Winter is here, and if I’m honest, it’s my least favorite season. But while I don’t enjoy the season very much, I appreciate the food and drinks that go well on a cold, snowy, blustery day. There’s something about the warmth and glow of a fire and a warm blanket to wrap up in with a hot drink in your hand. Recently, I decided to have some girlfriends over to hang out. This was a very informal evening. So much so I told each friend if they wanted to wear their favorite winter pajamas or sweats it was perfectly fine. I also decided there wasn’t going to be a meal. Just some snacks so we could all just spend real time together sharing life.
My husband started us a great fire in the fireplace, I made a few snack trays, and for this particular night, I decided the drinks of choice for the evening were only going to be hot, decadent, and yummy! Sort of like dessert, except no forks or spoons, were needed. Just girl time spent in front of the fire. When I planned this evening, I thought it would be fun if I let each girl pick their mug for the night along with which drink they wanted. So I headed to Walmart and bought six cups from the Pioneer Woman collection. Each cup was different and very feminine. Perfect for what I wanted this evening to be.
When the girls arrived, I had the mugs set out on a tray and told them to choose one and give me their drink order. The drinks I decided for the evening were a White Chocolate Latte, Creamy Hot Buttered Rum, Spiked and Spicy Hot Chocolate and Caramel Hot Cider. I made a point to tell the girls to choose their mugs wisely, and while they didn’t understand, they found out later they would keep their cup to take home. I don’t always send a gift home with guests, but I thought this was a great idea, and each time they used the mug they could think of our fun evening together. It turns out this was one of my favorite evenings. No frills, just a fun night with some great friends. I encourage you to invite your girlfriends over for a pajama party and a warm drink this Winter season and while you’re at it, send that cup home with them! It might end up being their favorite hang out time! Happy Winter and stay warm!
Caramel Apple Cider
64 oz. of Apple Cider / Apple Juice
1 cup of Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Syrup
Pour a 64oz. container of Apple Cider into your crockpot and then add 1 cup of Cinnamon Dolce syrup. Turn on the crockpot to low and slowly heat the apple cider stirring every 30 minutes or so. I like to let the apple cider marinate with the syrup for at least a couple of hours but if you don’t have that kind of time you could heat the ingredients on the stove or in the microwave. Top with whipped cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.
Creamy Hot Buttered Rum
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
Spiced Rum (like Captain Morgan or I like Rum Chata)
Whipped Topping and Nutmeg for toppings
In a small bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and stir. Add softened ice cream and beat until fully combined. Add 2 Tbsp. of ice cream mixture to a mug. Pour over 1 oz. (a shot) of Rum. Add 6-8 oz of boiling water.
Spiked and Spicy Hot Chocolate
1 Cup milk 2 oz. Milk chocolate
1 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
3/4 Tsp. cinnamon ¼ Tsp. ground ginger
1/4 Tsp. nutmeg Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt 1 ½ oz. Spiced rum
Marshmallows for garnish
Add the milk, sugar and chocolate to a small pot and cook on a low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate and sugar have dissolved. Whisk in the spices. Remove from the heat, stir in the rum and pour into a mug or glass. Stir in the marshmallows and they will begin to melt and enrich the cocoa.
White Chocolate Latte
2 c. low-fat milk 1 tsp. Vanilla
1 c. half and half ¼ tsp. Almond extract
2/3 c. white chocolate chips 2 Tbsp. instant coffee
¼ tsp. Almond Extract can Reddi-Whip
In a medium-size saucepan heat milk, half and half, white chocolate chips and instant coffee until chips are melted, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Pour into coffee mugs and top with Reddi-Whip and a dusting of cocoa.
Photos By: John Harder—JHarder Photography