Friday, December 17, 2010

Easy Hot Chocolate with Amaretto

Yesterday, it was dark and rainy all day long which naturally put me in the mood for hot chocolate.  I debated whether to make it the (better) old-fashioned way, on the stove, or the easy way.  It wasn't a lengthy debate because within seconds I was ripping open a packet of the instant stuff.  Whatever, that's not the point of this post.  What I really want to tell you about is the amaretto.  

I microwaved my mug of hot chocolate powder and water and then ~ this is where it gets good ~ added a splash (about a tablespoon) of amaretto.  Holy cow!  Why had I never done this before?

Seriously, go try it.  You can thank me later.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lemon Juice Substitution

Last night, as I was preparing dinner, I
discovered, well into the cooking process, that
I needed lemon juice and did not have a single
drop of lemon juice in the house. 

I didn't need much and I really, really did
not want to go to the store for one little lemon.

I referenced my food substitutions book and found
that white wine, in an equal amount, is an acceptable
 replacement for lemon juice.  Apparently, this is
common knowledge for some but I never knew
it until yesterday. 

So I tried a Pinot Grigio in my recipe and it worked great!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Dirty Martini

Regarding martinis, I think Dorothy Parker said it best:

"I like to drink martinis.  Two at the most.
Three I'm under the table, four I'm under the host".

Everyone seems to have their own ideas of what makes
a perfect martini.  This is what does it for me:

3oz. vodka
1/4 oz. dry vermouth
1 1/4 oz. olive brine, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
Mix and pour.  Garnish with blue cheese stuffed olives
and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Have you ever tried this?

We had sambuca for the first time last weekend
and absolutely fell in love with it!

This is a great after dinner cocktail
that is said to aid in digestion.  Not that you
need an excuse, but there, now
you have one, just in case.  ;)

One thing about it though:  You have to love the flavor
of black licorice  because that is exactly what it tastes like. 
In fact, I nicknamed it, "Liquid Licorice".

Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur that we enjoyed
served neat, although I understand it can also be served on the
rocks. It's personal preference that I prefer after-dinner
drinks to not be chilled.

A garnish of three coffee beans is customary. 
The waitress said it was symbolic of the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost. 
According to Wikipedia, the beans represent health,
happiness, and prosperity.
Whatever, it's all good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Something Different...

No recipe today, just a cute poem I found in an old book:

Oh - Good Lord

The Horse and Mule live thirty years,
Yet know nothing of wines and beers.

Most Goats and Sheep at twenty die,
And have never tasted Scotch or Rye.

A Cow drinks water by the ton,
So at eighteen is mostly done.

The Dog in milk and water soaks,
And then in twelve short years he croaks.

Your Modest sober, bone-dry Hen,
Lays eggs for Nogs, then dies at ten.

All animals are strictly dry,
They sinless live and swiftly die.

But sinful, Ginful, beer soaked man,
Survives three score years and ten.

While some of us, though mighty few,
Stay sozzled till we're ninety-two.

~Origin unknown


Friday, May 28, 2010

Chicken Tequila Fettuccine

This is what we had for dinner last night.  Every time I make this,
there are never any leftovers!  It's that awesome!

You really must try it. 

Here's the recipe:

1 (16 ounce) package fettuccine pasta
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2-3 jalapeno peppers, minced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
halves or seitan, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

1.In a medium saucepan, saute the cilantro, garlic and jalapeno
pepper in 2 TBSP butter over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the broth, tequila ,and lime juice.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until reduced to
a paste-like consistency. Set aside.

2.Pour soy sauce over the chicken and set aside for 5 minutes.
In a medium sized skillet, brown chicken and remove from pan. 
To that same skillet, add the onion and the red, green
and yellow bell peppers with the remaining TBSP butter
and saute.

3.Meanwhile, cook fettuccine according to package directions.

4.When the peppers have wilted, add the chicken.
Toss and add the reserved tequila/lime paste and cream.
 Bring to a boil. Gently simmer until sauce is thick.
Toss with well drained fettuccine and garnish with cilantro.
5.  Sit back and enjoy the compliments!
Since you have the tequila out anyway,
why not make some margaritas?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spicy Szechwan Shrimp

This dish has a nice spicy kick to it.  So, if you can't handle
the heat, I suggest you try something else!


2 TBSP dry sherry
1 TBSP dark sesame oil
1 TBSP hoisin sauce
1 TBSP dark soy sauce
1 TBSP honey
2 tsp. Asian chile sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
3 TBSP green onion, minced
2 TBSP cilantro, chopped

1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
2 TBSP grapeseed oil

1. In a medium bowl, prepare marinade by combining the sherry,
sesame oil, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, chile sauce,
garlic, ginger, green onion, and cilantro.

2. Add shrimp to marinade; cover and refrigerate
anywhere from 30 min. up to 8 hours.

3. Preheat a wok to high. Add grapeseed oil to coat the wok.
Add shrimp to the wok, reserving marinade.
Stir-fry until shrimp are pink, 1-2 min.
Add marinade and toss to coat the shrimp.
Serve immediately over rice.

This is great with a sweet white wine,
 like a chardonnay
to contrast the spiciness!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tortellini Stew with Red Wine

Open a bottle of red and get ready to make a
hearty and delicious stew!

This is what we had last night along with some
herbed biscuits for dipping. 
Don't worry about leftovers.  This soup freezes really well!

1 pound sausage (or veggie protein crumbles)
3/4c. chopped onion
1c.sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
5 c. vegetable broth
1/2c. red wine
1 (14.5 oz.) can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, with liquid
1c. ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 pound fresh tortellini pasta
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Brown sausage in Dutch oven; drain off fat.  Add onions and saute until tender. Add carrots, celery, vegetable broth, red wine, tomatoes, ketchup, Italian seasoning, and garlic.
Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, prepare tortellini according to package directions; drain and set aside.
Stir in the zucchini, tortellini, red bell pepper, and parsley.  Simmer, covered, for about 25-30.
Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
prior to serving.
Pour yourself some red wine and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dark Rum Cake

You know how there are some recipes in which you really don't notice the fact that it contains alcohol at all?  This is not one of those.  The rum flavor is bold.  That's why it's called Rum Cake.  ;)

So, if you can handle it, here's the recipe:

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup dark rum
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix


1/2 cup butter
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup rum

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan.
Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of the pan.

2.Mix together the cake mix, 1/2 cup dark rum, eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil, and vanilla pudding mix.
Pour batter over the nuts in the pan.  The rum aroma will be STRONG! 

3.Bake for 1 hour. Cool, and invert cake on a serving plate.
Prick the top of the cake all over with a fork.

4.To Make The Glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in 1/8 cup water and the 1/2 cup sugar.
Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove glaze from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup rum.
Drizzle over the top.    

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pan-Fried Steaks with Mushroom and Wine Sauce

I impressed myself with this one! Mr. Tipsy was equally impressed and quickly declared this
"The Best Steak" I've ever made! ;)

The butter, shallots, mushrooms, red wine.... it really was amazing.

Here's the recipe:

black pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
steaks, your choice but make sure they're semi-thick (less than 1")
sliced baby bella mushrooms, 1/2 pkg.
1 minced shallot
2 TBSP real butter
2 TBSP red wine
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil + 1 1/2 TBSP butter

1. Sprinkle steaks with paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme.

2. Heat 2 TBSP butter in skillet over medium high heat.
Add shallots and stir approx. 1 min. Add mushrooms and cook until tender.

3. Add red wine and cook until thickened slightly.

4. Heat olive oil and remaining butter over medium high heat.
Add steaks and cook until desired doneness.

5. Top with mushroom sauce and serve immediately
with the red wine you opened especially for this recipe!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

This is one of those entrees that looks like it it took alot more work than it actually did.  ;)

1 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin
salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2c. sliced mushrooms
3/4c. red wine
3/4c. chicken broth
1 packet dry brown gravy mix
1.  Preheat oven to 350*.

2.  Sprinkle meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste.

3.  Add butter and olive oil to medium high skillet.  Once butter is melted, add pork and sear on all sides.

4.  Remove to a prepared 9x13" baking dish.

5.  Top with onion, celery, and mushrooms.

6.  Pour wine and chicken broth over the top.

7.  Bake approx. 45 min., or until internal temp. reaches 160*

8.  Remove meat to serving dish.  Add gravy mix to wine mixture and stir until thickened slightly.  

9.  Spoon sauce over pork and serve immediately. 

I like to serve this with garlic mashed potatoes, peas, and, of course,
the remaining bottle of red wine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gin Martini Chicken

You don't have to be a big fan of gin martinis
(personally, I prefer vodka) but you do have to love olives!

2 TBSP olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 TBSP real butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup gin
2 TBSP dry vermouth
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place chicken in the skillet, and cook
until browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side.

3.Reduce heat to medium, and add the butter and garlic.
Saute for about 5 minutes, until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant.
4. Pour in the gin, vermouth, lemon juice, and olives;
simmer for about 20 min. or until chicken is cooked through.
For serving, I like to pile the olive mixture on top of chicken breasts, drizzling with extra sauce.

Garlic infused angel hair pasta is an excellent side dish.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rice Wine Vinegar Substitution

I love it when I learn substitutions for ingredients. 

Last night, as I was preparing the rice for my (awesome!) homemade sushi, I discovered that I did not have enough rice wine vinegar.  It's not something I use very often so it didn't occur to me to check that I had enough prior to cooking the rice. 

Anyway, it turns out that you can substitute an equal amount of sweet vermouth for the rice wine vinegar.   

The flavor was good and I would definitely
make the substitution again.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

On Pairing White Wine with Seafood

We've all heard about how you're supposed to pair
white meats with white wine
and red meats with red wine  

Well, I just read why white goes so well with fish. 
According to the March 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine,
white helps to make the fish taste less "fishy".

Here's exactly what is says:

"Diners have long paired fish with white wine, and now scientists know why:  They've discovered that iron present in red (but less so in white) brings out seafood's fishy aftertaste."
So now, next time someone says they would prefer something else,
you can come back with a scientific explanation for your wine choice.  ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sirloin Steaks with Red Wine and Cognac

These steaks call for garlic, red wine, cognac, fire
- sounds awesome already, right? 

Not only do these steaks taste amazing, the presentation is gorgeous.

You will need:

4 sirloin steaks, medium thickness
freshly ground pepper
1 TBSP lemon pepper
1 tsp. salt
5 TBSP real butter
3 cloves garlic
1/2c. red wine (I like Cabernet for this recipe)
3 TBSP cognac
1/4 c. chopped green onions
1 shallot, chopped
1/2c. heavy cream

1.  Grind fresh pepper over steaks; sprinkle with lemon pepper and salt.

2.  Melt butter over medium-high heat. 
Add steaks and cook to desired doneness.

3.  Add garlic and wine.

4.  Pour cognac over the steaks and light with your lighter.  The flames burn off fairly quickly. 
Remove steaks and set aside.

5.  To the pan, add green onions, shallot, and heavy cream. 
Cook and stir until hot. 

6. Spoon sauce over meat and serve immediately.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vegetarian White Bean Stew

 This is what I served for dinner last night. 
It's a super easy one-pot dinner that is healthy, filling, and absolutely delicious!

This recipe makes a lot but it does freeze very well.

This is what you need:

1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 green chile peppers, seeded and minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1c. white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)
2 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 1/2 TBSP ground cumin
2 bay leaves

1.  In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. 
Add onion, garlic, and chile peppers.  Stir and cook
until onions begin to soften.

2.  Add all of the remaining ingredients.

3.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 90 minutes.

4.  The white is already open, so pour a glass, relax,
and enjoy the amazing aromas that are filling your kitchen!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kicked Up Chicken Broth

If you don't make your own chicken broth (who does, really?),
here's a tip from Julia on how to jazz up the store bought stuff: 

Add white wine! 

I've tried this a few times and it really does enhance the flavor.
I mean, it's still chicken broth, but its really good chicken broth! 

Here is what you do, according to Julia
in Mastering the Art of French Cooking:

Start with 2c. store-bought chicken broth.

Add 3 TBSP each: sliced onions, carrots, and celery,
1/2c. dry white wine, 2 sprigs of parsley, 1/3 bay leaf,
and a pinch of fresh thyme.

Simmer 30 min., strain, and it's ready to go in your recipe.

Bonus:  You now have a bottle of white open,
so you might as well have a glass!

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