fruit and cinnamon sticks

Share a Glass of Autumn’s Perfect Cocktail

As the days grow short and a chill settles into the air, I find myself drawn toward food and drink that share an essence with Autumn. Foods that are simple, golden-hued, and perhaps, have a bit of bite – just like the crisp morning wind.

As Thanksgiving approached, I wanted to find an encapsulation of the season that would be the perfect accompaniment to all those harvest dishes. In other words, I was on a quest to find the perfect Fall cocktail. To help me in my journey was my talented friend and fellow blogger from Five Dishes. Together, we researched the classics (mulled wine, hot toddies), the overdone (sorry, pumpkin spice anything), and finally found a drink that seemed completely fresh, but traditional enough to play well with the requisite turkey and cranberry sauce (or truly, whatever Fall’s bounty graces your table this year.)

Spices and Fruit

Our chosen cocktail is earthy, fragrant and has a color like a sugar maple in fall. And yes, it has a lovely, subtle bite thanks to the spiced rum. But the best part of all? It was unbelievably easy to make.

Apple rum punch ingredients

Autumn Punch

Ingredients (makes 2 cocktails)

  • 2½ oz spiced rum (we used Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum)
  • 4 oz fresh unfiltered apple juice
  • 2 big pinches of Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 long threads of lemon peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bottle of quality hard Pear Cider (apple cider would pair well, too)

Autumn apple rum punch making

Directions

In a shaker half-filled with ice-cubes, combine the rum, apple juice, and Chinese 5 spice.  Shake well and pour in a glass. Top with the pear cider and garnish with a cinnamon stick and twist of lemon peel.

Autumn Apple Rum Punch Close

The recipe is for two, so you can make sure to enjoy with a friend. I can’t think of a better way to toast this holiday of sharing. Cheers!

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Summer Peaches: Two Ways

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It’s Labor Day weekend and I can’t think of a better way to honor it than a salute to one of the sweetest, most Summery fruits: the peach.

Peaches have a way of going from your mouth straight to your heart. Their warm, bright taste just seems to emit love. In fact, Renaissance artists used the peach symbolically to represent the heart. So today I share not one, but two recipes from my heart to yours – Gluten-free peach-banana muffins and Peach-mint smoothie-sicles.

1. Gluten-free peach-banana muffins

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Ingredients (makes 12; adapted from Carrots ‘N’ Cake)

  • 1 1/2 c. almond meal
  • 2 T unsweetened coconut, plus 1 T more to sprinkle
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe peach, large, diced
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 T. chia seeds

Directions

  • Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.
  • Mix wet ingredients in medium bowl.
  • Add wet mixture to dry.

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  • Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners. Scoop spoonfuls of batter into prepared cups.
  • Sprinkle with additional coconut and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

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2. Peach-mint smoothie-sicles

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Ingredients (makes ~6 molded popsicles)

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe peach, large, diced
  • 1/2 c. plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 c. almond or coconut milk
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 5 mint leaves, finely chopped

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Directions

  • Add bananas, peaches and yogurt to a blender. Blend for 1-2 minutes (it will still be lumpy).
  • Add all remaining ingredients except mint. Blend until smooth.
  • Stir in mint.
  • Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight (at least 5 hours).
  • Serve with blackberries and fresh peach slices.

Peach popsicles

Hope these peachy recipes find a way into your heart – just as they did mine. Happy Labor Day!

Lavendar Granola Ingredients

Recipe: Lavender Cashew Granola

Cold days are for baking up warm granola. The smell of cinnamon and toasted oats just wraps your heart in a hug, no matter what the thermostat says. In honor of February & Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make a granola that was both heartwarming and had that special heart-day touch – flowers. I haven’t done a lot of cooking with flowers, but this lavender granola was so simple, my confidence has begun to unfurl. And after eating the delicious results, I certainly feel ready to take on new floral-culinary adventures.

Making Granola

A few tips, courtesy of Healthy Nibbles & Bits, where I found the original recipe:

  • Check on the granola as it bakes, and scoop out any that starts to get too brown (usually on the sides). Over-toasted oats are not so tasty.
  • Flower shop lavender is not the same as culinary lavender. You never know what kinds of chemicals might be sprayed on the sprigs you get from a florist. I found my culinary lavender buds in the spice section at my local Whole Foods.
  • If you like granola clusters (and I do!), stir in a whisked egg white. If you don’t, omit it.

Blueberry Lavendar Yogurt

To turn this crunchy treat into a complete Valentine snack, I used the granola as the star ingredient in a layered parfait. My little lady is partial to blueberries, so I chose those and blackberries for the fruit. Blueberry Greek yogurt rounds out the components for my parfait assembly.

I loved how the subtle taste of lavender played nicely with the boldness of the blueberries. It created a lovely palette, too. And since it’s all fairly healthy, seconds are easy to say yes to. Just like a Valentine’s Day hug.


Lavender Cashew Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • ⅔ cup unsalted cashews
  • ⅔ cup walnut halves
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (honey works also; add a bit more if you like a sweeter granola)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t dried lavender
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg white

Parfait ingredients

  • 1 and ⅓ cup blueberry Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp dried lavender
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½  cup blackberries

Directions for granola

    • Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat to prevent burning.
    • In a large bowl, mix all the granola ingredients together except for the egg white.
    • In another bowl, whisk egg white with whisk or electric mixer + whisk attachment until egg white becomes become frothy. Pour the egg white on top of the granola and stir gently.
    • Spread out the granola on top of the baking sheet.
    • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the granola is browned, rotating once. Let the granola cool completely before breaking into clusters.

Directions for parfait

    • While the granola is baking, mix the Greek yogurt with ½ teaspoon of lavender. Refrigerate the yogurt for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the lavender flavor to set in.
    • To make the parfait, alternate layers of yogurt, granola, and fruit.
    • Store leftover granola in an airtight container in room temperature.