I'm really starting to surprise myself. I really can't tell  you where this idea came from, but the result was great! The whole family was impressed. 
   This morning, we had bacon, eggs, and waffles with real maple syrup. The maple syrup somehow stayed in my mind as I scanned the liquor cabinet, and my eyes settled on the Wild Turkey Honey American. Honey whiskey and maple syrup. What would go well with that? Chicken. A marinade. Or a basting liquid!
So after grilling the basted chicken, I used a little of the remainder to flavor a dipping sauce. Great for an appetizer! (You could also do a tasty fried chicken version!)
NOTE: You may have some of the reduction left. This is really tasty on a biscuit!

1/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup whiskey (I used Wild Turkey Honey American)
3 pieces bacon, fried
8 chicken tenderloins

Dipping Sauce:
2 tbsp of maple/whiskey reduction
bacon from the cooked reduction
3-4 tbsp plain yogurt
2-3 tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp dijon mustard

   Bring whiskey to a boil. Add syrup and bacon, and boil for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off heat and let cool slightly (You don't want the heat of the basting reduction to "cook" the chicken.). 
   While the reduction cools, spoon off the bacon and about 2 tbsp of the reduction into a bowl. Combine cream cheese, yogurt and mustard in the same bowl. Heat slightly so that the mixture blends completely. Set aside for dipping.
   Now slide tenderloins onto skewers and use the cooled reduction to baste them. Grill 5-8 minutes; baste once or twice as they cook. 
   Plate and eat!!

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   The idea for this dessert came from a martini. Not too long ago, one of the guys at my local liquor store (who is always spot on with his recommendations for wine and cocktail ideas) recommended a new vanilla vodka to me and sug-gested I make a martini with it using both Baileys and Kahlua. The martini is
awesome, it’s a great after dinner drink; but the idea for the crème brulee didn’t come so easily for me.
   At first, I planned to do liqueur infused truffles for my dessert for the week; but I wasn’t really happy with the idea. I kept thinking of that martini and wondering if there was some way I could turn that into a dessert, and all of a sudden it hit me: crème brulee. I love crème brulee, and this seemed like a perfect idea. Incidentally, the martini is almost a mudslide, except there’s no cream in it or chocolate syrup (which is sometimes in a mudslide). So, that’s how the Mudslide Crème Brulee idea was born. And it’s completely awesome too! Try it tonight!!

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 Tablespoons vanilla vodka (I used Cupcake Vineyards Frosting Vodka)
2 Tablespoons Kahlua
2 Tablespoons Baileys
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup turbinado sugar, more as needed (I used Sugar in the Raw)

   Combine the milk, vodka, Kahlua, and Baileys in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until just about to boil, about 4 minutes. Turn off heat, and let sit for 15 minutes; this will help infuse the liqueur flavors into the milk. After the 15 minutes, preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and set a medium saucepan of water on to boil (once it starts to boil, turn down the heat and keep it at a simmer). Put your saucepan of milk back onto medium high heat and bring to a simmer; once the milk mixture simmers, take it off of the heat.

   In a large, heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, pinch of salt, and sugar together. Now, you’ll need to blend your egg yolks with the hot milk mixture. You do this so that you don’t get cooked egg in your crème brulee, which no one wants. To temper it, drizzle a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the
egg yolks, while constantly whisking. After a minute or so, very, very slowly drizzle in the remaining milk mixture into the egg yolks, while constantly whisking. Once it’s all incorporated, skim off any foam or bubbles with a spatula and let it cool slightly for about 2-3 minutes, then whisk in the cream.

   Pour the mixture into 4 small ramekins (about 4-5 inches across), filling almost to the top. Set the ramekins into a baking dish and then very carefully (you don’t want any water to splash into the custard) pour the simmering water into the baking dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, then bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, until custards are firm at the edges, but not completely set in the center. Take the ramekins out of the water and put on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, you can proceed with the recipe, or refrigerate until you’re ready to finish the crème brulee; if you refrigerate them, put a small layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard, so that a skin doesn’t form on top.

   When ready to finish the crème brulee, gently blot the surface of them to remove any condensation, sift a fine, even layer of turbinado sugar over the top. Torch the sugar with a baking torch until lightly browned, then sift another layer over that and torch again; repeat one more time. If you don’t have a crème brulee torch, then preheat your broiler and put the custards under the broiler to brown the sugar, add another layer, then brown again under the broiler, and repeat one more time.

   NOTE: Normally, in crème brulee, I use a vanilla bean, but I was out of them, and had a ton of vanilla extract. I think the normal substitution is one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for one vanilla bean. I just used a little extra extract in my crème brulee. If you use a vanilla bean, then cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, and put in the milk mixture with the liqueurs. You can strain out the vanilla bean if you want after the milk mixture has set for 15 minutes by pouring through a sieve, or you can leave it in.

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   The inspiration for this recipe also came from the book, Cooking with Booze. There was a recipe for a pepper vodka hummus, and I was immediately intrigued by the idea of using vodka in hummus. I decided to come up with my own version.
   I love roasted red bell pepper hummus and happened to have some red bell peppers on hand, so I made a red bell pepper version; instead of the lemon juice that traditionally goes in hummus, I used Absolut Citron vodka. It turned out good, there’s a very subtle vodka taste to it, which enhances the overall flavor. Make some this weekend!!

2 roasted red bell peppers
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup tahini
¼ cup Abolut Citron vodka
1/8 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish

   First, you’ll need to roast your bell peppers. My favorite way is to roast them over the flames of the gas burners on my stove. I just put them on the flames, turn them with tongs as they char, and when they’re all good and charred, put them in a Ziploc bag and seal it immediately so that they can steam and cool.
   If you don’t have a gas stove, you can roast them in the oven…just cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, rub the peppers with olive oil, and roast them at 450 or 475 degrees (or try the broiler, but watch them carefully), turning occasionally, until blackened; when they come out the oven, pop them in the Ziploc bag.

   Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, rub off the skin, remove the seeds, and cut them into large chunks. Put the peppers, chick peas, garlic, tahini, and vodka in a food processor and pulse until well combined. 
   With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and let combine; season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley and another drizzle of olive oil. Serve with pita chips.

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   I have two fantastic cookbooks by Ryan Jennings and David Steele, one called Cooking With Booze and one called Entertaining With Booze. In thumbing through them for inspiration, I came across a grilled chicken recipe that used Kahlua in the marinade. I was immediately intrigued. I have never, ever thought of using Kahlua with chicken before. I tweaked the recipe a bit…changed up some things and left some things out, and I was really happy with the end result. Serve it on a bed of sautéed spinach and garlic, a side of rice with diced avocado and hot sauce, and an ice cold beer!

¼ cup Kahlua
Juice of 2 limes (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
3-4 cloves garlic
½ onion, cut into large pieces
Handful of fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Put the Kahlua, lime juice, olive oil, hot sauce, garlic, onion, cilantro, ketchup, mustard, and spices in a blender or food processor and blend until well combined (it’s ok if it’s a little chunky). Put the chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour about half of the marinade into it and marinate chicken for at least 4 hours, or overnight; reserve the remaining marinade. When ready to cook, grill the chicken for 8-10 minutes per side, until it’s cooked through, no longer pink, and juices run clear. Reheat the reserved marinade in a small saucepan over medium low heat and serve to spoon over chicken.

NOTE: I was only cooking for two when I made this, which is why I put 2-4 chicken breasts. I based all of my measurements on 2 chicken breasts, so you may want to make extra marinade if you use more chicken; you’ll get about ¾ cup of marinade with this recipe. Make sure that you do NOT reheat the marinade that you put the chicken in, only use what you set aside.

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   My husband has been bugging me to make gumbo ever since we started harvesting okra from our garden. But I have a problem making hot soup food when it is a hundred degrees outside!
   Now that the weather has cooled, I thought alcohol would be awesome in gumbo. AND... seeing as how I've never made a gumbo, I think this one was great! I found a recipe on the Food Network's site, but felt that I could do it better: I used bacon fat, because anything with bacon fat is automatically good. Too, I used three times as much bourbon. First of all, you cook off part of it. Then, I thought, I want to taste it!! So I added more when I put the shrimp in the mix... Much better! 
   I've decided that, along with chili and my Sick Day Chicken Soup (http://www.kitchenpsycho.com/1/post/2011/01/sick-day.html), this will be a Fall/Wintertime favorite! SOOOO gooood!

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup bacon fat drippings (or you can just use 1/2 cup veg oil)
1/2 all-purpose flour
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1/2 cup bourbon whiskey (I used Knob Creek)
6 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 pounds frozen chicken thighs and leg, boneless, skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces (if they're frozen, they'll be perfectly cooked when the whole thing is done!)
2 cups sliced okra
2 bay leaves
1-2 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce
1 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown rice)

   Combine the oil and the flour in a stockpot over medium heat. With a wooden spoon stir the mixture slowly and constantly. After about 5 minutes the mixture will begin to foam. Keep stirring. This mixture is called a roux. As the roux cooks, the color will darken and the flour will have a nice nutty aroma. It should take about 15 minutes to fully develop a nice dark brown roux.

   Now add the celery, onions and peppers and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add half of the bourbon after about five minutes and stir for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth about a cup at a time, stirring. Add the remaining ingredients, diced tomatoes, chicken, okra, bay leaves, hot sauce, salt and pepper.

   Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, skimming off the oil that rises to the surface and stirring occasionally. In the last 7 minutes, add the shrimp and remaining bourbon and cook until the shrimp is no longer pink. At the very last minute add the fresh cilantro. Season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Remove bay leaves and serve with rice!

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   Whoa! Lookit that pic!!! Doesn't that look AWESOME? Well, believe you me, it doesn't disappoint. 
   Lately, my husband and I have been dying to light up the fire pit in the back yard, but we live in East Texas. We've had a burn ban active for the last two months, as we've had very little rain and over 70 straight days of 100+ degree weather. Just this last weekend, the hot weather broke, and the high yesterday was 86!! So the cooler weather has us crying for an outside fire. Hence, my S'mores idea. I thought, s'mores by the fire are a classic. How can I spice it up a bit? ALCOHOL!!! 
   I found the recipe for the marshmallow frosting somewhere, but the chocolate and the crust are all mine. Have fun with this one, guys!
Note: A friend asked about a "Virgin" version... Just add milk in place of the liqueurs. You might even add a tsp of mint flavoring for something different!

2 packages of cinnamon graham crackers (a box comes with three), crushed
1 stick plus 2 tbsp butter, melted

   Crush crackers using a potato masher. After reaching crumb consistency, add melted butter and mix well. Spread mixture into a  10x14 baking sheet. Refrigerate while making chocolate filling.

Chocolate Filling:
18 oz semisweet chocolate chips (1 1/2 bags) OR baking chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
1/4 c heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 egg yolks

   Melt chocolate over very low heat. Stir in liqueurs and cream.
   Beat egg yolks, then stir a small amount of chocolate mixture into eggs, then slowly add the eggs to the chocolate mixture. Mixture will thicken. Add butter. Stick this in the freezer for about an hour. 

Marshmallow Frosting
2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp water
1 tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla extract

Note: Make this about an hour after the chocolate goes in the fridge. 

   In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160°F on an instant-read thermometer), about 3 minutes. 
   Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the mixture until it is very warm and soft (but not dry) peaks form, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer to low and add the marshmallows and vanilla. Continue beating until the marshmallows are melted and the frosting is completely smooth, about 2 minutes more. 

   Take baking sheet out of the fridge and chocolate out of the freezer. Spread chocolate over grahams evenly. Spread marshmallow frosting over top of refrigerated grahams and chocolate. Refrigerate before serving.
   NOTE: You can omit the whole refrigeration and serve immediately, if you want the gooey effect. But I discovered that the refrigeration somehow lets you taste the liquor better... and isn't that the point??

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