Friday, January 22, 2010

Mary's Limoncello

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This delicious after-dinner drink recipe comes from Mary Park of Marina, CA, pictured here with her husband, Robert. Mary, originally from Hilo and Robert from Honolulu, have been married for 57 years with 7 children, 9 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. They are the parents of my good friend Phyllis Hays-Martin. I love that both Mary and Phyllis are adventuresome cooks, willing to try out new recipes on their friends and family. This limoncello is a wonderfully sweet and tart "digestivo", an Italian lemon liquor originating from the Southern Italy region. This was a Giada De Laurentiis recipe but has been adjusted slightly. You can barely see the limoncello in this photo as it was so good and a perfect ending to a delicious meal cooked by Phyllis.

10 lemons
1 (750 ml) bottle Vodka
3-1/2 cups water
2-1/2 cups sugar (cut this down, as it is very sweet otherwise)

Rinse the lemons. Remove the peel in long strips using a vegetable peeler. Trim away the white pith from the lemon peels and discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher.

In a large saucepan stir the water and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved (about 5 min.). Pour the hot syrup over the peeled lemon rinds, and let it stand for a few minutes, then pour a quart of vodka into the lemon mixture. Let the lemons steep in the vodka for 5 days at room temperature. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels and transfer to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to one month. Simply delicious!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Berry Trifle

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Here's my version of a berry trifle using ready-made ingredients. It's a retro-recipe that is easy to put together. You serve it in a large, deep serving bowl, and scoop it out with a big spoon into individual serving bowls. It feeds a large crowd, so can be served at parties and potlucks.

1 yellow cake mix (plus ingredients listed on the cake mix package to make 2, 8" layers)
1 large package Jello vanilla instant pudding mix
1-1/2 cups milk
3 small tubs of Cool Whip
1 large tub of strawberries
1 pint blackberries
1 pint blueberries
2 T sugar
Fresh mint (optional) as a garnish

Bake the cake according to package directions. You can use any yellow cake mix. Once baked and cooled, split the 2 layers in half horizontally so you end up with 4 thin, round layers.

In a medium size bowl, mix the instant pudding mix with the milk. Quickly fold in 1 tub of Cool Whip (before the pudding sets).

Rinse the berries. Slice the strawberries into thirds. Mix all the berries together in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and gently toss.

To assemble, layer the berries, cake, pudding mixture and Cool Whip. In this photo, I layered it this way:

Cool Whip
Cool Whip (thicker layer that seals off the edges - like a cloud)
a few berries sprinkled on top

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gina's Pumpkin Dip

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Here's the recipe for a seasonal favorite and holiday treat from Gina Shimomura. While in Seattle last week, Gina made us a scrumptious pumpkin dip which we enjoyed as a snack and light dessert. She served it with Anna's Ginger Thin Crisps from Costco. The recipe came from her friend at church. Pictured here are Gina and Mark, and cute Teiya and Jordan during Christmas week.

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp orange extract (can use orange zest or a little orange juice)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Anna's Ginger Thin Crisps (from Costco)

Blend cream cheese, powdered sugar in food processor until smooth. Add rest of ingredients and blend thoroughly. Chill 30 minutes. Serve as a dip with ginger cookies.

Joby's Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

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This amazing and tasty recipe is from my talented niece, Joby, who made these on Christmas eve. The brussel sprouts were so fresh, salty, caramelized, tangy and bacony...I could not stop eating them, and I am typically not a fan of brussel sprouts. You will love these little guys! Check out her vibrant, hand-crafted stained glass on:

1 lb of brussel sprouts, washed and halved
6 strips of thick cut bacon, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 shallots,minced
2 serrano peppers, chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
3 T balsamic vinegar

Clean the brussel sprouts. Trim the bottoms and peel off outer leaves. Cut about 1/4 inch of the bottom. Cut them in half. Slice the bacon into 1/2 inch wide strips. Cook until crispy, and then drain on paper towels. Dice shallot, garlic and serrano. Saute 1-2 min until translucent. Add the brussel sprouts. Saute for 8-10 min. until they start to caramelize and get nice and brown. Add the bacon and stir. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for 3-5 min. stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and serve.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Phyllis' Mini-Meatballs

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I love Phyllis' recipes as they are quick and easy to make. She served these meatballs as an appetizer on a trip to San Diego. We could not stop eating them -- totally addicting! It has just two ingredients, but tastes like you spent hours preparing them. Just go to Trader Joe's and buy one package of their Party Time Mini-Meatballs in the frozen section and one bottle of General Tsao's Stir-Fry Sauce. Mix the two together in saucepan over medium heat for a few minutes until warmed. Every time I make them as an appetizer, they are a big hit and the guys love them. Perfect food for watching the Super Bowl.

1 package Trader Joe's Party Time (Frozen) Mini-Meatballs
1 bottle General Tsao's Stir-Fry Sauce

Mix and heat in a saucepan for 10-15 min. Simple! For a fancier version, Phyllis mixes in pineapple chucks and sprinkles it with minced chives or green onions on top.