HAPPY HAUSFRAU: Caramel Apple Spiced Cider

I’m not above bribery.

For instance, when I make a meal I know the Offspring won’t be jazzed to eat, I usually make some kind of treat to sweeten the deal. A kind of If You Eat Those Sauteed Mushrooms You Can Have A Pumpkin Cupcake kind of deal. All you moms and dads out there know what I’m talking about. BRIBERY and DISTRACTION are two pillars of surviving parenthood. (The other two are CAFFEINE and A BATHROOM DOOR THAT LOCKS.)

Anyway, the other night I was making a meal I knew for a fact would be met with groans and gags and possibly even tears. In an effort to avoid an all-out war at dinner time, I tried this recipe I found on Pinterest. It’s supposed to be a knock-off of something Starbucks makes, but I’ve never had it, so I really couldn’t tell you. Also (like always) I tampered with the recipe a little, because, well…that’s just the way I am. Here’s the link for the recipe on Pinterest; what I did follows below.

(BTW, I let the kiddos have a taste before supper so they knew what they’d be getting if they ate well. I’m very happy to report that all plates were happy ones that night, and my kids were all grins as they enjoyed their cider. I didn’t have any, but apparently it was goo-oo-oo-oo-d!)

Alright. Here’s what you need:

One bottle apple juice (I used the frozen concentrated kind, and followed the instructions on the can. Not really nutritious, but nothing about this recipe is, so I shrugged and went with it.)
3 Tbs brown sugar
3/4 C. Water
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. almond extract
Whipped cream in a can
Caramel sauce (the kind you squeeze onto ice cream)

Here’s what you’ll do:

Pour the apple juice into crockpot. Set crockpot on low. On stove, in small saucepan, mix water, sugar, almond extract, and cloves. Make sure the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up and get it to a rolling boil. You’ll want to keep stirring to make sure it doesn’t get too sticky or burn. When the consistency becomes syrupy, you’re done. Turn it off and pour into crockpot with apple juice. Stir. Let sit on low heat for a couple hours until it’s nice and piping hot.
Using a ladle (a turkey baster works great, too), pour into mugs. Top with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

This is such a terrific cold-weather treat – will definitely be a repeat in our house.

Happy Hausfrau: Easy Peasy ‘Italian’ Chicken and Veggies

I use the term ‘Italian’ here very, very, very loosely, because really, it’s more of a savory chicken than Italian. But I got the idea for this from this recipe, and have just, by default, always referred to it that way.

Originally, there were a couple elements of this recipe I didn’t like: canned green beans, for starters, and also, the packet of Italian dressing mix (whose very first ingredient is sugar, followed by a bunch of unpronounceable non-foodish words).

Here’s my version.

What you’ll need:

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6-7 new potatoes, cut into quarters or smaller
Green beans – frozen or fresh (I prefer fresh, but didn’t have any on hand when I made it the other night, so the picture is frozen french cut)
One sweet bell pepper, chopped
Olive oil
Dried onion
Garlic powder
Finely ground sea salt
Black pepper

Here’s what you’ll do:

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Place in a line down the middle of a large baking dish. Line potatoes on one side, green beans on the other. Sprinkle bell pepper on top (not pictured, sorry!). Brush with olive oil. Don’t be stingy, but don’t get carried away. (If you want, you could substitue the olive oil with melted butter, but olive oil was lots easier and maybe a little bit healthier.) 
In a small bowl, mix the herbs and seasonings together. I didn’t put measurements down, because I didn’t use any – I tend to shoot from the hip with that kind of thing. To give you an idea, I listed them in order from most to least, and if I had to estimate, I used about two tablespoons of onion and garlic powder, one tablespoon salt, and a couple teaspoons of everything else.
Once they’re mixed, sprinkle evenly on top. Cover with tin foil and bake for an hour or so at 350. Remove foil (carefully, there’ll be steam trapped inside), turn on your broiler, and let cook for an additional five minutes, or until the top is sufficiently browned and crispy-ish. 

I thought I had taken a picture of it all finished up, but either my camera somehow hid the pic from me (very likely *snort*), or I hallucinated the whole thing (that doesn’t sound like me *giggle*). Anyway, it finishes up almost as pretty as it goes in, which always makes me happy, ’cause the only thing better than eating good food is eating good, pretty food.


Kid-isms: @$$-Cream

In my experience, every kid goes through a phase where, as they’re developing their vocabulary, they create variations of words until they’re either able to pronounce them or use them correctly. This usually results in ridiculously adorable kid-isms. Some of the favorites in our house have been cottie-mook (WillyJ’s toddler version of chocolate milk) and bo-bah (what VV Mike always called his brother; it’s a term we still use around here).

But SweetZ’s interpretation of ice cream leaves Thomas and I giggling every time. We’re real mature like that.

Let me set the scene:

The Shafer clan descends on Jason’s Deli. (When you have a family of six or larger, you don’t simply go to a restaurant – you descend on it, like the Persians descended on the Greeks in the battle of Thermopylae. Only with less bloodshed. And, if your luck holds, a somewhat happier outcome.) Jason’s is a family favorite – everybody can find something they like, and the kids adore the free ice-cream at the end.

Free ice-cream

Ice cream.

Or, as SweetZ so innocently calls it,


Here’s how the convo goes:

ME: Kiddos, get your shoes on! We’re going to Jason’s.

KIDS: Jason’s! Jason’s! (running in circles around the house) Jason’s!

ME: Get your shoes on, or Dad and I will go without you.

The kids fall silent as they sprint to put their shoes on. SweetZ comes tromping into the kitchen, socks on her hands, shoes on the wrong feet.

SWEETZ: All ready mom!

ME: No, you’re not. Take off your shoes and put your socks on your feet.

SWEETZ: Okay. (sits and pulls off her socks.) I’m going to have @$$-cream.

ME: (trying not to snicker) You are?

SWEETZ: (Pulling her last sock on) Yeah. I love @$$-cream. It’s dewicious. (another adorable kid-ism) Are you going to have @$$-cream?

ME: Not this time.

SWEETZ: Why not? Don’t you like @$$-cream?

HUBSTER: (walks into the kitchen) Ready to go?

SWEETZ: Dad, Mom doesn’t want any @$$-cream.

HUBSTER: (chuckling) She doesn’t?

SWEETZ: No. She doesn’t like @$$-cream.

ME: Not true! I love ice-cream. I just don’t eat ice cream.

SWEETZ: I love @$$-cream, too. Especially Jason’s @$$-cream. Jason’s @$$-cream is DEWICIOUS!


Do your kids have any funny kid-isms? Or maybe you had some of your own when you were little? I don’t remember any of my own, but my sister used to call pine-cones cone-pines. We’ve never let her live that down…and I suspect that when SweetZ’s all grown up, we’ll still be teasing her about Jason’s very dewicious @$$-cream.