pressed

pressed

Welcome to all and thank you for stopping by food for fun’s lucky 13th installment of Cocktail U. Accompanying last week’s Blatburg Breakfast Bars (you’ll have to clink on the link to learn more about that wonky title) with an … Continue reading

boozy baker bourbon brittle cookies

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Imagine this: You find bars of Ghirardelli Dark clearanced out at $2.50 at your local grocer. Do you grab the last bars off the shelf? Does your mind automatically go into must-bake-chocolate-chip-cookie lockdown? If yes to both, we clearly have … Continue reading

tale of 3 bourbon brittles

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After a few weeks of dropping bourbon brittle teases, food for fun is ready for its show-and-tell. First, the bourbon brittle I found for a mere $2 at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. I tried to make it last, … Continue reading

distilling bourbon with the angels and mr. wheatley

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A few days after publishing last week’s bourbon slide show, it hit me that I had forgotten to include my favorite “slide” of the trip. While the photo subject was neither food nor drink, it seemed to capture the spirit … Continue reading

the bourbon slide show

This gallery contains 13 photos.

Remember that Bourbon Festival mentioned last post? It’s in the rearview mirror and I now have only memories. More accurately, I have only memories, lots of photos, and oodles of bourboncentric souvenirs. Though I won’t be pulling out the slide … Continue reading

bourbon, baby!

When my cousin married his Kentucky bride, theirs were not the only lives changed. Traveling to Kentucky opened my eyes to the world of bourbon. On that trip, I learned that bourbon is bourbon when it’s produced in the United … Continue reading

in-laws, outlaw marshmallows, plus a pan of bars

The blogosphere has been abuzz with end-of-year posts and kicking-off-the-new-year posts and year-end reports. And while I’d like to consider myself capable of looking within and learning from the past 365 days in hopes of improving my next round, I find that mostly I just move forward. I go and I do.

Balancing professional and personal ambitions with mommyhood leaves precious little time to just Be. And while that’s a bit disturbing, it’s where I–along with a lot of other mommies–am right now. Forward march with the task-driven mentality. (Though should you need a good look inward, I’ll send you over to meet Kaela. She’s fun!)

So to kick off 2014, food for fun offers you its most recent Adventures in Marshmallows. (If you were reading food for fun last winter, you know that I went through a bit of ‘mallow madness back then as well.)

Another blogging friend and I have been trading cocktail recipes and found we share a love for bourbon. Her use of cherry-flavored bourbon piqued my interest and I did a bit of “research” when visiting my in-laws over the holidays. Their small town boasts one liquor store and it’s little more than ten or so shelves on one wall, plus a few bottles behind the counter. I figured my chances of finding cherry bourbon were small, and it was indeed a wash.

Yet I knew from reading Drink More Whiskey (best. birthday. gift. ever. Thanks, dear husband!) that on some level whiskey is whiskey–whether bourbon, Scotch, Canadian, etc–and a bottle of black cherry Canadian had to share some common ground with cherry-flavored bourbon. I bought said bottle and returned to my in-law’s.

cherry whisky meet other marshmallow ingredients!

cherry whisky meet other marshmallow ingredients!

But I didn’t plan to drink it. Instead, I was subbing it in for bourbon in a cheeky recipe I’d found at The Tart Tart. The resulting marshmallows were amazing and lovely–the cherry sweetness came through as the spirited booze flavors flew just below the radar.

whitedogmallows

I bet Santa would have enjoyed a few of these!

Santa would have enjoyed a few of these!

My sister-in-law and mother-in-law helped me lick the beaters (and spatula and bowl) clean upon project completion. It was then that s-i-l made a game-changing comment:

“I need rice krispies with this. And butter.”

My universe shifted a bit at her words. Boozy rice krispy bars. Sheer brilliance! A few rice krispies were stirred into the fluff left in the bowl and we enjoyed  a taste.

Fast forward a few days and I was back in my own kitchen using TTT’s recipe again, this time replacing the bourbon with rum.

there's rum in these 'mallows

there’s rum in these ‘mallows

After the marshmallows had cooled and been cut, I measured up 10 ounces and made a batch of Hot Buttered Rum Rice Krispy Bars. Oh divine.

hot. buttered. rum.

hot. buttered. rum.

The possibilities seem endless–adult rk treats in flavors of margarita, mudslide, etc. I sense that 2014 has taken on a new purpose for me. My resolution seems clear: Make More Marshmallows. (Which oddly enough is not too far off from my 11-year-old’s “eat more gummy bears” resolve.)

So please stick around (marshmallow pun–get it? 😉 ) and help me meet my ‘mallow-y goal. A fellow blogger (you’ve met amb here before) and I have joked about Marshmallow Mondays and while I’m not sure yet exactly how this will play out, I see it as a good start for a new year of sweet and fluffy fun.

Introspection will always be welcome here and maybe even occasionally offered outright. But it’s mostly about the food and the fun that accompanies. Marshmallows, then, seem a good way to kick off the new year. Wishing you all a mountain of marshmallows in 2014!

let the good times roll–part deux

A recent conversation with fellow bloggers got me thinking rumballs. More specifically, it got me thinking that I will need rumballs to survive upcoming holiday travels.

But instead of rumballs, I recalled another candied ball of booze. A few years back, my husband and I traveled to Kentucky and it was there that I fell in love with bourbon. And Rebecca Ruth bourbon balls. These sweet Kentucky gems have a great back story (Which I’ve featured at Blog of Funny Names–read about it here. There’s a video of a fellow RR bourbon ball fan making a batch, too.) and are one-of-a-kind in the bourbon ball world. (The more traditional bourbon balls were featured at food for fun nearly two years ago–these of course were the part un.)

A recent purchase of more chocolate than anyone really needs (thank you, Trader Joe’s!) made the decision for me and Rebecca Ruth’s chocolate-dipped bourbon balls were my project for the night.

Chowhound’s recipe caught my eye as it was as simple as 1/2 cup butter, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, and 5 tablespoons bourbon. The amount of chocolate was vague, but I melted 14 ounces of dark chocolate and ended up with just a bit left over.

The process wasn’t overly long nor was it too messy. Best part: I now have 40 or so bourbon balls that should keep for a long while, powering me through the Christmas holidays and quite possibly taking me into the new year. Though I plan to share, so they may not make it that long.

shiny!

shiny!

Speaking of sharing, I wish I could give everyone here a Rebecca Ruth Kentucky-style bourbon ball as a token of my gratitude. I appreciate you reading and wish you a blessed and wonderful holiday season. Food for fun is off for the next week or so, but already looking forward to coming back in 2014 with fun new food finds. Until then, enjoy the crazy delicious that is life.

so sweet

so sweet

bourbon chocolate cake, candy corn cocktail, and a few shout-outs

Community: The name of a much-loved television show (which I’ll admit to never having seen–sorry, amb!) and also a support system found in the blogosphere. I’ve mentioned here before how gratifying it’s been to find others who are as crazy for all things food as I am. I’ve also met folks with completely different perspectives (you listening, wdydfae? 😉 ) that I can learn from.

Because I focus on food and drink, my community is mostly (but not entirely, Miss Fannie) made up of food bloggers, and though there are too many to list, you know who you are. You’ve inspired me with your recipes, photos, ingredients, and general celebration of all things culinary.

It’s also been rewarding to see this community extend to deLizious’ facebook page. Started purely for business purposes–potential clients should see that I’m out there trying new foods, restaurants, recipes, right?–it’s also become another point of connection for fellow bloggers.

Which brings me to the first of the two recipes I have for you this week.

Some months back, a blogging friend and facebook contact (hi, Dave!) posted a photo of a bourbon chocolate cake a friend had made for his birthday. The image grabbed my attention and stayed with me. A week or so ago, I mentioned that cake in a comment response on his blog, and he surprised me by starting a facebook conversation with me and the cake’s baker, asking her to share the recipe. And she did. (Hi, Courtney!) I’m giddily grateful to Courtney and Dave for their generosity and willingness to connect.

Enough with the ramble. Here is that cake!

the other half went down easy!

it goes down easy

Easy to make, it’s dense and boozy and chocolatey. We gobbled up half the night it was served and have been working on leftovers since. Letting it sit, I’ve found, is an excellent move as the cake gets boozier and fudgier by the day.

because even a piece of over-the-top boozy chocolate cake needs mounds of whipped cream

because even a piece of over-the-top boozy chocolate cake needs mounds of whipped cream

The cake was dessert at a get-together with friends. That same gathering gave me opportunity to debut another fun bit of party fare. This recipe connection came not from on-line relationships, but a phone call from my mother-in-law. She’d seen a recipe for a candy corn vodka (!) cocktail that had brought me to mind. (Not sure if it is good that my m-i-l thinks of me when she sees a booze recipe.)

I jumped on this candy corn bandwagon quicker than you can say “trick-or-treat,” combining 1/2 cup candy corn and 1 1/4 cups vodka in a mason jar. “Brewing” time is recommended at 4 hours up to overnight, and I gave the jar a good shake often as I wanted the candy corn dissolved in time for our evening party. Picture a kid shaking a snow globe–that’s where I was, watching the candy corn slowly dissolve as the alcohol ate the sugar.

Five hours later, the resulting liquid was day-glo orange and stunningly beautiful.

Candy corn vodka hanging with crabapple liqueur. Come back in a few weeks for the liqueur unveil

Candy corn vodka hanging with crabapple liqueur. Come back in a few weeks for the liqueur unveil.

Combining it with lemon juice and Grand Marnier (subbing for Triple Sec), along with ice as instructed in the recipe left me with a powerful strong beverage, highly drinkable with an extra shot of soda water. (Thank you, soda siphon!) I hadn’t realized until finding the recipe link online that this was a “pucker-tini” and have decided since that I’d use 1 to 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice instead of the 2 next time around.

puckertiniCrazy-good cake and cocktails made for an evening to remember and I owe it all to connections and community–online and off. Many thanks to all of you for your follows and Likes and comments and reads. I’m honored and thrilled to be in your most excellent company. Candy corn cheers to you!

brussels sprouts and bourbon

From my teen years on, I’ve enjoyed veggies of all sorts. As soon as I figured out they could be eaten in almost endless quantities without contributing many calories, I became a big fan. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower? Bring ’em on. Greens such as kale, chard, spinach? Yes, please. Onions? Eggplant? Bell peppers? Yep, yep, and yep.

As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate the colors and shapes of produce in general. They’re not cookie-cutter foods from a factory; they’re grown and harvested and brought to market. (Speaking of markets, buying produce at farmers’ markets brings on a high that can last for days.) Then there’s the fun-to-cook-with factor. Because veggies taste different roasted than steamed than grilled than sautéed, there are endless ways to keep variety in the mix.

Roasting is my favorite way to cook vegetables as the high temps caramelize and bring out an inherent sweetness. But when washing and trimming Brussels sprouts the other night, I decided to throw caution to the wind and sauté these babies. (I’m one crazy cook, yes?)

why ever not?

why ever not?

Because I genuinely enjoy the flavor of (most) veggies, a spritz of olive oil and sprinkle of coarse salt is as fancy as I usually get. That said, I had an itch to spice things up a bit with these sprouts. My soft spot for all things bourbon coupled with a glance at a nearby bourbon bottle put the figurative light bulb above my head. Bourbon and Brussels sprouts? Why ever not?

A good glug (3 tablespoons or so) went into the cast-iron skillet where the sprouts were cooking in olive oil. The immediate scent of bourbon rose from the pan and I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake. Perhaps these flavors weren’t meant for each other after all? They sure looked good, though: A few minutes later, the bourbon had evaporated and the Brussels sprouts were a rich and bright green, with shades of mahogany borrowed from the bourbon. They were gorgeous.

good for you? goes without saying. but these B sprouts are really really good!

good for you? goes without saying. but these B sprouts are really really good!

Even better, these sprouts were knock-outs in the flavor department. Even my husband, who eats what I cook because he’s a nice guy (but would really rather be eating veggies of the peas and corn variety), gobbled them down, noting that the bourbon actually mellowed the strong sprout flavor. Somehow the in-your-face bourbon and sprout flavors canceled each other out, resulting in an alchemy that was sweeter, softer, and more neutral. Because I hadn’t overcooked the sprouts (this time), the texture was right on–a slight chew, but stopping short of mush. They made a fine veggie side dish and got me thinking that I should try adding bourbon to other vegetables as well.

Cooking up these sprouts was loads of fun. The adult in me got to play with spirits in the kitchen and my inner 16-year-old is delighted that she can eat lots of veggies and still have room for dessert.

cocktail flippin’

Mentioned in my last post was my delight in meeting other like-minded folk within the blogging community. My circle of friends has expanded in ways I’d never imagined as has my pool of ideas and inspiration. A recent find has been The Weary Chef. Like me, she feeds a husband and two young kids while also running around tending to the rest of her life. While I’ve only just discovered TWC, I’m already nuts about her Friday Happy Hour post. While you’ll find a handful of cocktail write-ups at food for fun, there’s nothing scheduled weekly. Yet I so like the idea of celebrating the end of a workweek with a fun adult beverage that I’m hoping to stop by TWC each Friday and make whatever it is she’s making (or at least an approximation, depending on my pantry).

In honor of my new Friday tradition, I’ve been inspired by a review of a just-opened restaurant (you must click on this link if only to see the box graters hanging from the ceiling) in the latest Minnesota Monthly. Borough’s bar menu features A Flippin’ Good Drink and for the name alone I already love it. But it gets better: this drink combines milk stout with bourbon and egg to taste “almost like bitter dark chocolate.” Anything with bourbon gets a Like from me and the whole concept sounded absolutely lovely.

Amounts were not given, so I guessed at two parts stout to one part bourbon. And the (raw) egg thing didn’t sit well with me as it smacked of health shakes circa 1970. But I love me a little egg white froth on a cocktail (ramos gin fizz, anyone?), so tossed one white in the mix. Into the cocktail shaker, then, went 1/2 cup stout, 1/4 cup bourbon, 1 egg white.

flippin' good, yes

flippin’ good, yes

Minimal shaking required as the stout provided plenty of foam, though the egg white gave it a boost as well as tamed some of the stout’s rougher edges. I gave it a blast of carbonated water after sampling as it was too strong for my taste, but the chocolate notes rang loud and clear. I hope to hit Borough soon to try the real deal, but for now will enjoy my homespun version of the flippin’ good.

Overall, my drink-mixing skills are bare bones as I have yet to develop a sense for what kind and how much of one spirit to mix with another. But if I continue hanging out at TWC and other fun cocktail posts (Putney Farms is another good one for fun drinks), I’ll eventually find my inner mixologist. If you have favorite cocktail recipes or blog suggestions that will help me get there, please holler back via comments or facebook. I’d love to have you at the party 🙂

bacon + bourbon

Watching foodie TV (Foodography, the Cocktail episode) last night, I was intrigued by a mixologist who whipped up a batch of bacon bourbon. Both ingredients are favorites (as well as being extremely trendy right now), so I loved that someone thought to put them together. With molecular gastronomy all the rage, I envisioned bacon bourbon being a product of distillation involving beakers, siphons, gasses, and who knows what else. Wrong. It was a simple process involving only the two namesake ingredients–both of which I had on hand. I, too, could make bacon bourbon.

Rendered bacon fat was already on my counter, left over from another recipe. (Though it would have been easy enough to fry up a few strips of fresh bacon if needed.) The other ingredient–bourbon–has been a staple in my pantry since a trip to Kentucky last year. The process, called “fat washing” (lovely, yes?), is simply mixing hot bacon drippings with bourbon (1/3 cup drippings to 3 cups bourbon according to Bacon Today website), letting it cool, then refrigerating to solidify the fat. When chilled and separated, the larger fat chunks are removed. Finally, the bourbon is poured through a fine-mesh strainer to clarify. I also gave it a pass through cheesecloth as my fine-mesh strainer didn’t seem fine enough.

I can’t drink bourbon straight, and the same goes for this beverage. It boasts all of bourbon’s raw power and strength, but also adds a layer of not-so-subtle smokiness. Soda water and an orange rind would make good partners, as would maple syrup. I’ve also found a recipe for a Bacon Old-Fashioned I’d like to try. But for now, I’m happy just to have my bottle of homemade bacon bourbon sitting on my counter, catching the sunlight and promising a lovely and warming cocktail as fall eventually gives way to winter.

a beautifully golden and smoky spirit, perfectly suited for fall