Thursday, February 16, 2017

Celebrate with a Lemon Drop Martini

I'm having such fun with the lemons from my lemon tree this year.  There's nothing fresher than picking a lemon from a tree and using it immediately.  I've been using many of my lemons in my water for a refreshing zing throughout the day.  Occasionally, I enjoy an adult beverage like this Lemon Drop Martini which is the perfect cocktail to make with fresh, juicy lemons.  With fresh lemons available in markets most any time of year, a Lemon Drop Martini can be made anytime and you don't need your own lemon tree.

How to Make a Perfect Lemon Drop Martini

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A Refreshing Lemon Drop Martini
A Refreshing Lemon Drop Martini
I tried a number of different Lemon Drop Martini recipes until I settled on this one as my favorite.  I know we all have different flavor preferences, but to me, this Lemon Drop Martini has just the right balance of lemony tartness with sugary sweetness. If you'd like a little more tartness in your Lemon Drop, squeeze just a bit of lemon juice into the cocktail after pouring it into your glass.
A Lemon Drop Martini

In my opinion, cocktails, like the Lemon Drop Martini, deserve a little pomp and circumstance in the preparation, the presentation, and the enjoying.  First, be sure you have the right tools to make your cocktail to avoid frustration and mess. Luckily, all you'll need to make this martini is a good shaker, an ounces measuring glass, and lovely martini glasses.

The Necessary Tools for a Lemon Drop Martini
The Necessary Tools for a Lemon Drop Martini

The first thing to do when preparing your Lemon Drop Martini is to sugar the rim of the martini glass.  It is simple to do and worth the time.  Just take a piece of lemon and run it around the rim of the glass.  Pour some granulated or sparkling sugar onto a plate and dip the edge of the glass in the sugar.  Set the glass aside to allow the sugar to harden onto the rim.

You'll also want to prepare your simple syrup ahead of time.  Do not buy simple syrup.  It is silly.  Just mix equal parts water and granulated sugar together and heat gently.  Stir until all the sugar dissolves.  Cool the syrup and chill until you are ready to use it.  Any leftovers can be used as a sweetener for other drinks, especially iced tea and iced coffee.

Be sure to chill your martini glass before serving the martini with a couple of ice cubes in some water.

Shake your cocktail in the shaker with ice until the shaker is completely frosted.  You want your cocktail C-O-L-D!

A Four Ingredient Lemon Drop Martini
Four Ingredient Lemon Drop Martini

Lemon Drop Martini

Printer Friendly Recipe (for one or four servings)
Makes One Cocktail

  • Two ounces Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec
  • One ounce fresh lemon juice
  • One ounce simple syrup
  • Lemon twist or wedge for garnish

1.  Prepare the simple syrup by mixing equal parts water and granulated sugar.  Heat gently and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.  Cool and chill until needed.
2.  Sugar the rim of your martini glass and set aside.
3.  Prepare your lemon garnish for the cocktail, either a lemon twist or a lemon wheel.
4.  Chill the martini glass with ice and water.
5.  Measure the vodka, Triple Sec, lemon juice and simple syrup into your shaker with ice.
6.  Shake enthusiastically, until the outside of the shaker is frosty.
7.  Discard the water from the glass.  Pour the cocktail into the glass.  Garnish.  Serve with a colorful cocktail napkin.

The presentation is important.  Don't forget to garnish your Lemon Drop Martini with a lemon twist or a slice of lemon.  The garnish adds a little something special.  The cocktail napkin is also a necessity.  Keep an assortment on hand and choose one the reflects the occasion.  Lemon Drop Martinis are for celebration.

Follow my Adult Beverages Pinterest Board for other great cocktail suggestions.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Quick and Easy Overnight Oats

Mixed Berry and Chia Overnight Oats

Breakfast has never been one of my favorite meals.  I remember arguing with my mom, as a teenager, about eating breakfast before going to school.   I hated breakfast.  Then, as a working mom, I never had time for breakfast.  That is a very dangerous habit because when you get hungry you'll grab and eat the fastest and easiest thing you can find.  Too often, those grab-and-go foods are packed with calories and aren't healthy in your diet.  Bad habits are hard to break but if you are like me, this Mixed Berry and Chia Overnight Oats recipe will rock your world.

Mixed Berry and Chia Overnight Oats
Delicious Overnight Oats with Mixed Berries and Chia Seeds
(This post contains affiliate links)
I'm loving overnight oats.  This Mixed Berry and Chia Overnight Oats recipe is a make ahead recipe that you can keep in your refrigerator for the whole week.  I like to make my overnight oats in a plastic storage bowl that I can scoop servings from as I need them.  If you want your overnight oats to be ready-to-go, you'll want to have plastic or glass containers with tightly fitting lids in one or two-cup sizes.  Wide-mouthed mason jars are a really great option.  They are fun and easy to use.  I actually prefer plastic containers with a locking lid because they are lightweight and unbreakable.

Overnight oats are a smart solution for busy families, but just think how great this Mixed Berry and Chia Overnight Oats would be for an easy, tasty breakfast for overnight guests.  You can have a bowl of oats prepared and ready to go in your fridge.  Just set out additional toppings like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, chopped almonds, or chopped walnuts for everyone to customize their oats. So fun and easy!
Mixed Berry and Chia Seeds Overnight Oats

Now let's talk about the nutrition you'll get from these overnight oats.  To start, there are 258 calories per generous serving in the basic oats mixture. When you add one cup of blueberries and one cup of strawberries the calories increase to 290 per serving.  Adding 1/3 cup of chopped nuts will add approximately 50 calories per serving, so you'll need to decide if you want to add them.

Overnight Oats Nutrition Information
Overnight Oats Nutritional Info
This overnight oats recipe is easily adapted to your favorite flavors.  Change out the fruit preserves in the basic recipe and then complement the flavor with your favorite fruits.  Yumminess for days!

Mixed Berries and Chia Overnight Oats

Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves Four

Basic Overnight Oats

Make ahead overnight oats is easy with these healthy ingredients.
Make Ahead Overnight Oats with Healthy Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • one cup non-fat Greek plain yogurt
  • 1-1/2 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk (30 calories per serving)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup blueberry preserves (50 calories per Tbs.)


  • one cup fresh blueberries
  • one cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
Mix together the rolled oats, yogurt, almond milk, vanilla extract, chia seeds, and blueberry preserves in a medium bowl until well combined.  Mix in the add-ins of your choice.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.  Serve with additional toppings as desired.  Serves four. 

You'll find other recipes for overnight oats as well as other breakfast ideas on my Breakfast Pinterest Board.

Shared on Meal Plan Monday.
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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Lemon Glazed Lemon Bread

Who Need Starbucks Lemon Bread

I have a lemon tree...and lemons.  That may not sound like a big deal for some of you but for a Rhode Islander, a lemon tree is a special thing.  I bought this lemon tree as a lark about six years ago from my local Home Depot.  It didn't cost much and I thought I'd see what my green thumb could do.  I babied it for a couple of years, taking it out on my deck during the warm months and bringing it inside in the cold weather.  It wasn't doing much of anything, so about four years ago it moved to my home in Florida where it has flourished.  Last year I got my first lemons, two beauties.

Lemon Bread

This year my lemon crop is much more bountiful.  I have twenty lovely lemons ready for harvest. One of the first ways I am using my lemons is in this lemon bread recipe.  This recipe is from my friend, Robin, and is for the lemon bread her mother always made for her family.  It's a very easy to make recipe, with no special ingredients other than two beautiful lemons.  Choose plump, heavy lemons, so you'll have lots of lovely zest and plenty of lemon juice for lemony flavor.
Lemon Bread with Lemon Glaze

Lemon Bread with Lemon Glaze

Lemon Bread with Lemon Glaze

Makes one loaf

For the Lemon Bread
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Lemon Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the oil, one cup of sugar, eggs, zest, and milk until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients all at once, mixing with a spoon to combine well.  

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.  Bake on the center rack of your oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.  Cool for ten minutes in the pan, then remove to a baking rack.  Mix together the juice from the lemon and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar to make a lemon syrup.  Poke the top of the lemon bread all over with a thin skewer and brush the lemon syrup all over the bread.  Cool completely on the rack.

When the lemon bread has cooled, mix together the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice to form a thick glaze.  Add a teaspoon of lemon juice at a time.  You want the glaze to be thick so it will hold its shape when you drizzle it over your bread.  Pour the glaze into a small plastic bag (like a sandwich bag), clip the corner, and drizzle the lemon glaze over the bread.

I like to wrap the bread in plastic wrap after the glaze has set and chill the bread in the refrigerator overnight.  This gives the bread time for the syrup to permeate the bread and allows the flavors to develop fully.

Get more lemon recipes on my Lemon Pinterest Board

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Beef Barley-My Favorite Beef Soup

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup 

Hubby was telling me about a yummy tomato soup he had recently.  "Oh," I said, "I love tomato soup!" He just laughed because he knows I love every kind of soup.  So, I must be more specific when I talk about the soups I like.  For example, when I think about all the soups I like with beef as the base flavor, this beef barley soup is my favorite.

I always make this soup when I have some leftover roast beef in my refrigerator.  Soup is a great choice when you are scratching your head about what to do with perfectly good leftovers.  A little bit of this and a bunch of that, combined with a tasty broth, will make a satisfying and filling dinner for your family.

This beef barley soup was made in my six-quart slow cooker, but it can just as easily be made in a pot on your stove. Just adjust your cooking times to the method you choose.  One of the benefits of the slow cooker method is the extended length of time the vegetables gently simmer in the broth imparting their flavors to the soup. Mmmm, good!

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

Printer Friendly Recipe

Beef Barley Soup
Beef  Barley Soup
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and small diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 cups beef broth, your favorite
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound, cooked lean beef, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, mushrooms and carrots. Season with the salt, pepper, and thyme.  Cook until the vegetables are soft, about ten minutes. Transfer the vegetables to your slow cooker. Add the broth, bay leaves and diced tomatoes.  Set the slow cooker to low and cook for three hours.
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

After three hours, cook the barley separately as directed on the package.  Cooking the barley separately keeps it from absorbing all of the broth from your soup.  Add the cooked barley to the slow cooker.  Add the beef.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Continue to cook on low for one more hour, until the beef is heated through.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Serve with warm, crusty bread.  Get the recipe for my honey oat bread.

I've collected many yummy soup recipes on my Soups Pinterest Board.  If you love soups like me, you'll want to follow this board.

I consider my slow cooker one of my essential kitchen tools.  If you love soup, you must have a good slow cooker.  I'm proud to be an affiliate with Target where you can find slow cookers in any size or price point.  Use my affiliate link for free shipping on orders over $25.  What a deal!

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Favorite Clam Dip

A Clam Dip Perfect for Any Time of Year

Hubby and I have a favorite restaurant that serves a to-die-for clam dip with freshly made potato chips.  Every once in a while we find ourselves craving that clam dip.  It is easy to make the dip at home with a few ingredients, you may even have on hand now.  That makes this dip easy to whip together for watching the big game this weekend.  While we love freshly made potato chips, we don't usually make our own.  A favorite brand of kettle chips is perfect for us.

Yummy Clam Dip

Make the clam dip a day or two ahead of serving for optimal flavor, but if you are like me you'll make it and eat it the same day.  It's that good.  The recipe is perfect as is when served with crackers, vegetables, or thick cut potato chips.  You might want to thin the dip a bit with the reserved clam juice if you are serving it with thinner store bought potato chips.  The dip will thicken when refrigerated, so keep that in mind as you decide on the consistency you want it to have.
Clam Dip

My Favorite Clam Dip

Clam Dip Ingredients
  • 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cans minced clams, drained with juice reserved
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start with room temperature cream cheese to make it easy to blend the ingredients.  If you are making this last minute, you can microwave your cream cheese for one minute at 50% power (1000 watt microwave oven).  Drain the clams.  Place the clams in a small bowl and add the lemon juice.  Set aside.

Place the cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl and add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, minced onion and Tabasco sauce.  Stir well to combine the ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Add the clams and lemon juice, stirring to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for best flavor.  Serve with your favorite dip accompaniments.

Two Other Party Favorites

Here are two of my other favorite dip recipes.  These are crowd pleasers!

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
Caramelized Onion Dip
My Favorite Salsa

My Favorite Salsa

You can get inspiration for many other appetizers from my Appetizers Pinterest Board.

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