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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Wasted Wednesday: Homemade Kahlua

Allyn and I were talking the other day and the subject of homemade Kahlua came up. Her sister made some for her and Josh for Christmas. I didn’t even know you could make your own!

Searching for DIY projects is where Pinterest really shines. In a few seconds I had several different recipes to try. Ultimately I decided on this one. I liked that it didn’t need weeks to cure and was something I can do pretty easily. My only mishap was breaking the coffee press. That probably had more to do with overusage of the coffee press in the last four years than the recipe itself… maybe even user error, but I don’t think so.

Homemade Kahula
6 cups freshly brewed coffee (this is liquid measuring cups, not coffee cups)
1 lb light brown sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 liter Vodka

1. Mix your hot coffee with the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Let cool.
2. Mix in your vanilla and vodka.
3. Decide on how much you are willing to give to someone else and how much you want to keep for yourself.
4. Bottle.

I wanted to make this as a gift (I really hope my brother-in-law doesn’t read this blog or he won’t be surprised!) and was sort of bummed because I thought I’d have to give it all away. The original recipe states that it makes 1.5 liters and the container I had said it holds 1.5 liters. I’m not sure who was wrong, but we had enough left over to fill a mason jar for our own stock. I plan on giving this as a gift with a pint of cream as the gift receipent loves White Russian cocktails.

I’m sort of curious how it would taste with dark brown sugar or other variations. I may have to experiment and I’ll report back.



My husband, Bryan, and I are big beer drinkers. We are a part of the mug club at our favorite local microbrewery. When out of town we try visit local breweries and micro brew pubs. We’ve even brewed and bottled our own a few times.

A few months ago I started thinking about getting our own kegerator. A homebrewer friend had said that he and several of his friends started putting their homebrew in Cornelius kegs instead of bottling and it had made their lives much better. Cleaning and sanitizing about 50 bottles per batch was not fun.

We received some money for Christmas and I decided we should think about spending some of it towards a kegerator. Bryan was hesitant and needed convincing. So one day I decided to crunch the numbers to see if having a kegerator would offer us any savings. Numbers don’t lie, my friends. And they were pointing in favor of the kegerator.

Here is our reasoning for getting a kegerator:

1) $50-90 savings per month (depending on type of beer and size of the keg) over buying bottled

2) new way to store homebrew instead of bottling

3) if we don’t have the kegerator full we can use it as overflow fridge space

4) Having draft beer in house will keep us from hitting the bars once or twice a week which will add to our savings

5) we’ll become really popular, just kidding.

We put a lot of time and thought into our purchase. There was a surprising number of things to consider when purchasing a kegerator. Do you want to purchase a kegerator or convert a regular fridge? Full size or mini? One tap or multiple? Budget and size were our big factors to consider. We ended up buying this model from Sam’s Club and it was delivered in less than a week.

Bryan spent a couple of hours putting it together, fetching the keg, filling up the CO2 tank, and fiddling with guages, but got it up and running on Friday afternoon.

We are having to rearrange a few things in the house (hello dinning room redo!), but the kegerator is already bringing us much bliss!

Quick photo Bryan took on his phone

Our local wine and beer distributer offers dock sales and we have many keg size and brew choices. Currently we are sticking with 5.17 gallon kegs (smaller than your traditional kegs, which are 15 gallons) of beer that we both like. In the future we may get 5.17 gallon kegs of our personal favorities and take turns as we tend to love different types of beers. When things settle down and we find ourselves with a free Saturday we’ll even homebrew to put in our first corny keg.

So now that you think we’re full fledged alcoholics, what do you think about kegerators? Yea or nay?

Foodie Friday: Pancho’s Dressing

In Memphis we have this restaurant called Pancho’s. Not sure if they exist outside the Memphis area or not, but if not I feel bad for you. Growing up we’d have family dinners there. We even had our favorite waitress. But we moved away and then many of the area restaurants closed and it became long forgotten. Except for their salad dressing. Between the ages of 8 – 16 the only thing I’d order out at restaurants were salads. Pancho’s had an amazing salad dressing. I can’t even describe it, its un-classifiable.

Recently I discovered there’s a Pancho’s Taco near my workplace. It’s sort of like Taco Bell only more delicious and poses a few less food poisoning threats.

Years ago my mom cut out a series of Pancho’s knock-off recipes from our local paper. The dressing recipe has been my recent favorite. Try it on a taco salad, regular salad, an impromptu pasta salad, whatever floats your boat. It would even be a delicious marinade.

PD Sauce

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crushed oregano (or to taste)

Process everything except oregano in a blender until sugar is dissolved. Stir in oregano. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Word of the Day: Alcoholiday

From our beloved mental_floss magazine (seriously, best magazine/blog EVER):

“A 1913 New York Times article on portmanteaus includes the word “alcoholiday,” which describes leisure time spent drinking.”

Yes please.

New York, New York

I hope everyone had a great new year! Josh and I had an incredible time on our trip, and, in New York especially, ate some really amazing food. Since the thought of forgetting any of these places for our next trip terrifies me, I figured I should list them all here. If it helps any of  you as well, then so much the better!

In order of our visit:

  • Ino– I’ve heard nothing but good things about this place (apparently the truffled egg toast is unbelievable), but we just stopped by for a snack to get our day going. I had a cappuccino, he had an americano, and we shared the charcuterie plate. So freakin tasty. Some of the best cured meats I’ve ever had.
  • Shanghai Cafe– We’ve both been missing soup dumplings since our visit to Shanghai last January, and they pretty much don’t exist in Nashville. We didn’t get many dishes here, though we definitely could have. I will say, the pork and leek soup dumplings were almost as good as what I remembered, and the bamboo shoots in brown sauce were tasty.
  • Hide-Chan Ramen– If we had this in Nashville, I’m pretty sure I’d weigh about a million pounds. This is ramen like you’ve never had before. To call those cardboard noodles with their seasoning packet ramen is a total insult to the name (and trust me, I have a certain fondness in my heart for those). This was one of the best bowls of noodles that I’ve ever had. You can get the broth in multiple ways (go for the rich way. Go big or go home) and choose your noodle firmness. My mouth is seriously watering just thinking about this stuff. We also got the pork buns (drool) and some sort of octopus dish that was delicious and had a good wasabi kick. HIGHLY recommend this place.
  • Indian Road Cafe– We stayed with my friend Whitney in the far northern end of Manhattan, and this is her favorite local spot. It’s open for all meals, has an impressive beer and other booze menu, great vegetarian and vegan options, and uses local farmers and butchers. We got breakfast, and it was yummy. This would be my neighborhood place too.
  • Pasha– This was were we celebrated New Year’s, and ate some really authentic Turkish food. I do love lamb. I also drank a lot. It was fun.
  • Banh mi zon– Go here. Order a number 1 sandwich (banh mi). Give thanks for unbelievably delicious food.
  • Panang– Josh spent a good portion of his childhood/teen years in Malaysia, and loves Malaysian food. After eating here, I can see why. My mouth is watering just thinking about their roti canai. They also make in house pineapple vodka. Enough said.
  • Shake Shack– My favorite burger place ever. I have now converted Josh to the cult. The Shack sauce makes it. It doesn’t hurt that they grind their own Angus beef daily. They need to open one here. Preferably yesterday.
  • Momofuku Milk Bar– We stopped here to get some cookies for our flight home, and they were awesome. I keep seeing the recipes floating around online, but people seem to have very mixed results when they try to make them. I might just order a few (cough *dozen* cough cough) instead.

Yeah, we ate a lot.

Can I go back?

Foodie Friday: Salsa

The other day my husband grabbed me and asked earnestly if I was holding something against him. I couldn’t think of anything and asked him what he meant. He was upset because I hadn’t made him salsa in a while. You know something must be good if your husband thinks you’re holding something against him if you don’t make it.

I’ve made this for parties and have been asked to bottle and sell it. I’m not planning to do that, but its nice to know I’ve got something good going on.

Best Salsa of your Life

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
2 10 oz cans of Rotel
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 whole jalapeno, sliced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2-1 cup cilantro (depending on taste)
1/2 whole lime juice

Combine all ingredients in your food processor and blend to your preferred consistency. I have to split mine into three different batches to accomdate my food processor. Make ahead of time and refridgerate. Serve with chips and a smile.

Original source here.

Wasted Wednesday: Rosemary Lime Cocktails

Part of our Christmas dinner included a new cocktail. It was super tasty.

I love making cocktails when people come over. They’re somehow unifying, and making even a simple meal somehow a little special. I made this one a lot over the summer, and everyone loved it. They still talk about it. Makes me feel cool.

The real beauty of this is that I was able to make it all before everyone got to the house. I made half with vodka, like the recipe called for, and the other half with gin, which was super tasty and my personal favorite. Then I set it out in individual servings like so:

I then wrote on the lids with a dry erase marker whether it was the vodka or gin version, and let people pick what they wanted. The best part?  Guests could grab one and take it home with them. Which reminds me, I need to track those jars down…

Rosemary Lime Cocktails

  • Rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
  • Vodka (or gin!)
  • Limes
  • Sparkling water

To make the syrup: combine 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves, then take off the heat and put a lid on it. Let it all steep together for about 30 minutes, then remove the rosemary. Let it cool.

Once cool, combine one shot of syrup, one shot of booze, and a few shots worth of sparkling water. Squeeze a wedge of lime in a mix well. Now, you could combine all of this over ice, or do like we did and put the individual jars in the fridge for a few hours.

Either way, enjoy!