Autumn Picnic and “Skillet Express … Smoked Sausage and Squash”

“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”  ~  Joe L. Wheeler

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Also incredibly nostalgic … picnics with charming, wicker picnic baskets with little clasp fasteners, bright, cheer-y interiors, picnic-ware fastened to the lid, and a most delicious meal served “al fresco” tucked within it’s confines. 

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The setting for our autumn picnic was serene among “the annual cascade of leaves” that lazily drifted down from the canopy above … 

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Floated atop the lake …

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Drifted by like golden paper boats …

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Nestled in the azalea bushes …

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Rested on the green lawn and Mondo Grass …

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Lay cushioned on a bed of mushrooms …

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And formed a golden frame around our picnic area.

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Look how the green and white “hound’s tooth” on the interior of the picnic basket became the perfect background for these bright sunflowers and bittersweet I was getting ready to use in a centerpiece.  I just propped “the whole bunch” in the corner of the picnic basket … and instantly loved the color and casual centerpiece it became for our picnic!

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Our picnic meal was equally casual with left-over “Skillet Express … Smoked Sausage and Squash” (recipe below) that we kept warm in a cheer-y red plaid thermos … an easy dessert of 2 crisp, autumn apples … and cups of hot spiced tea.

front basket.jpgThrough the years, I’ve created some easy meals for our family that I call … “Skillet Express Meals.”  Cooking criteria that “must” be met in each of these recipes: it “must” take less than 30 minutes to fix, it “must” be delicious, and it “must” use only 1 skillet to make the recipe, from start to finish.  The first “Skillet Express” recipe I shared on this blog was Autumn Dinner … Smoked Sausage, Spinach and Orzo topped with grated parmesan cheese and today I’m going to share with you …

“Skillet Express … Smoked Sausage and Squash.”  


Hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you’re able to schedule in some nostalgia and enjoyment of “the annual cascade of autumn leaves” … perhaps with a picnic and delicious bowls of Smoked Sausage and Squash! (:

From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda

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Thank you for reading my blog.  This week I’ll be joining …

Carol from The Red Painted Wagon

Chloe Crabtree from Celebrate & Decorate

 

Autumn Tablescape … with a “side” of Provincial France

With beautiful, tangible evidence of autumn in the air and a birthday to celebrate with “la famille” last weekend, I polished the brass candlesticks and started decorating the table.  I always have a general idea of how I want to set my table … if I’ll be using a table runner, a tablecloth, or place mats … which plates, napkins, and cutlery I want to use … and what I’ll be using as a centerpiece, but setting a table and creating a tablescape are two different things.  Sprinkles and touches of  “this and that” are what magically transform a set table into a tablescape.

tablescape 1 The definition of tablescape according to the English Oxford dictionary is … “A decorative arrangement of ornaments or other objects on a tabletop.”  Embellishing Oxford’s definition of tablescape a little further … a tablescape for me  is created by arranging a tabletop in an artful way by using decorative objects … decor … centerpieces … lighting … and color in combination with the items needed in the table setting to create a certain mood or theme. 

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To begin “building” my tablescape, I chose what colors I wanted.  I envisioned the autumn shades of squatty, Cinderella pumpkins, golden wheat fields, and the colors of the leaves that were beginning to turn different shades outside.   With those colors in mind, I chose a beautiful soft yellow tablecloth with borders edged with harvest bounty, autumn leaves and acorns.  My choice of dinnerware was an elegant, ivory colored Wedgwood china that was rimmed with rich, harvest colors and had a deep cornflower blue border.  A cluster of silk autumn leaves in dusty orange, burgundy, and golden yellow became my centerpiece mixed with faux clusters of deep purple grapes, and fresh sprigs of burgundy Loropetalum (Chinese Fringe Flower) that I tucked in among the leaves from bushes Richard had just trimmed outside. (click here to see pictures and instructions)

Pierre and Belle

When creating a tablescape, it’s important to imagine what idea, mood, or theme you are trying to convey.  In my mind I pictured a French villa on a warm autumn afternoon that overlooked a valley of the French countryside.  As I visualized what I wanted my table to look like, I knew the French provincial figurines in my kitchen hutch. (click here to see) would look perfect on the table and voilá! … with the placement of Pierre and Belle, my table was suddenly transformed into the beginnings of a tablescape!

closeup Pierre and Belle

Then, the fun really began as I begin to sprinkle in a little “magic” … “this and that” … “the jewelry” to make our table gleam: brass and crystal candlesticks were placed, tall against my autumn foliage and copper and gold votive cups were tucked among the foliage and grape clusters for sparkle.

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Goldware glistens atop sage green napkins and next to gold chargers …

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Antique berry bowls and grape clustered German stemware with golden rims and pedestals,

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Blush and gold colored stemware …

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A copper colored votive and a twinkling Cinderella pumpkin are placed among burgundy leaves and purple clusters of grapes …

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“Salagadoola mechicka boola

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Put them together and what have you got

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo …”     

~ Walt Disney’s “Cinderella”

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The autumn afternoon is ready and waiting for the family …

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Chandelier draped in autumn finery … rose hips, colored leaves, grape clusters and strings of gilded acorns.

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“Salagadoola mechicka boola

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo 

It’ll do magic, believe it or not

  Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo …”

~ Walt Disney’s “Cinderella”

“It’ll do magic, believe it or not” creating your own tablescapes, when you use these tips … bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!  (: 

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From my cottage to yours ~ Trenda

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I was reminded of this scripture when we were out on our boat last Saturday and saw this spectacular view of the eastern sky at sunset … “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”   Matthew 24:27

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The Cottage Porch in Autumn and … Recipe for Easy, Cheesy Jalepeno & Pimento Dip

by Trenda

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Welcome to the first day of autumn!  In conjunction with the calendar, our temperatures in East Texas were cooler today with alternate periods of pouring rain … sunlight … or light rain pattering down on the still green leaves overhead.  Our cooler weather inspired me to get our screened porch “dressed and ready” for the anticipated autumn days and evenings we’ll be spending out there.

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A latticed topped table holds a mix of autumn colors and textures.  The unframed canvas looks simple and charming painted in the “colors of the season.”  Rustic textures are repeated in the bronze of the wire canoe candle holder … the bronze pine cone clock … and the bronze fish lamp – all against the rugged backdrop of the brick wall and the wooden shutters.

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 Daisy watches the falling rain against an array of pillows in autumn colors … soft plum, golden yellow, sage green, and crimson colored pillows are the background for a smaller fish pillow which continues the fishing theme of the cottage porch set by the Largemouth Bass on the lamp.

Daisy

A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

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Pillows and throws are an invitation to “sit a spell.”

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A miniature screen door hangs on the brick wall with a tiny sign posted … “Home Sweet Home.”

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 After I got through cozy-ing up the screened porch, I pre-heated my oven and mixed up a delicious recipe of  “Easy-Cheesy Jalelpeño & Pimento Dip” (recipe below) and slid it into the oven.  While the dip was warming, I cut clusters of midnight black grapes and placed them in an antique berry bowl.  Then, I washed and julienned my celery and stacked them on another sweet vintage dish.  By then, the dip was ready and all golden, bubbly, cheesy-nes. (:  I removed it from the oven and tucked Creamy Tomato & Basil Crackers and Sociables’ crackers into the dip, along the edges of the baking dish … then I placed “all” on a metal fish tray to carry out to the porch.

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[SIDENOTE:  I’m always on the lookout, when antiqu-ing, for unusual little dishes that are charming and make even the simplest meals seem special.  Antique dishes, especially singles without a “mate” are surprisingly inexpensive.  The little berry bowl with it’s pedestal legs and angular cut bowl was only 50 cents and the green serving dish with 2 glass handles and etchings on the bottom of the bowl that looks “perfectly, perfect” heaped with celery … olives … or pickled okra was less than a dollar!]  tray

Bon appétit! (:

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“Tête-à-tête on the screened porch.

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A “Wecome to the Lake” DIY Fishing Wreath (instructions here)  hangs on the French door and a gift from our dear son and DDIL … a fishing net with bobbers and carved wooden fish is “cast” over the door frame.

Fr door w wreath

Afternoon raindrops and shadows …

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Easy, Cheesy Jalepeño & Pimento Dip

Ingredients:

  • Price’s Pimento Cheese spread (I ONLY use Price’s)
  • Diced, Mild Jalepeño’s 

(This is the simplest recipe and is really just a matter of stirring ingredients together … but it is so delicious!  Heating the pimiento cheese makes it creamier and slightly sweeter.)  I always try to keep the ingredients on hand for quick snacks and/or unexpected guests! (:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees or use microwave
  2. Stir together pimento cheese and desired amount of drained jalepeño’s (I used approximately 2 teaspoons of diced jalepeño’s for this small dish, but adjust the amount of peppers you use according to the “degree” of spiciness that you prefer and the amount of pimento cheese used!)
  3. spread pimento mixture into an ovenproof, shallow dish, good for dipping
  4. Microwave or cook until edges are bubbly
  5. Tuck assorted crackers  into the dip, around the edge of the serving dish and serve warm with crackers, veggies, or bread  

Have fun decorating the nooks and crannies of your cottage and getting ready for “the cozy season” ahead because the crickets have been warning us … “summer is changing into autumn.”

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 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda

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Thank you for reading my blog!  To have all my posts delivered to your email address, just click FOLLOW in my post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com

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Trenda@ cottagegreenonthelake.com

This week I’m joining:

 Courtney at French Country Cottage

Carol from The Red Painted Cottage

Chloe Crabtree from Celebrate & Decorate

 

 

 

The Gentle Caress of Autumn Comes to the Cottage ………………… by Trenda

“… the gentle caress of autumn steals the sultry heat of summer …” author unknown

Autumn comes gently in the South with the days slowly becoming cooler and just the tips of burnished leaves can be seen shining in the golden sunlight.

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Our Beauty Berry Bush is laden with brightly colored berries in a gorgeous shade of purple … autumn delicacies for our “feathered friends.” 

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A little birdhouse tucked among the leaves and blooms of an Encore Azalea that is putting on it’s “final act” with brilliant autumn blooms.  A flying squirrel, while house-hunting, decided this little house was going to be his new home with it’s green roof, lichen covered walls, and view of the lake.  Without waiting for “a showing” he gained entry by nibbling his way into the opening and took up residency! (;

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The sunlight in autumn highlights the green of the grass and leaves against the azure blue lake and sky.

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Lantana with harvest gold and red blossoms, red periwinkles, and Marguerite (ornamental sweet potato vine) “glow” in the autumn light.

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“The gentle caress of autumn” can also be seen inside our cottage as I add some touches of the season.  

Copper glittered ACORNS rest on golden leaves …

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Are tucked into moss-lined nests …

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… dangle from a display stand and top a Fitz & Floyd “trinket box.” 

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An array of soaps in scents of pumpkin “and spice and everything nice.” 

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Glossy pumpkins perch on chunky urns …

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And contrast strikingly with blue and white Ginger jars …

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And in the kitchen … a Swarovski crystal squirrel “gathers” provisions! (:

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I love adding whimsical touches and reminders of the season to our home … and for all of us, this is just the beginning of all things pumpkin and harvest to come!  Have fun using your imagination and “putting some autumn jewelry” on your house!

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From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda

 

Trenda

 

Thank you so much for reading my blog today!  This week I’m joining:

Lynn of the Vintage Nest

Courtney with Feathered Nest Friday

Scarecrow Themed Tablescape – perfect for autumn get-together’s … plus DIY paper favor cones

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by Trenda

This fun scarecrow-themed table sets the playful mood for any of your autumn get-together’s, wiener roasts, or autumn evenings spent around the bonfire, toasting s’mores!  While I set my “scarecrow table” the scarecrow’s song from “The Wizard of Oz” kept going through my mind!  The scarecrow’s lament (sigh!) was that his head was stuffed with straw.   If  he only had a brain, he stated  “Oh, I — could tell you why –the ocean meets the shore.  I could tell you things I’d never thought before — and then I’d sit — and think some more!” (: 

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Keeping with the theme of the scarecrow and his “patched” clothes, I covered my table with a “patchwork” quilt that a dear neighbor made and gave to me, set the table with cheerful Fiestaware, and tucked cutlery into a bright basket make of straw (:    Look at these cute paper favor cones!  They are so easy to make and … simply using different paper and trimmings, can be used for so many different occasions!

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To  make these favor cones, I chose stock paper in bright harvest colors (I bought mine in a packet at Hobby Lobby) Roll the colored sheet of paper to form a cone and glue the edge down with white craft glue. I used a hole puncher to punch 1 hole on either side of the glued edge and knotted different colors of raffia to trim my colorful paper cones (line favor cones with parchment paper and fill with candied popcorn or pumpkin flavored Chex mix! (click here for pumpkin-spice Chex mix recipe)   The raffia replicates the look of the straw stuffing of the scarecrows, but it is actually a product of the native Raffia Palm Trees, from the tropical areas of Africa!

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Generous sized napkins with frayed edges (like the tattered clothes of the scarecrow!) are slipped into my DIY mini-grapevine napkin rings (click here for DIY autumn napkin rings) and have a charming little scarecrow adornment, tucked among the layers of napkin.  Remember the cute DIY autumn drink markers we learned how to make?  See where I have clipped them around the base of each stemmed glass to add some seasonal flair to my autumn setting.  (Click here for DIY Autumn Leaf Drink Markers)

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The centerpiece is just a collection of different sized scarecrows gathered together to  ward off any unwanted “critters” that might want to attend the party! (;

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If the weather cooperates, our tabletop of scarecrows will be presiding over a wiener roast and a tray full of these individualized s’more packets!  (Click here for printable S’more labels)

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As I finish this post, I’m still humming the scarecrow’s song from “The Wizard of Oz” and I have to smile as I remember his last words … “with the thoughts I’d be thinkin’ I’d become another Lincoln, if I only had a brain …” (:

Hope You Have A … ”  by Trenda

 wonderful weekend!

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you and I am truly delighted, reading what you have to say.   Please leave any questions you may have or comments, below.  Don’t be dismayed if you don’t see your comment “appear” right away.  Word Press checks everything I receive for SPAM and all have to be approved, before posting.

A “Welcome Home” … for Thanksgiving

by Trenda at Cottage Green on the Lake

The slow progression of autumn here in East Texas has suddenly quickened and the sights and sounds of  the season have become tangible.  The crickets are softly droning (a decrescendo to their summer song!) as they sing their final chorus … there is a hush in the air that is marked by a distant caw of a crow or the occasional rustle of leaves as an acorn descends through the branches … a muffled “plop” heard, when it hits the ground … and the leaves of our Ash tree, that drape over the lake, are transforming into a beautiful shade of yellow.

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The view beyond our windows reminds us that the “season” of Thanksgiving is upon us, though, like Thoreau … “I am grateful for what I am and have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.”

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 As I “dress” our home and get it ready for the holidays, I am going to start with our front door … it is the first thing that welcomes and greets our family and friends when they visit.  The front door sets the stage of what people can “expect” to find inside your home and should be a reflection of the warmth and welcome you want to portray within your home.

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I began decorating our door by hanging this beautiful wreath that a dear friend of mine made.  Then I took a bundle of wrapped grapevine (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby in the section where grapevine wreaths are hanging) and cut the coil of grapevine in half with wire cutters – this gave me 2 sections of grapevine for each side of the door.  After cutting the 2 sections, I pulled the grapevine to loosen the taut coils.  My husband hammered nails into our door frame for me to impale the grapevine on.  At the base of the door, where the tension was greatest, I added a pipe cleaner and wrapped the grapevine around the nail, using the pipe cleaner to firmly hold the grapevine to the door frame.

front-door

Then I began inserting leaves that I cut from an autumn swag into the twigs of the grapevine.  I also wired some pumpkins, squash, and chrysanthemums to the grapevine to add interest and fullness  … but left enough of the grapevine bare, so it wouldn’t become too “visually heavy” or overbearing.

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I placed a pumpkin (leftover from Halloween!) next to this quaint basket that I found years ago.  I’ve always thought the wooden duck looked
“right at home” here at the lake and it is always handy, near our front door and holds walking sticks, any dripping umbrellas, and a fragrant “bouquet” of eucalyptus.  Tip: Eucalyptus makes the entry to your home smell wonderful, and it is also a natural deterrent for spiders!

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Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim greet all Thanksgiving visitors. (:  We ARE … grateful, thankful, blessed!

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Our deck has several built into benches and on this one, next to the front door, I’ve “tipped my hat” to the season and added a little whimsy with these 2 Pilgrim door greeters!  I love this chalkboard a friend made for me, with it’s rustic look and cedar framework; I use it all the time … “4theseasons” to write holiday messages on, or for keeping track of horseshoe scores! (:

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I hope these ideas will help you and that you’ll have fun creating and making your entryway and door a “welcome home” for Thanksgiving!

“I am grateful for what I am and have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.”

In everything give thanks.”

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you and I am truly delighted, reading what you have to say.  Please leave any questions you may have or comments, below.  Don’t be dismayed if you don’t see your comment “appear” right away.  Word Press checks everything I receive for SPAM and all have to be approved, before posting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Candied Spoons & Decorative Autumn Chocolates … by Trenda

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I love “the tastes of autumn” … yummy pumpkin pies and apple crisps, spicy chili’s and homemade stews, creamy hot chocolate’s and pumpkin latte’s!   This weekend you may be raking leaves, carving pumpkins, going to a Harvest Festival, or enjoying a hayride.  Whatever you’re doing, wouldn’t you love knowing you have a delicious pumpkin-spice latte simmering in your slow cooker, to enjoy after you’re finished?

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Here is the recipe for Betty Crocker’s Pumpkin-Spice Latte that is prepared in a slow cooker!

Pumpkin-Spice Latte

Ingredients:

5 cups strong brewed coffee
4 cups milk (2% or whole)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Garnish: whipped cream topping, cinnamon or pumpkin spice, cinnamon stick

Directions:
1) In slow cooker, mix all ingredients except whipped cream topping. Beat with whisk until well combined.
2) Cover and cook on High heat setting 2 hours, stirring once after 1 hour.
3) Serve in mugs, top with whipped cream, add a cinnamon stick and sprinkle whipped cream with cinnamon or pumpkin spice, if desired.

Autumn Drink Station with White Chocolate stirring spoons and decorative chocolates …

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White Chocolate Dipped Stirring Spoons for Pumpkin-Spice Latte’s …

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I love adding little “touches” that make every occasion special and memorable.  These decadent treats will add a festive touch to any get-together!  The chocolate spoons and candied stirrer’s look charming “gathered” and waiting in a container where your latte is simmering!  They’re delicious stirred into a mug of pumpkin-spice latte or scatter the candied leaves and pumpkins on a autumn platter to nibble on!

Candied Leaves and Pumpkins …

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Instructions to make … Chocolate-coated Stirring Spoons

Supplies and ingredients needed … plastic spoons, wax paper, Wilton Melting Candy, and assorted sprinkles.  Optional: cellophane candy bags, ribbon in your choice of colors.  Pick colored spoons in your choice of colors.  I wanted my colors to be in autumn shades, so I used orange, yellow, and lime-green plastic spoons.  Pour your Wilton Melting Candy Discs into microwaveable containers. I bought my candy at Hobby Lobby on the candy making aisle and chose white chocolate colored in the same autumn colors as my spoons … orange, yellow, and lime-green.  Follow the melting directions on the back of each bag of candy.  After the candy has melted, stir until smooth and dip the colored spoon into the candy, coating the bowl of your spoon.  Set your candy-coated spoon on wax paper with  the candy side facing up.  You can leave your candy plain, or sprinkle the chocolate with your choice of decorations or colored sugars.  After my chocolate had hardened, I slipped a cellophane favor bag (found on the candy making aisle) over each spoon and tied a ribbon around it.

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To make white chocolate autumn leaves you will need a candy mold.  I bought mine at Hobby Lobby, on  sale for only $2.00!  The package I bought had 2 sheets of molds and made 16 leaves and 12 pumpkins.  Instructions for molding candy are on the back of the package. Melt your candies according to directions on the back of the bag and spoon your candy into your mold.  Note: This is not an exact process and any over-filling or spills can be trimmed away with a sharp knife, after the candy has hardened.  After you have filled your molds, tap your sheet of candy gently on the counter to help the candy settle and remove any air bubbles.  Place candy sheet in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.  Release hardened chocolate by inverting mold and gently tapping it on the work surface.

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The leaves with lollipop sticks were made using another candy mold sheet. These special candy mold sheets have slots to insert your sticks in, before pouring the candy into the mold.

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I hope you enjoy this last weekend in October and that you have as much fun as I did making these special treats!  I’m looking forward to my cup of Pumpkin-Spice Latte! (:

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you and I am truly delighted, reading what you have to say.  Please leave any questions you may have or comments, below.  Don’t be dismayed if you don’t see your comment “appear” right away.  Word Press checks everything I receive for SPAM and all have to be approved, before posting.