Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa

Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa


Looking at my note, written in a buzzed state outside a bar in the Highlands of Louisville, I questioned my sanity:  bacon, bourbon, hazelnut hot chocolate.


Yeah, I’m not exactly sure what Johnna and I were talking about when that idea came to me. After some bourbon and moving on to hard cider, you stop questioning things and just write down the ideas that you think are genius because you know you’ll never remember them if you don’t.

I thought I was far from genius as I tried to puzzle out how I would pull it off.

Bacon. Bourbon. Hazelnut. Hot Chocolate.

Seriously. What the hell?

I know I like to put bacon in my food like:

Dairy-Free Corn Chowder

Grain-Free Bacon & Veg Quiche

Kitchen Sink Pasta

Pumpkin Maple Bacon Pancakes

I thought this idea went too far because I couldn’t figure out how it should be done. It only took me eleven months to figure it out. Candied bacon.

This may be more steps than you want for hot cocoa, but it is worth it. You will need Hazelnut milk, which you can make with Hazelnut Butter. This is not necessarily easily available and where most of your prep time will be if you make it yourself. The end result is heavenly though. Mine came out fluffier than you would expect a nut butter to be.

This is not dairy-free because of the whipped cream I used. I can’t make coconut whipped cream because of my allergies, but I think it would work well with this. If you can’t have dairy or coconut, there are lots of nut whipped cream recipes online. And if you can’t have nuts try marshmallows! I prefer marshmallows in my hot cocoa, but because of my corn allergy I need to make my own and I wasn’t up to the task when I developed this last week. I had a lot of other things on my plate.

I’m pretty sure you can make the candied bacon with coconut bacon if you are vegetarian or vegan. I’m guessing some of my followers will be trying it with candied bacon and letting me know.

Candied Bacon

2 teaspoons honey (or pure maple syrup)

½ teaspoon bourbon

2 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 300 and line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper. Mix together the honey and bourbon. Lay out bacon slices on the tray and brush half the mixture over the bacon. Turn slices over and brush remaining mixture on the other side. Bake for up to 30 minutes or until bacon is browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool before chopping into pieces.

Hazelnut Butter

3 cups hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Spread hazelnuts evenly on a baking tray. Roast them for 10-15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place hazelnuts between two towel and rub together to remove the skins or place in paper bag and rub them together in the bag. Remove as much of the remaining skins as possible and place the nuts in a food processor. Add a pinch or two of salt if desired. Process the nuts until you have a creamy nut butter consistency, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Creamy Hazelnut Milk

4 cups  filtered water

4 tablespoons Hazelnut Butter

Add ingredients to a blender and blend on high for a at least one minute. Transfer to an airtight liquid container and store in the refrigerator. Shake before using.Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa 2

Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa

1 ½ cups Creamy Hazelnut Milk

1 – 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or Dutch processed cocoa)

1 tablespoon raw local honey or pure maple syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)

1 teaspoon maca root powder (optional)

1 ounce bourbon

Whipped cream (of choice)

Candied Bacon, chopped

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cacao powder, mace root powder, and sweetener of choice. Whisk together until well-incorporated and allow to continue to heat. Add in bourbon and remove from heat, whisking together before pouring into a mug. Top with whipped cream then candied bacon.

Cinnamon Bourbon Green Tea

Sri Lanka Tea at Ramsi's Cafe On The World

Sri Lanka Tea at Ramsi’s Cafe On The World

I realized I never actually blogged about the time we met up with Johnna and her favorite fella last August while they were in Louisville working at the Kentucky State Fair. I have no idea how that happened.

We met at Ramsi’s Café on the World in the Highlands area. Ramsi’s is one of my favorite choices because I know they can handle my multiple food allergies and intolerances. I know our server didn’t give Johnna a lot of confidence, but she was the exception. Every other server I’ve had there has been excellent. It’s also helpful I give them a written list to give to the kitchen.

I was so busy writing my list while she was taking drink orders that all it took for me to pay attention was for Johnna to say, “…with Basil Hayden.”

What was that?

She had ordered a Sri Lanka Tea, which sounded delicious when I read what it was on the menu and order the same. With Basil Hayden. Of course.

Me and Johnna. Together again at last!

Me and Johnna. Together again at last!

It was as delicious as it sounded and I vowed to recreate it.

We enjoyed some fresh tomatoes to start off. Johnna and her favorite fella also has the Desert Jewels. I couldn’t have dates at the time, but I am definitely giving them a try next time I’m there.

Cinnamon Bourbon Green Tea 3

I had a hard time deciding what I wanted and eventually chose the Fish Tacos.

Cinnamon Bourbon Green Tea 4

After all that good food, we set off on a walk up and down the Highlands. We peeked in shop windows and stopped at a couple of places for a drink. Even got into an educational discussion with a server about how Omission beer technically isn’t gluten-free. Yes, we did.

All too soon, it was time for us to drive back to Cincinnati and long for our next meeting. Which I’m happy to say is coming up soon!

Since then, I’ve been working on that Sri Lanka Tea. I always get close but never where I want it. Either I let the tea cold brew too long or there wasn’t enough cinnamon. Or I thought there was enough cinnamon but couldn’t taste it once the bourbon was added.

I finally hit the mark and had to text the picture to Johnna. That’s how ecstatic I was. Trust me, this is tasty. It’s not a heavy cocktail. It’s fairly light. Also, I’m sure Ramsi’s probably used a simple syrup in our drinks, but there is no added sugar in this.

Cinnamon Bourbon Green Tea

Cinnamon Bourbon Green Tea

1 gallon filtered water

2 green tea bags (I used decaf)

8 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish if desired

Bourbon (I used Basil  Hayden)


Fill a pitcher with water and add the tea bags and cinnamon sticks. Let it cold brew for one hour. Remove the tea bags. Leave the cinnamon sticks in for at least another hour, longer for stronger cinnamon taste. Remove the cinnamon sticks and fill a drinking glass (fourteen to sixteen ounce glass) with ice. Pour in one ounce of bourbon then pour the tea over, filling the rest of the glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.



Living Without Yeast

Tip Cups

Tip Cups

When my body decided it didn’t like yeast I was at a loss. Everything my research turned up for yeast allergies or yeast intolerance pointed me to the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD). I wasn’t happy because Candida wasn’t my problem. This was on top of already being gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free plus what I was avoiding for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (coffee, tea, dried fruit, fruit in the morning to name a few), then getting rid of bananas, pineapple, cranberries, soy, peanuts, crab, sesame, and sunflower.

Food BoardWhen I came to terms with doing ACD, I immediately went to Ricki Heller’s website and went through her Candida FAQs. I figured if I needed anything beyond what she had up I could easily ask her questions. I chose to the follow the Whole Approach and printed everything off that I needed. I used two different boards to write everything down – one board for everything that was absolutely off limits, the other for the okay in small amounts.

I swear it was complete madness.

Then, I was saved by my doctor who does my allergy treatments. He gave me a list that made it much easier for me.

Through all this, I learned right out of the gate that yeast-free does not mean just eliminating things made with baker’s or brewer’s yeast. It wasn’t just a matter of cutting out all baked goods and alcohol. Nope. I had to cut out vinegar and everything made with vinegar like pickles, condiments/sauces, and dressing. I had to say goodbye to everything fermented like alcohol, sauerkraut, and kim chee (miso, tofu, and gluten-free tamari were already out because of my reaction to soy).

Also, mold and yeast go hand in hand a lot. Most of this list is also on a mold-free food allergy list.

Here is what yeast-free entails:

  • No baker’s or brewer’s yeast.
  • No vinegar: every type is off-limits along with everything containing vinegar like condiments – mayonnaise, olives, anything pickled, horseradish, dressings, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • No refined grains: bread (excluding unleavened or soda bread as long as there is no vinegar or yeast), pastries, cake, pretzels, cereal, and oatmeal.
  • No dairy: cheese, buttermilk, fortified milk, malted dairy.
  • No alcohol. None. Nada. Not negotiable. All alcoholic drinks depend on yeast to ferment.
  • Nothing fermented (other than alcohol): sauerkraut, marmite, vegemite, tofu, miso, tempeh, tamari, soy sauce, kombucha, and any other foods or liquids not listed that are fermented.
  • No malted foods: cereals, candy, and drinks. If you are already gluten-free, you are already avoiding malted products because of the barley.
  • No vitamins or supplements containing yeast. Vitamin B supplements are typically derived from yeast. Yeast is also a common filler for many vitamins and supplements.
  • No canned, boxed, or frozen citrus juices. They can ferment.
  • No mushrooms or truffles.
  • No chili peppers.

When you look at the list it feels interminable. Considering all I already gave up and that I was doing ACD, this was more manageable. I needed a list of yes and no. I need the line to be drawn and everything black and white when it comes to what I can and can’t eat. I can do moderation, but when presented with limited foods like ACD does in different stages of the diet I flounder. This is a yeast reaction I was dealing with and giving me grey areas was not helpful. The list made it cut and dry. No fudging. No figuring out what I already had on the limited list when fixing dinner to make sure I wasn’t having too much of the limited foods.

Get my drift?

There are always ways around the “can’t have”. I figured out how to make dressings without using vinegar. I made creamy dressings and mustard-y dressings without using dairy or liquid mustard. I ate well despite everything I couldn’t have. You can too.

Eggless Egg SaladHere are some of my favorite yeast-free recipes:

Creamy Coriander Dressing

Eggless Egg Salad 

Flourless Almond Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Grain-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies 

Grain-Free Mediterranean “Bulgar” Salad 

Grilled Chicken Salad with Toasted Coriander Lime Dressing 

Lemon Potato Salad

Lola Kale Salad

Mango Mint Fruit Bars

Pumpkin Millet Porridge with Fresh Figs

Radish Salad

Roasted Eggplant Hummus

Sauteed Tart Kale

Scallops with Creamy Veg Sauce

Steak Salad with Orange Fennel Dressing

Sweet Beet Salad

Toasted Cumin Dressing