Trick or Treat: Caramel Apple Cocktails

Happy Halloween!

Things are a little different this year without the kids at home for this fun holiday. Trick or Treating went by the wayside years ago, but you’re never too old for a bonfire or holiday themed food with teenagers.

But here we are; our first empty nest Halloween!

And Audley and I plan to treat ourselves!

One of my favorite fall highlights is apple season. This year I didn’t get to pick my own, but I still made a trip up to my favorite north Alabama orchard with Momma. Crow Mountain really has the best apples!! It’s always fun to decide how to use them, and this year I changed it up from dessert to a delectable and over-21 grown-up Halloween treat ….

Caramel Apple Cocktails

The ingredient list is short: large apples (I love a Granny Smith) that you’ve hollowed into a “glass”, melted caramel to rim your apples, apple cider (try to find local), Crown Royal Vanilla, Ellington Reserve Salted Caramel Whisky (use airplane bottles), and brown sugar.

Wash and dry your apples, then slice the tops off and hollow out the inside of the apple. Don’t go all the way to the bottom or your cocktail “glass” will leak. I used a spoon for hollowing out the apple.

Rim the edge of your apple with melted caramel. Since you will be working around juicy apples, this works best when spooned around the edge. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Also sprinkle a little brown sugar inside the apple.

To mix the cocktail (for 2) heat 5 ounces of apple cider, then add 1.5 ounces of the caramel apple whisky, 1 ounce vanilla Crown, and stir. Pour into the apples you’ve made into glasses.

Pour into the apple glasses, garnish with a cinnamon stick and enjoy!

These take just a few minutes to prepare; keeping you in a Halloween frame of mind while toasting an empty nest!

And don’t waste your apple! When you’ve finished your drink, slice the apple to eat for a spiked caramel apple treat!

Make Your Own Pumpkin Cream Coffee

I absolutely love coffee.

Savoring a large cup or two in the quiet morning hours has become a necessary and important part of my daily routine. There are mornings I even wake up early to make sure I have this coffee time before we have places to be, including Sunday mornings before worship.

I’m also quite fond of pumpkin spice season at Starbucks. That first sip of pumpkin cream cold brew is the highlight of September 1 each year and I relish each cup throughout the fall. Living just outside Atlanta I don’t go out for just coffee though, unless I have plans. With the kiddos grown there isn’t as much running around going on. Besides paying $5 for coffee every time I go out the door definitely adds up.

But, I still want to enjoy pumpkin spice during this fall season.

So I’ve come up with my own “copycat” recipe to enjoy at home or on the go.

It’s super easy to make and fits in our budget much better. The best part of all is it is delicious on hot as well as iced coffee!

The ingredients for the cream topping are simple: You’ll need heavy whipping cream, pumpkin purée (homemade is best so that you are getting actual pumpkin & not a “squash mixture”), brown sugar and of course pumpkin spice.

This works best made in small batches; in other words, coffee for one.

For one cup of 8 ounce coffee, using a frother whisk a 1/4 cup cream, 1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin purée, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, a one pinch pumpkin spice. This should be slightly thickened and easily pourable. This is how your coffee is sweetened and needs to drift to the bottom some.

Pour your hot coffee into a mug. Then top with the cream. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice and enjoy alone or with a friend if you must.

BTW, this is really delicious when made with vanilla coffee.

The iced coffee is similarly assembled; add ice and 8 ounces of coffee, then pour the pumpkin cream over the top. Give it a quick stir to help the cream drop.

Just a couple of quick notes:

First, don’t over spice the top. It should be very subtle & when drinking you DO NOT want to inhale or sip pure pumpkin pie spice! Second, there is a reason Starbucks doesn’t give you a straw for your ICED pumpkin cream coffee … if you sip through a straw you only get a mouthful of Cold. Black coffee. If you drink from the top, you will relish the rich pumpkin cream with each sip.

Learn from my mistakes people.

And enjoy your coffee.

A Girl’s Day & Honey Lavender Chicken

After months of being cooped up and feeling disconnected from friends and family, it’s wonderful to be somewhat social again! Earlier this week my sweet friend Tammie came over for some much needed girls time and chit chat. Keeping in touch by phone and text is one thing, but actual person to person conversations …. they can’t be beat!

Tammie and I both love to cook, so when we get together for lunch, we always try to come up with something delicious and different. We both have May birthdays, so we always try to get together, even though it’s a little later this year! Yesterday wasn’t any different. I set the table, planned out a yummy and seasonal menu that left us stuffed as we sat on the porch talking.

And we had so much to talk about.

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I wanted a menu that was local and seasonal as well as delicious. Hopefully that was accomplished! Lavender Honey Chicken sounds fancy, but honestly it was so easy!

For the dish you need a whole chicken (local and fresh is best), butter, dried lavender flowers (in season right now, so try out drying your own), fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, local honey, and balsamic vinegar.

You will prepare your chicken using butter, salt and pepper, then begin roasting in the oven at 375°. You’ll mix your lavender honey glaze using the remaining ingredients on the stove top and about 20 minutes into roasting you’ll baste the bird every 5 minutes or so until it’s cooked through. A thermometer should be at 165° when inserted by the bone.

I’ll have a link to the full, printable recipe below.

Serve with seasonal veggies for a lovely meal.

I roasted red potatoes with the chicken. I also added green beans, a salad made with fresh picked strawberries and Georgia pecans and rolls.

Here’s the full recipe for Lavender Honey Chicken

Tammie gifted me with a set of beautiful honey bee glasses from Williams Sonoma. They were a perfect finishing touch to our simply set table.

Tammie and I really enjoyed a beautiful afternoon. We had so much to catch up on, and yes, we talked about current events. You don’t see the world through one set of eyes, you have to open your heart and mind to see the world as others see it as well. You need to have empathy and understanding, not assumptions and judgement. Life is not the same for everyone. Our sons are the same age, but even with Bradley in the military I do not have the worry she does over her own son every single day.

Life should not be that way.

Politically I am more conservative than Tammie, but we don’t let that divide us either. It’s never affected our friendship and we talk about it, respecting each other’s opinions. We’ve known each other for so many years and I’m very thankful to have this beautiful, big-hearted soul as a dear friend!

I pray daily that compassion and understanding will replace anger and assumptions creating a more united humankind.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

Have a good weekend my friends.

Bring the Coast Home with a Low Country Boil

So you want to go to the coast , but it’s not really doable right now?

How about bringing the coast home to you by throwing a southern low country boil?!

This is exactly what Audley & I did last weekend with Jonathan & Madeline. We set the mood, incorporated just a little themed decor & enjoyed a lovely night in.

I just love seafood, so a low country boil is one of my favorite ways to serve it up. Plus it’s so easy to pull together as you can make it as fancy or simple as you like! While dining outside is preferable, you can always bring this taste of the southern coast indoors. The best part of preparing a low country boil is it’s a one pot deal!

Yep, you read that correctly; one pot!

So how did we set up for our low country boil?

First, we hit up the market for fresh, coastal Georgia seafood. I love being able to support our fisherman, and nothing beats the taste of fresh seafood. If you don’t have access to locally sourced seafood you can use frozen, but try to find things that are wild caught; not farmed.

For our seafood pot we used shrimp, crab legs and littleneck clams. Sticking to tradition we also added andouille sausage, small, red potatoes and corn-on-the-cob.

The beauty of a low country boil is there is no set recipe or required ingredients! We’ve enjoyed occasions where crawfish was the main ingredient and I’ve known folks who added scallops or lobster! It’s all so delicious.

After shopping for all the ingredients, we set up a cozy little spot in the backyard. Our yard is a huge hill, so it’s not the most conducive for entertaining, but we still enjoy our time out back.

We lit up the fire pit, set up the Adirondack chairs, laid out a few blankets, decorated the table with what I call coastal Americana vibes, and hit play on our favorite playlist.

Of course a playlist is completely optional, but if you choose to have one, make it something you enjoy. For me it’s the smooth sounds of 70’s and early 80’s soft rock. About 90% of the music came out before I was old enough to establish my musical tastes, but classic Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4, Steely Dan’s Deacon Blues, Atlanta Rhythm Section’s So Into You, or Christopher Cross’s Sailing is hard to beat in 2020!

Once you have the mood set through you decor and music it’s time to boil up your seafood feast! You can do this indoors or out, over a fire or on the stovetop. The key to this dish is the seasonings & properly cooking everything. I’m all about Old Bay Seasoning or even some Zaterains seafood boil. By far, those two brands are my favorite.

There really isn’t a recipe to follow here: heat up a huge pot of water to boiling. Add several lemons you have sliced as well as the seafood boil of your choice. Add your potatoes, cooking until nearly done, then toss in the corn and sliced andouille sausage. Once those two items are cooked to your liking, add your seafood to the mix (check cooking times so you’re not overcooking your shrimp). It doesn’t take long to cook seafood at all! The entire dish should be ready to eat in under 30 minutes!

There are so many ways to serve up a Low Country boil; the most common one just dumping the cooked pot of food on newspaper. Since I was using a wooden table (not really made for outdoor use), we opted for another method of serving.

A great big serving board!

We added cocktail sauce and melted butter for dipping and our one pot dinner was a one platter delight!

Pile your plate up or eat off the tray; it doesn’t matter! Just dig in and enjoy!