $10.99….and in this case, totally worth it! 

 

I have been making cookie recipes out of this magazine for almost ten years (since 2009)!  And, I love them every time.  There are old favorites that are tried and true to my repertoire and this is one of them.

You start this cookie, just like you would any rich & buttery cookie, with butter and cream cheese.  And then it all goes uphill from there!

 

My dad asked me to make this cookie the other day, so I wanted to start out with a new variety of flavors. First I went with the recipe original,

which is strawberry, and then I added the apricot jelly to it, and last but not least, I got lucky at the new LIDL’s by us and found this nice blueberry jelly.

You don’t often see blueberry jellies or jams sold in stores.  I don’t ever have a problem finding strawberry, blackberry, grape or apricot, but when I can find something like peach or blueberry, I grab it!

I made a single batch of this recipe (which yields about 5 dozen cookies–that’s if you don’t eat the batter along the way, lol!)

I grabbed my cookie containers for $1/each from the Dollar Tree (and that includes the top and the bottom of the container), and I made one to send to a friend & one to my dad.

They were absolutely delicious!

 

~Chemeeka