cocktails, sci-fi snow day edition

While it may be sunny and possibly even warm where you are, it snowed lots today here in Minnesota and the temps are set to go near-zero F before the week is out. What’s a food blogger to do? Baking seemed the natural way to warm up, but as you can see from this post’s title, that’s not how things went down.

Instead, I turned to two cocktails that have been on my to-do list for a while. The first came about when I was introduced to all things Dr. Who by my most excellent blogger friend, amb. (You’ve seen her here before.) I knew nothing, so asked her simple questions such as “what is a tardis?” and “what is a sonic screwdriver?” And while I’m now well-versed on the blue box that is the tardis, I’m still a bit unclear on sonic screwdriver. (Amb saying, “A sonic screwdriver is like … a magic wand. But science-y,” helped only a bit.) To me, a sonic screwdriver sounds like a cocktail waiting to happen.

Stumbling on this post, then, was Kismet. Inspiration kicked into high gear and I could almost taste that cosmic concoction. Today’s snow meant canceling an engagement across town, so I used the time instead to mix my Whovian adult beverage. Three parts orange juice joined one part candy corn vodka to create this day-glo cocktail.

Whovian Sonic Screwdriver, anyone?

Whovian Sonic Screwdriver, anyone?

The super-sweet vodka demanded a bit of salt for balance, so I rimmed the glass with salt. (True, rimming a glass with salt is more a margarita thing, but I’d bet Dr. Who is good with me mixing things up a bit.)

I imagine this beverage as a sort of cosmic super juice that would allow Dr. Who–in whatever form he takes–to vanquish alien enemies everywhere. The bad guy wouldn’t stand a chance.

Stranded at home with one cocktail creation down, I decided to tackle an igloo drink I joked about making when commenting over at Blog of Funny Names. I don’t remember specific circumstances, but somehow it stuck that I had challenged myself to create another adult beverage with the only parameter (besides having to taste good, of course) being that it fit the description of “igloo.”

A google search found one recipe with gin and vodka, which sounded lovely. It contained a lime though, not tracking with a winter theme, so I subbed in a peeled and sectioned clementine. Honey added sweet and I muddled it all and tasted. Whoa. It screamed for a nonalcoholic dilution and I considered the possibilities: Ice? Tonic? Soda? Glancing out the kitchen window, at heavily falling snow, gave my brain a start. A conversation I’d had months earlier with a colleague came back to me: She’d jokingly challenged me to create and “adult snow cone.” Now was my chance!

I stepped outside (brrrrr) and filled a glass with freshly fallen snow. (Freshly fallen is key here–didn’t want already-marked snow. Though I’ve heard arguments that even “clean” snow isn’t clean after falling through an atmosphere rich in pollutants. Eh…I pushed that thought aside and forged ahead.)

snow

waiting for snow cone status

I then strained my clementine-steeped spirits over the snow and watched it quickly melt down. A sip told me I had a potent and bracing winter refresher. It seemed an apt Igloo.

The Igloo

The Igloo

Dedicated to the BoFN co-founder who gave me the idea, this second cocktail wraps up the first of many snow days ahead. Wishing you all warm and toasty thoughts, no matter the weather.

Arto’s Igloo

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 clementine, peeled and separated into sections
  • Freshly fallen snow or finely crushed ice

In tall glass, combine gin, vodka, and honey; stir to blend. Add clementine; muddle well. Fill a short glass with snow or ice. Strain gin mixture over snow.

other people’s recipes

Food for fun is taking it easy this week. After the excitement of last Thursday’s crazy Halloween bash, it’s time to take it down a notch. Instead of offering original fare, I’m paying it forward by sharing experiences with recipes found elsewhere.

If you’re looking for recipes and photos that make you drool, a trip to Cottage Grove House should do the trick. Last August, a post for Cherry Yogurt Cake stopped me in my tracks. I was struck by the recipe’s simplicity. What would one need to make this pretty little cake? Only butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, yogurt, and cherries. Last week brought time to make the cake and it was everything I hoped it would be: spectacular in its simplicity.

Of course there were changes, though none made deliberately. About halfway through slicing through the bag of cherries I’d frozen last summer, I realized there were no pits (can you say “autopilot”?) and upon closer inspection saw that the cherries were red grapes. Huh. Well, why not, thought I and went ahead with my newly named Grape Yogurt Cake. I also neglected to use vanilla yogurt and didn’t add vanilla to the plain yogurt I did use. But in the end it was a stunner. As much as I love fancy-pants desserts, there’s something so lovely about a simple white cake.

PB&J Cake

PB&J Cake

The grapes had me thinking peanut butter, so I added a spoonful of two of chunky-style to warm caramel sauce and served it alongside, christening it PB&J Cake. I’m certain the cake would be smashing made with only cherries as well. Three cheers for Cottage Grove House!

Moving on: I’m always thrilled when others take me up on my invitation to post their fun food finds at deLizious facebook. Amb, of Words Become Superfluous fame, thrilled me over the weekend by posting her bananarrific muffins. They looked most festive propped with a Christmas-themed plate and topped with Halloween candy. (It’s a must-see you haven’t already. Follow my deLizious link above and look for 11/3’s post.) She also credited the original recipe, and it was drool-at-first sight. These muffins looked tender, moist, and so very banana-y. (And we all know food for fun loves a good overripe banana recipe.)

Glad for yet another excuse to bake, I set out to make the muffins. A note on the recipe mentioned the option of turning it into banana bread–even better. The loaf still got a generous topping of chopped Snicker’s and peanut butter cups per amb’s photo. Glorious and amazing, this quickbread makes breakfast and snack time very bright. Thanks, amb!

candy-topped banana bread

candy-topped banana bread

all sliced up

all sliced up

Finally, I’ll share a healthier recipe, with which I was also enamored. True to form, it took me a while to get around to making a Weary Chef soup that caught my eye back in February. My daughters love Panera’s chicken wild rice soup, and this seemed a healthier but equally lovely version. I went totally DIY with this one, starting with a large kettle of water and a whole chicken. After making stock, I proceeded with WC’s recipe and ended up with a pot of mmmm-good soup. After two large bowls, I was full and warm and happy. My girls enjoyed theirs as well, and I liked that it was chock-full of veggies, whole grain, and lean protein. Weary Chef is about much more than her Happy Hour, people!

DIY cream chicken wild rice soup

DIY cream chicken wild rice soup

So that’s the recap. Though I’ll close with a link to my latest Minnesota Soybean project. No need to click over unless you like pumpkin waffles 😉

Wishing you a most excellent and delicious week.

blogging with friends and secret-ingredient cupcakes

We’re shaking things up a bit here at food for fun today as I’ve invited a friend to drop by. Amb is an awesome and amazing blogger and though I’ve yet to determine exactly what her blog is about, I do know I enjoy reading it every weekday morning and it never fails to make me smile.

Amb recently asked me to help her with a project after we found we work quite well together. You’ll need background, so will send you over to her blog for that. Please do come back here to finish the story, but no rush. I’ll wait. If you’ve already been to amb’s, feel free to visit the following link to review the foods of the 1970s while you wait. (Don’t be confused–it’ll all make sense after everyone has been to amb’s.)

*     *     *

Everyone back? Ready to finish our tale? Hungry? I’m sure amb will be here shortly. Did you enjoy her superfluous blog? As mentioned earlier, it always makes me smile 🙂

Speaking of smiling, I’ll warn you that amb can get a little, um, excitable. But her heart’s in the right place and if you just let her be amb, you’ll learn a thing or two about what really matters in life. She even posts the occasional food piece! Oh, here she comes now…

amb: *sound of door slamming, feet pounding* Hi Liz! I’m so excited to be here!! I’m here, and I’m starving. All this talk about how Argo gave audiences thrills in the movie theatres this year is making me thrill for a little snack of my own. I brought some friends over from Words Become Superfluous. Can they have a snack too? *amb pauses for breath* Sorry Liz, I think I regressed to my 10-year-old self for a minute there. Your young daughters would not be impressed with me! What I meant was, thanks so much for inviting us over. You have a lovely blog. May I please have something to drink with my snack? Do you have any of your famous fruit-infused water?

Liz: I do indeed have something to share. Our earlier discussion (thanks again for the invite to WBS, btw–had a blast) gave me a great idea for an Argo-licious snack. Ta-da!

the Argo-licious snack

the Argo-licious snack

amb: uhh, Liz? I can’t believe I’m questioning anything to do with free chocolate, but …. what’s the connection to Argo?

Liz: You’re the one that got me thinking on this. Argo had layers–we saw Ben in his brown shirt with its pointy collar, but he was more than just Ben in an outdated polyester suit. He was CIA. We saw what looked to be a group of Hollywood movie folk scouting for location, but digging deeper you find U.S. embassy staff running from the enemy. These people all had secrets. These cupcakes have secrets, too.

cupcakes with secrets

cupcakes with secrets

amb: *looks around a bit uncertainly* Um, I know you mean well, Liz. And I just love your blog with all the crazy-fun food, really I do. But this one leans a little more to crazy than it does fun. *voice down to a hushed whisper* I brought people with me and you want me to tell them that your cupcakes have Secrets? This is a bit wackadoo, even for me.

Liz: Sorry, amb. *shrugs and smiles* Sorry folks. I could have been clearer. These fudgy chocolate cupcakes have a secret ingredient. Crazy as it may seem, these cupcakes contain condensed tomato soup! I remember enjoying these sweet treats years ago, but couldn’t find the original recipe, so even its origins are of a mysterious and top-secret nature. But one thing that’s not top-secret is that they’re really very good and no one would identify the tomato soup without having been told first.

amb: Alright! I get it! So the perfect snack to have while you’re watching Argo is …

Liz:  Classified Top-Secret Ingredient Cupcakes 🙂 Recipe follows and I hope you enjoy. Many thanks to amb and friends for coming over. And congrats again to Mimi. (If you’re unsure who Mimi is, start over and follow the link back to amb’s. 😉 ) I’d love to have you over again, amb. We should do this again.

amb: Sounds like a plan, Liz! We’ll have to cook up another project again soon! Bye, food for fun readers! Bye, Liz!

Liz: So there you have it: My fun friend amb and a recipe for chocolate cupcakes. Am glad you dropped by for this Special Edition of food for fun and look forward to seeing you again.

Classified and Top-Secret

Classified and Top-Secret

Classified Top-Secret Ingredient Cupcakes

Icing is optional, but if you do go that route, these pair well with cinnamon-spiked cream cheese frosting.

  • 1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In medium bowl, stir together soup and baking soda.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In mixing bowl, beat together butter and granulated and brown sugars with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Alternately beat in soup and flour mixtures just until flour is incorporated. Stir in chips just until mixed. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean and tops spring back when touched. Remove from pans to wire rack to cool. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Makes 18 cupcakes.