Hellboy Hell Water

Forget Fireball. Next time you need to reach for a cinnamon whiskey, you’ve got Hellboy on your side. The new Hellboy Hell Water is a small batch, naturally flavored cinnamon whiskey, micro – distilled, bottled and styled in the old traditional process of making Southern Corn Whiskey. And because it’s Hell Water, it’s 66.6 Proof. Ugh, it’s too perfect. AND you can buy it online for only $20.

Not sure what to do with Hellboy Hell Water (other than drink it straight)? The Hell Water Recipe page has some great ideas. My faves include:

Hellboy and Hazelnut

Equal Parts:

  • Hellboy Hell Water Cinnamon Whiskey
  • Hazelnut Liqueur

Shake with ice and strain.

Hellboy Monster Mule

  • 1 part Hellboy Hell Water Cinnamon Whiskey
  • 5 parts Ginger Ale

Garnish with cherries and serve on the rocks.

Hellboy Cinnamon Crunch

  • 1.5 ounces Hellboy Hell Water Cinnamon Whiskey
  • 1.5 ounces RumChata

Fill a martini shaker with ice, Hellboy Hell Water Cinnamon Whiskey and Rum Chata. Shake and strain into a martini glass, or a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a dusting of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.

 

What would you make with a bottle of Hell Water?

Night Owl Mug Cake

We’ve all had those nights: the ones where you’re up in the wee hours, working feverishly on a new creative project. It’s pitch black outside, quiet inside, and the glow of your computer is lighting up the room. I’m normally a morning person, but a few times a year, I get a hankering to pull an all-nighter–usually when coding a website or working on a writing project. And no matter how excited I am when I get started, there’s usually a point in the middle when my mind is still racing, but my eyes start to droop and my stomach starts to rumble. I need a pick me up.

So I created the Night Owl Mug Cake, a quick a delicious treat you can make when the craving for something sweet, warm, and caffeinated grabs you. It’s the perfect excuse to step away from your project for a couple minutes, and can be made any time with items you most likely have in your pantry already.

I was inspired to create this by Gourmesso coffee. They reached out to me, wondering if I wanted to try some of their capsules for my Nespresso machine. (They’re delicious and cost 30% less than your average Nespresso branded capsules!) I love that you can use the machine to create one espresso shot in no time. It works perfectly for the single serving mug cake and makes prep/clean up super easy. But be warned, this means this mug cake is caffeinated! I use one of the capsules meant for the short/espresso function, and for this cake I used one that has a caffeine level of “7.” Use whatever caffeine level you feel you need, and if you don’t have a Nespresso, you’re welcome to substitute espresso/coffee however you normally make it.

Ready for a cozy and caffeinated treat to keep you going late into the night? Let’s get started.

Night Owl Mug Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A caffeinated chocolate mug cake to get you through those all-nighters!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 TBS Flour
  • 2 TBS Cocoa Powder
  • 3 TBS Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 TBS Espresso
  • 1 TBS Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 TBS Oil
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • Whipped Cream (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all dry ingredients into a mug. Mix together.
  2. Add all wet ingredients into a mug. Whisk with a fork until everything is well mixed.
  3. Microwave for 90 seconds.
  4. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, and enjoy!

Isn’t that easy? Make sure you enjoy it while it’s nice and warm!

Working on an all-nighter with a group? Make a batch of my Epic Win Cupcakes in advance for a caffeinated kick. Looking for something a bit more healthy? My “Healthy Gaming Snacks” Pinterest Board has a bunch of great ideas!

Cake Decorating Trends for 2017

As I said in my last post, one of my resolutions this year is to learn how to properly decorate cakes. So I thought I’d do a bit of research on the hot trends in cake and cupcake decorating. Here are some of the hottest decorating trends for 2017, in no particular order:

Naked

Naked Cake

This style of cake has been around for a couple years, and it’s still gathering steam. Bakers are learning that no one really likes tons of fondant, and that a cake can look elegant and beautiful on its own. This cake is more difficult than it looks to make, because your cake and icing layers must look good. (Although you can play around a little bit with decor like flowers and berries to disguise anything imperfect.) I can just imagine a cake like this for a Hobbit-themed party! (Cake by Miss Ingredient.)

Geode

Geode Cake

This is one of the coolest cakes I saw in 2016. Originally created by Rachael Teufel of Intricate Icings, this entirely edible cake is a classy way to show off your love of science. The geode is made of rock candy and accented with gold flecks. The idea looks extravagant but is fairly easy to do, which is why you’ll see a lot of copycats in this next year.

 

Metallic

Gold Sequin Cake

Speaking of gold flecks… Many wedding trend experts are claiming that metallic cakes are still a hot thing this year. And it’s no surprise. With a variety of tools (edible spray paint, edible paint, and edible gold flecks) available, you can get a wide range of lux looks easily. (Learn how to make this gold sequin cake at TheCakeBlog.com.)

Over the Top

Over the Top Cake

Yeah, sprinkles do make it better. And so does candy and cereal and additional baked goods and… Yeah. People get a bit carried away with their cake decorations. AND I LOVE IT. I’m obsessed with this over-the-top decadent trend. Just looking at this cake feels like the most fun party you’ve ever been to. I can imagine one with tons of candy being perfect for a Wreck It Ralph themed party, and one with tons of rainbow/technicolor making the perfect “Lisa Frank”-style throwback birthday cake. (This “Hero Cake” can be ordered from Unbirthday Bakery.)

Drizzle Cakes

Drizzle Cake

If you check out my Pinterest board, you’ll see a lot of this style there. Why? Because it’s relatively simple and makes every cake automatically look drool-worthy. Plus, it can work with almost every trend mentioned above. Drizzle over a naked or metallic cake for an added oomph, or add sprinkles and candies on top to make it absolutely ridiculous in the best way. This is first on my list of cake decorating skills to master. (Learn how to make this cake at TheFirstYearBlog.com.)

 

Want more decorating inspiration? Check out my new Cake Decorating Pinterest board. And let me know in the comments what trends you’re most excited about!

My Resolutions for 2017

2016 has been a busy year over here. I launched a line of natural sprinkles and sugars, had recipes show up in Board Game Bento’s subscription box, did double duty as a sexy goldfish AND sexy Alexander Hamilton, and could even be found hosting Dungeons and Dragons’ and Desert Bus for Hope’s charity livestreams.

2017 will already be off to a great start with a redesign of the natural sprinkles and sugars and a NEW product line coming out in February. Stay tuned for more info on both of those! (And with those will come a site redesign. Exciting stuff!) But new products aren’t the only thing to come from a new year. I’m taking time this week to think about the things I want to do to make my life even better and more fulfilling in 2017, and I’ve come up with a few resolutions:

Learn to make beautiful cakes

I’ve focused on cupcakes and gotten pretty darn good at them. I can whip up some professional looking cupcakes in no time, and they’re a go-to when I need something to bring to a party. But I attempted to make a normal layer cake this year, thinking it would be easy. It was, to put it lightly, a disaster. I’ve ordered some basic cake decorating supplies from Amazon and started an inspirational Pinterest board. This year, I’m determined to master a few basic recipes and decorating techniques for cakes. I’ll make sure to post any successes to the blog so you can learn too!

Read at least a book a month

Ok, ok. I know that this seems so easy if you’re a reader. But unfortunately, I spend so much time on the computer, that I don’t give myself the time to sit down with a book. So this year, I’m going to actively try to unplug and get away from screens more and sit and read physical books. I’m hoping to read more than 12 books, but didn’t want to scare myself with too ambitious of a goal. I’m currently reading The Girl on the Train and Ship of Magic, and have Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Drunk Tank Pink, You May Also Like, and The Name of the Wind on deck. Know of a book I should add to my “To Be Read” pile? Let me know in the comments.

Visit a new Seattle restaurant each month

I love exploring new restaurants and places in Seattle, but have gotten so comfortable with cooking at home and visiting old favorites, that I’m starting to lose touch on the restaurant scene. So I’m going to keep an eye on Eater’s Heat Map for Seattle, and pick a new restaurant to try each month!

Finish my “100 Good Deeds” Bracelet

I have this awesome bracelet that has 100 beads on it, each one representing a good deed. You move a little rubber stopper past the beads each time you do a good deed, and I’m hoping to complete the bracelet in a year. This is extremely ambitious, and means I need to be doing a new good deed once every three and a half days. I’m not counting things like “letting another car in during traffic” or “tipping a waiter well when they don’t deserve it” or other things that would qualify as just being a decent human. If you have any suggestions of creative good deeds or random acts of kindness I could do, let me know in the comments! (You can get a bracelet yourself at 100gooddeeds.org.)

What are your resolutions for 2017?

Kitchen Products for Star Wars Fans

With the release of Rogue One today, I’ve been seeing some great new Star Wars products pop up. No longer are the days where you can find a poster and a couple men’s shirts. Now you can’t go more than a few feet without seeing something else with the Star Wars brand. And I’m not upset about it. Case in point: These kitchen products. They’re useful and attractive, and shows off your fandom in a way never before possible. Treat yourself to one, or grab one for your friend who likes to cook, or maybe runs a geeky food blog (hint, hint).

Darth Vader’s Lightsaber Immersion Blender

You know those objects that you can’t live without once you find out they exist? Yeah. My immersion blender will never be as cool as this. $29.99

Death Star Popcorn Maker and Bowl

Movie nights just got WAY more awesome. Plus, this hot air popcorn maker looks attractive on your counter when not in use! $49.99

Darth Vader Oven Mitt

 You can still look bad-ass even when practicing safe kitchen behavior, and this oven mitt is proof. You can also get a Stormtrooper Oven Mitt, or if you’re like me, you’ll want one of both. $17.95

 Lightsaber Spatula

Everyone could use a nice, new spatula. And why get a boring one when you could get a LIGHTSABER ONE? I rest my case. $19.99

Lightsaber Pizza Cutter

You may be saying, “Tara, there are too many lightsaber utensils.” To which I would say, “I don’t understand. That’s not a thing. Did you know this one makes lightsaber sounds when you cut pizza with it?” $14.62

Lightsaber BBQ Tongs

Oh! You thought we were done with the lightsaber kitchen tools. That’s cute. Anyway, this lightsaber is also BBQ tongs and also makes noises, and look at that, it has a red storage case so you can play with it when you’re not BBQing. You clearly need this. $29.99

 

So there you have it. My Christmas wish list I mean, last minute holiday gift ideas for anyone who loves Star Wars, which is basically anyone you know.

Do you have any fun Star Wars kitchen items? Are any of the ones above on your holiday wish list? Let me know in the comments!

Host an Escape Room in Your Own Home

If you and your friends are anything like mine, you’ve done all of the Escape Rooms currently in your city, and can’t wait for a new one to open. Well, luckily, we don’t have to wait anymore: you can now host an Escape Room in your own home! There’s no advanced prep needed and you can even participate.

I have to admit, I was skeptical. Would the Escape Room in the box give the same experience as the actual rooms? Would it be challenging enough for me and my friends? Would it be fun? So when I was given the chance to try out the new game, I jumped at the chance. And spoilers: It was even better than we were all expecting. It was fun and challenging, and I truly think Escape Room noobs and veterans alike will have a good time.

For those who haven’t done an Escape Room before, the basic gist is this: You must solve various puzzles as a group to get information that will let you through a (figuratively) locked door. There is a time limit, and it’s a fast-paced, kinda-stressful-but-actually-fun group activity. It’s exhilarating and gets your mind working. I’d highly recommend them.

This game comes with four different escape “rooms”, and each one is a separate 60 minute adventure. The skill levels vary, and if you go in this order, you can work your way up:

  • Prison Break (2/5)
  • Virus (2/5)
  • Nuclear Countdown (3/5)
  • Temple of the Aztec (4/5)

I decided to have us start with Virus, since my friends have done escape rooms before. And plus, it was the easiest to plan a party around. (Come on, it’s me.)

lab-snacks

I made some laboratory-inspired dishes, like cakes in beakers (don’t use cotton candy thinking it’ll look like smoke. It’ll end up hardening and just looking weird. Lessons learned.) and an awesome “virus punch”.

Thank you to the fabulous Jenn for modeling the drink. And for willingly wearing a Haz-Mat suit.

Thank you to the fabulous Jenn for modeling the drink. And for willingly wearing a HAZMAT suit.

Put some green sherbet in the container of your choice, and slowly fill with lemon-lime soda. It’ll get all foamy and awesome looking! Easy and delicious.

Anyway, back to the game. We beat the “Virus” Escape Room in about 40 minutes, and we were all so jazzed by it, we wanted to do another right away. So we did Nuclear Countdown. (Luckily, if you end up going through a couple in a night, expansion packs will be coming out starting in 2017. And if you want to share the joy of the room with someone else, you can download anything you may have written on/folded/destroyed during the game from the Escape Room website.)

I unfortunately can’t tell you too much about the adventures themselves without spoiling them, but I can give you some peeks at what comes in the box and some tips for when you play:

game

The box does not come with gloves or glasses. We just wanted to be prepared for the virus. You understand.

The box comes with separate envelopes for each adventure, and a “Chrono Decoder” with a set of plastic keys. The Chrono Decoder acts as your timer, counting down the 60 minutes and letting you know when you can take a “hint” card. (Even if you think you don’t need it, it’s helpful to look at the hint. No one will judge you.) It’s also how you prove that you’ve solved the puzzle! You place plastic keys into the Chrono Decoder in a specific way based on the puzzles you’ve solved, and it will let you know if you can move onto the next level or if you were wrong.

chrono-decoder

The decoder also has actual decoders on the side if itself, which will come in handy throughout the adventure.

I would suggest having a couple of things on hand before you begin:

what-you-need

  • A table or clear space to spread everything out and work.
  • Blank paper and a pencil. You’ll need scratch paper and a way to take notes.
  • A working phone. You may need to use it in various ways. Plus, you can use the Escape Room app on it, which has themed music for each adventure and a place to take and upload a picture once you’ve solved the adventure!

Basically, the Escape Room game is amazing, and should be on your holiday list. I’ll be bringing my copy to my family’s place and we’ll be trying the other two adventures down there! Pick up your copy from the Spin Master store. Have you done an Escape Room before? And which adventure in the Escape Room box are you most excited to try?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

It’s Cookie Decorating Season!

 

Get out your favorite cookie cutters and recipes, and stock up on fun sprinkles and natural sugars: Cookie Decorating Season is here!

Save 25% on your entire Geeky Hostess order today through Monday, November 28th. Just head on over to geekyhostess.com/shop and use code “COOKIE”.

Are you outside of the US? Visit the Geeky Hostess Etsy shop for international shipping! (The same code works there.)

Sheriff Moss’s “Usual” from Alys

the-usual

My lovely friend Kiri Callaghan recently re-released Alys, the first book in the Steampunk Fantasy series the Terra Mirum Chronicles, under a new publisher, Doce Blant.  And I wanted to celebrate the best way I know how: by making food.

First of all, a description of Alys from the publisher:

Following her best friend’s suicide, Alyson Carroll descends into the realm of Dreams and Nightmares. In her quest to find home, she discovers that Charlie might not truly be gone after all, but when she meets Oswin, the prince of Terra Mirum, she must face her own fears and raise an army against The Nightmare Queen, or surrender as the world of dreams is consumed by terror and darkness forever.

It’s a take on Alice in Wonderland with a hint of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sounds fantastic, right?

I chatted with Kiri about the perfect meal to eat while reading Alys, and we decided on making a hearty diner meal: something that Susie’s Diner, the place Alys works, would serve up with a big pot of coffee. So I created “the usual” that Sheriff Moss orders on a daily basis (unless he works a double the night before). He has a big appetite, so it’s a LOT of food. (I’d recommend sharing it with a friend.) But on a gray, rainy, Washington day, this breakfast and a copy of Alys is all you need.

The breakfast is not fancy or fussy. You make enough food to fill a plate (or two, or three…) and you serve it with coffee. I tried to include all of the diner staples. While this is Sheriff Morris’s usual, it may not be yours. Feel free to change the recipe up.

His order is the Two Egg Meal (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, hashbrowns, bacon, and toast) and an additional side of sausage. I started cooking the hashbrowns (from a frozen package) while cooking the sausage in a different pan and cooking the pancakes (made easily from a mix) on an electric griddle. Once those are complete, plate what you’ve got, pop the toast in a toaster or on the griddle, and cook the bacon and eggs in separate pans. (I chose to fry the eggs in the pan I made sausage in to add a bit of flavor.) Top the toast and pancakes with butter, and serve with jam, syrup, and tons of black coffee. Sit down and enjoy a good book.

You can get a copy of Alys now here. Let me know what you think of it, and tell me in the comments: what’s your “usual” at your local diner?

Class Up Your Dinner Party with Hellboy Wine

 

I’m such a sucker for geeky wine collaborations, so naturally I love this. Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with Portland, OR’s Stoller Family Estate Winery to create the 2011 Hellboy Reserve Pinot Noir.

If you’ve never tried wine from Oregon, you’re missing out. I can guarantee this wine will be fantastic, and the label will make you want to save the bottle after it’s empty. The Hellboy Reserve is the perfect bottle to bring over to a dinner party, or to cozy up with while reading your new pulls.

According to the press release, “The wine label for the 2011 Hellboy Reserve Pinot Noir features an illustration by legendary HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola and Eisner Award-winning colorist Dave Stewart which originally appeared as the cover for the classic comic book HELLBOY: THE SLEEPING AND THE DEAD #2.”

The wine is currently available for pre-order and will be released on October 31st. This is the first in the Hellboy series. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

Purchase your bottle at stollerfamilyestate.com.

Sexy Alexander Hamilton: The Photo Shoot

The goldfish may have officially won the “Ridiculous Sexy Halloween Costume” contest for the year, but so many of you commented about how much you loved the Alexander Hamilton costume, that I just needed to do a shoot with that as well. (Special thanks to Yandy for sending me the costume! It’s not too late: you too can be a sexy Alexander Hamilton this Halloween!)

The lovely and talented Liz Leo shot these pics of me at King’s Hardware, where we stumbled upon the perfect American Flag table in their back patio. It was meant to be. And for those asking, this costume is very comfortable and well made. It’s the highest quality pre-made costume I’ve seen! So turn on the Hamilton soundtrack and guess which song lyrics served as inspiration for each pic:

hamilton-headshot

hamilton-ten-dollar

hamilton-shot-collage

hamilton-beer

hamilton-book-collage hamilton-kings