Spiced Rum Peaches

Adding to my holidaze gift canning, I came across a recipe for “Drunken Peaches” – basically, peaches and simple syrup and brandy.

What’s not to love, right?


I wanted to add a bit of spice to my peaches, so I picked up a bottle of spiced rum and some whole cloves; figuring that both would do the deed nicely.

•2 bags frozen peach slices, thawed
•1/4 cup spiced rum (per jar)
•2 cloves (per jar)

Simple Syrup:
•1-1/2 cup sugar
•3 cups water

Note: if you want to use fresh peaches, go for it, but I have a lot of holidaze canning to get done and a kindofa tight schedule, so fozen, peeled and sliced peaches worked a treat for me. Two bags made three pint jars.

First, make the simple syrup by stirring the sugar into the water in a small pan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

Bring to a low simmer, then reduce the heat and keep warm while you prep the peaches.

Divide your peach slices evenly among canning jars – as I noted above, two bags filled three, pint-sized jars.

Pour 1/4 cup of spiced rum over each jar of peaches, then add two cloves.

Top each jar off with the simple syrup – leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.

Add lids and bands to each jars, screwing the bands “fingertip tight” – using just you fingertips to tighten the bands – and process in boiling water for 25 minutes.

For best flavor, you should allow the sealed jars to rest for one week.

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Mixed Berry Vodka

OK, so I am cheating a wee, tiny bit here.

This image is actually from earlier this year, after my cherry vodka had steeped for three weeks and been decanted so that my friend, Barb, and I could enjoy some while our friend, Mira, was in the Caribbean drinking all of the rum.

Long story.

Anywho; I have just prepped this season’s batch, and I think it is gonna be a winner!

I switched things up just a bit this time, adding a vanilla bean and some blueberries to the blend.

•1.5 liter vodka
•24 oz frozen cherries
•5 – 10 oz frozen blueberries
•1 whole vanilla bean

Slice the cherries in half – you are doing this to expose the maximum amount of cherry flesh to the vodka – and place in a large pitcher with a tight lid along with the blueberries and the vanilla bean.

Pour the vodka over all, give it all a gentle stir, then cover the pitcher and stash it someplace cool and dark for three weeks.

“Yikes! Three weeks?!?”

Yes, but, there is no stirring, no looking after the pitcher; you just let it rest and do its thing and count down your three weeks.

Which, if you get a move on, and mebbe shave a day or two off the schedule, will give you a tasty treat for holidaze imbibing.

When done, strain the fruit from the vodka and transfer the vodka to new decanters.

Save the fruit, though, for a boozy topping to cheesecake or ice cream.

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Swozzled Cherries

As my friend, Mira, is known to say (after an especially trying day with work or the kids)…

“You don’t know, this could be vodka!”

Well, now you don’t have to wonder, because, yes, this is, in fact, a jar of maraschino cherries soaking in vodka.

“Why?” you ask?

It’s the holidaze, and, really, shouldn’t your maraschino cherries be soaked in vodka?

Yeh. I thought so.

The original recipe called for using a ten ounce jar of cherries, but I had a partial jar in the fridge, so added them too, and ended up with a nice, 12 ounce, jar of vodka and sweet cherry goodness which will go on top of individual cheesecakes at our Book Club gathering this weekend.

Because that, my friends, is how our Book Club roll.

•Maraschino cherries

Drain the cherries. Save the juice or don’t.

Return the cherries to the jar – or – if you’ve made extra, as did I, place them in a jar to fit, then pour vodka over to cover.

Close the jar and stash in the fridge for at least 24 hours – though the longer you let them rest, the more swozzled they’ll be.

That’s all there is to it!

Add a little extra oompf to your next adult dessert gathering.

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Gluten-Free! Soda Poke Cake

When we have folk over, I always try to have something for everyone with special dietary needs; like, vegetarian, or no ‘shrooms, or nut free, or… gluten-free. And so, for a family holidaze gathering, I set out to make a dessert that one sister-in-law, who cannot have gluten, would be able to enjoy while everyone else was snarfing down pies and cheesecakes and cookies and all the rest.

I had bought some gluten-free flour, but Lynn assured me that the g-f mixes were pretty good, and much easier to make.

So, I then got to thinking…

“Hmmm, a poke cake would be good, but how about I make everyone’s favorite version; a yellow and Seven Up soda cake cherry lemonade jello?”

I was uncertain if the gluten-free mix would work with the soda as well as the regular mix does, but, what the heck, it’s the holidaze! If you can’t experiment on your family, who can you experiment on?

•1 gluten-free yellow cake mix
•12 ox lemon-lime soda
•3 oz box Jello – not lite or lowfat!*
•1 cup boiling water
•1/2 cup cold water
•Thawed whipped topping

*Lite and/or lowfat gelatines are not gluten-free, as far as I have been able to discover.

Heat your oven to 350º and empty the cake mix into a large mixing bowl.

Pour in the 12 ounces of soda – and nothing else – then mix according to package instructions.

Well… the batter certainly looks good, and it smells really good so, let’s continue.

Apply cooking spray to your chosen cake pan(s) – I went with a 13×9 pan for ease for storage and serving given the sheer choices of my husband’s family’s holidaze dessert bar assortment.

Bake the cake according to package instructions, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a rack.

The cake didn’t rise quite as much as a regular one would, but still, smelled really, really nice, so, on into the breach, as it were.

Once the cake has cooled, stir the cup of boiling water into the jello for two minutes, until the jello has totally dissolved.

Stir in the 1/2 cup of cold water and set aside.

Using a roasting fork, poke holes every 1/2 inch all over the surface of the cake.

Pour the jello evenly over the cake, then cover and chill for at least three hours.

The original poke cake recipe says that, after chilling, you should spread the whipped topping over the cake, add sprinkles, then store in the fridge until ready to serve.

I prefer to leave the cake as is, and let each person choose the amount of whipped topping they like.

So far, the batter has smelled good, the baked cake has smelled really good, and the jello has been nicely soaked up.

Now, for the big test…

How does it taste?

You know what?

It really wasn’t too, too bad!

As my sister-in-law pointed out, a lot of these mixes are not gonna taste just like a regular cake – and it was a bit grainier or something – but the overall flavor was good, and she got to enjoy dessert along with the rest of the family.

I call that a win.

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Pesto, Pancetta, and Tomato Sauce

First things first. This is a total cheat recipe, with almost everything coming off of a store shelf or refrigerator case.

Doesn’t really matter though, because it was still wicked tasty.

And then, there is this jarred pesto from ALDI. Not refrigerated, just sitting on a shelf, waiting to be tried, and, for the price? I figured “why not?”

Why not indeed.

This inexpensive little jar of pesto is so much better than some of the “fresh packed” stuff in other markets’ coolers!

Of course, I did dress it up, just a wee, tiny bit.

•1 jar pesto sauce
•Grape tomatoes, halved
•5 oz cubed pancetta
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•Sliced cherry peppers
•Cooked pasta – I used tortellini

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Warm a large pan over medium heat, then add the pancetta and tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until the pancetta has crisped up and the tomatoes have started to break down.

Stir in the sherry peppers sauce, lower the heat and cook for about five minutes more.

Give it a taste.

Nice, right?

But, we like a bit of zip to our sauce, so I added some pickled deli-sliced hot cherry peppers – look for these with the pickles, or at a well-stocked Italian deli.

Much more better!

Now, stir in the pesto and heat through.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain, and toss with the sauce.

I have to confess to transferring the pesto to a bowl and cooking the tortellini in the same pan, draining it, then returning the pesto to the pan with the pasta and serving from there, tossed with shredded cheese.

Wicked tasty.

Wicked simple.

And very little clean up at the end.

We had three goodly sized servings (well, four, my husband went back for seconds), and enough leftover for one person (our niece) to enjoy for lunch the next day.

I call that a deal.


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Tomato and Feta Soup in the Pressure Cooker

First, let me be totally honest here; I really liked this soup!

My husband? Not so much; but, even after 20 years together next month, he is kind of a traditionalist when it comes to some flavor blends:

Pumpkin should only be spiced for pie, and not, say, cooked into a rather delightful (I thought) Red Curry Pumpkin Soup.

Hmmm… mebbe it’s soup?

In any event, if you are not quite so tied to tomato and basil (tho’ there is basil in here), and you have a nice, in-the-brine Feta cheese, I would recommend this soup.

•Chicken bones/carcass
•Chopped celery
•Chopped carrot
•Fresh parsley
•1 bay leaf

•8 Roma tomatoes, quartered – I had grape tomatoes to use up, so…
•1/2 red onion, chopped
•2 cloves garlic
•1 jalapeño, sliced
•1/4 cup basil paste
•2 cups chicken stock
•1 (400ml) can whole coconut milk
•1/2 tsp liquid mesquite smoke
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp honey
•1/2 tsp dried oregano
•1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

•Feta cheese
•1 tbsp Sherry or sherry vinegar

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

For the stock, add all the ingredients to your Instant Pot, then  add water to the max liquid line.

Set for 45 minutes at high pressure.

Let rest under pressure for 20 minutes, then release remaining pressure and strain stock.

Use immediately or stash in the fridge or freezer for later use.

Don’t want to make your own stock? Don’t! Go ahead and use your preferred chicken or veggie stock.

To make the soup, toss the ingredients (except for the Feta and Sherry) into the pot (wiped down, if you’ve just made the stock), then set the pot to high pressure for five minutes.

Let rest under pressure for ten minutes, then release remaining pressure.

Blend with an immersion blender until the soup is smooth, then set the pot to simmer and cook for five or ten minutes more, until slightly reduced and thick.

Give the soup a taste.

Pretty good, right?

But… I reckon a soup or stew is always better with one tablespoon of sherry or (mebbe even better) sherry vinegar stirred in and simmered for a few minutes.

Yeh – that’s what I am talking about!

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and serve with freshly crumbled Feta cheese.


And, many thanks to mealplanaddict.com for the original recipe.

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Sweet Potato and Chorizo Breakfast Casserole

Family was visiting a few weekends ago, and I served a breakfast casserole for Sunday morning.

And it was good, but…

even though I had added a fair amount of spices and seasonings that hadn’t been called for in the original recipe, it was just kinda there.

So, we got to talking about ways to fix it, to make it better. We had the technology…

“How about chorizo?” my brother-in-law suggested.

“Oh, and sweet potatoes and baby spinach!” my sister-in-law added.

So, I got to thinking and, for a holidaze weekend family breakfast, I served this to (almost) universal acclaim (one nephew cannot deal with eggs).

•2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
•6 oz Chorizo
•1 lb meatloaf mix
•1 cup diced sweet onion
•3 cloves garlic
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•6 eggs, lightly beaten
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp dried chives
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp dried mustard
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach
•20 oz thinly sliced sweet potato “noodles” – or other peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
•2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
•1-1/2 cup cottage cheese – not light or fat free**
•1-1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

**Don’t stress about using “full fat (4%)” cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is significantly lower in fat than other cheeses, and the 4% cottage cheese is usually (read the ingredients on the package) just cream, milk, and salt; so, nothing funky or weird,

Warm the oil in a large skillet or pan over medium high heat, then add the onion, garlic, chorizo, and meatloaf mix and cook,, stirring and breaking up the chorizo and meat, until the veggies are tender and the meat cooked through.

Note: I used the meatloaf mix in place of another tube of chorizo, to keep the spice levels down for those family members who have a milder palate. If you really like hot, go ahead and use all chorizo.

Stir in one tablespoon of the sherry peppers sauce and continue to cook until most of the pan juices have been cooked off.

Add the baby spinach and toss until it has wilted and is nicely mixed into the chorizo.

Set aside to cool.

Note: you can do this part ahead, then stash the chorizo mixture in the fridge until you are ready to make the casserole. This is not one of those “make the night before” casseroles.

When ready to bake the casserole, heat your oven to 350º.

Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl with the remaining one tablespoon of Sherry Peppers Sauce and the seasonings, then stir in the cheeses.

Stir in the chorizo and the sweet potatoes.

Apply cooking spray to a 13×9″ baking pan, then spread the sweet potato and chorizo mixture evenly in the pan.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let rest for ten minutes before serving.

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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Wednesday, I shared my new fave Cocktail Sauce, based on a recipe from the barefoot contessa.

Today, let’s talk about my new fave way to prep shrimp cocktail, also a recipe from the contessa; and this one, I’ve only added a bit of Aleppo pepper to the seasonings and swapped in avocado oil for the olive oil she called for.

One mighty fine way to make shrimp, if you ask me, and wicked simple, to boot.

•1 lb raw, tail on shrimp, thawed, if frozen
•1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
•1/2 tsp Kosher salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Heat your oven to 400º.

Toss the shrimp in the oil and seasonings, then arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for eight or nine minutes, until the shrimp is properly pink.

Cool, then stash in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Don’t forget to make that cocktail sauce.

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Best! My New Fave Cocktail Sauce

Just in time for the holidaze!

I got a new cookbook by the barefoot contessa for my birthday, and she included a recipe for roasted shrimp and cocktail sauce.

I was intrigued. Then, I looked at her cocktail sauce recipe, and thought… “hmmm, we can do a bit better.”

See, I only use Homade Cocktail Sauce, because, well compare ingredients.

And then, we have been all about 78 Red Spicy All Natural Ketchup, imported from Poland by a local Chicago company, but available at Amazon, so…

Lastly, if I know one thing about cocktail sauce, it is that the lemon juice is as important as the cocktail sauce, so I bumped up the amount the contessa called for, just a wee, tiny bit.

The results? One great cocktail sauce!

•1/2 cup chili sauce
•1/2 cup ketchup
•3 tbsp horseradish
•1 tbsp lemon juice
•1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste

Stir all the ingredients together in a beaker or bowl, then transfer to a covered container and stash in the fridge until needed.

Ermmm. I think you will be needing this cocktail sauce a lot!

Happy holidaze!

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Just in Time for the Holidaze! Deviled Egg Dip


most of my in-laws are coming up at some point over this coming holidaze weekend, and I find myself planning more than one feast meal.

No worries, on friends’ recommendation, I have ordered a Cajun turkey from Popeye’s, and have a spiral sliced honey ham in already in the fridge waiting for the Snoop Dogg treatment – it really makes the very best ham!

My husband will make his Heart Attack Potatoes, mom-in-law (Doris, of The Doris Project) is bringing her famous cranberry jello, Gary is bringing a cheesecake, and Rich has ordered a couple of pies from our local fishmonger/smokehouse/bakery; so, I just have to do a few fill-ins and munchies.

Like deviled eggs, except, I am gonna make ’em as this dip, which has been a pretty big hit whenever I’ve offered it to friends and family.

•6 eggs
•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•2 oz chive cream cheese
•1 tbsp Zippy & Sweet Mustard
•1-1/2 tsp champagne vinegar
•1 tsp copped fresh chives
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/2 tsp dry mustard
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt

•Chopped fresh chives
•Sliced green olives

Note: go ahead and buy that bag of peeled hard cooked eggs. There’s enough other stuff going on at this time of year.

Cut the eggs in half and put all of the yolks and three of the whites in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Add the mayonnaise, cream cheese, mustard, vinegar, chives, hot sauce, mustard, and seasonings to the processor and pulse until everything is nicely blended.

Chop the remaining egg whites and stir into the pureed yolk mixture.

Transfer to a container, cover tightly, and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

When ready to serve, place the dip in a serving bowl, garnish as you like, and serve with crackers.

My in-laws are pretty uniformly pro paprika, but there are pro and anti olive factions, so I plan on offer two bowls of deviled egg goodness so folk can take their pick.

Take the time to enjoy family, friends, or whomever you’ll be spending this coming weekend with. Sometimes, even all alone is nice. Just a thought.

Posted in Appetizers/Munchies, Eggs | Leave a comment