Just the right spice, just the right heat: Chai Rum Hot Toddy

Hey mid-Atlantic and Northeast friends! It’s pretty cold isn’t it? Dang.

I’m not usually one to let weather affect me, or my plans. Of course this isn’t necessarily a good thing; there have been times I have been in slightly dangerous situations, and times when I have been quite physically uncomfortable. But a little rain? I’m still going to trek through Manhattan to try some diner I heard of, or walk the streets of Nashville in December with no umbrella. Snow is making it challenging to drive? I will walk to Trader Joe’s for groceries. I will say that I’m not nearly as hard-core as my dad, who went skiing the other day in -10 degrees Fahrenheit BEFORE windchill.

Along with variations on food, I can be tempted by an interesting cocktail when I dine out. Recently, at a fairly upscale restaurant (Red Rooster Harlem) I paid $15 for a variation on a hot toddy that I actually could barely palate. It had some kind of spice that made me cough, along with all three of my dinner companions (of course I made them try it). Based on my experience, I can’t really recommend this place in general, but the only perspective I have is from arriving promptly when the restaurant opened for dinner without a reservation on a Saturday night.

Guess what? I have all the ingredients to make my own variation on warm winter cocktail at home.

I incorporated not one but TWO homemade holiday gifts I had received: a spiced rum, and a chai tea concentrate. I realize that this means you’d have hard time replicating it, but I will include a suggestion that uses your own ingredients as a shortcut.
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Chai Rum Toddy
Name and ratios suggested by Imbibe
To make 2:
16 ounces of water, boiled in a tea kettle
2 bags of black tea, or English Breakfast
3 ounces of spiced rum, whatever brand you prefer, divided
2 heaping teaspoons of chai tea concentrate, divided

Pour hot water into a vessel to steep the 2 tea bags for 4 minutes.
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Pour tea into two serving glasses.

We have a ton of different types of drinking glasses, but darn, we don't have an authentic glass mug for hot toddies!

We have a ton of different types of drinking glasses, but darn, we don’t have an authentic glass mug for hot toddies!


If you're feeling fancy, add some kind of garnish (cinnamon stick, piece of orange or lemon rind, star anise pod). It will make a better picture :)

If you’re feeling fancy, add some kind of garnish (cinnamon stick, piece of orange or lemon rind, star anise pod). It will make a better picture 🙂

Measure about 1.5 ounces of rum and pour into each glass. Add a spoonful of chai tea concentrate and stir until combined. Drink immediately and feel warm and fuzzy.

Suggested variation:
16 ounces of water, boiled in a tea kettle
2 bags of chai tea
3 ounces of spiced rum
, divided
2 heaping teaspoons of honey, divided
A splash of milk or cream, to taste

Bundle up out there!

Harvest Muffins

Time to get grating.
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Last week was as big one for the CSA harvest, plus I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of things at a farmer’s market I was passing, so it has been a busy time of cooking and eating and trying to keep up. No ordering lunch for this gal! It has been delicious though. There was a modified sweet potato shepherd’s pie made using leftover barbecue pulled pork my sister made for a family function and sent me home with. I made scallion pancakes, butternut squash parsley penne, and slightly spicy coconut chicken bok choy soup, the latter of which went really well with an ice cold lager beer home alone watching Dancing with the Stars (I’ve accepted my occasional loneliness while my husband has volunteer fire department responsibilities).

When it looked like my meals were already covered for the rest of the week, I knew I had to take precautions against food spoilage. Fortunately Melissa Clark came to my aid. Well, SHE didn’t actually COME to my side and counsel me, but how cool would it be for her make a video in my kitchen? I came across her harvest muffin recipe.

This recipe reminds me a little bit of the sourdough carrot cake recipe from August, which led me to King Arthur Flour’s “Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake” recipe. Muffins are easier, since they can be individually frozen and thawed as desired.
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Harvest Muffins
From The New York Times

1 1/8 Cups (140 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 Cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 Cup (70 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 small apple
, grated, and juices reserved (1/2 cup)
1/2 Cup grated carrots (or butternut squash or parsnips)
1/2 Cup grated beets (or zucchini)
1/3 Cup (55 grams) raisins
1/2 Cup (40 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut

A note on the inclusion of grams on the ingredient list above–it is a true a time saver to be able to use the kitchen scale instead of pulling out the different measuring cups and leveling them off.
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins, either mini or regular. Prepare ingredients:

I ended up using a little more than 1/2 Cup of the carrots and beets.

I ended up using a little more than 1/2 Cup of the carrots and beets.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

To a large bowl, add the grated apple and juices and grated vegetables, eggs, olive oil, honey, and brown sugar.
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Combine.

Lovely!

Lovely!


Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the raisins and coconut.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way up.

It is hard to tell what is 3/4 of the way filled. These muffins aren't huge risers, so it wasn't a problem.

It is hard to tell what is 3/4 of the way filled. These muffins aren’t huge risers, so it wasn’t a problem.


Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes for mini-muffins and about 20 to 22 minutes for regular muffins.
8 minutes in--we're halfway there!

8 minutes in–we’re halfway there!


When an inserted toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are ready to be enjoyed.
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I know you’re wondering–the answer is yes, the muffins do taste a little like beets. You get the beet flavor when you first take a bite, but then it fades into the straightforward sweet taste you would find in any zucchini, apple, or banana bread. I will be enjoying these now until Thanksgiving!