A glass of pumpkin juice

Magical Pumpkin Juice

“Veritaserum. Three drops of this and You-Know-Who himself would spill his darkest secrets. The use of it on a student is, regrettably, forbidden. However, should you ever steal from my personal stores again, my hand might just slip over your morning pumpkin juice.”   –– Professor Snape, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Pumpkin juice – it is a common beverage in the magical world of the Harry Potter book and movie series. Characters drink it with seemingly all meals, and its pervasiveness is such that it is used on more than one occasion to mask the flavor of some potion or another that is unwittingly imbibed by an unfortunate victim.

If you have ever been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, you might have tasted pumpkin juice there. A friend and I visited a couple years ago, and at that time I bought a cute bottle of their pumpkin juice. However, it was much too expensive and was gone way too soon, so I determined to make my own homemade pumpkin juice to enjoy whenever I wanted! I experimented a bit and finally came up with this pumpkin juice formula that tastes virtually the same as the kind found at the park, and includes my four essential factors for a recipe – simplicity, nutrition, frugality, and deliciousness!

Regardless of whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, you’re bound to love this decadent juice.  It tastes like a cross between liquid pumpkin pie and apple cider, and is the perfect autumn treat!  I look forward to making it around this time every year, when the grocery stores start stocking canned pumpkin again.  It’s perfect to have for dessert, or simply as a treat whenever you want!

Magical Pumpkin Juice

You will need:

  • 5 cups apple juice
  • 1 can (15 oz.) plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • Pitcher

(Click here for the printable PDF version of this recipe!)

Gather your ingredients together.

Ingredients of Pumpkin Juice

Place the apple juice in the pitcher, then dump in the can of pumpkin.  Mix the pumpkin in well to get rid of any lumps.

uPumpkin Juice without spices

Add the spices to the pitcher…

Spices in Pumpkin Juice

…then mix them in very well.  The spices will want to float on the top, but with some vigorous stirring all but a little of the spice should mix throughout the juice.

Spices mixed into pumpkin juice

Refrigerate at least an hour or two (the juice tastes much better cold!) before serving.  Make sure to stir the juice up before it is poured each time, as the pumpkin tends to sink to the bottom.  The longer the juice stays in the fridge, the better it tastes – the spices have time to really blend with the juice, and after a day or two it will taste even better!  If you’re making this for a party, make it the day before in order to get the best taste from your pumpkin juice.

A glass of pumpkin juice

As you down this pumpkin juice, imagine that you are a witch or wizard drinking it in the Great Hall of Hogwarts! Enjoy this magical beverage, and if you try it be sure to let me know how you liked it in the comments section!  Finite Incantatem!

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Mug of pumpkin spice chai tea latte

Homemade Chai Tea Latte

If you’re like me, you love chai tea lattes from Starbucks.  Since I don’t drink coffee, I almost always order a chai tea latte on the rare occasion I go there – however, it’s a guilty treat, because according to the official nutrition information it’s full of sugar, fat, and calories, not to mention the exorbitant price.  Therefore, I embarked on a quest to find a similar recipe I could make at home, minus the unhealthiness and expense.

Upon doing a web search for chai tea latte recipes, I found a multitude of various formulas – however, I couldn’t find one that I thought was perfect.  Many used instant powdered tea and powdered non-dairy creamer, both of which are chock full of fake ingredients.  I decided to experiment on my own, ending up with an amalgam recipe inspired by ideas I found online, but not exactly like any one of them.

The following recipe can be used to make a regular chai tea latte, a vanilla chai tea latte, or (my favorite!) a pumpkin spice chai tea latte.  The recipe still has quite a bit of sugar in it – that could hardly be avoided.  So while this recipe might not be healthy per se, it is definitely a good deal healthier  than a Starbucks latte, and certainly includes the other three factors essential for a good recipe – simplicity, frugality, and deliciousness!

Homemade Chai Tea Latte

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk powder
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom (this is an expensive ingredient – I paid $8.99 for a 2 ounce bottle.  However, it lasts forever because you don’t use much of it at a time, so for me it was worth the price.  You can omit it if you want, though.)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/16 tsp. ground black or white pepper
  • 1 tea bag of regular or decaf black tea
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract  (for vanilla or pumpkin spice latte)
  • 2-3 tbsp. pure canned pumpkin (for pumpkin spice latte)
  • Blender or food processor
  • Mug
  • Small container

(Click here for the printable PDF version of this recipe!)

Gather your ingredients together.

Place the milk powder, powdered sugar, and all spices in the blender or food processor.

Ingredients in blender

Blend on high for a minute or two, until the ingredients are very well blended and the mix turns into a fine powder.

Blended ingredients

Brew yourself a mug of plain black tea.

Mug of black tea

Add 2-3 tablespoons of the chai tea powder, and stir to mix well.

Chai tea mix in tea

If you want a regular chai tea latte, drink up!   For a vanilla chai tea latte, add 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract to the mug and mix in well.  For a pumpkin spice chai tea latte, add both 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract and 2-3 tbsp. of pure canned pumpkin to the mug and mix well to get out any lumps of pumpkin.

Mug of pumpkin spice chai tea latte

Place the rest of the chai tea mix in a small container to save for next time.  This recipe makes several mugs of chai tea, but if you want to make more either for yourself or to give as gifts, just double or triple the blended ingredients.  Bon appétit!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the autumn season.  Here in south Florida, where I live, the trees unfortunately do not change colors (at all), and the temperatures remain much the same as they did in summer until the very end of October into November, when they might fall a few degrees.  Because of this predicament, we Floridians have to slightly psych ourselves into thinking it’s fall by buying fake autumn leaf wreaths and lighting pumpkin scented candles around the house.

Fall wreath

Ironically, my fall wreath is hung around my air conditioning controller, which in the upper left reads the outside temperature as 90°!

Although as you can see, I do have a fall wreath up, I don’t light candles – instead, I bake pumpkin cookies!  They make your house smell amazing while they’re cooking, and definitely create an autumn atmosphere while being consumed.

I created this recipe because a), I was just in the mood for pumpkin cookies!, and b), I have a ton of boxed cookie mixes to use up.  A while back, I bought a bunch of them in a BOGO sale at the grocery store; although as prepared with the directions on the box they are quite unhealthy, I bought them as quick desserts to make for parties or church get-togethers where I knew I wouldn’t be the one eating them.  However, I began to wonder if I couldn’t just use the box mix and add my own ingredients to it to make it healthier for my own pleasure.  I experimented a bit, and voila! This recipe was born.  Enjoy!

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

You will need:

  • 1 17.5-ounce package chocolate chip cookie mix
  • 1 cup canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 egg (or 2 egg whites, if you want to cut down on cholesterol)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. extra light olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves

(Click here for a printable PDF version of this recipe!)

Preheat the oven to 350°, and gather your ingredients.

Ingredients for Pumpkkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Place the pumpkin, egg, applesauce, oil, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl…

Liquid ingredients for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

…and combine them together well.

Combined liquid ingredients for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Add the cookie mix and the spices, then stir them into the pumpkin mixture.

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookie mix

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls on a lightly greased baking sheet, flattening them slightly with the back of a spoon.  In the oven the cookies will rise in height, but not spread out any more.

Unbaked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Bake 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are slightly browned on the top and bottom.

Baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

This recipe makes 32 medium cookies.  Enjoy the taste of fall as you consume these treats!  They are perfect served warm out of the oven, or cold from the refrigerator.  And, best of all, you’d never know that these rich cookies were “healthy!”