Organic Strawberry Basil Margaritas With Ginger

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I hit up my local farm stand, South Coast Farms, on my way home from working out on Friday. The strawberries this season have been outrageous, baskets and baskets of pure berry sweetness filling up a large table every day at the farm. When I showed up Friday, the normal “strawberry” table was overflowing with heirloom tomatoes. Strawberry season at the farm ends today and the farm’s “U-Pick” option was the only way I could enjoy a few last baskets of their organic strawberries. So, I grabbed my basket and walked out to the field.

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A few observations from my strawberry picking: (1) There is no match for the goodness of food that goes right from the ground into your hands. (2) I will have a greater appreciation for naturally farmed food and the people that bring it to me, as my back was sore after a mere 35 minutes of picking strawberries. (3) Standing in the field and looking around at heirloom tomatoes on vines and giant bunches of fresh green lettuces and kale, I was inspired to keep shopping/eating/buying local farm stand fruits and vegetables. (4) It is the simple and pure things in life that make me feel good – standing in that field picking strawberries, chatting with people I didn’t know on a relaxed Friday afternoon, watching kids fill their little buckets with strawberries picked with their own little hands, the warm sunshine and cool ocean breeze.

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I decided to kick off the holiday weekend using the strawberries in fresh strawberry margaritas. All of the ingredients listed are organic (I purchased the basil and limes at the farm as well). Happy Fourth of July…Enjoy this “Farm-To-Glass” spirit.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup of organic strawberries, stems removed
1/2 cup Patron Silver tequila
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/8 cup Cointreau
1 Tb organic basil, roughly chopped +extra for garnish
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
*Fills two large margarita glasses or three smaller glasses

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DIRECTIONS
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour over ice into Margarita glasses and top with a few sprigs of basil. For garnish, create a mini kabob of strawberries, basil and ginger and rest on the side of the Margarita glass. Serve on a large farm tray with baskets of strawberries as decoration.

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Meyer Lemon Limoncello

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When my mom’s Meyer lemon tree was overflowing with glowing yellow citrus, I found myself the lucky recipient of a giant bag on my doorstep. I started researching all the delectable ways these lemons could be incorporated into recipes. It was an experiment that yielded beautiful cocktails and desserts, and one gorgeous roasted chicken.

What makes Meyer lemons so special? ’Lisbon’ and ‘Eureka’ lemons grow year-round and are most likely the lemons you select whenever you reach for them in the grocery store. The Meyer lemon, named after Frank N. Meyer who discovered it in Asia in 1908, is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. The Meyer lemon is less acidic and sweeter with a more fragrant smelling rind. The Meyer lemon is seasonal, available mainly from December through May (Costco had bags of Meyer lemons this year, which I just noticed).

Obsessed with Limoncello from my first trip to Italy, I decided to use the Meyer lemons to first make my own Meyer Lemon Limoncello. I let my peels infuse for a month and the result was delicious.
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This Christmas, I plan on making Limoncello again with the Meyer lemons and giving homemade bottles as gifts during the holidays. There is so much you can do with the packaging and suggesting different ways to drink, cook and bake with Limoncello. If you want to try this recipe, any lemons will do, but take advantage of the Meyer variety if you have time.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an "L" out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an “L” out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

Ingredients
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11-12 Meyer lemons, washed and dried
1 750-ml bottle vodka (80-to-100 proof)
2 cups sugar
2, 1 quart Mason jars
Strainer/Collander
Small funnel
Decorative/Sealable bottle(s) of your choice

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Cover the Meyer Lemon peels with vodka

Directions
Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler being careful to avoid the pith. Divide the lemon peels equally between your two, 1-Quart Mason jars. Fill each jar to the top with vodka and seal.

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Place the Mason jars in a dark, cool spot and let the vodka infuse anywhere from one week to four weeks. *The longer you infuse the vodka the more lemon flavor you will get out of your Limoncello.

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Once you are ready, place your collander/strainer over a measuring cup that is large enough to hold at least two cups but preferably four. Strain the infused vodka through the collander/strainer. It should yield four cups of vodka approximately. Add your four cups of infused vodka to a large pitcher.

Now you will prepare a simple sugar syrup which you will add to the infused vodka (once it has cooled). Bring two cups water and two cups sugar to a boil and stir. Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let the simple sugar syrup cool completely.

Once the simple sugar syrup has cooled completely, you will add it to your pitcher of infused vodka and stir. Be sure to taste it and make sure it is to your liking. I used a 1:1 ratio and thought it had the right kick.

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

You are ready to bottle your Limoncello. Pour into the decorative bottles you selected using a small funnel or a steady hand! I found the pretty bottles you see here at Cost Plus but am certain any variety and any size can be found online. Chill the finished Limoncello in the fridge or freezer for four to five hours before enjoying. I always keep my Limoncello in the freezer as I like to serve it cold and it will last much longer (up to a year).
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Limoncello Ideas

spider web elixer

Black Widow LeadHalloween morning has broken with fluffy gray clouds and temperatures more in line with fall. Here in Southern California, it has not been below 74 degrees since May. I heard that stat on the news yesterday and couldn’t believe it. I am soooooooooo ready for boots, scarves, jeans and hats. I am going to enjoy this micro dip in temps and ignore the forecast which takes us back into the 80’s next week.

We are celebrating in the neighborhood tonight on Christi’s very long driveway. Our beach chairs are out and the ping pong table is set-up with mounds of candy ready to be thrown into pillowcases of trick-or-treaters big and small. We have a “gourmet” menu planned of pizza, salad, apps and spirits. I am looking forward to a RELAXED and EASY Friday night Halloween as we pump up every kid in the neighborhood with their annual sugar fix.

If you are in need of a Halloween themed drink, whip up a pitcher of our favorite “Spider Web Elixer.” The drink is simple to make and can be creatively styled with black licorice and candy corn or orange and black jelly bellys. Happy Halloween 2014. Wishing you a GHOULISH good time! ♥

Ingredients
3 parts vanilla vodka
1 part black anise-flavored liqueur (recommended: Sambuca)
1 part espresso
Black licorice and candy corn for garnish

Directions
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except the licorice with ice and shake to mix. Serve in a cocktail martini glass with a black licorice straw.

 

Recipe from Sandra Lee