The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate.

We’ve been home waiting out hurricane Nicole the last few days. You might, if you’re not in Florida, or maybe even if you are! imagine that involves lots of stress and what if’s and property preparations. It does a bit, but it’s been a lovely few days together. Days like this are such a gift. They make me appreciate our home so much. The weather has been mild and the hurricane passed in the night just north of us leaving us sleeping in our beds right through the whole thing.

But it’s been rainy and cozy and windy here and we’ve been occupying ourselves with drying oranges (instructions coming soon), playing with play dough, watching the rain, lots of movies, drawing and most importantly, hot chocolate. Hot chocolate on the stove in our special pot with popcorn was just the ticket yesterday. Shared this on Instagram yesterday, but putting it here too for easier future reference. The only thing that would have made it better is if I had made marshmallows to go with. Next time, next time.

Best homemade hot chocolate:

2 T sugar
2 T Dutch process cocoa powder
2 1/2 c milk
I/2 c half and half
I/4 c chocolate chips
I/2 t vanilla

Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat stirring with a whisk until smooth and hot

Makes four cups but I often halve everything for a small batch!

For a small batch:

1 T sugar
1 T Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/4 c milk
I/4 c half and half
I/8 c chocolate chips
I/4 t vanilla

But between you and me – eyeballing it always works for me too!

(Spiked) Grapefruit Soda.

I don’t know what it is about January, but after the holidays have come and gone, citrus fruits begin to consume my thoughts. Maybe it’s the freshness after the sticky sweetness of the treats from Christmas? Maybe it feels fresh and healthy for the new or year? Maybe it’s because citrus is in season in the winter months? Whatever it is, my need for citrus in January has held strong my entire adult life. So of course, keeping with those strong feelings, I had to make a citrus cocktail this month.

Saturdays are my cocktail day. I don’t make them during the week (other than the odd margarita for Taco Tuesday and I’ll occasionally have something on Friday, but my sight on Fridays is wholly focused on pizza and who cares what I’m drinking?), but let me tell you, come 4:30pm on Saturday, I am starting to think about my weekend cocktail paired with a little pre-dinner charcuterie. I always pick my cocktails at the beginning of the month so I can have something different for each week. January’s drinks were an Italian Greyhound, a Hummingbird Cocktail, an Aperol Spritz and, of course, the grapefruit soda. It’s just a happy little habit that makes the weekend feel more luxurious and special. And it’s not about the alcohol. It’s the whole process. The treat of taking time to make a multi-step beverage – a luxury that I don’t have during the week. And I think you should try it too. Guarantee you’ll feel more relaxed with a homemade cocktail in hand.

Ok on to the drink. The elements of the grapefruit soda are simple. Grapefruit simple syrup, grapefruit flavored sparkling water (I used Perrier), and your favorite vodka. You could have it with or without the alcohol, and it’s a true delight either way. Last week I made it for the boys with just the grapefruit soda and simple syrup and they drank it right down.

Grapefruit Simple Syrup

2 cups grapefruit juice (I used 4 grapefruits, but it will vary. Use ruby red or pink for prettiest color)
2 cups sugar

Combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Let cool and store in a jar with lid. Will keep refrigerated for about a month.

Grapefruit Soda (for one drink)

1 1/2 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz grapefruit simple syrup
Grapefruit flavored sparkling water, to top (I used Perrier)

Stir together vodka and simple syrup in your glass, add ice and top with grapefruit sparkling water. Cheers and enjoy!