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



Fresh Pineapple Margarita With Honey

This fresh pineapple margarita is absolutely fabulous for those who enjoy chilled cocktails and the combined flavors of sweet and salty.  Another reason I love this great cocktail is that a batch can be made ahead of time for welcoming guests at a party. 

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 First let me say that my recipe was inspired by Ali from Gimme Some Oven.

Things you will need:  blender, cutting board, knife, measuring cups, straws, cocktail napkins--and of course fun glass!


Round up the ingredients:  fresh pineapple (please, no canned pineapples; fresh lime (but if you must, pure lime juice from a bottle will do); honey; triple sec; and tequila!!


Be sure the glass is nicely chilled.  Then coat the rim with lime and dip in salt, lots of dipping in the salt!!

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The Recipe:

Ingredients for fresh pineapple margarita:

  • 1-1/2 cups of fresh pineapple chunks (Go for it and purchase the whole pineapple!)

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1/2 cup tequila (I use tequila reposado)

  • 1/2 cup triple sec liqueur (or Cointreau)

  • 3 tablespoons of honey (less or more according to your taste)

  • 3-4 ice cubes (if serving right away)

  • Margarita or kosher salt

  • Chilled glasses (margarita glasses or some other fun glasses such as mason jars)

  • Lime quarters (sufficient to line glass rims)

  • Lime and/or pineapple wedges for garnishes and serving (optional)


In a blender, stir pineapple chunks into a mush.  Add lime juice, tequila, triple sec and honey (to taste).  Continue blending on stir.  If you are serving right away, add 3-4 ice cubes and blend.

Line the rims of the chilled glass with a lime wedge. Dip the rim of glass into the margarita or kosher salt.  Serve on the side and/or add a garnish of a pineapple or lime wedge to the rim.  Add a straw, if desired. 

Remember, you can make this ahead of time for a party.  Keep the batch chilled in the refrigerator.  Your guests will love you even more when you greet them at the door with a very cold fresh pineapple margarita. 

Serves 2 in a deep margarita glass.  Of course, bump up the ingredients for a party!


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You may also enjoy these beverages:

How To Make An Old Fashion Root Beer Float

It's sooo very easy to make an old fashion root beer float.  The key is to use an original flavor root beer.  So just be sure to read content label on a root beer bottle before buying.



  • Chilled ice cream fluted glass (or any tall glass)

  • About 5 medium sized ice cubes

  • one large scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

  • A sprinkle of chopped pecans

  • One stemmed cherry

  • 12 oz bottle of ice cold root beer


After chilling the glass for about an hour, drop the ice cubes in the glass.  Add the large scoop of vanilla ice cream so that it sits on top of the ice.  Sprinkle the pecans over the scoop of ice cream.  Place the stemmed cherry on top of ice cream scoop.  Pour the root beer into the glass down the side of the glass so as not to disturb the nuts.

Another options:  Try a different flavor soda, such as a cherry soda.  Of course, it wouldn't then be a root beer float but a cherry float.  

Note:  Don't hesitate to be creative, such as adding two scoops of ice cream, other fruits such as pineapple or strawberries.

Grab a tall tea spoon and straw.  




How I Make A Brandy Hot Toddy

This is how I make a hot toddy.  It's easy and oh so very, very good to drink on those cold wintry days.  

It's been said that it's even good for sweating out a cold.  I tried it once to get rid of a very nasty cold and I can vouch that it did work.  Just remember to stay in bed and under the blankets.  


This recipe is for one hot toddy with lemon, honey and brandy or whiskey.


  • 6 ounces of boiling water

  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons of honey (I like lots of honey, so I tend to add a bit more.)

  • 1-1/2 ounces of brandy or whiskey

  • Lemon wedge (optional)


Squeeze fresh lemon juice and pour it into a mug or glass.  (If using a glass, be sure to wrap it with pot holders or double thick large cotton napkins.)  Add boiling water. Drizzle in honey and then stir in the brandy or whiskey.  

Garnish with a lemon wedge, if desired