Tasty Tuesday: Hot drinks for cold weather

Now that the weather has cooled down, we’re all in the mood for hot drinks. For the next several months, my house will smell like hot, spiced cider about 75% of the time. This is the easiest way to create atmosphere that I know….and we love drinking this kind of cider.

Here’s how I do it:

Hot Spiced Cider

I start by shopping for vast quantities of apple cider or juice on sale. A good sale is $.99 for a two quart (64 fluid ounces) bottle. It doesn’t matter if you get apple juice or apple cider. By the time you’re done doctoring it, it’s delicious and cider-y.

In my crockpot I put:

  • 1 1/2 bottles of cider or apple juice
  • 1/3 can of frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 large orange, sliced into 1/4 inch wheels
  • cloth or mesh bag filled with
    • 1/8 c. whole cloves
    • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
    • 1/8 c. whole allspice

Simmer all these things together for at least an hour. You can leave the crock pot on for hours if you want to; it will make your house smell wonderful. If you’re in a hurry, you can jumpstart this by bringing all these ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot on the stove and then transferring it to the crockpot.

Having a small mesh or cloth bag for the spices isn’t strictly necessary if you don’t mind the stray clove getting into your cup of cider. It’s just easier for kids to serve themselves if they aren’t dodging those spices with the ladle.

I’m not done though.

My son Michael is a very serious young man who likes to make sure that all the details are taken care of and all the bases are covered. Very often, Michael is the one who starts a sentence with, “Mom, I think you need to write about….” and then he goes on to suggest writing out instructions for something very basic that, according to him, NOT everyone automatically knows how to make. This post on homemade hot chocolate is his suggestion.

Most everyone can figure out how to open a packet and stir in a cup of boiling water. (If you DON’T know how to do that, this is probably not the right blog to be reading.) Not everyone knows, however, how to turn milk, sugar, and cocoa into hot chocolate. Here’s how:

Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • 4 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla

In a medium sized saucepan, combine milk, cocoa, and sugar. Heat on medium heat. Initially, the cocoa won’t stir into the milk, but as the milk warms up, the cocoa will start to mix. Stir occasionally as mixture heats up. Try not to let it boil (it will form a skin). Once the mixture is very hot, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

For a twist, add almond extract or peppermint extract instead of vanilla.

If you want to make just one cup of hot chocolate, combine 1 T. cocoa, 1 T. sugar, and 6 ounces of milk. Heat on the stove or in the microwave. Add a few drops of vanilla.

There now, Michael’s gotcha covered.

Have a fondness for Russian tea mix? Stop by My Sister’s Kitchen to find the recipe for it; this powdered mix also makes a great Christmas gift.

We’re also talking pizza again (we get back around to pizza OFTEN at My Sister’s Kitchen). Check out our latest invention, Fresh Mozzarella Veggie pizza.