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RECIPE: Spiked Chai Tea

Just got in for the cold and the rain. Time for a cup of hot tea.

Make that hot spiced tea, chai.

Make that spiked spiced tea: chai with a hit of bourbon or rum. If you want to add more, go ahead: You can make this the tea version of Irish Coffee.

If you don’t have any chai bags or loose leaves, make your own from Recipe #2 below.

RECIPE #1: CHAI WITH SPIRIT (BOURBON, RUM, ETC.)

Ingredients For 3 Tea Cups Or 2 Mugs

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 teaspoons loose chai tea (or cut open chai tea bags)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or sugar (substitute 1 tablespoon agave)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Splash of bourbon or rum (silver, dark, spiced)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then add the tea, sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon and optional cayenne. Stir and reduce the heat to low, heating for another 2 minutes (keep your eye on the pot). Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

    2. STRAIN into a liquid measuring cup or small pitcher with a lip. Add the bourbon. If the mixture has cooled a bit, stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

    3. POUR into cups and serve.

     
    RECIPE #2: CHAI TEA BLEND

    If you don’t have some of the ingredients, you can make do with what you have.

     

    Hot Chai

    Chai Tea Blend

    [1] On a chilly day, pour some spirits into the chai (photo courtesy Charles Chocolates). [2] No chai at home? Mix it up from your spice shelf (photo courtesy Foodie Underground).

     
    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons loose tea
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Optional: slice fresh ginger root
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne Gelatin (Not Jell-O) Shots

    Champagne Jell-O Shots

    Champagne Jell-O Shots Recipe

    Champagne Gelatin Shots

    [1] Erica’s Sweet Tooth found fancy picks to decorate her champagne gelatin shots. We could only find these at Ali Express, but we did find others with jewel-like accents and these with faux pearls. Plus, instructions to make your own. [2] Coucou Jolie used a star-shape ice cube mold to make stars. You can stir edible gold glitter stars into the mix before setting, or put them in the mold first, so they’ll create a garnish on top. [3] Got Pop Rocks? They do at Shimmy Shimmy Cake, a custom cakery in Austin, Texas.

     

    For conventional champagne to celebrate a special occasion, check out our recommendations.

    For less expensive but perfectly lovely non-champagne sparkling wines, we like these alternatives—great values, starting at just $10!

    But for a side of champagne gelatin shots, check out the recipes below.

    Point of accuracy: When a recipe is made with unflavored gelatin, not flavored Jell-O, it’s a gelatin shot. Jell-O is a brand that makes only flavored gelatin.

    You can make a red version of the gelatin shots with Lambrusco or other red sparkling wine, and present a platter of both red and white options.

    And you cab make a mocktail version by substituting sparkling cider.
     
    RECIPE #1: CHAMPAGNE JELL-O SHOTS

    Erica of EricasSweetTooth.com adapted the first recipe from Bakers Royale.

    Also check out her Funfetti Cheesecake Ball: It was designed to resemble the Times Square Ball.

    Ingredients For 15 Shots

  • 10 ounces plus 5 ounces Champagne (or better yet, Cava, Prosecco or other reasonably-priced sparkling white wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 envelopes Knox plain gelatin
  • Optional garnish: white or other color sparkling sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the sugar and 10 ounces of the champagne in a saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it soften for 2 minutes.

    2. PLACE the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the remaining 5 ounces of champagne, stirring to combine.

    3. POUR the mixture into a brownie pan or other square/rectangular container and chill for at least an hour.

    4. CUT: First dip the pan into warm water and use a knife along the sides to gently release the Jell-O. Use a sharp knife to cut squares. Before serving, dip the tops in the sparkling sugar and serve with a festive toothpick.
     
    RECIPE #2: CHAMPAGNE GELATIN SHOTS WITH POP ROCKS

    Shimmy Shimmy Cake offers this variation, topped with Pop Rocks for some holiday “fireworks.”

    Regarding the Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, she says: “This is the absolute best vodka to use when making Jello Shots—just trust me on this one!”

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creme soda
  • 1/2 cup sparkling wine
  • 2 envelops of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the soda and sparkling wine in a small sauce pan and stir. Sprinkle the gelatin over the mixture and let it sit for 1 minute.

    2. COOK the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin disolves (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir inthe vodka.

    3. POUR into a square baking dish (a cake pan is fine). Refrigerate until firmly set set (you can speed up the process by putting the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes). When ready to serve…

    4. CUT and plate, then top with Pop Rocks. Do not plate until ready to because as the Pop Rocks start to melt the gelatin. Also do not refreeze after plating; they will stick to the plate.

     
      

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    HOLIDAY: Egg Nog Recipes For National Egg Nog Day

    National Egg Nog Day is December 24th. But you can enjoy the rich holiday beverage from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

    While the origins of egg nog are debated, it may have originated from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk and white wine. Americans adapted it but used the New World liquor rum, and later, bourbon (which evolved to its present form in the late 19th century). Cider was also used.

    George Washington was quite a fan of egg nog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry.

    We know that there are eggs in egg nog, but what’s the “nog?” Opinions differ, but it’s an American name.

  • In Colonial America, rum was commonly called “grog,” and the descriptive term for the drink, “egg-and-grog,” may have corrupted to egg‘n’grog and then to egg nog.
  • Other experts insist that the “nog” is short for “noggin,” a small, carved wooden mug used to serve drinks in taverns.
  • It could even be a combination of the two: that an “egg and grog in a noggin” was shortened to egg nog. After having one or two, it’s easy to see why.
  •  
    In the 1800s, egg nog was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always a party drink. It was noted by an English visitor in 1866, that “Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nog for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging…It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.”

    Here’s more on the history of egg nog.
     
    EGGNOG RECIPES

  • Chocolate Egg Nog Recipe
  • Classic Egg Nog Recipe
  • Coconut Egg Nog
  • Eggnog Martini Recipe
  • Eggnog White Russian Recipe
  • Flaming Egg Nog Recipe
  • Low Calorie Egg Nog Recipes
  •    

    Classic Eggnog

    Chocolate Eggnog

    [1] Classic eggnog (photo courtesy Liquor.com). [2] Chocolate eggnog (photo courtesy Pitch.com).

     

    Eggnog Gingerbread Cheesecakes

    Gingerbread-eggnog mini cheesecakes (photo courtesy Driscoll’s).

      HOLIDAY RECIPES MADE WITH EGGNOG

  • Egg Nog Crumble Bars Recipe
  • Egg Nog Mini Bundt Cakes Recipe
  • Eggnog French Toast Recipe
  • Eggnog Gingerbread Mini Cheesecakes Recipe
  • Eggnog Ice Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Panettone Ice Cream Cake Recipe
  • Eggnog Panna Cotta Recipe
  • Eggnog Streusel Bars Recipe
  • Eggnog Truffles Recipe
  • Eggnog Whipped Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Wreath Cookies Recipe
  • White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge Recipe
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mulled Wine

    She uses a slow cooker: a great way to mull wine or cider without having to tend to it.

    After years of serving mulled wine, we realized that the popular garnishes are wasteful: They can’t be eaten, and are tossed out. That means you, cinnamon sticks, curls of peel, raw cranberries and star anise. So, we’ve settled on a seasonal garnishes that is edible, attractive and aromatic:

  • Orange wheel for the rim, especially blood orange; or a wedge studded with a few cloves for the aroma.
  • We’ve also made a glass rim of orange zest with a bit of superfine sugar.
  • For the same reason, we add dried cranberries to the pot instead of whole cranberries.
  •  
    We start with a conventional recipe and end up with a slow cooker alternative. Slow mulling is great because it doesn’t take up a stove top burner that you may need for cooking.
     
    TIPS

  • the juice and the brandy bring the yield to 46 ounces. If you’re serving 6-ounce portions in 8-ounce cups, that’s roughly 6 servings.
  • Make a batch without alcohol: mulled Apple cider with cranberry juice.
  •  
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this classic recipe from Wine And Glue.

    TIP: Serve mulled wine in a glass vessel. If you don’t have glass mugs or Irish Coffee glasses, consider getting some. They’re not more than $5 apiece, and you can use them year-round for any hot beverage. Rocks glasses and stemmed wine glasses also work.

    Ingredients

  • 750 ml bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel (un-oaked)
  • 1-1/2 cups brandy
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, sliced and studded with 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (not cranberry drink or cocktail)
  • 1/3 cup honey or sugar (we prefer the flavor nuances of honey and use only 1/4 cup for less sweetness, more sophisticated flavor)
  • Optional: 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  •    

    Holiday Mulled Wine

    Orange Studded With Cloves

    [1] The conventional garnishes look beautiful, but you can’t eat them (photo courtesy Kitchen Treaty). [2] Our favorite garnish: an orange wedge (edible) studded with a few cloves (photo courtesy The Guardian).

     
    Variations

  • If you have cranberry liqueur, you can substitute it for all or part of the brandy.
  • Ditto for orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier.
  • Both of these will change the flavor profile a bit: more cranberry or orange flavor.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. You don’t want the alcohol to evaporate.

    2. SERVE warm. If you don’t have glass cups or mugs, you can also use stemmed wine glasses or rocks glasses.
     
    RECIPE #2: SLOW COOKER CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this recipe from Kate at Kitchen Treaty.

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel
  • 2 cups cranberry* juice (not cranberry cocktail)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (substitute honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Garnishes of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the wine, orange juice, cranberries, and sugar to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.

    2. SCRUB the orange, stud it with cloves and add it to the pot. If you don’t have the time to insert the cloves, just toss them into the pot separately. There are two techniques to stud an orange: use a thimble on your finger (pushing in more than a few starts to dent your finger) or first make holes with an ice pick or toothpick.

    3. COOK on low for 2-3 hours, until the cranberries are tender. Be sure not to boil. Remove the orange and the cinnamon sticks, then carefully pour the mulled wine through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Use the back of a large spoon to press on the cranberries and release the juices. Return the wine to the slow cooker and stir in the brandy. Taste and adjust the sweetness until it’s just sweet enough (the sweetness should be more elegant than a soft drink!).

    4. LADLE into mugs, garnish as desired and serve. Keep the slow cooker on the low setting so guests can help themselves to refills. Kitchen Treaty advises that if kept on low for more than three hours, it will boil—and boil off the alcohol.

     

    Mulled Wine Recipe

    Mulled Wine

    [3] and [4] Glass mugs or rocks glasses make mulled wine look even better (photo #1 courtesy Gimme Some Oven. Ali adds star anise to her recipe. Photo #2 courtesy Gordon Ramsay Group).

     

    RECIPE #3: MULLED WINE WITH VODKA

    This ingredient comes from Ocean Spray. The vodka is optional, but we highly recommend it!
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry Juice Blend
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 6 ounces lemon flavored Vodka (substitute other citrus vodka or plain vodka)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries/Craisins
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except the vodka, dried cranberries and almonds in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer 15 for minutes.

    2. STRAIN to remove the spices. Stir in the vodka,

    3. PLACE 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and 1-1/2 teaspoons almonds in the bottom of each glass or mug. Pour the in mulled wine and serve.
     
    WHAT DOES “MULLED” MEAN?

    According to Harvard University, the origin of the word “mull” to mean heated and spiced is shrouded in mystery. Mulling spices can include allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and/or star anise. A “mulled” drink is one which has been prepared with these spices. The same spices can be added to the brewing process to make spiced beer.

    The custom is believed to have originated in northern Europe to use wine that had gone bad. The spices covered up the off taste, along with additions such as apples, oranges and dried fruits, including raisins.

     
    The technique is to heat the liquids with the spices and then strain them out before serving.

    The expression “cup of good cheer” comes to us from Merrie Olde England, referring to hot mulled cider and wine.

    “Wassail” (WASS-ul), meaning good health, began as a greeting among Anglo-Saxons, who inhabited England from the 5th century. They comprised Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, and initially spoke what we today call Old English.

    Centuries later, the term evolved into a drinking toast. The wassail bowl tradition began in the 14th century in southern England, home to apple groves galore and a lot of apple cider. The first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider. When you come across references to “a cup of good cheer,” it refers to mulled cider or wine.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Perfect Christmas Cocktail (& A Chanukah Cocktail, Too)

    For your holiday celebrations, we propose a perfect Christmas cocktail:

  • It’s sparkling.
  • I can be red and green.
  • It’s easy to make.
  • There’s a mocktail variation.
  •  
    A conventional Mimosa combines sparkling wine and orange juice (see the Mimosa history, below). Substitute cranberry juice and you’ve got the holiday version.

    (For a Chanukah version, use sparkling wine and blue Curaçao, with blue sparkling sugar. Here’s the recipe; photo below.).

    You need only two ingredients—wine and cranberry juice. But you can create a more complex flavor and glamorous look recipe by adding:

  • Liqueur: cranberry or orange.
  • Rose or red sparkling wine.
  • A glass rimmer.
  • A festive garnish.
  •  
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY MIMOSA

    You can make the drink sweeter with a sweeter sparkling wine, by adding liqueur, and/or by increasing the percentage of cranberry juice (which also makes a less potent drink).

  • For a sweeter cocktail, use a 1:1 proportion of wine to juice.
  • For a less sweet cocktail, use a 2:1 proportion of wine to juice.
  • For a dry cocktail, use a tablespoon or two of juice and fill the glass with wine.
     
    FOR THE WINE: There’s no need to spring for Champagne; its toasty flavors get covered up by the juice. Instead, use a well-priced ($10-$15/bottle) sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante or Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France, or our favorite Yellow Tail Rosé Bubbles from Australia.
     
    TO SERVE: Champagne flutes are ideal, but you can use a conventional wine glass, preferably a white wine glass, which has a smaller and narrower mouth (a wide mouth lets the bubbles escape quickly, which is why champagne flutes are so narrow).

     
    Ingredients

  • Sparkling wine (see our recommendations)
  • Cranberry juice (cranberry cocktail and cranberry drink products are sweeter)
  • Optional liqueur
  • Garnish (see ideas below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the wine and juice in advance.

    2. RIM the glasses in advance. Moisten the glass rims and twist them in a plate of sugar at the beginning of the event.

    3. ADD the juice and optional liqueur to the glass. Stir briefly.

    4. TOP off with the sparkling wine. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    Garnishes

  • “Evergreen”: rosemary sprig with cranberries or small red grapes.
  • Frozen grapes on a pick (recipe #3, below).
  • Red & Green: green sparkling sugar rim on the red drink.
  • “Santa hat”: a white sugar rim on the red drink.
  • Strawberry with green top, notched to sit on the rim.
  •  
    RECIPE #2: MOCKTAIL VERSION

    Ingredients

  • Ocean spray sparkling juice drink or plain cranberry juice
  • Lemon-lime soda or (for a drier drink) club soda, plain or citrus-flavored
  •  
    RECIPE #3: FROZEN GRAPE PICKS

    Increase the ingredients as needed for the size of your gathering. You can mix the colors or use just one color of grapes.

  • 1 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes
  • 1/4 cup white granulated or sparkling sugar
  • Cocktail picks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE from the stems and wash the grapes.

    2. PLACE 3-4 grapes on each pick and roll in a plate of sugar. The coating does not need to be even or heavy; a smaller amount makes for better eating. If the grapes have dried, you can lightly spray them with water. Let them sit for 15 minutes for the sugar to adhere.

    3. FREEZE the skewers until ready to use.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

     

    Cranberry Mimosa

    Sparkling Christmas Cocktail

    Sparkling Christmas Cocktail

    Sparkling Christmas Cocktail

    Brachetto d'Acqui

    Chanukah Champagne Cocktail

    [1] Cranberry Mimosa with a conventional garnish (photo courtesy Ocean Spray). [2] With an “evergreen” garnish: a rosemary sprig and red grapes (photo courtesy Delish). [3] Like a Santa hat with a rim of sparkling sugar (photo courtesy Stress Baking). [4] With frozen sugared grapes (photo courtesy The Cookie Rookie). [5] For a deeper red cocktail: Brachetto d’Aqui sparkling Italian wine (photo courtesy Banfi). [6] The Chanukah version. Here’s the recipe from Announcing It, plus more Chanukah cocktails.

     
    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented circa 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, by bartender Frank Meier.

    Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar light orange color as the drink.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. A Grapefruit Mimosa is a popular variation.

    A related drink, the Buck’s Fizz, has two parts Champagne to one part juice—and sometimes a splash of grenadine. Created at London’s Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarryhe, the Buck’s Fizz predates the Mimosa by about four years.

      

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