Monthly Archives: December 2014

Coffee Liqueur

My step siblings and I have started “Homemade Christmas” in order to save money and be more creative with our Christmas presents. Last year was the first year we did it, we agreed on this mid-December so the gifts were last-minute, but overall we impressed each other. This year, we have had months to prepare our homemade Christmas presents. Some of us are using this time wiser than others. Let’s just say when my brother called me last week to ask if I’ve started my presents yet I wasn’t surprised to hear he had just started thinking about it. I meanwhile, started in October. After getting inspired by a visit to Syracuse I ambitiously set out to to make a coffee liqueur that would impress both my friends and family.

After work one day I went to the Container Store. I had never been there before and OHMYGAWD! This was a whole store dedicated to the type A female. How had I never been here before? I walked down each aisle dazed with a giant smile on my face and a cup of coffee in my hand. Our Container Store used to be a Barnes & Noble so it is connected to a Starbucks (as if there was a way to make this an even better store). I unceremoniously bought their entire shelf of Bormioli Rocco swing-top glass bottles not daunted at all by the amount of coffee liqueur I would be making. Silly girl. This recipe was a giant mess. I managed to make our whole kitchen a sticky fly trap during the filtering process. (Bonus: my kitchen has now been thoroughly scrubbed multiple times this year). But the end product couldn’t be more delicious, and impressive!

4 cups brown sugar
4 cups of sugar
8 cups water
4 vanilla beans
1/2 cup espresso powder
3/4 cup of Godiva chocolate liqueur
1 handle of Smirnoff vodka (or approximately 7 cups)

  1. In a large stockpot bring sugars and water to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a low heat simmer and allow to reduce to a syrup consistency, stirring occasionally. This will take 1-2 hours.
  3. Slice vanilla beans in half long-wise to expose tiny beans.
  4. Remove sugar mixture from heat and add remaining ingredients.
  5. Store in stockpot or large container for 30 days.
  6. Using cheesecloth and funnel filter all coffee liqueur. Note: I filtered mine into the bottles I planned to gift it in, Bormioli Rocco swing-top glass bottles (17 ounces).
  7. Allow to sit for 7-14 days.
  8. Using cheesecloth and funnel filter coffee liqueur a second time. (I was amazed how much espresso grounds still remained in the liqueur after the first filtering).

Coffee Liqueur

This recipe takes a long time, and the filtering is a sticky mess, but it is absolutely worth it! Absolutely  delicious!


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Fresh Tomato Basil Cream Soup

Now that all the presents are wrapped, the tree is up and all the cookies have been made.  I decided since it is so cold outside that I would make some of  my Tomato Basil Cream Soup.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender. Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food processor or with a hand blender. Enjoy!Screenshot 2014-12-23 09.38.37

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Cinnamon Pecans

I am happy to say I have all my Christmas presents purchased and wrapped! I’ve also loaned my pretty awesome wrapping skills to a few family members and friends this year (feeling a bit like one of Santa’s elves – I know what everyone is getting!) So this weekend was devoted to Christmas baking. I spent all day Saturday baking with Tarah for her to have goodies to bring to work and then all day Sunday with my mom.  I am ready for hibernation! We made mountains of cookies and candies our house looks like the set of the Nutcracker for the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. ‘Tis the Season!

In college Tarah’s mom used to send us giant bags of her Cinnamon Pecans so I begged her to show me how to make them this weekend. I could not believe how easy they were to make! (And just as yummy as I remember!)

2 egg whites
1 lb pecans (whole)
1 cup sugar
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Line a jelly-roll pan with pecans spread evenly.
  3. Melt the butter
  4. Beat egg whites and sugar for about a minute until light and foamy
  5. Add in butter and cinnamon
  6. Pour evenly over pecans
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring pecans and flipping them every 10 minutes
  8. Transfer to a large bowl to allow to cool




Merry Christmas!

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Filed under American, Christmas Cookies