Eggnog vs. Eggnog

Little fact about me: I LOVE eggnog.  Love it.  Usually can’t keep it in my house because I will drink it…and by “it” I mean half a gallon in one sitting.  Luckily, my husband also loves eggnog.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do if he was an eggnog hater.  You know, one of those people that have no taste for the finer things in life–such as eggnog.  Ok, ok, I’m being a little melodramatic about the haters…ya’ll aren’t that bad.  And you have to have good taste because you’re on this blog!  But I really have to question your disdain for the sweet, creamy, delicately spiced liquid wonderfulness (umm, yeah, that’s totally a word) that is eggonog.  I’ve thought about what could make someone hate this delicious holiday drink and I can only come to one conclusion:  the name.  Think about it.  Eggnog.  EGGnog??  How appetizing does that sound, really?  Not much.  But it says little about the yumminess of this drink.  I’m fairly certain if someone tried rebranding it and naming it something along the lines of “Heavenly Melted Ice Cream Nirvana” or something, it would sell like never before.  Because that’s honestly what it tastes like!!  At least to me.  And that is why I love it so.  I can only hope that more people will come to love it as I do.

Anyway.

I did a little taste test.  This is totally unofficial.  I’m no expert.  I just love eggnog.  And doing a taste-test in the name of “research” for this blog, was a totally valid excuse to buy way more eggnog than I need in one lifetime, let alone the same day.  Man I have a hard job!

So I tried four different kinds.  It would have been five, but my absolute favorite brand, So Delicious Coconut Milk Eggnog, sold at our local health food store, hadn’t hit the shelves yet.  That stuff is creamy, thick, has a very slight hint of coconut and is dairy-free, which is what we do in our house (with the exception of this little experiment…obviously).  It’s amazing.  Anyway, I chose Hiland which is the brand both Jeremy and I grew up on, Silk Soymilk Nog they sell at Wal-Mart, Organic Valley from our local health food store and Anderson Erickson from Hy-Vee, which is a brand I’d never heard of until my friend Joel mentioned it.

I’ll try not to bore you with all the delicious details and be as succinct as possible.  Let’s start with the least favorite, Silk Soymilk Nog.

Silk Soymilk Nog:  I actually bought this before I’d purchased any of the others and had been drinking it for awhile thinking it was a suitable substitute.  That was until I put it in this taste test.  Against the others it had a watery/skim milk consistency and a very noticeable nutty/soy undertones.  It will do if you’re dairy-free and need a fix but against the others, it was a big loser.

Anderson Erickson:  This was number three (sorry Joel), which doesn’t mean it was bad it just had to go somewhere in the ranking.  It was VERY SWEET, had no nutmeg fragrance and you couldn’t even really taste the spices, which I happen to love.  It was very thick and creamy and almost had a caramel taste to it.  Jeremy and I decided that it did, in fact, taste like melted ice cream!  Good, but too sweet for us.

Organic Valley:  This stuff was very good and not as thick and heavy as the others.  It had a more “pure” taste to it and you could smell and taste the spices.  I thought the flavors and sweetness were balanced nicely.  We both really liked this one.

Hiland Dairy:  This was our absolute favorite.  It was thick and creamy, not too overly sweet and had the perfect amount of spices/nutmeg.  We loved this one.  Just as we have loved it for all our lives since we were wee little ones.  Which could have something to do with why it ended up being number one!  Yay for childhood favorites! (Oh and p.s. Hiland had the least amount of calories, fat AND sugar BY FAR out of the top three!  Sweet!)

So, that’s my unprofessional, totally non-expert take on those four eggnogs.  And I’m dying to know…what is your favorite brand???  Do you even like eggnog?  Don’t worry, I won’t judge you if you don’t, promise. 😉

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Hot Cinnamon Cranberry Punch

This morning I want to share a recipe that is one of my absolute favorite holiday recipes.  It’s a hot punch drink that my mom makes every year at Christmas and it is one of the most delicious drinks I’ve ever had.  The flavors of cranberry, cinnamon, citrus and cloves are perfectly balanced and blend together so nicely.  And this recipe couldn’t be easier–simply heat and it’s done!  If you are looking for something warm and absolutely delicious, try this punch.

Enjoy!

Note:  This recipes calls for Cinnamon Imperial Candies.  You can find them at Price Cutter or Hyvee. Brach’s brand is best.

Hot Cinnamon Cranberry Punch
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Qt. 100% Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 9 oz. (3/4 of 12 oz. can) Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
  • 9 oz. (3/4 of 12 oz. can) Frozen Lemonade Concentrate
  • 3 Qt. Water
  • 20 Whole Clove
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 15 oz. Cinnamon Imperial Candies
Instructions
  1. Heat all ingredients in a VERY large stockpot over medium heat until heated through. Stir frequently.*
Notes
Makes about 25, 8 oz. servings. *The Imperial candies will want to stick to the bottom of the pan while the mixture heats, but just a use a wooden spoon to keep them scraped off and they will eventually melt.

 

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Sparkling Basil Lemonade

This past Friday night we had our once-a-month Gourmet Cooking Club that my friend, Shawna, hosts at her house.  It was a pizza themed event this time (yum!) and while everything was delicious, my favorite thing was actually a drink that Shawna made.  When we walked into her kitchen there was a beautiful glass punch bowl with what looked like lemonade but with something additional floating on top…basil leaves and sliced jalapenos!  Yes, somewhat uncommon for a sweet punch but trust me on this, it is AMAZING.  The lemonade is sweet and tart and bubbly and the basil is the perfect, refreshing addition.  And then there is just the slightest kick and spice from the jalapeno…it’s barely there but definitely noticeable and honestly, delicious!!

Put this one on your list for your Memorial Day party–I guarantee it will end up in your regular drink rotation for the summer!

Recipe by Better Homes and Gardens

Sparkling Basil Lemonade
 
Ingredients
  • 4 c. Water
  • 3 c. Sugar
  • 2 c. Fresh Basil Leaves (about 1-1/2 ounces)
  • 2, 1-liter Bottles Club Soda, chilled
  • 2 c. Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 Fresh Jalapeno Chile Pepper, sliced*
  • Fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. For basil syrup, in a large saucepan combine water, sugar, and basil. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Strain syrup and discard leaves. Cover and chill syrup for 2 to 24 hours.
  2. For lemonade, in a very large punch bowl combine chilled syrup, club soda, and lemon juice. Serve over ice and garnish with jalapeno slices and fresh basil leaves.
Notes
Makes 16, 8 oz. Servings *Tip:Because chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn skin and eyes, avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with chile peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves. If bare hands touch the peppers, wash hands and nails well with soap and warm water.

 

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Shake

I know the big thing around Valentine’s Day is chocolate dipped strawberries, which are great, but I’ve gotta admit I’m more of a chocolate covered cherry kinda girl.  And I know I can’t be the only one!  So my love of chocolate and cherries inspired me to create this super simply shake but not just any shake…a CAKE shake.  Yep, there is one big ‘ole slice of chocolate cake with vanilla frosting mixed right into this creamy concoction.  I picked my slice of cake up in the Wal-mart bakery case (don’t judge) but if I’d been thinking, I would have gotten one of the mega-huge chocolate cupcakes that Walgreens now sells.  But the shake still worked out alright. Actually, better than alright–it was, in fact, AWESOME.  I topped mine with homemade whipped cream, melted chocolate and festive sprinkles–so cute!

Share one of these with your sweetie tomorrow!  Or don’t share….it’s makes enough for two. 😉

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Shake
 
Ingredients
  • One Big Slice of Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting or Two Regular Cupcakes (or chocolate frosting/white cake/etc..whatever you prefer)
  • 20 Maraschino Cherries, chopped
  • 1 Pint or 4 BIG scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 14-1/2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream (depends on how thick you want it...I used ½ a cup)
  • ¼ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 T. Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • ½ c. Dark Chocolate Chips, melted
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in the blender (reserving a tablespoon or two of the melted chocolate for decoration) and blend until the shake has reached your desired consistency. Top with your choice of sprinkles, chocolate, whipped cream, etc.
Notes
Serves 2.

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Festive Holiday Punch Recipes

Here are some great punch recipes that would be appropriate for either Christmas OR New Year’s.  Any of these would be a nice change from the same old mug of cider or glass of champagne you’d normally serve.  The coffee punch is soooo good…I will never forget the first time I had it at a bridal shower and thought “what IS this?!”  I immediately obtained the recipe (as I’m sure everyone else at the shower did) and occasionally get the urge to make it for myself.  Yes, just for me, no special occasion or party or whatever.  But I haven’t done that…yet.

Hope you find one you love!

Ultimate Eggnog Punch

Coffee Punch

Christmas Cinnamon Punch

Peppermint Eggnog Punch

Milk Punch

Citrus Champagne Punch

Mocha Nog Punch

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Drinks to Warm You

The nights are getting cooler which means it’s time to break out the hot cocoa and apple cider.  I thought it would be fun to share some recipes for hot drinks, both classic and new.  Oh and for those who prefer a bit of booze in your holiday drink, I’ve got a couple of those too.

Enjoy!

Hot Wassail

Crockpot Chai Tea

Peppermint Patty

Delicious Hot Chocolate

Roasted-Pineapple Hot Buttered Rum

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

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Summer Drinks

I heard earlier today that we are in an “excessive heat” warning for the next few days, all the way through July 4th and beyond.  Ugh.  While I love the July 4th weekend, I am dreading the thought of being outside for hours while my makeup runs off my face, my hair falls flat and pit stains form under the arms of my non-black shirt (Because who wears black in the middle of summer?! Unless it’s a bikini??).  Lovely.  So I thought I could perhaps cheer myself up by finding some delicious, cold drinks to share on here.  It’s worth a try!

(I want one of these…whatever it is.)

First, I have a recipe for a Thai Tea that is out of this world!  If you’ve never had Thai Tea before, now is your chance.  This recipe is so delicious…sweet, spicy (as in cinnamon/clove spicy) and creamy.  Unfortunately, I don’t have photo but I’m sure it’s not too hard to imagine a glass of tea with half-and-half poured in.  Delicious.

I also linked to a few more yummy summer drinks below, in case you need more beverage inspiration.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be making that Sour Cherry Fizz concoction this weekend…sounds ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

Enjoy!

Thai Tea

6 c. Water

1 c. Thai Tea Leaves (found at Asian market)

4 Cardamom Pods, crushed

1 Whole Clove, crushed

1/4 t. Cinnamon

1 c. Granulated Sugar

1 c. Half-and-Half

Bring water to a boil in a large pan.  Stir in tea leaves and next 3 ingredients and cover.  Remove from heat and steep 5 minutes.

Pour tea through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a pitcher, discarding tea leaves.  Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Cover and chill.

Pour into a glass 3/4 tea and 1/4 half-and half.

More Summer Drinks

Summer Mocktails

Frozen Blueberry Lemonade

Sour Cherry Fizz

Raspberry Lemonade

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Strawberry Doughnuts & Milk Punch

I had really grand plans for breakfast today.  I mean, it was going to be a breakfast of epic proportions, unmatched anywhere, in any kitchen in Springfield, MO. Nothing would go wrong and everything would be AWESOME.  Right?  Right????

Yeah, not so much.

I’ll cut to the chase.  First, the doughnuts.  I wanted an old-fashioned, strawberry cake doughnut.  The batter came together easily but was quite sticky which required an absurd amount of flour on my counters, rolling pin and hands.  And they fried up nicely but I won’t lie…they weren’t the soft, moist cake doughnut I had in my mind.  The texture was dense and almost the teensiest bit chewy.  It could have been my tinkering with the recipe that doomed them so I will most likely try another recipe and omit MY changes next time.

And finally, the milk punch, apparently popular in New Orleans and really how can you go wrong with heavy cream, sugar and vanilla?  It turned out good.  Really, really good.  Of course this was after I let it thaw from solid milk hockey puck to nice slushy drink.  Whatever you do don’t leave this stuff in the freezer overnight.  No matter what any recipe/blogger tells you, it’s a bad idea.  Stick to 3-4 hours and you should be safe.  The recipe calls for alcohol of some sort (think eggnog alternative) but for those of you who don’t care for booze, feel free to just leave it out.

So at least try the milk punch, it’s totally delicious.  And as for the doughnuts…by all means, suggest a recipe if you have a good one!

Milk Punch

1 c. Powedered Sugar

3 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

2 c. Whole Milk

1/4 c. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 c. Bourbon (or Whiskey, Brandy, whatever you like), optional

In a large bowl or pitcher, whisk together milk, heavy cream, bourbon, vanilla, and sugar.  Freeze until slushy, 3-4 hours.  Stir before serving in chilled glases.

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