Witch's Brew Martini

Celebrate Halloween with this Witch's Brew Vodka Martini. 
It will blow your witch socks off!! 
But you can keep them on by heavily munching on a
cheese and fruit tray idea.

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Hot Chocolate And Party Flavors

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Never had a hot chocolate party?  Not even after a snowball fight?  Perhaps this hot chocolate recipe will inspire you.  

My goal here was to create a basic dark hot chocolate recipe that both children and adults could enjoy.  But for us adults I wanted to be able to "bump up" the flavor with choices from a variety of alcohol flavors.  

First, I must attribute the use of half and half milk along with whole milk to an Ina Garten hot chocolate recipe.  The half and half adds a bit of creaminess to the flavor.  I always keep Dutch processed cocoa powder on the shelf, so that too was an easy ingredient to include in my recipe.

The basic recipe Ingredients for four:

  • 2 Tablespoons dark Dutch processed cocoa powder

  • 3 Tablespoons boiling hot water

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 2 cups half and half milk

  • 6 ounces dark semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional when using other flavors)

  • Garnish with toasted marshmallows, optional (But I strongly encourage this garnish!)


Heat the whole milk and the half and half milk into a sauce pot on medium-high heat.  While you are waiting for the milk to get very hot, pour the boiling hot water over the cocoa powder and mix until very smooth.  When the milk becomes very hot but just before it boils, add the chopped dark semi-sweet chocolate and remove the sauce pot from the heat.  Using a whisk, start with a slow stir and then increase to a vigorous whisk as the chocolate melts.  

Add the blended dark cocoa to the mixture.  Continue to whisk.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Continue to whisk to get a smooth mixture with little to no tiny chocolate specks.  Your chocolate will cool a bit during the mixing, so return it to the heat to make it a hot chocolate just before serving.

For flavors added, I started by replacing the vanilla extract for each flavor.  (I did test with including the vanilla and found that to be a nice option as well.)  The flavors I tested were peppermint extract plus Peppermint Schnapps; almond extract plus Amaretto liqueur; and orange extract plus Grande Marnier liqueur.   

One of my most favorite flavors is the peppermint:

  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

  • 1 shot of Peppermint Schnapps for every 8 ounces of hot chocolate. Add the Schnapps to the cup or glass of hot chocolate and stir.

  • Garnish with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy

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My other most favorite flavor is Disronno Amaretto:

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (This is optional. I tried the Ameretto without the almond extract and with it. Loved both of them.)

  • 1 shot of Disronno Amaretto (Add the liqueur to the cup or glass of hot chocolate.)

Okay, I confess.  As you can see in the image below, I grabbed a homemade biscotti to dunk into my Ameretto hot chocolate.  And yes, I loved it, especially the part where I finished off this wonderful ritual just drinking the Ameretto hot chocolate. 


My least favorite is hot chocolate with Grand Marnier liqueur, although I love and I mean LOVE Grand Marnier.  But for those interested in trying it out:

  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

  • 1 shot Grand Marnier liqueur

If you want to experiment a hot chocolate with other alcoholic flavors, you may want to try a bourbon or a brandy.

For another but non-alcoholic flavor with hot chocolate, experiment with caramel, such as adding a caramel extract or caramel syrup.  Just make sure to use a syrup in the hot chocolate, such as what is used in coffee rather than the heavier and thicker caramel topping used to garnish whip cream or ice cream, like that in the image below


Why not leave one of the party flavors above just for Santa Claus! Who knows, perhaps you’ll get your request. Here’s mine:

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Ready for a hot chocolate with party flavors now?  
I hope so or just go with the hot chocolate.  
And then, don't forget, share your hot chocolate experiences with my readers and me.  
We'd love to hear from you!  Really



Corn Chowder Bacon And Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Anytime of the year is a good time for a hearty corn chowder!  But it seems particularly tasty in the fall as we adjust to cool days and nights. This corn chowder is seasoned with crispy bacon, extra sharp cheddar cheese and then spiked with bits of sun-dried tomatoes.  

Corn Chowder With Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Corn Chowder With Sun-Dried Tomatoes


A bowl of hearty corn chowder is then garnished with lots of delicious crispy chopped bacon.

The Recipe
Serves 6-8

Tool:  4-5 quart dutch oven, preferably cast iron


  • 7 slices of fried bacon, diced

  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 Tablespoons of butter

  • 3 Tablespoons of flour

  • 3 cups of chicken stock

  • 1 teaspoon of salt, preferably Kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper (or add fresh ground white pepper at serving)

  • 1 large white potato, diced (russet or Yukon gold, whichever is available)

  • Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 2.5 ounces (73 grams)

  • 2 pounds frozen corn (453 grams each). If you use fresh corn, you'll need 10 ears. You can also use a mixture of small white corn and yellow corn.

  • 2 cups of half-and-half milk

  • 1 cup (83 grams) of white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  • Optional: 3/4 cups of white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded for additional garnish

  • Optional: If you like a little heat, add cayenne pepper to taste.


In a 5 quart stock pot, fry bacon to a brown crisp.  Leaving about 1-2 tablespoons of the oil in the pot, remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel.  Add onions and cook to almost translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Push onions and garlic to one side of the pot.  

Melt butter to just a few bubbles.  Add flour and stir to create a roux.  Add salt and pepper.  Add chicken stock and bring back onions and garlic back into the mixture. Add potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add corn, sun-dried tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add half-and-half milk and cheese.  Cook for about 5 minutes until cheese melts. 

While chowder is cooking its last 5 minutes, chop the bacon.  Serve chowder in a soup bowl or soup cup.  Garnish with bacon.  For a more cheesier flavor,  garnish with the additional shredded cheese.

This corn chowder recipe serves 6-8 people, so there is plenty to share with friends and freeze to eat another day.

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Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder


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