cachaça in the caipirinha

cachaça in the caipirinha

Last week’s Brazilian Rice could only be followed by a Brazilian cocktail, am I right? And what better drink than a caipirinha? (Repeat after me: kype’-ah-reen-ya.) As a Midwesterner, I was unaware of this lovely drink until five or so … Continue reading

cocktail dreams, mojito moments

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Why do we blog? I can’t answer for everyone, but I know I’m here–at least in part–to indulge in fantasy. Though I try to (mostly) write about real life, I read your blogs for vicarious reasons. Thanks to your posts, … 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!

eggnog blog (plus granola bars, too)

While eggnog is held in higher regard than say…fruitcake, it’s still not always respected. It’s old-school. It’s quaint. It’s the kind of party drink Clark Griswold enjoys.

Then again, all things “old-school” seem to be enjoying new-found popularity. (Can you say “retro”?) Old-fashioned cocktails are making a comeback and I’m betting eggnog is poised to do the same.

This train of thought led me to my most recent Blog of Funny Names post. Would you please hop over to read about funny eggnog names (bonus comic included)? Then return for a recipe and a snack!

***

Researching the BoFN post made me thirsty for eggnog, though I wanted to try my hand at DIY instead of buying store-bought. An Alton Brown recipe (Anyone else an AB fan? I love this man.) came to mind, so I googled and hit the kitchen.

Brown offers uncooked and cooked versions of this holiday punch. Knowing full well that consuming raw eggs is not recommend, I went with uncooked anyway, mainly to save time. (Pasteurized eggs are an option, though the whites won’t whip as fully.) Without whole milk, I subbed in soymilk and also used rum instead of bourbon. As well, I cut the recipe down to make only one serving.

Though I expected the eggnog to turn out nicely, I had no idea it would be amazing. After just five minutes of prep time, this eggnog poured up light, fluffy, cool, creamy, and refreshing. I would have downed the entire serving (and it was a big mug) in one swallow if I hadn’t had a meeting to run off to. (Though you’d better believe I stored it in the fridge for later consumption.)

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

freshly grated nutmeg is so worth the effort

The cooked version would have been thicker, I’d imagine, but still creamy and decadent in its own way. What matters most here is how unbelievably easy it is to whip up your own batch of eggnog. Even without the booze, this is a lovely holiday beverage: Think of it as (melted) ice cream for winter.

With a mug of eggnog at the ready, we’ll need a snack. Preferably something healthy to balance out the cream and sugar. How about granola bars?

A few weeks back, food for fun offered a granola bar recipe. Soon after, Shanna of Curls and Carrots surprised me by sharing her AMAZING granola bars and crediting me with helping to inspire her recipe. These granola bars looked better than what I’d made and I looked forward to making a batch.

No surprise–Shanna’s Favorite Granola Bars were phenomenal. With room for all sorts of improv, they can be made repeatedly without ever being the same: I used dried apricots in place of some of the dried cherries and almonds instead of pecans. I also chopped up chocolate bars instead of hunting down chocolate buttons. Shanna had also mentioned trying cinnamon along with the other spices, which sounds lovely to me.

packed with goodness

packed with goodness

Now that we have our food and drink plated and ready to go, I offer you a warming winter beverage and a deliciously healthy snack.

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

DIY granola bars and eggnog. Cheers!

banana bash–three dishes you’ll want to make and one you will not

Those who’ve been here before may have read mention of neighbors who bring over a box of food every Sunday. My understanding is that their church has a community food bank, from which they take any leftovers home to share with friends and family.

It’s much like a CSA as I never know what a Sunday will bring. Near-expired dairy products, produce, cookies, bread–it’s been fun to receive this kindness weekly. We offer our thanks each time they bring bounty (though their being from Nigeria and ourselves born and raised Minnesotan means communication can be spotty) and when appropriate, share what we make with their gifts. (They once brought over a 50-pound (!) box of chocolate chips–you’d better believe they got a batch or three of cookies out of me.)

they dared me to use them all

they dared me to use them all

I share this here not so much as a personal anecdote, but rather to set up this post’s reason for being: four bunches of spotted bananas. Not four spotted bananas, no. Four bunches.

What to do? A loaf of banana bread wouldn’t even make a dent. Freezing (peeled or no, both work) would take care of what I couldn’t use, but I was up for a challenge, so put it out there on deLizious facebook that I needed banana recipes stat. And my awesome readers came through. Here’s what I did to use up three of those four bunches. (One went home with friends, so was not my problem.):

My friend Jill wrote about a smoothie her family enjoys on summer nights. Cleverly named Monkey Smoothies blend frozen banana chunks, chocolate sauce, peanut butter, and milk. I cut a few bananas up and froze them overnight, then followed Jill’s instructions the next morning. The shakes were dreamy and tasted much like a peanut butter cup would were it frozen and drinkable. Definitely a winner.

frozen bananas, pbutter, choc sauce, milk--yum!

frozen bananas, pbutter, choc sauce, milk–how could this be anything but extraordinary?

monkey smoothie: drink a candy bar for breakfast

monkey smoothie: drink a candy bar for breakfast

Fellow WordPress blogger Perky Poppy Seed opened new worlds for me with her “recipe.” She suggested slitting unpeeled bananas “banana split-style” and placing on a baking sheet. Next, the slits were filled with small pieces of butter, ground cinnamon, and a splash of rum (or brandy or bourbon) and roasted at 400°F-ish until the skins turn black. Finally, the puree is spooned from the skins and used wherever mashed banana is called for. This was a “wow” for me–any banana bread I’ve ever made (and I’ve made a fair number as I try not to repeat b bread recipes) could be made again with this spiked puree, taking on a slightly different flavor. This I had to try.

not going to win any beauty contest, but they smell heavenly

not going to win beauty contests, but they smell heavenly

I filled and roasted 10 of the bananas, placing them on a foil-lined baking sheet to avoid having to wash the pan. The fragrance was heavenly and the final puree was as amazing as I’d imagined.

this stuff is pure baking gold

pure baking gold

I immediately set aside a cup for my next project, which was…

bananarama cake!

bananarama cake!

Beki, of Beki Cook’s Cakes, is the instructor responsible for my personal best in making a cake look pretty. She responded to my facebook query with a link to her blog for what looked to be an amazing recipe. I followed this recipe mostly to the letter, though used the roasted rum bananas and sprinkled a touch of vanilla salt between frosted layers.

The cake was phenomenal, though Beki will most likely wonder if I left my fine decorating skills in her classroom. Alas, the finished cake was a bit more goofy than it was beautiful. (I could use my 7-year-old daughter as an excuse for the imperfect frosting, but she was really only responsible for one smudge in the lettering. I’ll take full responsibility here.)

one crazy--but tasty--cake

one crazy–but tasty–cake

But even without bakery-quality visuals, this cake was crazy good. I was finally able to stop myself after three slices (they were fairly small, but still!) and am even now remembering how moist and tender that cake was. How it had an earthy sweetness that keeps you coming back for more. I managed to part with half of the cake to share with our neighbors, which means the cake has already dwindled significantly. When it’s gone? I’ll make another as I have a good cup or so of the spirited puree in my freezer.

oh, this is good

oh, this is good

The one banana recipe I did not use (besides the one that read “open trash bag, throw away”–horrors!) was offered by the keeper of the Kirschner Cookbook Library, which I’ve written up here before. Megan posts great finds from this library at a favorite blog and she pulled from her archives to share Banana Sardine Boats. These scary salads are worth a click for the kitsch factor alone.

Left in my freezer, then, is about a cup of spirited banana puree and maybe 1/2 cup frozen banana chunks. I was thrilled to meet my banana challenge, though also had plenty of help from facebook readers. While the four bunches of spotty bananas are gone, I’m certain I will run across more sooner rather than later and I’d bet you will, too. So I ask you to keep the recipes and ideas coming. What is your go-to banana recipe when you find yourself with too many brown bananas? Please share as it’s more fun to go bananas with fellow food folk 🙂

cocktail inspiration

I aim for regularly scheduled blog posts as I see foodforfun as an extension of my business and a professional commitment of sorts. Topics are chosen because they answer my daily question of, “what’s been fun in my culinary world today”? But some days–though it could be me rather than the day–lack inspiration. Take today: A quick breakfast (oatmeal, cottage cheese, grapefruit), lunch at church (the standard line-up of French toast, bacon, and fresh fruit, though the yogurt buffet was snazzy). Supper was a fridge clean-out as we made a meal of leftovers from the past week. As well, I spent much of the day helping my girls with homework, so no time to play in the kitchen.

Come evening, I had no clue what I could write up for the day’s blog post. Rather than skip it, though, I asked myself what sounded like fun. How about an end-of-weekend cocktail? When I opened the liquor cabinet, I noticed a deck of cards I’d purchased on last year’s summer vacation. I’m still wondering why Mitchell, South Dakota’s Corn Palace gift shop carried Drink Recipes Playing Cards, but they sold me on them and I’ve enjoyed the occasional shuffle through the deck. (Note that the drink names are not child-friendly, though neither are alcoholic drinks so it works.) I’d never actually used a recipe from the deck, though, and decided that tonight was the night. I found four cards that interested me–each recipe had three (or fewer) ingredients, those ingredients were already on hand, and they sounded tasty.

My take on each drink follows. Each small glass contains a half-recipe and with one exception, I didn’t finish any. Not a single brain cell was harmed in the making of this post:-)

conch

Conch Shell: I liked this one very much, though a spritz of club soda would have made it easier to drink. It was the most refreshing cocktail of the bunch. But if you only like sweet drinks, it’s not for you.

latin

Latin Lover: Again, needs a spritz (or two) of club soda as it’s strong booze. I like that it’s served over ice as the melt helps dilute. The flavors of amaretto and tequila blend nicely.

hop

Jamaican Hop: Here’s the drink I downed after snapping the photo. Smooth, creamy, lightly sweet–dessert in a glass. I used fat-free half-and-half instead of cream.

piece

Piece of A-hem: I didn’t pick this one for the name, for sure. I recently made homemade sour mix, so am always looking for fun new uses. As well, I like mixing Southern Comfort with other flavors. This one was knock-out strong, too much so for my tastes. I’d drink it again only if it was diluted at least 50/50 with club soda.

So by night’s end, I had found my inspiration by adding four new cocktail recipes to my arsenal. Not every day is inspiring, but if we think on it long enough, we can usually find something to make us smile.

mojito cc cookies

I didn’t plant mint this year (shame on me as it’s so easy to grow), but have been purchasing it often from farmers’ markets. The current batch, standing at attention whenever I open the refrigerator, demanded to be used today.

bouquet of mint

I’ve enjoyed my fresh mint in lemonade, iced tea, and cocktails, so felt like doing something different with this bunch. Enter a mint-chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve long loved. These cookies are my contribution to a girlfriend get-together tonight, so I wanted to dress them up a bit. Why not add a splash of rum, use chocolate rum wafers (rum-flavored chocolate baking discs), and call them Mojito Chocolate Chip Cookies? (Lime zest would have been an authentic addition, but didn’t want to get too crazy.)

minty chocolate chip cookie dough

The cookies were delish–minty fresh, for sure. I’d maybe not pack the measuring cup so full with the fresh mint next go-round, though enjoying a cookie that doubles as a breath mint isn’t such a bad thing. Adding the rum and using the rum wafers was a fun spin, but the cookies would be just as amazing using the vanilla extract originally called for as well as chocolate chunks or chips instead of the rum wafers.

plated up

stacked high

mojito chocolate chip cookies

Mojito Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon rum, 1 teaspoon rum extract, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces chopped rum chocolate wafers, chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease baking sheets or line baking sheets with Silpat® baking mats.

In bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and rum. Gently stir in flour, salt and baking soda just until mixed. Gently stir in chocolate and mint.

Drop dough onto baking sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 36 yummy cookies.

cookie crumbs