Easy as 3-2-1 -> Chocolate Coconut Water Martini

Chocolate Coconut Water? Absolutely! It is amazing.

I am a huge fan of coconut water and have it often with my lunch or after my work out. Recently, I discovered chocolate coconut water. Yum!

Below is my take one of my favorite cocktails…the Chocolate Martini.




Chocolate Coconut Water Martini

3 oz. Chocolate Coconut Water

2 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Kahlua

  • Fill your shaker halfway with ice.
  • Pour the ingredients into the shaker.
  • Cover and shake it good.

Serves 2

Note: I decided to rim my glass with equal parts unsweetened dark cocoa and splenda.


Spiced Hibiscus Granita {Spiked}

On the weekends, my husband and I like to take time to watch a movie together. This past weekend I made a dessert  cocktail for our “movie time”.

Granita is easy to make and the variations are only limited by your imagination.   Be sure to check out some suggested flavor combinations at the end of the recipe.



Spiced Hibiscus Granita - Spiked

Spiced Hibiscus Granita {Spiked}

Vodka, Tea Bags, Cinnamon Stick

1-1/2 cups Water
1 two-inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Red Zinger Tea Bags
pinch of Salt
1/8 teaspoon ground Cardamom
1 cup Vodka
3-4 tablespoons Lemon Juice
3-4 tablespoons Vanilla Agave Syrup or Honey

  • Add water and cinnamon stick to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  • Remove pot from heat and add tea bags, cardamom and tiny pinch of salt to the boiling water.
  • Cover and let steep for five minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add the vodka, agave syrup and lemon juice to a bowl. Stir to combine.
  • When tea is done steeping, remove tea bags and cinnamon stick.
  • Add tea to the bowl. Stir to combine.

Spiced Hibiscus Granita - Ready to Freeze

  • Transfer tea mixture to a 8×8 baking pan.

Spiced Hibiscus Granita - Ready to Freeze in Baking Pan

  • Place in the freezer for 4-6 hours. Scrape with a fork every hour to break up the ice crystals.

Spiced Hibiscus Tea Granita - Ready to Serve

  • Serve straight up (or add ice cream/fresh fruit).

Spiced Hibiscus Tea Granita - Ready to Eat


  • Coffee & Kahlua & Cardamom
  • Lemon Zinger Tea & Vodka & Basil
  • Diet Coke & Captain Morgan & Cinnamon (Note:  Just use 2 cans of soda … do not warm the soda!)

Click the Image to Print “Just The Recipe”!

Printer Friendly Recipe

Creative Cooking with Cilantro: Day 3 – Gypsy Cilantro Lime Martini

It’s Cocktail Time!

The Cilantro Lime Shrimp was so delicious that I decided to keep the Cilantro Lime flavor combination going for the cocktail recipe…

It was actually very refreshing and earthy. If you love Cilantro, you will love this!


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Gypsy Cilantro Lime Martini

1/4 cup Cilantro Leaves

2 packets Splenda

2 jiggers of Seagrams Seven

2 jiggers of Vodka

Juice of 1 Lime

Lime Zest to Garnish

  1. Add the Cilantro and Splenda to a small bowl and muddle until well blended.
  2. Transfer the Cilantro to a shaker.
  3. Add the Seagrams Seven, Vodka and Lime Juice.
  4. Give a good shake.
  5. Carefully strain into two martini glasses.
  6. Garnish with Lime Zest

Oregano Unleashed


One of my favorite dried herbs or spices to use. I absolutely love the smell and flavor. In fact, most of all of my favorite food memories use Oregano. We used oregano in our pasta sauces, meatballs, carne beef, and the meat filling for our empanadillas and pasteles. I remember loving to watch my mother cook. She would pour the dried oregano into the palms of her hands and crumble them finer by rubbing her hands together to “release the flavor”…letting the dried herbs fall into the pot. When she was done, she would lean over the pot to take in the aroma. Justly thinking about it makes me hungry and home-sick for her cooking…

Check out the recipes below that highlight Oregano. The first recipe is a traditional Italian shrimp recipe from one of my favorite “go to” Italian cook books. The rest of the recipes are my creative take on unique uses of Oregano in desserts and cocktails. The combinations are unexpected but they unleash new ways to use a dried herb that some people consider to be cliché.

Next time you are cooking or baking, consider using oregano in a new way…you might be surprised…


P.S. Love Ya Mom! Thanks for always being a constant inspiration…

Oregano Basics

Oregano is commonly used in Mediterranean and Latin American recipes. Oregano’s name means “joy of the mountains” because it was traditionally grown and harvested on the Mediterranean mountainsides. It was not widely used in the United States until the WWII soldiers brought Oregano home from Italy.

Oregano is very aromatic with a bitter, peppery edge flavor. Like most dried herbs and spices, Oregano should be stored away from sunlight and has a shelf life of about 6 months.

While, many use it for pizza, it very good with beans, poultry, lamb, fish, tomato and vegetable dishes.

Recipe Section

Traditional Recipe – Black Pepper Shrimp Oreganata

1 pound large Shrimp in their shells
2 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 tablespoon Black Pepper
1 cup Dry White Wine

  • Rinse shrimp under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • In a nonreactive large frying pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add garlic, oregano, pepper and shrimp.
  • Cook, tossing 30 seconds.
  • Add white wine and cook 2-3 minutes (or until shrimp turns pink).
  • Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Source: 365 Easy Italian Recipes by Rick Marzullo O’Connell

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Saffron Frosted Orange Oregano Cupcakes

1 box Orange Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1-1/3 cups Milk
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
3 large Eggs
1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried Oregano

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray mini-bundt cake pans with cooking spray.
  • Add cake mix, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, cinnamon, oregano and almond extract to a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix on low for 30 seconds.
  • Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  • Fill each mini-bundt halfway. Smooth tops with a spoon.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).
  • Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.
  • When cool, dust the mini-bundt cakes with powdered sugar.
  • Dollop with Saffron Buttercream Frosting (see recipe listed below)
  • Decorate with candies or fresh oregano.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Saffron Buttercream Frosting

3-3/4 cups Confectioners Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, softened
3-4 tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pinch Saffron

  • Steep saffron in lukewarm milk for 5 minute then remove saffron.
  • In a medium bowl, combine confectioners sugar, butter, saffron infused milk with a mixer.
  • Beat for 1-2 minutes until very creamy. ( Add more milk if it consistency is too thick).

Oregano Infused Vodka

1 pint-sized mason jar, clean and dry
Fresh Oregano, washed and patted dry

  • Fill jar halfway (loosely) with fresh oregano.
  • Fill jar with vodka.
  • Put the lid on the jar and place in a dark location (or refrigerator) for at least 3 days.
  • After 3 days, remove oregano.

Oregano Infused Bloody Mary

1-1/2 oz. Oregano Infused Vodka
3 oz. Tomato Juice
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
Worcestershire Sauce to taste
Tabasco Sauce to taste
Black Pepper to taste

  • Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  • Shake softly.
  • Strain into highball glass. Garnish with celery and fresh oregano.

Oregano Vodka Pink Spritzer

1-1/2 oz Oregano Infused Vodka
Fresca Soda
1/2 teaspoon Grenadine

  • Fill a highball glass halfway with ice.
  • Add oregano infused vodka.
  • Fill remainder of glass with Fresca.
  • Stir in grenadine.
  • Garnish with fresh oregano or a maraschino cherry.

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 (http://www.whitepearshop.com). They sell amazing handcrafted, natural body products. February’s scent of the month is “Lavender Vanilla”. Be sure to check out her blog too!


Perfect Paprika Party

My grandmother, who loved to cook, would tell everyone that came to visit that she had made something “especially for you”.  As more people arrived, you realized that she loved cooking for everyone…each person was special to her…which made her extra-special…

One of the things that I enjoy most is cooking for others. It decompresses me after a busy day or a crazy week. I enjoy planning an enticing menu, preparing the food and seeing the satisfied faces as they enjoy the meal “made especially for them”.

While brainstorming ideas on what to make with the spice Paprika, I decided to create recipes for a Paprika Party! This so-called “basic spice” (which up until now has been nothing more than a mere garnish in my kitchen) has a plethora of flavors, colors and health benefits.

I hope this article inspires you to try Paprika for more than just dusting your “deviled eggs” and to make something memorable for those people in your life that are special to you.



What is Paprika?

Paprika is the powder form of the capsicum peppers (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). There are many varieties of Paprika peppers which are mainly grown in Hungary and Spain. The peppers are picked, dried and milled.

The Spanish were the first to create the powdered form of Paprika. When Christopher Columbus returned from his trip to the Americas, he presented the King and Queen of Spain with capsicum peppers as gifts. However, Paprika was not introduced to Hungary until the 16-17th centuries.

Nowadays, you can easily find many varieties of Paprika at your local supermarket. Like most spices, Paprika also needs to be stored in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. It does not have a long shelf life, so it is best to buy Paprika in small quantities.

Below is a break down on the various types of Paprika that you can choose from.


Plain Paprika is bland which is why it is often used as a garnish for deviled eggs and potato salad.


Hungarian Paprika

Depending on the type of pepper used, the flavor profile for Hungarian Paprika ranges from sweet to very hot. The color ranges from mild to bright red. The brightest red is considered to be the hottest.

There are six types of Hungarian Paprika:

1. Special quality (Különleges) – Mild flavor, Vibrant Red

2. Delicate (csípősmentes csemege) – Mild flavor, Light Red

3. Noble sweet (édesnemes) – Sweet flavor, Bright Red

4. Semi-sweet (félédes) – Sweet flavor with trace of heat

5. Rose (rózsa) – Mild flavor with trace of heat, Light Red

6. Hot (erős) – Hottest of all paprikas, Light Brown-Orange


Spanish Paprika (Also known as Pimentón)

Depending upon the amount of seeds included when milling the peppers, the flavor profile of Smoky Spanish Paprika ranges from sweet to hot.

There are three types of Spanish Paprika:

1. Dulce (sweet) – Sweet & Smoky flavor, Dark red.

2. Agridulce (bittersweet or semi-sweet) – Bitter & Sharp flavor, Dark Red

3. Picante (hot) – Hot flavor, Deep Dark Red

*Note: Be sure to read the ingredient list on the Paprika before you purchase it. Sometimes, manufacturers add either MSG or an artificial smoky flavor.


Tips for Cooking with Paprika

1. Paprika has a high sugar content. If it is cooked too long, it will become bitter.

2. Both Hot Paprika and Smoked Paprika can easily overpower your recipe. Be sure to adjust the amount of Paprika you use to suit your personal taste.

3. Paprika is a great substitute for chili powder (especially for those who love the flavor of chili powder but can do without the heat). One cool tip that I read is useful when you use too much chili powder. Basically, adding the spice Paprika will balance the heat of the chili powder without disrupting the flavor profile of what you are preparing (rule of thumb is to add double the amount of chili powder).


Nutritional Benefits

Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.

  • Loaded with vitamin C.
  • Aids digestion
  • Contains anti-oxidants
  • Increases metabolism
  • Clears pulmonary and nasal congestion
  • Improves blood pressure and circulation



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Paprika Party Mix

2 cups raw Almonds

1/2 cup raw Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1-1/2 tablespoons Sea Salt

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt and paprika. Set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and the sunflower seeds in a microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave for 3-4 minutes (in 30 second increments) until golden brown.
  4. Add dried cranberries.
  5. Drizzle the nut/seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/paprika mixture.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Store in an air-tight container.

*Variation: Cumin pairs well with Paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon on cumin seeds to the salt/paprika mixture.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Paprika Fudge

12 oz Bittersweet Chocolate chips

6 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened Dark Cocoa

  1. Line a 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and kosher salt.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir vanilla extract.
  4. Spread chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle with the Paprika/Cocoa mixture.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  7. Lift fudge out of pan and peel off the aluminium foil.
  8. Cut into 36 squares.



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spicy Beer Cocktail

(my take on a Michelada…especially for my husband)

1 ice-cold Mexican Beer

2 tablespoons of Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon of Sweet or Hot Paprika

2 tablespoons of fresh Lime Juice

1-2 dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce

1 dash of Soy Sauce

1 dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Black pepper

  1. Mix together the salt and Paprika on a small plate.
  2. Rim a glass with a little lime juice and then dip in the salt and paprika mixture to cover the top of the glass.
  3. Add lime juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper.
  4. Slowly pour in beer into your prepared glass.

*Note: Not spice enough for you, add more hot sauce or Paprika.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Nuttella Spice-tini

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

2 oz. Vodka

1 teaspoon Nutella

3/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika, divided

1/2 teaspoon Cocoa Powder

1 packet Splenda

  1. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika, Cocoa Powder and Splenda. Set aside.
  2. Add the Chocolate Liqueur, Vodka, Nutella and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika to a Martini shaker.
  3. Whisk rigorously to blend the Nutella.
  4. Add ice and give a good shake.
  5. Rim the glass with vodka, chocolate liqueur or water.
  6. Dip glass into the Sweet Paprika, Cocoa, Splenda mixture.
  7. Carefully pour into prepared glass.

Variation:  If you do not have Nutella, swap out the 1 oz  chocolate liqueur for 1/2 oz.  Add 1/2 oz of Frangelico.


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  (https://gypsyworldspicecafe.com/2010/09/16/recipe-slow-cooked-chicken-chick-pea-stew-with-minted-couscous/).

  • 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.


Provocative Peppercorns!


 As we continue on though the Back the Basic series, this article will focus on Peppercorns.  

 Why use an adjective like provocative to describe Peppercorns?

Well, provocative is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate” (listing synonyms as “charged… edgy…exciting…inciting…stimulating”).  Peppercorns, either ground or whole, add that background heat to a dish that leaves the palate with that tingly sensation…and has health benefits (listed below) that charge the body!

 The recipes at the end of the article are recipes that I have either chosen or created to demonstrate that you can use Peppercorns in non-traditional ways to enhance your culinary experience.


History of Peppercorns

Peppercorns have been used for over 4000 years.  It quickly gained popularity and value.  This was because Peppercorns easily enhanced food to make it seem fresher than it actually was as well as added zing and heat to otherwise bland food.   Peppercorns were often used as a commodity which is why the spice trade grew and many explorers were tasked with finding more sources for Peppercorns.  Due to the unstable currency systems, landlords often requested to be paid their rent with Peppercorns in place of currency.


Peppercorn Harvesting

Peppercorns are typically grown in India.  However, Peppercorns are imported from India as well as Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and China.   The pepper plant grows small flowers which become green berries that turn pink when ripe.   These berries are typically harvested when they are green.  The green peppercorns are dried and result in a black color.  White peppercorns are actually created by removing the outer skin of the peppercorn.  

Flavor Breakdown

  • Green Peppercorn -> Flavor is Hot ( However More Subtle than Black, White, or Pink)
  • Black Peppercorn -> Flavor is Warm &  Full-Bodied
  • Pink Peppercorn   -> Flavor is Sweet, Berry, Fruity with Delayed Heat
  • White Peppercorn -> Flavor is Hotter, Sharper then Green, Black or Pink


Health Benefits to Peppercorns

  • Powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Promotes mental clarity
  • Combats fatigue and tiredness
  • Increases metabolism
  • Promotes Digestion & calms stomach
  • Essential oil of black pepper added into oils used to treat aching, painful joints
  • Used in teas with mint to combat colds, viral infections and flu.
  • Added to mouthwashes to treat sore throats.



Snack Recipe – Peppered Caramel Corn

  • 1  (12-oz.) package Buttery Toffee Popcorn with Peanuts
  • 1/4  teaspoon  coarse Black Pepper

  1. Microwave popcorn with peanuts in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals.
  2. Stir in Black Pepper.
  3. Spread mixture in an even layer in a lightly greased jelly roll pan.
  4. Let cool 10 minutes; break into pieces.
  5. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Source -> Southern Living, OCTOBER 2007


Blogger’s Comments:  

I actually cut this recipe out several years ago and was excited to finally make this.   Microwave time is dependent on your microwave.  You will know it is ready to be peppered when it gets gooey and sticky.  I increased the amount of pepper to 1 teaspoon.   This is a great recipe and the variations are endless.  I think this would be great with a cinnamon based spice or with cayenne pepper….

Taster’s Comments: 

My tasters really liked this and snacked on it all weekend…



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Corsican Herbed and Peppered Goat Cheese

  • 4-oz log of Goat Cheese
  • 1  tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  • 1-1/2  teaspoons Corsican Herb Blend

  1. Mix together the Black Pepper and Corsican Herb Blend
  2. Pour the Pepper/Herb mixture onto a flat surface (wax paper, plate, etc)
  3. Roll the Goat Cheese log on the mixture to cover
  4. Serve with water crackers (or cracker of your choice)


Blogger’s Comments:  

I like to use goat cheese for appetizers and have to definitely say that the flavor combination of the Goat Cheese, with the Herbs and Black Pepper was awesome.   Corsican Herb Blend is a unique blend of herbs commonly called for in Corsican recipes.

Taster’s Comments: 

This was a big hit with the tasters.   One taster commented that it was “addictive”…


Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup

This recipe is a nice thing to have in the refrigerator.  It has many uses.  The recipes that follow this all call for Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar/Splenda Blend
  • 1 tablespoon Peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain into  an airtight container and keep refrigerated.




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Espresso Brownie Cupcake

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 box Brownie Mix
  • 1/3 cup strongly brewed Coffee, chilled
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Ganache Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 3 tablespoons Half & Half
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend
  • 1 tablespoon strongly brewed Coffee, chilled 
  1.  Mix the cupcake ingredients with a spatula until well blended.
  2. Pour batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 25-30 minutes until set.  Cool on wire rack.
  4. Melt chocolate chips with half & half in the microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate chips soften.
  5. Add Peppercorn Syrup, Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend, Coffee.  Whisk until creamy.
  6. When cupcakes have cooled completely, cover tops of cupcakes with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of chocolate ganache.  Top with chocolate covered espresso beans.
  7. Chill until set.   Save remaining ganache for other recipes.


Blogger’s Comments:  

Have fun when making cupcakes.   The craft stores all have great cupcake liners.  I chose a cheetah print for my cupcakes.  

Taster’s Comments: 

My taster had one when first frosted and another after it had been chilled.  They said the flavor was better when it was chilled.



Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Spicy Pepper Martini

  • 1/2 teaspoon Zest of a Lemon, divided
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1-oz Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 4-oz Vodka
  • 2-oz Vermouth
  1. Put the ingredients (except zest) in a shaker with some ice.
  2. Give a good shake.
  3. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with reserved zest.


Blogger’s Comments:  

I thought this was a little bit too spicy for my palate (and I love black pepper).   Next time, I may add a splash of diet cola.

Taster’s Comments: 

My taster thought it was great and finished mine!    I guess this time, the drink was not too girly.





Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Peppered Strawberry Orange Martini

  • 1-oz Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 4-oz Vodka
  • 2-oz Orange flavored Vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar-Free Strawberry Preserves
  • Slices of Lime
  1. Put the ingredients (except lime) in a shaker with some ice.
  2. Give a good shake.
  3. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with reserved lime slices.


Blogger’s Comments:  

I loved this one!  Strawberries and Peppercorns are a classic combination…  So, thought this might be the drink for me since the other one was too spicy.


I hope you try some of these recipes…

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Recipe – Vanilla Almond Coffee Martini

I’ve been reading about coffee lately…  I’ve started to wonder…

Is coffee a spice?  

Well, spices are produced from bark, root, buds, seeds, berry or fruit of tropical plants and trees.   So, at the surface, to me it sounds like coffee beans could definitely fall be described as a spice.  My initial googling resulted in finding out that there are mixed reviews on this subject.  

Hmmm…  Sounds like a future article opportunity….Adding it to the list…

Anyway, I read that there are quite a few spices that complement coffee.  It was not a surprise to find out that cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger all complement coffee.  I was surprised, however, to learn that cumin pairs well with coffee (especially since cumin is categorized as being pungent).   Evidently, cumin adds an earthy undertone to cold coffee drinks (especially when served cold with milk).   

Here is my recipe for a really good coffee based martini.  Enjoy!



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Vanilla Almond Coffee Martini

Serves 2

4 oz of Vanilla Flavored Vodka

2 oz Cold Coffee (Brewed Strong)

8 oz Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

1/2 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend

1/8-1/4 teaspoon cumin (to taste)

2 packets Splenda

crushed ice

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker… shake well.
  2. Pour into martini glasses.
  3. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.


Blogger’s Comments:  

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

To get fancy, mix Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend with Splenda and coat the rim of your martini glass.

If martini’s are too strong a beverage for you, increase the amount of coffee noted in the recipe to 8 ozs and serve in a tall glass. 


Taster’s Comments: 

My husband said “This is really good.  But, it’s not something that I would typically drink.  It’s too girly”… We’ll have to see what spices pair well with beer.  ha ha