Homemade Crockpot Apple Cider Recipe 🍎

One of the things I love about fall is hot apple cider. I Usually buy store bought, but it gives my hubby heart burn, so this year I attempted homemade apple cider. I asked my chef hubby how I should make it and he told me to use the crockpot. After that I literally just started adding different ingredients hoping it would taste good, and guess what?!? It tasted like Fall! Plus it made the entire house smell AHHH-MAZZ-ING!

Below is the recipe my hubby helped me put together if you want to make this yumtastic beverage. I just made that word up. I think I’ll keep it. ☺️

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3.5 hours
Please note, this recipe makes a little over 2 quarts. 

Ingredients:

2 large granny smith apples
1 large red delicious apple
4 medium gala apples
1 large orange
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp of ground nutmeg or 1 whole nutmeg
1 tbsp of ground or whole cloves
5 cinnamon sticks
Water

Note: I did not measure the amount of water I used. I just filled the crockpot leaving about 1 inch of room at the top. 

Step 1: Wash all the apples & orange.

Step 2: Cut all the apples in 4 halves and remove the core and slice the orange. 🍊

Step 3: Add all the ingredients in the crockpot, then fill the crockpot with water about 1 inch from the top.

Tip: If you do not want the residue from the ground spices in the cider, I would recommend using whole cloves & one whole nutmeg instead of the ground spices. I only had the ground spices on hand and was too lazy to go to the store. 😂 

Step 4: Turn the crockpot to high and allow to simmer for approximately 3.5 hours or until you can easily mash the apples with a wooden spoon.

Step 5: Using a large wooden spoon, mash the apples.

Step 6: Using a strainer and large bowl, dump the contents into the strainer over the bowl. You might want to do a little at a time depending on the size of your strainer and bowl.

I used a colander because our fine mesh strainer ripped a few months ago and I keep forgetting to replace it. So I had some apple & orange particles left in the cider as well as some of the ground spices, which I was ok with since this was my first time making it. However, I will use a fine mesh strainer and opt for whole cloves & nutmeg when I make this again. Either way it was still yummy! My hubby loved it and that’s all the confirmation I need.

Tip: If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, you can use cheese cloth. I wish I would have thought about that before now. 😏

Step 7: Push down on the apples/orange in the strainer until all the cider drains into the bowl.

Step 8: Pour the apple cider into a drink dispenser or pitcher. That’s it!

Tip: I used a collapsible silicone funnel to pour the cider into a pitcher from the bowl. I have few go-to kitchen items that I swear by, and my collapsible silicone funnel that I got for $2.95 years ago is one of them. CLICK HERE for the details on one of my favorite kitchen items.

Serve immediately if you prefer hot apple cider or put in the refrigerator to cool. I prefer hot, so I drank it immediately. 😋 You can also hear it up later. Your choice!

Easy peasey apple squeezy right?!? 👈🏼 see what I did there?!? 😂 I realize I am not that funny. 😉 I garnished the cider with a cinnamon stick and two apple wedges and enjoyed my homemade hot apple cider.

Side note, aren’t these mugs amazing?!? I have always wanted clear glass mugs, so when I saw them online for $3.95 I was sold! Plus they make hot drinks look pretty. 😍  CLICK HERE for the direct link to buy the mugs.

Well friends that’s it for this post. I hope you enjoyed it! If you decide to make it please let me know! I would love to know what you think. You can tag me on Instagram at @acarriedaffairdesigns or comment below!

Until next time. Xo

 

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Our Summer Soiree 2017

Our second annual summer party was a success! This year we did a tropical theme with flamingo sugar cookies, lots of pineapples, and a balloon garland, that was insanely simple to make!

We still haven’t purchased outdoor furniture, so we went with the good ol’ pallet table this year…again. The pallets we used this year are actually the same pallets we used last year. I just gave them a good cleaning and they were good to go.

Plus I like the rustic vibe the pallets give. The craziest part is we spent less than $25 on all the decor. That covered the balloons & flowers. Everything else we already had. Pretty and budget friendly.

I do want to give a shout out to my hubby for letting me do my thing and helping along the way. He always just goes with the flow when it comes to my party planning. Bless his heart. Instead of getting all wordy, ill let the pictures do the talking.

The decor

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on decor, so I opted for a balloon garland and fresh flowers. Flowers are an inexpensive way to spruce up a table.

The balloon garland was so easy and it really made the drink station pop! I made this quick how-to video to show you how to make your own! Side note, I started a YouTube channel to start posting my DIY videos! Yay! I would love for you to follow along with me. I just started it, so my channel is not looking the best, but I am super excited to create how-to video’s. My channel is HERE. You can also subscribe from the balloon garland video link above.

The tablescape

I used scrapbook paper and cut out tropical leaves to add a pop of color to the place settings. Aren’t they cute?!?

I planned on doing so much more, but baby K got sick the day before the party and mommin’ took priority. As it should. The table decor was minimal, but I think the guests were more focused on the food anyway.

The drink

I made a berry beer punch. It was super simple and the guests loved it. For that extra touch I made raspberry ice cubes and topped the drinks with a cherry, slice of lime, and mint, then served with a gold paper straw. Easy peasy. I found this simple and delicious recipe on Pinterest HERE.

The food

Both years we have served beet & goat cheese salad with raspberry vinaigrette that my hubby makes from scratch. It’s always a big hit and usually the first to be devoured. I honestly don’t know which one of us came up with the recipe, but it’s one of our favorites! Beets have always been one of my favorite vegetables. I even converted my hubby. He use to tell me that they tasted like dirt. 😂 But after years of serving them with dinner he gave in. The recipe for this crowd pleaser is at the bottom of this post.

We also served an assortment of cheese, of course. Cheese is my kryptonite. I could literally eat it on anything. Can’t most of us?!? The cheese we served included: Brie, Dutch Gouda, Aged Gouda, & Pesto Gouda. Do you see a theme?!? Give me ALL the Gouda!

I fancied the Brie up and added fig butter from Trader Joe’s, blueberries, and honey. Can you say yum! I am pretty sure I ate half of the wedge. I just couldn’t help myself.

The dessert

I made flamingo, ice cream cones, & watermelon sugar cookies.

And of course I made pie. Blueberry pie to be exact.

Well friends, that’s it for this post! I hope this inspired you in some way. Make sure to check out the balloon garland video to learn how easy it is to make. The recipe for the beet & goat cheese salad is directly below.

Until next time. XO

 

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Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette Recipe

Salad ingredients:

4 – 6 fresh beets

4 oz block of goat cheese

1 1/2 cups of pecan halves

Spring mix

Rosemary (fresh or dry)

Olive oil

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2: Wash the fresh beets, then cut both ends off each one.

Tip: You do not need to remove the skin. Once the beets are done the skin will easily slide off.

Step 3: On a lipped baking sheet, place the beets two inches apart.

Step 4: Drizzle olive oil over each beet evenly, then coat each beet with fresh or dry rosemary.

Step 5: Bake the beets for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Until soft.

Step 6: Let the beets cool completely then slide the skin off the beets.

Tip: Beet juice will stain your hands. I recommend wearing gloves.

Step 7: Slice the beets and then set aside.

Step 8: Prepping the salad. Put the spring mix on the bottom of the dish, then crumble the goat cheese on top of the spring mix. I just used my hands. 😊

Step 9: Place the beet slices evenly on the salad, then pour the dressing over the salad.

Step 10: Top the salad with the pecan halves and serve immediately

 

Raspberry vinaigrette ingredients:

1 pint of raspberries

1/5 cup of champagne vinegar

1 1/2 cups of olive oil

1 tbsp of dijon mustard

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

Step 1: Using a blender combine all the ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE OLIVE OIL, blend on high until smooth.

Step 2: Turn the blender to medium speed and slowly pour the olive oil into the blender until all combined.

Step 3: Once all the olive oil has been added blend on high for 5-10 seconds.

Step 4: Refrigerate or pour over the salad and serve immediately!

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes Recipe

I am not a professional baker, but I do love to bake. There are several times where I try to come up with something new, and fail completely. However, I would not consider this tasty treat one of them.

So what prompted me to make these?!? My dad. He loves chocolate covered cherries. You know, the ones that come in a box? Yes those! When I was little he always had a stash of them somewhere. When I would find them I would eat all the chocolate on the outside and leave the cherry center. I didn’t like anything cream or fruit filled. I still don’t. My dad definitely didn’t think it was funny when I did that. 

For the actual cupcakes, I used store bought chocolate cake mix. It’s just easier sometimes. And why try to recreate the wheel when Betty Crocker has been doing this a lot longer than I have…

While gathering all my ingredients for the frosting, I asked my husband, who is a certified executive chef, how to make cherry flavored buttercream frosting. He told me that I should use cherry extract. Well cherry extract didn’t make the grocery list because who actually has cherry extract on hand?!? And I definitely wasn’t going to the store with a toddler that has a set of lungs that will put an opera singer to shame, so I improvised.

It only took me two failed batches to get one that worked, but it was worth it. My dad LOVED them and that’s all that mattered. I don’t think my dad would of loved them as much if I would of given him one of my first two batches. See batch 2 below. What can I say…you live and you learn. #bakingfail

Buttercream Frosting Recipe

This might be the easiest recipe of ever. I have to thank my hubby for it. I’ve made buttercream frosting before, but used heavy whipping cream. Since I didn’t have any and was too lazy to go to the store my hubby said to use whole milk. It worked like a charm! Perks, of having a chef for a hubby. 😊

If you are looking for an easy and quick recipe for buttercream here it is!

Tip: This recipe made enough for me to add a layer in between two 8 inch cakes and a layer to the top. If you have more than 2 cakes and want to add a layer of frosting to each, I would recommend doubling this recipe. 

Frosting Ingredients:

2 sticks of unsalted butter (softened)

4 1/4 cups of powdered sugar

3 tbsp of whole milk (can substitute heavy whipping cream)

1 pinch of salt

1 tsp of almond extract 

18-20 fresh cherries (10 for the frosting, 8-10 for the drizzle)

Before you start the frosting, I will warn you the making of the frosting is very messy! So make sure you don’t have nice clothes on and wear gloves if you have them on hand or don’t wear gloves and have red dyed hands for a couple days. 

Step 1: Whip the softened butter in a mixer until fluffy. Don’t over beat the butter. THIS IS KEY!

Step 2: Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until peaks form.

Tip: I like to use almond extract, but you can substitute vanilla extract if you aren’t a fan of almond.

Step 3: Squeeze the juice of 10 cherries directly into the mixing bowl with the buttercream frosting. Fold the juice in with a rubber spatula instead of mixing it in to prevent the butter from separating. This is where I messed up the first batch.

Tip: I used the juice of 10 cherries to achieve the light pink you see below. If you want a darker shade of pink use more cherries until you reach the desired shade.

Step 4: Pipe the frosting onto your cupcakes. 

Tip: I always use a gallon size ziplock bag and cut one of the corners off of the bag. You can also use frosting bags and a tip if you prefer. When I use a tip I tape the tip to where I made the cut in the bag. Easy peasey.

This batch looks way better, huh?

Step 5: Using the 4-5 cherries (for the drizzle), squeeze a small amount of juice from one cherry on the top of each cupcake. I was able to use the juice from one cherry for three cupcakes. Once you have drizzled the cherry juice onto all the cupcakes, set them aside to make the chocolate coated cherries.

To make the chocolate covered cherries follow the instructions below.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Ingredients:

24 fresh cherries

1 bag of girahadell dark chocolate

Tip: I made cupcakes, so counted out 24 cherries to dip before making the chocolate.

Step 1: You’ll melt the chocolate with the bain-marie method i.e. fill a medium sized sauce pan halfway with water, turn the stove on to medium/high, then set a heat safe bowl (I use a stainless steel one) on top of the sauce pan.

Step 2: Lay out a piece of wax paper big enough to put all your dipped cherries on.

Step 3: Add the chocolate to the heat safe bowl and continually mix with a spoon until all the chocolate is melted.

Step 4: Dip one cherry at a time into the chocolate then set on the wax paper to cool. 

Step 5: Repeat step 4 until all cherries are dipped.

Tip: make sure to space the cherries out and allow the chocolate to completely solidify before using. Depending on the humidity, the chocolate should solidify with 20 minutes.

Step 6: Once the chocolate on the cherries has solidified place one on each of the cupcakes. 

Step 7: Enjoy!

These cupcakes were a big hit at my families 4th of July cookout! I will definitely be making them again. I would also recommend telling everyone that the cherries are pitted before serving.

Well friends, that’s all for this post. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions please leave a comment below or message me on Instagram. My handle is @acarriedaffairdesigns You can also follow along with me on Pinterest. My username is acarriedaffair.

Until next time. Xo

Lemon & Vanilla Bean Tart Recipe

My friends say I “stress bake”. It is true. I find peace in baking. With trying to juggle my career, working towards obtaining my black belt in lean six sigma, two kids, a hubby, an ever-shedding dog, my blog, and a house, sometimes I just need to go to my happy place. Baking. It also makes my coworkers and neighbors happy because I make so much that I have to give it away. 😂 So much that my coworkers said they were going to start a baking fund for me. Well I hope they come hungry Monday, because when life gives you lemons that are about to go bad and a vanilla bean you find in the pantry that you forgot you bought, you make a lemon & vanilla bean tart. Or in my case three.

The first time I made this lemon tart, I got so many messages asking for the recipe that I decided to share it. I found THIS RECIPE on good ol’ Pinterest. There is no need to recreate the wheel, right?!?

 Bonus, it is very easy to follow. But this time around I altered the recipe a little and I love how it turned out! So much that I could not stop licking the spoon. 😂 Look at that lemon vanilla bean goodness!

I used store bought pie dough, that I blind baked, instead of making the crust from scratch. I really want to make this with the crust recipe, but my lazy side kicks in and I always end up going with store bought. 😬

I still used THIS RECIPE (using 3 whole eggs) as the base, but made these alterations:

1. Omitted the heavy cream

2. Used the zest and lemon juice from two lemons instead of three

3. Mixed in one whole organic vanilla bean

I can’t tell you how much I love it with the vanilla bean addition. It is pure bliss.

The recipe takes about 5 minutes to put together and 15 minutes to make the curd. Any dessert is a winner in my book if it only takes 20 minutes to make!

After you pour the curd in the baked shell, put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. I let mine chill overnight for extra firmness. Then I topped it with fresh berries and powdered sugar the next day.

Serve immediately or take to your coworkers & neighbors. 😊

Well friends, that’s it for this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I truly love sharing my baking adventures and DIY’s. I hope you find inspiration in my posts. I pour a lot of love into them.

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions if I wasn’t clear on the recipe above. If you decide to make my version, I would love to hear it! Feel free to leave a comment below or come say hi on Instagram! My handle is @acarriedaffairdesigns You can also follow along with me on Pinterest. My username is acarriedaffair

Have a beautiful day. Until next time. Xo

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