PSL Your Way

How do you customize your pumpkin spice?

PSL season is in full swing, and the more pumpkin spice lattes there are from various coffee vendors and recipe bloggers, the more customizations there are. It's entirely possible to have a totally different PSL every day of tall, from PSL mochas or caramel frappes to whipped PSLs and other fun variations.

There's the iced variation, of course, which many people prefer. Then there's pumpkin chai, which some people enjoy because it adds even more spices to the drink. Others prefer an apple chai. There's also pumpkin cold brew, cold foam and even store-sold pumpkin creamer to play with before you even start adding more flavors!

From chocolate to vanilla, cookie butter to nut butters, people add all kinds of flavors and ingredients to their PSLs, pumpkin frappes and other fall-based drinks. What have you experimented with? What works the best? Share your favorite recipes in the chat.

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Mocha Shake Recipes

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Mochas are great iced or hot, but have you ever had a mocha shake? Thicker than a Frappucino, a mocha shake is a delicious treat that's perfect for cooling off, enjoying some chocolate flavor and still getting that caffeine kick, depending on how you make it. Yes, you can make one without caffeine if you like!

You can also make mocha shakes with fewer calories or sugar. Just use this recipe for a mocha shake from Hungry Girl, or try some mocha syrup from Skinny Syrups. If you want to use real, full chocolate and ice cream, this decadent recipe is a good one to try, and if you only have instant coffee and cocoa available, you're still in luck!

How do you like to make mocha shakes at home? What kinds of flavors, mix-ins or toppings do you like to add? Share them in the chat.

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September Eats

What's on your radar?

With September come all of the fall eats and treats, making it one scrumptious month. Many people have a hard time staying away from sweets at Christmastime, but for others it's the fall that has it all! From peaches, pears and apples in all kinds of baked goodies to all of the fun pumpkin spice-flavored treats appearing on the shelves, it's definitely a season of temptation.

The Kolache Factory has caramel apple goodies this month, and Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts already released a bunch of fun new flavors in August. The new Starbucks Apple Crisp Macchiato is delightful! It's sad to miss out on the beloved salted caramel mocha but it's also a fun new flavor to try, as is the Dunkin Apple Cranberry Refresher. Yum!

What fun fall flavors are popping up in your neck of the woods? What do you look forward to enjoying in September? Share your favorites in the chat!

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Staples For No-Cook Meals

What do you have in your pantry or freezer?

My teen loves to cook, but not to clean up. The cleanup is what keeps me from cooking much in the summer! I can't wait fall when we can use the crockpot again. We don't have air conditioning in the kitchen so heat from cooking plus cleanup time equals no fun. So you can bet if I can avoid cooking or get takeout, I will. One of the best things to do to keep from cooking is to keep a bunch of salad staples in your house.

Along with plenty of fresh greens (which we sadly didn't grow this year--maybe this fall!), keeping lots of chopped veggies, cheese and frozen or fresh meats on hand is super helpful. Grilled chicken breasts, falafel, shrimp and tuna are fantastic to keep on hand to toss into salads. Plenty of fun ingredients like sunflower seeds or cheese crackers help keep it interesting, too, as do the ingredients for a good salad dressing.

What kinds of staples do you have on hand for no-cook meals? Share them in the chat! 

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Chicken Fajita Salad Ideas

Because it's too hot to cook anything else!

Chicken fajita salad is one of the easiest DIY salads to make that also happens to taste awesome. While we can argue on so many things about the salad itself--I don't like the texture of onions or cilantro, for example, but I do use onion powder for the flavor--most of us can appreciate the layers of flavor that go into a fajita, and using a salad instead of a tortilla is a great way to make it lighter for this hot summer weather--not to mention add in more greens to your daily total.

This version of the fajita salad is fantastic for people who need to avoid dairy, while this one is great for people who want some extra flavor. Peppers and pumpkin seeds as toppings? Yes, please! I like to add chipotle to mine but all kinds of heat are great, and sour cream is a must for me. Playing with different cheeses is also a great way to mix it up. A local cheesemaker makes a great 5-alarm cheese that's perfect for fajitas.

What is your go-to fajita salad recipe? Share it in the chat.

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Spicy Peach Jelly

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After going peach picking, my family and I decided to grab some lunch at the orchard the other day and were delighted to discover peaches all over the menu. Why wouldn't they be, of course! I had a burger with chipotle peach jam on it and WOW. It was the best burger because of that. Now I want to make my own peach jam at home.

This recipe looks easy enough for me to follow, and I'm not even after multiple cans or even a full jar. I'd totally be fine just making enough to make those burgers at home! Do you ever do that? The process is cumbersome enough to where lots of cooks just make a big batch, but I don't know how often we'll be using it. The chipotle has to be in it, but I am also wondering what other spices might make it pop? I'm a big cayenne pepper fan.

What do you use to make spicy jelly at home? Share your jelly and jam recipes in the chat!

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Best Air Fryer Bites

What do you like to make?

The air fryer is one of the best modern cooking inventions, not only speeding up the frying process but often cutting calories in the process. There are so many fun ways to cook little bites in the air fryer. You can even try frying things like Lunchables or a sub sandwich if you like! Reheating French Fries is finally doable with an air fryer, too.

Pocket foods are so fun to eat and the air fryer is perfect for them. These jalapeno bites look so tasty, and these dumplings are practically begging to be made. There's also a tasty recipe for dipping sauce.

What is your favorite small bite to prepare in the air fryer? Share it in the chat!

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The Best Crunchy Snacks

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Snacking may or may not be helpful depending on your personal needs and fitness goals, but it sure is fun to do, isn't it? Finding a great crunchy snack can be difficult depending on those factors as well as personal tastes, but I ran across these Daily Crunch snacks that I thought we should check out.

These snacks are sprouted and loaded with nutrition, but they also have really cool-looking flavors like Golden Ranch, which includes turmeric and sea salt as a superfood blend. They also have blends mixed with fruit or even coffee-soaked, giving them a really interesting nutritional value. I love it when food makers play with real foods and ingredients to create nutritionally-dense yet yummy treats.

Have you tried these crunchy snacks yet? I have not but look forward to it. Tell us how you liked them (or not) in the chat!

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Salad Game-Changers

What are yours?

Getting bored of the same old salad isn't unusual, especially if you try to incorporate lots of leafy greens into your day via salad. Sure, it's healthy, but at what cost? All joking aside, curing the salad boredom can be as easy as mixing up an ingredient or two.

My husband, for example, likes to mix up his meats. He will add chopped ham, turkey or pepperoni to his salads. I'm not huge on meat but I like to play with cucumbers, avocado and other ingredients. My favorite game changer is probably cheese, though. You can always find a new-to-you cheese to try in your salad.

I also love to play with new dressings. My all-time favorite dressing is the Cheesecake Factory's homemade ranch, which just tastes better than everyone else's. I make some dressings on my own (I love Penzey's Green Goddess blend that's really easy to mix up) but I love trying spicy ones from different restaurants or brands, too. Speaking of Penzey's, a few new herbs and spices will also change everything! I love their sandwich sprinkle or Brady Street Cheese on a salad.

Trying salad served in different ways is also fun. A chopped salad can make all the difference, and some people love wedge salads the most. I love making taco salads minus the shells/tortilla strips, too, and a little chipotle or taco seasoning goes a long way for that tactic.

What about you? What is your salad game changer? Share it in the chat.

The Many Faces Of A Sandwich

Share your favorite tips and tricks!

The sandwich is one of the simplest concepts, and it doesn't take much to make one. Stick just about anything between two pieces of bread and you've got one. But some people have elevated the sandwich into something truly special, moving beyond the standard PB&J or turkey on wheat--both delicious in their own ways!

My teenager, for example, has elevated the grilled cheese to something out of this world. The secret ingredient is Penzey's sandwich sprinkle, which is good on almost any sandwich, but the kid also layers a sliced cheese with a contrasting shredded one, adds in a meat component or some apple slices, uses a few other herbs to suit that day's tastes and either uses butter or mayo to pan-fry it. The end result is always a glorious surprise. Here are some more great tips for sandwich making.

Do you have any great sandwich tips to share? Post them in the chat! 

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