Tag Archives: lemon

Bar Stool Fridays – Autumn Sangria

My husband and I recently visited my parents in Laredo, Texas.  Now, not to rub it in or anything, but the weather was pretty great.  Sunny.  Warm, but not hot.  Not humid.  Pretty great.

I was in the mood for a beverage with fall flavors, but I wanted to drink something refreshing that would be nice over ice…a drink for us to enjoy as we sat in the sun on the patio by the pool.

Autumn Sangria
Makes 8 servings

1 orange, sliced
1 apple, diced
1 lemon, sliced
1 bottle full-bodied and fruity red wine
1/2 cup brandy
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 – 4 Tbsp orange simple syrup (see note below)
ice

Add fruit to pitcher.

Pour in wine and brandy.  Add cloves and cinnamon stick.  Add simple syrup and stir.

Serve over ice.

To make orange simple syrup combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan.  Add 1 Tbsp of orange zest and stir.  Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolved and syrup is slightly thickened.  It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.

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Bar Stool Fridays – Soothing Toddy

With fall officially here, it is time to indulge in one of my cool weather favorites…the hot toddy.  It is a much needed balm when it is damp and cold and I’m recovering from a sinus infection.  The warm alcoholic drink soothes my sore throat and warms me all over.

You can use any type of spirit for your hot toddy.  The traditional recipe is a mix of whiskey, hot water, sugar, and lemon or orange.  I recommend you avoid the cheapest bottles, though.  I think the heat can make the alcohol taste even sharper, so I go with one of my favorite (and affordable) standbys – Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon.

Bourbon Hot Toddy
Makes 1 drink

lemon slice studded with cloves
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
pinch of grated nutmeg
1 1/2 ounce bourbon
4 to 6 ounces boiling water
1 cinnamon stick

Drop the clove-studded lemon slice into the bottom of your heat-resistant mug.  Add sugar, nutmeg, and bourbon.  Pour in hot water and stir with cinnamon stick.

Cheers!

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Bar Stool Fridays – Infused Vodkas

I think most commercially flavored vodka tastes like chemicals.  I don’t like it at all.  I do like the concept, however.

So I decided we should just make our own flavored vodka by infusing it with fresh fruit.  We made two different batches – one with lemons and limes and the other with fresh pineapple.  They both turned out beautifully and couldn’t be easier.

You just need fresh fruit, vegetables, or herbs, vodka, a glass container, and time.  You may be tempted to use cheap vodka, but don’t – you’ll be disappointed.  Use a vodka that you don’t mind drinking.  You can also use another kind of spirit, too – be creative.

Lemon Lime Vodka
Makes one 750-mL bottle

3 – 5 limes, thinly sliced
3 – 5 lemons, thinly sliced
1 bottle vodka (750 mL)

Layer the citrus fruit along the bottom of a large glass container.

Pour in vodka.

Cover and store in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks.  Take a sample taste after a month and then try the spirit once a week until it reaches the appropriate flavor.

The citrus oils can be very strong tasting.  You may want to filter the vodka when you bottle it.

Discard the used fruit – all the flavor has been steeped out by the vodka.

My brother and his friend enjoyed this vodka so much on ice that they drank it before I had time to make a cocktail with it.

Pineapple Vodka
Makes one 750 mL bottle

1/2 to whole fresh pineapple
1 bottle vodka (750 mL)

Peel and dice the pineapple.  You can use one-half to a whole pineapple.

Arrange in the bottom of a glass container.

Pour vodka on top.

Cover and store in a cool dark place for 4 to 6 weeks.  Take a sample taste after a month and then try the spirit once a week until it reaches the appropriate flavor.

Once you are ready to bottle, discard the used fruit.

New Orleans is hosting Tales of the Cocktail festival this weekend.  I wish I was there.  Instead, I made a cocktail like something I might sip there.

Tales of the Pineapple
Makes 1 drink

2 oz pineapple vodka
2 oz spiced rum
2 oz pineapple juice
2 oz mango nectar or juice
2 oz orange juice

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker.  Shake well.

Serve over crushed ice with a pineapple slice garnish.  Goes well with sunshine and good company.

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Black Eyed Susans for the Preakness

Well, we made it.  We are all still here.  Congratulations!

Let’s celebrate by watching the Preakness and drinking Black Eyed Susans.

The Black Eyed Susan is the official drink of the Preakness Stakes, or the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.  It takes place in Baltimore at the Pimlico Race Course, which is the second oldest race track in the U.S.  The black eyed susan is not just a cocktail, though, it is also the state flower of Maryland.

I lived within walking distance of the Pimlico race track for a couple of years and attended the Preakness.  I was a poor graduate student at the time and could only afford tickets to the infield.  This is the grassy area inside the dirt race track.  There are no seats, so folks carry in lawn chairs, blankets, and old couches.  I’m not exaggerating.  During the Preakness it becomes packed with drunk young people who have forgotten that they are there to watch a horse race.  It has made for some interesting story-telling in my life.

I knew I could afford to buy one Black Eyed Susan while I was at the race (and therefore have a commemorative glass), but I made a pitcher-full of the drink for my friends to enjoy while we watched naked women mud-wrestle and caught glimpses of running thoroughbred 2 year-olds.

Black Eyed Susan
Makes 1 drink

3/4 oz vodka
1 1/4 oz whiskey (I used bourbon)
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz orange juice
orange slice and cherry, garnish

Combine alcohol, juices, and simple syrup in an ice-filled shaker.  Mix well.  Strain into a crushed ice-filled glass and garnish with an orange slice and cherry.  Enjoy in the cheap seats, or with the civilized bunch.

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When Life Gives You Icky Sugar Cookies…Make Lemon Pie!

You know those boxes of cookies you see in the grocery store bakery?

Well, I don’t like them.  I know that some people must like those cookies though, because I witness them being purchased, and I see them at potluck parties.

A box of these cookies showed up at a party that my friend Kate attended last weekend, and no one touched them.  Okay, maybe one person touched them because the box was short one cookie.  Anyway, the party ended and there sat a nearly full box of cookies.  It seemed wrong somehow to Kate, and the sweet and clever girl that she is, she brought them home.  She knew that we could see to it that those cookies served a better purpose…a higher purpose.

And, you know what?  I think we did.

Lemon Icebox Pie with Sugar Cookie Crust
Makes one 9-inch deep dish pie

Crust:
box of stale grocery store sugar cookies
7 Tbsp butter

Filling:
4 egg yolks
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup lemon juice

Meringue Topping:
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Start with the crust.  You want to reduce those not-so-great cookies into crumbs.  I used my food processor, but you could also put them in a sealed zip-top plastic bag and pound on them with a rolling pin.

You need to finish with 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cookie crumbs.  Dump those crumbs in a bowl.

Melt the butter and add it to the crumbs.

Stir to combine.

Press the buttery crumbs into a deep-dish pie pan with your fingers.  Evenly distribute the crumbs to cover the entire inside of the pan.

Now for the filling…Separate the eggs by putting the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.  Add sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice to the bowl with egg yolks.  Blend well – I used a handheld electric mixer.

Pour the filling into the cookie crumb crust.

Finally, on to the topping.  Take the 4 egg whites you set aside, and sprinkle them with cream of tartar.  The cream of tartar helps make your egg whites more manageable.  Using clean beaters for your handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff glossy peaks form.

Spread the whipped egg whites onto the lemon filling.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned.  Cool completely before slicing.

The pie keeps for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

VARIATION:  I made meringue, but you could top your pie with whip cream instead.  Just bake the filling and crust for about 15 minutes.  Let it cool and then spread with whipped cream.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Stale Marshmallows

I hate Peeps.  However, I have several friends that seem to adore them.  I cannot in good conscience let this behavior continue.  I feel obligated to provide them a quality product.  I mean, Easter only comes once in a year, why waste good sugar on bad candy?

Taking matters into my own hands, I decided to craft a homemade version of those stale, artificial tasting creations…

Homemade Peeps
Modified from The Kitchn

cooking spray
3 packets (each packet is typically about 2 1/4 tsp) unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp lemon extract
6 – 10 drops of yellow food coloring (depends on how vivid you want your candy)
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Let me start this recipe by telling you that you need a stand mixer with a whisk attachment to do this.  The handheld mixer will not be powerful enough.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray, ensuring that there is a thin film of spray on every inner surface and corner.  Set aside.

Now you need to bloom the gelatin, or prepare it for use.  Gelatin needs to be pre-moistened to prevent clumping in your recipe.  I just do this in the bowl of my mixer, removed from the base.  Add the 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp of cold water and lemon extract to the bowl and sprinkle in the 3 packets of powdered gelatin.

Whisk the powder and water together with a fork to break up clumps.

It will start to resemble the consistency of applesauce, this expansion earns it the name of blooming.  I add the drops of yellow food coloring at this point, but you don’t need to stir it in yet.  Then, attach the bowl to base of mixer and move on to next step…

Combine the 3/4 cup of water with the corn syrup, salt, and sugar in a 4-quart saucepan.  Cook on medium heat on stovetop and bring to boil.

As it is coming to a boil, you will notice sugar crystals forming on the sides of the pot.  This can make your mixture gritty, and you have a couple of ways of counteracting this.

You can wet a pastry brush in warmish water and brush it down the sides of the pot to dissolve the sugar crystals.  Or, you can just cover the pan for 2 minutes once it starts to boil and the steam can wash the sides of the pot.   Do not stir the sugar mixture once it starts to boil, however, or it may crystallize further.

Now clip on a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and continue to boil the sugar mixture until it reaches 245 degrees F.

Turn off the burner and remove the candy thermometer.  Turn on the mixer to medium speed with the whisk attachment, and then using hot pads to protect your hands, slowly and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl of gelatin.  The mixture may foam a little so just take your time adding the syrup.

When all the syrup has been added, cover the bowl with a towel and increase the mixer speed to high.  I use the towel to prevent any sticky splatters in my kitchen.

Whip for 10 – 12 minutes, until it looks like glossy meringue.  Check on the mixture a couple of times during this period and you can add any extra food coloring now if you need it, while the whisk is still turning.

Turn down the mixer speed to medium low and slowly lift the arm of the mixer so that some of the marshmallow mixture can spin off into the bowl.

Turn off the mixer completely and using a stiff silicone spatula scrape the marshmallow mixture into your greased pan.  It will be very stiff and sticky.  Try to work quickly before it starts firming up.

Lightly moisten your fingers with water (so the marshmallows won’t stick) to smooth down the top and even out the mixture within the pan.  Let it sit uncovered for 12 – 15 hours to completely set and cure.

Once your marshmallows have cured, turn them onto a cutting board.

You can cut them into squares with a sharp knife, or use holiday cookie cutters, like I did.  I chose a bunny and chick.

NOTE: Cookie cutters will not likely use every single inch of your marshmallows, so you can trim the remainders into square shapes so as not to waste any goodies.

Marshmallows typically need to be coated in a mixture of (1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 cup cornstarch) so they will not stick together when stored.  To make Peeps, I modified this recipe slightly.  First, I took about 1/2 cup granulated sugar and blended in about three drops of yellow food coloring.

I always have some marshmallow mixture on  hand stored in a lidded plastic container, so then I added about 2 Tbsp of that to my yellow granulated sugar and mixed well.  I used this yellow sugar mixture to coat my homemade Peeps.

These Peeps will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.  Leftover marshmallow coating can be stored in an airtight container indefinitely.

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Gin Sipping and Porch Sitting

My husband and I are trying to institute a regular cocktail hour in the evenings to transition out of the work day.  It helps us connect and unwind, and I find it especially important as I work from home.

Last night, we took advantage of the pleasant weather and had happy hour on our front porch.  We snacked on tortilla chips with guacamole and imbibed gin cocktails as we were entertained by our noisy neighbors.

One of my favorite warm weather drinks is gin lemonade.  I got this recipe in a supper club several years ago from a lovely woman named Maida. She prepared it with a picnic theme menu while we sat on pillows in her living room.   It was a fun evening that I remember fondly.

Gin Lemonade

Buy a can of Minute Maid frozen lemonade concentrate. Follow directions for preparation, except replace one can of water, with one can of gin. Mix well. Serve over ice. Delicious!

I make this mostly with gin (because I love it), but you could replace it with vodka or bourbon, if you prefer. Don’t change the proportions, however. Just stick with replacing one can of water with one can of alcohol. My husband tried to use more and not only did it not taste as good, and he got drunk very quickly.
We drink this all season long. It is very refreshing and so easy. It is also handy to bring on picnics, even in public areas where alcohol is discouraged since it appears you are drinking just lemonade.

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Lemon Meringue Memories

I was feeling nostalgic as I planned our Easter meal, so I decided to make a couple of pies that my grandmother always made – Chocolate and Lemon Meringue.

I couldn’t find her recipe for Lemon Meringue, so I tried to re-create it based on some online research.
I felt sure it would come out well. I mean, look at how pretty it looks. And, my husband and I had a lot of fun making it together. However, once we sliced it for our guests, it was still a bit soupy. Any advice or suggestions are welcome. Here’s what we did…
Lemon Meringue Pie
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
juice of two lemons (about 1/2 cup)
zest of 1 lemon
1 9-inch pre-baked pie shell
Whisk egg yolks and set aside. In medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Turn heat on medium, and stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Boil for at least 1 minute. Remove from heat and use it gradually to temper the egg yolks.
Return egg mixture to saucepan, turn down heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for at least one more minute. Remove from heat and add butter, lemon juice, and zest until well combined.
Pour mixture into shell and top with meringue while filling is still hot. Bake for 12 minutes until meringue is golden.
We cooled the pie on a rack, and then kept in overnight in a pie carrier in the refrigerator. The meringue didn’t weep much at all and the flavor was pretty nice, but the filling sure was runny.

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