5 Festive Holiday Grogs

In this blustery weather, there’s nothing better than some warm holiday grogs to kick off the cheer of the season. With or without alcohol, the following holiday drink recipes can add some flair to your festivities. Enjoy the aroma of mulled cider, sip a rich cup of Mexican hot chocolate after a snowy walk, or serve a ginger-infused eggnog or espresso almond latte while wrapping presents. Whatever the occasion, you’ll love these delicious holiday drinks.

Ginger-infused Eggnog

Serves 4 to 6

1 quart good-quality eggnog

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup ginger syrup, or to taste

4 ounces light rum, optional

2 tablespoons chopped, candied ginger

Grated nutmeg

Combine the eggnog, cinnamon, ginger syrup and rum in a large pitcher. Stir well and chill for at last 2 hours. Pour into 4 to 6 mugs and top with a sprinkling of candied ginger and grated nutmeg.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Serves 8

4 cups whole milk

Four 12-ounce cans evaporated milk

8 ounces chopped Mexican chocolate (or other good-quality bittersweet chocolate)

1/4 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder, or to taste

2 cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla bean, split down the middle (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

4 ounces tequila, optional

Whipped cream

Cocoa powder

In a large heavy-duty saucepan, combine the whole and evaporated milk, chocolate, chili powder, cinnamon and vanilla bean over moderate heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate is completely melted and the drink has a creamy consistency. Remove from heat; allow cinnamon and vanilla to steep for 10 minutes. Remove the sticks and pod before serving. Stir in the liqueur, if using, and top each portion with a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.

Spiced Citrus Apple Cider

Serves 8 to 10

2 quarts apple cider

2 cinnamon sticks, plus additional as garnish

3 whole cloves

2 allspice berries

1 orange, cut into thin slices.

Juice of half fresh lemon

8 ounces apple brandy, optional

Combine ingredients in a large pot over moderate heat. Allow to simmer 10 minutes to develop flavors. Strain and serve each portion with an ounce of apple brandy and cinnamon stick.

Santa’s Kiss

Champagne or sparkling wine

Fresh pomegranate juice

Fill each champagne flute three-quarters full. Add a splash of pomegranate juice to taste.

Espresso Amaretto Latte

Serves 8

8 to 16 shots good-quality espresso coffee

2 cups half-and-half, warmed

1/2 cup almond-flavored liqueur, optional

Whipped cream and shaved semi-sweet chocolate, optional

Combine coffee with warmed half-and-half and liqueur (if using). Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

The Ideal 5-in-1 Meal

What dish can you cook once -- and eat five different ways on five different nights? Answer: braised short ribs. The initial one-pot meal takes less than an hour to prepare, followed by three hours of slow cooking in the oven. But if you double the recipe, you’ll have enough left over to create four more ideal meals to finish off the week. Just shred the beef and keep it in the fridge along with the braising juice and leftover vegetables. Or, separate and freeze for later use.

Night 1: Braised Short Ribs
There are plenty of ways to cook braised short ribs, but the classic includes a combination of red wine, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, thyme, and canned tomatoes or tomato paste. Look through your favorite cookbooks or search online to pick out a recipe you like.

Night 2: Short-rib Shepherd’s Pie

  • Saute one chopped carrot and one chopped onion, or heat leftover short-rib vegetables in a little braising liquid.
  • Add 2 cups of shredded meat, sprinkle with flour, and continue to saute, stirring for a few minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of red wine, bring to a boil, and stir until thickened.
  • Add 1 cup of frozen peas. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour into a 9-inch square or small, rectangular baking dish and top with creamy mashed potatoes.
  • Bake at 350 F until bubbly and slightly browned on top (around 30-40 minutes).

Night 3: Pulled Short-rib Sandwiches

  • Pile shredded beef onto rolls.
  • Add your favorite condiment or sauce: pesto, hoisin sauce, Korean barbeque sauce, coleslaw, relish, horseradish mayo, etc.
  • Optional: grill on crusty bread with cheddar (or provolone) cheese and thin-sliced red onions. Kids can eat theirs plain on hamburger rolls as Sloppy Joes.

Night 4: Short-rib Ragu Over Pasta

  • Put shredded beef, leftover vegetables and braising liquids in a large pot.
  • Add:
    • 1 can of crushed tomato (with juice)
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 or 2 sprigs of thyme and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf and thyme, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream or milk. Simmer another minute.
  • Pour short-rib sauce over pappardelle or rigatoni.

Night 5: Short-rib Tacos

  • Reheat shredded meat in the microwave and load into soft or hard tacos.
  • Top with various taco condiments, like corn salsa, avocado, chopped cilantro, chopped raw onions, shredded Monterey Jack or other cheese, shredded cabbage or lettuce, sour cream, etc.