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      Recipes — party food

      The North Pole

      The North Pole

      This is Christmas in a cup! Sounds like a lot of different flavors …I  know, right? That’s what I thought too, molasses, ginger, Kahlua, chocolate…What?!  Surprisingly its so delish! It’s the perfect celebratory drink before or after dinner. Put on some Christmas music. Light up the fire and decorate that Christmas tree. If you are looking for a kid friendly drink, just omit the Kahlua and the vodka and you’re good to go!  Happy Holidays!



      • 4 ounces vodka
      • 2 ounces Kahlúa or more to taste
      • 4 tablespoons chocolate syrup
      • 1 teaspoon of VanillaPura Madagascar/vodka vanilla extract
      • 3 teaspoons molasses
      • 1/8 teaspoon of ginger
      • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk


      1. In a cocktail shaker combine the vodka, Kahlúa, chocolate syrup, vanilla, molasses, and ginger. Shake until well combined. Add ice and shake again. Strain into 4 glasses. Top off each glass with heavy cream. Dollop with whipped cream and garnish as desired. DRINK!


      • whipped cream candy cane as a stirrer, and gingerbread cookie crumbs, for serving (optional) I preferred to just dip the rim in chocolate and  sugar or sprinkles.

      fudgy festive brownies

      fudgy festive brownies

      Need to bring something to a Halloween party? Everyone likes brownies. Can I just say… please don’t ever bring brownies from a box! You know what brownies from a box says? It says…you’ve given up! There are so many super simple scratch brownie recipes out there.  Just turn on your computer and you’ll have a zillion in seconds. Pick one and it will be better than anything in a box!

       But these brownies, are special. They are dense, fudgy and rich. They are slightly chewy at the edges and incredibly moist and fudgy underneath. It’s made with a little less sugar and whole wheat flour, and you can’t taste the difference!!  Something you can’t get from a box. Can you tell I really dislike boxed brownies?!

      Use this as your standard go to brownie recipe. You won’t be disappointed.



      • 1 cup butter melted
      • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar 500g
      • 1 tbsp VanillaPura Madagascar/rum vanilla extract.
      • 4 eggs
      • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or sub all-purpose (about 195g)
      • 1 cup cocoa about 80g
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • chocolate chips for sprinkling on top or to mix in, optional
      • basic white frosting
      • candied eyes from the baking isle at the grocery store.


      • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
      • In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar and vanilla with a whisk until smooth.
      • Whisk in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
      • Stir in flour, cocoa and salt until combined.
      • Line a 9x13" pan with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 26-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
      • Add the frosting and googley eyes for the mummy effect, or leave them plain, they are just as good.

      Thanks to the recipe rebel for sharing!



       I love cheese and blackberries! And of course, you know I love good pure vanilla!;). When I saw this recipe from The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley, I knew I had to try it!  From late July in to late September we have blackberries coming out of our ears. I can’t take credit for them though. When we moved into our home, we found blackberries waiting for us.  The sweetest empty nesters before us planted them. The blackberries just do there thing every year. My niece’s littles come over and gorge themselves straight from the vines.  I make every kind of dessert you can think of with blackberries.  Jam is rolling and boiling in the pot. Smoothies and shakes are blended until we just can’t eat anymore!  But now, its late December and I’m wishing I could just walk out back into the sunshine and pick a few berries for our New Year’s party appetizer.  I guess I’ll be going to Costco to get my fresh blackberries. They won’t be nearly as good. Although, anything fresh right now is welcomed.

      I can’t wait to try this ooey gooey brie, topped with the sweet homemade blackberry compote and crunchy candied pecans. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Happy New Year!


      • 1 cup pecan halves
      • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
      • 1 ½ tablespoons natural cane sugar (or light brown sugar)
      • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
      • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
      • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • 2 cups blackberries, plus more for garnish
      • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
      • 1 tablespoon honey
      • 1 teaspoon Tahitian Vanillapura extract
      • 2 8-ounces wheels of Brie, room temperature
      • handful of pomegranate seeds as garnish (optional)
      • a few fresh thyme leaves as garnish (optional)
      • crackers for serving


      1. To make the spicy candied pecans:
      2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pecans on the sheet and toast for 10 minutes or until fragrant.
      3. While they are roasting, mix together the butter, cane sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
      4. Place the hot pecans into the mixture (be careful as it may sputter and hiss) and make sure that they are evenly coated. Spread them on the baking sheet on a single layer and place it back in the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
      5. In a medium saucepan, heat the blackberries, lemon juice, honey, and vanilla in medium heat, stirring regularly. As liquid begins to release from the berries, turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring periodically, until it is reduced and the liquid is syrupy.
      6. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
      7. Carefully slice away the top of the Brie rinds and discard them. Leave the sides intact. Bake both wheels of Brie for 15 minutes or until melted through.
      8. Top each baked Brie with blackberry compote and spicy candied pecans.
      9. If preferred garnish them with a few blackberries, pomegranate seeds, and fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately.

      Cinnamon Almond Aromatherapy

      Cinnamon Almond Aromatherapy

      The first time I remember craving cinnamon almonds was walking down the streets of New York City. It was the day before the Macey’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  And freezing!  I was desperately seeking to find something warm to drink while we looked at all the fun Christmas window displays. I remember thinking, “What is that yummy scent?”  We turned the corner and there it was, a very typical NY cart, selling roasted cinnamon almonds.  They were still WARM and it DID go perfect with the hot chocolate I was drinking.  Now, every time I smell that aromatic cinnamon bliss, I think of New York City during the holidays.

       Isn’t it amazing how a certain scent can take us back to a place long forgotten?


      I have to admit. I'm not a big slow cooker kinda gal. I could probably count on one hand, recipes I make in the good ol' crockpot. My sweet friend Judi gave me this recipe and said it is a must try!!

      She was right:). These cinnamon almonds are the best super easy thing you can make during the holidays. Only 6 ingredients!  It is time consuming. Hence, using the SLOW cooker. it takes about 3-4 hours with frequent stirring. I do this when I’m wrapping presents or getting my home ready for a party. The aroma from the almonds, plus some Christmas music playing softly in the background, creates that perfect cozy “hygge” everyone dreams of during the holidays.

      Throw these babies into a cute jar and you have the perfect neighbor or party gift. They are the perfect sweet crunchy snack, while laying in front of the fire, watching a movie, or just reading a good book. 

      What aromatic memories will you create?  




      -1 Cup sugar

      -1 Cup Brown Sugar

      -3 Tbsp Cinnamon

      -1/8 tsp Salt

      -1 Egg white

      - 2 tsp Vanillapura Mexican-rum extract

      -3 cups almonds

      -1/8 cup water



      1. Mix together in a large bowl sugars, cinnamon, and salt.
      2. In another bowl with a whisk, mix together, the egg whites, Vanillapura Mexican-rum extract until frothy. Add the almonds and coat thoroughly. This will help the mixture stick to the almonds during the cooking process.
      3. Prepare your slow cooker by spraying it with cooking spray. Add the cinnamon almond mixture to the almonds and turn it low. Stir until the cinnamon sugar mixture is well coated on all the almonds.
      4. You want to cook for about 3-4 hours. Stir every 20 minutes. In the last hour add 1/8 cup of water and stir well. This will ensure a crunchy coating and help the mixture to harden.
      5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread and spread out the almonds on to the baking sheet to cool. The almonds should be sticky so be sure to separate them.
      6. Once they have dried and hardened break them apart and serve as desired.