little loves lemonade

My husband and I hold a garage sale every year and last weekend lemonade standwas it. At past sales we’ve sold everything from bikes and bassinets to the kids barely broken in winter boots and a first generation iMac. We’ve become something like pros at hawking our junk and keen negotiators with the hard-core pickers always looking for the best price. But this last sale was unlike any other we’ve ever held in that the kids decided to participate. How… with a good ol’ fashioned lemonade stand of course!

My little loves (that’s them at their stand) sold cups of homemade lemonade and mini chocolate-chocolate chip muffins to nearly everyone who visited our sale, not to mention a few unsuspecting individuals just out for a walk. They worked hard promoting their product and played the cute kid card big time— it totally payed off for them. Their little enterprise was such a huge success that not only did they sell out of 4 gallons of homemade lemonade and 48 mini muffins, but they did so way before the garage sale was over! Not everyone bought from us, but almost everyone bought from them.

So if you’re contemplating a garage sale over the next few months I highly recommend encouraging the kids to run a lemonade stand as well. And if you’ve got some Amway products, Girl Scout cookies or a little Avon you’re looking to move fast, I just may have the salespeople for you!

Classic Homemade Lemonade
This is lemonade is super easy to make and tastes nothing like the powdered stuff in a can. Give it a try once and I promise you’ll never go back!

lemonade2

Lemonade
2 cups simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 cups fresh lemon juice* (about 12 lemons)
4 cups water

  1. In a large pitcher stir together the fresh juice and simple syrup. Add the water, tasting as you go, until the lemonade is as sweet/tart as you like it.
  2. Serve in tall glasses garnished with a sprig of mint or a slice of fresh lemon and enjoy.

Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

  1. Add the water and sugar to a pan and heat. Stir frequently, until sugar fully dissolves and the syrup becomes clear, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Let cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

*When lemons are on sale I buy and squeeze enough for 2 cups of juice, but when they’re not I use half fresh juice and half bottled. It’s slightly less amazing than entirely fresh squeezed, but still miles better than the “just add water” canned stuff.

*adapted from whats cooking america

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
These mini muffins are truly the perfect one bite chocolate fix. However the same recipe can be used for full sized muffins, simply adjust the baking time.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp. red wine
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mini chips in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, water, oil, wine and vanilla. Add oil mixture to flour mixture and stir until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Place the liners in the muffin pan and lightly coat with cooking spray. Add a dollop of batter to each prepared muffin cup and sprinkle a few mini chips on the top of each.
  4. Bake mini muffins for 12-14 minutes (full size for 18-22 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack.

*adapted from cooking light

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limoncello— boozy sunshine

Many years ago, long before children were even part of the discussion, my husband and I used to meet friends for dinner a few times a month at a small Italian restaurant in Manhattan. Back then we had nothing but time and spent many a long evening at that restaurant eating, drinking and enjoying our young lives. It was on one of these carefree evenings that I was first introduced to the Italian liqueur Limoncello. The restaurant made their own and after dessert and coffee the owner would often bring over a bottle, pull up a chair and join in on the conservation. Ahhh, those were the days…

Around the same time I made my first trip to Italy. Perhaps it was the idyllic train ride to Florence, while listening to Andrea Bocelli and reading Frances Mayes or the melt in your mouth gnocchi that we encountered upon arriving, but we couldn’t help but feel fortunate to be able to experience such a perfect vacation. Amazing sights, amazing sounds and amazing food. And as good as my NYC limoncello had been, it couldn’t compare with the nectar from the motherland.

A lot of years have passed since those carefree Italian dinners, but sometimes on a quiet evening, with a conversation of “remember when’s” and a little homemade limoncello, it feels like not so long ago.

Limoncello
I’ve heard limoncello referred to as sunshine in a bottle. Sweet, boozy sunshine.

26 thick-skinned lemons
1 1.75 ltr. bottle good quality vodka
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water

  1. Gently wash and dry the lemons under warm water. Using a microplane, remove the lemons’ yellow zest, taking care to avoid the bitter white pith. (Save the zested lemons for another use.)
  2. Place the zest in the glass jar with a lid and add vodka. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and then seal tightly with the lid. Let the mixture steep until the peels begin to lose their color and the liquid turns bright yellow and very aromatic, at least three weeks but up to 40 days.
  3. After the lemon zest and vodka have steeped, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely (this step can be done ahead of time and refrigerated).
  4. Pour the sugar syrup over the infused vodka. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. After the limoncello and simple syrup combo have sat overnight you’re finally ready to bottle your liquid sunshine. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer lined with a layer of moistened cheesecloth (to remove all traces of peel) and into a clean jar or bowl. Be sure to squeeze the last drops of liquid from the zest. (I did this three times.) Now line the mesh strainer with a coffee filter and strain the limoncello once more to collect any fine lemon residue and oil. (This step is the key to crystal clear limoncello. If you don’t do this final filtering you’ll end up with a cap of lemon oil in each of your bottles.)
  6. Using a funnel, pour the finished liqueur into clean bottles and seal tightly with a cork or cap and store in the refrigerator.* Or… pour yourself a glass, sit back and enjoy the fruit of your efforts.

*The longer the limoncello is allowed to age in the refrigerator the smoother it will become.

*adapted from imbibe magazine