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A Little Thanksgiving Treat

The days of autumn are dwindling, but winter is fast on its heels! I wanted to share a few recipes that would be perfect for blustery days at home with the children. In fact, we test-tasted two of them yesterday in a little impromptu Thanksgiving tea!

Mini Pumpkin Pies

When I found this recipe in a magazine, the boys oohed and aahed over it! (Anything made with Cool Whip is bound to be a hit in their book.) Instead of making one big pie, however, we poured the filling into six tiny Keebler pie shells - perfectly sized treats for little hands. This was very easy and quick to make. It would make a fun holiday dessert for the kid table!

Ingredients: 1/2 cup cold milk, 6 serving-size package vanilla pudding, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 2 1/2 cups Cool Whip, graham cracker crust (1 regular sized or 6-8 mini ones - we filled 6 and had filling leftover).


Whisk the milk, pudding mix and pumpkin pie spice for 1 minute with a wire whisk. (Mixture will be very thick.) Whisk in canned pumpkin till thoroughly mixed. Then fold in Cool Whip. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients and smooth any lumps.

And here are the filled shells ready to go into the refrigerator to set.


The directions said to wait two hours but we only made it one! While the pies chilled, we set about making ...

Hot Apple Cider with Caramel

I placed a saucepan of apple cider on the stove to heat and then made up these caramel dippers. (I got this idea from the October issue of Family Fun magazine.) We microwaved (unwrapped) caramels for about 15 seconds, just enough time to soften them a bit, and then we pushed the popsicle sticks into the softened caramel.


When the cider was hot, we poured it into our special winter tea mugs, and used the caramel sticks as stirrers.


And here is our little Thanksgiving tea!


While the boys dug into their pumpkin pies I read from The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving and Chester Chipmunk's Thanksgiving. All the while the caramels were melting and flavoring the cider. Oooh, was it good! It tasted just like a caramel apple in a cup! (I placed a copy of this recipe in my October file for next year.)

Here are a few other child-friendly cold weather brews I'd like to share:

Caramel Apple Cider (from Family Fun, October 2005)


  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup water

Caramel Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

First bring the cream and brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cider and raise the heat to medium high, heating just until the cider begins to steam, about 4 minutes. Divide among 4 mugs, top each one with 2 tablespooons of caramel whipped cream and serve immediately. Serves 4.

For the Caramel Whipped Cream: In a small chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream with the brown sugar until soft peaks form.

Warm Spice Tea (from Parents Magazine, October 2006)

  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 6 mandarin-orange spice tea bags (we use decaf)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 red and 1 green apple, thinly sliced

In a large saucepan, combine water, tea bags, and cinnamon stick. Let steep 5 minutes. remove tea bags and stir in honey. Let cool 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in apple slices.

Spiced Green Tea (from Taste of Home, October/November 2006)

  • 5 cups boiling water
  • 5 individual green tea bags
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 cups cranberry juice

In a Dutch oven or large kettle, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat; add the tea bags. Cover and steep for 8 minutes. Discard the tea bags. Add sugar, lemon juice, and pumpkin pie spice to tea; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in apple juice and cranberry juice. Serve warm or cold. Serves 12.

Hot Apple Tea (from Woman's Day, October 3, 2006)

  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon stickes (each about 3 inches long)
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 tea bags, regular or decaffeinated

Bring cider, sugar, cinnamon and ginger to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tea bags, cover and let steep 5 minutes. Strain; serve hot.

Hot Spiced Brew (from Very Best Coffee)

(Note: As this is made with coffee, this drink might be more for you Mamas! You could make hot chocolate for the kids and stir in some of the creamer for extra flavor.)

  • 1/2 cup ground coffee, regular or decaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Cinnamon Vanilla Creme Flavor Nestle Coffee-Mate Liquid Coffee Creamer, divided.

Place coffee grounds in filter basket and sprinkle with allspice and nutmeg. Pour water into coffee maker and brew. Divide coffee into mugs; top each with 2 tablespons Coffee-Mate.

Spiced Tea (from Family, Festivals and Food)

(I love how the book describes this drink as "for cold winter evenings." Wouldn't it be nice to make some up and keep it in a thermos - perhaps to take with you when you run errands on a cold day, or for a day of skating or sledding?)

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 inch stick cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons black tea (we would use decaf)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemons juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Combine water, cloves and cinnamon. Heat to boiling. Add tea; cover and let brew 5 minutes, then strain. Heat orange juice, lemon juice and sugar to boiling; stir and add to hot tea. Makes 6-8 servings. For children this could be made with apple juice instead of tea."

I just love having little teas with my boys, but when I say, tea, there's nothing fancy or frilly - or goodness knows, nothing pink - about it. Our teas are not about manners and formality. (Though I do try to encourage proper behavior and we always begin with grace.) For us, it's just taking an hour or so once a week to sit down to something special and delicious to eat, to enjoy a warm drink (perhaps cold punch in the summer) and read or craft or just talk together. My Christmas wish is to do this once a week - and each week have a little holiday theme. It might be a movie, a book, a feast day or a fun craft. But whatever we "do" we will always be eating something yummy and sipping something warm - to me, that's a perfect way to spend a cold afternoon!