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    International Food Blogger Conference 2011 NOLA


    Infused Vodka


    Infused Mixed Berry Vodka, and Seckel Pear Vodka

    Link to blog post about Infused Vodkas



    Apple Pie Liqueur* -- (quick version)

    To quote the poet Ogden Nash, "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." He must have somehow inspired my decision to make a batch of this tasty liqueur.

     I stocked up on some fresh-pressed cider on Sunday, and besides making Caramel Apple Syrup, I decided to make a few booze-y holiday gifts for my family, most of whom live in Wenatchee, where it gets pretty darn cold in the winter. This Apple Pie Liqueur is made with Everclear grain alchohol -- we all know a little "anti-freeze" can be helpful on a freezing-cold snowy day, right?

    So while I have plenty of candy-making ingredients on hand, this quick & easy recipe just seemed like a lot more fun.

    Here are the ingredients you need to make Apple Pie Liqueur:

    I expanded on this, adding cardamom pods, allspice berries and ground nutmeg.

    I called this my quick version, because even though I've made others, this one is the easiest to put together. Quick & easy to make, and quick & easy to drink, so be careful -- it sneaks up on you.

    Prep time the first day? About 10 minutes.

    Then I let it sit overnight with the spices (cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cardamom pods and ground nutmeg.)



    The next day, you just pour it through a mesh strainer / funnel combination and into some fancy bottles or even plain ol' jars, and it's good to go. Stick it in the fridge for a couple months and when you need a gift, it'll be there.

    Just add a ribbon and a cute tag, maybe write a few recipe ideas on it, and there you have it....Apple Pie in a glass!

     Strained Apple Pie Liqueur should be kept in the fridge and should probably be enjoyed within one year of making it, although I've had it last for years (plural) and in my opinion, it just gets better!

    (Complete recipe for Apple Pie Liqueur here.)


    *Liqueur and Liquor are not the same. 


    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Cheap, tasty, and nutritious. What's not to love?

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds are unbelievably simple to prepare.

    If you really want to know all about pumpkin seeds being a "magnificent source of magnesium", or "packed full of B vitamins", click here. If you just want a quick explanation on how to make the best roasted pumpkin seeds you've ever had, skip the link and keep reading...

    Besides the fact that Pepitas, as they are also known, are incredibly good for you, they are quick & easy to prepare. It probably goes without saying that they are a great example of waste not, want not.

    This is a Sugar Pie Pumpkin. It only weighs a couple pounds. These little pumpkins are grown for eating. They have tender, flavorful flesh, which is perfect for Pumpkin Pies and Pumpkin Butter.


     Separating the seeds from the pulp and flesh is simple. They don't really stick together at all. It took me less than two minutes to pull 2 cups of seeds from 4 small Sugar Pie Pumpkin halves. 


    Four basic ingredients for making this recipe


    Okay, here's the scoop (pun intended!)

    How to make the best Roasted Pumpkin Seeds ever:

    (Click on the above link for printable recipe)

    Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

    Spread ~ 2 cups of fresh raw pumpkin seeds on a greased cookie sheet.

    Stir together:

    1 TBS melted butter. A little more than a tablespoon of melted butter is okay too.

    (Or you can use 1 TBS olive oil instead of butter.)

    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (Or as I like to call it: "What's-this-here? Sauce". I learned that from Bugs Bunny.)

    Pour the butter / oil & sauce mixture over the top of the seeds, stir them around to make sure the seeds are coated with the mixture, then spread the seeds evenly on a greased baking sheet.

    Next, sprinkle the seeds with:

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt (Or whatever salt you've got.)

    cracked pepper to taste

    You can fancy it up with garlic salt, and/or Tabasco sauce, but these morsels are delicious no matter what you do to them.

    Roast the seeds for one hour, but stir them around every 15 minutes. C'mon. Just set your timer for 15 minutes, 4 times.

    (It's kind of like making Chex Mix. Do NOT tell me you've never made Chex Mix! If you're under 40, I might forgive you.)

    This recipe is so easy. And sooo worth it. The house will smell really good while the seeds are roasting too. Like October.

    And to think some people just scoop out their Halloween jack-o-lanterns, and throw the seeds away. That's a scary thought.


    Watermelon Jerky. Trust me on this one.

    So the summer of 2010 is drawing to a close.

    Alas my summer love affair with watermelon is not.

    I'm not the only one in the family who loves watermelon.

    I've been practically obsessed with watermelon these past few months. Keep in mind I've always loved my Watermelon Rind Pickles, but since the weather turned warmer I've been through the Watermelon Agua Fresca phase, the Watermelon Feta Salad (with Kalamata olives added) near-addiction, the Watermelon with Lime Juice & Agave Salad 5 days-in-a-row thing, the Watermelon Jelly experiment, and now, it's Watermelon Jerky. I mean, I was almost over watermelon, and that last one I bought being nearly flavorless didn't help one bit. But then it hit me. If this watermelon didn't have so much "water" in it, it would be much better.

    The flavorless watermelon was bound for the compost bin, but at the last minute I decided to slice it up (about 1/2" - 3/4" thick; it doesn't have to be exact) and stick it in the food dehydrator. I decided to add a couple slices of the "Yellow Doll" watermelon while I was at it, because this particular one didn't taste like much either.

    2 types of Watermelon, ready for the dehydrator

    It was a stroke of genius. Not entirely an original idea, mind you. I had heard people say that once dehydrated, watermelon tastes like candy. An idea I didn't find totally appealing, if you consider the fact that my least favorite Jolly Rancher candy flavor, growing up, was watermelon. Hard to believe, I know, but so far it's only been genuine watermelon, not the artificially-flavored kind that has me in it's clutches.

    24 hours (at 135 degrees) later, Watermelon Jerky.

    Crispy, yet chewy, and not unlike Watermelon Cotton Candy, if such a thing even exists!

    Try it. One bite and you'll be hooked. Last call for watermelons. I think I better run out to the grocery store and stock up, before the Labor Day weekend sales are over.


    Start with Apricots. Add Vodka. And a Vanilla Bean.

    And you have the makings for something really lovely.

    Apricots, Grey Goose Vodka, a vanilla bean.

    You might like this too: Seckel Pear-infused Vodka


    Pickled Spiced Sour Cherries

         Pickled & Spiced and everything nice. I adore sour cherries, and if I can get my hands on them, I try to preserve them several different ways. These are a favorite of mine, using Morello Cherries.


    Especially delightful paired with charcuterie!
    Set out a platter with these pickled spiced cherries, a terrine of chicken liver pate`, and a fresh baguette, and your guests may never want to leave.


    Watermelon Rind Pickles

    I can't bear the thought of throwing away anything useful, so I make sure my watermelon rinds end up in a jar and not in the compost bin.
    These pickled watermelon rinds are absolutely delicious served alongside grilled meats. The fact that they look like little jewels is one more reason to love them.


    Link to my Watermelon Rind Pickle blog post


    Candied Orange Peels, also known as "Orangettes"



    Chelsea Stephens, dipping Candied Orange

    Peels in sugar, then placing them on racks

    to dry, before dipping in Bittersweet, Milk, and

    White Chocolate:



    I make these every December and give them as gifts, packaged in pretty clear cellophane bags, tied with colorful satin ribbons.