20 April 2009

Homemade Lemonade (and vodka)

Note: there's an updated version of this recipe available!

It's officially summer! No, that's completely incorrect, but Austin has had temperatures around 90 degrees F the last couple of weeks, so it feels roughly like a really warm Swedish summer to me. Oh, Texas.

What could be more summery than lemonade? Well, probably a thousand things, but lemonade is pretty summery, so I decided to make some from scratch and mix with cheap vodka last night. It came out tasting like I expected it to, which is to say "really good". Enjoy:

Homemade Lemonade

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cold tap water
3 large lemons

Let's start by creating a simple syrup. Pour a cup of water into a pot and place over high heat. When the water is boiling, add the cup of sugar and stir with a whisk or spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Let cool completely.

Cut the lemons in half and extract the juice any way you see fit (pro tip: a juice press works pretty well for this). Mix the lemon juice with the simple syrup. This is now lemonade. If you feel it's too sweet or too sour, you can simply add more lemon or make a little more simple syrup and add to taste.

For the adults, and non-adults drinking illegally, mix 1 part vodka with 2 parts lemonade in a New York Yankees tumbler filled with ice, and enjoy on a patio, balcony, or any where else where you can find some early evening sunshine. All right, fine, if you don't have a New York Yankees glass, just use any ol' glass and make sure you order some Yankees glasses from the MLB store.

Pizza, oh Pizza

Made some pizza tonight, with Italian sausage and some wonderful Mozzarella. It was wonderful, and I'm so happy I have leftovers.

13 April 2009

Baked Peppers

This course is not something you generally see in fine restaurants. It appears most of the time, you'll see these contraptions in cafeterias, and (from what I understand - I've not had one in a cafeteria), they're apparently not very good at all. I remember them from way back when I was a kid and my parents would make them, but I can't remember trying to make one myself.

I decided to try making my own recently and they came out great...much better than the photo I took, which is slightly blurry - but you can't really tell from the thumbnail above, so don't click on it. I mean, uh...here's the recipe.

Baked Green Peppers

4 medium green peppers
2 shallots
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 lb ground beef
4 strips of bacon
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Boil your rice according to the instructions on the package. I generally remove 20% - 30% of the water listed, as I like my rice al dente, but it's a personal choice. Boil water in a large pot with about a tablespoon of salt. Cut off the tops of the peppers and discard them (or eat them, I don't care). Remove the membranes and seeds, place in the boiling water and make sure they're submerged (place something on top of them if needed). Boil for about 3 minutes.

Set the oven to 350 degrees F. Chop your onions, garlic and shallots. Place in a frying pan with some cooking oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the smell makes your mouth water. Add the ground beef, break apart and fry until cooked through, stirring regularly. In the meantime, fry the bacon crispy in a separate pan. Add the diced tomatoes to the ground beef. Once the bacon is done, cut it up in small pieces and add to the ground beef as well. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cooked rice and take off the heat.

Next, make sure the peppers can stand on their own. If they cannot, slice off small pieces off the bottom until flat enough so they can stand up. Place in an oven safe form and add about 1/2 cup water around them. I also like to dash some olive oil over the peppers, but if you choose to do this, make sure you don't fill up a specific pepper too much. Now add the filling evenly to the peppers. If you have some left when they're all full - eat it. It's great on its own!

You now have a choice with the cheese! Either sprinkle the peppers right away and cover the dish with tin foil for the first part of the peppers' visit to the oven, or wait until they are halfway done and sprinkle then. Your choice! Either way, the peppers will need 35-40 minutes in the oven before they are ready, so add the cheese after about 20-25 minutes if you choose to follow the "halfway" option. If using tin foil, remove the tin foil at the very end to make sure the cheese gets browned.

Serve as is, or maybe with a green salad.