How to Make a Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte (in a mason jar!)

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte (in a mason jar).This week, I wore my favorite flannel shirt for like 3/4ths of the day without dripping in sweat – and therefore, it is totally autumn.

While long-sleeved shirts and knit scarves are both worthy reasons to get stoked about the fall season, we all know the real reason folks get hyped once the temperatures start dropping:

Pumpkin spice lattes! 

As always, I woke up extra early and bolted to the nearest Starbucks to get my first fall-flavored latte on September 4th – the first day they appear back on the menu – but I must admit, it was a bit painful to shell out the $5 for my tasty treat.

So I decided to make my own.

After testing out a few different recipes, I nixed a few ingredients, made a few tweaks, and came up with my own (slightly) healthier version of this pumpkin-flavored drink.

And when I say ‘healthier‘, what I really mean is that I used 2% milk instead of whole milk, and only refilled my whipped cream once instead of five times. Baby steps, right?

What could be better than a homemade pumpkin spice latte served in a mason jar?

Here’s how to make your own homemade pumpkin spice latte
(with unlimited whipped cream refills, of course):

What you need:

For the pumpkin-y mixture:

½ cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon brown sugar (I use light brown)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon canned pumpkin puree (I use unsweetened)

To complete the latte:

1 cup coffee (the stronger, the better, if you ask me!)
3 cubes of white sugar
half & half creamer (to taste)
whipped cream
ground cinnamon (optional)

How to make your pumpkin spice latte:

  1. In a microwavable bowl or cup (OR MASON JAR!), mix together the pumpkin mixture ingredients (milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin puree). It’s best to use a whisk, but for us dirtbags, a thorough mixing with a regular ‘ole spoon will do.
  2. Microwave the mixture for about 1:45 (minutes). The timing may vary, so keep an eye on your milk – you want it to get nice and frothy.
  3. Pour the frothy mixture into a tall glass (ahem, MASON JAR!), and add your coffee. Stir in half & half, and sugar. I use sugar cubes to control my outrageous sugar portioning, but a spoonful or two should be fine if you use it in non-cubed form. It’s all about personal taste!
  4. Load up on the whipped cream. And feel free to continue loading up on the whipped cream! Sprinkle some cinnamon on top, if you so please.

Note: Personally, I tend to take forever to finish my coffee. I like to let it sit around and get a little cold before I drink my coffee – disgusting, I know. If you’re like me, be aware that the pumpkin puree tends to settle on the bottom after sitting around for too long – so drink up quicker, or be sure to stir your latte so you don’t get a mouthful of pumpkin at the bottom.

This recipe will provide the yummy goodness of one fairly sizable latte. I usually end up making one for both Niko and myself, so I just double up on the ingredients for the mixture, then let Niko add cream/sugar as he pleases – he likes his coffee more bitter, so he adds way less sweetener than I do.

There you have it folks, a homemade alternative to your favorite Starbucks drink. This do-it-yourself pumpkin spice latte is way more budget friendly than the Starbucks version, and you don’t have to change out of your pajamas to enjoy one! I’ve been drinking them in the mornings out in my garden, and it’s become my favorite way to begin chilly fall days. Plus, everything is better in a mason jar.

Do you love pumpkin spice lattes as much as I do?
Have you tried any other homemade versions of Starbucks drinks?

For more foodie fun, check out my “For The Foodies” board on my Pinterest.
And if you liked this recipe, add it to your boards, too! 

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Road Trip America – Frozen treats at Sweet Action Ice Cream in Denver, Colorado

After stuffing face at Bull & Bush Brewery in Denver, I didn’t think I’d have room for any dessert – but I was wrong. Local Denver lady Sara insisted that we head to the Sweet Action Ice Cream shop for some post-dinner deliciousness.

I had resolved not to touch a bite of ice cream, until Sara suggested that I try the salted butterscotch flavor – how could I refuse that? I ordered a single scoop, which was really two scoops, and dug in to one of the most creamy, salty treats imaginable.

My cup of frozen cream was flawless. The actual ice cream was thick and creamy, with none of that icy bite that I loathe. Every few bites would present a little crunch of salted butterscotch, delivered in modest amounts that never overwhelmed me. My only regret about my experience at Sweet Action is that I didn’t take the time to ask for a sample of the ginger peach flavor, which sounds out of this world. Return visit in the making?

The shop handmakes all their flavors, and is constantly updating their giant chalkboard menu with new offerings. They have all the usuals like milk chocolate and vanilla bean, plus a selection of unique concoctions like peach ginger, basil lime sorbet and pineapple upside down cake. For the discerning eater, they even have multiple vegan flavors available.

The store front itself doesn’t suggest the epic ice cream that awaits; all you see is white walls with few scattered paintings and an open air counter at the front of the shop. Don’t let their humble appearance fool you, Sweet Action recently earned accolades as one of the top ice cream stops in America by Food & Wine.

Have I mentioned lately how smitten I am with local businesses? Why would you ever go to an ice cream shop chain when you can have freshly made, locally influenced sweet treats? Top notch, Sweet Action!

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Why You Need to Try Monkey Bread, Right Now

A few months ago, over the usual rock gym chatter, I heard a climber mention something called “Monkey Bread.” My savory tastes automatically envisioned a cheesy garlic roll style bread with all sorts of gooey goodness. The conversation turned to a new topic, and I forgot about the mysterious Monkey Bread as I continued with my climbing.

While grocery shopping with Niko recently, I stumbled across a funny package in the frozen food aisle that proclaimed the wonders of Monkey Bread. Without hesitation, I snatched up a box. Niko inspected the box that identified the contents as a cinnamon pull-apart, while his stomach eagerly rumbled in approval.

We sped home and popped the black plastic casing that held the Monkey Bread into the microwave – yes, it’s easily made in the microwave! After a few minutes, the Monkey Bread was steaming and gooey with syrupy coating. As per the instructions, we flipped the container upside-down onto a plate, and then, there it was, the Monkey Bread.

Surprisingly, this delicious treat will last for days in the fridge – because let’s be honest, there’s no way a sane person could consume an entire package in just one sitting. We barely finished half of it between two famished climbers. It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’ll get all over your fingers, and it is absolutely divine.

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Granny’s Kitchen

Greetings from Arkansas! The drive to get out here took us a little over 14 hours, due to the fact that the boys absolutely refused to bring a GPS – apparently getting lost for hours makes the trip more authentic, or something.

We took turns sleeping throughout the night and pulled into Ozark National Forest around 5:30 AM this morning, right on time for the sunrise. After a quick rest stop in Jasper, AR, we pulled into the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. Livestock roams free on the property, and the highlight of my day was having to drive at a snail’s pace while a small herd of goats meandered down our muddy path. The climbing at this location was a failure due to unruly plant life and endless swarms of spiders, but the scenery was absolutely beautiful regardless.

Once we gave up on climbing we jumped on the road towards Tulsa, OK. Bellies empty and grumbling, we found our mouth’s watering when we came across Granny’s Kitchen in Huntsville, AR. This is where the good stuff comes in:

After we stuffed ourselves with pulled pork and mashed potatoes, our cheerful waitress came to the table and suggested that we get an order of ‘Granny’s Fried Bread’ for dessert – and I happily obliged.

Granny’s Fried Bread is a treat of three freshly baked, homemade rolls, which are deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Our waitress brought us over honey to top it with, and then another waitress spied our feast and tempted us with her favorite topping, ice cold strawberry jam. Friends, it was unbelievable.

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