Thursday, September 29, 2011

Booze and Birthdays... and some recipes too!

I haven't been cooking much lately. We were in California for a week and spending time with Annie, Tim and Parker. So I present to you stream of consciousness. Uh oh.


Why am I showing you a picture of Everclear? Because Dr. Food brought it back to me from New Jersey. Of course you can't get it in New England. As you know New England is a bit backwards when it comes to booze. I needed this Everclear to start the bitters we are making.


One of the bitters is made with Coriander and Keffir lime leaves. The base is Everclear. Other stuff also goes in it. I will give the recipe at the end of this post.


I am going to call this one "Swamp Bitters". I may get rich off of it. Or not...


Second Bitter is made with a base of high proof Bourbon. I also used orange rind and figs.



Most importantly we went to visit Annie and Tim and Parker for Parker's birthday. Ohmygod how I love this kid. Oh Annie, I love you too but you already know that.


I can't tell you how much I loved just watching Parker do everyday stuff. He is eating an Avocado here.


He is eating squash here. He is a good vegetable eater.

Ok, enough... I will get on with it. Annie made all the stuff for Parker's birthday and it all was awesome.

There were hats and chocolate mustaches.


I baked some apples for what was going to be Caramel Apple Cupcakes.


Annie did an incredible job making all the decorations. I don't know how she did it all along with taking care of Parker and work.


I got to play with my little squiggy LOTS!


Check out these cupcakes that look like popcorn. They reallllly looked like popcorn.


Caramel Apple Cupcakes


Here is a timeline of Parker every month for a year


Back to food... Pulled Pork Mini Sliders were made.


Parker got the first taste of cake.


The little guy led us all in a round of "If you're Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands"


He then sang "New York, New York" while riding the lion that Grammy and Gramps gave him.


He negotiated with his mommy for a snowcone.


He was a real trooper and didn't disappoint his appreciative audience. I love him so much.


Ok, here are your damn recipes.

Keffir Lime Bitters
Adapted from

Allow four weeks to prepare this bitters recipe.

4oz Dried Orange Peel, Chopped Very Fine
4 oz Keffir Lime Leaves, Chopped Very Fine
1 Teaspoon Cardamom Seeds (taken out of their pods)
1/2 Teaspoon Caraway Seeds
1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
1 Teaspoon Quassia Chips
1/2 Teaspoon Powdered Cinchona Bark
1/4 Teaspoon Gentian
2 Cups Grain Alcohol
4 1/2 Cups Water, Divided Into 1/2 Cup, 3 1/2 Cups, and 1/2 Cup
1 Cup Granulated Sugar

Place the peel, cardamom seeds, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, quassia, cinchona bark, gentian, grain alcohol, and 1/2 cup water into a half-gallon mason jar and push the ingredients down so that they are covered by the alcohol and water. Seal the jar.

Shake the jar vigorously once a day for fourteen days.

Strain the alcohol from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to form a pouch and squeese tightly to extract as much alcohol as possible. Place the dry ingredients in a strong bowl or mortar; reserve the alcohol in a clean mason jar and seal tightly.

Muddle the dry ingredients with a pestle or strong spoon until the seeds are broken.

Place the dry ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and cover with 3 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, cover, turn the heat down, and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, still covered (about 1 hour).

Return the dry ingredients and water to the original mason jar that contained the alcohol, seal, and leave for seven days, shaking vigorously once a day.

Strain the water from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Discard the dry ingredients and add the water to the alcohol.

Put sugar in a small nonstick saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar becomes liquid and turns dark brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for two minutes.

Pour the sugar into the alcohol-and-water mixture. At this point the sugar may solidify, but it will quickly dissolve.

Allow the mixture to stand for seven days. Skim off any bits that float to the surface and carefully decant the clear liquid to separate it from any sediment resting on the bottom.

Measure the bitters; thee should be about 12 fluid ounces. Add 6 ounces of water, and shake thoroughly. Pour the bitters into a bitters bottle. Store for up to twelve months.

Figgy-Orange Bitters
Contributed by Brad Thomas Parsons to Food and Wine

2 cups overproof bourbon (such as Wild Turkey 101)
1 cup dried figs (about 6 ounces), halved
8 green cardamom pods, crushed
4 cloves
2 fresh figs, halved
Strips of zest from 3 oranges
1 tablespoon cinchona bark
1/2 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 cup dried orange peel
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split
2 tablespoons rich syrup (see Note)

1. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine all of the ingredients except the syrup. Cover and shake well. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily.

2.Strain the infused alcohol into a clean 1-quart glass jar through a cheesecloth-lined funnel. Squeeze any infused alcohol from the cheesecloth into the jar; reserve the solids. Strain the infused alcohol again through new cheesecloth into another clean jar to remove any remaining sediment. Cover the jar and set aside for 1 week.

Meanwhile, transfer the solids to a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes; let cool completely. Pour the liquid and solids into a clean 1-quart glass jar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking the jar once daily.

Strain the water mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel set over a clean 1-quart glass jar; discard the solids. If necessary, strain again to remove any remaining sediment. Add the infused alcohol and the syrup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Pour the bitters through a cheesecloth-lined funnel or strainer and transfer to glass dasher bottles. Cover and keep in a cool, dark place.

MAKE AHEAD The bitters can be stored at room temperature indefinitely. For best flavor, use within 1 year. NOTES To make simple syrup, in a small saucepan, dissolve 1 cup of granulated sugar in 1 cup of water over moderate heat; for rich syrup, use 2 cups demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 cup of water. Let cool before using, and reserve the rest for another use.

Carmel Apple Cupcakes
Adapted from

9 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2-3 apples, granny smith
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Rinse and core the apples. Place them on an ovenproof pan or baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until soft.
2. Remove the apples from the oven, let cool slightly, then remove peel and mush the apple with the back of a fork. Measure out 1 cup of apple mush and set aside to cool.
3. Combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Crack the eggs into a separate, medium sized bowl and beat with a form to break up. Add the oil, apple juice, vanilla, and cooled apple mush and mix to combine.
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until all ingredients come together.
6. Scoop into cupcake papers about 3/4 full so cupcakes will have a significant dome. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Thick Caramel

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Bring the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium-high heat stirring to combine.
2. With a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients together and then slowly add the heavy cream.
3. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes until the caramel reached 248 degrees. It is important to continuously stir the mixture and to allow it to reach temperature.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Transfer to a bowl and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes allowing the caramel to cool slightly.

Final Assembly
1. Using a small offset spatula, frost each cupcake with the caramel.
2. If desired sprinkle warm caramel with any number of toppings, like coconut or crushed nuts.
3. Transfer the cupcake into the freezer to allow the caramel to set without dripping over the edge of the cupcake paper.
4. Continue frosting and topping the cupcakes and try to work fast. As the caramel cools, it becomes less spreadable. If possible work in pairs and let your helper top the cupcakes and transfer them to the freezer. By the time you reach the last few cupcakes, you will not longer need to freeze them and you can take all the cupcakes out and transfer them to the counter.
5. Top off each cupcake with a popsicle or craft stick to finish off the look.

For the Popcorn Cupcakes go on over to Duhlicious's site. It gives all you need to make these.


  1. What a cutie!! Those big blue eyes are just memorizing. I love those cupcakes how cute! And hell yea with the wild turkey!

  2. What a cutie! No, not you or the bitters... but Parker. He is already a year old! He is still adorable though.

  3. Wow. what an adorable kid and what a wonderful party! 

  4. Aww, he's so cute! And I love the cupcakes, they look delicious. By the way, I giggled when you said "OK, here are your damn recipes." Funny..haha.

  5. Gorgeoouuuus kiddo! Love the pictures and so happy you got to spend time with him! Avocado eating babies are even cuter! Oh and yeah, the recipes. Whatever, avocado eating baby beats recipes any day.

  6. Adorable child. Great party and love the photos.

  7. That's funny!  My uncle lives in Cape Cod but every other month drives to the liquor store right across the border in New Hampshire to stock up on stuff.  Glad you had a great visit!

  8. Good God woman!  This makes my head spin!!! I am in awe of this enterprise. From Toddlers to Everclear...which would be a great new series by the way.  I have wondered about where to get that amazing elixer...I was trying to make perfume or something  once. The cupcakes I think I have a chance of making..they look perfect for Halloween

  9. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.September 29, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    Oh my goodness!! Great post! First, that little guy is too cute for words! And OMG, that food all sounds amazing! I am especially drooling over those amazing cupcakes!

  10. What a fun celebration! Parker is darling...and all the food looks incredible!!!

  11. I'm in love with Parker too and I haven't even met him. He's very photogenic. And I had no idea one could make bitters at home. Mind blowing. 

  12. What a ham Parker is! Such a cute little man and the photos are fantastic! The food all looks and sounds delicious.

  13. Love this post! And love the damn recipes. Damn it!

  14. Aww that little guy is too precious!  Definitely looks like he had an awesome birthday!

  15. Parker is SO cute. What a lucky little guy to have such great people around him. 
    Love those 'popcorn' cupcakes. Adorable and the caramel apple cupcakes look sooooo good!

  16. Happy families! Had to do double take on the popcorn cakes, clever!

  17. Parker is darling.  Be sure to keep that Everclear away from him!  ;) BTW, I used Everclear in my scientific experiment to create the perfect Limoncello.  I'm not so sure how perfect it is, but one out of three versions should at least be drinkable.  Details coming...