Homemade Blueberry Wine Recipe

Last summer, we happened upon an AMAZING deal on fresh blueberries at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. As we looked at the cases upon cases of blueberries that were available at that ridiculous price, Porter and I had the exact same thought: We should buy a TON of these, and make wine!

We had made a batch of blueberry wine from frozen blueberries a few years ago, and that was amazing – fresh could only be better, right?

RIGHT!

We made something like 10 gallons of this, but I’ve pared our recipe to be done “by the gallon”, so you can adjust for how many blueberries you have to work with.

No fresh blueberries? No problem, just substitute an equal weight of frozen blueberries! I would put them through a food processor, rather than squish them by hand – freezing and thawing berries breaks them down well.

As is, this batch ran pretty dry at the end, so we sweetened it up with a bit of sugar at the end. We like our wine pretty sweet, though.

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

Fresh Blueberry Wine Recipe

Ingredients, per gallon of water
3-4 lbs fresh blueberries
2 lbs white sugar
1 gallon spring water (will use slightly less)
1/2 tsp acid blend
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp wine tannin
1 packet Red Star “Pasteur Red” yeast
Wine stabilizer of choice (optional)

Equipment:
Large pot
Fermenter bucket and lid
1 or 2 lass carboys & stoppers
1 air lock
Siphon, siphon tubing.

Rinse and pick through blueberries, removing any that are moldy, etc. Place in a large pot, along with the sugar. Using a potato masher or VERY clean hands, stir and mash blueberries.

Add water, stir well. Heat to ALMOST boiling, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir in acid blend, enzyme, nutrient, and tannin.

Pour mixture into a freshly sanitized fermenting bucket. Cover with sanitized lid and air lock, allow to cool to room temperature (overnight).

The next morning, give the mixture a quick stir with a long, sanitized spoon, and – using sanitized equipment – take a gravity reading of the liquid (strain out any blueberries). Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)

Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized cover and air lock. Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go!

After a week or so, use your sanitized siphon setup to rack the must into a freshly sanitized carboy. Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.

Using sanitized equipment, rack the blueberry wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.

Rack one more time, leave it for another 3 months or so.

When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling.

Follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!).

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Boozy Crème Brûlée

No breakfast or brunch today – I’m in the mood to share my crème brûlée recipe instead! Well… I suppose you could present crème brûlée for a brunch option…. 🙂

Crème brûlée is one of those desserts that is considered fancy, high end, and pretentious enough, that there is this assumption that it’s difficult or finicky to make… but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Crème brûlée is a very quick, simple custard that is baked at a moderate temperature to set it. It comes together in just minutes, in terms of actual labour… and it’s sure to impress!

This is my basic Boozy Crème Brûlée from The Spirited Baker. Like many desserts, this one adapts very well to use liqueur as a flavouring agent – in particular, cream liqueurs. This works well with *any* cream based liqueur, so go with what you love. My personal favourites are Amarula and Baja Rosa, and Bailey’s is always a popular option.

Whatever liqueur you choose, you’ll find this to be a very easy, go-to recipe when you want something a little more elegant for dessert. Be sure to order your copy of The Spirited Baker for more easy, interesting, and delicious desserts flavoured with various spirits and liqueurs!

Enjoy!

Basic Boozy Crème Brûlée Recipe

8 Egg yolks
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Cream liqueur of choice
1 1/2 cups Heavy cream
1/4 cup Sugar

Preheat oven to 325ºF (160°C)

Combine egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl, whisking until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. Add approximately half of the liqueur, whisking until incorporated and smooth.

In a small saucepan, combine remaining liqueur with heavy cream, heating to a simmer. Remove from heat. Slowly drizzle hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour into 6 ramekins or custard cups, and arrange in a large pan. Carefully add water to the large pan, till about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until custard is set, but wiggles in the middle – about 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool to room temperature, and then chill for at least 2 hours.

When ready to serve, sprinkle 2-3 tsp sugar evenly over each custard. Use a small, hand held kitchen torch to melt sugar.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Canadian Food Experience Project: Newfoundland Partridgeberry Wine Recipe

A month ago, I joined the Canadian Food Experience Project, writing about my memories of a uniquely Canadian food experience.

The Canadian Food Experience Project began on June 7 2013. Per the project:

“As we share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.”

This month’s topic is “A Regional Canadian Food”.

My mind immediately went to the years I spent living in Newfoundland. Newfoundland has a unique culture – even within the Atlantic Canadian provinces alone! – and that really comes through in their food. I was spoiled on some of the best seafood ANYWHERE, and was always trying new things.. rabbit stew. Flipper pie. Every manner of deep fried seafood imaginable. Unique preparations of fish and shellfish, and the most wonderful game meats.


St. John’s … this was home!

I love moose stew, and I’m proud to say that I make the most insanely amazing moose stew ever. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my hands on any moose in the past 7 years… and I’d be afraid to admit to just what depravity I’d agree to, just to get some at this point!

Part of what makes my moose stew insane is the inclusion of partridgeberry wine – a unique wine that is locally produced and readily available in Newfoundland. The tart, bright flavours of the wine work so beautifully with the gamey flavor of the meat… oh, it’s a work of art. I really, really need to get some moose meat soon. (Sorry, I mean.. “Gotta get me moose, b’y!”).


Yum. These guys are EVERYWHERE, back home. So tasty.

ANYWAY.

Partridgeberries are indigenous to Newfoundland, as well as Scandinavia. They’re tart little red berries that taste like a cross between a cranberry and a blueberry… you may know them as “lingonberries”, if you’re a fan of IKEA!

They are one of a few amazing berries that grow wild in Newfoundland, and they’re very popular in Newfoundland cuisine, appearing in jams, sauces, in candies, on cheesecake… and in wine. You can buy partridgeberry wine in local wine stores back home, as there are several Newfoundland wineries that specialize in it.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy partridgeberry wine here in Minnesota, anywhere I’ve seen. Homesick desperation is one of the mothers of invention in my kitchen, and a few years ago I created a recipe for partridgeberry wine. We were able to buy a case of the berries from a local wholesaler!

This makes a very full bodied, gorgeous wine. It’s a fairly sweet wine, with a great mouth feel .. very delicious, and very luxurious. Definitely worth the effort of finding a case of partridgeberries!

If you haven’t attempted making wine before, don’t be intimidated! Check out our primer to home brewing, it starts here, with parts 2 and 3 here and here. Just a small handful of entries, and you’ll be good to go!

Unable to get your hands on partridgeberries? I actually designed a “faux partridgeberry” wine recipe a while back, click here to go there!

Partridgeberry Wine
Makes about 5 gallons

15 pounds frozen partridgeberries
13 pounds granulated sugar
5 gallons water
2.5 teaspoon acid blend
2.5 teaspoon pectic enzyme
1 teaspoon nutrients
5 pounds golden raisins
1.25 teaspoon tannin
1 package Red Star Montrechet wine yeast

Allow the partridgeberries to partially thaw, then coarsely chop them (A food processor comes in handy!).

Place berries and sugar into a large (7+ gallon) pot, stir until well combined. Add water, stir well to dissolve sugar. Heat to ALMOST boiling – stirring constantly – then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in acid blend, enzyme, nutrient, and raisins.

Pour mixture into a freshly sanitized 1.5 gallon fermenting bucket. Cover with sanitized lid and air lock, allow to cool to room temperature (overnight).

The next morning, give the mixture a quick stir with a long, sanitized spoon, and – using sanitized equipment – take a gravity reading. Keep track of the number! (This is an optional step, but will allow you to calculate your final ABV %)

Sprinkle yeast into fermenter, cover with sanitized cover and air lock. Within 48 hours, you should notice fermentation activity – bubbles in the airlock, carbonation and /or swirling in the wine must. This means you’re good to go!

After a week or so, use your sanitized siphon setup to rack the must into a freshly sanitized 6- 6.5 gallon carboy. Put the carboy somewhere cool (not cold!), and leave it alone for a month or so.

Using sanitized equipment, rack the partridgeberry wine off the sediment, into a clean, freshly sanitized 5 or 6 gallon carboy. Cap with sanitized airlock, leave it alone for another 2-3 months.

Rack one more time, leave it for another 3 months or so.

When your wine has been racked a few times and shows NO more fermenting activity for a month or so (no bubbles in the airlock, no more sediment being produced, you can move on to bottling.

Follow the instructions on your selected type of wine stabilizer to stop fermentation. For potassium sorbate, this needs to be done 2-3 days before bottling.

Using sanitized equipment, take a gravity reading, then rack the wine into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork. (We like to use these for corking our homemade wine. Easy to use – no special equipment needed! – easy to uncork, and – should you have any wine left in your bottle after serving (pfft!), the “cork” is easily replaced for temporary storage!).

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Ginger 3 Ways – Candied Ginger, Ginger Syrup, Ginger Sugar

Here at the Porter house, we love ginger. We usually have some fresh ginger root in the house, and go through it pretty fast – sometimes when cooking Indian cuisine, sometimes Asian… but a LOT of the time, we use it for making ginger syrup.

Ginger syrup is great for flavoring and sweetening tea, and also in cocktail making. It’s easy and simple to do, and lasts a long time when refrigerated.

Recently, we’ve taken to being more efficient with the ginger we use for making ginger simple syrup. Rather than throwing away the “spent” ginger, we now use all of it, turning out 3 separate ginger products: ginger syrup, candied ginger, and ginger sugar. Simple ingredients – just fresh ginger, sugar, and water to produce everything! Let me show you how…

First, we start with the candied ginger…

Candied Ginger

Ginger Root – We usually use about 1 1/5 lbs
Water – About 4-5 cups per lb of ginger
Sugar – About 2.5 cups per lb of ginger
Pan spray

Use a vegetable peeler to peel all of the skin (rind?) off of the ginger, carefully slice it all into uniformly thin pieces. (I like to aim for between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick). Place in a large pot with the water, cover, and cook for about 45-55 minutes on medium heat. The ginger should be tender.

Strain off the ginger, reserving ALL of the cooking water (This is what you’ll use for the ginger syrup!). Add your cooked ginger back to the pan, along with the sugar and about 1/4 cup of cooking water per lb of ginger. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down slightly and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

While you’re waiting, set up a baking rack (we use one with a small grid) over some parchment or wax paper, and spray it with pan spray.

Around the 15-17 minute mark, the water will evaporate and the whole thing will crystallize and go dry – once it starts happening, things go quickly! As soon as it’s all dry, dump it all out over your baking rack, spreading and separating the pieces as needed. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.

(Instructions continue under the ginger sugar section!)

Next, we do the ginger syrup…

Ginger Simple Syrup

Ginger cooking water – however much you have left
Sugar

Measure the remaining cooking water, and measure out an equal amount of sugar. For every cup of ginger water, you’ll use a cup of sugar, etc.

Add measured ginger water and sugar to an appropriately sized pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until water dissolves. Turn the heat up a little, and bring it JUST to a boil.

Once syrup starts to boil, remove from heat, strain through a fine wire mesh into a clean bowl/pot, and let it cool completely.

Transfer to an appropriate container – we’ll usually use clean wine bottles with “tasting” corks, but mason jars work well too. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Finally, the ginger sugar…

Ginger Sugar

This isn’t so much a recipe, as a minor clean up procedure!

Go back to your candied ginger, after it’s completely cool. Transfer the pieces to an airtight container, gently knocking them against each other (I’ll roll them in my hands) to dislodge any loose, excess sugar. Cover tightly, store at room temperature.

You’ll be left with a fair amount of excess sugar, mostly clumpy. Run all of that through a food processor until it’s as fine as you’d like it – this will depend on your desired uses for it. Transfer to an airtight container, store at room temperature.

The candied ginger should last 2-3 weeks when stored properly, IF it stays around that long. It’s great for snacking, baking with, topping desserts with (sliced up!) and even making ice cream out of!

The ginger sugar last much longer, maybe 4-6 months? I don’t know, it’s usually gone before it goes bad. Use it to add a bit of extra flavor to your baking, to coffee or tea, or to rim your cocktail glasses!

Fromage Fort, or “How to Make Garlic Cheese Bread like a BALLER”

Recently, I woke up from dreaming about Fromage Fort. Literally, I woke up to making a mental list of the bits of cheese that we had in the fridge, if we had any appropriate wine already open, etc.

To be fair, it HAD been a while since I’d made the stuff. It was just an odd thing to randomly wake up to, you know?

Anyway, for those not familiar with it, Fromage Fort (“Strong cheese”) is recycling at its finest. This is a ridiculously delicious cheese spread that you make from whatever odds and ends of leftover cheese you may have laying around in your fridge. Add some garlic, white wine, maybe some fresh herbs… yeah. Awesome stuff!

Our favorite use of the spread is to lightly toast some baguette slices in the oven, spread liberally with fromage fort, and then broil until it’s all melty and amazing. That’s actually what my husband woke up to for breakfast, that morning! SO GOOD.

Like some of my other recipes, this is less a “recipe”, so much as “guidelines and suggestions”. This is very much a case of your final product being very much the result of what ingredients you have on hand, and your personal tastes!

The amounts of ingredients that you’ll use will vary, depending on a few factors.

– Generally speaking, for every 1/2 lb of cheese, I’ll use 1/-8-1/4 cup of white wine. This depends on how soft the cheese are that I start with, and how soft I want the final spread. More soft is great for a dip, less soft is great for spreading on a baguette and broiling.

– If I’m using a lot of hard cheeses, I’ll add a couple Tablespoons of butter for every 1/2 lb of cheese.

– I like to use a ton of garlic, maybe 2-3 cloves per half lb. Some people will use as little as ONE clove per POUND of cheese. Do what you like!

– Fresh herbs: Use whatever you like, in whatever amount you like. Start with a little, taste, and add more if desired.








Jalapeno Artichoke “Backfire” Dip

Recently, my friend Susi made a VERY quick trip to Minnesota. She moved away almost two years ago – on the DAY of our tornado, no less. Great timing on her part, but we’ve missed her ever since. As has become tradition, we met up at Psycho Suzi’s for drinks, nibbles, and great conversation.

While the dip itself is listed as gluten free, the normal accompaniment – baguette – is decidedly NOT… and I always had to order mine with corn chips. That night, I decided that the time had come to start making it at home. The dip is just far too good to reserve for the times when we’re willing to brave the loud, sensory-overload environment at the restaurant. I bought the ingredients the next morning, banged out a recipe, and … Wow.

I had decided to make my version creamier and cheesier than the source material, and added white wine and provolone. The end result is nothing short of spectacular. Definitely the best artichoke dip I’ve ever had!

This makes a fair amount of dip, so it’s great for parties. If you – like us – only have a couple of people to feed, never fear – it reheats well, and it’s just way too addictive to go to waste. You will plow through a batch in no time!

Jalapeno Artichoke "Backfire" Dip






Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Cocktail Recipe: The “Drinking in LA”!

So, as I mentioned in an earlier entry, I ended up creating a cocktail while out in LA, “competing” on MasterChef. Well, more accurately, I created it while being holed up in my hotel room!

Anyway, a few days after arriving, we were allowed to go to a nearby mall… it was like getting sprung from jail! We were allowed to roam free for a couple hours, no babysitters, no need to ask permission to go to the washroom. It was kind of awesome, even if I hate malls. FREEDOM!

You know what else is awesome? The fact that you can buy booze at Target in LA.

Now, I’ve seen booze for sale in grocery stores before – in Chicago. Wish it could be that way here in MN, but apparently buying booze on a Sunday means you’re going to hell, soo… yeah. Anyway, seeing booze on a random endcap in a Target was just so novel, I had to giggle. Then, I HAD to buy something, just to say I did.

I settled on a bottle of Malibu. It seemed appropriate, between all the palm trees everywhere, and the general atmosphere of the whole experience. I imagine that this is what college feels like (I wouldn’t know!), and to me, Malibu = young drinking, haha!

I’d already had some UV Pink Lemonade Vodka in the hotel room from an earlier grocery store run, along with various mixers and everyday drinks. Sure, there was a hotel bar, but I am cheap.. AND a poor tornado victim, so was not going to be paying hotel cocktail prices. Best to plan ahead! Let’s be clear – there was a LOT of drinking happening out there. I’ll never look at a hotel room disposable coffee mug – or boxes of wine – the same way again.

As you already know, I like my drinks to basically be “diabetes in a glass”. Sweet, fruity, and fairly girly… and the Drinking in LA certainly fits the bill. It’ll also sneak up on you, so be careful. Very easy to get thoroughly trashed on this, without even realizing it. Just the other day, my LA roomie asked me if I had slipped MDMA into our drinks, LOL!

Anyway, in honor of my MasterChef experience, I am eschewing our typical professionally styled drink photography setup – and proper glasses – to show the cocktail in its original form. Sure, there were the small rocks glasses available in our hotel rooms… but the disposable coffee mugs afforded us portability. Not only were we able to bring our paper cups out to the pool area (no glass allowed, naturally)… but we could put the plastic lids on and proceed to drink our asses off in the main hotel lobby – even in the bar area – undetected!

A neat trick, and something to keep in mind for conventions, haha! I have no idea why this never occurred to me before.




Ok, hubby won’t let me get away with NOT posting a proper drink photo…




Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Buffalo Chicken Buns

As you may know, I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy a few years ago. Not Celiac, mind you, just an inflammatory thing, secondary to my autoimmune hypothyoid. Big fun, made my life miserable, gave me fibromyalgia… and then everything cleared up once I went gluten free.

At the time, my Dr offered me a slight bit of hope: Go off gluten for a 2-3 years, things MAY heal themselves, and the allergy could clear up. MAYBE.

Flash forward a year and a half. I’d been really good, and only caved once, early on. (Got so violently ill, I swore off gluten for the rest of my sentence!). One day, I made a batch of bagels for my husband that looked and smelled SO good, I caved. I rationalized that it had been long enough. I mean, I tend to heal ridiculously fast, so odds were good, right? I rationalized that eating a bagel would be done “in the name of SCIENCE!”, and how would I know how things were progressing, if I didn’t test it?

I rationalized that any fallout from it would be worth it. I mean really, those suckers were loaded with toasted caraway! I ate one, with no problem. I savored it, angels sang, my world became more colorful in that instant, it was breathtaking.

So, I ate 3 more. Well… more like inhaled. I figured hey, if I am going to get sick, I am going to make it really worth my while! If I’m going to do the time… 😀

Well, I didn’t get sick. No pain, no fibro, absolutely no lingering evidence of the hell that gluten put me through just a couple years ago. WOO HOO!

I’ve been on the most ridiculously hedonistic gluten bender ever since. Bagels! Baguettes! A real doughnut! Loads of bread. I thought… “Oh yes, the goddess of gluten is back in full effect!”

Except not. BOO. Took a week or two, and then the problems set in again.

So, I’m back to gluten-free, but would love to share one of the very first things I baked after being sprung from “gluten free jail”: Buffalo Chicken Rolls. I developed this recipe a few years ago, and have been dreaming of it ever since! So ridiculously good.

Enjoy!




Buffalo Chicken Rolls

(Makes 6 giant buns)

1 1/2 cups warm – not hot! – water*
4 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup (or more, to taste) hot sauce

2 cups finely shredded colby jack cheese

* For a more complex and adult flavor, use a 12 oz bottle of beer in place of the water (We used a light tasting home brewed corn beer). Pour beer into a microwave safe bowl, heat til warm (not hot).

Stir yeast and sugar into warm water, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
(OR: mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes or so!)

Once dough is fully kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, make your filling:

Freeze chicken breasts just long enough to firm them up a bit, maybe 10-15 minutes. Trim, chop into very small cubes.

In a large pan, saute onion and celery in vegetable oil, until vegetables are soft and translucent. Add chicken, garlic, and hot sauce, continue cooking until chicken is fully cooked. Set aside, allow to cool to room temperature.

Once dough has doubled in size and chicken mixture has cooled, roll dough out on a floured surface. Aim to make it a large rectangle, say 15 x 20″ or so.

Scatter half of the cheese across the rolled dough, avoiding the very edge of the rectangle.

Evenly scatter the chicken filling over the cheese, avoiding the edge of the dough.

Scatter the remaining cheese over the chicken mixture, once again avoiding the edge of the dough.

Starting with one of the shorter edges, tightly roll the dough up.


Generously grease or spray a 9x 13″ baking pan.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 6 even rounds. I recommend wiping your knife down between each slice, to keep them looking clean and pretty.

Carefully place each roll into the pan, spacing them evenly.

Cover pan with plastic wrap, allow to rise one more time – about 45 minutes. While waiting for the buns to rise, heat oven to 375F.

(This is what they looked like after the final rise!)

Once final rise is over, pop the pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and perfect.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, if you’re patient. Serve hot, preferably with a drizzle of ranch dressing! (Hey, the whole idea was themed around cinnamon buns, may as well continue that thought in serving them!)



Hearty Corn and Black Bean Soup

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Spring is on its way, but there is still time to take advantage of “soup season”! This recipe – from my upcoming corn cookbook – won’t disappoint: it’s thick, warm, rich, and satisfying!

Hearty Corn and Black Bean Soup

2 large onions, chopped
1 lb bacon, chopped
2 lbs dry black beans
12 1/2 cups chicken stock
1-2 bottles of a light tasting beer, such as Corona
6 ears fresh corn, husks removed.
Juice and zest of 2 limes
6 ribs celery, chopped
3 green bell peppers, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large, heavy pot, saute onions and bacon until bacon is cooked but not crispy. Add black beans, chicken stock, and beer, bring to a boil. Once mixture comes to a boil, stir it once, cover it with a lid, and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 1 hour.

Once an hour has passed, bring pot to a boil once more. Reduce heat, simmer for one hour, stirring frequently.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut kernels off the ears of corn, add to a pot along with lime juice/zest, celery, peppers, garlic, and seasonings. Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, or until beans and all vegetables are tender, and soup is THICK.

Serve hot, topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and /or crumbled bacon.

Note: water or chicken broth can be substituted for the beer, if so desired.

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How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

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Jalapeno Cheddar Beer Bagels

You know, for being married to someone who’s allergic to gluten, my husband still manages to be utterly spoiled in the breads department.

The other day, I decided to treat him to a batch of my homemade bagels. It’s been a while, I definitely haven’t made them since the tornado, so it’s probably been over two years. Wow!

From the smell of these, right from the raw dough making through to the finished product… I would think that they were very much worth the wait. Hell, I seriously debated whether I should just snarf one and accept the week or two of serious fibromyalgia that THAT would mean, to me. I didn’t… but OH so close! So close. Also, there are three of them left in the kitchen right now, and my husband is away at work… oh, willpower!

Anyway.

Bagel making is a little bit of effort, but *nothing* beats fresh, homemade bagels. These are traditional bagels – chewy, dense, and wonderful. As we’re big fans of the cheddar / jalapeno / beer, I created this recipe to encompass those flavors. Sigh. I miss bagels…

Says my husband:

“They’re SO good; no bagel from a store can compete with an oven fresh bagel bursting with flavor and that amazing texture.”

Anyway, I’m gonna go ahead and post this recipe, so I can move on to something else… maybe distract myself from the thought of those golden rounds of heaven on the kitchen counter.

Enjoy!