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Homemade Vanilla Extract

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1 pint of plain vodka

10 Madagascar vanilla beans, split, scraped, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon corn syrup

Prepare vanilla beans as above.  Place beans, scrapings, and pieces, along with corn syrup in (preferably) amber container or original alcohol bottle.  Shake gently.  Store in cool, dark place, such as a cupboard for several weeks or months.  Occasionally, gently shake to mix ingredients.  After about 3 months, your extract is ready to be used in recipes.  If desired, it may be strained to remove debris and re-bottled for gifts or pantry use.

I personally prefer Penzey'spices and they sell several types of vanilla beans.  You can purchase them in larger packages than the small spice jars sold in regular grocery stores.   This extract is great, easy to make and makes beautiful gifts in antique or special bottles.  Over time, you may add more beans and vodka to always have a stash on hand.

Limoncello Ricotta Cookies

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I've received many requests for this cookie recipe since the wedding. The only secret is to let the cheese and eggs beat for a good while, to make them lighter. Enjoy! Note: The un-glazed cookies may be frozen in an airtight container for several weeks. When ready, allow cookies to return to room temperature, then glaze and allow to set before storing in an airtight container.


Cookie Dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1 large egg

1 tablespoon limoncello liqueur



1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon limoncello liqueur

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest



1. Line a baking pan with a baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.


2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.


3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium/high to cream together the sugar, butter, and lemon zest, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the ricotta, egg, and limoncello, and mix for 5 minutes at least to make this mixture light and fluffy. Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.


4. Cover the cookie dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours


5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator and use a cookie scoop to measure out about a level tablespoon of batter and roll into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheets leaving about 2 inches between cookie balls.


6. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the bottom of the cookie starts to brown slightly. Note that the cookies will not change color much. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.


7. To make the glaze, in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, limoncello, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Hold the cooled cookie upside down and dip the top of the cookie in the glaze. Return to the wire rack to dry completely before serving or storing.

Fennel and Carrot Salad

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3 whole carrots, peelled and grated, about 4 cups
2 whole fennel bulbs, sliced thnly
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
2 medium shallots, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 slices bacon, cook crisp, cooled, and diced

Grate carrots and slice fennel.  Toss together and set aside.  Mix all other ingredients into a dresshing and toss over carrots and fennel.  Serve in about 1 hour with bacon crumbles over top.

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