Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

I don’t like oatmeal. I never really have, but there is a part of me that alleges it’s time to start eating healthier. That means, if I want to be “healthy” by eating oatmeal, I can’t go by my usual recipe for choking it down – which would be 1 part brown sugar, 2 parts oatmeal, 2 parts whole milk. There’s just something about a whole half cup of (firmly packed) brown sugar and a full 8 ounces of high fat milk piled on top of a bowl of steaming hot oatmeal that hints to me that I might be cancelling out all healthy benefits.

Call me crazy, but that’s my guess.

The concept of baked oatmeal has been hovering at the back of my brain since this fall when it popped up on something like four different blogs all within two weeks of each other – and at least twice I remember the authors saying that they don’t typically like oatmeal either. So I thought I’d give it a shot.

This cinnamon roll flavored baked oatmeal was surprisingly palate-able to me: the oatmeal anti-enthusiast. The recipe below caters to my own personal preferences – a chewier, occasionally crunchy, baked oatmeal. I don’t like mush, so this recipe is particularly dry, and I left out any fruit that might squish to oblivion in any given bite. I’d much rather add fresh fruit at the end. If you want the oatmeal softer, just add more milk – and really, if you like squishy mush, feel free to add as much fruit as you like.

When it came out of the oven, I was pleased to see it resembled granola on the top, and it was cake-like on the inside. That’s why I threw caution to the wind, and busted out the heavy cream and powdered sugar.

Just a little.

To go with the cinnamon roll theme.

And it was good.

Healthier eating can come in baby steps.

Next time I make this, I’ll do it as part of a meal. . . with a side of bacon and a bowl of fresh berries. . . . Hey – bacon is protein!

Recipe:

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped golden raisins (I only chopped the raisins because I don’t like squish – leave them whole if you don’t mind.)
3/4 cup 2% milk (use more milk of you’d like the oatmeal softer – add about 1/4 cup)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Cream and powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 2 quart baking dish with butter.
In a bowl, add oats, 1/2 of the cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Sprinkle in raisins and toss.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla.
In another bowl, stir the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon into the melted butter.
Pour the oat and raisin mixture into the baking dish. Then drizzle the brown sugar/butter mixture over the top as evenly as possible.
Pour milk and egg mixture evenly over the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the oats are set.

Makes about 4 modest servings.

If you would like to use the cream and powdered sugar, whisk about a quarter cup of cream with a tablespoon of powdered sugar (or more to taste) and drizzle over individual servings.

Source: adapted from Elly Says Opa.

PS – It is now months after I originally posted this recipe – but I feel this variation is worth mentioning.

Spraying the dish with cooking spray also works well, and happens to be easier and more convenient. I also skipped the raisins today, and added one small Gala apple, peeled and small diced. For the cream, I went with a drizzle instead – about 1/3 cup powdered sugar whisked with about one tablespoon of heavy cream and thinned with half and half until it reached an easily pour-able consistency, then I drizzled the “icing” over the baked oatmeal while it was still hot from the oven.

The result was a delicious, sweeter breakfast bake.

Who said we need to stick to healthy? (and really, it’s not that bad!!)

Oven Dried Tomatoes

This year, during all that holiday baking, I was reminded of a stark and shocking truth. I say reminded, because it hits me every year like it’s brand new news, and shocking because it never ceases to startle me and leave me standing in a stupor like someone has knocked me over the head with a rolling-pin. I’ll share it with you.

Are you ready?

Some people. . .

don’t. . .

like. . .

sweets! *gasp*, “WHAT??”

I know. Crazy, right?

None the less, I have to remember these people in my gift-giving. . . especially because I am married to one.

So with every intention of producing a savory home-made gift, I made these oven dried tomatoes.

They never made it into anyone else’s hands because my non-sweet-loving husband and I (the sugar addict) gobbled them up on crackers and baguette slices smothered with goat cheese and leaves of basil before they could make it out the front door.

These tomatoes are beautiful. Their color is deep and the skin is wrinkled and shiny. They make their own juice as they roast and dry, and bottled up, they look like they came from an over-priced store at the over-priced mall.

You can eat them like we did, or you can slice them up and add them to pastas, salads, or sandwiches. I’m imagining them diced in dips, and pureed into sauces. They’re versatile and delicious.

You could save the recipe and make them next year for Christmas gifts from your kitchen, or you could just make them.

And eat them.

Because that’s really what you’re going to want to do.

Recipe:

Oven Dried Tomatoes (about 10 minutes hands-on time; 5-7 hours in the oven)

Ingredients:

Compari Tomatoes – as many as you want, (this is what I used. You can use grape or cherry tomatoes too, and the drying time would be shorter.)

Olive oil for drizzling

Granulated sugar

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Wash tomatoes and slice them in half. Place them in a baking dish, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, pinch of salt, and pinch of fresh ground black pepper. Place in oven and cook for 5-7 hours. Tomatoes should shrivel and look deep in color. They should be almost dry, and will look similar to sun-dried tomatoes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Store them in the refrigerator in a glass or plastic container with the roasting juices.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Cranberry Mulled Wine

Cinnamon, cranberry, star anise, . . . wine.

A fireplace, a blanket, some candles, some Christmas music and your hands wrapped around a steaming mug of . . . wine.

Can it get any better than that? Really?

The grown-up version of spiced apple cider, this mulled wine is sweet but not sickeningly sweet. It’s rich and deep without a shocking bite every time you take a sip. It’s smooth, and warm, and spiced just perfectly with all scents Christmas.

I sampled this three different times (purely for the sake of the blog, of course).  Once to try the recipe straight out of the book, once to try it with less sugar and made to serve just two – which is how I’ve presented it below, and once to see how it kept if you made it ahead (it keeps well).

It’s a delicious thing to have simmering on the stove top Christmas Eve – good for guests, or maybe just you and your numero uno guy or gal.

Enjoy.

And have a very Merry and blessed Christmas, filled with loved ones and joy and happy memories. Xoxo!

 

Recipe:

Mulled Wine (serves 2)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup cranberry cocktail (not cranberry juice)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

1 and 1/2 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot

1/4 cup fresh cranberries

Directions:

Combine the cranberry cocktail, sugar, cinnamon stick, and star anise in a medium pot.  Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in red wine and fresh cranberries. Bring back to a simmer, server warm.

Leftovers, should you have any, can be stored in the fridge overnight, covered tightly.

Source: Adapted from Real Simple magazine

Candy Cane Crinkles

See these Candy Cane Crinkles? All seven of them? I ate them. All seven of them.

In one sitting.

Mostly as I was photographing them.

They might be my new favorite Christmas-specific cookie.

These are the kinds of cookies that deserve meal-skippage so you can eat seven of them all at once and call it lunch. . . or dinner. Whatever.

This is the kind of cookie dough I will make ahead and cook sheet by sheet after dinner, so everyone gets to eat them warm from the oven, because really, nothing is better this time of year.

I discovered them at Lauren’s Latest last week. I was struggling with making a decision over what kind of cookie to make for our cookie swap when her post for these Candy Cane Crinkles appeared in the nick of time.

Thanks for the timely save, Lauren!

You can see Lauren’s post and the recipe here, at Lauren’s Latest.

Recipe:

Candy Cane Crinkles

Ingredients:

3 whole candy canes, crushed
½ cups Butter, Softened
1 cup Granulated Sugar
½ teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 whole Egg
¼ teaspoons Salt
¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
⅛ teaspoons Baking Soda
1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
½ cups Powdered Sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non stick cooking spray, line with parchment paper or use silicone baking mat and set aside.

Place candy canes into a plastic food storage bag and crush using a rolling pin. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla and egg. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir all dry ingredients together in a small bowl and then in pour into mixer and slowly mix until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Stir in crushed candy canes. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

*If using a non stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.

** I found that the dough was quite soft and sticky, so I had to add about a quarter cup of extra flour. I’m not sure if this was due to sifting vs. not sifting, or maybe because of a difference in humidity and elevation. I did not include this adjustment in the above recipe. Either way, feel free to add a little more until the dough works well for rolling into balls.

Source: Lauren’s Latest

Martha’s Pecan Bars

Martha's Pecan Bars - shortbread base layered with a brown sugar/honey caramel and loads of pecans

Holy heavenly cookie bars, Batman.

I almost feel like that’s all I should say.

I rarely make noise when I sample food. Even more rarely do I roll my eyes back into my head and risk getting them stuck there. But both happened when I took my first bite of these cookie bars.

In fact, my “Ummm!!!” was so enthusiastic and guttural that my 14-year-old looked at me skeptically with an eyebrow raised and said, “Is it really that good?”

“Yes! Yes, it IS that good!” I said, and proceeded to greedily savor each bite with my looking balls staring straight to the back of my brain.

These are perfect for traveling if you are road-tripping to your in-laws for the holidays and have been assigned dessert.

They are perfect for gifting to neighbors – one batch makes 36 – 48 bars depending on how small you cut them.

They are perfect for the New Year’s open house buffet.

They are perfect for wrapping up and sending in the mail.

They are perfect for savoring by the fire after the kids go to bed.

They are perfect for sitting with a book and cup of tea.

They are perfect for family game night.

They are perfect for making time stop while your kids are running crazy and you are supposed to be making dinner, but you

just

need

a little

break.

Go ahead. Make them. Make time stop, and get your eyes stuck rolled back into your head. It’s an awesome experience.

Martha's Pecan Bars - decadent shortbread with brown sugar/honey layer and topped with loads of pecans

Martha’s Pecan Bars

Rating: 51

Ingredients

    for the crust:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened.
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • for the filling:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Make the crust: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in salt. Add Flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Continue mixing until dough begins to come together in large clumps.

Press dough evenly into baking pan (it should be about 1/4 inch thick). Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Make the filling: Combine butter, brown sugar, honey, granulated sugar, and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. remove pan from heat; stir in salt, nuts and vanilla. Pour filling into the cooled crust.

Bake until the filling bubbles, 15-20 minutes. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently lift the bar out of the pan by gripping the parchment paper. Transfer to a cutting board. Peel the sides of the parchment paper down and use a sharp knife to cut bars to desired size. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week.

Source

Sara | Home is Where the Cookies Are, adapted just a tiny smidgen from the Martha Stewart Holiday Handbook 2011

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2011/12/20/marthas-pecan-bars/

 

Martha's Pecan Bars - a decadent shortbread layered with honey/brown sugar caramel and loads of pecans

No Sew (-ing machine) Scarves

If you are my mom or my sister, STOP READING NOW!!!

That wasn’t too obvious, was it? I think I just eliminated half my readers with that statement!

These are Christmas gifts I am putting together for the family girls, including my niece – who’s already seen hers. (Hi Alli!)

I’m very pleased with the final product here, but I must admit, I hit a point of frustration after making two, and realizing I had 4 more to go (six if you count the fact that my brother-in-law and his dog are getting non-sequiny, non-boa versions too), and they were taking more time than I had anticipated.

I do this to myself often. I come up with an idea I think is fantastic because it holds three characteristics:

1. It’s inexpensive ( I think).

2. It doesn’t take much in the way of skills (I think).

3. It doesn’t take a lot of time (I think).

So, inexpensive? Yeah, pretty much.

Doesn’t require skills? Ehhhh, umm. . .sort of, as long as you don’t mind using a needle and thread.

Doesn’t require too much time? FAIL!

I guess it depends on how much time you are anticipating. I was anticipating something around a half hour per scarf. In reality, the first three took an hour to two hours each. I think it’s because I was unfamiliar with the materials and just how exactly to put it all together. Once I got to scarves 4, 5, and 6 though, I actually did crank them out in about 40 minutes each. That’s not too bad, I guess.

I’ll show you what I did, and make notes of changes I would suggest. Maybe the best thing to do would be to just take inspiration from the results and go about it in an entirely different way (code word: easier way).

If anyone knows of a fabric glue that binds embellishments to fleece (because it’s really its own breed of fabric) without leaking through the back and leaving an awful hard ugly streak on the backside once it’s dry, please let me know – that would have come in awesomely handy with this project!

Step 1: Choose your fabric. My personal opinion is that non-pill polar fleece is the best option because it won’t pill (duh. . . ), and you don’t have to sew fleece. (Yay!!) I made each scarf between 5 and 6 feet long (a scarf should be about the same length as a person’s “wing span” – the length from fingertip to fingertip when they have their arms raised, at the same time, parallel with the floor). The fabric was 58″ wide it think, which is perfect, because then when you are having it cut at the store you don’t have to ask for the length of you scarf, you ask for the number of inches your total number of scarves will equal in width. So if you are making 4 scarves at 8″ each, you will ask for 32″ of material. I would actually ask for a yard – just to allow yourself some room. A yard of non-pill, solid color polar fleece will cost between $5-$10 depending on the brand and whether or not it is on sale.

2. Choose your embellishments. The length you buy will equal the width of your scarf x 2.  Sixteen inches if you are making one 8″ scarf. Always add on an inch or two just in case. These embellishments cost between $2 and $7 per yard, but I wasn’t buying a whole yard, so that was ok by me. Don’t forget to buy thread that matches the fleece – and get a needle if you don’t already have one!

3. Wash it first, then measure and cut your fabric. Lay your fabric out on the floor and trim any ugly edges off. At intervals approximately 10″ apart for the length of the fabric, measure 8″ (if you are going with an 8″ scarf) in from the edge of the fabric and mark it with a pin. This way, when you cut with the scissors, you can follow the “dotted line” of pins to make sure you get an even 8″ cut the entire length of the fabric.

3. Test the lay-out and trim the embellishments.  Lay your fabric out and play with all the embellishment until you have a lay-out you are happy with. If you are using any embellishments that may fray on the end once they are cut (i.e. sequin strips or pom-pom strips) make sure you cut them with about an extra quarter-inch on both ends so you can fold them under before you sew them on the scarf. This will prevent fray.

4. Fold necessary ends under, and attach embellishments by “tacking” them on with needle and thread.

I’m not going to lie. This is where it all got hairy and complicated and time-consuming.

For each embellishment that might fray, fold the cut end to the back of the strip.

You can take a minute and sew it together now, or you can skip the step and lay it on your fabric, folded end down, and begin tacking it on with thread, making sure to tack the folded edge down. Tacking is a sewing term that means, “To sew a few stitches in one spot, by hand or by machine sewing, to secure on item to another”. If you are a sewing dummy, this website is a great resource.

The thing to remember when you start tacking, is that you don’t want your stitches to show too much on the back side, so the stitches on that side need to be tiny (if you look closely at the picture below, you can see the tiny stitch marks along the bottom edge). Most of the length you will travel with your thread will be on the top of your scarf, but under the frills and fluff of your embellishments.

For example, start from the back of the scarf and push your needle through the scarf and the fabric of the sequin strip, but don’t come all the way out the top of the sequins. Once the tip of your needle has broken the surface of the sequin fabric, turn it parallel to the surface of the scarf and burrow under the sequins by about 3/4 of an inch, and send your needle back down through to the back side of your fleece. Then, when making the next stitch, only travel about 1/16th of an inch on the fleece side – so the stitch is almost invisible, then poke the needle back up through and repeat the first step of burrowing under the sequins. This is all in an effort to hide the thread. . . . and it’s a pain in the buttocks.

If you are going to use faux fur, care needs to be taken in that case as well to avoid visible stitches. I realized the “burrowing” technique works in this case as well – because you don’t want to sew any of the individual hairs of the fur down. So, when you come through from the back with your needle, don’t break the top surface  of the fur, just keep it down low and burrow until you return your needle to the back of the scarf. The stitch on the top ends up looking like this:

Once you are done tacking everything, you are DONE! Whew.

Do a happy dance. . .

and admire your work.

Somebody is going to love you for this!!

Festive Christmas Garland

It’s been a crazy-busy week.

I know you’re all there with me – one thing on top of the other keeping us scrambling from sun up to sun down (Did your Christmas tree topple over too, as you were simultaneously trying to wrap gifts and bake 4 dozen cookies for your cookie swap?).

That’s why this is an ultra-short post – quick, and to the point.

I’m imagining this in silver and white for New Years too. . . maybe with some photos in the middle of each circle, or clipped between them. Either way. . .

Make any room a party with this bright and colorful garland.

This one was made with Christmas in mind – full of glittery paper and colored-Christmas-light hues, but it really could work for any occasion and any style.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, (and 4 and 5. . . ok, and 6 too. Seven doesn’t really count!)

 

1. Gather your supplies.                          2. Cut a variety of circles
– Cropping tools or scissors
– Paper in various colors
– Glue stick
– Hole punch
– Fabric ribbon for lacing circles (mine had wire edges)
– Gift wrapping ribbon for embellishing

3. Layer the circles in random order and glue them together. Start with the top circle, coat glue on the back, and press it to the next circle. Continue until you reach your last circle. I just used a regular old acid-free glue stick.

4. Punch two holes, one across from the other, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat until you have completed your desired number of layered circles.

5. String layered and glued circles along the fabric ribbon by first threading the ribbon up through the back of the circle then back down again through the front. Gently slide the circle your desired length down the ribbon. Repeat with all circles, leaving about 3 inches between each.

6. Cut strands of gift wrapping ribbon at various lengths from 12 – 24 inches. Tie them in groups of 3, centered on the fabric ribbon halfway between each set of two layered circles. Curl them with the blade of a scissor.

7. Hang your garland, and throw your party!

.

 

 

Peppermint Creme Sauce

It would be a complete and utter lie if I claimed I haven’t been dreaming about this sauce every winter for the last fifteen or so years of my life. Truly.

About that long ago, I drove past a McDonald’s during the holidays.
(Yes, I’ve been fantasizing about a fast-food dessert).

There, glistening in the window, was a giant poster of an ice cream sundae smothered in what I can only imagine was a heavenly, ooey-goey, sweet-as-can-be, red peppermint sauce.

I fully intended to experience one that year and hear the angels sing me through every bite, but for whatever reason it just never happened (the sundae or the angels). I told myself it was no big deal – they’d be back next year (the sundaes and the angels).

But the next year they weren’t back. Or the year after, or the year after that, or the next one, or the next one, or the next one, or the next one, or. . . . well, you get the point. Woe was me.

This is my most persistent food haunting ever. Like so many other things, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make my own. I’ve spent winter after winter sampling different peppermint ice creams trying to satiate this decade and a half long craving, and never once did it occur to me to just make my own darn sauce.

Apparently my IQ has risen this year, because finally it dawned on me. I made my own.
And it’s everything I imagined it to be, but better.
It’s fresh, creamy, buttery, and pepperminty. It doesn’t stick to your teeth, and it tastes real – not processed.
It’s adorable, and I bet your neighbors would love to find this wrapped up on their porch.
Oh, and did I mention? It’s easy, easy, easy.

Ahhhhhh. *happy sigh* Do you hear the angels?

Recipe:

Peppermint Creme Sauce

Ingredients:

2/3 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
7 oz. jar (1 1/2 c.) marshmallow creme
1/2 cup half & half (divided)
3/4 teaspoons peppermint extract
red food coloring

Directions:
In medium saucepan, cook corn syrup and butter over low heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallow creme, blending well. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the half and half. Gradually begin adding the next 1/4 cup half and half, paying close attention to the consistency. This is where you will determine how thick you want your sauce. Leave it just slightly thicker than you desire for your final result – it will thin out a little when you add the extract and food coloring. Stirring until mixture is smooth. Add in peppermint extract and desired amount of food coloring. Serve warm or cold over ice cream, cake, or in hot cocoa. Store remaining sauce in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.

Source: Adapted from this recipe at Cooks.com

Be an Angel This Christmas

Seven ways to give, that give again, this Christmas:

1. Got a rocker or T-shirt lover, or both on your list? Give them one of these shirts, and you can help send horse-loving disabled children and adults on the therapeutic ride of their life.

2. Acquire a beautiful selection of cookie treats to share, and spend some much-needed time with friends by throwing a cookie swap to raise money for kids with cancer. Register here, and the Glad company will donate $.10 per cookie swapped. That’s a sweet deal!

3. It’s just too sweet to let it go. If you’re not in to baking your own, or you’re pressed for time, or you just want to wax angelic in your gift giving, send some of these cookies to someone far away. Their taste buds, and those brave kids who are fighting cancer will thank you.

4. Music lover? Visit this site to find brand new music by emerging artists. Each time you download a song for that mix you’re making, a portion of your purchase will go to the charity of the artist’s choice.
Making a music mix for that special someone sounds uber-intriguing now, doesn’t it?

5. Someone on your list has everything. They’re super hard to shop for until you remember one thing:

They have a huge heart.

Help children, adults, and families around the world and in the U.S. with your donation. World Vision offers beautiful jewelry, bags, and T-shirts and other gifts from their catalog, but if it’s straight cash you want to go to the cause in your loved one’s name, you can choose to help in a variety of ways:

– the gift of clean water
– the gift of education
– the gift of a life-sustaining animal (chickens, goats, or dairy cows)
– The gift of clothing
– The gift of job training or small business loans for women
– The gift of hope for sexually exploited girls
– The gift of a home – buy a share of a new house for women and children in need.

Visit the World Vision gift catalog to choose a gift to donate in your loved one’s name. Receive a beautiful card to send via snail mail or email – so even if you’re behind schedule in your shopping, it will be there on time.

6. Buy one of these totally avant gard T-shirts designed by an orphan in Africa, and feed a child in need for a whole month. Who wouldn’t feel good about that??

7. Give the gift of literacy to kids in the Seattle area when you buy a gift from the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. All proceeds go to 826Seattle – a “nonprofit writing center for the young people of Earth”. The catalog is filled with geeky, funky, unusual, and . . . well, totally spacey items.

Limoncello

I know what you’re thinking.
Well, I probably know two things you are thinking:
1. That I am obsessed with vodka.
2. That I misspelled lemoncello.

You might be at least a little bit right about both.

I am not usually obsessed with vodka, but this year, for Christmas, I am. I never knew the potential of “bootlegging” for gifts. Okay, so I’m not bootlegging, but I am sort of brewing things, aren’t I? Just not illegally.

And, no, I didn’t misspell lemoncello, but I thought I did – and I thought it was very convenient, because I had to use limes in my version.

What do you do when you are all set to make limoncello and then realize you are actually not all set because you are missing almost a quarter of the lemons you need?

First you do a panic dance that includes running around in tiny circles and flapping your arms.

Then you get a grip.

And add some limes.

You make lemon-lime-cello.

And instead of tasting like super spiked lemonade, it tastes like super-spiked 7-up (minus the bubbles).

Traditional limoncello is lemon liqueur. It can be sipped, mixed, or cut with some bubbly water. Mine is the same, but with a zip of lime in the recipe.

It pretty much made me want to dig out the glass cowboy boot mug from my childhood and fix myself a grown up Shirley Temple.
Pass me the club soda please (because the lemon-lime is going to come from the limoncello).
And a little OJ and grenadine.
And a maraschino cherry. . . . preferably on a little plastic sword.

Oh, wait! I was making this for gifts, wasn’t I?

Recipe:

Limoncello (takes 3 days to one week to make, total time)

Ingredients:

9 lemons and 2 limes (or just 11 lemons if you want true Limoncello)
1 bottle (1 liter) 160-proof vodka (This is what the original recipe from Martha Stewart calls for, but I actually just used the vodka we already had on hand – which was 80-proof. . . . It’s okay if it’s not that strong!).
3 cups sugar
3 cups boiling water

Directions:

Peel strips of zest from lemons and limes using a vegetable peeler; reserve remainder of lemons and limes for another use. Combine zest and vodka in an airtight container, and let stand at room temperature at least 2 days or up to 1 week.

Stir together sugar and water until sugar has dissolved; let cool completely. Stir sugar mixture into vodka mixture; refrigerate in an
airtight container overnight.

Pour liquid through a large sieve (discard zest), then pour through a funnel into airtight bottles. Limoncello can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Source: Martha Stewart, or you can find it in her Holiday Handbook 2011.