Lovely Limoncello

My hubby and I come from a long line of amateur wine and liquor makers. My dad ferments wine in his garage (and has for as long as I can remember) and the other day offered us a taste of some homemade coffee liquor my aunt had been storing for over 30 years (it was delicious!). We don’t have the room to make wine (no garage and the basement is too packed with stuff) but we do want to make our own contribution to the family liquor cabinet. So after some trial and error and some translating Italian the following is my hubby’s recipe for Limoncello which we bottled (see photo above) and handed out as Christmas gifts this year:

24 lemons

3 liters grain alcohol (must be grain, vodka doesn’t work)

3.25 liters of water

2 liters simple syrup

Yield: 22 bottles (375 ml each) – see note about quantity below

Remove the fragrant zest of the 24 lemons in large strips (be sure not to include any of the white pith) and place into a large glass container (if doing in multiple smaller containers try to evenly distribute the zest). Fill container with the 3 liters of grain alcohol, cover it and place in a cool dark place to steep for 6 weeks.

After the 6 weeks are up remove the skins and add 3.25 liters of water and 2 liters of simple syrup to the lemony alcohol and mix well.  You are now ready to bottle!

Refrigerate before serving (you don’t have to do this but it tastes better cold) and enjoy as an after dinner drink on its own or as I like to – a splash in your espresso.

NOTE: For a smaller batch the ratios of grain to water to sugar are really what matter so here is the ratio: 6 grain, 6.5 water and 4 simple syrup.

Easy Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This is by far one of my favorite ways to have brussel sprouts and thankfully it’s also the easiest preparation as well. ¬†Every once in a great while I get a hankering for brussel sprouts and let’s be honest, it’s hard to make them really tasty, right? I’ve previously done some recipes where you go through the tedium of removing all the leaves of the sprout and saute that with some apple cider vinegar and some panchetta. It’s tasty but not terribly healthy and it takes close to nine years to trim the sprouts. This preparation is super fast and my husband and I can consume a whole tray of these ourselves. Haven’t subjected the baby to them yet but we did discover he’s a huge fan of Philly cheesesteaks over the holiday so I’m pretty excited. He eats most every other veggie so once he gets some teeth these will be on the plate.

I prepare this using fresh sprouts. I suspect you could do it with frozen but would likely take longer to make.

1 dozen medium sized fresh brussel sprouts

1 Tbs olive oil

Generous pinch of salt & pepper to taste

Sprinkle of cider vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take sprouts, cut bottom off and remove any leaves that fall right off when you trim the bottom and cut the sprout in half lengthwise. Rinse the sprouts and then place them on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, making sure the sprouts are well coated with the oil. Place the spouts all cut side down on the cookie sheet and if you want a little extra tang, sprinkle them with some cider vinegar. Place in the preheated oven and check after about 15 minutes to see if they are starting to brown.

You may see the outer leaves really get brown, and if that’s the case, turn your oven down to 375 and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the sprouts are all fork tender. The outer leaves, especially any loose ones, may end up crispy and they are my favorite part!

I served this with some chicken cutlets prepared like the turkey cutlets in this recipe.

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