Xocolātl (Spicy Hot Chocolate, Aztec Style)
Cacao plants were first cultivated in Mesoamerica some three to four thousand years ago. The Olmec people ground cacao’s dried, fermented seeds into a paste and mixed with water to make a chocolate drink known as xocolātl. To make it froth, the mixture was poured back and forth between bowls. The drink was believed to possess magical power, so it was reserved for ceremonies. The invading Spaniards knew a good thing when they tasted it, so they took it back to their European friends, who found it irresistible. This is an easy recipe, so share the magic!

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp fine-ground chile powder (more or less)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups water
6 cups milk

Whipped cream, nutmeg for topping
Cinnamon stir sticks

Blend ingredients. Mix with water and simmer for 4 minutes. Stir in milk and reheat. Add vanilla, whip, and pour into 8 warm cups. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, and add a cinnamon stir stick.

Cranberry-Rosemary-Cinnamon Cordial
Make this cranberry-red holiday cordial in October, enjoy at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

1 pound cranberries, coarsely chopped
3 cups sugar
3 cups light rum
2 cinnamon sticks
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Combine chopped cranberries and sugar. Let sit for 1 hour, add rum. Place in a jar with cinnamon sticks and rosemary. Cover and shake, and then place in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar every couple of days. After 4-6 weeks, strain the liquid into a pretty bottle. Serve, or refrigerate for storage.

A bonus: use the rum-flavored cranberries in a nut bread, cookies, compote, chicken salad, or as a delectable sauce for ice cream.

Chocolate Coffee
Always remember: coffee and chocolate are both herbs.

2 tablespoons instant coffee
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 cup water
3 cups milk
whipped cream

In saucepan combine coffee, sugar, salt, chocolate, and water; stir over low heat until chocolate has melted. Simmer 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until heated. When piping hot, remove from heat and beat with rotary beater until mixture is frothy. Pour into cups and top each with a dollop of whipped cream. Makes 3 servings.

Golden Milk (Turmeric Tea)
Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. This traditional tea has both antibacterial and antiviral properties. It can help ward off colds and flu, reduce joint and muscle pain. Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and may boost brain health. Ginger may ease digestive upset, menstrual cramps, or chronic digestive problems.

1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1 green tea bag
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup milk

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain into a mug. If you wish, double or triple the recipe and store the tea in the refrigerator. Gently heat before drinking.

Pomegranate Cranberry-Orange Party Punch
This fruity, fizzy punch is easy to make, beautiful in a bowl, and party-perfect all year round. You can make it spiked or unspiked—or both! Makes about 10 servings. Planning a big party? Double all ingredients.

1 liter sparkling wine (for non-alcoholic punch substitute 1 liter lemon-lime carbonated drink)
2 cups pomegranate juice
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups vodka (for non-alcoholic punch substitute 2 cups sparkling water)
1 cup sparkling water
1/2 c. orange juice

For garnish:
1 fresh orange, thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Fresh mint sprigs

Combine chilled liquids in a large punch bowl. Garnish with orange slices and mint sprigs, serve over ice cubes.

Ginger Tummy-Trouble Tea

In China, ginger has been used for 5,000 years to treat nausea, colds, and arthritis. To make your own ginger tea, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of grated or powdered root and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, sweeten with honey if you like.