Homemade Kahlua/White Russians

In addition to the bruschetta that I made last night, some friends and I made our own homemade kahlua, which we used to make white russians. I love liqueurs, but they’re usually absurdly expensive, so I decided to see if it’d be cheaper to make them instead of buying them. When I was in school, my friends and I made homemade Baileys. I’m not sure if in total that one is actually less expensive- stuff like good irish whisky and sweetened condensed milk isn’t cheap. But it does make a LOT of it, and in my opinion it tastes better than the real stuff. So all in all a thumbs up for that recipe.

For this recipe, I don’t actually know what kahlua tastes by itself, but what we made tastes good and that’s what counts, right? Like the Baileys, I also don’t know if this is actually less expensive (in total), but it definitely makes more than a regular bottle.

After dinner we made white russians, which were delicious!

I think everything important I had to say I wrote in my last post, so that’s all I’m going to write for now.

Ingredients
10 cups coffee
1.5 lb light brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
.5-.6 liters everclear (151 proof)
1-2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup instant coffee

For white russians
half and half (or milk or cream)
ice cubes
vodka (optional- in the original recipe, but I didn’t have any)

Brew 10 cups of strong coffee. Pour into a large pot. Heat on medium heat and pour in sugar and instant coffee. Stir until the sugar is all dissolved.

Take off heat and add vanilla and almond extract, and everclear. Pour into bottles and cool.

To make white russians:
In an 8-10 oz old fashioned glass, place 3-4 ice cubes. Fill about halfway with kahlua. If using vodka, add about 1-2 oz. Pour half and half over the back of a spoon and fill the rest of the glass.

Bruschetta

Today was a good day. I managed to catch up with a bunch of different friends, both with friends here in Madison and with friends from school. It was a huge blessing because lately I’d been feeling isolated even though I’d been spending a lot of time surrounded by people. To state the obvious, having quality conversations with people > spending a lot of time with people.

Something that came out of having these conversations was the somewhat painful realization of how much self image is still a struggle in my life. Whether it’s related to body image or personal self worth, it’s become pretty clear that I still have a long way to go.

Time and time again the Bible tells us who were are. We are created in His image (Genesis 1). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). We are children of God (1 John 4). We are friends of God (John 15). We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5). We are sinful people, justified by grace (Romans 3). We have been set free from sin (Romans 6).

It’s also pretty evident that as Christians we are not supposed to live by the standards of this world. That we’re free from the rules of this world (Colossians 2). That our minds should not be set on earthly things, because we are not citizens of this world (Philippians 3). That we’re to seek the approval of God and not man (Galatians 1).

And yet, why is it so hard to put that into practice? Why do scales still make me uneasy? Why do the words and actions of people around me still have the ability to make me feel utterly worthless? Why do I work so hard to gain the respect and approval of my coworkers?

While I’ve definitely made progress in overcoming these issues over the past 4-5 years, I know that I am far from being “fixed”. There is still a lot of growth ahead. I am a work in progress.

Anyway, that’s been on my mind lately, today in particular. The only way that any of that is remotely related to bruschetta is that I happened to make bruschetta today. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the recipe. It was pretty good. The only complaint from a certain food critic friend is that it “tasted too healthy”. So here it is!

Ingredients
8 roma tomatoes, diced
3 tbsp minced garlic
6-8 basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt
pepper
1-2 french baguettes (I used one, but ran out, so two would probably work better)
parmesan cheese, shredded

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, garlic, basil, 1 tbsp olive oil, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for 30 min – 1 hour to let the flavors soak in.

Slice the baguettes into slices ~1 cm thick. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until crispy.

Top each slice with a generous spoonful of the tomato mix. Be sure to drain as much of the liquid from the spoon before placing on the bread so that the bread doesn’t get too soggy.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Spicy Pan-Fried Tofu

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be posting a recipe for tofu, I’d have laughed in your face. Up until really recently I wasn’t really a fan of tofu. But lately I guess it’s been growing on me and I strangely had a craving for it.

I also just recently acquired sriracha sauce and I was excited to use it, so I decided to experiment. I kind of just threw together some things to see how it’d turn out. I was going to put green peppers in it too, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it. Mysterious, huh? I looked everywhere in the kitchen, but couldn’t find it. Guess where I found it? In my car! It must have rolled out of the bag when I was driving home from the supermarket. Anyway, case of the missing pepper solved.

Sadly when you cover food in a dark sauce, it’s hard to make it look attractive. The picture’s not great, but it tasted pretty good. And it was nice and spicy. Spicy enough for my Hmong friend. Her only complaint was that she wished there was meat in it. Meat probably would have been good [ground pork I’m guessing], but I’m just so non-functional in the morning when I wake up that I can never remember to take meat out of the freezer. Then when I get home, I’m too hungry to want to wait for meat to defrost. So sadly, no meat in this one.

Ingredients
14 oz extra firm tofu
1 large carrot
3 large shiitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
sugar
salt
garlic powder
oil

Cut the tofu into small cubes. Sprinkle with salt on both sides. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop carrots and mushrooms into thin slices.

In a frying pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Use a paper towel to blot dry the tofu. Add to the frying pan in single layer and let brown (2-3 minutes). Flip and brown the other sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the carrots. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and garlic powder. Add a few tablespoons of water and the mushrooms, and cook until the carrots are soft.

In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, ~3 tablespoons of water, the sriracha sauce, the cornstarch and a pinch of sugar together. Add to the frying pan with the carrots and mushrooms and heat until the sauce thickens. Add the tofu and mix until the tofu is coated with the sauce.

Microwave Mochi

It was my family group’s turn to provide snacks today, so two friends and I made roasted pork for fajitas and these mochi snacks for dessert. Incidentally one of these friends isn’t even in my family group, but she’s really good at cooking/baking, so we drafted her to help. Thanks friend!

I’m not posting the recipe for the roasted pork because I wasn’t involved in making it, so I don’t even have any idea what was in it.

As for the mochi things, I’ve had this mochi recipe in my bookmarks for a while now, and finally got around to trying it. I was deciding what to make and went with this one because it was April Fools Day today and the idea of making another form of fake sushi on April Fools Day amused me. I decided also to make the red bean paste ones because I figured people would like them. I don’t actually like red bean paste, so I have no idea what those ones tasted like. Come to think of it, I didn’t get one of the fruit/mochi sushi pieces either (they disappeared too fast), so I can’t really make any commentary on how these turned out.

People did tell me that they were good though, so I’m going to call this one a success. On several occasions people voiced their surprise that these were homemade because they tasted like they were from a store. That’s not necessarily a compliment (usually I would hope that homemade would taste better than store bought), but I think they were meant to be compliments.

Anyhow, I am really tired and want to go to bed soon, so I’m going to stop rambling and get on to the recipe. Enjoy!

Recipe from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Ingredients*
3/4 cup Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour
3/4 cup water
3 tbsp sugar
cornstarch

1 can red bean paste
Assorted fruit (I used blackberries, mangoes, and strawberries)

In a pyrex bowl, mix the flour, water and sugar together. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove from microwave (it’s REALLY HOT).

Line a plate with cornstarch. Scoop out spoonfuls of the dough on to the cornstarch. You’ll probably want to wait for it to cool a little bit, and you’ll want to cover your hands with cornstarch too, otherwise the dough will stick to your fingers. To make the nigiri, simply form logs (~2″ x .5″ x .5″), roll in cornstarch, and set aside to cool. To make the red bean paste ones, form a flat circle (~3″ in diameter, ~.25″ thick) with a little well in the middle. Put ~1 tsp (didn’t actually measure) of red bean paste in the well and fold in the sides. Roll around to make a flat disc shape and set aside to cool.

Once they’re cooled, the red bean paste ones are done. Shake off excess cornstarch and enjoy! For the nigiri, shake off the excess cornstarch, top with fruit of your choice and enjoy!

*I’m not sure how many of each these measurements make. In total I think we made 7-9 batches and made about 40 red bean paste ones and 25 nigiri. That used up almost 2 boxes of the rice flour, and probably less than 1/2 of the can of red bean paste.