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Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto, License: N/A, Created: 2013:12:04 02:46:37

GETTY FREEDOM IMAGES What better way to warm up after time spent outdoors than with a steaming cup of cocoa?

There is always a lull after the holidays and when reality of winter sets in.

It’s a perfect time to enjoy warm-and-cozy foods and drinks that help to warm up the heart as well as the body.

One of my family’s winter favorites is steamy hot chocolate. My daughter, Carolyn, in particular, recalls fond memories of her dad making her favorite winter beverage – topped with lots of marshmallows, of course - after she came indoors from an afternoon of snowman building or sledding.

“It always tasted good and made me feel loved,” Carolyn said.

It’s easiest to just open up a cocoa mix and add boiling water. But making hot chocolate from scratch adds to the good feelings that it provides. Here are a couple recipes from Hershey’s Kitchens. Hershey’s is close to my family’s heart because of the many memories we have of visiting Hersheypark through the years. My grown children, who first visited the park as babies, still consider it one of their favorite fun spots today.

Hershey’s ‘Perfectly Chocolate’ Hot Cocoa

This stovetop recipe makes enough hot cocoa for six cups, but can be easily doubled to serve a crowd. Stick with the classic, or try one of the three delicious flavor variations.

Ingredients

■ 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

■ 4 cups milk (1 qt.)

■ 1/3 cup water hot

■ 1/2 cup sugar

■ salt

■ 1/4 cup cocoa

Directions

Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil and stir 2 minutes.

Add milk; stir and heat until hot. Do not boil. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with whisk until foamy. About six 6-ounce servings.

Note: Recipe may be doubled.

Variations: Add one of the following with the vanilla extract.

■ Cinnamon cocoa: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

■ Mint cocoa: 1/2 teaspoon mint extract or 3 tablespoons crushed hard peppermint candy.

■ Mocha cocoa: 1 to 2 tablespoons powdered instant coffee.

Hot Cocoa for One

When you’re on your own during a chilly winter’s night, this homemade hot cocoa recipe for one is just what you need for cozy comfort. Give it a quick spin in the microwave, then add marshmallows or chocolate shavings for a decadent touch.

Ingredients

■ 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

■ 2 to 3 teaspoons cocoa

■ 2 tablespoons sugar

■ 1 cup milk

■ salt

Directions

Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in large mug.

Heat milk in microwave at high (100 percent) 1-1/2 minutes or until hot.

Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture in mug, stirring until well blended.

Stir in vanilla. 1 serving.

Variations:

■ Rich and adult: Increase cocoa to 2 tablespoons; follow recipe above.

■ Lower fat: Use nonfat milk; follow recipe above.

■ Sugar free: Omit sugar. Combine cocoa and salt. Proceed as above, using nonfat milk. Stir in vanilla and sugar substitute with sweetening equivalence of 2 tablespoons sugar.

Teri Lyon is a mom, grandmom and freelance writer who lives in Glenburn Township with her cat.