Tequila Lime Squares

27 Jul Tequila Lime Squares

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Summertime! The word itself conjures up images of pure fun – swimming, sunning, playing outside, picnics and barbecues – so many awesome things to do! But let’s face it, baking isn’t one of them.  When the temperature soars into the 90s or higher, who wants to be pulling sheets of cookies or pans of cupcakes out of a hot oven, especially when she could be lounging by a refreshingly cool pool? But does this mean no goodies until the fall? Not at all!  Enter the simple square.

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In an era before Pinterest and AllRecipes and Food.com made finding the perfect recipe a quick click away, one of the things my grandmother and I enjoyed sharing with each other was the discovery of an amazing recipe. Because we lived almost 400 miles apart, we had to share these finds originally by photocopying and mailing, and later by attaching to an email. But she always held onto a special recipe or two until I visited so we could make it together. My gram’s lemon square recipe was one such treat, a recipe so simple but so delicious, it remains one of my top go-to summer recipes to this day.

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Squares and bars are the perfect summer dessert. Super easy to whip up, only one pan to dirty, requiring minimal oven door opening. Cover the pan and you’ve got your brownies or lemon squares or cheesecake bars ready to go for the perfect ending to any picnic or cookout. So imagine my delight when I came across this recipe from, believe it or not, food network.com, for Tequila Bars! Light, citrus-y, easy enough to toss together, and with a generous helping of tequila, definitely B.U.I. worthy. I had to give them a try, and I’m so glad I did. A new summer go-to recipe, I’m pretty sure my Gram would approve.

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TEQUILA LIME SQUARES

1 12-ounce box vanilla wafers

1/2 cup pine nuts

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup tequila

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

5 large egg yolks

2 egg whites

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse wafers and pine nuts in food processor until well ground.

Add butter and blend until mixed. Set aside 1/4 cup of crumbs.

Press remaining crumbs evenly into a 13 x 9 pan.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together tequila, lime juice, egg yolks and condensed milk. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat egg whites and sugar with electric mixer until they hold soft peaks.

Gently fold the egg whites into the tequila mixture.

Spread the filling over the prepared crust and bake for 25 minutes. Cool.

Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top.

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight before cutting.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes with Sweet Revenge and Limoncello Liqueurs

5 Jul Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

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Summer is in full swing here in the Mid-Atlantic, and we are loving another absolutely perfect, sunny, warm summer weekend. Not a cloud in the cerulean blue sky, just plenty of happy bright sunshine. My bees are busy coming and going, flying here and there, gathering the nectar and pollen they need to provide me with the absolutely best crop of honey around.

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh, local fruits and veggies: summer squashes and lettuces and tomatoes, peaches and melons and of course, all the berries. Loads and loads of all kinds of berries – strawberries and blueberries and raspberries – when the berries are ripe for picking, it’s a sure sign summer has begun.

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Strawberry picking has been a rite of summer for as long as I can remember. Of course, back in the day, pick-your-own berries was something we did as way to save a few pennies. My mom would pack all of us in the old station wagon and drive us to the nearest pick-your-own farm, arm us each with our own berry container and send each of us to our own row to begin picking, simultaneously admonishing us to stop eating so many and to “please stop pestering your sister!” We would bring home mounds and mounds of red, juicy strawberries which were macerated for strawberry shortcake or turned into jars of ruby-red strawberry jam, each topped within its own paraffin wax seal.

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Now it costs more to pick your than it does to by them pre-picked at the grocery store, but I still like to head to the nearest berry farm each June to pick a basket or two. Of course, my strawberries are now more likely to get mixed in with some greek yogurt and honey than to be made into jam, and more often than not, I pick way more than I can use. So I freeze some  to remind me of summer when there’s snow on the ground, and I look for different ways to use the rest. Which was how I came up with these yummy cupcakes…strawberries and lemonade, two classic summer favorites, combined in one amazing cupcake, and swirled together for an unbelievably delicious buttercream topping….enhanced, of course, with some Sweet Revenge strawberry liqueur and Limoncello liqueur. Biting into one of these is like tasting the perfect summer day.

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STRAWBERRY LEMONADE CUPCAKES

Because this recipe calls for two different buttercream frostings, I saved some time by starting with a boxed mix, but added in some extras to boost the flavors. Makes approx. 24 cupcakes.

1 box strawberry cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup Sweet Revenge liqueur

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

juice of 1 small lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl of a stand mixer, mixing at low speed for 30 seconds and then at medium speed for two minutes, scraping bowl one or twice. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.

SWEET REVENGE STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup fresh strawberry puree

3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon Sweet Revenge

Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, strawberry puree and Sweet Revenge and mix at low speed until combined, then at high speed until light and fluffy. Spoon into a small pastry bag and set aside.

LIMONCELLO BUTTERCREAM

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

juice and zest of 1 small lemon

3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon Limoncello

Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and Limoncello. Mix at low speed until combined and then at high speed until light and fluffy. Spoon into a separate small pastry bag.

Place both filled pastry bags side by side into one large pastry bag fitted with a large decorating tip. Frost as desired.

Enjoy!

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“Sonic” Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

1 Jun Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

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It’s probably been 10 years now, if not more,  that I began to notice the TV ads for Sonic Drive-Ins. I don’t know what it was about the ads, but every time I saw one, I immediately wanted to go to Sonic. One small hiccup though – we had no Sonics in our area. Those ads became so infuriating, just taunting me, enticing me with all those Sonic goodies that were nowhere to be had.

Fast forward a few years, and an Internet search by my daughter revealed that a Sonic had opened in our area. And by area, I mean about 45 minutes away. I was over the moon! A road trip was immediately planned, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which would include a side trip to the Sonic on the way. And so, one beautiful sunny summer day, we started out, heady with excitement, not knowing what to expect, but finally, after years of wanting, I was going to Sonic!

I was not disappointed. From the roller skating carhops, to the pristine parking lot with the drive-up carports, to the expansive menu, Sonic was all I could ask for in a fast food restaurant, and then some. I don’t really remember what I ordered that day except for two things: the tots…..yum!…..and the cherry limeade. The delicious, refreshing, citrusy-sweet cherry limeade with the cute little maraschino cherry hanging off the edge, held safely in place by the lid to the cup. This is what I had come for!

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We still don’t have a Sonic close by, which is probably a good thing, but to this day, I’ve come to associate that certain type of summer day with cherry limeade. And it just so happens this beautiful 1st day of June is just that kind of day. Which started me thinking about cherry limeades…and cherries…and kirsch…..and cupcakes! You can see how my mind works there…

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So here they are, “Sonic” Cherry Limeade cupcakes, super easy, super-fruity, super light, a perfect way to kick off your summer!

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Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)

3/4 cup of Sprite soda

1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice (strained from jar of maraschino cherries)

1/4 cup Kirsch

1/3 cup oil

3 egg whites

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl, mixing at low speed until combined, and then at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

Lime Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature

4-5 cups of confectioners sugar

juice from one lime

1 tablespoon milk

green food coloring

pinch of salt

maraschino cherries

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add 4 cups of sugar, lime juice, salt and milk, mixing at low speed until combined, then at high speed until light and fluffy, adding additional sugar if necessary until desired consistency is reached. Add a drop or two of green food coloring and blend in. Frost as desired and top each cupcake with a maraschino cherry.

Enjoy!

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