This post is sponsored in conjunction with ChristmasSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the ChristmasSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.
There are two things my four-year-old is loving this season: hot chocolate and the Grinch. I combined the two for him in this fun, festive treat.
Welcome to #ChristmasSweetsWeek 2018 hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! What better way to celebrate the holidays than with food and a fun giveaway? 44 bloggers from around the country have come together to share over 180 sweet Christmas recipes!! Deck the halls and get ready for very merry sweet treats, like fudge, cookies, Christmas morning breakfasts, layer cakes, martinis, cocoa, and more! Our #ChristmasSweetsWeek sponsors are helping us give away some great prizes. Thank you so much, Sponsors, for your generosity. We have an incredible giveaway below and would love if you would take a moment to read about it and what you can win!
I received complimentary products in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.
You know what I realized this week? For the last five Thanksgivings, I’ve been nursing or pregnant (or both). Five. In a row.
Suffice it to say things have swung in the opposite direction this year and it’s making me obsess over the perfect Thanksgiving cocktail. But, as a woman who has (very recently) been there, I know I want to have a mocktail on the menu too – not only for pregnant and/or nursing crowd but also for the designated drivers, kids, and people who would just rather not have the alcohol.
We are in full Halloween mode here: decorations are up, costumes are in progress, treats have been purchased. And something I’m extra excited about this year: we’re having a trick-or treat party.
Every year while growing up, our house was home base for trick or treating friends. We’d all meet up there, my parents would order lots of pizza, and we’d spend Halloween coming and going and eating too much candy. This year, we’re having some friends over to do the same thing with our kids, and I’m totally geeking out about it.
If you’re hosting a trick or treat party – or other Halloween party – this is the perfect spooky drink to make. Leave it virgin for the kids, or spike it up with caramel vodka, vanilla vodka, or Fireball for the adults. You can make the apples ahead and mix up the punch in less than five minutes when you’re ready for it.
Carving the shrunken apple heads is the most difficult part of this, but the beauty is it’s Halloween – they can be perfectly imperfect. You can also make the faces to match the crowd – scarier faces for an older crowd while silly faces would be perfect for a preschool gathering.
We had a lot of fun with this – the kids especially got a kick out of “the faces floating in there”!
Shrunken Head Punch (a Kate’s Recipe Box original) Serves 12
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups pear nectar
4 1/2 cups ginger ale
Optional: Vanilla vodka, caramel vodka, or Fireball, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Working with one apple at a time, peel and core the apples, then cut in half. Using a paring knife or other tool, carve faces into the apple halves and dunk in the lemon juice.
Lay the carved apples on a rack over a baking sheet. When they are all carved, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 1-2 hours, until the apples appear shrunken. Remove from the oven and cool.
Combine the apple cider, pear nectar, and ginger ale in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Add the cooled apple heads, and alcohol, if desired.
Looking for more Halloween inspiration? Here you go! And check back on Thursday when we’ll have another round of Halloween goodies ready for you!
I’ve been waxing nostalgic lately about the summer before my senior year of college. I think a lot of it has to do with how easy life was then. I had cobbled together a few cushy jobs on campus – web design, the library – that were enough to pay my bills, but leave me with long weekends. I binge watched Sex and the City for the first time. Mark and I took our first real summer vacation. It was just a really laid-back time.
And why have I been thinking about that summer? Because things here have been absolute chaos for months. I was overly hopeful that things would calm down once we’re in the new house, but the universe just laughed at that. I’ll be spending this afternoon home while the plumber fixes a leak from the kids’ bathtub (which involved cutting out the ceiling below it). And calling roofers, because the roof is leaking too. And did I mention I have a bubble in my tire that needs fixing? Of course, these are only the urgent things that have popped up in the last few days — the entire to do list is SO much longer.
But, back to that easygoing summer. One of the highlights was the fruit lemonades they served at the campus café. I randomly thought of their peach lemonade the other day, and decided I needed it asap.
This is a great recreation. Roasting the peaches brings out such a great flavor for really no effort. It’s the perfect addition for a barbecue or summer brunch!
2 large peaches, halved and pitted
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups of your favorite lemonade
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil and place the peaches on skin-side down. Sprinkle the tops with sugar. Roast for 25 minutes.
Let them cool for a minute or two, then peel them (you should be able to easily pinch the skin off after roasting. Add the peaches to a food processor or blender, along with 1/4 cup lemonade. Blend until smooth and frothy. Stir into the remaining lemonade and serve.
#farmersmarketweek wraps up today! Here’s our grand finale:
I am so, so excited that True Blood is back. I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to this show. I have several True Blood tshirts and other trinkets – and got the True Blood cookbook for Christmas. Since the show takes place in the south, it’s full of classic Southern dishes. There are also a lot of cocktail recipes, as a lot of the characters work in or regularly frequent bars – and these are a lot of fun to make while watching the show.
A lot of the drinks include Tru Blood as an ingredient. HBO used to sell it – it was a specially bottled blood orange flavored soda – but it’s been discontinued. Instead, they included a recipe in the cookbook so you could make your own. It’s a little sweet to drink straight, but it’s perfect as a cocktail mixer!
Homemade “Tru Blood” (from True Blood: Eats Drinks and Bites from Bon Temps) Makes 2 1/2 cups
2 c. orange soda
3/4 c. grenadine
1/4 c. lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher and stir to combine before serving.
For me, Shamrock Shakes appearing at McDonald’s are a sign that spring is coming. By the time you hit St. Patrick’s Day, the weather around here is starting to get decent again. And by decent, I mean you probably won’t need the scarf, gloves, hat AND your car warmed up so you don’t freeze on the way to work. I’ve grabbed two so far this season and have sipped them happily dreaming of warmer weather.
Of course, Friday morning we woke up to some unexpected snow – total buzz kill. I decided another dose of the minty goodness was what I needed to shake the snow blues. Luckily, these are ridiculously easy to whip up yourself at home.
I used low-fat ice cream and low-fat milk to keep these slightly healthier and it didn’t feel like I was missing calories at all. I also opted for the more generic mint extract over peppermint extract, which a lot of the Shamrock Shake recipes call for. I think the flavor of the mint extract is closer to what you get at McDonald’s. Add on some whipped cream, a cherry and a green straw and you’ve got a perfectly festive treat.
1 1/4 c. vanilla ice cream
1/4 t. vanilla extract
2-3 drops mint extract
1/4 c. milk (plus additional if needed to thin the shake)
1 T. sugar
2-3 drops green food coloring
Whipped cream and cherry, for garnish
In a blender, combine the ice cream, vanilla extract, mint extract, milk, sugar and green food coloring. Blend until smooth. If too thick, blend in a little more milk until the desired consistency is reached.
I’m not a coffee drinker. Or a tea drinker. Hot chocolate, though, I could drink by the gallon. I keep some in my desk at work and always have some in the house – even in the summer months. We could seriously go broke on cocoa mix.
Last year for Christmas, I made this mix for family members, and fell in love with it. It’s a great gift, or just great to have in your pantry.
Have you ever been on a college campus during the summer? They have a secret they don’t want the students to know: the food is much better in the summer. Seriously.
I worked on campus the summer before my senior year and was shocked the first day I walked into the student center food court and found a completely different menu. I was quite disappointed when the fall semester rolled around and the fresh salads and sliced steak sandwiches once again became chicken fingers and burgers.
One of the things they served that summer was fresh lemonade with fruit puree – a different fruit every day. The strawberry was my favorite. Even if I wasn’t planning to buy lunch, I’d stop down to make sure I wasn’t missing out on the strawberry lemonade.
This is a dead-ringer for my favorite drink of that summer. I’m not sure there’s anything better.
A few weeks ago, we had a housewarming party to finally show off our now one-year-old house. I had planned a slew of food, including watermelon with dessert. My plan was to cut up the watermelon right before dessert but in the hubbub of everything I completely forgot about it.
When we remembered it later we thought, oh well, we’ll just eat it ourselves. Clearly, we didn’t realize how much watermelon we had. After a few days of eating it with breakfast or lunch we were getting sick of it so I decided I needed to jazz things up a bit.
Mark’s a big fan of juice so I knew this would go over well. It was light and refreshing – really a perfect summer drink. In the mood for a summer cocktail? It’s great with vodka.
Watermelon Agua Fresca (slightly adapted from Chef In You) Makes approx. 1 liter
1/2 large watermelon, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 c. water
3 T. agave nectar
In batches, use a blender or food processor to blend the watermelon and water. Filter using a fine strainer to remove any watermelon pulp. Stir in agave nectar. Serve well chilled.
Several of our friends and family members aren’t drinkers so when we have parties it’s nice to have something non-alcoholic that’s a little fancier than just serving soda.
I’ve made this one twice – for Christmas and again for a dinner party with my friends – and both times it was well recieved. It’s got a light, refreshing taste that would also make it great for Easter or a shower.