Homemade irish cream and a taste test

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I can’t function without coffee.  Black coffee.  The only time I ever drink coffee with cream is when it’s with irish cream.  My parents got me on this kick.  Or maybe I introduced it to them? Doesn’t matter.  What matters is the homemade irish cream I made for my dad for father’s day.  I did 2 different versions then had a taste test with some irish cream I bought from the store.  Then I had some ingredients left and tried a 3rd version.  They were all delicious. The favorite being the 3rd version I threw together, go figure.  For the taste test I poured the irish cream over ice so we could just sip on it. I was always jealous of people that could drink iced coffee because it always looked so refreshing but I could never drink it myself because I don’t like coffee with cream.  Enter irish cream and coffee over ice and I’m in heaven.  I have to remind myself that is alcoholic and kind of fattening and limit myself to 1.  That’s not always easy to do.

Homemade irish cream (version 1)

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp instant coffee powder

1/2 tsp cocoa powder

1 1/4 cup irish whiskey

1 tsp vanilla extract

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

combine all in blender and refrigerate.  this version was really good but very thick and rich,  great for just sipping over ice.

Homemade irish cream (version 2)

1 1/4 cup irish whiskey

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup half and half

2 tsp chocolate syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp instant coffee granules

Combine all in blender and refrigerate. This version was really good also and wasn’t as thick as the 1st version.  I liked this version the best even over the store bought version until I made the 3rd one.

Homemade irish whiskey (version 3)

1 1/4 cup irish whiskey

1 cup almond milk (original flavor)

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp chocolate syrup

1/2 tsp cocoa powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp instant coffee granules

Combine all in blender and refrigerate.  I’m a fan of almond milk so i’m not sure if that’s why this was my favorite but I also saw recipes that included almond extract so maybe it was the whole combination.  Plus this version wasn’t at all thick which I kind of liked also.  My dad received version 2 and 3 as his father’s day gift and he liked the 3rd one best.  I found those cool glass containers in the top pictures to store the irish cream in and to give to my dad.  Aren’t they just adorable?

recipes adapted from allrecipes

strawberry rhubarb martini (with vanilla sugar rim)

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Last week we went on a little breakfast and shopping foray into the city.  There’s a neat little spice store where I like to buy chipotle powder.  While I was perusing the store I came upon some vanilla sugar.  I hear you can make it by putting a vanilla bean in some sugar and whatever, I’m too lazy busy for that right now.  I first tried the vanilla sugar on some strawberries that come from a local farm near me that are the best strawberries ever and they were divine.  So of course I needed to make a cocktail with this concoction.  I had some leftover strawberry rhubarb simple syrup from my bourbon smash and the vanilla sugar coated the rim of the glass.  I added a splash of lime juice so that it wasn’t too sickeningly sweet.  I got all fancy pants taking pictures and added the twist of lime rind and a piece of the rhubarb stalk and it’s just overkill.  Kind of reminds me of a stalk of celery in a bloody mary but in a really stupid way. Oh well next time I’ll just add the strawberry…or maybe a vodka soaked strawberry!!

Strawberry rhubarb martini with a vanilla sugar rim 

3 oz vodka

2 oz strawberry rhubarb simple syrup (recipe here)

splash of lime juice

vanilla sugar

In a shaker add ice, vodka, syrup, and lime juice.  Shake and strain into a martini glass with rim dipped in vanilla sugar.




strawberry rhubarb bourbon smash (with chocolate mint!)

It’s national bourbon day!!!  let’s celebrate!!



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I jumped on the bourbon bandwagon by accident, hoping not to fall off the wagon. ha!! actually it was by desperation.  it happened one day when I was in dire need of a cocktail and simply had absolutely nothing to drink.  not even a spare can of beer that rolled to the back of my fridge.  For me not to have any alcohol on hand is just pure baloney.  the only thing I did have was a bottle of bourbon I bought for a kentucky derby chocolate bourbon pie I made for valentine’s day.  yes, it was as good as it sounds and I will have to share the recipe some day. having only needed a 1/4 cup or so for the pie I still had a good bit left.  I figured I would just mix it with some cola and feel like an old man and drink it.  what’s ironic is that bourbon is becoming the “it” drink.  there’s like a whole bourbon revolution going on.  it has it’s own day now for goodness sake.  I’m sorry but it always reminded me of an old man’s drink.  or the drink of a seasoned drinker. if you know what I mean.  trust me when I say that as a bartender people just do not come into my bar asking what kind of bourbon I have.  the young kids aren’t afraid to ask for a jack and coke but they never ask for a beam and coke.  only the older crowd  drinks bourbon.  now i’m old.  or should I say what’s old is new again or is it like high waisted jeans that I wore and looked like hell in and refuse to wear now that they are back  in style.  whatever.  bourbon is cool now .  and I like me some bourbon.  who knew.  then I heard of a drink called a bourbon smash.  it’s a cross between a whisky sour and a mojito.  I’m like oh wow! I like whiskey sours! I like mojitos!  and now I like bourbon!!

a regular bourbon smash has regular simple syrup in it.  I decided to add a flavored simple syrup instead.  this time of year is rhubarb season and strawberry season and my infamous strawberry rhubarb pie won 3rd place at the local county fair a few years ago. so this strawberry rhubarb syrup smells like the pie and it is heavenly.  and like the pineapple mint in my summer in a glass I also grow chocolate mint every year and holy hallelujah does it smell divine.  you can use regular mint as well but the chocolate mint adds a certain depth to the taste that mixes perfectly with the bourbon.  kind of like the kentucky bourbon chocolate pie..

strawberry rhubarb bourbon smash

2 oz bourbon

1 1/2 oz strawberry rhubarb simple syrup

2 lemon slices

3-4 sprigs chocolate mint

in a cocktail shaker, muddle lemon slices and chocolate mint.  add ice, bourbon, and simple syrup.  shake, shake, shake it up, and pour into to a glass.  serves 1.  so refreshing!!!

strawberry rhubarb simple syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

4 strawberries, quartered

1 stalk rhubarb, sliced into 1 inch pieces

combine sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently.  add strawberries and rhubarb and let simmer about 10-15 minutes until it thickens,  strain and let it cool.  cover and keep refrigerated.

happy national bourbon day!  which is also flag day!! coincidence???




nutty goat cheese grapes

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im not going to fool you into thinking this cute little appetizer is easy to make.  simple- yes.  time consuming-um yea. sorry.  they’re oh so cute though.  the tangy goat cheese paired with the sweet juicy grapes and the texture of the crunchy nuts just meld together nicely.  I took these grapes to several different parties and happy hours.  they hold up well and make a great snack to have with drinks.  I usually forget what a pain in the ass they are to make until I decide to take them somewhere and then think to myself “why did I decide to make these?” what’s sad is that they’re not that hard to make.  I just lack the patience to make them.  kind of like those cute cream cheese stuffed strawberries I see all over pinterest.  or cake balls.  this coming from an award winning pie baker who makes pie dough from scratch.  and once baked 140 pies at thanksgiving.  ill save that story for another time.  patience for pies- yes.  patience for much else- no.  im one of those chronically late people because I don’t have the patience to wait for other people.

so these grapes.  the last time I made them was for a party with my new coworkers.  the grapes were kind of a hit except for 2 of my “picky” but sweet coworkers who couldn’t wait to try them and then politely tried not to spit them out because they realized they hate goat cheese! I actually made them with a soft Havarti cheese before and it worked well since it’s a tangy cheese too.

nutty goat cheese grapes

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

1/2 cup chili lime almonds( I used blue diamond brand), chopped

8-12 ounces creamy goat cheese

40 (approx. depending on size) seedless grapes, red or green, washed and patted dry

scoop about 1/2 tablespoon of goat cheese and press it evenly over all surfaces of grape.  roll the grape for a few seconds in the palms of your hands until the coating is smooth and even.  roll the grape in either the chopped pistachio or chopped almonds and place it on a large plate.  repeat with remaining grapes.  cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

recipe adapted from betty rosbottom, author of “sunday soup” and tribune media services

made a great appetizer to take to a winery
they made a great appetizer to take to a winery

little miss social

 I was trying to get in the groove of posting for this blog and still trying to figure out all the little quirks like you know making it look pretty, connecting it with pinterest, being able to get email subscribers, taking/posting decent pics, and just about everything else you can think of when I decided to become a little social butterfly and go out like every other day instead. It’s the warm weather, and more daylight, and this time of year.  I love it all.  I am 100% a summer person.  hot weather all of the time please and thank you!

so “my happy hour(s)” included a 1 hour trip to my bestie melissa and ben’s house where we drank wine and beer and ate at a tasty lil sports bar.

a few days later my sister and I went to my bff elaines house for a pool party before the kids were out of school.  unfortunately the weather was shit and it was too cold for bathing suits.  we sat out on her deck with our favorite blueberry wine and had snacks.  she made a buffalo chicken dip and threw some frank’s sweet chili sauce over cream cheese and you eat it with crackers and it’s the simplest tastiest appetizer ever.

my next “happy hour” was with 2 friends I hadn’t seen in waaaayy too long.  we went to mad mex which is a super cool Mexican restaurant in my area.  margaritas were of course the obvious choice.

like the tag line of the blog -it’s about good drinks, good food and good times with family and friends! so I made sure I did all 3 all week long!

now back to work trying to figure out this whole blogging thing. ugh.