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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Peppermint Mocha Kahlua Brownie Sandwich Cookies

December is nearly over, and we've almost made it to the end of the holiday season. I don't know about you, but I'm kind of glad. Spending time with family is awesome, and obviously I love to bake, but I'm no Martha Stewart. This baking blogger is enjoying leftovers and savoring my quiet weekend. So, about those leftovers. Everyone has leftover candy canes, right? I mean, I buy them every year because they're cute, but no one really eats them. Now that Christmas has passed, I thought I'd experiment and find something interesting to do with them. Also, I'd picked up some Peppermint Mocha Kahlua, per Ellen's recommendation, so obviously I had to do something fun with that! Still, I felt like keeping it simple and doing something easy.

Here's what I came up with: these Peppermint Mocha Kahlua Brownie Sandwich Cookies are VERY easy to make, they look deceptively impressive, and they're DELICIOUS. If you need something festive to bring to a New Year's Eve party, and don't have a lot of time, these would be great.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Aztec Hot Chocolate Whoopie Pies {Giveaway #2}

First, please let me start off with an admission: I don't drink Tequila.  Haven't in years...Tequila and I just don't get along.  Not the "sick" kind of not get along...Just the "can't sleep" kind of not get along.  I do have some fancy Tequila in the house for my friends who like it.  It's rarely, if ever, out of the cabinet. 

For today's treat, I just couldn't resist using Tequila in the filling, which is based on the Double Gold shooter: equal parts Tequila and Goldschlager.   And, to be honest, I wasn't so sure about this combination...Even after a few sips of the shooter!  But, given the occasional spirit of adventure (pardon the pun) on our blog, I just forged ahead! 

I've had my eye on a Mexican hot chocolate version of the whoopie pie ever since I started this blog...I like a more cakey whoopie pie and this version is my own, incorporating parts of many recipes into one that gives a great chocolate flavor and warmth from the cinnamon and chili powders.  And, yes, the booze doesn't hurt, either!  ;-)

One taste of the finished whoopie pie and I was swooning...Seriously, swooning.  The combination of the liquors and chocolate in concert with the spices made this whoopie pie truly in a class all its own.  Very close to a spiked version of an Aztec hot chocolate drink, replete with the subtle hit of heat and smoke at the end from the cayenne and ancho chili powders. 

I'm very sure you'll love these...And, we're so sure we're giving away Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell from which this recipe is adapted.  This truly is a wonderful whoopie pie book, full of great variations (traditional and not) on the classic whoopie pie with beautiful pictures!  I also found this blog which featured Whoopie Pie Wednesdays where you can peruse tasting notes on most of the recipes found in this book.  

To enter the Whoopie Pies giveaway, please leave a comment to this post telling us which whoopie pie you would make.  Please also include your contact information...Giveaway is open until January 5, 2013 at 9pm PST.  We'll draw names randomly and it's open to anyone on the planet!  Psst...Tell your friends!  

The giveaway is closed...Thanks to everyone who entered! 
Congratulations to our winner, Suburban Prep!

I'm sharing this recipe over at Cake of the Week's Baking with Spirit Challenge: Light Colored Spirit.  Head on over there for more creative recipes using spirits!  

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Spiked Eggnog Cupcakes

A great boozy treat for your holiday cocktail party!  Even if you can’t stand eggnog, you will love these cupcakes!  Not too sweet.  Moist.  Just the right amount of spices and bourbon.  Perfect for an easy to make, after-work dessert that is a true crowd pleaser.

I rarely, if ever, bake after work.  If you hadn’t noticed, we have “day jobs.”  So, our baking and creating time is limited, which is why you don’t see us posting multiple times in any given week.  But, we hope that we bring you delicious and consistently yummy treats that incorporate just that “right” amount of booze, without going overboard.  

For example: Ever had rum cake that was just TOO rummy?  I have, and it really soured me at a very young age to the wonders of booze and baking.  That’s really a large part of this journey on our blog--figuring out the right combinations of booze and other ingredients...It's not as easy as you might think...But a challenge (and adventure) we just couldn't pass up! 

Everyone at my holiday luncheon and white elephant gift exchange loved these…I even gave a lovely to an “eggnog skeptic.”  Her comment, “I was really skeptical, but it was great!”

Sharing this over at Cake of the Week, Baking with Spirit!
Sharing this over at Simple Living and Eating, Foodie Friday Linky!

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Grown up twinkies - with rum

My morning commute hasn't been quite the same since Hostess announced bankruptcy. I drive right past their bakery/factory in Sacramento on my way to work, and most mornings, you can smell fresh bread, even from inside the car, on the freeway. I remember my mom tucking many a Hostess Ho Ho inside my lunchbox when I was a kid. And who didn't grow up with Twinkies? *sigh*

Although I've heard a few stories about someone making quite a bit of money, buying out the last Hostess treats and selling them on Ebay, the rest of us have been suffering from Twinkie withdrawal. Well, Bake It With Booze came up with a grown up twist on the iconic Twinkie to cheer you up. Now, you can make your own!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pistachio and Orange Liqueur Cake {Watergate Cake}

Okay, so raise your hand if you were alive when President Richard Nixon resigned?  How many of you watched his speech on TV?  Ah, even fewer...Okay, how many of you (or your parents) saved the newspaper announcing the resignation?  As I thought...Not a lot of you.

That's okay my friends, because we have the Watergate Cake to bring back that very pivotal time in political history.  And, just for the record: I can answer "yes" to each of those questions.  Yup, I'm that old.  :)  This single event in our history was my first real introduction into politics at a very young age.  We were living in Northern Virginia at the time of the Watergate Scandal and I was learning about U.S. History, so this had real meaning for me as a young history geek.  I'll never forget those times...

So, most of you don't know that I am a history geek.  Yeah, I read those really long and fairly dry presidential biographies and such.  The people on my commuter bus just roll their eyes when they see my books...I've received some flack for my geekness.  It could be worse...

This cake was developed by the folks at Jello when they introduced pistachio pudding.  The date coincided with the Watergate Scandal, so coming up with a name was pretty easy.  It's quite likely the only green cake widely known, but I think most folks have lost its original name.  So, pretty cool for me that this cake covers both my hobbies: the blog and reading history books...A true win-win for this geek.

Blog baking lore has it that this cake is so aptly named Watergate cake because Jello's pistachio cake was filled with nuts and covered in fluff much like the Nixon administration has been admonished.   Go ahead...Roll your eyes...
Watergate Complex, U.S. National Register on Historic Places
I really wanted to try a pistachio cake for a while, just sounded so good...This one is easy and the ingredients are simple.  I used salted pistachios which really added a huge pistachio flavor.  Very moist and holds up well to all that frosting. 

I used the ombre' frosting style that you see all over Pinterest.  I learned how to make the ombre' frosting from a video by Stephanie at 52 Kitchen Adventures (link below).  I highly recommend watching her video if you are a visual person, like me. 

You'll see this cake again sometime soon in its "scratch" version.  I bought myself a cookbook for my birthday this year: Vintage Cakes.  So, the cake is really "Part 1: Watergate Cake" with its "scratch" cousin coming soon. 

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blueberry Banana Brandy Bars (B4s)

The brandy give these "brown bag" bars a little kick and depth of flavor often missing from some banana cakes.  And, I knew that blueberry and brandy would be a great pairing.  Super easy and a great way to use up those ripe banana sitting on your counter! 

So, funnily, I was watching ~briefly~ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night, and just so happened to stumble into the part of the movie where Violet Beauregarde eats the complete dinner gum, replete with blueberry pie.  Before Willie could convince Violet not to sample and even spit out the gum before dessert, she enjoyed her meal only to find as she started "chewing" on dessert that she was becoming a blueberry!  Remember Violet (from the original movie)? 

Violet sure learned her lesson...This is the part when the Umpa Lumpas show up to roll her away.  I never liked Violet...Just too bossy!  And, I will admit, I turned off this Johnny Depp version of the movie almost immediately after the start of the Umpa Lumpa disco scene...I mean, really? 

OK, back to my B4 bars...I found this recipe in my King Arthur baking book, under "Brown Bag Banana Bars."  The name does not do these "cake" bars justice.  Packed with poppy seeds and with a texture that has a nice "crunch" from the cornmeal.  I added blueberries, which were in the fridge, for a fresh and bright addition.

Easy to make, moist and full of banana and blueberry flavors: one of my favorite combinations.  And, the brandy gives them a nice smooth flavor...


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!! {Giveaway Winner Announced}

Happy Thanksgiving to all our followers and blogger friends out there in cyberland!!!  Thanks for coming along for the ride with Jacqueline and I as we bake our way through our booze cabinets! 

We're so grateful for the blessings in our lives, and thankful for the people whom we love and for our life passions that keep us busy and always learning new things.

And, the winner of our first giveaway of pretty Meri Meri cupcakes goodies from Sur la Table is...

Danielle Vasquez!! 

Congratulations, Danielle!!  We promise to have your package in the mail tomorrow.  :)

We hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! 

Much BIWB love to you all! 

Jacqueline and Ellen

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Almond and Orange Liqueur Cake {Gluten Free}

Yes, you read correctly: Bake It With Booze has gone gluten free again!  And, honestly, I'm beginning to think this gluten free baking thing is a great way to change up your favorite recipes.  This cake is super moist...Full of orange flavors...And has a very, very pretty presentation -- The Oooh and Aaah affect!

I made this cake for my boss's retirement reception and it was a huge hit with the crowd.  She is gluten free so I had to come up with a extra special cake just for her.  She's been such a wonderful boss, even though I've only had the chance to work for her these last 8 months. 

This yummy and elegant cake was all gone by the end of the reception (we did save a piece for my boss to take home) and I'm not even sure whether I got a piece!  I do have a vague memory of moist almond cake surrounded by soft and billowy orange frosting...

And, I am sorry, but I have no pics of the cut cake as it was gone before I could "stage" a good shot.  You'll just have to trust me that it was as pretty on the inside as on the outside!

One more eye-candy shot of all our sweets at the retirement reception...Sugar commmaaa!! 

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blueberry and Cream Cupakes (with Gin!) and Our ~First~ Giveaway!!

So, have you ever watched Hoarders?  I know, not something you'd expect me to talk about on this blog.  But, I ~more often than I'd like to admit~ find myself glued to the TV watching these very, very sad people trapped by all their STUFF.  I have stuff, do you? 

Good thing for me, though, is that Hoarders makes me feel okay with my stuff.  I do need to purge this fall and make some changes to my life plans with all my stuff.  For example: Do I need 10 plastic lawn chairs and 2 tables for the next back yard bbq bash?  Probably not.  I think my large party days are over and to "draw" a crowd like that probably isn't in the cards.  Maybe next big bash will be a "Bring Your Own Chair" party...I don't know.

And, I will admit: there is a method to all this purging madness.  The simple truth is I need MORE room for all my BAKING STUFF!  Baking stuff before party furniture?  I think yes!

The Giveaway!
Yes, you read it correctly: OUR FIRST GIVEAWAY!!  So, we have a few little this and thats for one of you--to add to YOUR baking STUFF!  We're very excited to start our giveaways and we hope you can come back over the next few months to see what else we're giving away.  Our friends at Sur La Table are helping us gather up some of these goodies--We can't wait to share!

We're giving away these two fun cupcake items from Meri Meri: 3 cupcake boxes and cupcake liners.  Pretty cute, huh?  All you have to do is leave us a comment with your contact information.  You have until Sunday, Nov. 11th at 9pm (PST).  Open to everyone, no matter where you live cuz that's just how we roll.  Sorry, the giveaway is closed...Stay tuned for the winner annoucement coming soon! 

Now, on to the cupcakes!
I made these cupcakes using a few recipes.  The most special part is the blueberry compote that I learned to make from my friend, Susan, over at My Mother's Apron Strings.  Susan is amazing...I just wished I was as generous as her.  She's so creative and a great baker.  Someday we're gonna meet up and enjoy some tea and treats...I have hope.  :)

Extra special blueberry and mascarpone filled cupcakes with yummy blueberry mascarpone frosting...And, yes, there is booze in these: blueberry infused gin

Baking with Spirit Feature
I'm also sharing this recipe as part of our friend's, Janine, blog Cake of the Week, which features a monthly Baking with Spirit challenge. This month it's GIN!  I'm excited to be able to share these blueberry-gin inspired treats!  Please check out Janine's fun creations...Reading her blog always bring out the Anglophile in me!

So much is happening!!!

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Buttered Rum Frosting

Even though my thermometer read 88 degrees today, and Macy's seems to think it's Christmas already, fall is in the air. The leaves on my Chinese Pistache tree are just beginning to turn red, and the mornings are crisp and cool. This is my favorite time of year, and I'm so excited that the weather is finally cooling off -- I don't feel as though I'm taking my life in my hands every time I turn on the oven to bake!

So, to get into the spirit of the season (yes, Macy's. Fall is a season. Remember fall??) I whipped up these cupcakes to celebrate fall's arrival.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Buttered Rum Frosting

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Almost Healthy Chocolate Amaretto Silk Pie

It's been awhile since I've posted here - my day job has kept me busy and left me with little time or creative energy for baking. That makes this recipe an especially timely addition to the blog: it's fast, easy, and technically could be no-bake, if you're using a pre-made pie crust. This could also easily be a vegan recipe, with a modified crust. Plus, it's sort of, almost, healthy! At least, it's lower in fat and sugar than your standard chocolate silk pie - but I honestly didn't feel like I sacrificed taste or texture to get there. 

The recipe that follows is inspired by Alton Brown, but I've tweaked some things here and there - mostly, because I didn't want to go to the grocery store! 

Before we get into that, let's take a look at the finished  product:

Almost Healthy: Chocolate Amaretto Silk Pie

Before I tell you what's in here, I must first assure you that this pie is truly decadent and delicious. You're going to be shocked when you learn what it's made of. The texture of the filling, before it sets, is similar to chocolate mousse: it's FLUFFY. Once it sets, it's reminiscent of truffle filling. Seriously. It's rich, creamy, dense, with an intense chocolate flavor and subtle sweetness. Are you ready for the secret ingredient?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rummy Hummingbird Cake

Today, I made a birthday cake for all the September Babies in my life!  My version of an old Southern favorite the Hummingbird Cake.  If you've never had this cake, you really should try it.  It's easy to make, real comfort food and super delish.  This cake really holds up to frosting and the cake is moist (bananas and pineapple) and full of flavor (cinnamon and rum). 

I think of this cake as:

(Carrot cake - carrots) + bananas = YUM!

Best parts, though, IMO are the rum and that it has THREE layers!  I also added rum to the cream cheese frosting to give it just that right amount of mellow rum kick.  :) 

Happy Birthday!

This recipe is adapted from a cookbook by Art Smith, who was Oprah's chef...As we all know, I'm not a fan of Oprah (that would take a few blogs to explain...), but hey, regardless this-guy-can-cook! 

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Balsamic Onion Pull-Aparts

Easy beer bread turned into something extra special using locally-made Marinated Balsamic Onions from The Rustic Fork in Folsom, California.  I meet Sonya, the owner of The Rustic Fork, at this year's Raley's Grape Escape in downtown Sacramento.  It was a fabulous event where scores of restaurants, cafes, wineries and even food trucks provided tasty bits and yummy samples of their special libations.  It was a great evening savoring great local and regional foodie favorites!

Sonya has some wonderful recipe ideas, too.  I especially loved her sweet and spicy bbq sauce and am hoping to create something pretty special with that product too.   It's great to see a local business and amazing cook bring her ready to use sauces and relishes to home cooks to create easy and flavorful appetizers and dinners.

Balsamic Onion Pull-Aparts are inspired from one of The Rustic Forks offerings: Marinated Balsamic Onions.  Let's just say, YUM!  Full of flavor and a deep rich color from slow cooking of the onions.  I used them as a filling for my pull-aparts combined with a great and easy beer bread recipe that I shared with you a while back.  This dough is super forgiving and loves, loves, loves to be slathered in savory cheesy stuff!

A perfect savory appetizer or a great dinner roll.  Perfect size for making ahead and freezing.  Great for this fall and winter soups and stews.  And, you don't have to do the pull-apart version, just place the pinwheels in the pan and ~voile~ : instant dinner rolls!  I love easy...

As for me...These yummy little powerhouses of flavor are perfect portion controls for bread consumption...A little thing I have a huge challenge with at present!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Limoncello Raspberry Cream Sandwich Cookies

Pillowy lemon cookie sandwiched with luscious tart raspberry filling...Yes, I died and went to heaven.  I never knew a sandwich cookie could be this easy and this decadent. 

The pudding in the cookie helps keep them soft and adds richness.  The raspberry filling is kicked up a few notches with the addition of raspberry puree and Frambroise.  We wouldn't be bakin' it with booze, otherwise!

An elegant cookie, yet so easy to pull together.  Heaven.

This recipe is from my super creative and ever imaginative blogger buddy, Dorothy at Crazy for Crust.  She comes up with some very special treats like...Avocado Frosting, Cherry Icee Cupcakes, Cakeball Cookies and PB&J Tart.  She also runs a weekly party, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, where lots and lots of food bloggers show their creative wares.  Her Whatever Friday features a weekly wrap-up of her recipes and what's happened in her life.  She is The Iron Blogger!  :)

I've learned so much from Dorothy and thankful that I met her in blogger land...

Please check out Dorothy's blog when you can...You won't be disappointed.  Ever. 

Creamy lemony cookies with tart raspberry centers. 

I'm sharing this over at Cake of the Week's Baking with Spirit Challenge for May: Limoncello

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Orange Banana Bourbon Loaf

I think if you love bananas and you love to bake, you're always plagued coming up with over ripe bananas and trying to figure out what to do with them.  This time around, my inspiration came from an orange nut bread that my mom used to make.   For some reason, I just couldn't locate the recipe, so I looked around at all my cookbooks for some inspiration...

And, this time, though, I wanted to combine orange and banana.  And, sure, we all know there would have to be booze involved.  I personally love bourbon with both orange and banana, so I figured I had the potential for a double "win" here!

This loaf cake is super easy to make and amazingly moist.  I was surprised how much it rose in the pan, yet was not overly dense.  I like loaf cakes, but I especially like moist and dense loaf cakes. 

This recipe is adapted from a cookbook, Ida's in the Kitchen, which I was gifted about 3 years ago when my father and I drove to Utah and Colorado.  We visited some of his former work colleagues when he as stationed at Dugway Proving Grounds.  I was lucky enough to get my pick of over 100 cookbooks from his friend, Vera, who had just lost her husband, the avid cook in their home.  Ida's in the Kitchen is one of those books...Filled with old-fashioned baking and simple and easy recipes.
No copyright date...Ida has a few books out there...Hand-written corrections...Love it!
We stayed at his friends' house just outside of Salt Lake City.  Dorothy and Roy Keeling are some of the best folks I've even had the pleasure to me.  The greatest gift was watching Dorothy cook!  She is a "Southern" cook, replete with making biscuits by hand.  I was in heaven helping around her kitchen as she imparted cooking wisdom to me.  I came away with SO many of her recipes, I fell quite honored.  And, inspired!!

I hope you try this loaf cake.  It's easy to pull together, nothing fancy or complicated.  And the end result has lots and lots of WOW factor!!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Queen of Sheba Cake for Julia Child's 100th Birthday

In celebration of a culinary giant and amazing woman, I made Julia a birthday cake.  I learned about the JC100 celebration only a few days ago...I know, I live in a cave.   But, honestly, I grew up watching this woman not ever knowing what a influence she would make in the cooking world.  Or, my own world for that matter. 

I have mostly watched Julia on PBS with her Baking with Julia series.  I was so inspired that I bought that book, almost 20 years now.  I have great dreams of finally mastering croissants and brioche.  This cake, Reine de Saba, isn't in that book, but I found it on the list of Julia's favorite recipes that her publisher created for folks like me to make and post in homage to Julia's talents and passion.

My favorite quote from Julia is, "Never apologize for your food."  I'm still working on that...

Not a lot of step-by-step today as it's actually a very rough day for me.  I woke with really, really bad vertigo.  I wasn't so sure after the initial cold sweats whether I would be able to stand.  But, with some time, I'm feeling better.  It may have been the dinner last night...Unlikely, though.  Or this heat wave we're having in the Central Valley. 

More likely am feeling the great, great loss of Mrs. Finch who passed away last night, thankfully peacefully, and in the presence of her family who love her.  She was her own force of nature...Much like Julia.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Wine

 You've heard legend of it but perhaps have never been willing to try it.  Just too scary to sacrifice your zucchini bread recipe to the chocolate gods.  Will it be too chocolatey?  Will you still be able to taste the zucchini?  Will the chocolate affect the texture and moistness we all love about a really great zucchini bread?

Well, my friends, you're in for a real treat!  This cake is super duper moist and with the right combination of chocolate and zucchini.  The cinnamon and cloves had amazing depths of flavor.  The wine is so subtle and smooth, definitely an adult cake.  And, it's a very, very pretty cake to boot!

This recipe is based on my Grandma Truitt's recipe, handed down from generation to generation.  I did make a few modifications with, of course, the addition of booze and using a different pan. 

I used Chocolate Wine, which I have seen here and there.  It's a combination of red wine, milk and you guessed it: chocolate.  I received a bottle from my friend, Melanie, for Christmas last year.  It's been in the frig since then...I wasn't really sure how I felt about it until I tried it just before making this cake.  It's very interesting and would make a great cocktail or an after dinner dessert wine.  Think Baileys or Kahlua.  Cream and rich...And, turns out it's also great for baking!

Grandma Truitt was such a warm and loving person...I only knew my grandmothers.  And, Grandma Truitt always gave us a big hug and a kiss whenever we went to see her.  My other grandmother, Bambi, never did that...I don't know why, it just wasn't her style. 

I think Grandma Truitt, who was a great baker, would be very proud of my homage cake for her! 

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Chocolate Stout Cookies

We've all heard of chocolate stout cupcakes, but I really wanted to try some stout in brownies.  But, brownies seem like such a big commitment of sorts...A whole pan...Just too tempting for me these days.  So, cookies sounded about right in the portion control department.   And, I could freeze them.  Always a plus!

Freezing cookies and having a stash in the freezer solves a few issues:

1. I have a ready source of cookies for my morning coffee.  Yup, I start every day with a cookie.  How bad can that be?
2. If someone comes to the house to do work, like the guys who came to prune trees, I have some for them to munch on while they are here. 
3. I will always have some for my dad when he comes over.  My dad LOVES cookies.  His motto:

There are no bad cookies, some are just better than others.

I love my dad.

These cookies are super EASY to mix up and bake.  They hold up well too with adding this and that.  I added salted peanuts because I love peanuts and chocolate.  Get a little protein boost in your cookies, too!  I especially like that these cookies have a shininess to them.  Almost festive. 

Great with a cup of coffee or as a quick snack.  I would imagine that any sort of booze could be added.  Go ahead, experiment!
Moist and chocolaty and peanutty...All my favorites in one cookie!

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Today I'm sharing The Versatile Blogger award with some pretty amazing bloggers out there in blogger land.  I was passed this award by Dawn of DJ's Sugar Shack.  Yes, DJ's blog is passing along the sugar as much as she can one thoughtful recipe at a time.  DJ's even has a few weekly parties that I'll be participating in very soon: Whatcha' Whipped Up Wednesday and Foodie Friends Friday.  Thank you so much, Dawn, for passing this award on to me at BIWB! 

Dawn lives in Alaska which is absolutely surreal to me as I've never been there nor honestly believe I'll ever make it up there.  I see the pictures and I think it's absolutely beautiful...Just not sure about those winter months.  She has shared some cool pictures of bears on her porch which I think my cat would go ape over.  I just can't imagine...

DJ's Sugar Shack has more recipes than I can list here, but here are a few that are now on my "favorites" list:

So, on to the The Versatile Blogger Award!  First things first.  Here is the list of 15 blogs that I follow to which I am passing on this award.  So, if you're on this list, congratulations!  {Please don't forget to read what to do next...}

When you receive the award this is what you do:
1. Thank the person that gave you the award in a blog post & link back to their blog
2. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers you follow
3. Include 7 random things about yourself in your post
4. Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog

Okay, so here are 7 random things about me:
1. In college I drove London double deck buses
2. I'm the youngest of 4 kids
3. I lived in 5 states before I turned 12
4. I read presidential biographies, for which I take a lot of flack
5. I've never been to Hawaii
6. I love just about anything that is described as "Honey Nut"
7. I have fallen off my bike only twice in my life (ages 6 and 44), hitting my head both times.
I now ~begrudgingly~ wear a helmet.

So, congratulations to all The Versatile Blogger today!! 
You keep me on my toes and inspired,
even on those really tough blogging days...

Cheers y'all!!   Ellen

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blueberry Infused Gin

This gin is very smooth with a nice sweetness of blueberry.  The combination of blueberry and juniper from the gin just might make a gin "drinker" out of me yet!  

I made this for a few BIWB recipes, including this loaf cake recipe that was in the Sacramento Bee last month.  I learned about infusing booze from a very cool website Post Prohibition.  The recipe for Blueberry Infused Gin is from KitchenKonfidence.   Post Prohibition not only tells you how to infuse all kinds of booze, the website even has amazing cocktail recipes for all that wonderful infused booze. 

As we all know by now, I am not a gin drinker.  Well, to be honest, I'm not a drinker of any alcohol, straight that is.  If it can be mixed and doesn't taste like booze, I'm in!  The only exception though, and for some strange reason unbeknownst to yours truly...seems to be a Manhattan.

I don't even like maraschino cherries!

We all know by now that I'm a cocktail kinda gal or why else would I be baking with booze?  Booze combined with sugary or savory baked goods?  Well, now you've peel back just a bit more of the BIWB girl onion. 

So, on to the blueberry gin infusion!

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Red Hot Velvet Ice Cream Cupcakes {with Goldschlager}

Today, I'm entering the 2012 Ice Cream Cupcake Contest sponsored by two amazing blogs: Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious.   There is some very stiff competition this year, but I'm excited to try my hand at this type of cupcake...Always keeping in typical BIWB fashion, of course.  So, you know there's gonna be some booze in these my friends...

And, let us not forget to mention that my excitement is almost uncontrollable because I get to bake red velvet cupcakes with red hots and Goldschlager!!!!  I mean, really, how bad can that be for this girl?

These cupcakes are based on the traditional Southern cake: Red Velvet.  It's an interesting recipe, which is described as a vanilla cake with a hint of cocoa and a bright red color.  There's a bit of a KICK to these racey red lovelies with the addition of Goldshlager, a cinnamon schnapps. 

I've made this cake a few times and have tried a few different approaches.  I find that using all oil for the cupcake version really does give the cupcake more body and great texture.  For a cake, though, I think I will always stick with the 1/2 butter and 1/2 oil approach.  Just seems to hold up to frosting and give a great crumb.

I didn't use all the red food coloring that some recipes call for as I find too much gives a funky food colory flavor, while too little just makes the cupcake look kinda flat. 

And, who wants a flat cupcake? 

These are super easy to make and assemble.  Really.  Trust me.  I wouldn't have even attempted this otherwise.  

For the cinnamon L-U-V-E-R in all of us!  Gorge, yes?  And, the taste is BEEEYOND delish!!  Just sayin'.  :)

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ginger Rogers Cupcakes

Today is Ginger Rogers' birthday and she would have been 101 years old today.  This cupcake honors her and her amazing talents.  The ingredients and inspiration come from the cocktail named after her.  The Ginger Rogers Cocktail is the most popular cocktail at the super trendy and super retro bar, The Absinthe Brasserie and Bar in San Francisco.  These guys really celebrate the era of great and creative cocktail culture and have a very cool bar companion book (that I MUST have), The Art of the Bar

I grew up watching Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies...Who in my generation didn't?  My sister and I watched them whenever they came on the T.V.  No DVR in those days, so watching a movie lots and lots of times kinda took the place of re-wind today.  Here is a clip from one of those movies, Swing Time.  They say this is the best dance scene these two great dancers ever filmed...You're about to see why.
Isn't that amazing.  I so dreamed as a little girl that I would dance like this one day.  Alas, no couples dancing ever came for me, but that doesn't mean I don't chair dance when I can.  Ya know, the kind you do in the car?  And, let's not forget dancing while your baking!  ;-D  Or, even while cleaning house. 

And, don't get me wrong: I am not adverse to learning swing dancing and the Texas two-step some day!

I know that you'll enjoy this cupcake...It's super moist with a great texture and full of exotic flavors: ginger, mint, lime and gin!  Kinda like being in Rio, huh, with Ginger and Fred. 
And, lest we not forget...there is a famous quote about Ginger: "Sure he [Fred Astaire] was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards...and in high heels!" -- Bob Thaves 1982 © NEA Inc.

I'm sharing this over at Cake of the Week's Baking with Spirit Challenge: Cocktail!  

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie {with Frambroise} Day!

Happy Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day!  I know...Aren't you excited?!  I certainly am!!  No question about it, this pie is about as American as you get.  And, it's an amazing pie.  Simple to make, beautiful, and its taste is sublime.  Just the right amount of sweet.  This pie is infused with just a hint of Frambroise which gives a luscious body to the syrup that surrounds the strawberries and rhubarb.

Rhubarb is a vegetable, tastes sour when raw, and it is infamous because of its toxic leaves.  It is only available, fresh, in the late spring and early summer months here in California.  You can also find it frozen.  It's a very sour vegetable and typically is used in baked sweet treats to round out the acidity.  I have also seen it in jams, which I would image are beyond words!

I used fresh rhubarb for my pie and opted for frozen strawberries this time.  I know...why not fresh strawberries, too?  Well, my friend Leslie always used frozen.  Just cuz, I don't know.  But, frozen strawberries are as sweet and pack as much flavor as fresh.  So, I stand by my decision. 

This pie with its hint of Frambroise to round out the filling's sweetness is easy to throw together.  Oh-so-good to enjoy on a beautiful summer day!

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lemon and Blueberry Gin Loaf Cake

 Lemon and Blueberry Gin...Doesn't that just *RING* with the sound of an amazing cocktail?! Too?  This recipe is from Erica's Sweet Tooth, a very cute blog hosted by Erica who makes super adorable and yummy things.  I covet her photos and ability to make everything look just like it tastes: Delicious!  The Blueberry-infused gin idea originates from Post Prohibition a very stylin' and hip web site embracing the concept of traditional cocktails plus much more. 

Gin is made from distilling grain alcohol with juniper berries and has lots of flavor profiles.  And, once again, I was exceedingly happy to learn that 11th century ITALIAN monks first mixed juniper berries with crude distillates.  This concoction was even used as a remedy during the Black Death.  Gin has a very long and interesting history including bathtub gin made for the speakeasies during Prohibition.  I'm pretty sure that's when my grandmother, Bambi, gained her pension for Sloe Gin Fizz....

If you are a gin drinker, I am sure you know all the subtleties of gin: fruit and citrus palates, sloe gin versus London dry gin, country of origin, and favorite cocktail.  What I bet you don't know is that there are very, very few (if any) baked goods which call for gin.  Let's just say, I had to get creative...Lord knows I wasn't EVER going to drink this stuff.  And, as gin is flavored with berries, blueberries and gin just seem to go together.

This *EASY* and *SUPER DUPER MOIST* loaf cake is so luscious, I may just have a Nigella moment and pull out the thesaurus to find more words!  Plumb, juicy and sweet blueberries surrounded by tart and tangy lemon yogurt cake...With just a subtle hint of gin in the cake and in the syrup that wraps its arms around this cake.  Perfect for breakfast.  Lunch.  Dinner.  You decide.

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