Archive for the ‘Alcohol’ Category


My Most Popular Post: Grand Marnier Bundt Cake

January 3, 2014

When I looked at my 2013 annual report from WordPress, I was not surpised to see that my Grand Marnier Bundt Cake post was the most viewed post this year. The post is actually from 2009, and a lot of people seem to be searching for a Grand Marnier bundt cake recipe. Search no more, because this is an awesome cake.

Grand Marnier Bundt Cake

I’ve made this cake countless times, including just the other day, and it never disappoints. The original post shows mini-bundts. The slice in the photo above is from a cake baked in a 6-cup bundt pan. It’s great as-is, but you can make it prettier by garnishing with some whipped cream, or drizzling some chocolate sauce on the plate and putting the cake on top.

Give the Grand Marnier Bundt Cake recipe a try!


Sangria: not just for summer!

November 8, 2011

I had a thing for sangria this summer. I bought bottles of it from the liquor store and enjoyed it poured over ice. I ordered it at several different restaurants. Always different, always good. Then I saw the Pioneer Woman make a huge jug of it on her tv show and I decided to give her recipe a try.

Oh my. So, so tasty. My husband declared the bottled sangria “lame” after tasting this version. I declared the wine-soaked fruit to be a delicious treat. There’s a chill in the air, but I’m not ready to put sangria away until next summer. I’m just getting started!

Recipe notes:

  • I made 1/3 of the recipe, because I don’t have a vessel large enough to hold the huge quantity of the full recipe. I also don’t need such a huge quantity!
  • I made one batch with apple, grapes, and pineapple, and another batch with lemon, lime, grapes, and watermelon.
  • Instead of citrus rum and vodka, I used plain rum and vodka, and added a splash of triple sec. It added a nice citrus flavor to the sangria.

If you have her cookbook, the recipe is in there with lovely step-by-step photos. You can also find it here on the Food Network website.

I’ve got a lot going on in November! I’ve scheduled a few posts, but I won’t be getting around to everyone’s blogs this  month. I’ll catch up with you in December!


Raspberry-Champagne Sorbet

July 3, 2011

Another winner from The Perfect Scoop! This one was Michele’s idea, and what a great idea it was. I used fresh raspberries and Asti instead of champagne. If you haven’t had it, Asti is super-sweet – think sparkling grape juice with alcohol. I could have cut down on the sugar, but my super-sweet version was pretty tasty. I loved how soft and smooth this was even after being in the freezer overnight. Most of all, though, I loved the shade of pink! This was a big hit with my husband too. Definitely one to make again, and I may try using Prosecco next time. Be sure to check out Michele’s version with white chocolate sauce!

The original recipe says to use a food mill or push the raspberries through a strainer. Michele used her Vitamix, which gave me the idea to use my immersion blender. I blended the mixture and then strained it to remove the seeds. It worked great! I think pushing the whole berries through a strainer would be a lot of work.

Raspberry-Champagne Sorbet

From The Perfect Scoop

1 1/4 cups Champagne or sparkling wine
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Mix everything except the raspberries in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the raspberries, and cover the saucepan. Let stand 10 minutes. Pass the mixture through a food mill with a fine disk, or use a blender or immersion blender to puree the raspberries. Strain the mixture to remove the seeds. Chill thoroughly and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Brandy Slush – the perfect summer drink

August 6, 2010

This recipe and I go way back.  I had some friends over for dinner recently and I knew that they’d remember this blast-from-the-past drink, which was good in the ’90s and is just as good in 2010. It’s a sweet, slushy, fun drink, perfect for a hot summer evening.

I couldn’t remember where I got the recipe from and my friend said that her mom used to make it. Mystery solved. She also said that her mom served it with cream soda. I’ve always used 7-Up, but you can branch out and try another flavor.
Sip (responsibly!) and enjoy.

Brandy Slush

source: Linda’s mom

4 1/2 cups water, divided
1 cup sugar
2 tea bags
6 oz frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup brandy

In a large saucepan, heat 3 1/2 cups water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat the remaining 1 cup water and steep the tea bags for a few minutes. Stir tea into saucepan of sugar and water. Add lemonade concentrate, orange juice concentrate, and brandy. Stir well. Freeze overnight.

To serve, scoop slush into a large glass and fill glass with 7-Up or other soda. Add a straw for stirring and sipping!

Makes 1 3/4 quarts

Notes: This is scoopable straight out of the freezer. However, it will be easier to scoop if you freeze it in a flat container or divide it into a few smaller containers. Lemonade and orange juice concentrates usually come in 12 oz containers. Re-freeze the other half of the concentrates for another batch of Brandy Slush!


Grand Marnier Bundt Cake

December 17, 2009

This cake rocks. It rocks because it’s easy to make, and it rocks because it’s best the next day and beyond. Oh, did I mention that it’s super-delicious too? It’s moist, chocolaty, and has a nice smooth orange liqueur taste. It’s not a liquor-soaked cake that makes your gums go numb.

I’ve made this quite a few times and every time I thought “gee, this would make a great gift if I had a mini-bundt pan.” This year was the year and I bought a pan. I filled the minis about 3/4 full and had a small amount of batter left over, so I also baked two cupcakes. Perfect for taste-testing!

Instead of unmolding the cake and then pouring a glaze on top, you poke holes in the bottom of the cake while it’s still in the pan and then pour a syrup on; it goes into the cake and around the sides.


  • The recipe is originally from Cooking Light magazine, but I can’t find it on their site. It was called something like Mom’s Company Cake.
  • When I’m talking to myself, I call this “The million dollar cake.” Yeah, Grand Marnier is pretty expensive. I bought another brand of orange liqueur once and did a taste-test and the Grand Marnier won by a mile. I’m not usually an expensive liquor type of gal, but in this case I am.
  • I haven’t tried this with orange juice, but I think it would be good. If I used juice, I’d skip the water in the syrup and use all juice.
  • I packaged these in plastic bags to give as gifts, but next time I’ll put the cake on a plate and then wrap it up with plastic. The syrup makes the cake sticky, so I think a plate would work better.

Grand Marnier Bundt Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)
3 large egg whites or 1 (4-oz) carton egg substitute

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or stick margarine
1/3 cup Grand Marnier
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 6-cup bundt or angel food pan with cooking spray; dust with flour.

Combine all cake ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a hand mixer at low speed until most, then beat 3 minutes on medium speed (if you use a stand mixer, beat for less time; it doesn’t need a thorough beating).  Pour batter into pan.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Leave cake in pan. Pierce with a fork about 15 times.  Combine syrup ingredients in a saucepan and boil 1 minute.  Pour glaze over cake slowly while cake is warm and still in the pan.  There is a lot of syrup, so you may need to give it a minute to soak in before pouring all of it, or poke more holes to give it somewhere to go. Cool completely; remove from pan.  Wrap securely to keep moist. This is best served the next day or even a couple of days after baking.

Recipe notes

  • Minis will bake in less time.
  • I used a pan with an intricate design, so I coated it thoroughly with butter and then dusted with flour. I had to work at getting them out, but they did come out in one piece.
  • A larger bundt pan works fine, but the cake will be a bit short.
  • I usually cool the cake, then leave it in the pan and cover with plastic wrap and unmold it the next day. That gives it plenty of time to soak up all the syrup.
  • Update: I haven’t tried it, but my mother-in-law reports that this cake freezes well. If you try it, I suggest giving it a couple of days for the flavor to develop before freezing.

Coffee and Vanilla Liqueur plus Vanilla Sugar

May 11, 2009

Is homemade coffee and vanilla liqueur better than Kahlua? I’ll admit that I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison, but the homemade is pretty darn good. Plus, Kahlua is hard to spell and there’s an accent over the u and I don’t know how to make special characters in WordPress. So instead of figuring out special characters, I’ll make some coffee liqueur. Not that liqueur is all that easy to spell either, but at least there’s no accent.


The liqueur is easy to make, though potentially messy when you get to the point of pouring it into the bottles. Do what works for you because what works for me doesn’t even always work for me. Pouring and funneling are not my strong points.

One of the ingredients for the liqueur is vanilla sugar, which uses dried vanilla bean shells (the part of the bean that’s left after you scrape out the inside). If you don’t have any vanilla sugar, just use plain sugar in the liqueur. But if and when you get some vanilla bean shells, give the sugar a try; why not recycle the shells rather than tossing them out? You can use the sugar anywhere where a bit of a vanilla taste would be welcome. I like to use vanilla sugar when I mix up some cinnamon sugar.

OK Jill, I made this and now I have two quarts of coffee and vanilla liqueur. What do I do with it?

  • Pour a little bit over some vanilla ice cream – super-delicious!
  • Mix up a cocktail! I’m a fan of the potent Black Russian, which is two parts coffee liqueur plus one part vodka over ice. Add a splash of milk or cream to that and you’ve got a White Russian. I’m sure there are a ton of cocktail and coffee drink recipes out there that use coffee liqueur.
  • Put it in a pretty bottle and give it as a gift.
  • Sip it straight up. Strictly for research purposes, I had a few sips after I took the photo and it was good!

Coffee and Vanilla Liqueur

From a recipe I clipped from the newspaper at least a million years ago

2 cups water
2 ounces instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups vanilla sugar
1 quart vodka (I stick with the cheap stuff)
1 vanilla bean

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in instant coffee, vanilla extract, and vanilla sugar until dissolved. Add vodka and mix well.

Split vanilla bean lengthwise (don’t scrape out the insides) and add half to each of two 1-quart bottles. Carefully pour vodka mixture into the bottles (I find it easiest to dip a measuring cup into the saucepan and pour it through a funnel into the bottle). Seal the bottles with a cork or cap. Store at least two weeks before serving. Makes two quarts.

Vanilla Sugar

From the same million-year old newspaper clipping

4 cups granulated sugar
2 or more vanilla bean shells, dried*

Put sugar and vanilla bean shells in a sealed container and store for at least two weeks before using. Every once in a while, when you think of it, give the container a shake.

*After scraping out the inside of a vanilla bean to use for cooking or baking, set the shell on the counter to dry.

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