White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Splurges. That is what this is about.

We have gone over all the basic alcohols already. We talked about vodka, rum, tequila, gin, whiskey, and bourbon.

Now I want to talk about two extras to keep in your cabinet on a regular basis- coffee liquor and vanilla vodka.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Confession- when we first started making these I used Kahlua and Smirnoff vanilla vodka. Not that there is anything wrong with that. They make decent drinks.

Then on a recent run to the liquor store (I do that a lot these days) the store clerk suggested Absolut instead of Smirnoff. I honestly thought there couldn’t be that big of a difference but he promised that Absolut was infused with vanilla instead of flavored and that I would love it. Sure. Ok. I’ll try it.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Um. There is no comparison between to the two. Hands down Absolut wins through and through.

Then I met Vivacity’s Turkish Coffee Liquor. Shut the front door. They use freshly roasted coffee and add cardamom, cinnamon, and cocoa nibs. Lordly is it good. Again, wins hands down compared to Kahlua. 

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

There really are a host of finer things in life and I believe these are both worth the splurge.

And with this one little splurge are two great drinks you can make with these two sweet spirits and a little bit of cream. Just adjusting the proportions makes two different, yet equally delicious, drinks.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Make em. Then enjoy them.

One year ago today: Ensalada Mixta

Two years ago today: Real food banana muffins and Tough day buttermilk and rosemary pound cake

White Russian

White Russian (makes 1 drink)

1 ounce coffee liquor
2 1/2 ounces vanilla vodka (plain vodka is traditional)
1 1/2 ounces cream

Pour the coffee liquor into a small glass filled with ice. Then pour in the vanilla (or plain) vodka, then the cream. Stir before sipping if you want.

Spiked Vanilla Latte

Spiked Vanilla Latte (makes 1 drink)

2 ounces coffee liquor
1 ounce vanilla vodka
3 ounces cream or milk (really just use cream)

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 45 seconds to a minute (this creates the foam). Pour into a chilled martini glass and enjoy.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Whiskey Sour

Ahhhh whiskey.


My first exposure to whiskey was a shot I took one night in a bar in Barcelona. I remember thinking “huh… that wasn’t so bad.”

My next encounter with whiskey was also a shot. I was traveling for work and, as I often did, I was having dinner alone at the bar of a restaurant. Some nice guys started chatting with me and eventually we wound up with shot of Jameson. Delicious.

Then one of my friends started ordering Marker’s Mark on the rocks when we went out. That was when I was truly converted to being a whiskey drinker (although Maker’s is technically a bourbon). It took a couple of tries to really get used to sipping it straight but I was hooked from the get go. So carmely. So good.

Whiskey Sour

Both Nathan and I are now regular whiskey drinkers. Pendleton doesn’t last long at our house. It is mostly drank on the rocks, sometimes we drink it neat. Occasionally it winds up mixed in to something. It’s just so darn good.

Bull Rum makes a delicious whiskey that we have been sipping on lately. Finally I made it in to whiskey sours a couple of night ago.

Whiskey Sour

Please please please listen to me when I tell you to not buy sour mix. A whiskey sour is just lemon juice, simple syrup, and whiskey. Separating the components like that makes it a breeze to adjust the flavor. Like it sweeter? Add more syrup. Like is sourer? Add more lemon juice.

I am only sharing one whiskey drink with you today. Either of the drinks I have already shared with you when we talked bourbon are great with just plain whiskey.Whiskey

So make a drink with your whiskey but take time to sip it on the rocks. If you have listened to me and purchased good spirits you wont be disappointed.

One year ago today: Homemade pasta and One year

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour (makes 1 drink)

1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces whiskey
Cherry for garnish

Pour all the ingredients except the cherry into a shaker filled with ice. Shake till well chilled. Pour over ice into a glass. Garnish with a cherry or two. Drink in garden in the sunshine.


Martinis and Gimlets

Gin gets a bad rap.

I think when people think of gin they think of gnawing on a pine tree. While some gin does have a heavy juniper flavor there are so many other varieties and flavors out there. Dismissing gin because you don’t like juniper means you haven’t tried enough gin.

So drink more gin.


I happen to love craft gin. Pretty much all of it. We have Brokers in our cabinet as a basic level dry gin for mixing. Also we have been lucky enough to have three of the very best gins on the market in our cabinet as well. And all three of those are from Oregon.

Aria from Bull Run and Bankers Gin from Vivacity Spirits are both so London dry style gins and are SO different from each other. Bankers is crisp, dry, and citrusy. Aria is a bit softer with a pronounced forward juniper flavor and a lingering finish. Both are stunning.


But then there is the Native Gin from Vivacity as well. I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with Caitlin who is the distiller at Vivacity. She lovingly called Native her gateway gin. And a gateway it is indeed.

See I didn’t drink gin till I tried Native. Last winter at a holiday market was the first time I really tasted gin at all. Yes. You did just read that right. I have been drinking gin for less than six months. Trust me when I say I’m making up for lost time.

Stir a martini don't shake it

After tasting the Vivacity gins I braved buying Native later on that week. I say braved because I was still a tad scared of gin. Buy oh my the gin and tonics we drank…. That bottle disappeared quickly. Then Nathan was gifted Vivacity’s Bankers Gin for Christmas and that was dispatched just as quickly.

Somewhere along this journey of mixing gin and tonics and gimlets I realized I really like gin. One night out with girlfriends I just up and ordered a martini. Holy deliciousness. Seriously. Who knew olive soaked in gin were that good too!?


If you love gin you know what I am talking about. Come over and I will make you are martini. If you don’t like gin, please come over and I will make you a gimlet and let you sip on some Native Gin and you will realize gin wasn’t what you thought it was.


One year ago today: One year anniversary party


Gimlet (makes 1 drink)

Gimlets are traditionally made with Rose’s lime juice but I just can’t (or won’t). I am offering you options here to either use fresh lime or Rose’s.

2 ounces gin (London dry is best)
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
OR 1 ounce Rose’s lime juice

Pour the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake till well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Martini (makes 1 drink)

3 ounces gin (splurge for a great gin)
1/2 ounce dry vermouth (or to taste)
Olives for garnish

Pour the gin and vermouth into a tall glass filled with ice. Stir gently with a spoon till well chilled (we don’t shake martinis because it clouds the gin). Strain into a martini glass and garnish with olives.

Mint Juleps and Old Fashioneds

When I wrote the initial post about how to stock your liquor cabinet I lumped whiskey and bourbon together. While I don’t think it is imperative that you have both I highly encourage it.

Because more liquor is just that- more liquor. And that is rarely a bad thing. Unless it is. Then please don’t.

Both mint juleps and old fashioneds I think are standouts for bourbon. You can make these with whiskey and no one will mind one bit. But buy bourbon and keep it on hand. If you can.

Mint Julep

Mint juleps are a traditional southern drink and the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. Crushing the ice to smithereens is an extra step but one I seriously think you should take. Just wrap the ice in a towel and whack it with your rolling pin. Or do as I did and just whir it in your food processor. Either way you want tiny crushed ice bits. It is way cool when the outside of your glass freezes (ha ha ha).

Mint Julep

Besides if you have been making drinks along with me so far you will already have the mint in your fridge. Or just grow a big patch outside your front door.

Mint Julep

Old fashioneds are a new to me drink. Clearly they are not new new seeing as they are old fashioned (man I am on a roll). When I first started making these I was using real maraschino cherries. Oh my yuck. Thankfully I complained to a friend and he suggested using dark morello cherries from Trader Joe’s. What an easy swap and what a win.

Old Fashioned

Granted the morellos wont last for years on end in your fridge the same way but they are a great treat to appease a toddler while you are whipping up your drinks for the evening. Not that that has ever happened to me. Nor did I make him a virgin tequila sunrise because he wanted a drink like mommy’s.

Old Fashioned

The other ingredient you need to hunt down for old fashioneds are bitters. Bitters are a “liquor that is flavored with the sharp pungent taste of plant extracts and is used as an additive in cocktails.” In this case we are using Angostura bitters. One bottle is relatively cheap and will last maybe forever. Just do it. Being able to make old fashioneds is worth it. 

One year ago today: Earl grey cake with rhubarb cream cheese glaze and Spanish tortilla

Mint Julep

Mint Julep (makes 1 drink)

Leaves from 4-5 mint sprigs
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
Mint sprig for garnish

Place the mint and simple syrup into a old-fashioned glass. Muddle well to dissolve the sugar and to release the oil and aroma of the mint. Fill with crushed ice, pour the bourbon on top, and stir well until the glass becomes frosty. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned (makes 1 drink)

2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 tsp sugar
1-2 morello cherries
1 lemon peel twist

Place the sugar in a glass and drop in the cherries. Muddle into a paste using a muddler or the back end of a spoon. Pour in bourbon, add a dash or two of bitters, fill with ice cubes, and stir.

Margaritas and Tequila Sunrises

Ok so I already told you the first bottle of alcohol I bought was a peppermint schnapps to add to my hot cocoa. While I cannot say this with 100% certainty I am pretty confident the second bottle I bought was tequila.

Many a night in college was spent at the late night half off appetizer and cheap margaritas happy hour at Applebees (I feel like I just outed myself for saying that). Love me a margarita.


At first I only wanted them blended and with strawberry. Over time I moved on to just lime and blended then finally lime on the rocks. Oh the salt. That was my favorite part.

And once there was this one night with a bottle of tequila and another of orange juice. There may have only been three of us that night but we drank the.whole.bottle. One of the three who were there that night refuses to drink tequila sunrises to this day. Hint- it isn’t me.

Tequila Sunrise

A few years ago I traveled to Mexico for work and had the pleasure of learning to sip tequila. Goodness gracious that stuff is delicious. And artisan tequila can be as unique and tasty as craft bourbon. Yes I said it. That is how much I like it.

So picking which tequila drinks to make you was SO easy. These are my go to. Margaritas more so than tequila sunrises because a) they aren’t as sweet and b) I tend to have all the ingredients on hand.


If you have been following along making drinks you will already have all the things you need to make margaritas. Tequila sunrises you simply need orange juice and grenadine. Grenadine last forever by the way. I can’t even tell you how long we have had the bottle that we own.

Tequila Sunrise

So bottoms up. These are two of my faves.

One year ago today: Vanilla poppyseed thumbprint cookies with strawberry jam


Margarita (makes 1 drink)

1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce triple sec
1 1/2 ounces tequila
Salt for rim

Place salt in a shallow dish. Moisten the rim of a rocks glass with a lime, then dip in salt. Add ice to the glass. Fill your shaker 3/4 full of ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. Shake for 30 seconds or till well chilled. Pour over ice into the prepared glass.


Tequila Sunrise (makes 1 drink)

4 ounces orange juice
2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce grenadine

Pour the tequila and the orange juice into a highball glass with ice cubes. Stir. Slowly pour the grenadine around the inside edge of the glass, it will sink and slowly rise to mix with the other ingredients naturally.

Mojitos and Daiquiri

Lets talk rum.

For the sake of this post today we are just going to be chatting about light rum. It is really all I have on hand at the moment too.

I reserve dark rum mainly for cooking (remember the peaches foster?) or for sipping. The difference between light and dark rum is that dark rum is aged longer in a charred barrel. Tastiness. Spiced rum is rum that has had spices or flavorings added to it. Also delicious.


But for mixing I recommend, and use a light rum. Like the Pacific Rum from Bull Run. It is wonderfully coconutty (is that a word?) with hints of vanilla and citrus. Incredible to just sip but oh so good in on my current favorite drinks- mojitos.

Mint MojitoTalk about a drink that makes alcohol shine. A little mint, a little simple syrup, a little lime, a little club soda, and a good dose of rum. The flavor meld so beautifully but you can still taste the full flavor of the rum.

We have a mint patch out in front of our house. I feel a little like it is cheating but I LOVE having mint on hand 24/7 for mojitos (and mint juleps).Mint Mojito

But today isn’t just about mojitos. If you scale things back and don’t add club soda and skip muddling the mint you get a daiquiri. Hang in with me on this one. I am guessing that to you a daiquiri is a slushie type drink that is overly sweet and usually involving strawberries or other fruits. Yes it can be that but the original daiquiri is just simple syrup, lime juice, and rum.



So with one shopping trip and only buying three ingredients (other than rum) you can make both of these tasty drink (if you already went shopping for the things you needed  for vodka collins and cosmopolitans you will have everything expect mint!).

The mojitos do require a tid bit of effort as you need to muddle the mint. Simply that means put it in the shaker, add some sugar, and mush it. The more you mush it the more you get the tasty mint flavor.

And daiquiris? The bulk of the effort is juicing some limes and crushing some ice. A total breeze.

What is your favorite way to drink rum?

One year ago today: Beef with Broccoli (my most popular post) and Lamb Burgers

Mint Mojito

Mojito (makes 1 drink)

6-8 mint leaves
2-3 tsp sugar
Juice from 1 lime
2 ounces rum
4-5 ounces club soda

Place the sugar lime juice and mints in your cocktail shaker. Muddle well. Add ice filling it half full and pour in the rum. Shake for 30 second or until well chilled. Pour over ice into a 14 ounce collins glass. Top with club soda to taste.

This drink is very forgiving so play with proportions till you hit on your perfect combination.


Daiquiri (makes 1 drink)

2 ounces light rum
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Lime wedge for garnish

Pour the light rum, lime juice and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or pour over crushed ice in a rocks glass.

Cosmopolitan and Vodka Collins

Vodka is not particularly high on my list of favorite alcohols. Not that I don’t like it I just have never appreciated it.


Till now. I tasted all three of the vodkas I currently have on hand side by side. What.a.difference. The pretty white bottle with red writing is Medoyeff from Bull Run. I have spent quite a bit of time enjoying other craft alcohol but had never ventured down the path of fine vodka. So worth it. A bit spicy and subtly sweet.

And the things you can do with vodka. I also missed the boat on this. I’ve had my tryst with the other delicious spirits but not much of a relationship with vodka.


The two best things I have found to make vodka are a cosmopolitan and a vodka collins. One is the quintessential girl drink and the other a great summer thirst quencher. I’m completely won over to the I love vodka camp.

Cosmos are oh so sweet and beautifully pink. You can barely tell there is liquor in them.

Vodka Collins are a new drink to me. With just a bit of lemon juice, some simple syrup, and a big splash of club soda you have a ridiculously good light grown up version of lemonade. Try just drinking one.

Vodka Collins

Also today we embark on the mixers journey. I think it is safe to say that as far as I am concerned triple sec needs to be in your liquor cabinet. And club soda and cranberry juice. And limes and lemons on your counter. Just do it. You can make these two drinks (plus so many others) with just these few mixers.

(And I am so loving writing about cocktails)

One year ago today: Planked salmon


Cosmopolitan (makes 1 drink)
(I read many many recipes and settled on the easiest. It is amazing)

1 ounce vodka
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce cranberry juice

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice. Shake the cocktail shaker for about 30 seconds until well chilled. Then, strain into a martini glass.

Vodka Collins

Vodka Collins (makes 1 drink)

2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (recipe below)
5-6 ounces club soda
Lime for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, fresh lime and simple syrup. Shake for 30 seconds or till well chilled. Pour over ice into a tall glass. Top off with club soda and garnish with a lime.

Simple Syrup (makes 1 cup)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water. Turn the heat to medium and stir till warm and all the sugar is dissolved. Cool and use in cocktails. Store in the fridge.


Green Juice

So. Hi.

I’m going to tell you a bit about what I feel makes me a bit of a crazy person. My beliefs around food are well entrenched and mostly well founded. Sometimes by swing a bit further than normal into the woo woo.

Juice is one of those things. I know loads of people who drink and love homemade juice too but for some reason I always feel a bit of a whackadoo when I am sipping a bright green concoction out of a mason jar. Whole new level of hippy.

Green juice

We (Nathan mostly) first started juicing after watching the documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. His very first green juice was this very recipe and he had to choke it down. His juices then transitioned to fruit heavy deliciousness. When he did his 60 day juice fast it was this juice however. Every.day.all.day. Here and there I started making my own juices too. It took a long while before I liked the taste of celery and my juices were still mostly fruit.

Somewhere alone the way I made the leap and I am so glad I did. Green juice is amazing. When I drank this particular batch it felt like I had a cup of coffee. A fantastic jolt of micronutrients and vitamins.

Want to know the very best part? Little loves green juice as much as Nathan and I do. My not quite two and half year old will suck down veggies as juice. It calms this mamas heart when he has been eating nothing but carbs all day to watch him devour juice. Parenting win.

So cheers. Drink up to your health.

Green Juice

One year ago today: Roasted Chickpeas and Avocado and Chickpea Salad

Green Juice (makes approximately 40 ounces of juice)

1 large bunch of kale
1-2 cucumbers
1-2 apples
1 bunch of celery
1 lemon

Cut the peel off the lemon, chop the end off the celery, and slice anything that wont fit through your juicer chute (for me it is normally the apples). Juice and enjoy.

(And sometimes I might just might have juice for lunch while I am making cookies. Makes total sense right?)

Green Juice

Egg Nog Ice Cream (200th post)


For so many reasons.

Two HUNDRED posts. How did we get here?

I am a bit frazzled and wanting a vacation from this little blog. And yet it has been a part of my life for over a year and a half and I can’t walk away.

eggnog ice cream

However I make new recipes on a regular basis so it only makes sense to try and pick up the camera when I am done. I love what a resource this little blog is for me. I reference it on a weekly basis as I make and remake the recipes on here. I have new go to recipes because of how much I have learned over the past 200 posts.

Because of this blog I am have an awesome chocolate cake recipe, I make ice cream, I have developed my theories behind feeding my village, and I have learned to make bread. Oh and I have learned how to take food pictures.

When I originally started it was mainly a way of recording my own recipes. It seems that there are a couple of other people who seem to enjoy this little project too. For you I am beyond grateful. If I were doing this just for me I would have quit long ago.

eggnog ice cream

For my 100th post I made ice cream it felt only fitting to share ice cream for the 200th.

My lovely husband has always stated emphatically that he does not like eggnog. My brother in law made a delicious homemade version earlier this holiday season and converted him to possibly, maybe, outside chance liking it. Then came this eggnog ice cream.

All the deliciousness of eggnog but churned into delicious ice cream. And with bourbon. Please don’t forget or skimp or skip the bourbon. It adds such a perfect depth of flavor.

So cheers. To you I raise my glass (or cup) of eggnog ice cream. Thanks for hanging around.

To 100 more.

eggnog ice cream

One year ago today: Gratin Dauphinoise

Eggnog Ice Cream (makes a little over a quart)
From Alton Brown

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 ounces bourbon

n the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until the yolks lighten in color and the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 40 degrees F, approximately 4 to 6 hours.

Once chilled, process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve as is for soft-serve, or place in an airtight container and put in the freezer for 2 to 4 hours for traditional ice cream

eggnog ice cream

Homemade Marshmallows

These have been a long time coming.

Homemade marshmallows

I got on a marshmallow kick eons ago. I have this absurd love for baking deliciousness to enter into our local county fair. I noticed there was a marshmallow category and couldn’t resist. I made vanilla and strawberry ones leading up to the fair then made the grave mistake of making a new (never tested) chocolate batch to enter.

They never set up. It was also blistering hot in August so that didn’t help much at all. I did get a ribbon but I think it was for the lack of entries in that category more than the quality of my candies.

Homemade marshmallows

The chocolate marshmallows were so incredibly delicious despite how soft they were. They tasted like hot cocoa all by themselves (mental note: go find that recipe…)

However, given the awful cold snap we have been having around here these past few days, homemade marshmallows to go in our homemade hot cocoa were completely in order.

Homemade marshmallows

How do you feel about candy making? There is very little candy making I actually embark in. Marshmallows and caramels are about where I draw the line. it is incredibly intimidating to me. My dad loves divinity so I might attempt that this year? Who knows. Marshmallows however are quite easy.

Homemade marshmallows

And how can you resist this little marshmallow fiend?

He was totally over the moon. He is reaching that super exciting/maddening age where he wants to help with E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. ” I do it myself mama” is uttered about every other minute around here. Mercifully he was entertained while I was making these but he was quick to the kitchen as I was finishing up. “I need a taaaaaaaaste.” And I obliged. Maybe three times. I plead the fifth.

Homemade marshmallows

This recipe makes a great big batch and if you cut them up small you wind up with lots and lots. I think these would make sweet presents tucked into a basket of Christmas goodies.

Or just eat them out of hand. Like we have been doing a lot of.

Homemade marshmallows

Don’t judge.

Homemade marshmallows

One year ago today: Sugar cookies

Homemade Marshmallows (makes 1 9×13 pan)
From Food Network

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a well oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Homemade marshmallows