Tag Archives: holidays

Mexican Hot Chocolate

29 Mar

Mexican Hot Chocolate

I can already predict that after Easter my apartment will remind me of Willy Wonka’s factory. I will be knee deep in chocolates that I know will last me until Halloween, unless I start using them in the kitchen. One of my favorite chocolate-centric recipes is a Mexican Hot Chocolate.

When I was 17, I left home for the first time to become a brand-new student at culinary school. Being an only child, this wasn’t as easy as I expected. One day, I was feeling particularly homesick. On top of that, I was in kitchen class and it seemed that everything was going wrong. I kept burning my sugar and over whipping my eggs. I was seriously overwhelmed.

When all hope seemed lost, a very kind classmate brought over a steaming mug to my station. I looked down and there was a thick cup of cocoa with a sprinkle of cayenne. I took one sip and I was instantly warmed from the inside out. The gentle spices and creamy chocolate instantly made the kitchen a little less scary.

The amount of spice is just a guideline, you can make it as spicy or as mild as you want. You can also add whipped cream, or a cinnamon stick for flare. If you’re feeling gutsy, you can also add a splash of rum or Bailey’s liquor.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk
2 oz chocolate (I like 70% for this but Hershey Kisses are great too!)
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Heat milk on stove until hot (don’t boil). Add spices, pour over chocolate. Stir and sip!


St. Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes

8 Mar

cupcakes_Oh, St. Patrick’s Day. A time filled with four-leaf clovers and myths of leprechauns. Instead of drinking green beer this year, I want to celebrate the holiday with a festive treat. Since I’m not the biggest fan of food coloring, I’m choosing the next best thing to mark the occasion: beer as flavoring. I’m using Guinness not only because it’s Irish, but it’s a heavy beer which makes a really moist, delicious cupcake.

I first tried this recipe when I was secretary of the honor society in college. There was a fundraiser for the school’s club activities and we needed to represent the holiday. Being in college, most clubs took this opportunity to do jello shots and make foods like truffle fries and lobster mac & cheese that would be delicious when drinking beer. Did I mention I went to a culinary school? We liked to get fancy.

Being a team of mostly bakers, we decided cupcakes were our best option. The president of the society, Annabelle, and I stayed up all night testing cupcakes. After many sugary bites and lots of laughs, the Guinness Cupcake was born. The next day we sold out within the hour and people were begging for more!

For this recipe, I like to make a simple syrup out of the Guinness and brush it onto the cupcake after they bake so that the flavor isn’t lost in the cupcake. Feel free to also add a little bit to the frosting as well. Green sprinkles are always welcome.



1/2 cup Guinness
1 stick butter
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream

Simmer Guinness, butter, and brown sugar in saucepan until butter and sugar melt. Add cocoa and whisk until smooth. Remove from burner and cool slightly. Mix flour, sugar, soda, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix egg and sour cream. Add cocoa mixture and mix slowly for about a minute. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into lined cupcake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.

4 oz. cream cheese, soft
1/2 stick butter, soft
1/2 lb confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Guinness

Mix ingredients together by hand. Once blended, whip on a mixer until light and fluffy.

Good Ol’ Southern Eggnog

24 Dec


Growing up, Christmas meant two things: going to my Grandma Ducky’s house to celebrate with my dad’s family and all of my cousins and watching all of my Aunts and Uncles drink this weird, thick, forbidden vanilla milkshake they called eggnog.  My Uncle Sam would make gallons of this stuff and all of the adults would throughly enjoy imbibing in this frothy holiday concoction.

Eggnog is no longer foreign or forbidden to me.  I am now old enough to drink it any time I want.  But I recommend keeping this recipe special and breaking it out for your friends and family for the holiday season.  In honor of National Egg Nog Day, here is Uncle Sam’s recipe! It’s boozy, rich and delicious and beats the tar out of anything you can buy off the shelf at the grocery store.  One word of warning: this recipe is slap full of raw eggs.  If that sort of thing doesn’t freak you out, then this recipe is perfect for you!

Good Ol’ Southern Eggnog Recipe from my Uncle Sam

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 quart Half ‘n Half
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup light rum
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 quart whipping cream
  • Dash of salt
  • Nutmeg to taste

Combine sugar and half ‘n half, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.  In a mixer on low speed, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, gradually add liquor  to yolks.  Add half ‘n half and sugar mixture to yolks and liquor, stirring well.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with mixer until stiff.  Gently folks egg whites into yolk mixture.  In another bowl, combine whipping cream and salt.  Combine whipping cream with yolk mixture and chill thoroughly before serving.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

What I Want for Christmas: A Quirky Wish List for the Innovative Baker

22 Dec

bf8b1bd4ef819bd35c28b0e601ff4c57Half the fun of having kitchen gadgets is showing them off. Look! I made a batch of brownies that are all edge pieces. Here’s a list of funky baking goodies for the baker who has everything:

Bake two pies at once, a pie tin for indecisive cravings.

Sample your cake before you share it with this “piece for the baker” cake pan.

Bake a cake in any shape you mold with this innovative cake pan.

Never slice again, or just make many slices differently with this portioned cake pan.

Are you a fan of edge pieces? Exclude the middle with this brownie, blondie or cornbread maker.

Do all your measuring with one cup. Adjustable amounts and easy to pop into the bowl (a great tool for sticky substances like shortening).

Bake a mustache cake for your ironically inclined friends.

Empty your cupcake center neatly and fill it back up.

I didn’t even know cakesicles existed, but now you can make them (handles included!)

Put the baking tray right on a rack, a great cooling method for a tiny kitchen.

Have a great holiday with your new gadgets!

[ Photo via Koyal Wholesale ]

Holiday Cocktail: Brown Sugar Bourbon Sparkler

22 Dec

thumbnail copyThere are a number of traditional holiday cocktails that I just can’t quite get myself to enthusiastically support.  I don’t love spiced/mulled wine; it reminds me too much of a glass of boozy potpourri.  Eggnog is something I enjoy but can only drink so much of, as it’s pretty much a meal in and of itself.  I do love a good bourbon drink during the holidays, though.  It’s a good, warming drink that I can leisurely sip and doesn’t make me feel like i just downed a liquor-soaked milk shake.

A friend sent me this recipe from Cooking Light magazine over the summer.  While it was published in the height of August, I really think this is the perfect cocktail for all of those cold December holiday parties you’re attending.  One of my favorite holiday cocktail-criteria is met by this recipe: it uses ingredients you likely have on hand this time of year.  Who isn’t swimming in brown sugar and bourbon from all those bourbon balls and fruit cakes you’ve made during the Christmas season?

Brown Sugar Bourbon Sparkler from Cooking Light

Ingredients (yields 4)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chilled fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces bourbon
  • 3/4 cup chilled dry sparkling wine
  • 8 to 12 dashes of bitters
  1. Combine sugar and water in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high until sugar dissolves (2 to 3 minutes).
  2. Let cool and then place in fridge to chill.
  3. Stir fresh lemon juice and bourbon int sugar mixture.
  4. Divide evenly into 4 glasses and top with 3 to 4 tablespoons of sparkling wine and 2 to 3 dashes of bitters.  Serve and enjoy the holidays!

What I Want For Christmas: Kitchen Edition

17 Dec

largeLiving in a small Brooklyn apartment with extremely limited space means there are kitchen items I dream of having and items that could realistically be mine all mine.  Over the years I’ve learned few gadgets actually make the cut for counter space priority and regular use.  Sure, that juicer I bought two years ago seemed like a healthy and practical purchase, and in someone else’s spacious kitchen with miles of counter space I am sure I would have used it on a daily basis.  But room in my kitchen is a precious commodity and I need cooking tools that will improve the way I cook not only as far as taste goes but in regards to the space they don’t take up.

I learned the importance of using a good chef’s knife when preparing dinner a number of years ago.  A friend came over to help make homemade lasagna and, while trying desperately to dice tomatoes with my poor excuse for a knife, he explained to me the importance of owning a quality knife.  And then he talked my boyfriend into getting me one of Christmas.  I now have a wonderful knife that does an impeccable job and takes up little to no space because it lives on a magnetic strip on the wall above my stove.  What I do not have and what I desperately need is a knife sharpener.  Not only does this Furi FUR626 knife sharpener have great reviews but it measures 1″ x 3.5″ x 4.5″ when folded up and will only set you back about $16.00.  It’s manual, so no electric parts to break or batteries to replace.

Norwegian Crunch

17 Dec


The holidays are a great time to let yourself indulge in all of those rich foods and sweets you probably wouldn’t normally eat with frequency.  Norwegian Crunch is one of my favorite holiday indulgences and a special treat I have enjoyed since my mom scribbled down the recipe from a friend years and years ago.  Now, I am in charge of making this delicious toffee-like bar.  It’s an easy recipe that yields an abundance of this decadent dessert.  Norwegian Crunch is also the perfect treat to wrap up in a box or tin and give out as a gift to loved ones during this time of year. Continue reading

Cookbook Review: This Is a CookBook: Recipes for Real Life

6 Dec

large copyThanksgiving has passed and Christmas isn’t here, but, as always, we need to eat. Since we must feed friends, and we want to feed them well, we need to know how and what to cook, even if we aren’t experts. This is were Max and Eli Sussman come in—saving our kitchens from utter disaster with their easy-to-use, straightforward cookbook, This is a Cookbook:Recipes for Real Life. Continue reading

#MeatlessMonday, Thanksgiving Edition: Poblano Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

19 Nov

If there is one word in my mind that is synonymous with Thanksgiving, it’s tradition. Being a creature of habit, the idea of not having the same exact menu I grew up with seemed blasphemous. Since moving to New York, I have always hosted Thanksgiving.  For the last seven years, I have been in charge of preparing the dishes that were served to my guests on this special holiday. Continue reading

Thanksgiving without the Turkey

14 Nov

Ready to try having a family Thanksgiving without a turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed or sweet potatoes, corn, or green beans?  Forget about the lovely apple, pecan, or pumpkin pies.  Every family’s version of a Thanksgiving meal is different. Here’s our take on a a turkeyless Thanksgiving dinner. Continue reading

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