Recipe: Blackberry Bourbon

It’s a Halloween Happy Hour! This blackberry bourbon cocktail was developed for maximum taste and spooky color without using any food coloring or hard-to-find coloring ingredients. It’s perfect for your Halloween festivities – whether you’re walking trick-or-treaters around the neighborhood, passing out candy to costumed kiddos, or watching your favorite scary movie. 

Makes 1 cocktail.

2 oz bourbon
1 oz honey syrup
0.5 oz ginger liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters 
4-5 blackberries 
0.5 oz fresh orange juice*

Muddle blackberries and orange juice in a cocktail shaker until all of the blackberries are crushed.

Add 3-4 ice cubes to the shaker.**

Add honey syrup, bourbon, ginger liqueur, and orange bitters. 

Shake well. 

Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a glass. (Be patient! With all those fresh blackberries in your shaker, this step will take longer than usual.)

Enjoy your blackberry bourbon cocktail! 

*Fresh squeezed is important here! 

**You need just enough ice to chill your drink. Don’t load the shaker with ice or it’ll take even longer to strain your cocktail.

Blackberry Bourbon Cocktail

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Recipe: Pumpkin Spiced Milk

Pumpkin Spiced Milk is a fall twist on my popular Spiced Milk recipe. Full of fall goodness, pumpkin, cinnamon, maple, and nutmeg sweeten the milk to create your new favorite coffee creamer.


2 cups milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
kitchen string*

Make the Spice Pouch:

Place 2 – 4”x4” squares of fine mesh cheesecloth together (or 1 coffee filter) and set on the counter.

Place cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in the middle of the cheesecloth. Stir gently to combine the spices.

Gather all sides of the cheesecloth together, forming a little pouch.

Wrap a few inches of kitchen string around the cheesecloth, staying just at the top of where the spices are.

Tie string tightly and double knot so the spices can’t escape.

Set your spice pouch aside. 

Pile of spices on 2 layers of cheese cloth.
The completed spice pouch.

Make the milk:

Place milk, maple syrup, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Warm the mixture, stirring occasionally, until syrup has dissolved and milk is hot but not bubbling or boiling. 

Whisk in pumpkin puree.

Remove milk from heat and add spice pouch to the hot milk mixture.

Gently push it down into the milk until the spices inside the pouch have been submerged.

(The top of the cheesecloth/coffee filter will stick up from the milk. That’s ok, just make sure those spices are below the surface.) 

Add the spice pouch to the pumpkin milk.
Spice pouch infusing the milk.

Let steep for 1-2 hours while the milk cools. 

Remove spice pouch from cooled milk. Gently squeeze to remove liquid from the cheesecloth/coffee filter and spices. Dispose of spice pouch. Store milk in the refrigerator. 


*If you don’t have kitchen string on hand, use some white thread or unflavored dental floss to tie the spice pouch together. 

**A coffee filter can be substituted for the cheesecloth, just make sure it doesn’t rip when bundling.

Pumpkin Spiced Milk pouring into a cup of coffee

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Easy Apple Recipes

Some people love pumpkin recipes in the fall, but for me it’s all about APPLE recipes! Whether in a cocktail, as the star of the show, or in a side dish, apples are a delicious way to elevate your favorite recipes. These easy apple recipes will having you celebrating this juicy fall fruit.

Recipe: Apple Cider Sangria

Made with white wine, this crisp apple cider sangria has all the tastes of fall. It’s perfect for your next get together or just to have on hand in the fridge.


1 – 750ml bottle of dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc) 
½ cup apple brandy (I like Long Road)
1 ½ cups apple cider
1 oz lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
5 dashes aromatic bitters 
12 oz ginger beer
Apple slices for garnish

Combine wine, brandy, cider, lemon juice, and bitters in a large pitcher. 

Add apple slices and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

To serve:

Fill a glass with ice.

Add sangria to glass, filling ¾ full.

Top with a splash of ginger beer. 

Apple Cider Sangria

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My Monster, Anxiety

The best description of anxiety I’ve ever heard came from a PA at my doctor’s office. 

She told me anxiety is like a monster in a cage. And we all have one. 

When the monster is asleep and calm, your anxiety is under control. This is how people without an anxiety disorder feel. 

When the monster is agitated and rattling the cage, your anxiety has been triggered. This is a normal response to an event that causes anxiety. 

When the monster is trying to get out of its cage and you’re actively pushing on the cage door to keep it contained, your anxiety is a problem. 

When the monster is out of the cage and chasing you, your anxiety is out of control. 

You want to live with the monster asleep and calm, and only have it rattle the cage when triggered before it goes back to calm and sleeping. 

My monster is never asleep and calm. 

To live with an anxiety disorder means you’re constantly pushing on that cage door to keep the monster in, while trying to make sure no one knows you’re doing it. 

When the monster inevitably escapes its cage, it’s impossible to hide. 

I had panic attacks for years before I knew what they were. I always blamed them on some stress in my life – job, family, finances, relationships. 

The last time the monster burst out of its cage and chased me into a panic attack was three years ago at a big box retail store. I needed to buy my then 2 year old daughter mittens. It was December and the mittens I had sent to daycare, I was told by her teachers, were inadequate. 

But I couldn’t find any mittens her size in the store. That was all it took that day for my monster to burst out of its cage screaming “what kind of mother doesn’t have warm mittens for her child?!?!?!” 

I bolted from the store, got in my car, gripped the steering wheel, and took purposeful, deep breaths until the monster shut up and I could push it back in its cage. Then I got out my phone and ordered mittens from Amazon. There was no way I was going back into that store. 

Therapy, exercise, meditation, sleep, yoga, multiple medications. 

My treatment list keeps the monster in its cage, but it’s still pissed off and rattling the door. My doctor and I have worked for the past five years to try to get that rattling to stop. But to no avail. Some days it’s softer than others, but it’s never gone. 

If the monster metaphor rings true for you too, know that you’re not alone. That trying your best each day IS enough. And that a monster rattling its cage IS better than always pushing on that cage door until the monster busts through and starts chasing you. 

My Monster, Anxiety

Recipe: Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

A fall take on my popular baked oatmeal recipe. In this pumpkin baked oatmeal, the spices have been increased, pumpkin has been added, and almond butter replaces the peanut butter so the pumpkin flavor can shine.

Makes 14-16 muffins

3 cups old fashioned oats
⅓ cup ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree  
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup almond butter
¼ cup mini chocolate chips or dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine oats, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs together with maple syrup, oil, pumpkin, milk, and vanilla until combined.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix well.

Stir in almond butter and chocolate chips. Mix well, making sure peanut butter is incorporated into the batter.

Line a muffin pan with baking cups or thoroughly spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Divide the oatmeal mixture among muffins cups, filling each cup to the top. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are slightly brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy your pumpkin baked oatmeal!

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Recipe: Spiced Apple Cocktail

This refreshing spiced apple cocktail is full of cozy fall spices. It’s the perfect sip on an autumn day.

Makes 1 cocktail.

1.5 oz apple vodka
1 oz apple liqueur (I used Du Nord)
0.75 oz brown sugar simple syrup 
0.25 oz lemon juice 
1 oz ginger ale

Combine everything except the ginger ale in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. 

Shake well and strain into a glass filled with ice. 

Top with ginger ale. 

Enjoy your Spiced Apple Cocktail! 

Spiced Apple Cocktail

Introducing Homemade Happy Hour, the ebook!

In January of 2015, I started focusing this blog around the idea of a “homemade happy hour” – recipes for drinks and snacks that could be made easily at home with minimal effort. 

A month later I found out I was pregnant. 

So much for developing and taste testing a bunch of drink recipes. And very quickly the blog took a BIG back seat to being a new mom.

Since then, the answer to “what would you do if you could do anything?” has been “produce a cocktail book.” It’s been 5 years and I still want to pursue this idea. That must mean something, right?

When I was furloughed from my job in June, I knew this was my chance to make this project a reality. 

So I turned publishing a cocktail ebook into a B.A.G. – Big Audacious Goal. It’s a new goal for me too – not one I set at the start of the year. Which means I haven’t spent the year focusing on it and planning it into my schedule – I just grabbed the idea and ran with it. (See also, why goals are adjustable.) 

This recipe’s in the book!
Bourbon Apple Cider
This one too.

I definitely have some suggestions for snacks, but my Homemade Happy Hour ebook is focused on the cocktail portion of happy hour. 

My goal with this ebook is to provide cocktails that have easy-to-find ingredients (even the liquors!) and take minimal effort. There are 18 cocktail recipes in the book – all of which fit this description. There are also 5 cocktail syrup recipes that can be made (1) with pantry ingredients and (2) well in advance of your happy hour so you can make your drinks even easier! 

Sound good? You can learn more or buy the ebook at the link below! 

Homemade Happy Hour ebook displayed on iPad and iPhone devices.

Recipe: Apple Orchard Cocktail

Skipping the traditional fall spices, apple vodka and elderflower liqueur keep this Apple Orchard Cocktail fresh and slightly floral.

Makes 1 cocktail. 

2 oz apple vodka
1 oz ginger syrup (recipe below)
0.5 oz apple brandy (I use Long Road)
0.25 oz elderflower liqueur
0.25 oz fresh lemon juice
2 dashes aromatic bitters 

Combine everything in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. 

Shake up and strain into a glass.

Garnish with an apple slice, if desired.

Enjoy your Apple Orchard Cocktail! 

Ginger Syrup

¼ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 inch piece of fresh ginger

Heat the water to boiling. Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. 

Peel and slice the ginger. 

Add to the hot water and sugar mixture. 

Allow to cool to room temperature. 

Cover and place in the refrigerator until chilled. 

Note: The longer you leave the ginger in the syrup, the stronger the flavor. If possible, make the syrup a day or two ahead of making cocktails to allow the ginger more time to infuse the syrup. 

Apple Orchard Cocktail

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12 Easy Vodka Cocktails

Vodka is a super versatile liquor and one people often have on hand. Whether it’s your favorite spirit or you’re just starting out with vodka, give one of these vodka cocktails a try.

Did you give one of these a try? Leave me a comment on the recipe or send me a message! I’d love to know your thoughts.

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