On a cold winter day, a nice hot and comforting drink really hits the spot. From wholesome hot chocolate to creamy coffee with a kick, these delicious and easy-to-prepare beverages will have you warm and cozy in no time.

1. Vanilla Café au Lait

Dark coffee and heated milk combine to create café au lait, a smooth and mellow pick-me-up enjoyed the world over. This version uses real vanilla beans to add a delicious new dimension of fragrance and flavor to a traditional French favorite.

White cup of frothy coffee on top of a pile of coffee beans

A cup of vanilla cafe au lait is the perfect drink for a cold morning

To prepare, simply combine three cups of whole milk with two tablespoons of sugar and 1 split vanilla bean in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes before removing the vanilla bean. Whisk the milk mixture briskly for a minute then pour over four mugs of strong brewed coffee.

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The past year has been quite a roller coaster ride and everyone is looking forward to starting 2014 with a bang. Pulling off the perfect New Year’s Eve Party is easy if you follow these simple suggestions.

Décor

A simple way to enhance the festive look of your existing Christmas décor is to add balloons. Get helium ones in white, silver, or a color that matches your holiday palette. Allowing them to float freely on the ceiling instead of tying them to objects creates great visual impact.

A white table cloth helps reflect light to keep your party space bright. Embellish the table with confetti and a bit of glitter to give it a magical sparkle.

m_bartosch fdp

Party favors such as hats, tiaras, carnival masks, feather boas, horns, streamers, and noisemakers double nicely as décor. Get them in a variety of attractive colors and designs, and let guests take them home as parting gifts. (more…)

Holidays are a time for indulgence. Serve these creative Christmas drinks to put everyone in a festive mood.

1. Snowman Hot Chocolate from Meet the Dubiens

There is nothing quite like curling up with a mug of steaming hot chocolate to warm you up on a cold winter. Make your regular hot chocolate even more special by dissolving a candy cane to give it a hint of mint. Throw in some whipped cream and toss snowman decorated marshmallows on top for a cute and adorable treat!

Snowman Hot Chocolate

Photo from Meet the Dubiens

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Our favorite Christmas songs, whether they’re traditional or modern, embody some of the best aspects of the holiday. This season, impress your guests with unique Yuletide party themes inspired by beloved Christmas tunes.

1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Let everyone’s favorite reindeer guide your holiday decorating and entertaining theme this Christmas.

Décor:

Use reindeer-themed ornaments on your Christmas tree, but keep it elegant by sticking to a single color family, such as red, silver, or gold. Brighten your tree with red and white Christmas lights by swapping out a few clear bulbs with red-colored ones. Create these handmade reindeer paper chains and use them as adorable Christmas mantel decoration.

Menu:

For a fun and easy appetizer, make cute reindeer faces with Laughing Cow cheese wedges, black olives, pretzels, and red peppers.

For dessert, try this recipe for Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies from Bakergirl. These cookies are simple to make, scrumptious, and super cute.

Drinks:

Bright red drinks help make your party theme pop! Cranberry cocktails, strawberry daiquiris, and raspberry martinis are great options. This lively Hibiscus-Honey Iced Tea has a lovely red color and contains a bit of light rum for a nice little kick.

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If your family and guests are tired of the same old Thanksgiving fare, it’s time to spice things up. Tickle their taste buds by accompanying your traditional turkey with a variety of classic side dishes jazzed up with exciting, new flavors. Try these simple and easy recipes to give your holiday feast a delicious modern twist.

Butternut Squash and Cider Soup

A hot bowl of hearty soup is a great way to whet your dinner guests’ appetites. This Butternut Squash and Cider soup is rich and creamy, and has a wonderful layer of zesty apple flavor. The mild curry powder adds a touch of spiciness that’s perfect for cold weather months.

White bowl of butternut squash soup with parsley garnish
Apples and curry make for a delicious butternut squash and cider soup

The recipe specifies that you use sweet McIntosh or Delicious apples, but feel free to substitute them with Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apples if you prefer a little tartness. Make sure to use plain apple cider and not the spiced variety to get that pure apple taste. Serve this soup with pumpernickel croutons to add a bit of crunch and a sprinkling of chives for color.

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Move over, February! October is turning out to be the sweetest month of the year. From Red Delicious and McIntosh to Gala and Granny Smith, all kinds of apples are ripe for the picking during the cool, fall season.  Caramel is enjoyed all over the world for its sweet, gooey goodness and is considered a perfect accompaniment to apples. What better way to celebrate Apple Month and Caramel Month than by cooking up delectable recipes that combine these two treats?

Caramel Apple Pie ala Mode

When it comes to desserts, nothing is as wholesome and comforting as a slice of freshly baked, home-made apple pie. This mouthwatering Caramel Apple Pie is a modern take on the all-time classic recipe, incorporating a healthy helping of caramel sauce and the captivating flavor of rum into the filling.

slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce

A slice of apple pie ala mode

Serve your family or guests a warm slice of this apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and they’ll be craving for more. If you want caramel sauce that’s even more decadent, cook a batch of this maple caramel sauce for a sinfully sweet and velvety final touch.
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After an evening of spooky ghosts and apparitions, you’ll surely want to relax in the company of other spirits. These creepy concoctions are simple to make and are perfect for livening up your haunted house party this Halloween. So, gather up your cauldron, some bat wings, and eye of newt, and brew these bewitching beverages.

Brain Hemorrhage

Shot glass filled with an alcohol mixture that looks like brain matter
Be inspired by a Brain Hemorrhage

Do you have the guts to gulp down this spine-shivering shooter? Designed to bring out the evil mad scientist in you, this delightfully gory glass of brain matter-like mass tastes just like peaches and cream.

Mix up your own Brain Hemorrhage by first filling a standard shot glass about halfway with peach schnapps. Next, carefully pour in a layer of Bailey’s Irish Cream and give it a few moments to settle. Finally, add a few drops of grenadine syrup to complete the effect.

To make an eerie Alien Brain Hemorrhage, slowly pour in a small amount of blue curacao before adding the grenadine syrup.

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Devouring popcorn, nachos, candy bars, and copious cups of diet soda while enjoying the latest summer flicks at the cinema is what life is all about. Movie night at home, however, gives you the opportunity to fancy up your movie time treats for a more delicious and satisfying viewing experience. In this latest installment in our Savvy and Sassy Kitchen series, you can easily whip up these homemade snacks that feature delightful twists to classic theatre-style fare.  So call up your friends, choose a fun-to-watch flick, and serve any of these award-worthy appetizers.

Popcorn with Parmesan and Pancetta

Watching a movie and munching mindlessly on hot buttered popcorn is always a great combination. Chef Fabio Viviani from Chow Ciao gives ordinary popcorn a decidedly gourmet turn with this exciting Popcorn with Parmesan and Pancetta recipe. A generous amount of diced pancetta, or Italian cured pork, adds a smoky, bacon-like flavor to the popping oil. Parmesan cheese, oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder give this popcorn snack several layers of flavor that will have you applauding with every bite.

#baconpopcorn

A fun twist to the usual movie time treat


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Take further steps to achieving a healthier you by using these easy-to-find herbs

Do you know that today is “More Herbs, Less Salt Day?” In line with this day that celebrates natural flavoring to promote health benefits, Treetopia has listed down five easy-to-find herbs that are also easy to use. Check out our picks:

Easy-to-find and easy-to-use herbs

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If you’re a fan of salads or trying to love them, try out these yummy salad dressings that are far from the usual

Let’s face it: no matter how much you love salad, there will come a time when you’ll get tired of it if you’re using the same types of dressings time and again. We’ve got just the thing for you in our first ever post in our The Sassy and Savvy Kitchen series. In this article, we’re going to give you some recipes for salad dressings that are delicious and different from the ones you’re used to!


photo by snowpea&bokchoi via flickr. CC BY 2.0

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