Pumpkin Spice Latte

Lots of people are drinking pumpkin spice lattes on these cooler fall days.  Here’s a homemade version to warm you up.  Just whip up a batch of the syrup, then add it to your coffee with some hot frothy milk.  I know it’s supposed to be a shot of espresso, but I don’t have an espresso machine at home, and I drink decaf anyways… but this is still really yummy, and it’s waaay less than five bucks a pop!

Oh, and there’s actually no pumpkin in it.  Just the spices!

What you need:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 -1& 1/4 cups water

1 cup sugar

a piece of cheesecloth for straining

What you do:

1.  Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  Add the spices and boil on low for about five minutes.

2.  Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the liquid through it.

3.  Pour the liquid back into the pot and add the sugar, heating until the sugar has melted.  Stir in the vanilla and remove from the heat.

4.  Once the syrup has cooled you can pour it into a jar.  Use a teaspoon or two per cup of coffee, depending on how sweet you like it.

I just make some really strong coffee, heat some soy milk, add it to the coffee along with some syrup.  I froth the last bit of the soy milk, then add a dusting of nutmeg to the top.

Sticky Apple-Pecan Cake

What do the people think of this cake?  Well, there wasn’t much left over for them to take home, so I’d say it was a hit.  It’s moist and a little sticky from the sauce… so good!  Yes, there’s lots of sugar and fat in this one – it’s a cake, and a Paula Deen recipe at that!  If you’re looking for a healthy recipe, check out one of the salads or something. You might not love coconut, but you can’t really tell it’s in there – it really adds something to the cake, though.

If you’re a little scared of making cakes, this one is for you.  There’s not much you can do wrong if you add all the ingredients.  You pretty much pile everything into a bowl and mix, then pour the sauce over top when it’s out of the oven.

What you need for the cake:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups peeled and chopped apples (I used Macintosh)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cups chopped pecans

What you need for the sauce:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

What you do:

1.  Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2.  Add the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla and mix it up with a wooden spoon until it is combined.

3.  Add the coconut, apples and nuts and mix it.  The batter will be quite thick.

4.  Pour the batter into parchment-lined pans(wax paper will do).  I used two 4 by 12 pans, but that’s an odd size… so you can use two bread pans or, if you have it, one 10-inch tube pan.  What ever you do, bake it for about an hour at 325 F, then test it with a toothpick.  If it needs a little more time, add 10 minutes, check again, adding more time if needed.

5.  Before it has finished baking, prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then adding the sugar, buttermilk and baking soda.  Bring it to a rolling boil, stirring constantly for one minute.

6.  After the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in it with the back end of a wooden spoon.  Pour the sauce over the top.

7.  Let the cake cool for about an hour before taking it out of the pan to cool the rest of the way – or just get started on it while it’s still warm!

You could reheat it and serve with a little vanilla ice cream, if you’re looking for true decadence.