Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

If you love Starbuck’s pumpkin spice lattes as much as I do, you desperately need to run to your kitchen and whip up this cozy fall beverage now. This homemade version makes enough for 2 pumpkin spice lattes at a fraction of the cost (almost $4 for a tall in the store? Yikes!) and only requires a few extra minutes worth of effort to create. Added bonus: you can enjoy this at any time, without ever having to get out of your pj’s on a chilly Saturday morning. Or any morning, for that matter!

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If fall could be encased in a coffee mug, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, with its subtle hints of cinnamon and pumpkin, does just that. No one flavor is overly pronounced, but instead they blend together perfectly. Coffee, milk, pumpkin, vanilla, and array of fall spices come together to create THE hot beverage of the season. Move over, apple cider, the PSL is here!

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I made this one day after having bought a PSL from Starbucks the day before, and I was so shocked with how similar the two tasted. If given a taste test of the two side by side, I do not think I would be able to tell the difference. The ratio of this particular recipe is spot-on, unlike a few others I have tried in the past. This recipe makes enough for 2 large lattes, but can easily be halved for one person. I used skim milk and did not add whip cream to keep the drink light, but you can adjust the recipe to suit your tastes!

The one step that should NOT be skipped or altered is blending the mixture. Many recipes will tell you that whisking it is a perfectly fine substitute; I can tell you from experience, however, it is not. You need to use a blender (or immersion blender) to really disintegrate all of the pumpkin into the milk, otherwise you will be left drinking what seems like coffee with pulp in it. Not appealing, I know!

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Once the milk is blended with the pumpkin and spices, it will be very frothy. Pour the desired amount of coffee into a mug and top with the foamy, spiced milk. That’s all it takes to make your very own PSL at home!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte (for two)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk (your choice–I used skim)
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • Scant 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 2/3 cup of very strong brewed coffee, which is what I used)

1). Brew coffee/espresso.

2). In a saucepan, combine milk, pumpkin, and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender (or immersion blender) and process for 15 seconds until foamy. *Do not skip this step!*

3). Pour the espresso/coffee into two mugs. Add the milk mixture on top. Enjoy!

Servings: 2. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 152 Carbs: 23g Fat: 0g Protein: 9g Sugar: 22g Fiber: 1g   WW PointsPlus: 3 

Recipe adapted from http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/pumpkin-spice-latte/

 

Peach Citrus Punch

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I was recently asked to make a punch for a friend’s bridal shower.

A PUNCH!?

I was afraid.

My mind was spinning searching for a punch recipe. Nothing.

If I had been asked to cook something? Got it.

Bake a dessert? No problem.

But create a beautiful and tasty punch?! I was slightly terrified. I simply had never had the opportunity to make one and I really did not know where to begin!

Thankfully through a process of trial and error I learned that punch is in reality very adjustable and forgiving. You can easily add or take away as much of any ingredient as you’d like. Plus, it is so fun to float frozen fruit on top of the punch! They keep the punch cool without diluting it. Bonus: they look very pretty. I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the punch bowl on the day of the bridal shower. Next time!

To be honest, I usually find punch sickeningly sweet and I am typically not a fan. This punch, however, was slightly tangy rather than sweet. As I alluded earlier, if you want less peach flavor you can use less peach nectar, or if you prefer to highlight one of the other citrus flavors you can add more of that particular fruit juice. Ginger ale is the sweetener here, so if you find you would like it more/less sweet, adjust that ingredient accordingly!

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Peach Citrus Punch

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz lemonade concentrate
  • 12 oz pineapple concentrate
  • 12 oz orange concentrate

(alternatively you can use 2 cans of pineapple-orange concentrate)

  • 24 oz white grape juice
  • 1.5-2 cans peach nectar (about 11 oz each can)
  • 2-3 teaspoons almond extract
  • equal parts ginger ale (about 80 oz to match quantities above)

1) Mix together all ingredients to taste. Adjust to your preference. Serve with frozen peaches to chill punch.

Recipe adapted from my friend Kathy!

Serving: about 40 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 87g Carbs: 21g Fat: 0g Protein: 1g Sugar: 19g

Thin Mint Milkshake

Girl scout cookie season is here. I usually don’t go crazy over pre-packaged cookies, but these are an exception!!

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If you have a box of thin mints in your home, I desperately urge you to try this recipe! You may never be able to eat a thin mint cookie in any other way.

I mean, really. How can you go wrong with chocolate + mint + vanilla?

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The mint flavor comes through perfectly against the chocolate and creaminess of the vanilla icecream. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare and you probably have ice cream in your freezer and milk in your fridge right now. There is no excuse! 🙂

You can tweak this however you would like…if you prefer cream in your milkshakes you can use that instead of milk. If you want a fainter mint flavor, you can use less cookies. My husband and I agreed, though, that the proportions below created the perfect flavor and texture! Try it and let me know what you think.

Homemade Thin Mint Milkshake

Ingredients:

2 cups vanilla ice cream (we used Breyer’s)

10 thin mint cookies

1/2 cup fat free milk

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1) Add 2 cups of vanilla ice cream to your blender!

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2) Add 10 thin mint cookies to your blender.

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Step 3: Add 1/2 cup fat free milk and blend until smooth. Enjoy!!!

This is seriously such a delicious treat!

Serves: about 3

Disclaimer: Nope, this is not one of my super healthy recipes. I do believe in moderation, so enjoy this when you make it but don’t do it every day! Although, for a milkshake, it is a MUCH “healthier” option than what you would get if you ordered this at a restaurant somewhere… just saying. 🙂

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 322 Carbs: 39 g Fat: 15 g Protein: 6 g Sugar: 30 g Sodium: 159 g

The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

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Sorry for the poor quality photo!!

Confession: I LOVE Williams-Sonoma European hot chocolate. It is thick, creamy, decadent, and ultra chocolate-y.  I mean, really, it is basically melted chocolate in a cup. So good.

Of course, there is a STEEP price tag on such a luxurious beverage: $20!!!

That is simply not in our budget for regular every day consumption.

So, I save the gourmet stuff for special occasions and instead whip up my own hot chocolate mix that I can have any cold winter day I please.

Could you buy a box of Swiss Miss from the store? Yes, but I promise this is so much better. Plus, I really like knowing exactly what is going in my beverages. Don’t you?

The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ cups cocoa powder (Dutch-processed preferred, but regular okay)
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl. Working in two batches, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

2. To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk or water. Optional: Top with whipped cream or miniature marshmallows.

Makes 20 servings. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 139 Carbs: 28g Fat: 2g Protein: 5g Sugar: 24 g

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country.