Monthly Archives: October 2013

Trick With a Treat: Chili Chocolate Pretzel Sticks

By: Angela Keyser, HQO Marketing Director

Halloween is here! Let the parading of the costumes begin, right? If you’re anything like me, you kinda wish you were still young enough to run around the neighborhood and get free candy once a year.  Well, surprise the adults that show up to your door with these fun homemade treats. They’re a fun spin on the traditional chocolate covered pretzels most people love.  But, there’s a little trick to these treats, the chocolate is infused with just a touch of chili! (Herb, spice and tea-infused chocolate is a trend we’re starting to see more of online and in specialty food lines. If you don’t like chilies, experiment with things like cardamom, lavender or chia tea.) Enjoy!

5 Simple Ingredients + 1 Optional Ingredient

5 Simple Ingredients + 1 Optional Ingredient


1 bag of salted pretzel sticks
12 oz of dark chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
Holiday Sprinkles (optional)
Step 1: Combine chocolate chips and spices in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50% power for one to one-and-a-half minutes.  Stir and repeat until chocolate is melted.
Step 2: Pour melted chocolate into a cup and dip each pretzel in the chocolate.
A simple little tip: put the melted chocolate in a glass. It makes dipping the pretzels so much easier.

A simple little tip: put the melted chocolate in a glass. It makes dipping the pretzels so much easier.

Step 3: Lay the chocolate-covered pretzels on wax or parchment paper and sprinkle with holiday-appropriate sprinkles.

Step 4: Allow the chocolate to set for 30 minutes to one hour or place in the refrigerator for faster setting time.
Recipe Source: Adapted from Aztec Chocolate Bark recipe found here. 

Organic Cajun Pumpkin Seeds

Since we are all carving pumpkins, and most of us just throw away the pumpkin “guts”, we thought this recipe would be a great way to use those pumpkin seeds.


You’ll need:1 tsp organic paprika, 1 tsp cajun seasoning, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp butter


Step 1: Carve a hole in the top of your pumpkin and scoop out the seeds a flesh. A spoon works well for this.


Step 2: Using your hands, separate the flesh from the seeds. This doesn’t have to be perfect, a little pumpkin flesh will add flavor!


Step 3: Melt you butter in the microwave and add your seasonings and worcestershire sauce .


Step 4: Coat your seeds in your seasoning sauce.


Step 5: Place your seeds on a foil-lined baking tray and bake in a 350F oven for 20 minutes. This healthy and flavorful snack is great to much on through out your day or even for Halloween parties! Enjoy.

Homemade Organic Apple Cider


As the weather begins to cool and there is a nip in the crisp autumn air, this homemade spiced Apple Cider will make you reminiscent of pumpkin picking and hay rides when you were a child.

To Begin you’ll need:

6 organic Granny Smith apples, 6 organic Red Delicious Apples, 1 organic orange, 1 cup brown sugar


1 whole nutmeg, 4 whole cinnamon sticks, 1 tbsp cloves, stock pot, strainer, potato masher and cheesecloth.


Step 1: Wash you fruit and cut it into quarters


Step 2: Add all your fruit to the pot with the sugar.

Step 3: Prepare your spice bouquet: lay out the cheesecloth and add the cloves, cinnamon and diced nutmeg. Wrap up tightly and place in the pot.


Step 4: Cover everything with water and bring to a boil, covered for 1 hour. After 1 hour, mash your fruit, reduce your heat and allow to simmer for 2 hours.


Step 5: Allow the cider to cool, remove your spice bouquet and using your strainer and cheesecloth, ladle your cider into a bowl.

You can serve your cider hot or cold, but I prefer mine hot with a cinnamon stick! I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe on how to make homemade Apple Cider and perhaps now you can start your own family tradition!

Chocolate Chai Cupcakes with Cinnamon

By: Angela Keyser, Marketing Manager

Chocolate Chai Cupcakes FINAL

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? I love having an excuse to make them and, I must say, my son doesn’t mind either! Of course, he always thinks it’s someones birthday when there are cupcakes around so he sang “Happy Birthday” to me while we whipped these up. (Hey, I’ll turn 21 again any day!)

Chai Cupcakes Step 1

My baking assistant signing “Happy Birthday” as he lines the cupcake tins. This is a great way to have even the smallest hands help in the kitchen.

Chocolate and chai are one of those combinations made in heaven. So, when I found this recipe I had to give it a try. (I also like it because, unlike most chai cupcake recipes, this one uses real chai tea and not an instant blend that is oftentimes loaded with sugar….not that we’re counting calories with this recipe!) I tweaked a few things but must give credit to the original author Land O Lakes. (The midwestern dairy cooperative my family farm was a part of for over 25 years.)

For some of you, this recipe may be a little overkill on the dairy. If that’s the case, I’d omit the cream cheese filling.  The chocolate batter is sufficiently rich enough and your cupcakes will be adequate size. Make sure you give the frosting a try, though.  I found it highlighted the beautiful balance chocolate and chai have. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Filling
1/3 cup sugar
8oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
Chocolate Batter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
10 teaspoons loose leaf Organic Masala Chai Tea
1 package chocolate or fudge cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
3 eggs
3 tablespoons reserved chai tea
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Step 1:  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Have your assistant fill 24 cupcake tins with paper liners

Step 3: Blend filling ingredients (sugar, cream cheese & egg) and set aside.

If you don't have loose leaf chai tea, you can use 5-8 tea bags. Or, you can make your own chai tea. It's simply a combination of black tea and spices.  Google "Chai Tea Recipes" for some ideas.

If you don’t have loose leaf chai tea, you can use 5-8 chai tea bags. Or, you can make your own chai tea. It’s simply a combination of black tea and spices. Google “Chai Tea Recipes” for some ideas.

Step 4: Steep 10 teaspoons of loose leaf Organic Masala Chai Tea in 1 1/2 cups boiling water for 5 minutes. Then strain to remove tea and add enough water to the tea to equal 1 1/2 cups.  Set aside 3 tablespoons of tea for the frosting.

Step 5: Combine tea, chocolate cake mix, melted butter and eggs in a large bowl and mix until well blended, a minute or two.

Step 6: Fill all cupcake liners with approximately 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate batter.

Step 7:  Add 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling to each cupcake.

Step 8: Top cupcakes with remaining chocolate batter making sure to not fill more than 2/3-3/4 of the cupcake liner.  If you fill them too full, the cupcakes will overflow and they won’t look like the cute ones on Cupcake Wars. ;0)

Step 9: Bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool.

Step 10: Combine tea, milk, flour and cocoa in a saucepan and whisk until well incorporated.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Mixture will become thick.  Let cool for 15 minutes.

NOTE: Be careful to pay close attention to keeping the heat under control (not boiling) and stirring often.  Leaving the pot unattended will result in a curdled mess!

Step 11: Mix sugar, butter and cinnamon together. Slowly add cocoa mixture and mix until sugar is dissolved.

Step 12: Frost your cupcakes. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on if you’d like and devour!

Step 5:


Apple Slices with Cinnamon: A Fall Family Favorite

By: Angela Keyser, Marketing Manager

My Grandma Lina was pretty special. We weren’t related. She was my Grandma’s best friend. But, throughout my entire childhood, she was like a Grandma to me – watching my siblings and I when our parents were away or letting us come over and “play work” (my younger sister and I had this fascination with playing with junk mail). 😉 When I think about it, Grandma Lina was probably the most impactful person on me when it comes to the sustainable values I hold today.  She grew almost everything she ate, made her own soap and butchered her own chickens, among other things. Without preaching it, she showed me how to live simply, sustainably and well. (There’s not a meal at Grandma Lina’s I can’t remember loving. I do, however, recall my pants always feeling much tighter after leaving the table!)

Grandma Lina lived her in farmhouse until the beautiful age of 98 when she suffered a stroke and soon passed.  Her simple love for food and family are summed up in the recipes I now make in her honor. There’s at least one for every season. When I make them or eat them, I slip back in time to those fresh-aired days on her farm, picking flowers, playing with the kitties, smelling the freshly baked goodies from the oven and feeling her rough, hard-working hands on mine. She was a kindred spirit, for sure, and is always missed and even more celebrated in the great food she taught me to make.

One of my fall favorites is Grandma Lina’s Apple Slices.  I hope they inspire some family apple picking and baking traditions in  your home. After all, you never know how far those special family traditions will be carried down through the generations.  Enjoy!

Grandma Lina’s Apple Slices


Pie Crust
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white for later)
½ cup milk
5-7 apples
1 to 1 ½ cups sugar (we use about ¾-1 cup because we don’t like these super sweet)
2 tablespoons flour
1 or 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To Make the Pie Crust

Mix all pie crust ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Form two equal sizes of dough.

Rolling out the crust.

Rolling out the crust.

Flour a large surface, a rolling pin and the top of one dough ball. Roll out the dough ball to fit the bottom and sides of a jelly roll pan (approx. 12 ½ inches by 17 ½ inches and 1 inch sides).

NOTE: Be sure to keep the surface underneath the pie dough floured. This will help the dough spread into a beautiful and even thin layer.  (I.e. Every once in a while, peel back half of the pie crust and sprinkle a little flour on the surface.  Then, repeat with the other side.)

After the dough is rolled out, carefully fold it in half and transfer it to your jelly roll pan.  Unroll it and cover the bottom and sides of the jelly role pan.

For the Filling

Placing apple slices on pie crust.

Placing apple slices on pie crust.

Peel and slice 5-7 apples. Place the apples in rows on top of the pie crust.

Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the apples.

Place small pieces of the room temperature butter over the apples and then sprinkle with vanilla.

Roll out the second dough ball following the same instructions above and place over the apples.  Be sure to pinch the bottom and top crusts together around the edges.

photo 5

I sprinkled some extra cinnamon on the top.

Brush the top of the pie crust with egg white and then cut a few slits in the crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake 45 minutes.

Allow to cool and frost with powdered sugar icing: 1 cup confectioners sugar and 1-2 tablespoons water. Add more water until a thin consistency is created. Or, serve with vanilla ice cream.