Making Christmas Cheer (aka Holiday Hooch)

Me and PhyllisMy friend Phyllis retired from my workplace earlier this year. At her retirement party she talked about how she makes her own liqueur at Christmas. I asked her to give me a call because this would be a first for me. She makes her version of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Limoncello. This will be a post in two parts. We will focus on the Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur first.

Ingredients for Bailey's

Phyllis handed me the recipe from an old newspaper clipping. I also found a similar version at The Cupcake Project.

Homemade Eggless Irish Cream Liqueur

1 1/4 to 1 3/4 Cups of Irish whiskey, brandy, rum, bourbon, scotch or rye whiskey

1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 Cups whipping cream or half and half

2 TBSP chocolate syrup

2 tsp instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

Place the ingredients in the blender and whirr away. Serve in a lovely liqueur glass.

Phyllis’s Points

1.Phyllis likes using rum for her recipe. She says it has a smoother taste.

2.Phyllis’s late husband preferred half and half instead of cream. He thought is was way too  thick with the cream.

3. The more chocolate syrup the better. When I held the measuring spoon over the blender the chocolate syrup just kept oozing out of the bottle, overflowing the spoon. Phyllis likes her chocolate. Again, all about your taste preference.

4. Makes a great gift for friends and family. Get yourself some beautiful bottles, labels and ribbon and you have an easy and thoughtful gift.

Doesn’t that beautiful bottle of Irish Cream Liqueur look inviting by the fireplace? Makes me want to go grab a blanket and cuddle up with some holiday cheer!

Bailey's by the fire

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Eggs-cellent

The Fearless Cooking Club celebrated spring with all things eggs. As mentioned in my blog a couple of weeks ago, eggs are a hot ingredient everywhere in comfort food recipes. Cholesterol aside, eggs are making a comeback as a excellent protein.

All club members brought a dish that used eggs and we had quite a variety of choices:

  • Deviled eggs – two versions
  • Aioli with vegetable chips
  • Brioche
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Cheese Soufflé
  • Holiday egg casserole
  • Mediterranean Spinach bake

We had cooking lessons with the soufflé, hollandaise sauce, and the aioli. One member broke out the 1943 original Joy of Cooking to make soufflé the old school way. Irma Romabauer’s tip was to not butter the soufflé dish although another source said to butter the soufflé dish. I am going to withhold any opinion because I’ve never made a soufflé before. Further research for perfection to come later.

The eggs benedict, Anne Burrell, from Secrets of a Restaurant Chef on the Food Network version was accessed. It was a fabulous recipe that was very similar to the Joy of Cooking recipe I’ve used in the past. The hard part is putting all the ingredients together and getting it served onto the table warm.

Poached eggs can be made in advance and kept in cold water bath while the hollandaise is made.

Hollandaise is a hand whipped egg yolk, lemon juice and butter mixture. We followed the Anne Burrell recipe to a “T” and it turned out fabulously. I was just watching The Pioneer Woman on Food Network and she made hollandaise in the blender. That was a new and inventive technique I hope to try in the future!

We invited friends and family members in sharing all the creations. As you can see there was a lot of food to eat! Happy Spring!

Next month we will be celebrating Greek Easter which is celebrated after the Traditional Christian Easter. I’ve never made Baklava before so we will be getting a lesson in that.  I will also be checking out a Cookie Cutter Club bi-annual meeting. Stay tuned in April.

Pizza on the grill – The men take over

The end of the summer and the Labor Day holiday called for an impromtu meeting of The Fearless Cooking Club. This time the men wanted to perfect pizza on the grill, so my hubby showed the rest of the group how it is done.  The fire was all in the men’s corner and the women were prepping the toppings indoors. How else would it be?

Last year I saw a recipe in The Denver Post July 2010 on making a healthy version of pizza dough to grill and to use minimal toppings (i.e. minimal cheese). We loved it so much it became a big hit with our family.  One Fearless Cooking Club spouse had been attempting it this summer so we decided to have a party out of show how to put the pizza pieces together.

Pizza Dough

2 C all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 C all purpose with 1/2 C whole wheat)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp yeast (or 1 packet)

Process the above in a food processor 3-4 times to mix

Add 3/4 C warm water with 2 TBSP olive oil and drizzle into the flour mixture while pulsing the food processor until it forms a ball.

Turn the flour out onto a floured board, knead a few times then cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Cut the dough into four parts and roll out each onto floured board until it forms a round enough disk for a pizza dough base. Place plastic wrap in between each rolled out dough, keep refrigerated until ready to throw on the grill.

You need a pizza stone that is compatible with the high temps of the grill. My hubby is here brushing the stone with olive oil.

Place the dough on the oiled stone, cover and let it bake 5-6 minutes. Get those toppings ready to go because when you flip the dough it is time to top!

We made five pizzas for six people: 1)fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and fresh mozzerella, 2) cream cheese, anchovies, red onion and capers, 3)chicken, red onion, barbeque sauce and parmesan cheese, 4) roasted green chiles, sliced meatballs, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes and onion, and 5) fresh pesto, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.

 

And for dessert fresh Colorado Peach Cobbler

 

It was a clear, beautiful night with a half moon shining down on us from above.  A perfect way to end the summer.