Spiced Mulled Wine

Mike and I have a Christmas tradition that is very near and dear to my heart.

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We always get our Christmas tree from Emery Farm, and pick up a few delectable food items from the farm store before we leave, like apple cider donuts and whoopie pies.

At Emery Farm, they also give everyone who purchases a Christmas tree a free, hand-decorated ornament. We’ve amassed a collection of these over the last few years.

Ornaments

Then, we head home, pull out all the Christmas decorations that have been in storage for the year, put on a fun Christmas carol station on Pandora, and brew up a festive pot of spiced mulled wine.

I look forward to this day almost all year. Or at least as soon as Thanksgiving comes to a close. It’s even better now that we have a real mantle to decorate over a real pellet stove that keeps us warm and toasty while we sip mulled wine and hang ornaments.

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Mulled wine is just such a fantastic invention for the holidays. It tastes good, it smells wonderful, and it’s easy to make in large batches for parties. We’ve varied the recipe over the years but this is the one we always go back to.

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What You Need:

  • One 1.5 Liter bottle red wine of your choice (I used Little Penguin Shiraz)
  • 1 orange, partially skinned for garnish and then sliced
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1/4 cup agave (can substitute with honey if you don’t have agave)
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks + extra for garnish

What You Do: 

Put all ingredients into a large pot and bring to a light simmer.

Simmer for about 15 minutes and then serve with orange skin and cinnamon sticks for garnish.

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Whole Wheat Holiday Rum Spice Cake

Adapted from the Applesauce Spice Cake recipe on Epicurious

Every time the holidays roll around, I kind of assume I’m going to be amazing at life and have my gifts bought, wrapped and under the tree by December 15. Needless to say, that absolutely never, ever happens.

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And I was really scrambling this year when my equally lofty dreams of baking and cooking in preparation for our visits to various family over Thanksgiving took a backseat to other life events (normal things like work and sleeping – where do the days go?!?). That’s why I was thrilled to come across this fabulous recipe for a Thanksgiving dessert that is not a pie and didn’t require me to quit my job in order to prepare it. Mike and I were even able to go on an impromptu date at our favorite restaurant the night I baked this and I still got to bed at a reasonable hour (before midnight, just to clarify what constitutes “reasonable”).

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This recipe will be great to offer up for the Christmas holiday too, and I plan on making it again.

What was your favorite dessert for the Thanksgiving holiday? I’d love to hear some different treats you baked up for the celebration. Baking isn’t really my forte but I like doing it every once in awhile, especially when I get a really good idea that will taste great without traumatizing my body with sugar.

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What You Need: 

  • 1 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar such as Sugar in the Raw
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons light rum
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.

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In a separate, larger bowl, combine the sugar, butter and rum. Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until a nice batter has formed.

Add the egg and beat again at a medium-high speed until light and fluffy in texture. Reduce blender speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, continuing to blend until combined well.

Fold in applesauce and blend on low until combined.

In an 8-inch square non-stick baking dish, spread the batter evenly.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

Pro Tip: Make ahead by wrapping the cooled cake in plastic wrap and freezing until ready to use. It will thaw really quickly and can be warmed in the oven on low before serving. This is a great strategy if you’re traveling.

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