Some how crazy amounts of time have passed and it is December 17th. A week from now it will be Christmas Eve. A week from now I will be begging an overexcited three year old to go to sleep so that I can do last minute wrapping and probably decorate a birthday cake, because that three year will be turning four the next day. So, it is double excitement for this boy who knows that "December 25" is his birthday AND that Christmas comes on HIS birthday. Because you know, being a "the world revolves around me and me alone" three year old, his birthday must have come first!
In an effort to slow down and enjoy the season, I am going to take some time this week to share some of my holiday favorites with you!
Mulled apple cider is something that I've had around the holidays for as long as I can remember. Mom would dump a jar of home pressed apple cider, that we made the previous summer from the apples from my Papa's orchard into the slow cooker. She's throw in a couple of cinnamon sticks and and is she had them, a handful of cloves. It was simple and it was good.
Then I grew up and on a trip to Niagara on the Lake, years ago when we lived in Hamilton and could go visit the wineries whenever we wanted, we bought a bottle of mulling wine with a package of spices. And it was so good! I have been hooked on Mulling Spices ever since. About two years ago, we discovered that Mulled Cranberry juice with Ameretto or Rum was a perfect Christmas drink.
Normally, I buy an already made mulling spice mix but this year, I decided to make my own. And I don't know if it was the freshness of the mixture or what but I think it is the best I've ever had.
And it was fun to make ... I mean really, who doesn't have fun smashing things with a hammer?? Oh, and also cheap (enough of all ingredients to make a double batch was $10 at the Bulk Barn) and easy!
First you take the hammer to a bag of cinnamon sticks.
Don't put that hammer away yet, next you get to smash up some nutmeg. I always wanted to buy whole nutmeg, just because it is cool, but never had a reason until now!
Cinnamon Sticks and Nutmeg ... starting to smell really good!
The Allspice is a little trickier because it is small, the hammer didn't work so well. So, for this I used my marble rolling pin and just rolled it back and forth over top of the buds.
Cloves and dried orange peel are kind of boring, there is absolutely no smashing or crushing involved, they just get dumped in as is.
Throw it all in a bowl together, mix it up and you are done!
Put it in a little jar and it makes a good gift, but once you try it, you aren't going to want to give it away because it is SO GOOD!
6 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg
1/2 cup whole cloves
1/2 cup whole allspice
1/4 dried orange peel
Add two tablespoons of spice mixture to four cups of beverage (apple juice or cider, cranberry juice or red wine).
Put in slow cooker and simmer for a couple of hours. Serve hot. (Can also be done in a pot on the stove for about half an hour if you are in a hurry.) Longer = more flavour.
For red wine, add 1/2 white sugar or else it will be very bitter.
For the grown ups, add a shot of ameretto or run to your apple or cranberry juice when serving.