Get Your Spice On!


Valentine’s Day is always special to us. We celebrate it every year with an extra special dinner which includes chocolate fondue for dessert. I handle the meal and my honey handles the ambiance (now the kids join in setting up…) After all, love is definitely something to celebrate.


Many spices have been known for centuries to have aphrodisiac effects. The term “aphrodisiac”dates back to an ancient Greek myth based on the goddess of love named Aphrodite. Aphrodite was also the goddess of beauty and fertility and considered to be the protectress of sailors.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only. It is important to research spices in more detail to ensure you use the appropriate quantity (to avoid any dangerous effects).








Aniseed has been used as an aphrodisiac for centuries where ancient Greeks and Romans believed that even just placing Aniseed in one’s mouth was said to enhance amorous feelings.

Cardamom is also very well know for its aphrodisiac qualities. In fact it is said that Cleopatra not only bathed with Cardamom, she also used it to perfume her rooms. Try adding it to hot coffee or wine.

Cayenne Pepper is good circulation…increasing blood flow. Enough said….Use your imagination.

Cloves are said to promote attraction.

Ginger is used to arouse the senses (stirring up healthy hot flashes).

Licorice Root balances hormonal levels.

Mustard is a well-known stimulant.. Again…use your imagination…

Nutmeg is known to have aphrodisiac effects on men.

Oregano, when used un an infusion, is known to be a powerful aphrodisiac for women. In Greece, it is traditional to give your love a bouquet of Oregano.

Rosemary is known to be a mood enhancer and often used in baths and in wine.

Saffron has stimulating properties. The oldest reference about the Saffron aphrodisiac effects dates back to 2600 BC. Saffron was used in ancient wedding customs (it was often used for dying sheets and / or wedding attire to “set the mood”). Saffron is used in small quantities. Most recipes call for just a pinch.

Vanilla affects the central nervous. Just smelling Vanilla is said to have an aphrodisiac effect.



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Sexy Spiced Spiked Coffee

This recipe calls for a sexy spice of your choice. Try grating fresh nutmeg as a topping. Cardamom is excellent with coffee too. I actually used a blend of spices for mine (which has about 12 different sexy spices)…

6 oz Coffee, hot
1 oz Brandy
1 teaspoon light Cool whip
Sexy spice of your choice

  1. Pour coffee into a coffee cup.
  2. Stir in brandy and Splenda.
  3. Top with Cool Whip and sprinkle with spice. (I also sprinkled some pretty decorating sugars on it too)

Miscellaneous Recipes to try:




If you haven’t shopped for your Valentine yet, check out my good friend Claudia’s site, White Pear Shop ( They sell amazing handcrafted, natural body products. February’s scent of the month is “Lavender Vanilla”. Be sure to check out her blog too!

Coquito Pudding Shots

Coquito is a Puerto Rican traditional punch served at Christmas and New Years.  Most traditional recipes for Coquito call for egg yolks, rum, brandy, coconut milk, coconut cream, sweet condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.   

As much as I love the holiday flavors, I do still watch what I choose to indulge in.  It needs to be worth the calories.

So, I decided to take the flavors from Coquito to develop a guilt-free pudding shot recipe that combines the creaminess of the punch with the rum and spice flavors. 




Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Coquito Pudding Shots

1 (1 oz). box of Sugar-Free Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix

1 1/2 cups Skim Milk

1/2 cup Spiced Rum

1 tablespoon Brandy

1 tablespoon Coconut Extract

1/2 cup Light Cool Whip

1 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg 

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes. 
  2. Whisk in rum and brandy and cinnamon.
  3. Fold in light cool whip.
  4. Pour into small shot glasses, martini glasses or dessert dishes.
  5. Put in freezer to set.
  6. Take out of freezer 15 minutes before ready to serve.
  7. Garnish with dollop of light cool whip, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Blogger’s Comments:   If you are not watching calories, swap out the sugar-free vanilla pudding mix with coconut cream instant pudding pie mix and use whole milk instead of the skim milk.

Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is definitely one of my favorite things to eat at Thanksgiving. 

Several years ago, while on a personal mission to eat healthier, I developed this recipe to have a homemade, lower calorie cranberry sauce.  This recipe is done in the slow cooker and I opt to substitute Spiced Rum for a portion of the water.  What goes better with Spiced Rum than lime!  Cranberries pair very well with lime and it is an unexpected twist on the traditional orange zest that most use. 

I like it so much that I make a several batches this time of year and store some in the freezer.  It is great on yogurt and oatmeal ( or add to your post-workout shake!).    I’ve included a cocktail recipe using Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce (cool way to use leftover cranberry sauce…if you have any). 




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce

2 12-ounce bags of fresh Cranberries

2 cups Splenda

1/2 cup Spiced Rum

1/2 cup water

2 cinnamon sticks

grated zest of 2 limes

  1. Rinse cranberries and pick out the stems.
  2. Add cranberries, Splenda, spiced rum, water, cinnamon sticks to the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on High for 2 hours (or on low for 4 hours). 
  4. Stir in the lime zest.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Transfer to an air tight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Blogger’s Comments:   You can also opt to use 1 cup water and skip the spiced rum.  On the flip side, you can opt to use 1 cup spiced rum and skip the water. 




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Crantini

Great way to use up the leftover cranberry sauce during the holiday season!  Great for parties!

Yield – 2 Martini’s

2 oz Light Cranberry Juice

2 oz Vodka

1 oz Spiced Rum

1 tablespoon of Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Juice from 1/2 Lime

  • Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
  • Give a good shake.
  • Pour into two martini glasses and garnish with a lime.

Celebrate Cinnamon!

As we approach the holiday season, I thought this would be the perfect time to blog about the spice Cinnamon.   It is a popular ingredient in traditional recipes for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas…  We sprinkle Cinnamon  on our oatmeal or applesauce and often use it as a staple ingredient for making pies, cookies and cakes.  There is a lot more that Cinnamon brings to the table…

How is Cinnamon Harvested?

Cinnamon is harvested from inner bark of Cinnamon trees which are native to South East Asia.  The inner bark is stripped of the wood portion.  Then during the drying process, the remaining portion of the inner bark strip curls into rolls, called “quills” (or “sticks”).   

What is the Difference Between Cinnamon and Cassia?

Cinnamon and Cassia are harvested from two different trees.  These two spices are similar in smell (Cassia is more aromatic than Cinnamon).  However, they are very different in both appearance and taste. The thickness of the Cassia quills are much thicker than that of the Cinnamon quills (which are paper-thin).  They are sometimes sold interchangeably, so, some countries even have laws to prevent Cassia from being sold labeled as Cinnamon.  

How should Cinnamon be Stored?

Cinnamon (ground and quills) need to be stored in an airtight container and placed in a dark location.   Buy Cinnamon in small quantities because it quickly will lose its flavor and aroma.  So, if you have had that container of Cinnamon in your spice cabinet for more than a few months — it is time to replace it.  

Cooking with Cinnamon

Cinnamon can be described as sweet, fragrant and aromatic.  It is often stereotyped as being only used in sweet recipes.  Most people  do not realize just how savvy Cinnamon can be.   It can be used for savory as well as sweet recipes.  Be sure to check out the savory recipe that I posted on 09/16/2010 for Moroccan Inspired Slow Cooked Chicken & Chick Pea Stew which uses a Spice Blend of mine that features the spice Cinnamon  (

  • Cinnamon quills (sticks) should be used when you want to infuse liquid with Cinnamon flavor.
  • Cinnamon powder is used with other ingredients to flavor baked goods, spice blends, and beverages.

Here are some ways you can easily add Cinnamon to your everyday cooking:

  • Add to hot oatmeal or cold cereal
  • Mix with peanut butter
  • Add to warm milk with honey.
  • Stir into plain yogurt.
  • Sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
  • Add to your post-workout shake.
  • Add to coffee grinds before brewing

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Recently, cinnamon has had more attention due to all the health benefits that can be gained by incorporating Cinnamon into your diet.   Below I’ve listed some topics that I read about.   There is a lot of great information and articles out there…if you want to google and read more about them.

  • Aid in Digestion
  • Treat toothaches
  • Fight Common Cold and Sore Throat
  • Fight Bad Breath
  • Antioxidant & Antimicrobial properties
  • Increase Alertness.


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Pumpkin Soup

15 oz can Pumpkin Puree
14 oz can Chicken Stock
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Corsican Herb Blend
1/8-1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Sumac Pepper
Splenda (or Sugar) to taste
Salt to taste

  1. In a large saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil.   Simmer for 5 minutes.  
  2. Serve in mugs warm or chilled garnished with chopped chives.

 Blogger’s Comments:   

This is a really healthy and easy recipe to pull together to serve as a starter or at lunch with grilled sandwiches.  The Cinnamon and Cayenne combination is really scrumptious.  Each serving is about 50 calories, so it is a great snack too!

Corsican Herb Blend is a mixture of herbs frequently used in Corsican cooking.  You can substitute Thyme.  Sumac Pepper is a blend of Sumac and ground black pepper.  You can substitute black pepper or lemon pepper.


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Cinnamon Sangria Hot Toddy

4 Apple Cider Tea Bag
4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
4 oz red wine
apple slices
ground cinnamon (to garnish)

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.
  2. Add Apple Cider Tea Bags and Cinnamon sticks to the boiling water.
  3. Steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove Tea Bags and Cinnamon sticks.  
  5. Add wine to the brewed tea.
  6. Pour into 4 mugs.  Garnish with apple slices and sprinkle with ground cinnamon and a cinnamon stick if want.

Blogger’s Comments:   

I could not decide on whether to post a recipe on Mulled Wine or Mulled Apple Cider.  This recipe is a result of the decision to combine what I liked about both.   It is good warm or chilled.  

Another variation would be to use 3 ounces of wine and 1 ounce or orange flavored vodka (to get some citrus flavor into the mix).  There are plenty of combinations to try by switching out the type of tea, vodka or wine. 

Have fun with it!


Cookbook Recipe – Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine flour, nutmeg, baking powder, cocoa and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter with 1/3 cup of sugar until pale in color.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  5. Stir in dry ingredients until you have a smooth mixture.
  6. On a plate, mix together the cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  7. Roll dough to balls that are about the size of walnuts.  
  8. Roll each dough ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place onto greased baking pan.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes.  Rest on baking sheet for 1 minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Source:  How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson  

Blogger’s Comments:   

First and foremost, if you do not have this cookbook, it is one you should have. The recipes are great.  However, I do have to say that I almost chose to not include this recipe with this blog article.   Snickerdoodle cookies tend to be a dry cookie and this cookie is not very sweet. Typically, if I am going to indulge in a cookie, it has to be worth the calories.   At the urging of my taster’s I decided to include the recipe because they really liked it.  They also tend to like the butter cookies that are dry (like Snowballs).  So, if you like that sort of cookie, you will like this one too.

Also, want to note here that I decided to flatten each cookie with a glass before baking.

Taster’s Comments:    They tasted even better the next day.  

Look out for mini-articles which will be posted over the next few weeks featuring Cinnamon.

Hope you try some of these recipes and enjoy them as much as we did.


Recipe – Harvest Oats

I really love oatmeal….basically eat it just about everyday for breakfast.  

This is a recipe that I developed last year to create a Fall flavored oatmeal.     This recipe utilizes Steel Cut Oats (sometimes referred to as Irish Oatmeal).   Steel Cut Oats are coarser in texture than rolled oats as the oat kernels are only cut 2-3 times.   Traditional oatmel is “rolled”. 

You will see in the below recipe, that the cooking time for Steel Cut Oats is much longer than your everyday oats.   Leftovers keep for several days in the fridge…. just pop it in the microwave for a minute or two to warm it up…

The extra effort is definitely worth it!  



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Harvest Oats 

Yield:  4 Servings

3-1/2 cups water

1/2 cup apple cider

1 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 apple finely chopped

1/3 cup dark raisins

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

6 packets of Splenda (or the sugar equivalent)


maple syrup

  1. Bring apple cider and water to a boil in a medium pot.
  2. Add pumpkin puree, chopped apples, raisins, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, dash of salt, Splenda to the water/cider.  Stir to combine ingredients.
  3. Lower the temperature to a low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve with maple syrup of your choice.


Blogger’s Comments:  

I love this recipe.  It is a family favorite and it  is the only way my oldest son will eat oatmeal.  If you want, you can add a dash of vanilla or substitute the raisins for dried cranberries.

If it is too time-consuming, you can google information about steel cut oats to find instructions to either pre-soak your steel cut oats overnight or cook them in a slow cooker overnight.  Both methods are great time savers.  

Recipe – Moroccan Inspired Slow Cooked Chicken & Chick Pea Stew

I don’t know about you… but I love to take advantage of my slow-cooker.  It only takes a little time in the morning to set it up and when you get home from work with dinner done… the feeling is priceless…

Below is a recipe that I made this week using ingredients that I had in my pantry… It came out great… 

You will notice that it does call for frozen, boneless chicken breast.  Yes… You did read that correctly.   Frozen chicken breast will cook in your slow cooker perfectly (on low for 8 hours, on high for 4 hours)…  If you decide to use boneless chicken breast that is not frozen, the cooking time would be on low for 4 hours.


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Slow Cooked Chicken & Chick Pea Stew

4 frozen, boneless chicken breasts

1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 14-oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 15-oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 small can of sliced black olives (or green if you prefer)

2 tablespoons Gypsy Zesty Spice Blend

1/2 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend

3 dried bay leaves

salt, pepper, garlic powder

  1. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Empty canned diced and crushed tomatoes, olives  and chickpeas into slow cooker.
  3. Add both Gypsy Zesty Spice Blend and Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend to the tomato/chick pea mixture.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
  5. Add the frozen, boneless chicken and make sure that all sides are coated with the tomato / chick pea mixture.
  6. Add the bay leaves to the pot.
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5  hours.
  8. Serve with couscous.

Blogger’s Comments: 

Gypsy Zesty Spice Blend consists of cumin, sumac along with other select spices.   You can substitute your blend of spices (or maybe even a packet of low sodium taco seasoning might be fine).

Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend consists of cinnamon and some other select spices.  If you want, you can substitute just cinnamon.

Couscous is a great accompaniment to this dish.  The best part is it is prepared in less than 10 minutes…    

This is a great technique to have in your recipe collection.  You can substitute flavors out to make a creation of your own.