Recipe—Creamy Hot Cocoa in a Crock-Pot

Homemade Hot Cocoa in a Crock-Pot

Over the weekend we had a holiday cookie decorating party for my son and his little buddies from school. It was wonderful! All the kiddos huddled around the table eating the cookie toppings quicker than they were putting them on the actual frosted cookies getting all hopped up on sugar. I love this time of year!

Homemade Hot Cocoa in a Crock-Pot

I wanted to have a little hot cocoa bar where all the kids (and grown ups) could make themselves a fancy cup of cocoa. I’m not talking little envelopes of dry god knows what. I’m talking thick and creamy REAL hot cocoa. The kind that fills you up and warms your belly, the kind that leaves a thick creamy mustache on your upper lip with every sip. I made this a couple of hours before the party and it was perfect! Along with a big crock pot full of pure joy I had bowls of marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, chocolate sprinkles, whip cream, and then of course some grown up mixers (Kahlua, Disaronno, Baily’s, Frangelico, and peppermint schnapps). Hey if you know me, you know I don’t half ass anything. 😉

Hot Cocoa Bar

This hot cocoa was by far the best I ever had! If you are having a few people and want to make something very special this holiday season then I recommend you make this hot cocoa. It will take every grown up back to their childhood days and will be memorable for all the kiddos.

Note: Makes 8–12 servings.

Enjoying Hot Cocoa

INGREDIENTS
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz bag chocolate chips (dark, milk, or white chocolate will all work)
2 c heavy whipping cream
6 c milk (2% or whole)
1 tsp vanilla

STEPS

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large crock-pot.
  • Turn on low.
  • Cook for 2 hours stirring occasionally using a whisk.
  • Ladle into a mug, add in your mixer (optional), and top with your favorite treats or leave as is.
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Recipe—Summertime White Sangria

Summertime White Sangria

So I have this incredible friend named Brandy. We have many things in common. One of which is our fabulous taste in refreshing adult beverages. A few weeks back I was at her home for a summer birthday party, and she made this white wine sangria. It was incredible! I would define it as being the perfect summer drink. I have had red sangria before but found it to be a bit heavy for a warm summer day. (I’m more of a white wine gal anyways.) This could not be further from the traditional sangria. It is light and super refreshing. I decided to make Brandy’s recipe for 4th of July for my aunt who says she doesn’t like sangria. (She had a bad experience.) Well guess what, my aunt could not get enough. Who am I kidding? No one could get enough! We had the pitcher wiped out within an hour. It could have been the 100º+ day that had us drinking glasses hand over fist, but either way every drop was enjoyed. This is the perfect drink for a summer party or just a lazy day by the pool. And don’t forget to eat the fruit. That is one of the best parts! Gotta get in your vitamins.

Note: For the white wine I used Pomelo’s sauvignon blanc (one of my favorite summer wines). It has a nice refreshing grapefruit flavor. Anything with citrus notes will give you wonderful results. I recommend using a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. I actually bought two bottles and made ice cubes with one of them. This way rather than get watered down as the ice melted, the sangria just got better. 😉

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle of sweet white wine (see above note)
2/3 c peach schnapps
1 peach, sliced
1 mango, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 1/2 c raspberries
2 c ginger ale

STEPS

  • In a large pitcher combine together the wine, peach schnapps, and all the fruit.
  • Place the pitcher in the fridge and allow it to set overnight. (This step is not necessarily but it is highly recommended. Sitting overnight will allow the fruit to soak up some of the boozy goodness and allow the fruit flavors to infuse into the wine.)
  • Add the ginger ale to the pitcher right before serving.
  • Top off the pitcher with ice.
  • Pour. Relax. Enjoy.

Recipe—Blended Mango Margaritas

Blended Mango Margaritas

It may technically be spring, but this diva is ready for summer (and Cinco de Mayo)! With the warmer months quickly approaching, there is no better way to beat the heat than with a homemade margarita. Until recently, I was a margarita purist. I rarely deviated from the traditional lime margarita, on the rocks, no salt. This week I had a couple of overly ripe mangoes that we never got around to eating. I decided to be adventurous and make my first ever mango margaritas. Oh. My. God. I am officially hooked on mango margaritas! These were the BEST margaritas I have ever had in my life! They were the perfect treat after we got home from a hot hike in the sun. My husband is a beer guy and he happily drank two of these fabulous concoctions. They were the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, intoxicating and perfectly drinkable. The texture from the mangoes makes these super smooth and almost creamy. So go dust off your blender, and give these fabulous mango margaritas a try! Add some island music, giant sunglasses, perhaps a cabana boy, and a batch of these margaritas and you are ready to ring in summer!

Note: Makes four margaritas.

INGREDIENTS
2 c fresh mangoes, chopped (Frozen mangoes may be substituted. See note below.)
1/2 c lime juice
1 c silver tequila
1/2 c orange liquor (I prefer Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
2 tsp sugar
2 c ice

Note: You can substitute frozen mangoes for fresh. However, if you decide to do so, be sure to start with one cup of ice and add more as needed while blending.

GARNISH
4 lime slices (for garnish)
2 tbsp sugar (to put on the rim of the glass)

STEPS

  • In a large blender combine the mango, lime juice, tequila, triple sec, sugar, and ice.
  • Blend until smooth. Add additional ice if needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Use one of the limes to wet the edge of the glasses.
  • Place the 2 tablespoons of sugar on a small plate and dip the rim of the glass into the sugar to coat all the way around.
  • Pour the margaritas into the glasses and store any extra in the freezer until ready to drink.

Looking for more creative margarita recipes? Maybe you will love these!

Grapefruit Margaritas on the RocksGrapefruit Margaritas on the Rocks

Recipe—Homemade Spiked Eggnog

DivaDiCucina_Eggnog

What’s Christmas without a glass or three of spiked eggnog? It is a must have item in our family. I am not a huge eggnog fan but I will drink the occasional glass here and there. However, my sister really loves the stuff so I wanted to be sure and have some on hand for her while we celebrated the holidays early this year. Unfortunately, this eggnog comes with a sad story.

This year I thought I would be adventurous and make my own eggnog. It turned out incredible and was actually really easy to make! This was by far the best eggnog I have ever had. I was so excited to share this fabulous concoction with my sister because I knew she would feel the same way. After slaving over the oven all day (okay I’m exaggerating, more like 20 minutes, this recipe is actually really quick to make) I had the eggnog done and poured it into my brand new glass pitcher. It was a gorgeous site! My mom, sister, husband, son, and I went and walked through a Christmas light display at our local zoo. The perfect end to the evening would be a homemade glass of eggnog. I poured the first glass and then went to pour the second when crack! The handle on my new pitcher literally fell off and the entire batch of eggnog shattered on my counter and went everywhere! I was on the verge of tears. However, the one lonely glass you see above survived. Thank goodness! So we all shared this one lonely glass of eggnog and it was the best glass of eggnog ever!

If you have never had homemade eggnog I highly recommend you give it a try. One thing that I absolutely love about this recipe is that the eggs are par cooked in the hot milk rather than raw, giving this a less eggy flavor. It is the perfect holiday beverage and takes on a superior quality being homemade.

Note: If you want virgin eggnog just omit the rum for a family friendly version. 

INGREDIENTS
3 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cloves
6 egg yolks
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 c rum
1 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg

STEPS

  • In a large saucepan heat the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, cinnamon stick, and cloves over medium heat.
  • Bring to a gentle boil and remove from heat.
  • Allow the milk to set for about 2 minutes while the cinnamon stick seeps.
  • While the milk is cooling, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until it’s pale yellow and fluffy.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick from your milk and slowly pour into the egg mixture.
  • Beat on low until well incorporated.
  • Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat on medium/medium-low heat for 5 minutes until thick and creamy. DO NOT LET IT BOIL OR THE EGGS WILL CURDLE!
  • Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the rum, heavy cream, and nutmeg.
  • Allow the eggnog to cool on the counter for at least an hour.
  • Transfer the eggnog to a pitcher or serving dish and refrigerate for 8–10 hours.

Recipe—Grapefruit Margarita on the Rocks

Happy Friday folks! What better day to share a margarita recipe than on a Friday. Now that my organic produce deliveries are shifting more towards winter crops I have been seeing lots of great citrus. While I certainly love to eat my fruit, it is fun coming up with fabulous drinkable concoctions too. Last weekend I used fresh squeezed orange juice to make mimosas. They were superb! This week I had some extra grapefruit and limes on hand so I came up with this grapefruit margarita recipe. It was the perfect refreshing beverage after my long day at work. If you like the tartness of fresh grapefruit give this a try. I loved that this margarita was nothing like the syrupy, too sweet, premade margarita mixes you get at the store. These ones are actually good for you! Grapefruits are low in calories and are a great source of inositol, which helps the body to maintain a healthy metabolism. They are also a member of the vitamin B complex and are an excellent source of vitamin C, which everyone needs more of during the cold and flu season. So next time you are craving a refreshing adult beverage give these a try. Cheers!

Note: If you don’t have fresh grapefruit on hand you can substitute the hand squeezed grapefruit juice for some store bought. Just be sure to leave out the added sugar.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (I used 3 medium Ruby Red grapefruits)
juice from half a lime
5 oz silver tequila
1 oz triple sec
1 tsp sugar (optional)
margarita salt
grapefruit slice or lime wedge for garnish

STEPS

  • Pour your margarita salt onto a small plate.
  • Moisten the rim of a margarita glass with a lime wedge and dip the glass into the salt until it coats the rim.
  • Fill the glass with ice.
  • In a large cocktail shaker combine the grapefruit juice, juice from lime, tequila, triple sec, and sugar.
  • Fill up the rest of the shaker with ice.
  • Holding the lid firmly in place, shake the margarita until the outside of the shaker has condensation.
  • Strain the margarita into the glass and garnish with a slice of grapefruit or a lime.

Recipe—Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Over the weekend I went to my little sister’s house and found that she had the most beautiful citrus trees in her yard. You could just smell the refreshing scent of lemons from a distance. It brought back memories of drinking ice-cold glasses of lemonade with my grandpa as a child. During the summer when we would go for visits he would have a pitcher ready to go in the fridge. It was the most fabulous drink you could ever imagine. Nothing beats it on a hot summer day. Fresh squeezed lemonade truly is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. After lightening the load on my sister’s lemon tree I left with an overflowing bag of beautiful yellow fruit. The smell of citrus wafted through my car the entire drive home. I could not wait to make my son his first ever glass of real lemonade. It was better than I remembered. Over the Memorial Day weekend we went through two entire pitchers of pure deliciousness and almost every glass I had brought back those memories with my grandpa. My son and I loved it! We sat on the patio outside and sipped our lemonade in true summer fashion.

Note: I found that on average 10 lemons produce about 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice. If you’re not a fan of pulp, pour your fresh squeezed juice through a sheet of cheesecloth to filter some of it out. For an adult twist on the perfect summer beverage add a shot of your favorite vodka or Bacardi Limón. Delish!

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 c cold water
1 c sugar
1 lemon sliced with seeds removed.

STEPS 

  • Combine lemon juice, water, and sugar.
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add sliced lemon.
  • Chill.
  • Serve over ice.
  • Relax and enjoy!