Coffee Liqueur Recipe

My latest liqueur infusion project, if not my absolute favorite, is possibly the most “me.” The inspiration actually came from a scholar in my field who stayed in our apartment during a conference last year. Learning of my love of coffee, she suggested infusing Sambuca with coffee beans. The thought was appealing, but I’m not crazy about the anise flavor in Sambuca, so I didn’t try it.

The seed was planted, however. I started thinking about what liqueurs would pair well with coffee. I’ve always loved coffee and orange together. Back when I was in high school Starbucks used to have a Mocha Valencia Latte, which was the only thing that would make me pay the prices of a Starbucks latte. My first thought was Grand Marnier, but given the cost of Grand Marnier and the fact that this was a total experiment on my part, I went with its cheaper little sister, Triple Sec.

I bought about two cups of whole bean coffee. I went for my favorite locally-roasted, super-dark roast (also fair-trade certified). Because if I’m going to go low-end on the booze, it’s important to be as pretentious as possible about the coffee. I bought a 750ml bottle of Triple Sec and poured roughly half of it into a mason jar with half of the beans, then put the other half of the beans in the bottle with the remaining liqueur. A lot of recipes online for making coffee infused vodka suggest using ground coffee—I didn’t do that, because it sounded like filtering would be a pain in the ass. If you do use ground coffee, it will infuse faster. On the other hand, it infuses quickly regardless, so there’s really no point in grinding if you ask me.

And that’s it. Store the jar and the bottle somewhere cool and dark and taste it every day. Like I said, this infuses fast. I waited forty-eight hours to taste the first time and it already had a good coffee flavor. At that point it was orange with a hint of coffee and I was looking more so for coffee with a hint of orange, so I left it in longer. After four days it had the flavor I wanted, but I didn’t have time to strain it, so it sat another day and a half.

The end result in amazing. It’s like drinking a good dark roast coffee, but then you get this hint of citrus at the end. Excellent for sipping. It’s very popular with my friends (I’ve gone through two bottles). It also makes a nice addition to desserts. My roommate added it to the filling for her Yule Log (she uses the French name I can’t spell and am too lazy to look up). I’ve added it to trifles with delicious results. And, of course, it goes nicely in coffee.

Strawberry Basil Liqueur Recipe

Remember how I said we were going to be posting regularly? I was supposed to post on Wednesday, but… well, I’m going to be honest, I forgot. To make amends, I’m posting a recipe for booze!

I’m back into liqueur infusions again. This was the second one I put in this summer, but it was the first I tasted since it took less time to infuse.

Take a four cup mason jar and fill it about 2/3 of the way with roughly chopped strawberries. Don’t pack them down, just put them in there. I sterilize my jars first (put in boiling water for 5 minutes) which is probably unnecessary, but there’s no harm in being overly cautious. Take maybe a cup of loosely packed basil leaves, then pack them into the jar. (In retrospect, I might have put them in first. I can’t remember.) Fill the jar with to the very tippy top with 100 proof vodka; close it tightly. Keep it in a cool dark place (I had mine in a paper sack on a bookshelf.) Let it sit there about a month (mine went an extra week because I was out of town) inverting it once a day to make sure it infuses well. Strain the vodka and mix it with simple syrup to taste (I used about a cup and a half of syrup). Enjoy!

New Official Frosting Recipe


We’ve talked about how in the great dichotomy of life I’m a frosting person not a cake person. I believe I have even mentioned my profuse love of cream cheese frosting in particular. Well I have to confess cream cheese now has some serious competition thanks to a recent discovery I can’t believe I only recently discovered.

Back story: My roommate’s birthday was last weekend. She’s celebrating it next weekend and wasn’t going to do anything special on the actual day. As her roommate, I felt it was my solemn duty to make sure she had something delicious to eat on her real natal day though. I went to the grocery store that morning and discovered brownie mixes were on sale (don’t judge), so I picked one up. Then I started feeling lame, because it was her birthday and all I was making were boxed brownies. So I started thinking about how boxed brownies could be improved and I landed on frosting. But I wasn’t sure she was a frosting person and what would she like and… suddenly it occurred to me: Peanut butter!

I’ve heard of peanut butter frosting before, though I can’t recollect having it in the past. And I thought, whether you’re a cake person or a frosting person, everyone loves chocolate and peanut butter, don’t they? Well not everyone. Nazis actually hate chocolate and peanut butter, true story. One of my students last semester wrote about his sister’s buckeye brownies (she wouldn’t give him the exact recipe) that had brownies topped with peanut butter frosting topped with chocolate ganache. I can’t make ganache that’s even halfway passable, but I figured I could handle peanut butter frosting.

Anyway, I did some googling and came up with a composite, very simple, oh so delicious recipe for some peanut butter frosting:

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 stick of butter (softened)

Blend above together in a mixer until smooth. Then add confectioner’s sugar and milk/cream/half-and-half alternately until you achieve your desired flavor and consistency. Put on something chocolate or eat with a spoon. Marvel at it’s delicious simplicity.

Pumpkin Soup Recipe

I discovered pumpkin soup two years ago. It’s fabulous. This is one of several variations I’ve come up with.

1 pie pumpkin (I’ve done this with carving pumpkins; you’ll just need to cook them a little longer)

1 bunch turnips

1 medium onion

4 cloves of garlic

Herbs and spices as desired


Olive oil

1 box chicken or vegetable stock


Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut it into bite sized pieces. Set the seeds aside for delicious roasting. Also cut the turnips into bite sized pieces. If the greens look good go ahead and wash some of them and chop them into pieces. Dice the onion. Put it in a large pot with a good glug of olive oil. Sauté until they start turning transparent. Mince the garlic and add it. Once the garlic and onions are starting to brown add a couple tablespoons of flour. Let it brown for a bit. If you’re using turnip greens add those. Add and herbs you’re using. I used fresh basil, rosemary, and garlic chives and dried  oregano, smoked paprika, and some dried santaka/japones chiles. Add your stock and the pumpkin and turnips. Cover and let simmer till turnips and pumpkin are nice and soft. Enjoy!

Eggplant, Tomato, Potato Casserole

I’m not going to lie, this recipe exists solely because I wanted something to do with the heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market.

Eggplant, Tomato, and Potato Casserole

1 medium eggplant (this was one of those cool heirloom ones like Cammy grows)
5-6 tomatoes (these were medium to small Cherokee purples and Brandywine pinks)
3 potatoes
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Half a small can of tomato paste
Olive oil
Spices to taste

Peel eggplant if desired and slice. Salt lightly on both side and set to the side. Chop the tomatoes and put them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, and basil. Add whatever spices you want. I added cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and maybe some other things.

Slice potatoes thinly. Chop eggplant into cubes. Mix the tomato paste in with the macerating tomato mixture.

Heat the oven to 350.

In a casserole dish (mine was 9×9, but bordered on too small) place a layer of potatoes, top with a layer of eggplant, top with a layer of the tomato mixture. Continue until everything is used up. Put in the oven until potatoes are soft, about 1 hour. I ate it over couscous, but it would be good on its own or with rice, etc.

A Culinary Travesty

I had my first strawberry shortcake of the season this evening. It was brought to my house by a friend. In this incarnation “strawberry shortcake” meant fresh sliced strawberries served over those pre-made dessert cups with whipped topping. Synthetic and processed, but good if not outstanding.


Growing up we had strawberry shortcake at least once or twice per summer. My mom would cut up a bunch of strawberries and put them in the refrigerator with a little sugar so they would release their juice. Then she would make a pound cake and we would eat the strawberries on that with some whipped topping. (Mom wouldn’t use the real stuff because she hates freedom). Occasionally if she was feeling lazy and/or there was a sale we would use a store bought angel food cake. Actually for several years I hated soggy cake to the point I would have just a bowl of strawberries with whipped topping.


But when I moved to the mid-Atlantic I found out some people do something very wrong with their strawberry shortcake—they make it with a biscuit. Seriously? Biscuits are a side. They also make a tasty breakfast. They are not a dessert. Why would you put your strawberries and cream on a biscuit?


And they don’t just do this out of ignorance either. I tried to introduce some of the biscuit crowd to the wonders of pound cake, only to have them insist it was better with a biscuit. Is this some kind of Protestant guilt thing where they can’t stand the indulgence of a full dessert? Is it just because they know they make biscuits better than Yankees and have to show them off?

Whatever it is, it needs to stop. I hearby will make it my business: If I do nothing else with my life, I will make someone who would have otherwise eaten just a soggy biscuit to eat a good grilled cheese.

Ice Cream Season Begins!

Admittedly, I had the idea for this post yesterday, when it was 66 degrees. It’s now somewhere in the 30s here, so this seems less timely than it did yesterday.

My friends from Minnesota and Michigan have been complaining that we haven’t had enough of hard core winter. I’m just rejoicing that whatever winter we have seems to be on the way out. This means my life will improve in a lot of ways, but, perhaps most importantly, it marks the start of ice cream season. While I will generally eat ice cream any time of year if the mood strikes, even I eat more when I don’t have to bundle up in blankets to do so.

Last weekend I made my first sorbet of the season and it was a brand new, self created recipe that I think deserves to be shared.

Lavender Lime Sorbet

Zest and juice of four limes (this recipe also gave me an excuse to use the citrus press my sister got me for my birthday)

1 cup lime juice (you can use all fresh lime juice and I’m sure it would be better, but I’m broke and lazy, so I went half and half on the good stuff)

2 cups water

1 cup sugar (approximately. Some limes are tarter than others, so start a little under and add until it tastes a little sweeter than you want your end product to taste. Remember it will lose some sweetness in the freezing process.)

1 shot vodka

2-4 drops lavender oil

Mix all ingredients together and chill. When totally cold pour into ice cream machine and follow directions. Put in the freezer for about two hours to set. Enjoy.

Drinking to Forget it’s Over

Somewhere along the way I developed the habit of inventing cocktails and desserts and naming them after fictional characters. I’ve made The Big Daddy Spencer (Psych), Aragorn brownies, Maddie Hayes ice cream, and a whole list of BSG inspired desserts which have previously been posted on this blog. I felt this tradition fitting to observe for the end of One Life to Live. To be honest, I have not test driven all of these. There’s only so much drinking a girl can do in a day or two.

The Rainbow’s End
1 oz vodka
1 oz white crème de cacao
3 oz orange peach mango juice (I would have just used orange juice, but this was what was in my fridge since it’s what was on sale this week)
drizzle of ginger syrup
splash of pomegranate syrup

Put the vodka, crème de cacao, juice, and ginger syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Pour in the pomegranate syrup which should sink to the bottom. Don’t mix. It should have a pretty gradiated color like a tequila sunrise, but a very different taste.

My thought process: The first theme song I remember for OLTL started with a lyric about “Here’s where you go when you can’t find the rainbow’s end”—that was the main inspiration. Ginger is soothing, much like this show that has been there for us through the years. Pomegranate: the forbidden fruit–what could be more soapy. Vodka is really just there to be booze, I’m not going to lie. I added the crème de cacao because my rough draft of this one tasted a little too tropical. The juice is there as a carrier and something to contrast with the color of the pomegranate. Read the rest of this entry »

Grapefruit Rosemary Sorbet

I made this about a month ago and it became one of my favorite sorbets.  To quote another recipe entirely, “It tastes like summer.”  It’s exactly what sorbets are designed to be (though mine often aren’t).  Light and palate clearing and refreshing and fabulous in every way.

Also, it’s super easy to make.

1 ½ cups water

¾ cup sugar

Couple sprigs of rosemary

3 ¾ cups grapefruit juice (yup, commercial stuff, right from the bottle)

¼ cup vodka

Put the sugar, water and rosemary in a small saucepan on medium heat.  Bring it to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Let it continue to boil for a little longer so that it reduces a tad.  Set to the side and cover but allow the rosemary to steep a little longer.  Meanwhile put the grapefruit juice and vodka in a large container (I use my big 8 cup liquid measure because it pours well).  Strain the rosemary out of the syrup (if it stays on the stem you can just fish them out).  Add it to the juice.  Put it in the refrigerator until it’s really cold.  Freeze it in the ice cream maker then let it harden in the freezer.


Blue Moon Ice Cream Recipe

One of my friends has been bugging me to make Blue Moon ice cream.  He even offered to pay me to do it.  I was totally willing, but I had no idea what Blue Moon ice cream is.  Apparently it’s something which is made only in the northern Midwest (which explains why I never encountered it).  I told him I’d make the ice cream figuring there had to be a good recipe online.  Well… it seems no one really knows what flavor Blue Moon is.  Some people say raspberry, some say pineapple, some say blue curacao and white crème de cacao.  It seems there are several dairies that make it and none of them have ever disclosed their secret ingredients.  Since my friend had specifically requested it, I asked him what flavor he was looking for.  He informed me that the worst Blue Moons are the fruitiest and his preference was for blue curacao (… which is fruity… he seemed to think it was an almond flavor, but that’s beside the point)  So knowing what I was looking for, I went looking for a recipe.

Every recipe on the internet for a blue curacao based Blue Moon involved buying vanilla ice cream from a store and folding in the liqueur.  Well anyone who knows me and my love of my ice cream maker knows I’m not going to do that.  So I had to come up with my own recipe from scratch.  Without knowing what my final product was supposed to taste like.  Knowing it had great emotional association for my friend.  Fun times!

Fortunately, it was deemed a rousing success.  I think my friend just about made himself sick on it he loved it so much.  In my continuing obsession with naming all my ice cream recipes after fictional characters this has been named alternately “Maddie Hayes Ice Cream” and “Mystique Ice Cream.”

About 5 cups of dairy product (combination of milk, half and half, and heavy cream.  I used 1 cup milk, 2 cups half and half and two cups heavy cream.  Ordinarily I use a higher ratio of milk, but I had less milk than I thought in the refrigerator)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon cream cheese (low fat is fine, fat free is a crime against nature)
2 ½ ounces blue curacao
1 ½ ounces white crème de cacao
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Splash of almond extract

Set aside one cup of heavy cream (or half and half if you’re not using any heavy cream).  But three tablespoons (or so, no need to be precise here) in a separate bowl and mix with the corn starch.  Set to the side.  Put your remaining dairy product in a saucepan over moderate-low heat.  Once the milk mixture is warm, whisk in the sugar and stir till dissolved.  Meanwhile, whisk the cream cheese in a large bowl (or preferably a large liquid measure) until really soft.  Continue heating the milk mixture until lots of small bubbles form (not to boiling) and then add in the corn starch mixture.  Whisk frequently until the mixture is thickened (I’m very imprecise on this part and just go by the way it ripples when I stir—you want big soft waves not little ripples).  Pour into the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk quickly until the cream cheese is dissolved.

Mix the spirits and extracts together.  Allow the custard to cool somewhat then add in the spirits.  Then pour in the reserved cream until your total volume is six cups.  Put in the refrigerator and chill until cold.  Then freeze in your ice cream maker following the directions of your machine.  Put in the refrigerator until hard.

The amount of liquor in this means that it will never freeze really hard.  But it is fairly delicious.