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$8 Outdoor Christmas Wreaths

Well, hello everyone! Long time no see.  For reals.  It’s been forever.  But jumping back here on the blog just in time for the holidays.  Since the last post, I’ve had a baby, the kids have started at school, and I’m finally getting some breathing time to jump back on the bandwagon. #winning

I’m excited to share with you a super cheap and simple way to dress up your windows for Christmas.  I have a thing for colonial homes, and I’m so grateful to own one!  And one of my favorite things about colonials is the way you can wreath every single window for Christmas.  Here’s some Colonial Christmas pin-spiration for you…

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So beautifully simple.  But add up the cost of wreaths times the number of windows you have and… sheesh.  Money blown.  I’m excited to see the Dollar Tree step up its game in recent years.  And I was excited to see these medium faux wreaths there.

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Add some sparkly bows (that also came from there– in a 2 pack no less!) and I spent a mere $8.  Big spender.  I know.

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The hardest part was removing the screens from the windows (which I had been wanting to do anyways… aren’t screens so 90s? Does anyone even use screens anymore?) It’s not like the screens would stop anything from going out or coming in since most of them were broken anyways, but I digress.  Screen removal.  Check.

Then I measured and cut jute string to hang them.

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Luckily, most of the windows already had a nail (probably for the very reason of hanging something).  But the ones that didn’t, I put a white finishing nail in the top.

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Our windows probably need replacing, but I just LOOOOOVE our old fashioned wooden paned windows.  Do they even make them anymore?!

Then, I tied the jute string around the wreath in a knot so it wouldn’t slip around.

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Tie up the ends and hang around the nail and close the window.  And there ya go.

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The whole process took me less than 30 minutes, and it was totally worth it! I loved how it turned out.  And no one will ever know that I bought $1 wreaths 😉

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So for $8, I was able to supply all my windows and my door with a simple holiday wreath!  *excited face*  Now to add some Christmas lights and garland around the door and electric candles in the windows and our house will be decked out for Christmas! Now to turn on some Nat King Cole.

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Copycat Starbucks Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato

copycat Starbucks Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato

I swung by Starbucks the other day, as per usual on “Grocery Shopping Day” and noticed they had a new drink on their billboard.  It looked so interesting, I just had to order it.  Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato.  Little did I know, when I pulled up to pay, the cashier said, “That’ll be $5.50 please.”  Uhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmm.  I immediately wanted to take back my drink order, but not to be rude and hold up the line, I begrudgingly paid my arm and leg for this new drink.  That I might hate.  I pulled onto the road a bit grumpy.  I took a cautious sip of this coffee that didn’t even have my beloved half ‘n half in it.  Turns out (as it usually does) that it was delicious.  And refreshing.  And new.  And exciting.  Honestly, I loved the whole $5.50 experience.  I also knew after studying it that I could EASILY make this myself for mere dimes.  Pennies even.  The marketing specialists at Starbucks are rolling their hands around, exclaiming mwahahaha as they know they can charge ridiculous prices for this “dairy-free” coffee drink.  I won’t give them the satisfaction, I tell you!

And did I mention this is oh so easy to make?  So easy.  And I’ll show you exactly how.

Grab your iced coffee glass of choice.  Personally, I have nothing apart from mason jars in my house.  And I just love these 12 oz. quilted ones.  Then, you’ll need some chocolate syrup (this Torani “coffee syrup” is personally my favorite), some coconut milk, and some leftover strong coffee or fresh espresso.

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First, drizzle some chocolate syrup on the bottom of the glass, just enough to cover the bottom.

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Then, fill 2/3 full with ice and pour coconut milk over until 3/4 full.
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Then, fill the rest of the way with coffee.

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Macchiatos really are such a beautiful looking drink!

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Drizzle some more chocolate syrup on top (add a Stevia packet or two if you like things a bit sweeter) and voila!  A gourmet $5.50 drink from Starbucks in 1 minute and for a fraction of the cost.

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Enjoy! (and enjoy that extra money in your pocket 😉 )

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Crockpot Granola

best granola I've ever tasted and super healthy too- throw everything into the crockpot, so easy!

We love granola ’round here.  On top of our yogurt or mixed in with our cereal or eaten just plain.  I have tried and tried to make my own, but mine has always turned out soggy or burnt or just plain gross!  Is this why they charge an arm and a leg for it at the store??? It must be.  I must just not be cut out for making granola.  Then, I came across an interesting concept…. Put it all in the crockpot and let IT be the one to fail, if failure is even possible for a crockpot.  Surely, a crockpot is a fix all solution.  I mean, when have you ever pulled something out of a crockpot and been like gross?  Hardly ever.  And it must not be the crockpot’s fault… it’s OBVIOUSLY the recipe.  So here I was… dumping oats and other granola goodies into the crockpot, hoping for once that I could churn out some awesome granola.  And crockpot, you have not let me down!  I love you forever! Granola for the win.

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Perfectly roasted oats, crunchy almonds, lightly sweetened.  My crockpot did it.

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And perfect for one of my go-to breakfasts…

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And if I can’t mess this up, there’s no way that you can, believe me.  If the total granola failure can make a batch of perfect granola, then there is only hope for you.

Crockpot Granola


INGREDIENTS:

5 cups of rolled oats

1 cup almonds, chopped or crushed

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, optional

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup honey

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 cup water

PREPARATION:

In large crockpot, mix all the dry ingredients.  Melt coconut oil and add next 4 ingredients to a medium bowl.  Mix well.  Pour over dry mixture and stir to coat.  Cook on low heat for about 4 hours with the lid ajar to allow steam to escape, stirring every 45 minutes or so.  Spread on wax paper to cool.  Store in mason jars or airtight containers.  You can even add in dried fruit too!

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Wildflower Cupcakes

I love, love, love making cupcakes.  It’s honestly one of my favorite hobbies of all time.  They’re not too time consuming and the decorations and flavors are endless! I was asked by my aunt to make some wildflower cupcakes for her niece’s bridal shower.  And I couldn’t be more in the mood with all the 70-80 degree sunny weather we’ve been having around here!  I was given this picture from pinterest as inspiration:

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I mean, how cool are those two-toned roses???  I was excited, yet nervous because I had never attempted to make a two-toned rose before.  But it ended up being so easy!  Check out this awesome tutorial on how to make a two-toned rose!

I used a light yellow buttercream with a pink buttercream as well as one with white and light blue…

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For the white roses, I used a 1M nozzle.  And for the two-toned roses, I used a 2D nozzle.  I didn’t really see much of a difference between the two.  The 2D is maybe a little bit more “flowy”? Both of those nozzles are my go-to for cupcakes.

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For the white “hydrangea” cupcakes, I used the 1M tip as well.

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For the purple flowers, I used a 4B open star tip.

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Here is the set of cupcake tips that I have, and I LOVE them.  It’s fun to experiment and try new styles and designs! Have you tried decorating cupcakes?  It’s really not as hard as you think!  Check out this awesome tutorial below for different ideas on how to make your cupcakes beautiful and professional…

 

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DIY: Nursery Art from an Old Calendar

make your own nursery art from an old calendar... so cool... why didn't I think of that... why didn't I think of that

I owe this post to my amazing, talented sister who basically has a house that would basically show up anyone on Pinterest.  She has a knack for home decorating and was born with “the eye.”  I just love what her and her talented hubby have done to their 1900’s brick ranch home! I’m so excited to share with you her awesome idea of taking an old calendar of National Parks and turning it into some really awesome wall decor for a nursery (or really any room!).

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First, you’ll need a calendar.  Here is the one she used of National Parks.  But, the sky is the limit!  Just about any calendar you love will work!  I just bought this awesome chalkboard art calendar in hopes of turning it into my own wall art!

Then, you’ll need some 1×4 boards, painted or stained to your liking and cut to your desired length.  My sister painted hers white and distressed them a bit.  Cut out your desired pictures and glue them onto some cardboard backing, then glue them to the 1x4s in your desired pattern.  I like how she split the words and the picture!  Then screw them into the studs in the wall.  And voila!  Custom wall art!

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Little M. just has the coolest little nursery!

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Happy Tuesday everyone!

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10 DIY Classy Paper Valentine’s Day Decorations

10 DIY Classy Paper Valentine's Decorations
Images from: TheHouseThatLarsBuilt.com, JustSimpleDesigns.wordpress.com, HGTV.com, ThePerfectDIY.com, Blog.vickybarone.com, and CreativelyChristy.blogspot.com

This year, I’m trying to plan ahead a little more than in the past (read: throwing something together the night before…or day after) to make the holidays special for the whole family. I have fond memories of waking up on Valentine’s Day morning to a cute breakfast table set with decorations, a little treat for us at each table setting and pink biscuits baking in the oven. My Mom took the time to plan ahead to make even us kids feel special on Valentine’s Day. As part of my planning ahead, I’ve decided to put together some simple and cheap decorations for the month of February so of course, to Pinterest I went. So many cute ideas! I went ahead and ordered some pink, white and red construction paper via Amazon to save myself a trip to the store. Here are 10 of my favorite classy paper Valentine’s decorations.

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Photo from HGTV.com
  1. Sewn Heart Garland – How adorable is this? Sewing through paper is really easy and I love the airy look having these hang with thread provides.

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    Photo from Blog.VickyBarone.com
  2. Valentine’s Day Bunting/Garland – This one would require a trip to the craft store, but you could probably achieve the same idea with some glue instead of these cute little clothespins…you know, if you must.

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    Photo from TheHouseThatLarsBuilt.com
  3. Valentine’s Day Tree – It’s no secret that I have a penchant for bringing branches inside and decorating with all things tree related, so of course I kind of swooned over this perfectly executed Valentine’s Day tree.

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    Picture from InspiredToShare.com
  4. Paper Heart Chandelier – Forget using this just as a Valentine’s Day decoration, I’m thinking this would be pretty adorable in my girls’ room above the crib.

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    Picture from CreativelyChristy.blogspot.com
  5. Framed Hearts – This little piece of DIY artwork would make a nice gift. Those perfectly lined up teeny hearts are so sweet!

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    Photo from HowAboutOrange.blogspot.nl
  6. Wall of Paper Hearts – Have an empty wall? This would dress it up nicely…this also would be a fun surprise in an office. Cue college prank memories…

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    Photo from sStrumpetsCrumpets.blogspot.be
  7. Paper Heart Chain – I’m thinking I’ll make a curtain of these for at least one of our doorways to surprise the kids on Valentine’s Day Morning.

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    Photo from HoosierHomemade.com
  8. Paper Strip Hearts – Even fancier paper hearts!

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    Photo from JustSimpleDesigns.wordpress.com
  9. Coffee Filter Roses  – This post is full of ALL KINDS of gorgeous coffee filter flowers. I really hope I have time to give these a try!
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    Photo from ThePerfectdiy.com
  11. Folded Heart Garland – Such a lovely way to do a heart garland! I think this is the one we’ll make for our mantel.

So there you have it! I’m so excited to give some of these a try and hopefully include the kids on a few. What do you like to do to make Valentine’s Day special for your family?

bethany sig (1)

Sunday Pot Roast

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to have a hot meal ready when we get home from church on Sundays, with enough to share with another family.  But with bathing, dressing, and feeding 3 kids, a husband, and myself before 9am, prepping lunch is usually the last thing on my mind.  This is where I’ve decided to become best friends with my crockpot.  There is nothing quite as refreshing as coming home to the succulent smell of lunch already made.  The chopping can be done the night before, and it can take a mere 5 minutes to throw everything together.  All it takes is a little planning.  My hubby brought home a chuck roast that was on sale, and I couldn’t wait to throw it in the crock pot with some veggies.  And boy, I’m glad I did.  And you can’t have pot roast without creamy mashed potatoes and homemade crescent rolls.

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Sunday Pot Roast


INGREDIENTS:

5-6 lb. chuck roast

1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix

1 packet of Italian dressing mix

1 packet of dry brown gravy

1 cup of beef broth

1 lb. bag of baby carrots

1/2 sweet onion, sliced

PREPARATION:

Place chuck roast in the middle of the crockpot.  Pour packets of dry dressing and gravy on top of the roast.  Place carrots and sliced onions around the roast.  Pour the beef broth around the side of the roast, careful not to get it on top.  Cook on low for 9 hours or high for 6 hours.

What are some of your favorite Sunday lunches?

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Flaky Blueberry Biscuits

Super flaky mile high blueberry biscuits

 

Christmas this year decided to grace the South with 70 degree weather.  As much as I love my shorts and t-shirts and flip flops, it was difficult to turn on my “Christmas spirit” so to speak.  I like my Decembers and Christmases cold.  Sue me.  However, with the heat wave, came BLUEBERRIES!  Suddenly, the berries started coming back into season and they didn’t cost $10/lb.  I joke, but seriously.  I got blueberries for $1.88/pint and stocked up.  Suddenly, my house was reminiscent of summertime.   Except by now, the heat wave was gone, and I was left baking blueberry things in 40 degree weather.  Oh well.  At least, I had blueberries.  And blueberries and biscuits?  Just ask Bojangles.  Yum.  Nothing like a flaky, buttery biscuit encasing a mound of fresh blueberries, am I right?

Some flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder go into a bowl.  Cut in a stick of butter until crumbly.
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Next add some buttermilk.  I never have buttermilk, so I use this nifty trick using milk and vinegar.  1 Tbsp. of vinegar into your milk will spoil it in a few moments time, and you’re left with a curdled buttermilk mixture.  Trust me, works everytime!

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Mix your dough until it becomes a crumbly yet mold-able dough.

Meanwhile, melt some butter into a square 8×8 pan.

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Then flour your surface and roll out the biscuit dough into a rectangle.  Place blueberries on top and fold rectangle in half to make a square.

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Cut your square into 9 equal parts.

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Then, place in the pan with the melted butter.

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Bake in a preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes and voila! Beautiful, flaky, golden brown biscuits with blueberries bursting at the seams.

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Blueberry Biscuits


INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 stick of cold butter, cut into chunks

3/4 cup of buttermilk or 2/3 cup of milk with 1 Tbsp. of vinegar

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

2 Tbsp. butter for greasing the pan

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Cut in butter until it resembles a coarse meal.  Add the buttermilk or buttermilk mixture and mix until it becomes a crumbly, but mold-able dough.  Melt butter in an 8×8 square pan.  Roll out on a floured surface into a rectangle.  Place fresh blueberries on top and fold over into a square.  Cut into 9 sections and place into pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and done in the center.

Perfect for breakfast or as an awesome side for any dinner!

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Snowflake Ornament

Gifts with a Purpose

My family has a special tradition Christmas morning, to go up to the tree and pick out a gift for someone else to open. Every year, there is at least one that I am excited to watch the recipient open; to see their eyes light up when they see it. Here are some ways to bring that same joy to others with your gift purchases, while still having something beautiful and unique to wrap.

Handcraft Gifts from World Vision:

Snowflake Ornament

World Vision
Not only are these gifts beautifully handcrafted around the world, they are also Fair Trade, helping the artisans support their families in dignity. The donation will be used by World Vision where it is most needed.

Bunny Hill Studio:

chinese Lantern Mug

Chinese Lantern Mug
Half of the price of this mug is donated to Show Hope, an organization dedicated to helping orphans. They have grants for adopting families and run an orphanage in China for children with medial needs. You get to choose the size of donation.

Baby Humans Mug

Save the Baby Humans Mug
The whole purchase price of this mug is donated to Cobb Pregnancy Center, a crisis pregnancy resource center offering free ultrasounds, counseling, baby classes, and items for the baby. Choose the size of donation.

More designs supporting various charities will continue to be added; they can also be found under the shop section:
Charity

Amazon Smile:

Amazon Smile

smile.amazon.com

Once a charity is selected, Amazon Smile donates 0.5% of the purchase (no extra charge), just be sure to shop through smile.amazon.com. Your Amazon account-passwords, wish lists, and shopping cart-remain the same. Amazon Smile supports almost one million charities, including She is Safe, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Show Hope, and MUST Ministries.

Greta

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Spicy Caramel Apple Pie

Delicous caramel apple pie with all the Fall spices you love

I’ve recently been dabbling in pie making.  Because I’ve always envied after people who can make delicious AND beautiful pies.  And living in the South, I feel like it’s somewhat of a right of passage to make a good pie.  I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge pie fan.  I love me some pies with a graham cracker crust and a custard like filling, but pies with fruit and stuff in them?  Not so much.  But if I had to choose a favorite it would definitely be apple pie.  But not just any apple pie.  I like my apple pies with spice and thick sauce… the kind you can’t really slice up without making a gooey mess because let’s be honest… those taste divine.  This apple pie just happens to have a thick spicy, caramel like sauce that is just to die for!

You might want to reach for your pie pan because well… we are making a pie, right?  But trust me and reach for your handy dandy tart pan.  Think a tart pan is superfluous?  Think again.  I use mine ALL. THE. TIME.   If you don’t have a tart pan and want one, try looking at your local Goodwill or thrift store.  That’s where I found mine for a mere $2!  So grab your tart pan and about 5 apples.

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And how cool and amazing is my new cobalt cake stand made by my talented pottery making friend from Bunny Hill Studio?  Oh, my goodness, you need to must check out her etsy site.  You will want all the things.  They make fantastic Christmas presents too!

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And why a tart pan, you ask?  Good question!  I love using a tart pan because I love how crispy it makes the pie crust on the edges.  Crispy pie crust = good pie crust.  But you won’t ruin the pie if you use a regular old pie pan.  I’ve made it both ways, and loved it both ways.

And if you’re feeling lazy or getting the onset of “Thanksgiving overwhelmingness” (like me), you can use a little store bought help.  No shame.  But if you want a good pie crust recipe, there’s a great one here.

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And it took me all of 2 minutes to unroll and press into the pan.  Woo hoo! And place it in the refrigerator until you make the filling.

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Next, you’ll want to peel 5 apples.  Everyone has their favorite apple.  I’ve even used red delicious to make a pie *gasp*.  Here I’m using Fuji, but use whatever breed of apple that makes your heart sing.  Pink ladies, anyone?

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Then slice them up.  I like this handy dandy contraption.

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I still find the slices too thick so I slice them once more with a knife.

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Once the apple are all sliced up, add about 1/8 cup of sugar and mix to coat.  Then let sit for about 10-15 minutes.  This helps pull some moisture out of the apples so they don’t take a dive when baking.

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Now, it’s time for my favorite part: the sauce.  Add 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter to a saucepan.

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Then, half white sugar and half brown sugar.

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Now for some spice.  I like Fall spices.  A. Lot.

Cinnamon.

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Nutmeg.

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Dash of Cloves.

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Melt over medium low heat until all melted together and a dark caramel color.

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Time to assemble!

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Apples get dumped into the pie crust, along with the “apple juice” at the bottom of the bowl.

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Then the caramel sauce goes on top.

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Place the top crust over top and press down the sides.  Pull off the excess crust.

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And make a pretty design on top.

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Top the crust with an egg wash, then place on the very bottom oven rack with a drip pan under it.

And… tada!

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And if it’s spilling into a heap on your plate, you’ve done it right.  And don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.

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Spicy Caramel Apple Pie


INGREDIENTS:

2 pie crusts

5 apples, cored and peeled and sliced

1/8 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

dash of cloves

egg wash for top (1 egg beaten with water)

PREPARATION:

Peel, core, and slice 5 apples.  Mix in bowl with 1/8 cup sugar.  Let sit for about 10-15 minutes.  Press pie crust into tart pan and place in refrigerator.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter, sugars, and spices together until thick and caramel in color.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Pour apples in crust in tart pan.  Pour caramel sauce over top and spread to get even.  Place second pie crust over top and press to seal.  Remove excess crust.  Make a design in the top crust or vent.  Brush egg wash over top of crust.  Place tart pan on a lipped baking sheet and place on the very bottom rack of the oven.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20-30 minutes.  Let cool for at least one hour before serving.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and your families!

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