Ways to Give Back on Thanksgiving

Happy Monday Everyone!!!

It’s THANKSGIVING WEEK and for most of us this is a time filled with JOY and HAPPINESS. A time to share special moments with those we love, making new MEMORIES with your family and friends, and of course let’s not forget all the great food. For me THANKSGIVING is a time of real reflection, to really think about all that I’ve been blessed with and the many reasons I have to be GRATEFUL. It never fails to escape my mind, how truly blessed I am and how no matter what I’m going through or how bad things may seem at times there is always someone out there who has it worse off than I do.

This year might be tough for many of us, with the failing stock market and real estate at a crawl…. Still there is always someone out there who has it worse off than us. This thought always leads me to think of all the ways I can Give Back and share with others the many kindnesses I’ve been so blessed with. Below are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving Give Backs!!! I hope you find something that inspires you too.

  1. Hold a Food Drive: When we think Thanksgiving we think food. Why not host a food drive in your area and help feed those who might not have a place to go home to or a turkey dinner waiting on the stove.                
  2. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen: Volunteering at a soup kitchen is a great idea year round but many celebrities and politicians bring attention to this popular way of giving back during Thanksgiving. Find a local shelter and see if they need any help during the holidays.                        
  3. Do a Turkey Trot: We all go back for that second plate of turkey, why not go for a run earlier to help make room for later. Many cities host a Turkey Trot every year and all proceeds go to charity. This is a great way to give back and stay healthy all at the same time.              
  4. Donate to a non-profit that helps the hungry: Programs like Friends of the World Food Program; Feeding America can be great places to make a donation. This can also be a great way to teach your kids the value of giving back and not just during the Holiday Season. If your kids get an allowance have them put a certain amount toward a charity of their choice, by Thanksgiving next year they will have a hefty sum to donate!    
  5. Send a care package to a Soldier: Many men and women serving our country can’t be home to share Thanksgiving with their families so why not send Thanksgiving to them. Treats For Troops is a great program that will help get those packages to soldiers serving us all across the world. Phone cards not just food can be great gifts to those over seas, Cell Phones for Soldiers helps them connect with those they love and feel a little more at home during the Holidays.                                                                                                  
  6. Deliver Dinners to those who are housebound: Meals on Wheels is a wonderful program that will help connect you with those who are shut in to their homes and in need of a warm meal this Thanksgiving.          
  7. Host a Friendsgiving: If you’re in college than you know many students can’t always make it home for the Holidays. Whether they are exchange students with nowhere to go or you just can’t afford the trip for such a short visit, many students are stranded on campus alone. So if you can’t take someone home with you this Thanksgiving then why not host your own little Frindsgiving for those who can’t make it home themselves.        
  8. Donate a Thanksgiving Baskets: Many organizations collect turkeys and food baskets to deliver to families in need or to help feed the homeless. Make a basket and donate it to a local food drive or charity event in your area.  
  9. Visit the Sick: Many elderly in nursing homes or those who are stuck in the hospital for Thanksgiving might not have any family close by to share in the festivities of the Holidays. This can be a very lonely time and just someone stopping in to say hello and visit with for even a short time can really lift someones spirits. Stop by a nursing home or hospital in your area and bring a smile to someones face.                             

No matter how you choose to Give Back this Thanksgiving know that your contribution is greatly appreciated. Even if you might not be able to see the immediate effects know that you are making a difference in someones world.


10 Creative Cocoa’s

The weather outside is FRIGHTFUL, but the fire is so DELIGHTFUL…..and since we’ve no place to Go….why not have a cup of Hot Cocoa!!!!

This is truly the most WONDERFUL time of the year!!!! The leaves are falling, Christmas decorations are starting to go up, people are cuddled up around the warm glow of their fireplaces and you may have even just got your first SNOW!!! If that doesn’t lift your spirits I don’t know what will.

It’s on days like these that I like to break out the HOT COCOA. Everyone has their own way of making this perfect mug of chocolaty goodness. Whether it’s with whipped cream, marshmallows, a little pinch of cinnamon, a hint of lavender ….. Whatever it may be why not try something a little CRAZY this winter and mix it up with these 10 AMAZING and CREATIVE recipes.

#1  Nutella Hot Cocoa

By: Martha Stewart


  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving
  • 8 cups water
  • mini marshmallows


  1. Combine milk and Nutella in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking until smooth. Divide between 2 teacups; serve with dollops of whipped cream.

#2 Lavender Hot Cocoa

By: Seasonally Jane


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon lavender extract
  • Whip cream or marshmallow topping, optional
  • Lavender buds for garnish, optional (recommended for presentation, not necessarily for drinking)

Warm milk in a small pot over medium heat, stirring as needed, about 4 to 5 minutes. Do not let milk boil.

As it warms, stir in cocoa, sugar, and salt, and whisk to combine well. Taste hot chocolate, add additional cocoa or sugar if you desire a stronger chocolate or sweeter taste.

Once you have perfected your cocoa flavor, add in 1 teaspoon lavender extract and stir to combine.

Ladle hot chocolate into mugs, top with marshmallows or whipped cream, and serve.

#3 Mexican Hot Cocoa

By: Me

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  1. Place 1 cup of the milk to a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over a medium flame until the milk just begins to simmer.
  3. Add cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon and cayenne powder to the milk.
  4. Whisk until cocoa, sugar, spices and milk are thoroughly combined.
  5. Slowly add remaining 3 cups of milk, whisking to combine.
  6. Cook over a low flame until the hot chocolate is warmed through.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Optional: Top with whip cream, cinnamon sugar, and use a cinnamon stick as a stir stick.

#4 Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa

By: Sugar Hero

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Recipe ~ Make your own salted caramel hot chocolate at home! Salted caramel is the base for this thick homemade hot chocolate. It’s incredibly rich and indulgent!

  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4½ cups room temperature milk (I used 1%—any fat percentage you enjoy drinking should work)
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Big pinch salt
  • Whipped cream and caramel sauce, to garnish (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and the lemon juice, until the sugar is damp and fragrant.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and let it preheat for several minutes until the pan is hot. Once the saucepan is hot, add the sugar.
  3. Begin stirring immediately and continuously. Because the pan was preheated, the sugar will start cooking very quickly. Soon after it liquefies it will start to take on color. Cook, stirring constantly, until it is a medium amber color.
  4. Continue to stir while you stream in the milk. The caramel may seize and form small chunks of sugar, but continue to stir and heat the mixture, and by the time the milk is piping hot, the caramel will have melted and you will have a smooth liquid.
  5. Once the milk is at a simmer (small bubbles forming along the sides of the pan) remove the pan from the heat. Don’t let the milk come to a boil! Add the chopped chocolates to the pan and whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Add a pinch of salt, taste the milk, and add more salt if desired.
  6. Serve Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with whipped cream and caramel sauce. It can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stove top.

#5 Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa

By: Cookies & Cups

  • 2½ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup hot cocoa mix (no marshmallows)
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • whipped cream or marshmallows optional
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat whisk together your milk and hot cocoa mix.
  2. Add your canned pumpkin, vanilla, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. Heat until desired temperature is reached.
  4. Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream and/or marshmallows and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

#6 White Hot Cocoa

By: The Linley House

  • 1 Gallon of either 2% or Vitamin D milk
  • 1 large carton heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Bags of white chocolate chips.
  • 1 tablespoon of peppermint extract (clear)
  • Whipped Topping
  • Holiday Sprinkles


In a large stock pot or soup pot, over medium heat combine your milk and cream to the point where it is just beginning to steam. You do not want to boil the milk! This is not a recipe to put on the stove and walk away from!
After your milk begins to warm add in your white chocolate chips
Tip: White Chocolate isn’t really chocolate. It’s all pretty much sugar and while brown chocolate has quite a bit of fat in it (the “milk” in milk chocolate) white chocolate does not (Neither does dark chocolate) Because of this your white chocolate with more easily seize (or basically, burn) if you get it too hot too quickly. After you ad the chips to the milk, you will want to stir the chips (or even use a wisk) to melt them into the milk. While you don’t have to stir constantly, make sure not to let the mixture sit too long with out stirring before the chips are dissolved or they will sink to the bottom of the pot (where all the heat is…and seize)
It will probably take 15-20 minutes until all of the chips are dissolved.
Add peppermint extract.
At this point turn the mixture down to “warm” and it can sit on the stove until you are ready to serve.
Serve warm with a dollop of whipped topping and your favorite Holiday Sprinkles for garnish.

#7 Peppermint Hot Cocoa

By: Deliciously Sprinkled


  • 1 1/2 cups milk*
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Sweet’N Low
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • mini marshmallows, for topping


In a saucepan, heat the milk, heavy cream, salt and Sweet’N Low on medium heat until it begins to simmer.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate and peppermint extract. Continue stirring until the chocolate melts.

Serve and top with mini marshmallows or a peppermint stick. Enjoy!

#8 Cookies N’ Cream Hot Cocoa

By: Chef in Training



  1. Warm up milk on stove until it becomes hot, but do not let it boil.
  2. Add in hot cocoa powder, finely ground/processed Oreo cookies and Marshmallow flavoring. Stir to combine well.
  3. Pour into two mugs. Top with whipping cream and drizzle with Marshmallow Ice Cream Topping. Sprinkle on some extra Oreo crumbs for garnish.

#9 Coconut Hot Cocoa

By: The Crafting Chick

– 2 Cups 2% Milk
– 1 Can Coconut Milk
– 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
– 3 Tablespoons Sugar
– 7 oz. Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips {about 3/4 of the bag}
– 1 Tsp. Mexican Vanilla Extract {use regular vanilla extract if you don’t have Mexican Vanilla}
– Shredded Coconut {optional}
– Whipped Cream {optional}
– Sugar Free Coconut Flavored Syrup {optional if you want more coconut flavor}
1.  Begin by toasting your shredded coconut.  Sprinkle it evenly on a baking sheet and place in a pre-heated 350* oven.  Be careful and watch it and toss occasionally so it doesn’t burn.  This should only take a few minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.
2.  In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat add the following ingredients:  milk, coconut milk, semi-sweet chocolate chips, Mexican vanilla, cocoa powder, & sugar.  Using a wire whisk to mix, keep a close eye on it for a few minutes so your chocolate chips don’t burn to the bottom of the pan.  Whisk occasionally until thoroughly heated through.  {I added 2 pumps from my sugar free coconut flavored syrup to give my hot chocolate a little more coconut flavor, this is up to you and not necessary.}
3.  Pour in to your favorite mugs and top with whipped cream & toasted coconut.

#10 Mint White Hot Cocoa

By: Me

2 cups milk

2 cups half & half cream
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. peppermint extract
a few drops of green food coloring
marshmallows (optional)

In a heavy- bottomed pot, heat the milk and cream over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the white chocolate, remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes. Add the peppermint extract and food coloring and whisk until smooth.

Serve immediately. Serves 4

Homestyle Potato Salad


Happy Monday Everyone!!!!

Yesterday we hosted Sunday Dinner, a family tradition for us, and being the meat lover that he is, my husband requested that we BBQ Ribs. Naturally, potato salad made it to the menu.

This is one of my favorite Potato Salad recipes. Probably because first it is really simple and secondly it is absolutely delicious. Being German I’ve always loved German potato salad but I find that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So when serving large groups I tend to stick with a homestyle recipe, plus honestly I think that traditional potato salad pairs better with ribs, just my opinion.

I found this recipe on “Favorite Family Recipes” by Erica, Echo & Emily. I’ve made it multiple times and it always turns out great and is a real crowd pleaser. ENJOY!!!

  • 5 medium potatoes (red potatoes taste the best)
  • 8 eggs, hard-boiled (save 2 eggs to use for garnish on salad)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ c. Mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • mustard, to taste
  • ½ c. sweet pickle relish (or 5 to 6 diced baby dill pickles, if you don’t like it sweet)
  • Dill weed or paprika (optional, but I always use both!!!)VSCOCam$2014-11-17 11.01.37 1
  1. Boil potatoes (do not peel) for about 40 minutes until potatoes are tender, but still firm (if you are using red potatoes do it for less time.. 15-20 minutes or so).
  2. Peel and dice potatoes AND 6 eggs. Add salt and pepper and toss. Mix remaining ingredients separately and fold into potato mixture. 2014-11-17_11.06.32_12014-11-17_11.04.38_12014-11-17_11.13.00_1
  3. Slice remaining 2 eggs and layer on top of salad. Sprinkle top of salad with dill weed or paprika. Or do like I do and mix the paprika and dill weed into the salad for extra flavor. Then garnish with a little more for color.
  4. Refrigerate overnight (or at least 6-8 hours).IMG_20141116_142212

Cupcakes in Columbia

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So my last post was this delicious cupcake recipe that literally had me drooling, and after posting it  I was sitting here thinking to myself, “Good stuff, Katie(pat on the back), anyone who tries that recipe is really going to be glad they read your blog.” Because come on…who doesn’t love a great cupcake recipe, right? I’ll tell you who… people who don’t bake. (Round of applause from my cooking challenged friends).

So here you go! If you live in Columbia, SC and are handicapped in the kitchen or are ever just passing through the area and get a hankering for a cupcake here are a few great places to try right in my backyard:

First off let me say I have tried all four of these places and they are amazing. So whatever side of town you are on you are in good hands and will not be disappointed. Now, for a little review of my own personal experience at each:

Cupcake is probably the one I visit most. This is for several reasons. One it’s seriously like three stores down from a Starbucks and the only thing I like better than my soy chi is my soy chi and a cupcake. I don’t think I have ever had a bad cupcake here. They have a gazillon flavors that they rotate on a day to day basis which is nice cause I’m all about branching out and trying new things but if you develop a favorite that you are really just craving one Friday night the chances of them actually having it might be slim. The only thing I have ever heard negative about this place is the amount of frosting they put on their cupcakes. So I admit it’s A LOT, but I love frosting, like I will eat a whole bowl of what is left after baking….sshhhh! And I just find it hard to see this as a negative because come on people how hard is it to take some that yummy goodness off if you aren’t a sugar feign like me? Ps. they have french toast cupcakes too kind of like the recipe I posted yesterday. Unfortunately, it does not include bacon.

Chocolate Nirvana is AMAZING!!! I have tried their cupcakes a couple times and they are super unique because they specialize in cheesecake. Yes, you heard me right, cheesecake cupcakes! Yeah, so basically that’s all I’ve tried their because a cheesecake cupcake is to die for and I don’t know any other bakeries in Columbia that carry them so why would I get a regular cupcake when I can have the melt in your mouth cheesecake cupcake.

Cupcake Paradise Ok, so this one I have only tried once and it was at a birthday party. This is only because of location, it’s just not convenient for me to go by there but I would defiantly order from them. They have 40 different flavors and the few that I tried at my friends party were delicious. I know people who drive 3 hours to get cakes and cupcakes from them so yeah they are worth a mention.

SWEET probably has the most adorable little shop I have ever seen. I’m not exaggerating. They also rotate their flavors but their website has a very easy to read calendar so just swing by there first and see what’s on the menu that day. I’ve never had a cupcake here that I didn’t like. Their flavor menu is not quite as vast as say Cupcake‘s but they still have all your basics with a few twists.  My favorite is the Wake Me Up Before You Go Go: Vanilla coffee cake, caramel filling, whip cream topping, caramel drizzle.

Well, now  I am thoroughly craving a cupcake…so I guess it’s time to start searching for a new delicious recipe. I’ll let you know what I find!!! Enjoy your cupcaking!!!

French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Bacon Buttercream. Yum!

 So I’m a sucker for anything bacon….I’ve had candied bacon, chocolate bacon, bacon flavored soda, my husband has even used Bacon Mustache Wax, yep that’s a thing. So naturally when I found this recipe on The Ginger Snap! I was super excited. First off French Toast is like my favorite breakfast carb EVER! That combined with bacon and maple syrup = HEAVEN.  So a cupcake combo of the three had me drooling just thinking about it.
 I followed this recipe step for step and was very pleased to find it fairly simple and overwhelmingly delicious.
*Makes: 18 cupcakes


For cupcakes:

  • 3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400g)  granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 230g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (240g) sour cream
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

For streusel:

  • 1/4 cup (60g) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (60g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

For maple bacon buttercream:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 230g) butter, softened
  • 4 cups (500g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup (100g) maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces


Step 1: Fry up the bacon first. When the bacon is done, let is cool on paper towel or chopping block until hard and all the grease has dried. Save the grease for the buttercream.

Step 2: Make the streusel next. In a large bowl, combine the both brown sugars, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Mix the cold butter into the mixture by hand, squeezing the pieces in to mix it. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use. It should look something like this:

Step 3: Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.

Step 4: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the softened butter,eggs, vanilla, and sour cream and mix well, until the mixture is smooth. Get rid of any remaining flour by stirring with a spatula.

Step 5: Place three tablespoons of batter in each prepared baking cup (you can use water or cooking spray to make the process easier and the batter doesn’t keep sticking to your spoon). Divide the streusel evenly among the cupcakes, covering each surface area with the cinnamon mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine took about 27 minutes).

Step 6: Make your buttercream. Beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy (about a minute or 2). Beat in the sugar, a cup at a time, until combined. Stir in the vanilla, salt, and syrup. Add the heavy cream last and beat for another few minutes until completely incorporated. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to pipe onto your cupcakes.

Step 7: When cupcakes are done, take out of the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes or so (make sure they aren’t still warm when you feel them or the icing will just melt right off).

Step 8: When they are ready, pipe your icing on in swirl, or however you would like, and then add your bacon bits on top. Enjoy whenever you please!

Let Me Introduce Myself….


Hello fellow Bloggers, Travelers, Foodies and those of you just dropping by for a quick read. Welcome to Cloves + Ginger, a life style blog, filled with great recipes, fun idea’s, a few nifty tips and lot’s and lot’s of awesome pictures.

So for those of you who don’t already know me, which let’s be realistic…is probably all of you, my name is Kathryn Hall and I am Cloves + Ginger.

katie hall

I’m relatively new to the blogosphere but I have always loved to write, at least my bookcase dedicated entirely to my MANY journals might indicate that I have a slight problem. I am an avid eater! Ha, imagine that! Yes, I have a passion for food, which has led to my love of cooking. Along my food journey I have discovered some really great recipes, some of which I can successfully execute and others which…well let’s just say they should be left to the professionals. The only thing I find more enjoyable than eating is eating in new places. There is seriously nothing in my mind more enjoyable than traveling the world, exploring new places, having exciting adventures and all the while discovering and trying new types of food and recipes. In a word HEAVEN.

pinterestWhen I’m not TRAVELING or EATING I am on Pinterest…..don’t judge me, you all know you are doing the same thing. But honestly, Pinterest might be the best thing since sliced bread.  I find all kinds of great recipes, diy projects (which I occasionally succeed at) and a few organizational tips which I am desperately trying to apply to my life. I’ll admit it, I spend way too much time pinning, but hey who doesn’t. No judgement here.

So with all that said, Cloves + Ginger is basically just a way for me to combine my passion for travel, food and the occasional DIY attempt and share these experiences with all of you. So sit back and let me take you on a few of my journeys. Who knows you might see something you like! ENJOY!!!

Travel. Food. DIY Projects….these are just a few of my favorites.