Hershey’s Hot Cocoa

20160113_113412P109084220160113_113331   P1090844
We make this recipe when we want a cup of hot cocoa that a) doesn’t have preservatives, b) fake sweeteners, and c) doesn’t taste weird.  It takes a few minutes but the flavor is really worth it.

One note about this recipe, though, it states it makes three 6 oz. servings, but in reality, one recipe yields about two servings at best.  We always double this recipe for three people.  The recipe below serves approximately 2 people.  No one wants to have a small cup of hot cocoa…especially after smelling this recipe!

 

INGREDIENTS:  (for approximately 2 people)

  • 2 tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup hot water (doesn’t need to be boiling)
  • 1 1/2 cup milk (any percentage is fine, I used 2%)
  • marshmallows, if desired.

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Blend the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  2. Gradually add the hot water.
  3. Boil over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the milk and heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally.  (Do not boil).
  5. Remove from heat and whisk until foamy.
  6. Serve hot – top with marshmallows, if desired.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

vanilla1 vanilla2 vanilla3 vanilla4 vanilla5

Homemade vanilla extract is something I never thought I’d make, but I am so glad I gave it a try.  I will definitely be making this again too.  With a little bottle of pure vanilla extract costing $5-10+, and with the possibility of the manufacturer putting unfortunate and fake ingredients in your vanilla, it’s a wise choice to make it yourself.  Also, it was simply fun to monitor it over the few weeks to watch (and smell) it morph from a vanilla bean inside a jar of vodka into vanilla extract.  The smell is heavenly!

Use this extract as a 1:1 replacement for store-bought extract.  This makes a great deal of vanilla extract!

For the best, most affordable deals on vanilla beans, head to Amazon or an online seller.  In the store, it’s a complete ripoff and will be a fun experiment but won’t save money.  In the store I’ve seen them ask $8 for one bean in a glass jar.  So, definitely buy online!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • one 375-milliliter bottle of mid-grade vodka

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Using a sharp knife, split each vanilla bean in half down the middle.
  2. Add the sliced beans to the vodka bottle.
  3. Secure the lid and store the jar in your pantry for a couple of weeks, until the liquid starts to turn brown, then it’s ready to use.  (For me, this was about 6 weeks, give or take).

 

I found a bigger bottle of vodka and measured out the 375mL amount into a Mason jar and proceeded from there.