Category: beverage

Homemade Irish cream, ’cause why not?

Homemade Irish cream liqueur!

There’s been a lot of baking going on around here lately. I think I’ve put more milage on my new oven in the last 2 months than Jay’s put on his 2 year old car. So I wanted to do something easy that didn’t require doing a load in the dishwasher. And I decided to try this homemade Irish cream. Yes, Irish cream. A staple of the after-dinner drink, collaborator in the infamous “Irish car bomb” shot, and all-around delicious beverage.

Irish cream is a cream liqueur based on Irish whiskeycream, and other ingredients such as coffee, which can be served on its own or used in mixed drinks or as part of a shot or a whole shot. Irish cream is very popular in the United KingdomCanada, and the United States.

It is usually served on the rocks as a moderately strong beverage on its own, but is often mixed stronger by adding more whiskey or sometimes bourbon, which complements the Irish Whiskey used in production. Coffee liqueur such as Kahlúa and many caramel liqueurs are also used. Baileys is a common addition to White Russians, due to its creamy flavour.

Some recipes for Irish cream liqueur have been published, which use various combinations of Irish whiskey, cream, coffee (sometimes, and usually optional), sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Many have significantly less alcohol by volume than the commercial brands.

- Wikipedia

At first, I was skeptical. Obviously, we all know that Bailey’s Irish cream (or Carolan’s, or Molly’s, etc, etc) is made with cream & whiskey. But I couldn’t really believe it was that simple to just make it at home. If it was true, why wouldn’t people do it more often?

I think the answer lies with the people who buy instant pudding mix & gray-colored supermarket pickles.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s always a bottle or two of Irish cream in my house. I will probably always buy it. But at least now I know I can make it myself! I’ll never, ever run out. Plus it just makes a great gift!

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Pink velvet hot cocoa for you & your Valentine.

Yep, it’s February. That means time for Valentine’s Day- get over it. It’s  freakin’ cute. Stop being so goddamn cynical and enjoy the loooooove.

Loooooove. Not love. Loooooove.

Pink velvet hot cocoa! Insanely easy and insanely pretty.

So yeah, you can hate on Valentine’s Day. But nobody can hate on hot cocoa. And this here just happens to be some PINK velvet hot cocoa. Thanks to A Beautiful Mess for the recipe idea!

Plus, how BEAUTIFUL does it look? Wouldn’t this be a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert beverage? I think so.

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Spiced bourbon. Need I say more?

Last fall around this time, I posted a recipe for spiced honey; honey infused with spices & lemon. It was a great thing to have around last winter when I thought I’d die. No seriously. I was in the midst of two TERRIBLE bouts of severe cold/bronchitis & it really helped immensely. I added it to tea & I had spoonfuls of it straight from the jar. I’m still making a few jars of it for this winter. However this year… I’m also going with spiced alcohol.

Spiced Buffalo Trace Bourbon; with cardamom, vanilla & cinnamon.

Truth be told, I am not  was never a bourbon girl. Not really. I’d drink it in an old fashioned, even drink it on the rocks. But it’s never been my favorite thing to drink alone. But lately, when it comes to infusions & whipped creams & baked goods & even pickles… bourbon has become my “boo thang.”

Jay loves him some bourbon. He’s my go-to bourbon guy. If I need it for a recipe, I ask him. Which one is best in this, which one would be good for that, which is too expensive to bake with (notice: don’t touch the Pappy Van Winkle, whatever you do), which one would go well in cake, you get the idea.

‘Tis the season for warming drinks. Bourbon, brandy, whiskey, etc. Fall & winter just screams for that kind of thing. Hot toddy’s, hot milk punch, hot buttered whiskey, all that. And like I said, while I’m not a fan of straight up bourbon, I do enjoy some infused varieties. I added that cherry bourbon to Cokes all winter, not to mention I made chocolate sauce with it. And listen: who wouldn’t love some vanilla-infused spiced bourbon?

Loony people, that’s who.

A recipe for spiced Buffalo Trace bourbon.

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Enter the Tiki Room- a Sourpuss giveaway!

************ COMMENTS CLOSED! GIVEAWAY IS OVER 5/28/13! ************

*** Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I hope to do tons more of these! ***

*** AND THE WINNER IS… ***

tikimugwinner

tikimugwinner2

______________________________________________

When I say that I’ve been excited to post this, I’m not kidding. I really have been. Crazy excited. And I know, it’s not quite warm enough yet to imagine yourself lying on a beach sipping a cocktail, but try. Because today I’m giving away a set of TWO limited edition Sourpuss Clothing Tiki mugs, and giving you a recipe for banana daquiri’s to put in those mugs.

See those mugs? Yep. That’s what one lucky winner will get. TWO OF THOSE MUGS! Namely, the two on the left. Sold separately, they’re $26.00 each. YOU COULD WIN THEM. FOR FREE. If you win, you’ll get one mug each of the first two shown in the photo above (listed from left to right as shown): one May I Be Frank tiki mug & one Aloha Zombie tiki mug.

Sourpuss Clothing LIMITED EDITION Tiki mugs! Enter the giveaway now... ends May 27th 2013.
Sourpuss Clothing LIMITED EDITION Tiki mugs! Enter the giveaway now... ends May 27th 2013.(Shown in my photos are the Headhunter tiki mug & the Tai One On tiki mug; you’ll be entering to win the other two)

Do you have an outdoor Tiki bar in the summer? Do you love Polynesian masks? Are you big into 1950′s & 1960′s Tiki culture? Do you have a wicked sense of humor? Do you love horror movies & zombies as much as the beach & the sun? Is your dream guy a weird conglomeration of Don Draper going to Hawaii with Johnny Cash & ending up with bolts in his neck à la Frankenstein? Well then, my friend, you’ve hit the jackpot today. Because you could possibly win these totally awesome mugs. Even if you aren’t into those things, you could win. But I’d hope that whoever enters actually likes the mugs, and doesn’t just like getting free shit. ‘Cause that’d suck.

See, I happen to have very weird & eclectic tastes. For example, I have a skull/sugar skull obsession (as you probably noticed back during my last Sourpuss giveaway in October). I have skulls on everything from oven mitts to plates. But then I go and buy pretty pastel pink striped tea towels, polka dot cake stands & vintage flowered tea cups. I don’t know, I’ve given up on trying to label myself. I love both vintage horror movie posters and vintage enamelware, both early 1900′s vintage mason jars and retro 1950′s kitchen stuff. It can’t be explained.

But either way, I’m totally in love with these tiki mugs!

Enter the Sourpuss Clothing & Cupcake Rehab tiki mug giveaway! Ends May 27th.

They’re awesome quality, beautifully painted & they hold almost 20 ounces of liquor drink! Specifically… banana daiquiris!

TIKI ZOMBIE BANANA DAQUIRI

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. dark rum (I use Myer’s)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 oz. banana liqueur
  • 2 oz. coconut milk
  • 2 very ripe bananas, peeled

Directions:

  1. Put rum, sugar, lime juice, banana liqueur, water, bananas, and plenty of ice into an electric blender, then purée until smooth and thick.
  2. Pour into two tall Tiki mugs, add a pineapple slice, a straw & umbrella, and sit in the sun.

Sourpuss Clothing tiki mug giveaway! Enter now... ends May 27th.

So at this point, you’re wondering what you’ve gotta do to win. Well, it’s pretty easy: there’s only ONE mandatory entry. All the others are purely bonus entries. Here’s what you’ve gotta do:

  • First, and most important, for the one mandatory entry you have to tell me something: if you were to win, what cocktail (or “mocktail”) would you drink out of them? Polynesian or Tiki cocktails would be the most obvious, but any and all ideas are welcome! And virgin cocktails are fine, too. Hell, frozen hot chocolate or Coke is fine. Whatever YOU like… tell me!
  • Secondly (the first optional entry), follow @CupcakeRehab & @SourpussBrand on Twitter. Then come on back here & comment again letting me know (giving me your Twitter name helps, but isn’t mandatory)
  • Third, pin one of these pictures from this entry on Pinterest! Any one you want, as long as you write about the giveaway in the caption. Then come on back here & tell me (again, your Pinterest names will help)
  • Finally (the last optional entry)… tell everyone in your social network about this giveaway! Copy and paste the following into a tweet or post about it on your Facebook page for an extra entry (then come back & let me know, in a separate comment)-

Aloha! I just entered to win a set of TWO limited edition tiki mugs from @SourpussBrand at @CupcakeRehab. You can too: http://cupcakerehab.com/2013/05/enter-the-tiki-room-a-sourpuss-tiki-mug-giveaway

Each comment is an entry, so obviously the more comments you have, the more entries you have, and the more chances of winning you have.

But there’s only one that’s 100% mandatory, so you’re under no obligation to complete the other three. The giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on May 27th, which is exactly one week from today. At 12:00 a.m. EST on May 28th, the comments will be closed & I’ll choose a winner randomly (thanks to random.org). I’ll e-mail the winner right away, and if I don’t hear back within 24 hours, the prize goes to another randomly chosen person. Anyone & everyone is open to entering!

I’m off to go sit & sip my daiquiri while imagining that summer isn’t too far away… let the commenting begin!

Sourpuss Clothing tiki mugs: The Headhunter & Tai One On.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

And if you’re interested (or maybe if you win), Sourpuss has a ton of awesome Tiki-related stuff. Bottle openersmagnetstoothpick holdervotive candles & candle setsvalancesmini-candlesbeach towels… you can transform your entire house or patio into an island getaway. They even have dresses & heels with a Tiki theme. You can go tiki crazy!

Spice up your life!

In just a few short days, February will have arrived. The winter is far from over, of course, but with February comes the new onslaught of holidays: Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover, etc, etc, etc. Before you know it, websites & blogs will be proclaiming “SPRING!” while you look out your window & see 2 feet of snow or frost-covered cars.

Not me, however.

I am fully aware that there’s a lot of winter left to go, and that you need some warming up. As do I. So on this, my last post of January, I present you with the following: spice-infused milk.

It’s a goddamn revelation, I tell you. It’s the easiest thing in the world, and I’m sorry I never thought of it before. It’s genius. Leave it to Martha to come up with something so stupidly simple it makes you feel positively soft in the head for not thinking of it yourself. It’s basically the same concept behind flavored coffee creamers. Duuuuh.

Last week when I went to Mystic, CT, in a little shop called the Franklin General Store I found Dave’s Coffee Syrup. It’s basically an all-natural, preservative free version of Coffee Time syrup. The ingredients are simply cold brewed coffee & cane sugar; no high-fructose corn syrup or coffee flavor. It’s typically used to make “coffee milk”; a Rhode Island tradition, but there’s a tag on the label that encourages you to get creative with it. I bought the regular coffee syrup, Jay got the Madagascar vanilla coffee syrup. I decided that I wanted to use my infused milk with my new coffee syrup… and so I did. But first I tried it with a regular coffee.


SPICE-INFUSED MILK (via Martha Stewart Living, Dec. 2012)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Spices of your choice; i.e. star anise, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, freshly grated ginger, vanilla, cloves, etc (see below for recipe ideas)
  • 16-oz. jar for storage

Directions:

  1. Heat the milk in a medium saucepan with the spices you choose, stirring just once or twice. Heat JUST UNTIL STEAMING.
  2. Cover pan and let the spices steep in the milk for 1 hour.
  3. Strain and reheat if necessary, or refrigerate in a jar (up to 3 days). Reheat gently before serving.

There are tons of ideas & possibilities here, and not just for coffee! For example:

OATMEAL: Infuse 2 cups milk with 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 cinnamon stick or the pod & seeds of half a vanilla bean. Add to oatmeal.

SWEDISH COFFEE: Steep 18 lightly crushed cardamom pods in 2 cups whole milk, add to coffee. Alternately or in conjunction, you can use 1 cinnamon stick or freshly grated nutmeg.

MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE: For a spicy Mexican-inspired cocoa, infuse 2 cups whole milk with 1 or 2 dried chiles (smoky chipotles or anchos), 1 cinnamon stick and the pod & seeds of 1 vanilla bean. Mix with cocoa.

INDIAN: Use 10 cardamom pods, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 star anise petal and 1 cinnamon stick. Use with coffee or cocoa. This is also good over muesli or with oatmeal.

GROWN UP MILK PUNCH: Mix milk with 2 tablespoons caramel, 3 teaspoons maple syrup, half a vanilla bean (scraped), 2 pinches ground cinnamon. Cook as directed, let cool. Once cooled, mix with 2 shots of brandy in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain before serving.

I made Swedish coffee milk, but I added half of a vanilla bean & a cinnamon stick to the cardamom. So maybe that wasn’t really a Swedish coffee, but I don’t care. It was delicious. I highly recommend it. Do whatever you want! Add whatever spices you like! Chiles, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, vanilla bean, Chinese 5-spice, etc. Go nuts.

And of course, what’s a Swedish coffee without a Swedish book?

Santa Claus is coming to town…

AND HE’S COMING IN 21 DAYS.

(Better pick up that phone…)

;

Wow. So it’s really December! Holy crap, right? Thanksgiving has come & gone. Black Friday is over, as is Cyber Monday (which sounds very dirty to me, sorry I’m a child of the ’90′s when “cybersex” was the big parental fear, not “sexting”). The pumpkins are gone & being replaced with lights. ‘Tis the season of Christmas cookies, Hanukkah recipes & gifts of all shapes & sizes. ‘Tis the season of peppermint everything & mistletoe, snow & fireplaces, Christmas lists & long lines. Toys & sleds. Snow & red noses.

I love Christmas time, but really, it’s enough to make you want to crawl under a down comforter until February. So let’s ease into it all, shall we? How about easing into it with some polka dot cupcakes, and some hot cocoa? Sound good to you? Vanilla cupcakes, with little green dots made from the same vanilla batter. So easy!

(Mugs & plates from Target. And yes, the mugs & plates are small… the cupcakes aren’t huge!)

;

It’s so simple. Here’s what you do:

  1. Just pick your favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, make it, then take about 1/2 cup of the batter, maybe even just 1/4 cup, and put in in a separate bowl.
  2. Tint it whatever color you want (you can also do a few different colors by dividing the batter further).
  3. Pour the plain vanilla batter into cupcake liners, as usual.
  4. Then take the colored batter & spoon it into a disposable pastry bag, snip off the very bottom and carefully pipe “dots” on to the tops of your unbaked cupcakes. Or, you could use a very small round piping tip if you have one. My dots were uneven… what else is new, haha- but once they were baked you couldn’t even tell anyway.
  5. You can do red & green dots on vanilla cupcakes, plain vanilla dots in red velvet cupcakes, chocolate dots in vanilla cupcakes, vanilla dots in red velvet cupcakes, red dots in chocolate cupcakes, etc, etc, etc. The possibilities are endless!

I didn’t frost mine so the dots were visible. If you want, you could probably pipe the dots in layers so that you get polka dots all the way through the cupcakes. Never done it myself, but it’s worth a shot. The liners are from Michael’s, not sure what brand they are. You can definitely get similar red/white polka dot liners at any number of places, though: sweet estelle baking supply, Layer Cake Shop, Bake it Pretty, The Cupcake Social, Sweet Cuppin Cakes. Wherever you like to shop. I think dotted liners in a contrasting color look so cute, but stripes would be adorable too!

And of course… the cupcakes wouldn’t be complete without some hot cocoa!

;

CUPCAKE REHAB’S HOT COCOA*

Makes about 6 servings, depending on the size of your mugs *wink*

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you can use dark, too)
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Candy canes, mini marshmallows, whipped cream & peppermint schnapps/peppermint syrup (all optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir in the hot water & bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in milk and heat, but do not boil. Remove from the heat & add vanilla. Pour into mugs.
  3. Add a dash of peppermint schnapps, if desired, then add whatever you like on top: whipped cream, mini marshmallows or both. Add a candy cane stirrer (or crushed candy canes on top) & enjoy!
*this hot cocoa also works well with a dash of cinnamon sugar & a pinch of cayenne pepper instead of peppermint schnapps & candy canes.

If you’re caught without candy canes (hey, it’s only the BEGINNING OF DECEMBER!), some hard peppermint candies will, when smashed, work the same way. Or, you can use a squirt of peppermint syrup in the cocoa and skip the crushed candies on top. The peppermint is optional altogether, however, so don’t sweat it. I personally like a little peppermint in my hot chocolate, but this cocoa happens to be good enough on it’s own to stand up without any fancy stuff.

On that note, I look forward to spending another holiday season with all of you. Sláinte!

Chai concentrating.

Pinterest has taken over everyone’s life lately. It seems as if everyone is either making something they found on Pinterest or talking about something they found on Pinterest. And I’m no different. My Pinterest page is filled with amazing things; some of which I’ve made, some of which I’ll never make, and most of which I just gush about. I even wrote about it at textdrivebys.com twice…

This chai concentrate from Tasty Yummies is one of the ones I’ve actually both pinned and made.

;

November is doing it’s best to get fully settled in. It’s been very, very cold, and as a matter of fact in addition to hurricane Sandy hammering us last week, tomorrow we’re getting a Nor’easter! Gusty winds, heavy rains and even snow in some places. So it’s time for warm drinks & spicy flavors. Hot cider, hot chocolate, hot tea. One chilly Sunday I was browsing Pinterest, looking at things I had been pinning for something interesting to create, and I noticed this chai concentrate that I had pinned way back in August. As soon as I saw the stunning photo of it in a Mason jar (how could I turn away!?) I pinned it. I’m not a massive chai person, but I do enjoy it every now & then. And it’s worth it to me to try a homemade version because I really never buy it when I’m out. I usually prefer a coffee. So when I do have chai, it’s at home. And I love some pre-made brands, and some tea companies versions of it. But sometimes it’s just not the same.

The history of chai is quite a rich one, despite most people only knowing it from it’s existence in lattes at Starbucks.

Masala chai (literally “mixed-spice tea”) is a beverage from India made by brewing tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs.

Plain chai

By itself, chai or cha is merely the generic word for “tea” in many European and Asian languages. The widespread form chai comes from Persian چای chay. Street vendors called “chai wallahs” (sometimes spelled “chaiwalas”) are a common sight, although coffee is a more popular beverage in some southern parts of India. Chai is also a popular item in restaurants known as Irani cafés or the genre of South Asian restaurants known as Chai Khanas or Ghahve Khane.

Spiced tea

For many English speakers, the term “chai” is synonymous with masala chai, as further described below. The redundant chai tea is sometimes used to indicate spiced milk tea as distinct from other types of tea. Numerous coffee houses use the term chai latte for their version to indicate that the steamed milk of a normal latte is being flavored with a spiced tea concentrate instead of with espresso, without necessarily implying the addition of coffee. Some coffeehouses and brand names refer to their product as chai tea latte.

The beverage is locally known as Chai karak in the Middle East.

And might I add… DELICIOUS. And this homemade concentrate is also easy. Cheap, too. But at the same time it’s quick- it takes no time at all, and it makes your house smell absolutely amazing. The smell alone is worth it! Just like the homemade pumpkin spice latte mix I posted about last month, if you’re a chai lover who buys a lot of chai lattes, this could totally save you some money.

HOMEMADE CHAI CONCENTRATE (adapted minimally from Tasty Yummies)

Yields: 1 batch of concentrate, approximately 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 8 bags black tea – I used PG tips
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 whole star anise pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

  1. Add the water and sugar to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and put in the tea bags, cheesecloth pouch and cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat strain the concentrate through a sieve, separating the large pieces (tea begs/cinnamon sticks/cardamom pods/anise/cloves/etc) from the mix. At this point, add your vanilla extract & honey. Stir to combine.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool before pouring it into an airtight jar or container. This amount fits perfectly into a 1-quart mason jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To use it, mix one part concentrate with one part milk or milk-like product of your choice. Heat the concentrate for a hot version, pour over ice for a cold version.

;

I used ground cardamom & ground ginger, I had fresh ginger but it was frozen & I didn’t feel like defrosting it so I could cut it (it’s a pretty large hunk, and yes I freeze my extra ginger). I didn’t have any cardamom pods but I had a large jar of it ground, so I opted to substitute that. Also, the original recipe called for a whole vanilla bean, coconut sugar & raw honey- I only had regular sugar, brown sugar, a small amount of German rock sugar (for my tea) & sugar cubes myself, so I made an executive decision. If you want to use another kind of sugar, go right ahead, but you might want to read what she says her results were first. My honey wasn’t raw either, but I don’t think that makes much of a difference taste-wise. All of my vanilla beans were being made into homemade vanilla extract at the time, so I had to use some vanilla extract instead. If you like a spicier chai, add more peppercorns. If you like a sweeter chai, add more sugar. Likewise… if you prefer a less sweet chai then just use less sugar/honey. What you use in it is totally up to you. And as a matter of fact, this mix makes a nice hostess gift, too. Tie some raffia around the top with some cinnamon sticks & handwritten instructions, and you’re good to go. And if you know someone who was in the path of Hurricane Sandy who has no power but still has a gas stove to heat it up with, maybe bring them some, along with some food.

As for me? I’ll be drinking some later tonight watching the 2012 Presidential election returns. Make sure you registered U.S. voters get out there today & do your duty! It’s a privilege to be able to push that little lever or fill in that circle on paper, so get your lazy, apathetic asses out there. And to everyone who already voted; good for you. It’s not even 8 a.m. & you’ve already made more of a difference than most people will all day. And if you’re one of those people affected by Sandy, you can still vote. Download a mail-in ballot or call your local elected officials to find out where to go to vote in New Jersey, or if you’re in NY you can click here & find out where to go (and in turn pass it on!). I know you’re all dealing with so many other things, but voting is going to continue; no matter what election day will not be suspended. And it’s so important to get your vote in. So please, try and get as many folks as you can to the polls today.

And if you remain unaffected, if you’re safe, warm & dry today, and you know where you’ll be voting & that you’ll be coming home afterwards… then especially be thankful for that.

;;

It was a dark & stormy All Hallows Eve….

;

Happy Halloween my little zombies! No, it isn’t quite Halloween yet, but it’s close enough. And I thought a cocktail called a “dark ‘n’ stormy” would be a perfect treat for sharing with you on Halloween. Come on. Is there a better named drink than that for Wednesday night? No. Not only for Wednesday night, but tonight- since the ridiculous Hurricane Sandy is barreling her way up here to NY today. And what could be better than a delicious spooky sounding cocktail made with homemade ingredients for a pre-Halloween storm dubbed “Frankenstorm”?

Ugh, I know. It sucks. I really hate hurricanes. Down in NOLA or other hurricane-prone places, people have “hurricane parties“; they’re so used to it. But see, here in New York we don’t get them often. we aren’t used to it at all, and they can be terrifying. And the shitty thing about it is not only do we never get ‘em, but when we do… they’re usually a doozy. Especially these “once in a lifetime” ones that combine with Nor’Easters or cold fronts to make a monster of a storm. They’re historic storms that end up not only knocking out power & screwing everyone else’s life up for days if not weeks, but sadly killing people on a grand scale. But what is there to do about it? Nothing. Nothing but sit & wait it out. Mother Nature does what she wants. It’s her world, we all just live in it. Respect your mother, right?

It seems I’ve been posting tons of drinks & alcohol infusions & such lately; pumpkin spice latte mix, candy corn vodka, now this. But I can’t help it. Once you start with this stuff you can’t stop. And this particular post all started when I made my own ginger ale… or ginger beer, actually.

The original recipe requires only ginger, sugar, water, lemon juice and a fungal-bacteria symbiote[4] known as a ginger beer plant. Fermentation over a few days turns the mixture into ginger beer.

Forms of live culture other than the ginger beer plant can produce a fermented ginger beer. Cultures used include brewers or baker’s yeast, lactic acid bacteria, kefir grains, and tibicos. Brewing ginger beer generates carbon dioxide as in beer. The alcohol content, when produced by the traditional process can be high, up to 11 %,[2] although ginger beer is usually brewed with much less alcohol.

Brewed ginger beer often includes other flavorings, prominently lemon or lime juice. These juices are not merely ornamental, however, as they establish an acidic pH balance for the solution; this helps in both protecting the ginger beer from other cultures, as well as facilitating sugar inversion to increase the availability of the more readily metabolised fructose and glucose. Other, more strictly flavoring-specific, elements have often included: citrus zests; cayenne pepper and other hot spices; and admixtures from other brews such as nettle or dandelion beers.

-Wikipedia

I had wanted to do it for a long time, but I kept putting it off & putting it off. I don’t really know why- maybe because I just kept thinking it would be more complicated than it is? Or maybe ’cause I can be kinda lazy. Whatever. But at any rate, I finally got to a point where I decided I was going to do it. And I did. Complete with a scary little bat flying around…

;

I found two awesome recipes here and I figured I’d try them both. The first one I made was the “fermented” version; made with yeast. It was super easy to make and even though it took almost 3 days to get to sip on, it was more than worth it. I used lime juice instead of lemon and it was fine. Of course with that homemade yeasty-ness too. Not too shabby. But the thing I really wanted to do was make a dark ‘n’ stormy cocktail with it for Halloween. And boy, did I ever!

A Dark and Stormy (or Dark ‘n’ Stormy) is an alcoholic highball style cocktail popular in many British Commonwealth countries, such as Bermuda and Australia. It consists of dark rum and ginger beer over ice. It is optionally accompanied by a slice of lime.

While the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is traditionally made with dark or black rum, one variation nicknamed the Light ‘n’ Stormy uses 10 Cane, a light rum, and Blenheim Old #3 Hot ginger ale.[7][8] Another variation on the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, called the Ginger Bush, swaps Rum for Bourbon.[citation needed]

For several years, Gosling’s has been a sponsor of the annual yachting regatta Chester Race Week in Chester, Nova Scotia. The Dark ‘n’ Stormy is the special drink of the night each year, made with ginger beer brewed by local Halifax, NS brewery Propeller Brewery.

Rum mixed with ginger wine is a particularly strong combination, known as a Turbo Dark N’ Stormy, and is a favourite tipple of Pembroke College Boat Club (Oxford).[citation needed]

-Wikipedia

Alright. So the drink really doesn’t have anything to do with Halloween or even this time of year. But the name, people… the name! And while I’m no expert on this drink, I find the homemade ginger beer really made all the difference. And as a matter of fact, I liked the process so much, I made brewed up a vanilla cream soda version the next night. And I’m planning on a root beer version. But you don’t care about all that. You wanna get drunk. I understand.

I actually found that this ginger beer was much better in the cocktail than it was alone.

;

DARK ‘N’ STORMY

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot (or 2 ounces) of dark rum (preferably Gosling’s Black Seal, but anything dark will do- I used Myers’s myself)
  • 1 cup homemade ginger beer (recipe below)
  • One quarter of a lime
  • 1 sprig fresh mint

Directions:

  1. In a glass filled with ice, pour rum, then pour ginger beer. Stir.
  2. Squeeze the lime in, and if you like, toss the lime right on in the glass.
  3. Top with mint, candied ginger, or lime if you’re fancy, or you can spear a lime slice on a fancy pick like my Halloween bat.
  4. Drink up.

HOMEMADE FERMENTED GINGER BEER (adapted a teensy bit from monikakotus.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon baker’s yeast
  • cold fresh spring or filtered water (yeast does not like chlorine, so make sure you don’t use fresh tap water unless you let it sit overnight first)

Directions:

  1. Through a funnel add sugar and yeast to a 2-liter plastic bottle. Mix grated ginger root and lime juice and then transfer it to a bottle, add water to fill it half way and shake well to mix all ingredients.
  2. Add more water, leaving about an inch head space, screw the cap on and shake again. You can also mix all the ingredients in a jar and then transfer to a plastic bottle.
  3. Leave in a warm place for about two days and then transfer to refrigerator, to stop fermentation process. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Pour it through a strainer and enjoy!
My fancy French glass bottle was so tall it never fully made it into any of the shots! GRR…

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Okay, now, technically the only rum you should use in a dark ‘n’ stormy is Gosling’s. They apparently patented it. But I don’t really see why you can’t, in the privacy of your own home, use whatever dark or spiced rum you have: Kraken, Sailor Jerry, Captain Morgan, Myers’s, Bacardi, etc. And also, technically, you can use ginger ale instead of ginger beer in a dark ‘n’ stormy. Nobody’s going to kill you. However traditionally, ginger beer is what’s used. So if you’re not going to make your own, then at least buy one. There are a huge variety of brands, from Goya, Reeds, Barritt’s & Regatta to those fancy small batch micro-brewed ones you can get at a natural market or beer distributor. And if you do make your own, and you find it too yeasty or too earthy for your taste, try using Champagne yeast instead of supermarket baker’s yeast in the next batch. I thought it was amazing, myself, but of course everyone has a different idea of what kind of ginger ale they like. Tweak it the way you want it. More sugar, less sugar, more ginger, lemon juice instead of lime juice, different yeast, etc.

Also just a small note of massive importance: you cannot use a sugar substitute. Yeast needs sugar to work it’s magic, so you could try lessening the amount of real sugar, and subbing Stevia or something for the rest… but you absolutely MUST use real sugar in some amount in order to get the yeast going. Also, because of this, there’s a minute amount of alcohol in the finished product. Nowhere near enough to matter, really, unless you’re restricted by health or religious factors. It probably amounts to the same percentage in chewing gum or something.

And now for something (not so) completely different…

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The second one was a syrup that you mix with sparkling water or club soda to make an “instant” ginger ale. It’s sweeter, doesn’t have that ‘yeasty’ flavor of the other one and it’s very, very easy. Way easier than the fermented stuff, and that stuff is crazy easy in and of itself. Basically: one cup thinly sliced fresh ginger + one cup sugar + two cups water = ginger syrup. Put it all in a medium saucepan, bring to a light boil then lower the heat & simmer for ten minutes. It makes about 2 cups (mine filled a 16-ounce/pint jar almost to the top). Pop it in a jar or bottle, put it in the fridge and use it as you see fit. The website I got it from says one part syrup + three parts club soda (or sparkling water) makes a great instant (and fresh) ginger ale. Delicious. You can have it alone, but if you like you can just squeeze a little fresh lime juice and/and crush some mint in it and you’re on your way. DIY or Die! It’s a crisp, drier version of store-bought ginger ale. Probably cheaper too. Just keep the syrup in the fridge.

It definitely has a more “user friendly” taste than the fermented ginger beer. If you want to ease into making your own sodas, this would be the one to start with.

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It’s not as dark as a store-bought ginger ale, but if you like more gingery flavor & add more syrup, it’ll get darker. And yes, you could use the ginger syrup/club soda mix in a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, too. And as an added plus, my mother informs me the ginger syrup is excellent in tea as well. Another plus? Ginger is soothing for stomach problems, and the fresher the better, so this syrup can act as a tummy soother if you’re nauseous or have other ailments of that sort. Which you just might on November 1st, after all that Halloween candy is eaten.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, guys. This storm is supposed to be a wicked one. Everyone else in Sandy’s path, be careful. And if you’re not in her path, be careful out there on Halloween. You never know who… or what… you’ll encounter. Even if it is dark, but not stormy. Bwahahahaha…

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I want candy. I want candy (corn).

“We… try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.”
-Will Ferrell, ‘Elf’

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It may not be Christmas at all yet, far from it actually. But every time I see candy corn I think of that quote from the movie Elf.’ I can’t help it. I know, I know, the retail establishments start pushing Christmas on you quick enough as it is, you don’t need me talking about it on October 20th. That was wrong of me. I’m sorry. Genuinely. I should know better.

But what I’m not sorry about is candy corn vodka.

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Yup. Vodka. With candy corn. I hope this makes up for mentioning Christmas two months early. Basically, you place candy corn in some vodka and what do you know? After anywhere from a few days to a week, you get orange-colored candy corn flavored vodka.

Blam.

I’m not a major vodka person. The last time I had more than one small glass of vodka or rather I should say: the last time I had vodka straight up, not mixed with anything, it was a green apple flavored Smirnoff variety. Apple flavored vodka straight up in a red Solo cup (Toby Keith has nothing on me). It was a Friday night and I was sitting cross-legged on the table in a tiny, cramped, too hot dorm kitchen at F.I.T., before I headed over to CBGB‘s with some friends. Super punk rock. But really, I don’t think I even need to elaborate on any of that statement, do I? No. I think it pretty much speaks for itself. I also don’t think I need to say how long ago that was. I’ve already shown my age numerous ways there in that statement. ‘Cause, really? Apple flavored vodka? Sheesh. How early ’00′s of me. I’m also not going to name names & incriminate anyone I was with seeing as how alcohol on school premises is strictly forbidden & we may or may not have been of legal drinking age (do as I say, not as I do, children).

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I knew there was a better use for candy corn than snacking on them absentmindedly while watching horror films & polishing off an entire bag. Now you can get drunk absentmindedly while watching horror films. Just put the candy corn (maybe 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of them) into a jar (I used an 8-ounce jar, if you use a larger one, double or triple the amount of corn) and pour in vodka. Let it sit for a week, then shake it, strain it, and use it! Great for a Halloween party, dontcha think? Slap a cute label on it and you’ve got yourself a great prop too. Like my jar of brains. No less awesome, but slightly less gross-sounding. Unless you give it a creepy name… like Ghost Pee. Haha. Ghost Pee. As a matter of fact, you can download some great labels for free on the internet; here & here are great choices, and this one here has a great idea for a more intricate do-it-yourself design, and then of course you can always buy pre-made ones at Michael’s or another craft store. Martha Stewart usually has some really cool ones.

So yeah, anyway, I’m not hugely into vodka. And not because the aforementioned college incident left a bad taste in my mouth, either, no pun intended. I guess I’m just not into it. I’d prefer beer I suppose if given the choice. However… the possibility of whipped cream flavored vodka or candy corn friggin’ vodka is kinda exciting, I’m not gonna lie. By the way, mucho thanks to Melanie who first gave me this idea last year. I’ve waited one whole year to get this shizzle a brewin’… so let’s party! You can serve it in a martini glass rimmed with black crystal sugar, and maybe an orange & black candy stirrer? Or a candy corn on a toothpick? Or you can make a cocktail using it, like this one from the Food Network.

Speaking of partying, don’t forget to enter my Sourpuss Clothing Dia de los Muertos giveaway… it ends on the 25th, so get in there & enter. Also, I’m now a contributing author to a brand new group blog, textdrivebys.com. Come by and say hello!

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DIY at it’s best: pumpkin spice latte’s at home.

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My mom is one of those people for whom the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte means autumn has officially started. Whether it’s the Starbucks version, Dunkin Donuts version, or in K-cup form… she’s a pumpkin coffee addict. So I was pretty psyched to see this on Pinterest. I pinned it just for her to see & make, but she recruited me to make it for her. Have I mentioned I’m a great daughter? Mind you, I don’t even particularly like pumpkin spice lattes myself. Yeah, I’ll maybe have one each season… but I’m by no means obsessed. I like my coffee straight, I’m not one for flavorings.

But if you too are one of those fanatical pumpkin latte people, I present to you something that quite possibly will save you a lot of money:

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I think this is one of those “best hidden secrets on the web.” Because as many people there are who know about it, most of the people I know didn’t. But they should. ‘Cause it’s insanely easy to make and costs practically nothing. So thank you to Farmgirl Gourmet for her genius idea to create this! I never would’ve thought to put actual pumpkin in a latte- silly me. If you factor in the cost of all of this stuff, and divide it into how many lattes it’ll make, I guarantee you you’ll see a humongous savings, especially if you buy one every day.

Let’s break it down & see:

  1. 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin (Libby brand) – $1.79 – one can is enough for 7 1/2 batches – one batch costs roughly .25¢
  2. 1.12 oz. pumpkin pie spice (McCormick) – $5.99 – one container is enough for 13 1/2 batches – one batch costs roughly .44¢
  3. Quart of milk – $3.50 – one quart is enough for 2 batches – one batch costs $1.75
  4. 4 oz. pure vanilla extract (Rodelle) – $7.99 – one bottle is enough for 4 batches – one batch costs $1.99
  5. 4 lb. bag sugar (Domino) – $3.99 – one bag is enough for 74 batches – one batch costs .05¢

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.25 + .44 + 1.75 + 1.99 + .05 = $4.48

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Okay, so by that reasoning (and omitting the coffee price itself, because that’s too large of a range to even incorporate), each batch made at home (which makes anywhere from 2-4 lattes) costs $4.48. So each latte costs $2.24, or, if you’re more frugal with it and get 4 lattes out of each batch, $1.12. Now I’m bad at math, but if I did that correctly (and I hope I did, but I welcome any & all mathematical corrections) even factoring in the cost of coffee, you’re still way ahead of the game. WAY AHEAD. Even if you figure in the whipped cream you’re still good. And if you made your own pumpkin pie spice, it’d be even cheaper. Seriously! Look how much money that saves! And of course, all of that is assuming you use name brand products, and that you use each product just for the latte mix, which isn’t practical, because of course you’d be using at least the milk & sugar for other things, if not the vanilla too. Factor that in and you’re paying less because those are items you already have/use. So yup. Major savings, and major thanks to Farmgirl Gourmet for creating it …you can thank me for turning you on to it, too.

I mean… you’ll have all that pumpkin left over from the muffins, right? ‘Cause you bought those jumbo cans of it while it was on sale, right? Right. Although I’d never expect you to go shopping & not stop in to buy one at your favorite coffee shop. That’s just cruel.

PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE (directly from Farmgirl Gourmet)

Makes about 2 10-ounce lattes of pumpkin-y goodness

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups milk (any kind)
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, doesn’t matter)
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) strong black coffee, hot
  • whipped cream for topping

Directions:

  1. Put the first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture almost to a boil, stirring almost constantly to prevent scorching also while making sure all the powdery stuff and sugar is dissolved and not stuck to the bottom.
  2. Put the hot mixture in a blender, and mix until it’s frothy, 2 minutes. Pour into a mug, about halfway (depending on the size of the mug). Gently and slowly pour the coffee in down the side of the mug so you don’t ruin the “froth.”
  3. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and drink!

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I poured it into jars for storage in the fridge. How long they’ll last I don’t know, because my mother is having hers every day (and she already went through the original 2 jars and is on the second batch). She just takes out the jar, gives it a little shake, then pours out the amount she wants to use into a saucepan. Then she heats it up (very quickly!) and uses it right away. I will also say this: if you aren’t normally into these, you might want to give the homemade version a try. It’s probably a lot healthier than the fancy coffee chain ones, and you can personalize it & play around with it to suit you.

For the uber pumpkin experience, I highly recommend enjoying one of your new DIY lattes with one of these bad boys. You’re welcome.

Credit: Etsy user ExLibrisJournals

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