Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
So our adventures in beautiful Arizona finally came to an end and it was time for a change. We have been looking at moving to Colorado for a while to be closer to family and at long last, we did it! And let me tell you, it's much different than Arizona. From the culture and climate of the state, to the food and customer service, and the mountains!!... Let's just say we are in love.
Everything is different out here, and I have to say, some of the best parts about moving here have to be loving family that is ready at any moment to come and take the kids, make dinner or go to the zoo with you....and the SNOW! It has snowed just about everyday that we have been here so far and it's incredible. The dogs love it, the kids love it and I love it. White, fluffy and sparkling in the sunshine, the snow is wonderful, but boy is it cold.
Hot Drinks for Cold Weather
What better weather for hot chocolate, hot tea and hot apple cider. This is my favorite part about the wintertime, other than the snow. I really enjoy how creative you can get with your hot drinks as well. You can have cherry or mint hot chocolate, hot teas with cinnamon, honey, nutmeg or any other variety of spices, and you can have hot apple cider with homemade caramel sauce.
Believe me, I've also busted out all of my jars of pie fillings for some decadent hot desserts right before bed, but that's another article for another time.
Over the last few years, we've really changed our diet around here. We've cut out refined sugars and flours, table salt and all processed foods. We've even switched to all organic items in our grocery basket whenever possible. So although the recipe calls for using apple cider and caramel syrup, and would likely be the easiest purchase pre-made for most households, I like to make all of our items homemade using healthy ingredients. Hot drinks are a very easy place to do just that, so I'll make sure to include those options later on in the recipe just in case you are interested.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
4 hours 5 min
Serves about 8 people
- 8 cups apple cider, (homemade preferred)
- 2.5 cups caramel sauce, (homemade preferred)
- 1.5 cups whipped cream, (homemade preferred)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- You can use store bought if you prefer, but I like making everything from scratch, especially with how easy it is to do.
- Start out by making your apple cider in a pot on the stove. I'll include the homemade recipe below for those of you interested. When finished, strain out all of the solid ingredients, and add to your crockpot.
- In that same pot, mix up your caramel sauce. This is so quick and easy to whip up and I will include this recipe below for you as well. The great thing is, you don't even need to let it cool. Just pour it straight into your crockpot with your apple cider. Yum!
- Next whip up your whipped cream and add most of it to your crock pot, you'll want to save a little bit to top your drinks, or you could just make some more. Can you ever have too much whipped cream?
- Finally, add in your spices. Cook on low for about 4 hours.
- Top with whipped cream, and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon, and enjoy!
I sure love crockpot recipes. There's nothing better in our house than walking in, or walking downstairs, to warm smells wafting around the house, and apples and cinnamon make some of the best smells. You should check out my recipe for Harvest Apple Jam containing cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom with my apples in the crockpot. Divine!
As amazing as this recipe smells and tastes though, as promised, everything tastes better when it's homemade. I offer you some healthier alternatives if you're interested. Surprisingly, apple cider, caramel, and even whipped cream can be made easily from home, even by those not familiar with making their own ingredients.
Homemade Apple Cider
For homemade apple cider, all you need is fresh apples and water. For the purpose of our recipe, we are also going to toss in some cinnamon and cloves (or allspice, whichever you have on hand). If you have a juicer, then this process will be even easier. It takes anywhere between 3-6 apples to get a single cup of apple juice (Oster.com), and we need two cups for this recipe. Pour your two cups of fresh apple juice, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of allspice (or 1/4 tsp of cloves) into a pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5-20 minutes, depending on how strong you like your apple cider, and then strain into your favorite mug to enjoy.
If you have no juicer, then you will want to boil 2-3 apples chopped into quarters in enough water to cover them by an inch or two in a large pot with your spices. Boil uncovered for an hour and then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours. Strain the mixture into your favorite mug and enjoy. You can also do this version in the crockpot on the low setting for easier cooking.
Homemade Caramel Syrup
For homemade caramel, my favorite recipe uses coconut sugar, water, butter, and heavy cream. There are tons of great recipes out there using whole, healthy ingredients, but I like this one. Basically, you combine 1 cup of coconut sugar, 1/4 cup of water, 6 tablespoons of butter, and 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a pot on the stove and bring it to boil. Start with melting the sugar and water together, then melt in the butter, and finally slowly stir in the heavy cream. Let boil for 1 minute and then pull it off to cool for 5 minutes or so.
While it is warm, you can stir as much or as little as you'd like (I recommend about a tablespoon for each cup of hot apple cider) into your cup of hot apple cider until it melts into the hot liquid. Yum!
Homemade Whipped Cream
Finally, the whipped cream. This is the fun one to do. The trick to making a great whipped cream is for everything to be really, really cold, from your bowl and mixers, to your heavy cream. So pop a glass or metal bowl and your mixers into the refrigerator for 10 minutes before starting. When ready, pour 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract into your cold bowl and mix on high for 1 minute, or until stiff peaks form. Be sure to stop when fluffy so you don't over mix it.
What is the Difference Between Apple Juice and Apple Cider?
This is an excellent question, and it is just as easily answered. "Apple juice" is a commercial creation. If you were to put fresh apples into a juicer, the liquid that comes out on the other side is called apple cider. Apple cider has simply been referred to as apple juice for so long that people now know apple cider to be the spiced hot drink.
Fresh apple cider, however, will only last a couple of days in the refrigerator before it will begin to ferment, much like a fresh cut apple. Therefore juice companies are not allowed to sell their juices without first pasteurizing them to make them shelf stable, or capable of sitting on the grocery store shelf for long periods of time without going bad.
What you may not know though, is that the pasteurizing process involves heating up whatever food is being pasteurized until any harmful bacteria is killed, thought to make it safer for the general public. Although, this process also kills all good, healthy bacteria and nutrients in the product. (AltHealthWorks)They can't send it out to the stores that way, so they add in tons of refined sugar (that has also been through this process) and artificial nutrients that your body cannot digest. Yummy right?
This is what is referred to as apple juice. It's so easy, and healthy to make make your own apple "juice" at home, and you can make exactly what you need in the moment. There's really no need to buy it from the store.
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on October 16, 2018:
Char Milbrett from Minnesota on October 13, 2018:
It's the caramel syrup that intrigues me. I built a cider press after I steamed 5 gallons of grapes, and decided I needed a press for future fruit processes. I have used my press for apple cider, and have actually had success with turning the cider into apple wine. I think using the caramel syrup for the sugar may be an interesting answer. Thanks for the inspiration.