Chai Lattes and Hot Caramel Apple Cider

Welcome to my third entry post for Project Food Blog on  The theme of the challenge for this round is “Luxury Dinner Party”. The good folks at prompted thusly: “Celebrate! You’ve made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests). Whether you’re an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party. Share your hosting secrets with readers. ” I ran into a bit of a snag but the show had to go on!  How did I do?  I’ll let you judge…

“…[Weed]  out what you yourself like best to do, so that you can live most agreeably in a world full of an increasing number of disagreeable surprises.”

~MFK Fisher

While planning our fabulous dinner party we all got the flu.

There was no reason at all to let a disagreeable surprise like the flu stand in the way of living as agreeably as possible.  Clearly our previous plans were waylaid*, but the family gamely agreed to carry on when I solemnly pledged not to include any pictures of snuffly noses or red-rimmed eyes in the post. Luxury is a state of mind, after all, and we were of a mind for some luxury.

*Would you attend a dinner party thrown by a cook who looked and sounded as though you might find her lung in your soup?  Exactly.

We respected the rules of the competition.  And so invitations went forth…

The children all R.S.V.P.’d.

Then we hiked up our softest jammy pants, adjusted our fuzziest socks, combed our hair and generally made ourselves presentable (to keep ourselves in the spirit of the thing)  for a Flu Fighting Feast of the First Degree.

Our first course was, naturally, a soup course.  We indulged in a velvety chicken soup with light-as-air dumplings made from my grandmother’s “Never-Fail Dumplings” recipe. Everyone knows that nothing cures the flu faster than homemade chicken soup and Grandma’s dumplings. I do believe lungs started clearing.

Our second course was our hot drinks course.  We harnessed the season and pampered ourselves with steaming sweet apple cider dressed with a spoonful of dulce de leche and a hearty dollop of whipped cream.  The warmth of the drinks soothed our throats and quieted the chills. While whipped cream isn’t traditionally recommended as a flu curative, it certainly helped mend our spirits if not our respiration.

There were also spicy, hot Chai Lattes for the tea lovers among us. Topped with a cap of frothed milk and a cinnamon stick they warmed parents and children alike. Believe me, that felt like a million bucks.

We retired to the den for the dessert course; Vanilla Scottish Shortbread…

Lots of cuddles, and an ibuprofen.

And a luxuriously good time was had by all.


If you find yourself hosting a Flu Fighting Feast, take advantage of these simple tips to make your evening sparkle:

  • Put cushy pillows on the seats.
  • Have a blanket draped over the back of each person’s chair so they can wrap up when overtaken with the chills.
  • Make sure to put out place markers with names clearly written in case you forget who you are because of fever.
  • Above all, remember to ditch the whole plan and snuggle on the couch while watching a movie if you find it’s just too much to remain upright.

For a printer-friendly, photo-free version of these recipes, click here!

Chai Lattes

Recipe adapted from the Stash Tea Company


  • 10 standard-sized Chai teabags (I prefer the Stash brand.)
  • 7 cups cool fresh water
  • 1 cup whole milk plus additional milk for frothing
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like your chai
  • Optional: whole cinnamon sticks for a flavorful garnish

Combine water, milk and sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed pan.  Add the teabags to the liquid and bring to a boil, partially covered.  Remove cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove and discard tea bags.  Pour chai into a tea pot (or into a Mason jar with a lid for storage in the refrigerator.)

To froth milk, use a handheld frother or pour at least 1/4 cup of milk into a blender and process until fluffy.  Put milk in a microwave safe container,uncovered, and heat for between 30 seconds and 1 minute, depending on the strength of your microwave.  Watch closely, because the milk expands and wants to boil over.

To serve, fill a mug 2/3 full with the hot chai.  Spoon the frothed milk over the tea until you reach the rim of the mug.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick.  Use the cinnamon stick to swirl the hot milk and chai together.

Hot Caramel Apple Cider

Ingredients per serving:

  • 6 ounces (3/4 of a cup) fresh apple cider
  • 1 Tablespoon dulce de leche or caramel sauce
  • Heavy whipped cream, to taste

Heat apple cider in a saucepan or in the microwave just until steaming.  Stir in a generous tablespoon of dulce de leche or caramel sauce until it is completely melted.  Top the cider with whipped cream just before serving.

This is my third entry in Project Food Blog over at you like this recipe and the post?  I’d appreciate your vote of support! I will let you all know here when voting opens up on October 4th!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for getting me this far and for your continued support!

Pssst…  Are you still with me?  I have a favor to ask.  The next challenge, if I make it there, requires a photo tutorial.  So I’d like, if I may, to get your opinion.  Would you like a photo tutorial on Scottish Shortbread?  Homemade Chicken Soup and Dumplings? How to open the new-fangled ibuprofen bottles?  Something else entirely?  Do let me know!


  1. Road Trippin Foodie says

    First time reader of your blog. Love your menu – but I gotta ask, did your Hot Caramel Apple Cider curdle like mine does? I tried making this last Fall and couldn’t get them to not curdle, no matter what kind of cider I used – fresh pressed – unfiltered – powdered – they all curdled when I added the caramel.

    And will you be sharing the recipe for the “Never fail dumplings”?

    My mother made what she called “Feather Dumplings” with her signature Chicken & Dumplings, she passed away in 1995 and the collection of her tried and true recipes (which included the dumplings) was lost in a tragic accident I call “The Vomit Incident” where a visiting nephew didn’t quite make it to the bathroom he was running to. Lost a collection of recipes that had been passed down for generations. I still weep for the loss.

    Since that day, low so many years ago, I’ve searched the internet for something like her recipes and have yet to find one that comes close.

  2. Nina says

    “Make sure to put out place markers with names clearly written in case you forget who you are because of fever.” – Priceless!

    Get well soon and will vote for sure :-p

  3. says

    I love this post so very very much. Life handed you the flu, and you make chicken soup!
    I hope everyone is feeling better now, probably in no small part because of your delicious flu-fighting dinner.

  4. Nat Alea from OK says

    I’m voting with everyone else. I would love to have a post on your grandmother’s chicken and dumplins!!! Anything that your Grandma would make should instantly make you feel better ;o) Hope you do.

  5. says

    Gorgeous. I love that you made sick food into something special.

    I would LOVE a pictorial on the dumplings. Those are one of my favorite sick foods and I much prefer the drop-biscuit kind to the rolled-and-cut kind.

  6. says

    Wow, you almost made getting the flu sound fun! Love how you tackled this challenge even amidst illness and that menu sounds just fabulous, flu or not. Makes me want to go home, wrap myself in a fuzzy blanket, and have a cup of chai. Hope you all are feeling better now!

  7. Lori on Little Traverse Bay says

    I vote for the chicken-and-dumplings tutorial as well. Hope you’re all feeling better!

  8. says

    Wowie–throwing a dinner party, even a scaled down one just-for-sick-family, is still a lot when you’re sick too! And dulce de leche in your cider? I would love you for that alone! You have one of my votes–hope everyone is on the mend!

  9. says

    Utterly charming. Flu or not, that’s exactly the kind of comfy pyjama party I would love to attend (and vote for!). Hope you’re all feeling much better now – I know I would be after a menu like that :)

  10. says

    Just started checking out your blog- what a great post. No wonder you’ve been moving right through the PFB rounds. You definitely have my vote moving forward.

  11. Beth says

    Just found your website during a quick finals study break–this post made me feel right at home! Thank you!


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