Entries Tagged as 'beverages'

Spanish Hot Chocolate

We’re gearing up for a chilly, windy and rainy day today…the perfect weather for hot chocolate!  Spanish hot chocolate is a wonderful variation of this delicious winter standby.  Delicate hints of orange and cinnamon grace the silky smooth chocolate.  Typically, Spanish hot chocolate is thickened with cornstarch, but my version is not.  If you’d like, near the end of simmering just add a cornstarch slurry of 1 teaspoon cornstarch to 1 tablespoon water and stir in until thickened.  Warm up your insides this winter and give this one a try, I bet you’ll love it! :)

spanish hot chocolate


2 1/2 cups whole milk
zest from one orange (I used a clementine)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon best quality cocoa powder


In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients except chocolate up to the boiling point, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Allow to simmer about 10-15 minutes to allow the orange and cinnamon to infuse the milk.
Add chocolate powder and whisk to combine.

It’s Time to do the Mash! The Monster Mash! Halloween Party Recipes and Ideas

Only 20 more days til Halloween! BOO! If you’re like me, you’ll have already started planning what to wear and which spooky treats you’ll be serving your guests. Is it too early to carve the pumpkins? LOL This year I’m also planning to make glowing greentinis (kiwitinis? lol that’s fun to say) and freeze plastic bugs into ice cubes…mwa-ha-haaaa! Here are a couple of my tried and trues to help get your party planning started. I’d love to hear what you’ve all got planned too! :)

Ghosts in the Graveyard

ghosts graveyard


1 pan brownies
cookies, tinted coconut and chocolate for decoration.


Arrange cookies and coconut “grass” to make a cemetary.

Bloody Brain

bloody brain


2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 small packet ranch dressing mix
your favorite salsa
crackers for dipping


Mix cream cheese and ranch dressing mix thoroughly.
Form an oval “brain” shape on a plate.
Using a chopstick, drawn brain on cream cheese.
Drizzle salsa over “brain” and serve with crackers for dipping.

Monster Fingers and Toes

monster digits


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg (size small)
1 teaspoon vanilla
green food coloring (plus a little blue, to make a darker green)
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raw almonds (skin off)


Cream butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and food coloring.
Add dry ingredients and beat until combined.
Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes, wrapped in film.
Heat oven to 325º F (150º C).
Divide dough in half and reserve other half in refrigerator.
Line baking sheets with parchment (I like to use 2, baking one, and forming the other simultaneously).
Roll pieces of dough with your hands into thin fingers–be sure to make them quite thin, as the dough tends to spread quite a bit.
Press an almond onto the end of each finger.
Using a butter knife, make indentations for knuckles (I also squeeze the dough a bit where the knuckle is, to make it bigger).
To make toes, roll small balls of dough, and then roll one side to make the length of the toe, leaving the part for the “nail” a little bigger. Press almonds onto the “toes.”
Bake in a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until done, but not browned.
Cool on wire racks for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a serving plate.

Ok, and here’s a reeeeeeeeally old pic of the fingers and toes done just a bit differently, same recipe, without the food coloring, and with “painted” nails (I used those tubes of gel frosting for writing on cakes and spread it on with a small paintbrush).

monster digits

Spooky Eyeballs

spooky eyeballs


16 radishes (or an even number according to guests)
16 pimento stuffed olives (or an even number according to guests)


Wash radishes well in cold water.
Using a paring knife, peel some of the skin away from the radish, leaving some as decoration.
Hollow out the center of the radish, taking care not to cut all the way through.
Fill each hollowed radish with an olive.
These can also be frozen and used as ice cubes for martini’s or bloody mary’s.

Pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

This is a simple little appetizer perfect for a Halloween party…My friend Molli posted it on another site, and I’ve adjusted it a little with the ingredients available to me.


8 ounces orange cheese (I used aged cheddar last year, but it was pretty crumbly, so I’d recommend a softer cheese)
10 pretzel sticks (about)
parsley leaves for decoration


Form cheese into “pumpkin” shapes and arrange on a plate.
Just before serving, insert pretzel stick pieces into the pumpkins for stems, and garnish with parsley leaves.

I just found an old pic of the kiwitinis, so I’m going to throw that on here too:



1 part vodka
1 part apple liquer
1 part Rives kiwi flavoring
2 parts sparkling water


Fill martini shaker with ice.
Add all ingredients and shake it baby.
Pour into glasses.Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl, and refrigerate at least 2-3 hours, or as long as 24 hours.
Serve chilled, or at room temperature.

Coolest Fruit Ever

So look at what I bought today!  It’s called a Pitaya, or Dragon Fruit.  Native to Central and South America, and also produced in Asia, this cactus fruit is gorgeous on the outside, as evidenced by one of it’s other names, the Orchid Fruit.  It’s flesh can be purple or white with tiny black seeds.  The flesh of this beautiful fruit can be eaten alone or pureed into beverages, sorbets….It is similar in flavor to the kiwi fruit.  The outer skin is inedible.  Rich in lycopene, and vitamin C, and very low in calories, this refreshing fruit is perfect for summer.  More pics to come as soon as I open the fruit….it’s just too pretty to cut yet! :)


Well, I worked up the nerve to cut into this little prize…I felt like I was defiling a rare flower….oh the guilt!  But look what was inside:



That first bite….MMMMM!  It actually is similar to kiwi, but not as tart, and it actually has some floral undertones.  The seeds are not as strong tasting as the kiwi’s either…very mild, in fact.  The fruit was delicious on it’s own…very subtle.  I decided to turn it into breakfast by pureeing it with a banana and a coconut yogurt….Voilà!  Dragon fruit smoothie.  YUM.  That’s all I can say.

pitaya smoothie

Luscious and Light Vanilla Fruity Smoothie

So I’ve been trying to watch my calorie intake after having gained a few pounds over the winter.  This is *not* an easy thing to do when everyone else in the house wants french fries, guacamole, brownies and other calorie ridden food every day of the week. :P   So…I’ve been cutting back, having vegetarian soup as an appetizer before each meal, plus a big salad and only a small portion of what I’ve made, or a variation of the meal prepared “light” for me.  This is one of those things that tastes every bit as rich and satisfying as a regular smoothie, yet is very diet friendly.  Easy too, so it’s convenient for my busy mornings trying to get 4 kids out the door in time for school.



1 small container of fat free plain yogurt (4 1/2 ounce / 125 grams)
7-10 strawberries, rinsed and stemmed
1 ripe banana
a splash of vanilla extract
1/2 packet of Splenda (or other sugar substitute to taste)


Buzz everything up in the blender and serve.
Garnish with kiwi if desired.


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