Spike Your Side Dish

You might have noticed that Brian and I like to add a little splash of booze to some of our recipes from time to time, especially sweets like our Tipsy Blondies or the Bourbon-Apple Oatmeal Cookies. Recently, we tried to take our love of cocktails to a different dish—a side dish.

Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes by somethingwewhippedup.com

Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes by somethingwewhippedup.com

We served these Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes at brunch with some baked eggs, but the dish would work equally as well along side your dinner. It took less than 5 minutes to prep and then we were free to work on other things while the dish baked up. The end result is a roasted sweet potato that has an extra little touch of something that will make you smile as you eat it. And isn’t that what good food is all about?

Bourbon-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (1 large or 2 small), cut to a 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a medium bowl, add the sweet potatoes, olive oil, maple syrup, bourbon and cinnamon. Toss to coat and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and roast for 15 minutes, use a spatula to flip the sweet potatoes over, return to the oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more or until browned and cooked through.

SWWU Tip 1: It’s easy to double or triple this recipe and make enough for a crowd (or leftovers). 

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Sugar Rush

My morning coffee—and many other treats—will never be the same, thanks to the vanilla sugar we recently made. Recycling the beans used for our delicious homemade vanilla extract, we made two batches of the sweetener. One was made with standard granulated sugar and the other was made with raw sugar. I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other, but I expect each one to carve out its own place in our kitchen. So far, the raw version has worked well to top muffins and french toast, while the granulated sugar works best when incorporated into baking recipes (like these brownies). Both give coffee and iced coffee a nice hint of flavor and I can’t wait to jazz up my summertime sweet tea (stay tuned) with a few spoonfuls.

Vanilla Sugar by somethingwewhippedup.com

Vanilla Sugar by somethingwewhippedup.com

Vanilla Sugar

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 cup sugar (granulated or raw)
  • glass jar
  • 3 vanilla beans (used is fine), split down the middle

1. Pour sugar into the glass jar. Trim the vanilla beans down to 2- to 3-inch segments so they’ll be completely covered by sugar once placed in the jar. Add to the jar, secure the lid tightly and shake until well combined. Set aside and shake the jar every few days. The flavor should develop within a week and will get stronger and stronger every day. I was happiest with ours after two weeks.

SWWU Tip 1: If you’ll be using previously used beans for this, be sure to let them sit out on the counter for a few hours to dry out. They shouldn’t be wet when placed in the sugar.

SWWU Tip 2: Using fresh pods for this? Split each down the middle, remove the seeds and add everything to the jar. Mix to combine. 

SWWU Tip 3: This can be a never-ending jar of sweetener. As the level gets lower, just add more sugar to the jar. If you notice the flavor isn’t as strong, swap in some new vanilla beans.

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Homemade Vanilla Extract That’s Worth the Wait

While doing some spring cleaning Brian and I discovered we had a major surplus of vodka. We’re talking about an extra 4 or 5 bottles taking up space in our bar area. And since it’s not the go-to spirit for either of us, we needed another way to put the supply to good use. I’ve always wanted to make my own vanilla extract and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Homemade Vanilla Extract With Bourbon by somethingwewhippedup.com

Homemade Vanilla Extract With Bourbon by somethingwewhippedup.com

Actually mixing the ingredients together couldn’t be simpler. It’s the waiting, and waiting, and waiting that’s the hard part. But after 2 months, I have to admit I’m pretty impressed with the final product. I’ve already tried it out in Lemon-Blueberry French Toast Cups and a batch of Orange-Maple Popcorn, and we can’t wait to try more. There are a few different techniques to make this product, but I found the best result to come from the easiest one. Lucky us!

Homemade Vanilla Extract With Bourbon

Makes 1 375ml bottle

  • 13 whole vanilla beans
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/4 cup vodka

1. Use a pairing knife to put a slit down the side of each vanilla bean. Place them into your bottle and top with the bourbon and vodka, making sure the entire bean is submerged. If your beans are long you may need to cut them in half. Top with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Store the bottle in a cool dark place for at least two months. The longer you let it sit, the more the flavor will mature. Gently shake your bottle every week or so to help mix the contents up. When two months have passed, remove the beans. You can strain out the extract if you like, but I prefer to leave the little flecks of vanilla in for extra flavor. Transfer to smaller jars if you’ll be sharing.

SWWU Tip 1: Do not leave the beans in the extract unless you plan to top it off with more vodka after each use. Leaving them exposed will allow the beans to go bad and your extract will be ruined.

SWWU Tip 2: Save used beans to make a sweet vanilla sugar. I’ll post about that soon!

SWWU Tip 3: You can use any size jar or bottle for this that you like. We used an empty Hudson Whiskey bottle because it was the right size to fit into our spice drawer. 

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Get Your Goat (Cheese) Brownies

I like to over prepare and Brian likes to get things just right, which I (of course) view was under preparing. These differences are most obvious when we’re getting ready to host a party. Brian will carefully calculate just how many appetizers each person is likely to eat, and I’ll worry that they’ll be so tasty that our gusts double their normal intake leaving someone else to go hungry. In the end, it’s usually a 50-50 split on who was right. We’ll both be glad that I insisted on extra booze, but I’ll also learn that there are only so many desserts someone can eat in one night. Our last party left us with a bit of extra goat cheese (I’ll admit, this one is on me) and I needed a way to use it up. I’m a big fan of cheesecake brownies and thought swapping out the cream cheese for something a bit tangy was worth a try. Luckily, my instincts were right on this one. I think we may just have to over prepare for our next party too!

Raspberry Goat Cheese Brownies by somethingwewhippedup.com

Raspberry Goat Cheese Brownies by somethingwewhippedup.com

Raspberry Goat Cheese Brownies

Makes a 13×9″ dish

  • Crisco or cooking spracy
  • 2 1/2 pints raspberries (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 3.5-ounce bars 70% chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 3.5-ounce bar 90% chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 5 eggs, divided
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13 ovenproof dish with Crisco or cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the raspberries and bourbon. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mix in both types of chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the milk; let cool 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

5. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, add 2 cups of sugar and 4 of the eggs, one at a time, mixing between additions. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Gently fold half of the raspberries into the brownie batter and pour into the prepared dish.

6. In another medium bowl (or in a stand mixer), combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, vanilla and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and egg; cream ingredients together until fluffy. Gently fold in the remaining raspberries and their juices. Drop the cheesecake batter by spoonfuls all over the top of the brownie batter. Use a skewer to swirl the two batters together. Bake for 30 minutes or until set.

SWWU Tip 1: Brownies will last covered with an air-tight lid on the countertop for up to 5 days, refrigerate to store them longer.

SWWU Tip 2: Want to skip the bourbon? Sub in an equal amount of rum or toss berries with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of confectioners’ sugar.

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The Almost Neat to Messy Tipple

I love the first few sips of a nice bourbon or rye straight up. But, after my tongue has been tickled and my throat is warm, I get bored and need something a little more exciting. Enter: the almost neat to messy drink!

The Almost Neat to Messy Tipple by somethingwewhippedup.com

The Almost Neat to Messy Tipple by somethingwewhippedup.com

Simply make flavored cubes and pour your libation of choice over the top. The alcohol is chilled ever so slightly for the first few sips then, as the cubes melt, you get a slow release of flavor infusing your drink. To make the drink pictured above, we filled an ice cube tray with fresh apple cider and added two drops of orange bitters to each section, then froze until hard. Then we added the cubes to a glass (two for Brian and three for me) and poured a few ounces of Blanton’s over the top. Keep in mind that the more cubes you add to your glass, the more diluted your cocktail will be. Paired with some good company, this simple sipper can’t be beat. I think I’ll have another!

SWWU Tip 1: Unfortunately, this idea does take a bit of planning ahead. B and I like to whip of a big batch of cubes and keep them stored in the freezer to use whenever the mood strikes us.

SWWU Tip 2: Cider and other juices won’t freeze as quickly or as well as water. Make sure to put your ice cube trays in the coolest part of your freezer for best results. 

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