Saturday, July 25, 2009

lucky yellow limoncello

So when life gives you lemons, how about cutting right to the chase? Skip that lemonade stand and make some limoncello! Limoncello is basically an Italian lemon liquor that my family was crazzzy about a few years back. Some of my great-uncles even made their own batch and passed bottles out to the family around Christmastime. Really fun, delicious stuff, right?

So when I discovered this recipe on foodgawker.com, I felt that I just had to give it a try. I quickly called up Michael Anthony (not an Italian-enough name, right?), and asked if he wanted to try it out. Basically, Mike and I have conquered desserts and real-foods of all sorts, but haven't explored the booze-making world all that much. Welcome to our limoncello adventure.

It was decided that we were going to make a half recipe of the drink, which would yield 3 1/2 cups of the drink. Definately plently, as limoncello is traditionally sipped in small amounts. However, once word got out on the street of what we were making, my mom ordered two more bottles, and Mike's mom wanted one, as well. Sigh. Which meant we would need to double the recipe. We were up to the challenge.

Our shopping list was a bit funny...thirty lemons and two fifths of Burnett's. I can only imagine what people thought when passing our cart full o' lemons and cheap booze....haha. Also, I am sure that a nicer vodka would make the limoncello even more delcious (Absolut, Stoli, etc.), but us Poor College Students thought Burnett's would do. Hey, at least we didn't chose Mohawk or Five O'Clock. Afterall, we wouldn't want to serve rubbing alcohol-like vodka to our relatives, right? :)

Anyway, once home, we got to work zesting and pithing the lemons. My job title? The Zester Master. And Mike's job? The Pith Master. I used a peeler to peel the zest off of the thirty lemons (I never want to see another lemon again....), and Mike used a small paring knife (a fillet knife works well, too) to get the excess pith off of the peels.

Ohhh, those piles of zest. And pith. I'm sure it'll be deliciously worth it in the end, though.

The aftermath. I was entertained by the fact that it looked like a bunch of drunks had come through my kitchen. And those two shady-looking bottles on the left with no labels? We removed the labels to make our own once the limoncello is finished. A name for the limoncello is still underconstruction, though I'm thinking Lucky Yellow Limoncello has a fun ring to it. The limoncello being "lucky" really has nothing to do with it, except for a bit of alliteration going on there. I'd like to think that the fluorescent yellow hue that the limoncello aquires with age, however, is lucky in a way...haha. Or at least shady-looking, to say the least.

Here's allllll the zest in the vodka, waiting to sit in a cool, dark place (aka your local kitchen cabinet) for two months. Yes, you heard me right. Two months, people. That's a long wait for a delicious drink. And that's only half of it....at that time, you whip up the sugar mixture to add to the vodka-lemon zest concotion and THEN add the other half of the vodka from the recipe. In our case, this means two more fifths of vodka will be poured into here. Yum.

Ohhhhh, pretty. :) By the end of the night, the vodka was already taking on a pretty yellow color. And for the record, this concotion is sitting in two glass gallon jars that were made to hold milk....which is why the bottle says "Real Milk in Real Glass".

Look back in two months for Lucky Yellow Limoncello: Sugar Edition!

Limoncello

15 lemons
2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka
4 cups sugar
5 cups water

Wash the lemons in hot water. Dry them.

Use a zester or peeler to zest the rings. If some pith gets on there, remove it with a small pointly knife. Make sure you do so, or the limoncello will be spoiled.

In a big glass jar, pour in half of the vodka. As you are zesting, drop strands of the lemon peel inside. Close it up well, and leave it somewhere cool and dark (like a closet) for two months.

After two months, make the syrup. In a sauce pan. cook the sugar and water over medium heat until thickened slightly (about 5-10 minutes). Cool completely. Take the bottle out to add the syrup and the rest of the vodka.

Close it up, and put it back in the cool, dark place for another month or so. When ready, take the bottle out, disgard the peels, strain the limoncello, and drink and be merry. You may also put it in the freezer until ready to serve, to chill.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the tale of zolton the zucchini

Meet Zolton. According to UrbanDictionary.com, Zolton is an honorable member; a ninja and mighty god to all beings. And in this case...to both vegetable and non-vegetable beings alike.

Clearly, we can witness his bad-ass-ness by those sweet shades. He means business, people. Don't mess with the Zolton.

Or maybe....Zolton is in the mafia.

Or maybe....he is just a humble zucchini in sunglasses.

Always aware of his surroundings...Zolton observes Sam, the goldfish....

....as well as his untimely death by the kitchen knife. :( Poor Zolton.

Ahhhhhhh! Pooor, poor Zolton!

But he will be whipped up into something delicious....no worries. :)
A chocolate zucchini cake! TA-DA! Yeah, I know, I know, two wayyy healthier recipes in a row (first the black bean brownies, now this). I promise to blog something unhealthy in the very near future. Not to worry, the dietitians haven't totally corrupted me yet. :)

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup applesauce or mashed up bananas
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
About 2-2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated (about 3 6-in. long zucchini)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together brown and white sugars, butter, and applesauce or bananas. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Stir well.

Sift together all dry ingredients, then sift into bowl. Grate zucchini, do not peel. Stir all ingredients together until well blended.

Pour into a 13x9-inch pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips, and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Devour. Delicious with a schprinkle of powdered sugar on top.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

black bean brownies....yeah, you heard me right

So yes, the Healthy Girls at work might have corrupted me a little as now I am making the delicious black bean brownies that have been made twice in the office. You gotta trust me on this one, guys, these are GOOD. And what a way to get your dose of fiber in for the day. Just make sure it's not too much fiber, aka don't eat the whole tray, or else the people you live with might not like you so much for a while. Get my drift?

The actual intention of this recipe, however, is to make a brownie that is gluten-free. All people, though, can enjoy this dessert no matter their gluten-status. The key? Black beans, of course. These provide the starch and such to give these puppies substance. All you do is mash 'em up in your friendly food processor.

Ewwwwww. Looks like.....yeah, just use your imagination.

Hmmmm, looks like normal brownie batter. Not a shabby start. And in the end, these guys came out as good as the Healthy Girls' version. I'll chalk that up as a win in my book. :) These are also great with frosting on top, too.

Black Bean Brownies
Taken from Allrecipes.com

1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Put the black beans in food processor and puree until smooth. Place in bowl with eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and sugar. Mix until well blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.

Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is dry, and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan.

NOTE: The above recipe is for a completely gluten-free version. For those who are NOT gluten-free and want a brownie with a little more height, add 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour + 1 tsp. baking soda to your mixture before combining. This is what I did to make this batch.

ANOTHER NOTE: If you're feeling lazy....box brownie mix + can of pureed black beans yields delicious, non-gluten-free brownies that don't require water, oil, and eggs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

extraordinary ordinary brownies

So I'm lazy and didn't take a very decent pictures of this creation...but just wanted to make a note of a really easy way to fancy-up an ordinary brownie mix.


Step 1: Make brownies as usual.
Step 2: Chop up a lot a lot of Oreos. Feel free to use the vanilla flavored ones, mint-y ones, peanut butter-y ones, whatev. Let the creative juices flow, people.
Step 3: Mix all these Oreos into the batter.
Step 4: Put the deliciousness in an 8x8-inch pan. The back of the box says a 13x9-inch pan is dandy, too, but the 8x8 really makes 'em high and impressive looking.
Step 5: Bake the brownies for 40-50 minutes, depending on how fudgy or cake-y you want them. 40 for fudge-like brownies (you will have to keep leftovers refrigerated it you want them like this) or 50 for cake-like. Personally, I prefer fudgy, almost batter-like brownies, but
then again, I am a batter fiend. Bake these puppies as you desire.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

chocolate peanut butter pretzel mish-mash

So I had a vision. Sometimes I get these when I have a bunch of random foods in the cupboards.

Today's random ingredients? Pretzel sticks, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and red, white, and blue sprinkles.

So what do you do with such yumminess? Place the pretzels on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Heat up the peanut butter in the microwave. Pour over the pretzels. Melt the chocolate chips with a tablespoon of shortening. Pour over the pretzels. Then sprinkle with sprinkles. And, voila! You've got a delicious 4th of July treat that's sweet, salty, and addicting. Uh oh.

The only problem with these is that I should've added a tablespoon of corn syrup (or shortening? not really sure about this one without experimentation) to the peanut butter after it was melted. Even though the peanut butter hardens a bit after you place the whole cookie sheet in the fridge, it still gets a little gooey after it's been sitting out after awhile. Note: Refrigerate these puppies when you're not devouring them!

However, apparently these treats passed the Nonni-test, as she really couldn't stop eating them. And hopefully Guinea Pig Michael will like them, too....I'm bringing some of these over to his house tomorrow when I go visit. Really, though, they're chocolate and peanut butter, so I really don't know how anyone couldn't like them. :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

organic cake....?

So now that calclueless is over (passed with a C! WAHOO!), I am now working (kinda) full-time at work. Hey, 32 hours a week feels like full-time to me. I sit in front of a computer 8 hours a day, 4 times a week.
Yay. I love my life.

Anyway, the girls I work with are in the dietetics program I will be in this upcoming fall. And, man, are they healthy. I always thought I ate healthier than the Average Joe. How wrong I was. These girls bash preservatives, lunch meat, and even Ranch dressing, which is not vegan since it is made with milk.

WHO KNEW Ranch dressing even HAD milk in it?!

So here I am, little Miss Hypocrite Dietitian over here at work. Sitting on her exercise ball "chair", eating a processed lunch meat sandwich on store-bought bread while drinking a can of Cherry Coke Zero. I am sure they all shun me inside.

However, I really couldn't care. While eating organic and choosing foods that are prepared without preservatives is the ideal way to go...really, those preservatives can't be doin' our bodies much good...but really, people. If you're not makin' decent money, all those organic foods are gonna run your bank account dry. I don't know, this is just my view. And I have a sneaking feeling that healthy eating can be done by eating non-organic foods.

However, this is where our story begins. These girls at work have slightly begun to warp my mind (just a tad) and at least have given me the curiousity of the Organic World. So it was when I saw that this organic cake mix was on sale at Meijer, I knew I wanted to give it a whirl. Yeah, yeah, I know, two bucks for a cake mix....still expensive. But I was curious, okay??

Oh. Hello, adorable bottle of Hennessy.

Yeah, who wouldn't be side-tracked by miniture bottles of liquor? But anyways, the first thing I noticed about this cake mix recipe is that there were no eggs involved, just water and melted butter. Hmmm, this is new. I thought to myself, questioningly. However, I continued to bake...took a [minor] detour when Cameron the Canon Camera fell into the bowl of batter, where his life flashed before my eyes, though I pressed on.

And there it is! ORGANIC CAKE, TA DA! It definately has a different texture than "normal" yellow cake from the mix. A bit denser, but I kinda thought that made it delicious. It's great served with a schprinkle of powdered sugar. NOTE, however, one mix only made one layer. Strange, as you usually get two layers out of a single mix. I was quite perplexed, but whatever. Nothing to lose sleep over. :)