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Upon learning about an exchange student from Venezuela that friends of ours were hosting, I immediately wanted to have a gathering so she could meet others that we know from the same country. Being a Naturalized Citizen I know how wonderful and exciting it is to meet people who share my origin of birth.


apple cider bourbon punch

In a medium bowl, toss 2 cored and chopped Granny Smith apples with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. In a large pitcher, mix 3 cups chilled sparkling hard apple cider, 1 1/2 cups bourbon, and 1 1/2 cups apple cider.


Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, September 2014



mini cheese balls

8 ounces cream cheese

8 ounces goat cheese

8 ounces almond milk cheese

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 teaspoon minced thyme

Place cream cheese, goat cheese, almond milk cheese, honey and grated lemon rind in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Place almonds and thyme in a food processor, process until finely ground. Place nut mixture into a shallow dish.

Roll cheese mixture into small balls, gently roll each one in nut mixture, coating well.


Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, December 2015



blue cheese tea crackers


8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese


3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely ground

4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled

toasted pecan halves for garnish

With a mixer, beat cream cheese and crumbled blue cheese until smooth.

Heat oven to 325F.

Combine flour and pecans in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add blue cheese and process until dough is completely combined. Transfer dough to a floured board and roll out. Cut circles from dough, and bake for 25 minutes or until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center.

To assemble, put about a teaspoon of spread on each cracker, garnish with a pecan half.


chestnut hummus

Heat oven to 350F. Place 8 ounces of mushrooms and 1/2 cup peeled and steamed chestnuts on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the mushrooms, chestnuts, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon tahini, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 (15 ounce) rinsed and drained can of chickpeas, and 2 garlic cloves. Process until smooth.


Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, December 2015



butter cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and light brown sugar, beat on high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add flour and salt, and mix on low speed until flour is incorporated.

Roll dough into 3 logs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Heat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll cookie log in sugar, coating it evenly, and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Place cookies on baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart