Tag Archives: Adult Beverages

Dreamy Strawberry J.D. Jello Shots

(That “J.D.” is for Juris Doctor because I am now officially a doctor of the law!  In an upcoming post, I will get all nostalgic about how much I loved law school, perhaps post some pictures of graduation festivities, and share a recipe that has….you know….vegetables or something in it.  But…..first things first.  Read on.)

I got my hair cut the other day, and the stylist was just the most delightful fellow.  We talked about judicial retention elections, curl-enhancing hair products, and the Pioneer Woman.  He also did a really bitchin’ job on my hair, and when I left he proclaimed that it looked “super hot” and I would probably meet the man of my dreams that very day and reel him in with my tousled waves.  (That didn’t happen, FYI.  I did go out for lunch after and have a really good salad, but I wouldn’t say it was the salad “of my dreams.”)

Stylist Man also dropped the following culinary knowledge bomb on me: You can make Jello shots in hollowed-out strawberries.  WHOA.  Just let that sink it.  It’s a good thing I don’t have a lot to do this week, because, well, I sort of feel like it’s my calling to test this sort of thing out and report my findings to you good folks.

You need the following:

1) One .30-ounce box of Jello.  Choose your favorite flavor—I went with strawberry for obvious reasons.

2) As many strawberries as you want to fill.  I did about 2 pints and still had some leftover Jello that I just poured into a baking dish.

3) Vodka.  I recommend whatever variety is on sale.  I used lemon-flavored vodka, which added a little zing.

4) Some sort of small, sharp kitchen instrument for hollowing out the strawberries.  I used an apple corer.  I would think you could also use a paring knife, a teensy melon baller, or a grapefruit spoon.

5) Some friends that also don’t have a lot to do this week.

Put the vodka in the freezer, and then deal with your strawberries first, so your vessels are ready and waiting.  Cut a slice off the bottom, so they’ll stand up, and then slice off a bit of the top and hollow them out as much as you can without breaking them.

You’re not going to get a huge cavity here, but that’s OK.  Smaller Jello shots are more dignified.  (Or you could just eat more of them, I suppose.  I’m not here to dictate your life choices.)  Line the strawberries up in a pan so you can fill them and refrigerate them later.

Prepare the Jello according to the package instructions, but instead of the cup of cold water you’re supposed to add at the end, add a cup of vodka.  Pour a little bit of the Jello mixture into each strawberry (a liquid measuring cup works well here), and then refrigerate until set.

Hot tip: you don’t want the strawberries all falling over when you move the pan to the fridge—that would be quite sad—so try setting the pan in the fridge first and carefully pouring the mixture into them that way.  If you have some extra after filling the berries, just pour it into a baking dish or those tiny little plastic cups, in the grand tradition of undergraduates everywhere.

About 2 hours later, the verdict: they are attractive, refreshing, whimsical, and just the tiniest bit dangerous.  In fact, I would even say they are the Jello shots of my dreams.

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Joyful and Triumphant

Exams are over!!  I can now go places without my ziploc bag full of pencils, highlighters, earplugs, and anti-nausea medication!  The time for mulling over cases and statutes is past; now is the time for mulling wine.

(It’s OK to be jealous of my festive holiday cardigan.)

After a few weeks of no-nonsense studying, we gathered at my lovely friend Ingrid’s house for baking, festive sweater-wearing, caroling, and general nonsense.  It was wonderful. 

If you’re curious about this wine-mulling thing, here’s what I did: pour two bottles of something red (and cheap) into a big pot.  Add 1/2 c. brandy (or more…who wants to measure anyway?) and about 8 cinnamon sticks.  Then, get yourself several long strips of orange peel, like so….

…and stick whole cloves through the peel.  This prevents people finding whole cloves floating in their wine later.

Then bring everything to just a simmer and let it steep for awhile.  This same process is also good with cider–I’ve done that in my crockpot before.  What you do with the remaining orange and whole cloves is up to you:

In keeping with the happy holiday theme, today’s featured recipe is for gingerbread cupcakes.  Full disclosure: I have made this recipe 3 times in 4 days.  They were supposed to be for a lady who purchased the golden opportunity to have me deliver monthly baked goods to her throughout the year at a charity auction, and the first time I made them they were OK, but a tiny bit dry.  I felt it would be just plain wrong to give sub-par cupcakes to a paying customer.  (Actually, I don’t know who I WOULD serve sub-par cupcakes to.  Maybe the Taliban.)  I made some adjustments, and on the second try they were so good I was kind of sad to give them away.  So, this morning I made them again for the family, and I think I have finally made up for my baking deficit over the last few weeks.

Gingerbread Cupcakes (makes approximately 15)

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar (OR you could do what I did this morning: 1/4 c. brown sugar and 1/4 c. Stevia–it’s all-natural no-calorie sweetener.  If you use Stevia, the cupcakes will be flatter, so increase your baking soda a bit to give them a little more lift.)
  • 1/2 c. unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap, and not the “mild flavor” kind either–that’s for pansies)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 c. fresh ginger root, minced fine

Preheat your oven to 350, and get your pans with cupcake liners ready to go.  (I like the foil ones, for purely aesthetic reasons.)  Mix the flour, baking soda, and dry spices in a small bowl.  Melt the butter with the water in a small sauce pan or in the microwave, and allow to cool slightly.  With an electric mixer, mix the molasses and brown sugar (or brown sugar and Stevia) until smooth.  Then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each one.  Add the dry ingredients and the melted butter + water, and mix until just combined.  Fold in the minced fresh ginger.  Spoon the batter into the liners (about 2/3 full) and bake for 17 minutes exactly.  (OK, 15-20.  Mine took 17.  Just keep an eye on them and when a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean, they’re done.)

I’m going to leave this morning’s batch unfrosted, so I guess technically they’ll be gingerbread muffins.  But I frosted the batch I gave away with cream cheese frosting.  Set out 8 ounces of cream cheese and one stick of butter until they come to room temperature, and then cream them together with an electric mixer.  Then use the mixer to incorporate a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar.  I like my frosting to be less sweet than in most recipes, so taste and add more sugar if you want.

And for God’s sake, don’t forget the sprinkles.  No cupcake is complete without them!

Saturday, starring watermelon

Although I am not very carnivorously-inclined myself, I do happen to be the daughter of a certified barbecue contest judge who, in order to receive his certification, had to swear a solemn oath to “spread the gospel of ‘cue.”  Because he takes this oath seriously, my dear old dad fired up his backyard smoker before I left for school and sent me back with enough “low and slow” goodness to feed several friends.

So I whipped up some black bean burgers and a few other things, fed some folks, and then scooted off for a night of fun and frivolity with my very dangerous friend Christina.

The crowd did a pretty excellent job of cleaning up the food.  However, I was left with an over-abundance of watermelon, so I decided to pull out my favorite knife this morning and see what I could do with it.  Here’s what happened with what I could find in my kitchen…

Watermelon and Peach Salsa

  • 2 cups diced watermelon
  • 1 diced peach
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • juice from half of a lime
  • salt and pepper

I thought I was headed for failure as I mixed these ingredients together, but lo and behold–it’s pretty good!  Try it with some chips, or, if you want to get fancy, on top of some grilled fish.  I had it with a leftover black bean burger for lunch and it was totally two-thumbs-up.  Cilantro and/or a jalepeno might be nice additions.

Emboldened by my successful salsa, I then dumped another cup or so of watermelon into my blender.  I added maybe 4 ounces of riesling (the nice thing about hosting barbecues is that people sometimes leave wine in your fridge) and a couple splashes of lime-flavored club soda.  It blended up all pink and frothy and DELISH, but I don’t have a picture because, um, I drank it.  Sorry.