Cherries Foster

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My idea for cherries foster, inspired by bananas foster, which is a favorite of my husband’s, came about only because bananas are so long and require an elongated serving dish. I know, that’s a weird reason to ponder other forsterable fruit. But see?

Which made me think about what other fruits would allow a different sort of presentation – basically little round fruits like cherries!

Bottled cherries like Griottines or Frabbri Amarena would make a lovely topping on ice cream. But I really wanted to “foster” ripe cherries to mimic the bananas foster dessert.

Why? Because it’s fabulous. There’s caramelization, there’s sweetness, there’s fruitiness, there’s some liqueur, there’s flambéing, and ice cream. What’s not to love!

If you’ve never pitted fresh cherries before, it’s very easy. Just use an olive pitter, sometimes called a cherry pitter! I find it best to pop out the pit from or through the stem end. It can get a little messy and there can be flying pits, but it’s easy.

And definitely worth doing to make this dessert.

Here’s what I did.

Cherries Foster
Serves 4

1 pound of ripe cherries, rinsed, dried
4 ounces of butter
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
Good splash of Kirsch*
High quality vanilla ice cream

Pit the cherries, slice in half, and set aside.

Heat the butter and brown sugar in a skillet. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Add the cherry halves and sauté them until soft, at least 5 minutes.


Add the splash and light the liqueur. Let it flame until the flame dies out. You have to look closely, but there are flames! Sauté for another few minutes then turn off the heat.


Scoop the ice cream into serving bowls. Top with the cherries with the cherries and sauce.

I found these cookie crumbs on Amazon and I thought they’d be good for some crunch.


I thought the crunch really added something. The possibilities are endless.


By the time I’d taken photos, the ice cream had become soup…

But boy was this a spectacular dessert. I truly loved it. And it’s pretty enough. I certainly could have done a better job of “styling” the cherries, but I added them still warm; my time was limited!


Thank you Mr. Foster.

* Vanilla liqueur or bourbon are other choices, or no alcohol.

Midori Fizz

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If you’re not familiar with Midori, it is a melon-flavored, grass-green liqueur. What I didn’t know, is that Midori is the Japanese word for green, and it was manufactured only in Japan until 1987, according to Wikipedia.


It’s a sweet liqueur, so it needs to be diluted with fizzy liquids, which can include club soda, Prosecco, tonic water or, my favorite – Fresca!

If you’re a martini lover, midori can be mixed with lemon juice and vodka, shaken with ice and strained.

Sweet and sour mix can also be used as a mixer, but something like lime juice is required to cut the sweetness. And lastly, Midori can be turned into an adult slushy for a seriously refreshing summer drink. So many options.

All I’m doing today is mixing Midori with Fresca. It’s a bubbly grapefruit soda that I use a lot, even in sangria. So it didn’t take much brainpower to or the skills of a mixologist to create this combination, but just in case you haven’t discovered Midori, I wanted to post on it.

And that’s it! I do about a 50-50 mixture of Midori and Fresca, but that can be adjusted of course.

Of course ice cubes can also be added to the Midori Fizz.

If you love the taste of sweet melon, you will love Midori!

I posted on a Pimm’s float before, and now I’m thinking about a Midori float!!! Yes!!!

Ancho-Infused Vodka

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A while back on Facebook, which is so educational and such a good use of my time, I discovered a post on Ancho Reyes – an ancho chile-based liqueur! I had mixed emotions when I discovered this. First of all, I really wanted to try it. Secondly, I was wondering why I’d never thought of it.

I reposted the link to this liqueur on Facebook, and not surprisingly, my friend Richard from REM Cooks messaged me and wrote, “I wonder if I can make this?!!”

See? Facebook isn’t a total waste of time!

I thought I’d leave the ancho chile pepper liqueur to Richard. However, I talked to my husband about making an infused vodka with dried chile peppers instead. And surprisingly, he mentioned that it would be good in a bloody Mary!!! He doesn’t even drink bloody Marys!

Then I couldn’t quit thinking about this vodka or the Bloody Marys. So I made it. Here’s what I did.

Ancho-Infused Vodka with a Touch of Chipotle

1 750 ml bottle Voli coffee-infused vodka
2 ancho chile peppers
2 chipotle peppers

First let me say that I’ve owned this coffee-infused vodka for years. I’ve been too scared to use it seriously for a night time cocktail, for fear that I’d never get to sleep. I have no idea if it causes a caffeine buzz, but I don’t want to find out the hard way. I like sleeping. So, this vodka really needed to get used.

And what better vodka to go with a chile pepper flavor than coffee?!!! There are many versions of rubs for steaks that include both ground chile peppers as well as coffee powder, so I thought that the combination would be perfect. If I hadn’t used the infused vodka, I would have added a few crushed coffee beans to the recipe.

And the chipotles? They’re just my favorite flavor when it comes to dried chile peppers, and the smokiness will really enhance the anchos.

I thought about other ingredients like a cinnamon stick or a few allspice berries, but nixed them. Maybe for the liqueur, but not for the vodka. Especially for a bloody Mary.

I even thought about bay leaves and garlic, but decided to keep it simple.

So I got out the ancho chile peppers and the two smaller chipotle chiles.
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I removed all four stems, and then cut the peppers into strips.
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I placed them in a clean bottle.
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Using a funnel, I poured the coffee-infused vodka into the bottle.
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Then I closed her up and decided to store the bottle for one week. If the vodka is too chile-flavored, I can always “thin” it with more vodka, but I wanted the infusion to really count.
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In case you’re interested, here’s the Ancho Reyes website for the liqueur. There are even cocktail suggestions. But no bloody Mary! Stay tuned for that!

Gingerbread Liqueur Verdict

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Let me start out with my verdict for home-made gingerbread liqueur: Fabulous, Delicious, and Magnificent!

I first strained the liqueur to remove the ginger and the other goodies.
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It’s very brown.
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To test it out, I decided to make two drinks. First, a room temperature cocktail, although ice can be added, and a hot toddy using coffee.

1. Creamy Gingerbread Cocktail

To make one:
3 ounces gingerbread liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla syrup
4 ounces 1/2 and 1/2
Sparkling water

Place the liqueur, vanilla syrup and the 1/2 and 1/2 in a cocktail glass.

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Then add the sparkling water, about 4 ounces at least, depending how strong you want the drink.
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It’s kind of like an alcoholic gingerbread-flavored Italian soda.
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You can really taste the gingerbread flavors. And I don’t even love gingerbread! My husband said it was the best drink he’s ever had.

I especially like the addition of the vanilla. In fact, I’m now wondering why I didn’t include a vanilla bean in the gingerbread liqueur.

note: You could also add some vodka to this cocktail; I just don’t like really strong drinks.

2. Café Liégeois on Crack

To make one:
1 teaspoon good espresso powder, or 1 cup good, hot coffee, freshly brewed
3 ounces gingerbread liqueur
Vanilla ice cream

Place the espresso powder in a heat-proof cup and add hot water. Give it a stir, then stir in the liqueur. Using a scoop, add ice cream.
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I was quite generous with the ice cream. And boy, did it start melting fast.
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And, almost completely melted.
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What a fabulous, creamy hot toddy. The addition of the coffee with the gingerbread liqueur is outstanding. Creme de cacao would also be a wonderful addition to either of these drinks. So many drink ideas, so little time….

Gingerbread Liqueur

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Well, it is that time of year after all. With pumpkins, cranberries and sugar plums dancing in my head. So many fabulous flavors to enjoy during the holidays. Eggnog is another favorite of mine. Less favorite is gingerbread. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not part of the top ten on my holiday favorite foods and flavors.

However, I happened to have come across a gingerbread liqueur from a blog last year, and I’ve been saving it until now. For once, I actually know from whose blog this recipe came – it’s from Boozed and Infused!

As always, since you’d have to point a gun at me to follow a recipe to the letter, I changed things up slightly. I just can’t help myself.

So here’s what I did; you can check out the original recipe on Alicia’s blog!

Gingerbread Liqueur

1 large piece of ginger, enough to provide about 1/2 cup diced ginger
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 whole allspice, broken
5 cloves
Good sprinkle fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup molasses
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup coffee-infused vodka
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup spiced rum

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Trim the ginger of its peel. Finely chop the ginger.
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In a microwaveable bowl, add the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.
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Then pour in the molasses and add the brown sugar. Give it a stir, then heat in the microwave for just a minute.
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I would have actually added all of the just-used ingredients to a mini blender and emulsified them, but my stupid Magic Bullet wasn’t working properly. It should still work out just fine, however. Although the liqueur might have been “done” after only one week instead of two…

Make sure the sugar has completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool somewhat, then add the vodka, brandy, and rum.
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Stir well, then pour into a pint jar and seal. Store in a dark place for two weeks.

Verdict? Tomorrow!

Tuscan Spice

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If you find yourself in the Park City, Utah, vicinity in July, think about attending the Park City Wine and Food Classic. It’s a seriously good festival, with events lasting days, from talks and treks to tastings. The three main tasting events span three days, with each event at a fantastic venue.

My husband and I have been five different years, and we’ve always thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The wines are always good, and the tastings include sherry and port, champagne, as well as the harder stuff. There’s also beer.

The food is prepared by the local chefs, and when you consider how popular Park City is to tourists, you know it’s going to be impressive. This man made mini cotton candy!

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For me, it’s the combination of being outside at 7,000 feet in the mountains among pine trees, and the nostalgia from having lived in Park City many years ago. Even if it’s 80 degrees outside, the heat is dry and the wind is always cool. Here is a view of the quaint town of Park City from an upstairs venue in town during the “stroll” of Park City.

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This man is making cherry sorbet using dry ice and black cherry-flavored vodka. The view from this hotel, which is near Deer Valley, was spectacular.

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So there is a purpose to this post. While attending the Park City Food and Wine Classic a few years ago, we came across a booth for Tuaca, and they were serving a specialty drink using the liqueur and mango nectar. They called it Tuscan Spice. I’m not sure if mangoes grow in Tuscany, but that didn’t stop me from trying it.

Tuaca is a vanilla citrus liqueur. It actually has origins in Italy, which perhaps explains the Tuscany part.

This drink is on the website. It’s actually a shot, so I’ve also made it into a cocktail, which I personally prefer, below. See what you think!!!

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Tuaca Tuscan Spice

1 ounce Tuaca
1 ounce mango nectar
1/2 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes cayenne pepper
Mango slice*

Shake all ingredients except the mango slice with ice. Strain into a shot glass. Garnish with the mango slice.
This photo shows all of the ingredients of the shot, before being shaken over ice. Look at that beautiful cayenne!
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My version of Tuscan Spice

1 1/2 ounces Tuaca
3 ounces mango nectar
2 dashes cayenne pepper

Pour all of the ingredients over ice in a small old-fashioned glass. Stir and serve.
Ah much better!
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* If you’ve never worked with a mango before, don’t worry, it’s very easy. Take a look at the mango and you’ll notice that they’re not elliptical – they’re oblong. There is a flatter side. It’s flatter because that’s where the large pit is at its thinnest.

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To cut your mango, hold it upright in that position and slice to each side of the pit.

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Then you can cut wedges from each mango half, peel them, and serve. You can also slice away around the pit – those pieces won’t be as pretty, but there’s still good fleshy mango there.

Just for your information, if you want mango chunks instead of slices, here’s what you do. Hold one of the mango halves open, flesh side up. Carefully cut slices into the mango like this:
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Then, carefully turn the mango half inside out, like this:

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Than carefully slice of the chunks at the base where they touch the peel. Voila!

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If you like Tuaca but want something less fruity, try a mixture of Tuaca and Tia Maria or Kahlua. It’s very nice after dinner.