Homemade Apple Cider

Homemade Apple Cider

Nothing is much better than a warm cup of steaming apple cider. While store-bought may be convenient, homemade apple cider can’t be beat. Not only does it taste more fresh and authentic, but you can specialize it to your tastes – whether that be more or less sweet, or spicier. Though it doesn’t take long, taking the time to prepare your own fresh cider can make for a fun fall afternoon. Not to mention it will make your house smell delicious while it’s brewing! We recommend preparing a big batch, as this recipe can last for up to 5 days in the fridge, or frozen for up to three months. 

Ingredients

  • 10-12 medium-sized apples (works best with a variety of types), quartered
  • 2 oranges, quartered (peel the oranges for a less tart cider) 
  • 4 fresh cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • Roughly 16 cups of water (more or less depending on preference)
  • ½ cup sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, brown sugar, honey)

Optional seasonings:

  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1-inch fresh ginger

Directions

This recipe can be made on the stovetop in a large pot, or in a crockpot or pressure cooker. 

  1. Add the cut apples, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and cloves and any extra seasonings you are choosing to use to your pot of choice. Completely cover the ingredients with water, with at least one to two inches of room at the top of the pot.
  2. Heat up the cider over high heat until it begins to simmer. Then, reduce the heat to a medium-low setting, cover and simmer for roughly two hours, or until the apples are soft. 
  3. Using a wooden spoon, mash the apples and oranges against the sides of the pot in order to release more flavor. Cover and simmer for another hour.
  4. Next, we’ll strain the cider. Using a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth, pour the apple cider mixture through the strainer in order to separate the solids and the liquid. Repeat if necessary and throw out the solids.
  5. Sweeten! Add in the sweetener of your choice. About ½ cup is recommended, but add less or more to fit your tastes. 
  6. Lastly, serve warm! If serving to guests, add an orange slice or a cinnamon stick to each glass, and have bourbon or brandy on hand if people would like to spike their cider. 

A Peek Into The Next Decade Of Color

A Peek Into The Next Decade Of Color

With only two and a half months left in this decade, companies are looking to the future, and Sherwin Williams has just announced their Color of the Year for 2020… Naval. This deep, dark blue resembles the night sky or the darkest depths of the ocean. Here’s how you can incorporate this stylish color into your home.

Because Naval is so dark, it works perfectly as an accent wall color. Pair it with a creamy white on three of the four walls in a large room, like your living room (on the TV or fireplace wall) or master bedroom (behind the headboard). Got built-ins? Use Naval on the wall behind the shelves to create a splash of color that provides a stunning backdrop to your accessories.

Naval is the perfect color for the kitchen and bathrooms because it works perfectly with any type of metal. Gorgeous gold and bronze features really pop when put up against Naval. Tall faucets and ornate light fixtures stand out and give you that eye-pleasing contrast. The bonus is that Naval works with chrome, silver, brushed nickel, rose gold, copper and any other metal you can find! 

Use Naval on a gallery wall with mix-and-match frames in white, bronze, gold and silver. Natural wood colors for hanging shelves or picture frames work here, too, and give a more down-to-earth feel. 

Thinking a nautical theme? Think Naval! As its name implies, the deep color is taken right from our armed services Navy uniforms, so any type of ocean-theme will tie-in. 

Use Naval on kitchen cabinets and the kitchen island. Add brass knobs and handles to cabinet doors and drawers, and set up brass barstools at the breakfast bar. Marble countertops and an oak wood floor complete the look.

Whether inspired by the night sky or the ocean depths, Naval is an earth tone so it naturally coordinates with earthy greens like Sherwin Williams’s Kale Green. If you don’t want to paint with green, place large houseplants adjacent to your Naval walls and achieve serenity in your home.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here in Texas, tortilla soup is a popular dish that is heartwarming and simple to make. Made with ingredients you likely typically have on hand in your pantry, you can make this meal just about anytime. Try out this super easy one-pot version that you’re sure to fall in love with!

Ingredients

1 pound boneless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 diced onion

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cans of chicken broth (29 oz.)

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 can black beans (15 oz.)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 cups chunky salsa

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the chicken in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to cook for a few minutes. Then add cumin and mix well. 
  2. Add in the broth, corn, chili powder, beans, lemon juice, and salsa and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Crumble some tortilla chips/strips and add to individual bowls. Once the soup is hot, pour it into the bowls over chips. Top with the Monterey Jack cheese and a little sour cream or avocado if desired.

To mix things up, try topping with cilantro, lime juice, jalapenos or green onion. The possibilities are endless, and one reason this dish is such a crowd pleaser is because of how customizable it can be!

October In Houston

October In Houston

October is a great month in north Houston – the weather is finally tolerable, fall fun is in the air, kids are getting excited for Halloween, and the pressure of the holiday season hasn’t set in yet. Here are some great ways to get out and about during this fantastic month, so pull out your calendar and start penciling in some fun!

October is the perfect month to contribute to cancer awareness by participating in the 19th Annual “In the Pink of Health” luncheon sponsored by Memorial Hermann. This year’s event will take place at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center at 11 am on Friday, October 18. Sponsorships are still available, as are individual tickets. Learn from featured speaker Rick Rigsby, Ph. D., a former professor at Texas A&M University. After losing his wife to breast cancer, Dr. Rigsby has made cancer awareness and prevention a platform, as he crosses the globe motivating and inspiring everyone from teachers to global Fortune 500 executives. For more information, visit https://www.memorialhermann.org/give-volunteer/foundation/in-the-pink-of-health/

October is the perfect month to plant a fall garden. Primrose, snapdragons, petunias, and dianthus will bring colorful blossoms to your yard all season long. The native Drummond’s Phlox is a local favorite because of the white “star of Texas” shape in the bloom’s center. Vegetables that thrive in fall conditions are kale, lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli.

October is the perfect month to challenge your fitness by registering for a race. The 9th Annual Fairfield Triathlon takes place on Sunday, October 27 beginning at 7:30 am. This is a sprint, or mini, triathlon with shorter distances that makes it perfect for novices. Register for the full event or create a relay team! Start now by finding a triathlon training schedule like this one (https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/kpdocshare/Training_Plans/Absolute_Beginners_Plan.pdf) and you’ll be ready to race! Register for the Fairfield event here http://fairfieldtri.com/

October is the perfect month to go to an outdoor festival. The Texas Wine & Art Festival (https://www.txwineandart.com/) is on Saturday, October 5 from 10 am until 6 pm in the heart of Old Town Spring. The Katy Rice Harvest Festival (https://www.katyricefestival.com/) is located in Historic Downtown Katy and features live bands on multiple stages, food, and fun vendors and a large carnival. The event runs from Friday, October 11 through Sunday evening, October 13. One of the biggest festivals this month is the Wings Over Houston (www.wingsoverhouston.com) Air Show at the historic Ellington Field. Walkthrough massive military cargo planes, sit in the pilot’s seat of a fighter jet, and watch the sky as stunt pilots re-enact battles from WWII. 

Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad

Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad

Fresh, hearty salads never go out of season. No matter what you’re having, a nice side salad adds a bit of freshness to your meal. A good salad has several elements- veggies, fruits, nuts, and a great dressing. This Autumnal Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad hits all of those points and then some. It’s quick to prepare and serve as a side dish during dinner or make it in the morning to take for a work lunch. Sprinkled with feta cheese and topped with an apple cider dressing, you’ll be dreaming of falling leaves, pumpkin patches, and chilly weather. 

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 6 cups of salad mix (try spring mix with arugula and spinach)
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 cup of walnuts, chopped 
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries

Dressing:

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil or vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Wash and chop your apples into thin, bite-size slices
  2. Combine lettuce, chopped apples, chopped walnuts, feta, and cranberries. Toss together in a large bowl. 
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl or jar, and whisk or shake well to combine. Store any extra dressing in a sealed container kept in the fridge for up to a week.
  4. Directly before serving, add dressing to the salad and toss. 

This salad is best served immediately and enjoyed fresh! If you have any leftover salad mix, you can keep undressed salad in the fridge for a few days. Enjoy!

Space-Saving Setups For Style and Comfort

Space-Saving Setups For Style and Comfort


When it comes to decorating your house, thinking about style and what’s on-trend are important. Other considerations are function and comfort. So, how do you balance all four components to create the space that’s perfect for you and your family? Try these tips and you’ll be living comfortably in style in no time!

· Look for furniture pieces that double as functional storage. Your hallway credenza, while pretty and inviting can feature hidden storage drawers or handle-less cabinets to keep key items like gloves, car keys or backpacks.

· In the bedroom, you may think a headboard should be just that – a flat board behind the head of the bed. What if this became three dimensional and housed shelves or a sliding door with hidden cabinetry? In rooms where space is at a premium, using a versatile piece like this will save real estate.

· Bedside tables that come with openings in the back allow for hidden cords and cables and make device charging convenient. Open shelves also give space for small house plants or books while leaving the top surface open to hold a table lamp or other bedside necessities.

· Speaking of house plants, adding them in the bedroom, kitchen and living room will soften the feel of these spaces, not to mention purify the air. House plants in the bedroom are known to improve sleep by increasing oxygen levels. In the kitchen, they help eliminate toxins in the air from cooking and reduce leftover food smells.

· Living room furniture can still look formal and sleek while holding secret storage. Your ottoman is one of the best secret storage pieces you can find, with many having lift or slide away tops opening to large storage within. These versatile pieces can double as a toy box or hold pillows and throw blankets.