Vegan Bacon Vodka

Vegan bacon vodka

When I made infused vodka the other week, there was a little tidbit I left out of that post. A small omission, really. See, in addition to cucumber and hibiscus vodka, I decided to use the remaining liquor for a slightly off-putting experiment: bacon vodka. Since bacon has been in the trendy public eye for far too long, every bacon-flavored product that can exist does exist, so you don’t even need to Google bacon vodka to know that people are putting it in their bodies. Ironically, commercial bacon vodka does not actually contain bacon, just chemicals and food coloring. So of course, bacon enthusiasts were quick to remedy that by making a liquor chock full of salty meat strips. If you weren’t already glad to be vegan, one of the complaints associated with bacon vodka will do that for ya: the grease yielded a layer of bacon fat in the final product. Nothing like chunky bacon liquor! In my vegan version, the bacon was extremely low in fat, so not much could go wrong, right? In the spirit of entertainment, I tasted it (a whole shot, so you guys better enjoy this!) for the first time on camera:

If you still want to make your own vegan bacon vodka, here is the recipe. Usually, infused vodka doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but it seemed really gross to let veggie bacon hang out at room temperature for days on end.

Bacon Vodka

Ingredients

4-5 strips prepared vegan bacon
1 cup vodka

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Arrange bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake bacon for 4-5 minutes, until it starts to crisp up, but remains pliable.
  4. Combine vodka and bacon in a bottle and store in the refrigerator for a week before consuming.

This will be my last post before Vegan MoFo, which starts next week (!!). I’m thrilled to participate and will be posting more information soon!

Fairy Food Recipe

fairy-food

My first experience with fairy food was at a Milwaukee vegan bake sale. It goes by other names like sponge candy and honeycomb candy, but it all tastes like the crisp exterior of a toasted marshmallow covered in chocolate and magic. The most notable part is that this recipe relies completely on chemistry; it’s basically a science fair volcano, and sugar went along for the ride. Yes, the recipe contains corn syrup. I don’t know about you, but if I’m making a conscious decision to eat sugar mixed with liquid sugar and a volcano, all covered in chocolate, I’m not going to be too particular about the syrup. I imagine agave or brown rice syrup would work similarly if you’d prefer to use that over corn syrup.

I won’t lie; this recipe takes some finesse. Timing is crucial when it comes time to transfer the mixture to a pan. When you stir in the baking soda, the mixture will foam up like crazy. It’s hard to see, but try to quickly dissolve the baking soda as much as possible before pouring it in the pan. Otherwise you’ll end up with hard, crunchy bits of sugar and pockets of baking soda in your fairy food…yuck. You do want the mixture to deflate a little as you whip it up so the mixture doesn’t continue to expand in the pan, which will create spillage over the edges, and large bubbles. We want nice, even foam that will solidify into toasty, crispy candy.

Fairy Food

Makes an 8×8-inch tray

Choose a saucepan that’s small enough for the tip of the thermometer to be covered in the mixture so you get an accurate reading, but large enough for the mixture to bubble and expand at the very end (it will quite a bit).

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips
2 teaspoons canola oil

Instructions

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment

In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir together sugar, corn syrup and vinegar. Bring to a boil, and heat to hard crack stage, 305-310 F (any less and the result will be chewy, weepy fairy food). This usually takes 15-20 minutes. Make sure the tip of the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan because this will skew your reading. I cranked up the heat partway through cooking to move it along. You should really be using a candy thermometer when working with high temperatures that need to be precise, but if you want to live on the edge, cook until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms hard, brittle threads. Do not stir once the mixture begins to boil.

While you wait for the mixture to reach hard crack stage, line your pan with parchment paper. Have your baking soda measured and ready to go, with no clumps (they will end up in your candy, which is unpleasant!). When the mixture reaches hard crack stage, remove from heat, and quickly stir in the baking soda with a whisk. Get that mixture into the pan, stat, then let cool. It won’t take too long to firm up, but avoid moving the pan so the candy doesn’t deflate while cooling. Cut into little pieces when cool.

Melt the chocolate chips and oil in a makeshift double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth. Dip the candy in the chocolate and place on a parchment-lined sheet until set.

vegan-candy

Infused Vodka Recipes

infused-vodka

Step away from the flavored liquor on store shelves! Can you chop fresh fruit and vegetables? Can you open packages of herbs and spices? Can you buy alcohol? (Sorry, kids.) Then you can make your own pomegranate, jalapeño, chocolate, plum, or other crazy-flavored liquor! And mix flavors that the store-bought stuff* hasn’t seen! Your concoctions are bound to be fresher, and probably cheaper.

I almost feel silly posting a “recipe” for infused vodka because you can infuse practically anything in any amount in the liquor of your choice. And in mere days, sometimes hours! Saving the dark liquors** for the winter months, I chose vodka and bright, summer flavors for this batch. With dried flowers, and cucumbers fresh out of the garden, I whipped up two variations in small batches.

*It can probably be done with vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and some other mystery ingredients, but maybe you should stick to store-bought cake and whipped cream vodkas, if that’s your thing.

**Sorry, Ron Swanson.

cucumbers

Cucumber Vodka

I tasted store-bought cucumber vodka last summer, and let me tell you, this homemade version is 10x fresher and more delicious!

  1. Use 1 large cucumber for 750 ml vodka, or one standard-sized bottle. I made about half that amount here.
  2. Peel the cucumber and scoop out its seeds. The peel will add a bitter flavor.
  3. Chop up your cucumber and add it to the vodka. Let sit for 2 days to 2 weeks in a cool, dry place.
  4. Remove the cucumber pieces, discard, and use the flavored vodka however you wish!

homemade-cucumber-vodka

I’ve been drinking the cucumber vodka with ginger ale and club soda, but it is also great in a flavorful mixed drink, like this cucumber mojito.

Cucumber Mojito

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

10 fresh mint leaves
3 wedges lime
4 cucumber slices
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 oz cucumber vodka
4 oz club soda

Instructions

  1. Muddle the mint leaves, limes, and cucumber slices with the sugar to release the juices and oils.
  2. Top with ice cubes.
  3. Add the vodka and club soda, and stir.
  4. Garnish with cucumber and lime slices.

cucumber-mojito

Hibiscus Rose Vodka

Hibiscus, or Jamaica flowers, is one of the main flavors of Agua de Jamaica, a ruby red tea made with dried hibiscus flowers and fresh lime. Infusing vodka with hibiscus is a quick process, and the resulting liquor tastes amazing with lime. Absolut makes a similar flavor called Absolut Hibiskus & Pomegranate. If you’d like to replicate that, feel free to add some crushed pomegranate seeds and juice!

  1. Use 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers per 1 cup vodka. I replaced some of that with dried rose buds for a floral flavor that goes nicely with the tart, delicate flavor of hibiscus.
  2. Add to vodka and let sit for 3-4 hours. The vodka will become bright pink within minutes. If the flowers steep for longer than a few hours, the vodka will become bitter. Remove the flowers and discard.
  3. Use the flavored vodka however you wish!

hibiscus-vodka

I made this drink to accompany the latest episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” Because I watch shows made for teenagers, whatever. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a murder mystery that follows a group of four high school girls with a stalker called “A” who threatens to reveal their OMG huge secrets. So instead of going to an adult, they get hit by cars, date their English teachers, tell lots of lies, and open 800 plot lines that never get resolved in 5 seasons. There’s creepy dolls, high drama, and lots of gasping. It’s deliciously terrible/wonderful. Just like this hot pink drink, which is more showy than substantial, and filled with secret alcohol you’ll never taste.

Ginger Lime Hibiscus Cocktail

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

8 oz ginger ale
1 1/2 oz hibiscus vodka
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 oz lime simple syrup
1/2 oz Grand Marnier

Instructions

  1. You can shake or stir this drink. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, or a cup of ice.
  2. Pour into a glass (chilled or frozen is best) and garnish with lime or orange slices, and cocktail umbrellas. The more over the top, the better.

girly-drink

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Kitchen Sink Pad Thai

pad-thai-recipe

This tofu Pad Thai is full of crunchy, vibrant vegetables, smothered in creamy peanut sauce, and bursting with flavor from sesame oil, lime, ginger, and basil. You can replace any of the vegetables in this recipe with what you have, hence the kitchen sink label. Apart from the cabbage, green onions, and ginger, I used the vegetables I found in the fridge. I believe that baby corn is a highly divisive vegetable (please weigh in with your thoughts on baby corn in the comments!), but I couldn’t resist. As you may have realized by now, everything about this dish is completely inauthentic. Maybe it’s no longer Pad Thai with the addition of peanut sauce, and chopsticks aren’t typically used in Thailand, but it’s still delicious.

I’ve had a lot of problems pan frying tofu in the past, resulting in soft, wiggly tofus with no crispy edges to be found. Isa wrote a great post on perfectly browned tofu over on the PPK blog, so check that out for some in-depth tofu know-how. The CliffNotes: use extra firm tofu, a metal spatula, and a hot, cast iron pan. Wait a few minutes before flipping the tofu so it forms a nice crispy skin. Ew, skin. A nice crispy exterior.

I’ve listed the recipe steps in the most efficient order. You’ll be working on each part of the dish simultaneously, but you won’t be watching the veggies get cold as the noodles cook. The tofu and marinade can be made ahead of time, but I made everything in short time with minimal waiting, so it can be done.

vegan-pad-thai

Pad Thai Recipe

Makes 4 servings

Tofu

1 lb block extra firm tofu
5-6 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4-5 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
Sriracha to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Peanut sauce

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/3-1/2 cup coconut (canned) or other non-dairy milk
Sriracha to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh basil (optional)

Veggies and noodles

1/2 lb rice noodles

1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
4-5 green onions, sliced (save some for garnish)
1/2 small red cabbage, sliced or shredded (save some for garnish)
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can baby corn
Fresh basil
Lime juice

Garnish

Sliced green onions
Shredded cabbage
Basil leaves
Lime slices
Toasted sesame seeds or peanuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Press tofu for at least 30 minutes. Start chopping veggies during this time.
  2. Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Slice the tofu into cubes or triangles, then pour the marinade over the tofu. Let the marinade soak into the tofu for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the peanut sauce by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. If you haven’t already, finish chopping the veggies while the tofu marinades.
  5. Start boiling a pot of water for the noodles. Remove the tofu from the marinade and reserve the marinade.
  6. Prepare to cook the tofu in a wok, or large cast iron or frying pan. Coat the pan in a thin layer of peanut or vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium high. Add the tofu to the pan, careful not to burn yourself with oil splashes. Pan fry the tofu for 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping with a metal spatula, until crispy and golden. Transfer to a plate.
  7. Add the noodles to the boiling pot of water. Cook according to package directions. Stir fry the veggies while the noodles cook. Drain the cooked noodles, and pour the reserved tofu marinade over them. If the marinade doesn’t coat the noodles, add a few splashes of sesame oil, lime juice, or soy sauce.
  8. Pour a bit more oil in the pan, turn up the heat a little, and start stir frying the vegetables, starting with the onions. Once the onions begin to turn golden, add the celery, broccoli, green onions, cabbage, and garlic. De-glaze the pan with lime juice if  necessary. Stir fry until all the vegetables are soft and almost cooked through. Add the baby corn, then stir fry for one more minute. Turn off the heat and stir in fresh basil.

Assembly

Place a scoop of noodles on the plate and top with a couple scoops of veggies. Place a few pieces of tofu on top. Drizzle some peanut sauce over the veggies and tofu. Garnish with sliced green onions, shredded cabbage, and basil leaves. Squeeze a bit of lime on top and sprinkle with peanuts or sesame seeds, if using.

cucumber-vodka

I paired this dish with a simple cocktail of homemade cucumber vodka and ginger ale. More on the cucumber vodka next week!

Cake Pops

Cake pops

Cake pops! I had so much cake leftover from the last cakes I made that I decided to catch up with the times (in 2010) and make some cake pops.

The recipe is pretty simple and not really an exact science. Combine crumbled up cake with just enough frosting to hold it together. I’ve also seen cream cheese, vanilla extract, or other flavor extracts added to the cake. I had a bowl of chocolate and vanilla cake that took just a few spoonfuls of frosting (less is more: you don’t want to bite into a ball of frosting!) to keep the cake from crumbling. Take 2 tablespoon portions of dough and roll into balls. Stick some cookie sticks (these can be found at craft stores) in the cake balls, place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and freeze until solid.

Finally, you need to melt some chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. It took about 6-7 ounces of chocolate (1 cup chocolate chips) for 10 cake pops. Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the chocolate for smooth dipping.

When the cake pops are frozen, dip each one in the chocolate, return to the baking sheet (or stick in a block of styrofoam or florist’s foam if you want them perfectly round). Then decorate with your choice of sprinkles, chopped nuts, or other colorful dessert makeup. Let the chocolate set, then enjoy!

I wanted to have some fun shooting photos of these cake pops, so I decided to make a whimsical, glittery chocolate solar system!

Cake pops