Cook's Corner

Published 2:57 am Wednesday, December 7, 2005

By Staff
Since I'm planning a little get-together at my house in a couple of days, I have begun to scour recipe collections I have to find something new. I've come across a few recipes that I'm still debating on to serve to my friends. I plan to have a hot drink and a cool one.
For some reason, I've decided that regular coffee and soft drinks don't quite hold the same festive feeling I'm trying to encourage during my party.
Regardless of your take on the beverages for a party, I thought you might enjoy the ones I'm considering for my shin-dig. This first recipe is one that is a slight variation on the mulled apple cider. I'm not all that crazy about cranberry juice, but I think with the addition of the spices and honey, this one might be pretty good - especially if the weather is cold.
Mulled Cranberry Cider
2 quarts cranberry juice
2 oranges, zested
14 whole cloves
1 and one-half cups dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and one-third cups honey
2 cinnamon sticks
Pour cranberry juice into a slow cooker; set on high. To the juice add the zest from the oranges, cloves, cranberries, vanilla extract, honey and cinnamon sticks. Heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and steamy, about 20 minutes. Turn slow cooker temperature to low or keep warm setting. Stir occasionally.
This next recipe is one that sounded pretty good as well. I really like a hot beverage on a cold evening and since I love coffee anyway, I thought this one would be a winner.
Chocolate Caramel Cappuccino
8 cups hot water
6 cups milk
1 cup Chocolate Flavor Drink Syrup
1 and one-half cups caramel ice cream topping
One-half cup instant coffee powder
Combine water, milk, chocolate syrup, caramel topping and instant coffee in large boiler. Place on the stove at medium heat. Heat slowly until hot and chocolate milk mix and coffee powders have dissolved. This recipe will make 16 servings.
The above recipe can be changed up a little bit to suit your taste. If you're serving this in the evening you may want to try using decaffeinated coffee or for extra flavor, use a special roast coffee powder. Either of these variations will still turn out a good cup of warmth and cheer.
Some folks feel that a party isn't a party without punch. Well my friend, Connor and I think that Christmas isn't Christmas without Eggnog!!!
I've never made it from scratch, but I have an aunt that does and I remember it being some of the best stuff I've ever had. I'm not sure how close this recipe comes to my Aunt Maggie's, but I believe it should be pretty good anyway. Most folks have used raw eggs in this famous holiday drink for years without any problems. But if you plan to serve it to the very young, the very old, or folks who already have some medical issues, you may want to try the second version of these two recipes.
This first recipe makes about three quarts. Be sure to keep it chilled while serving. Either keep it in the refrigerator or at the very least in a serving bowl resting on a bed of ice. If you want one shortcut in this recipe, you could substitute a small container of non-dairy whipped topping for the whipped heavy cream called for in the recipe. It won't be quite as rich tasting, but it will still be good. You can adjust the nutmeg to suit your taste. That alone makes these recipes better than any store-bought eggnog in a carton.
Frothy Eggnog
8 eggs
Three-fourths cup white sugar
One-half tsp. salt
1 tbsp. rum flavored extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 quarts milk
1 and one-half cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs at high speed of mixer until thick and foamy. Gradually beat in sugar and salt, then rum and vanilla extracts. Slowly mix in the milk. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, whip whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold into eggnog. Pour into punch bowl and garnish with nutmeg.
This next recipe says it makes 10 four-ounce servings. Well, that's enough for me - but what is everybody else gonna drink?
Cooked Eggnog
6 eggs, beaten
2 and one-fourth cups milk
One-third cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. white sugar
1 pinch ground nutmeg
In a large saucepan, combine the eggs, milk and 1/3 cup sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture coats a metal spoon. Remove from heat. Cool quickly by placing pan in a sink or bowl of ice water and stirring 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Chill 4 to 24 hours. Before serving, whip the cream and 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. Transfer chilled egg mixture to a punch bowl. Fold in whipped cream mixture and serve at once. Sprinkle each serving with nutmeg.
I hope your family will have time to gather round a crock-pot full of mulled ciders or a chilly punchbowl filled with eggnog during the holidays. Having a grand time with the ones we love is more fun than any thing wrapping paper can cover.
Be sure to check back here next week. I plan to share some ideas for some quick and easy appetizer recipes that may come in handy when you're asked to bring something to a party.
Until then, Happy Cooking!!