Irish Coffee

If you have been following me on Instagram, you will have noticed my Friday evening Irish Happy Hour.

I will have you know, I continued that happy hour when I awoke Saturday morning.  Irish coffee and cinnamon sugar toast.  It gets better…the piece of bread that I toasted was none other than the heel of the loaf.  Fist pump.  The coffee, french press.  Double fist pump.  The entertainment, Dirty Dancing ( it is back on Netflix, baby!)  I am just pumping my fists in the air at this point.

Living right on a Saturday morning.

But let me stop talking so you can start drinking.

Irish Whiskey.  Jameson is my go to.  I honestly don’ t know of any other.  Who wants to school me?  I am up for some learning (and tasting!)

Brown sugar for sweetness .

Everything lined up and out and ready makes drink mixing a breeze.  It actually makes baking and cooking easier too.

Just a tablespoon.  A lot for this coffee with cream girl.

Coffee.  Drip.  French Press.  Keurig.  Vacuum.  Brew it.  Keep it hot.

You guessed it…pour it.  My favorite sight of any morning (or afternoon or evening).

Fill to about 3/4th full or a smidgen less.   Less means more cream later.

Whiskey in.  Stir.  Butter toast and sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar.  Slice in to triangles because that is how mom did it.

Heavy cream.  Whisk for about one minute just prior to pouring ever so gently over the bottom side of a spoon.  The cream layer is called a cuff.

Take one more crooked picture for good measure.

And when you can take it no longer ….

 

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand. 

- An Irish Blessing

Irish Coffee
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Freshly Brewed Hot Coffe
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 + ½ Ounces Irish Whiskey (Jamison) = 3 Tablespoon or 1 jigger
  • Heavy Cream, slightly whipped – whisked for about one minute immediately before using (about ¼ cup per serving)
Instructions
  1. Fill a mug about ¾ full with hot coffee. Add brown sugar and stir until it is dissolved.
  2. Gently pour in Irish whiskey and stir.
  3. Ever so gently, pour slightly whipped cream over a spoon onto the top of the coffee.
  4. Serve hot and drink immediately – pulling the hot whiskey coffee through the slightly whipped cream.

 

 

Peppermint Infused Vodka // Peppermint Vodka Hot Cocoa

Can we discuss the fact that while backing out of my garage yesterday morning, and onto my  driveway  that was covered in snow and snow drifts that were up to my bum (I’m short, this isn’t an amazing feat by any means)…that I may have careened slighty into my yard…but who knows, my driveway could just be amazingly wide, it is anyone’s guess. Everything is just white and frozen.  There was no harm done, however, I am sure my neighbors are concerned about my driving skills, or lack there of…so perhaps my pride is a touch bruised.  It is probably best just to give me ample space and room…


You might be wondering why I haven’t shoveled or snow blown my drive and that is a legitimate concern/question and before Sunday, before we are blasted with another round of the fluffy white stuff, I will have to bundle up and find that darn snow shovel (which has been staring at me from the corner of the garage since well, last winter) and dust off the cobwebs and get in one hell of an arm workout.

But I haven’t done so yet, because I have a Jeep.  And well, it glides right over a good sized drift, but come Sunday…it might be a bit much and well I will feel bad for the pizza delivery man or even the postmaster, since I am not on good terms with him as it is.  Update…my drive was shoveled when I returned home from work.  I confess, I may have snagged a good one :)   So much for getting in that arm workout.

But right now, my driveway looks like I took a shot of this peppermint infused vodka and then quite possibly chased it with a spiked hot chocolate all before heading to work.  Which would have been a decent idea if I were able to work from home…which makes me believe that it is a good thing I don’t.

You might be thinking…peppermint – eh.  December is behind us and thus are the holidays and well, so should peppermint.  But I am guessing that you have dismantled the Christmas tree(s) and the like and have a few rogue candy canes laying about the house, taking up counter/drawer space until you get sick of pushing them aside and tossing them come Groundhogs Day.   I didn’t even have a Christmas tree this year and that is the truth…Candy Canes tend to materialize out of thin air and then linger well beyond their welcome.

Do me a favor, round up 5 candy canes, a mason jar (or any glass jar) plus lid, some vodka that I am sure lives in your freezer behind the frozen peas…and before no time (30 minutes actually), you will find yourself snuggled up on your couch with a mug of spiked peppermint hot chocolate, topped high with whipped cream…thinking of the new year and what lies ahead and perhaps taking pause and reminiscing on the year that has just passed …or you are just watching another Orange is the New Black or Downton Abbey on Netflix and need something to take off the edge of a crazy ass work week.  Either way, I get ya.  I totally do.

Peppermint Vodka // Peppermint Vodka Hot Cocoa
 
Ingredients
  • 5 Candy Canes
  • 1+1/2 Cups Vodka
Instructions
  1. Place candy canes in a plastic bag ( i.e. ZipLock) and using a hammer or rolling pin, crush candy canes until they are near a fine powder. Pulsing the candy canes in a food processor will also do the trick (but it makes more dishes)
  2. Place crushed candy canes in a quart sized mason jar and pour vodka over. Replace lid on mason jar and swirl contents gently.
  3. Let mixture infuse for 30 minutes.
  4. Once infused, strain contents through a cheese cloth. Return to original mason jar and place in refrigerator.
  5. Good for about a month if refrigerated and sealed.

 

For hot chocolate….

1 cup of your favorite hot cocoa – whatever type you are able/willing to make will do the trick.  I have used everything from homemade stovetop the way grandma used to make to packets of powder to K-cups.
2 ounce ‘shot’ of peppermint infused vodka
Whipped Cream
Crushed peppermint sticks (optional)
Shaved chocolate (optional)

Make hot chocolate in your favorite mug.  Stir in peppermint infused vodka.  Top with ample amounts of whipped cream.  Sprinkle on crushed peppermint and shaved chocolate.  Drink.  Repeat.

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake and a Guest Post

Well, Hello there!

Katie from Katie at the Kitchen Door and I are joining forces today.  If you have never been to her blog – you must, you just have to head over there.  Katie is oh so talented…her talents in the kitchen and behind the camera are out of this world.  When she asked me to write a guest post for her blog, while she is on vacation, I couldn’t but jump at the chance.

And if you are visiting my little space on the Internet because you are wandering over here from Katie’s blog….then you totally know what I am talking about.  She is awesome, right?!?  And welcome!  I am so very glad to have you here today.

Let’s get going!

The sun is shining.  The trees are budding.  Daffodils are waving ever so slightly in the breeze.  Tulips are testing the waters…soon to be in full bloom.  The grass is growing fast and furious, aided by the April showers.  Spring is starting to slowly and finally roll into Ohio.  It has been a long winter and we want nothing more than warm afternoons and long lazy evenings.  Spring in Ohio requires us to practice patience.

In the spring, we have this internal urge to clean out the old and bring in new.  Start fresh – Spring, to me,  has always represented a new year more so than January 1st ever has.  Something takes hold and before we know it windows are being cleaned, floor boards scrubbed, closets sorted and organized, and if you are me – fridges and freezers are overhauled.  It has been a long winter – heaven only knows what I have stocked and stored away over the cold months.  I am like a squirrel hoarding nuts.  So it was no surprise to me when I found 2 extra bags of fresh frozen cranberries in my freezer last week.  Left over from Thanksgiving/Christmas.  Stored away just in case.  Just in case I needed to whip up a cranberry sauce.  Or jam.  Or needed a another loaf of orange cranberry bread.

Honestly, I had forgotten about them.  Big Surprise.  So, when Katie asked me to guest blog and I was scratching my head and standing in front of my refrigerator wondering what recipe I would offer her readers…I spotted the cranberries.  And instantly thought…I bet there are more people out there like me.  Spring cleaning and finding extra bags of cranberries (among many other things… why do I buy so many packages of frozen spinach?!?).

I know, I know…cranberries are generally eaten around winter holidays, but I think they are perfect this time of year ( and I am not just saying this because I have an abundance).  They have a bright tart flavor, matching the feeling of an early spring afternoon.  A coffee cake with a thin layer of sweetened cranberries and a coconut streusel top is just what a Sunday afternoon calls for.   A lazy Sunday afternoon spent on your porch, soaking up the sunshine, getting lost in a good book, with baseball on the radio in the back ground.  All while you nibble away on an extra large piece of coffee cake that is studded with little flecks of vanilla bean.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.  Always coffee.

Vanilla Bean Cranberry Coffee Cake and a Guest Post
 
Ingredients
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1¾ cups sugar, divided
  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • Topping
  • ⅓ Cup Flaked Coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with butter and line bottom with parchment paper. Grease parchment.
  3. Make vanilla sugar: With the tip of a paring knife, scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean and place in a food processor with 1+3/4 Cup of sugar. Pulse to combine. Transfer to another bowl – you will need the food processor again.
  4. Place cranberries and ½ Cup of vanilla sugar in food processor and pulse until chopped but NOT pureed.
  5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt – set aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl.
  7. With mixer on low, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
  8. Pour ½ of batter into bottom of prepare pan – the batter will be very thick, so spread it out with a butter knife.
  9. Spoon cranberries over the batter, leaving a ½ inch border around edge. Spread the remaining batter over cranberries. (With the batter being so thick, the best way to do this is by dolloping spoonfuls of batter all over cranberry filling and very carefully with a buttered knife, gradually spreading the batter over the filling)
  10. Prepare crumble topping : In a small bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup of vanilla sugar, flaked coconut, tablespoon of butter, and tablespoon of flour. Crumble with fingers or fork until pebble like.
  11. Spread evenly over top of cake.
  12. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean (don’t test into cranberry filling).
  13. Let cool in pan for about 30 minutes before removing from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
  14. Serve with coffee and good conversation.

Adapted from Gourmet December 2008

Coffee Ice Cream…and other obsessions

OK…I am obsessed.  (with things other than ice cream and the color of  this bowl…seriously, if only I could paint my world in that color, then I would be content.)

Obsessed with the new Mumford and Sons album, Babel.  I know it just came out Tuesday, but since Tuesday morning, I have listened to nothing but Mumford and his sons (who aren’t really his sons…it is just the band name, figured I should clarify that since my mom asked this question and she may not be the only one wondering about their relationship.)  It is on constant repeat or shuffle or whatever Apple is calling it these days.  I have been looking forward to this week since they first announced the release date earlier in the summer.  Pre-ordered the extended version as soon as it was possible.  Was giddy with pure excitement and adoration when I saw them in concert in August….where they played nearly half of their new album along with most of their first.  I have told everyone with ears about them and kidnapped several, making them listen or watch youtube videos of them.  I even have my dad listening to them…this my friends is a big feat…he is not a fan of newbies in the music world.  I stayed up well past my bedtime last Saturday to catch them on Saturday Night Live…keeping myself up, but also a good friend…who was kind enough to set his phone alarm to make sure we didn’t miss them … you see, SNL has way too many commercials and my eyes become quite heavy between segments.  My foot sleepily tapping along during both performances…knowing full well that I looked ridiculous tapping my foot while in my pajamas at midnight while laying on the couch on a Saturday night.  I could seriously sit and listen/watch them for hours at a time…the voice, the lyrics, the instrumentals…I am hooked.   People, I actually look forward to driving TO work…new music will do that to you.

So there, go and buy the album…I am 99.78654% sure you will love it…especially if you enjoyed their first album and if you are new to them (which I understand, there is a ton of music out there) get your butt over to itunes and thank me later!  suppose they need a spokeswoman?

 

On a completely different note … I made you coffee ice cream.  No bigs.

Coffee ice cream is a flavor I have recently started to correlate with fall.  A few years of repeat trips to Rhode Island, where cool September evenings were spent wolfing down waffle cones overflowing with a deliciously rich and strong coffee ice cream, are partly to blame.  If you are ever near Narragansett, Rhode Island…check out Brickleys.  If you are near Point Judith…check out Aunt Carries Ice Cream.  I have done extensive research and neither one will disappoint.  This I know.  But beyond trips to RI, coffee flavored treats are more welcoming in the fall and winter than mid-summer….and coffee ice cream is no exception.

Personally, I think coffee ice cream is best when eaten while lounging in sweats and a long sleeved t-shirt while watching the new NCIS or Grey’s Anatomy or New Girl or on cool Saturday afternoons while watching college football from the comfort of your couch. Or my favorite,  sitting on a beach, in jeans and a sweatshirt, where the salty air is slowly rejuvenating your summer weary soul, and the wind is whipping your hair…where you sit with your mom, aunt, and grandma, shoulder to shoulder.  Where words are not spoken beyond the ‘oh my Gods‘ or ‘why can’t we get this in Ohio?‘ or ‘I don’t think I should have eaten that last clam cake‘ or ‘suppose anyone would notice if I unbuttoned my jeans…I seriously might explode‘…

There are many recipes out there for coffee ice cream…but when I saw Ina Garten (an east coaster) steep whole coffee beans years ago on her show and then saw the same step repeated in David Lebovitz’s recipe … I knew this was the most important step … a step necessary in getting that uninhibited strong coffee flavor that is key to a true coffee ice cream.  Therefore, I should warn you, if you don’t like the taste of coffee…or prefer just a hint of coffee flavor…this is probably not for you.  Just sayin’.

And…I have a dream of making ice cream sandwiches with this ice cream…but instead of chocolate cookie, how about glazed donuts?  Yeah.  I went there.  And I don’t plan on returning.

 

 

Coffee Ice Cream…and other obsessions
 
Makes 1 quart Adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole coffee beans (I used espresso roast, as that is what I had on hand and I truly wanted intense flavor. Can also use decaf)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon heaping Espresso Powder
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine whole milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and ½ cup heavy cream. Place over medium heat and cook until mixture is warm and steamy, but not boiling. Stir occasionally.
  2. Once warm and steamy, remove from heat and cover. Let mixture steep for 1 hour at room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, place remaining cup of cream in a medium sized bowl, and place entire bowl over ice in a larger bowl. Place a mesh strainer over bowls. Set aside.
  4. One hour later, place coffee bean/milk mixture back over medium heat and reheat mixture until warm and steamy again, do not boil!
  5. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together egg yolks. SLOWLY pour in coffee bean/milk mixture into egg yolks, whisking constantly so the eggs are tempered and not cooked.
  6. Pour egg/coffee bean/milk mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat.
  7. Constantly stir mixture with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and pour mixture through mesh strainer into the bowl containing the cream. Stir to combine.
  9. Press the coffee beans with the back of your wooden spoon into the mesh strainer, extracting as much coffee flavor as possible. Discard beans.
  10. Stir in vanilla extract and espresso powder.
  11. Cover and place in fridge. Chill thoroughly ( at least a few hours) and then freeze according to ice cream maker instructions.
  12. Enjoy!

Chocolate Espresso Bean Shortbread Cookies

Coffee.  I am addicted.  I am totally cool with it.

Just coffee, plain ol’ drip coffee…coffee snob, I am not.  Snobs are no fun and make other people feel like crap.  I try not to make people feel like crap.  No one deserves that, especially when they are just trying to enjoy a cup of coffee.

But if you want to make me a freshly ground cup of coffee or perhaps an espresso.  I wouldn’t turn it down.  No way Jose…I may not be a coffee snob, but I do enjoy quality joe.  I mean, I am not stupid.  I just don’t believe my taste buds are above anyone else’s.

Beyond a simple cup of coffee…I love when coffee is combined with, say ice cream.  Coffee ice cream on a hot summer night…Oh, summer can’t get here fast enough!  I plan on making cookies and cream coffee ice cream.  Yep…totally going to happen.

Or did you know that the flavor of chocolate can be enhanced by coffee?   Fun fact of the day.  That is why you see the addition of coffee to chocolate cakes and brownies.  It is glorious.  Even if you don’t like coffee, I wouldn’t omit the addition of coffee to recipes…chocolate is what you will taste, not coffee.  Scout’s honor.   I was never in girl scouts and I think boy scouts are the only ones that say scout’s honor and I was never a boy, so, I could be lying for all you know…but I am not.   Pinky swear…I do have pinkies, so we are good.  Following?  No, neither am I.

Chocolate covered espresso beans?  fyi…there is no such thing as an espresso bean, espresso is a type of drink, but from a marketing stand point, espresso bean is just more sexy.  I get it, I don’t like it, but I get it.  So, pretty much they are chocolate covered roasted coffee beans.  Nothing fancy.

Okay, these aren’t for everyone.  You seriously better love the taste of coffee.  These aren’t for the occasional coffee drinker, who piles loads of sugar and cream into their coffee, with the end result looking, tasting, nor smelling like coffee.  The coffee shop in the hospital sells these little gems … we eat them like M & M’s.

And what did I do with them?  I of course, crushed them up, and mixed them into cookies.  I am pretty sure brownies will be next…but for now it is cookies.  An espresso shortbread cookie sprinkled with chocolate and coffee bean chunks.  Flakey, buttery, crisp, and full of coffee flavor…we are talking an adult cookie, made by an adult, for adults, to be eaten during coffee break with other adults.

To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to share them at work, because not everyone likes the chocolate covered espresso (ahem, roasted coffee) beans.  I was sure they would be polite and say they were gooooood, in that sweet way nice people say things are good, when said thing actually kind of stinks.  But guess what?  They actually enjoyed them.  Especially the true coffee drinkers.  My point?  You will like them even if you had a bad bean once in your life.  Awesome!

And I just had a thought, these beans would be lovely in biscotti.  Taking note.

 Chocolate Espresso Bean Shortbread Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

adapted from Baking:from my home to yours

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Instant Espresso Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Very Hot Tap Water
  • 2 Sticks Butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups All – Purpose Flour
  • 4 ounces Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, roughly chopped (or crushed with a rolling pin)

In a small bowl, dissolve instant espresso powder in hot tap water.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together softened butter and powdered sugar until mixture is smooth ( a few minutes).  Mix in the vanilla extract and dissolved espresso.  Reduce speed of mixer and slowly add in flour.  Mix until flour is incorporated, don’t over mix.  Fold in chopped/crushed chocolate covered espresso beans.

Now, this is ingenious and totally unnecessary, but totally helpful.  Scoop sticky dough into a  1 gallon Ziplock bag and place on a flat surface, leaving the bag ‘unzipped’.  Roll dough out to the size of the ziplock bag making sure to keep the thickness consistent throughout.  Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours ( keep it flat in the fridge).

**you don’t have to have a Ziplock bag, roll it out and plastic wrap it, that’ll work too!**

And 2 hours later…

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Remove cookie dough from fridge and cut away the plastic bag.  Cut dough into squares, measuring about 2 inches by 2 inches.  Place cookies onto a cookie sheet (parchment lined is preferred) and with a fork, poke holes all the way through the cookies, repeat twice to each cookie.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Do not let the cookies can much color.  Transfer cookies to a cooling rack.  Dust with extra powder sugar if you would like.