Healthier Italian Cannoli Cream – Twiins Style

Healthier Italian Cannoli Cream - Twiins Style

  • Servings: 8 Small Cannoli
  • Difficulty: Easy

Today marks a very special milestone birthday for us. To add to our celebration we're making a healthier version of our favorite birthday dessert...Cannoli. We weren't sure how the texture would be effected using part-skim ricotta instead of whole milk ricotta, but as it turned out we were very happy with the results, The texture isn't quite the same but hardly noticeable. Since we didn't want to give up our favorite dessert using part-skim ricotta was a huge success for us. If eating healthier means you think you have to give up your favorites, we proved you don't have to. ❤️❤️

Ingredients

  • 12.5 ounces part-skim milk ricotta (drained for 2 days in the refrigerator to remove all excess liquid)
  • 4 ounces granulated sugar
  • 0.083 ounces vanilla extract
  • 1 tiny drop of cinnamon oil
  • 1 drop Fiori di Sicilia
  • 1/2 Tablespoon candied citron, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon candied orange peel, diced (optional)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons semi-sweet Mini chocolate chips (may substitute with bittersweet chips, depending on your preference.)
  • chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips, your preference, for garnish
  • powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl place the drained ricotta cheese into the bowl, mix to combine with a spatula until smooth. (You can use a stand mixer if you prefer but this is a small batch so it’s not needed)
  2. Add granulated sugar and fold in until dissolved completely. The texture should be smooth, not grainy.
  3. Fold in the vanilla & cinnamon oil.
  4. Blend until incorporated.
  5. Gently fold in the citron, and/or candied orange, and mini chocolate chips.
  6. Place in a pastry bag and refrigerate until ready to pipe into cannoli & serve.
  7. Before piping, cut the tip of the pastry bag large enough to allow the chips to pass through.
  8. Garnish the ends to your liking and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Notes: If making cannoli you can save time by purchasing the pre-made shells from Amazon or Costco.

Do not fill cannoli until ready to serve or your shells will be soggy.

Cannoli Cream Filling can also be used for cakes, cupcakes, and as a pastry filling.

 

 

Fold in and blend all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 2-3 hours before serving.

 

 

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Twiins Stir-Fry Leftover Rotisserie Chicken & Vegetables 🥢🥢

Twiins Stir-Fry Leftover Rotisserie Chicken & Vegetables

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy

The other night we had a rotisserie chicken from Costco and wound up with both breasts leftover. I looked in the refrigerator to see what I had and grabbed the vegetables I thought would go together and started dinner. When my youngest son was in elementary school, I became friends with the mother of one of his friends who happened to be Chinese. Wanda was a fantastic cook (they used to have a Chinese restaurant) and she could turn anything into a scrumptious meal. One day she came over and showed me how to make stir-fry & fried rice that was to die for. I took copious notes for both recipes but for the life of me, I cannot find them. Dinner turned out great in spite of not having the written instructions. I guess I remembered more than I thought I would. One of these days I'm going to try the fried rice.😋 🥢

Ingredients

SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

STIR-FRY

  • 6-7  Tablespoons peanut oil, approximately, divided (canola oil can be substituted)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large leeks, 1/4-inch slices, up to the green
  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips (I used Costco rotisserie chicken, both breasts, skin removed)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 6 red sweet peppers, cored & seeded then cut into 1/2-inch wide strips (bell peppers can be substituted)
  • 3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick half-moons
  • 2 medium broccoli crowns,  cut into small florets
  • 8 white mushrooms, sliced 1/3-inch thick
  • cooked rice or Thai rice noodles
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Heat your wok (or large deep skillet) until a drop of water immediately vaporizes. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons of peanut oil and swirl around the wok. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Push all the garlic to the sides of the wok.
  3. Add another 2 Tablespoons of peanut oil  & swirl around the pan. Add the broccoli & season with kosher salt. Stir-fry broccoli until it just starts to turn the edges brown & has softened somewhat 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add enough of the remaining peanut oil & swirl around the pan. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, sweet peppers, & leeks. Season with kosher salt to taste.
  5. Stir-fry until browned and softened about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Move vegetables to sides of the wok and pour the cornstarch sauce into the middle of the wok. Stir constantly until it just starts to thicken.
  7. Add the strips of leftover rotisserie chicken and stir to heat throughout.
  8. Serve over your favorite rice or noodles & garnish with scallions.

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Authentic Steak Fajitas – Twiins Style

Authentic Steak Fajitas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy

Whenever we go to a Mexican restaurant we can smell the sizzling steak fajitas with onions & peppers as soon as we open the door & walk-in. We both start to drool! The smell is wonderful & my husband will order them 9 out 10 times. Since we don't go out for dinner during this pandemic I figured I'd give it a try. I'm so glad I did. These fajitas are incredibly authentic tasting and very satisfying all in one. Overall it seems to take a long time to make but that's because of the marinating time. Believe me, they are worth the effort!😋

Ingredients

  • 1 lb flank steak, sirloin tip steak, or skirt steak (I used sirloin tip steak here)
  • 1 large green Bell pepper, 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 large red Bell pepper, 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO  (for sauteeing onions & Peppers)
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

MARINADE

  • 3 – 4 limes juiced (about 1/2 cup) (I used 3 large limes)
  • 2-3 scallions, white & green parts, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp EVOO 
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp coriander ground, optional

FAJITA SEASONING

  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 tsp Lawry’s Roasted Chili & Garlic granules (regular chili powder may be substituted)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 beef bouillon cube, crushed (don’t use paste that you refrigerate)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin, ground

FIXINGS

  • 8-12 flour tortillas, warmed (estimate 2 tortillas per person unless they are big eaters like my hubby!)
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Pico de gallo
  • Salsa
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions

Night Before:

  1. Whisk together the lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, minced garlic, 2 tsp EVOO, cilantro, red pepper flakes & coriander.
  2. In a large plastic food baggie, pour the marinade over the steak, seal well, and refrigerate overnight (at least 8-12 hours) flipping once or twice. (Usually, I place the food baggy on a plate then put it in the refrigerator so there is no accidental leaking in my fridge.)

Next-Day Cooking:

  1. Heat 3 Tablespoons of oil in a large (12 or 13-inch) skillet on medium heat. When the oil is hot enough (look for rippling or striation lines in the oil. Best way to tell the oil is hot enough but not yet smoking.)
  2. Add the onions & bell peppers. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the soy sauce and cook another 20 minutes to caramelize the onions. They should be a dark golden brown color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  4. Mix all of the fajita seasonings together in a medium bowl.
  5. Prepare an outdoor grill to medium-hot. If using the same skillet as the onions & pepper, bring the heat to medium-high.
  6. Remove the steak from the marinade and generously sprinkle with fajita seasoning all over.
  7. Grill meat to an internal temperature of 130-135º F regardless of how to grill it.  (Approximately 3-4 minutes per side) I pan-seared my marinated steak in the same skillet I used to cook onions & peppers.
  8. Once it reaches the 130-135º internal temperature remove immediately and let the steak rest for 10 minutes. After resting cut against the grain into thin slices, no thicker than 1/4-inch (or to whatever thickness you like).
  9. Carefully place the caramelized onions & peppers back into the hot skillet to heat for about 3-4 minutes. (They will sizzle)
  10. Place the meat on top of the onions and bring it to your table.
  11. Squeeze some fresh lime juice over the fajitas. (optional)
  12. Serve with warmed tortillas, sour cream, shredded cheddar, salsa, or whatever you like.

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Ciambotta Twiins Style (Italian Summertime Vegetable Stew)

Ciambotta Twiins Style (Italian Summer Vegetable Stew)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re lucky enough to have a have a garden with an abundance of fresh vegetables, you must try making some Ciambotta (pronounced chim-botta)! Even if you don’t have a garden, grocery stores are full of a variety of fresh, local produce during the summer. It’s a delicious and nutritious way to use your harvest or take advantage of the fresh produce available now. Ciambotta can also be spelled giambotta, depending on the region of Italy. This version is a southern Italy farm dish. The great thing about this dish is you can use whatever veggies you like. The key is big, equal size cubes or chunks... and it’s naturally Gluten-Free. I served it with crusty whole wheat French bread drizzled with EVOO and Za’atar seasoning. It was delicious. Enjoy. 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, cubed
  • 8-10 cloves large garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 4-5 golden Yukon potatoes, cubed
  • 6 large Roma tomatoes, skin & seeds removed, cubed
  • 2 medium eggplants, ends removed and cubed
  • 2 medium zucchini, ends removed and cubed
  • 1 large green bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
  • 1 large red bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
  • 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, washed, seeded & cut into big chunks
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño (I used jalapeño) or long Italian hot pepper (optional)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, torn right before adding
  • 1 sprig Greek oregano, (optional)

Directions

  1. Boil the Roma tomatoes for a few minutes until the skin starts to crack. Remove from boiling water and cool. Once cool enough to handle you can easily peel off the skin., Cut them in half, remove the seeds and cube.
  2. In a minimum 6 qt deep Dutch oven, On medium-high,  heat EVOO until it starts to shimmer.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and turn several times until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño pepper, zucchini, potatoes, give it a good turn.
  5. Add the eggplants last. Turn well and cook about 10 minutes.
  6. Add salt and black pepper to taste and tear the basil leaves, sprig of Greek oregano (if using) and add to pot. Stir together.
  7. Lower flame to medium-low and cover. Cook about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Now is a good time to prepare any pasta or crusty bread.
  9. For the bread: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice the Italian or French bread into 1/2-inch slices and place on foiled baking sheet. Drizzle each piece with EVOO then sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning, garlic powder, & a little sea salt.
  10. Bake about 4 minutes until golden brown. (Bake when Ciambotta is just about done)
  11. Serve in pasta dishes with crusty bread on the side or over pasta & garnish with  fresh basil leaves.

Notes: Serve with crusty gluten-free bread to keep completely gluten-free or use Italian or French bread to soak up the juices! Can be served with pasta too.

Recipe adapted from Pasquale Sciarappa.

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Summertime Bean Salad – Twiins Style

Summertime Bean Salad - Twiins Style

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

I'm always looking for ways to use the herbs I'm growing in my garden. I have quite a bit of Thai basil which I've made delicious chicken salad and Thai basil Chicken with but I wanted to experiment with other dishes. I made a summertime bean salad and added quite a few Thai basil leaves to see how it tasted...we loved it. You're still getting protein through the beans and this dish delivers big time on flavor. Enjoy by itself in lettuce leaves or as a side dish with no cooking as an added bonus during the hot summer! Naturally Gluten-Free. Enjoy. 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz) Chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 Tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, parsley, Thai basil, garlic & pepper. Slowly whisk in the EVOO & set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the rinsed & drained beans, celery, and red onion.
  3. Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and gently toss to coat evenly.
  4. Garnish with a few Thai basil leaves.

Notes: Leftovers can be added to rice & cooked green beans for a delicious side to basil pesto chicken.

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Grilled Greek Chicken Breast – Twiins Style

Grilled Greek Chicken Breasts-Twiins Style

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy

When marinating chicken with Greek-inspired flavors the Mediterranean is brought to your dinner table and with it all the sunshine and joy for life that is associated with a beautiful outdoor dinner in the Greek Islands! This dish is so simple but packs huge flavor! Whether you want a quick family meal or a casual dinner with friends you will love it...Enjoy!😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise to make 4 pieces
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1½ tsp fresh Greek oregano, chopped (dried may be substituted, but use a lesser amount)
  • 1½ tsp fresh dill, chopped ( dried may be substituted, but use a lesser amount)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3-4 Tablespoons 2% milk ( any milk works well)
  • 1½ Tablespoons red onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • Fresh oregano, chopped for garnish
  • Mixed salad greens with  olives, cucumbers, red onion, thin sliced
  • Optional: Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 tsp EVOO, red wine vinegar, oregano, dill, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
  2. Pound chicken between sheets of waxed paper to a 1/4” thickness. Cut each piece in half to yield approximately 6-8 pieces of chicken breast.
  3. Add chicken breasts to the marinade, cover & refrigerate 30 minutes. (this step can be prepared ahead of time until ready for cooking.)
  4. In a small bowl, combine the Feta cheese, garlic powder, 2% milk & chopped red onion. Using a fork, mash well to make a spread. Add additional milk if too thick until you reach desired consistency. (this step can be prepared ahead of time & refrigerated until ready to serve)
  5. In a grill pan or large skillet drizzle 1 tsp of EVOO, then using a paper towel, coat pan.
  6. Heat pan to medium-high. Once hot, place half the chicken pieces in the pan and cook until browned approximately 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan & set aside. Cook remaining chicken breasts and set aside.
  7. Place mixed salad greens on a dinner plate then top with cooked chicken breast(s).  Garnish the chicken with Feta cheese spread.  Arrange tomato slices on the dish and garnish with fresh Greek oregano.

 

 

Notes: Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers.  To enhance this Greek meal, drizzle salad greens with EVOO, red wine vinegar, add a little feta cheese, red onion, cucumber, and some Greek olives for a side salad. The creamy feta cheese spread is delicious on any vegetable or baked potato.

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Zucchini Shrimp Boats

Zucchini Shrimp Boats

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy

With zucchini being so plentiful we’re always trying to come up with new ways to prepare them. Usually, we make zucchini boats stuffed with sausage, and while they are delicious we’ve been trying to incorporate healthier substitutes for sausage & red meat. So, while going through the freezer I found a 2 lb. bag of frozen large uncooked shrimp (from Costco) and decided to make the zucchini boats using the shrimp. This simple recipe came out delicious...mimicking a creamy shrimp scampi minus the pasta. It’s naturally gluten-free and oh so good!😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 lbs. large shrimp
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  •  8 oz mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese,  grated
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • parsley, chopped for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cut each zucchini lengthwise in half. Score the inside leaving a bit of an edge, then scoop out zucchini flesh and set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Place each zucchini in a large casserole dish and drizzle with EVOO. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, salt, pepper, & garlic powder to taste. Bake about 20 minutes in the preheated oven until tender. (Keep oven on because you will return the filled zucchini boats to finish baking)..
  4. While zucchini is baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add EVOO.
  5. Add shrimp & season with salt & pepper. Cook until pink 3-4 minutes turning once.   Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle then chop into bite-size pieces.
  6. Add reserved zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic then cook 1-2 minutes more.
  7. Return chopped shrimp to skillet & add heavy cream, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, & lemon juice. Cook until slightly reduced about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Fill the zucchini boats with the shrimp mixture & top with mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Cook until cheese bubbles, about 10 minutes.
  9. Garnish with fresh parsley & more Parmigiano Reggiano. (optional)
  10. Serve immediately and wait for the compliments! ❤️

Notes: Serve as a main dish with a side salad and crusty bread.

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Zucchini Pie

Zucchini Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

I came across an Italian cooking video which was demonstrating a delicious-looking zucchini pie/casserole. They called it Sformato di zucchine semplicissimo, which translates into Very Simple Zucchini Pie...and simple it is. Since I don't speak Italian, I guessed at the quantities for the ingredients so I channeled my inner Italian and came up with this. These are my approximate measurements and you can use more or less as you go along. Surprisingly, there was no garlic, salt, or pepper and Gary & I loved it. 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 1 spring rosemary, leaves removed
  • 1/2 cup 4C seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 lb provolone Picante cheese, 1/2-inch large cubes (divided) (get this at deli counter, not sliced but whole . Not the hard provolone that you serve with crackers & pepperoni or sausage )
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiana Reggiano grated cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Slice zucchini into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add 2 Tablespoons of EVOO and the rosemary leaves to the bowl then make sure the zucchini is coated well.
  4. In a deep-dish pie plate, lightly coat the bottom with 1/2 tsp EVOO and spread around with your clean hand or a pastry brush.
  5. Take a handful of the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on the bottom.
  6. Place zucchini slices all around the dish, slightly overlapping until the bottom is covered.
  7. Sprinkle a little more breadcrumbs all around.
  8. Sprinkle a handful of Parmigiano Reggiana cheese.
  9. Sprinkle 1/2 the cubes of provolone cheese.
  10. Lightly drizzle a little EVOO in a circle going around from outer dish to inner dish.
  11. Repeat steps 5-9.
  12. The last layer is zucchini, Parmigiana Reggiana then all remaining breadcrumbs, add additional breadcrumbs if needed as the top layer should be completely covered
  13. Repeat step 9.
  14. Place pie dish on middle rack and bake about 20-30 minutes. The top should get slightly crusted but not burnt.
  15. Best served immediately by itself or pair with a protein of your choice,

 

Notes: Recipe adapted from cibodoc.it

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Mediterranean Couscous

Mediterranean Couscous

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy

This is an amazing side dish using pearl (Israeli) couscous which is much larger than regular couscous. Combining onions, garlic, blistered tomatoes, roasted mashed garlic, and herbs give you a hearty side dish that you can add your favorite vegetables to! 😋❤️

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cups pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous)
  • 2¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 large cloves garlic peeled & minced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 6-8 large cloves garlic, cut off the end but keep the skin on
  • fresh baby spinach (a few handfuls)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces Feta cheese (we use President’s Chunk)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet add the Israeli/pearl couscous to a dry, hot skillet. Gently stir to prevent burning. After a few minutes, the couscous will start to brown.  Do not burn. Not all the couscous will brown & that’s ok.
  2. Add the chicken stock, cover, and cook about 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove cover and set aside.
  3. In a small skillet, saute the onions until they start to caramelize then add spinach. Cook until it starts to wilt then add the garlic & cook another minute. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the cooked onions, spinach & garlic to the couscous. Stir well. Cover and set aside until fish is done.
  5. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Turn oven to 500ºF or broil. Once hot, reduce the oven temperature to 425ºF.
  6. Rinse tomatoes with water (no need to dry them). Coat the cherry tomatoes & whole cloves of garlic with 1 Tablespoon of EVOO. Sprinkle with salt. Combine well. Place on the lined baking sheet.
  7. Place baking sheet on the top oven rack and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes blister & garlic is soft (there should be a bit of juice too)
  8. Remove from the oven when done. Using a fork or a wooden spoon, smash the garlic (it slips right out of the skin). Take half the tomatoes plus the juice and garlic then add to couscous, mixing well.
  9. Just before serving, crumble & add the Feta cheese to the couscous.
  10. To serve, place cooked couscous mixture on a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining blistered tomatoes & garlic. Garnish with sprigs of fresh oregano & thyme.
  11. Enjoy!

Notes: This dish makes the perfect side dish to any meat or fish or serve alone mixed into a fresh mixed-greens salad for a refreshing summer main dish.

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Homemade Wild Finocchietto Liqueur (Fennel)

We remember our Grandmother Florence always having homemade liqueurs on hand for an after-dinner drink with coffee & dessert, especially around the holidays. Our favorite was Finocchietto (fennel) which she touted as a good digestif drink. We were only allowed a sip for taste…but liked it even then.

On our trip to Italy back in 2018, we had dinner at a farm in Naples. After dinner, we had a choice of Limoncello or Finocchietto. Of course, we chose the Finocchietto and it sure did bring back good memories of Grandma.

After having great success with making our own Limoncello, I decided to send away for the Italian Wild Fennel seeds and make my own.  Teresa and I along with my good friend, Jane Hall, planted the fennel seeds. We watched the seedlings grow big & strong then planted them outside in a side garden my husband Gary prepared for us. They were doing beautifully and even survived Hurricane Florence but low and behold they didn’t seem to survive the deer!!!!!!!  We were pleasantly surprised the following season and proceeded to make our own liqueur. You wouldn’t believe how many umbrella flowers we had with just 2 plants that survived. This year it’s even more! Fennel has a wonderful anise-like/licorice taste and you can use the green fronds to garnish a salad or even infuse with some olive oil. I don’t remove the fennel bulb because it will cause the demise of the plant, although I may this year!

Note:  Harvesting starts towards the end of June through August here in North Carolina. Fennel plants create umbrella-like flower buds similar to Queen Anne’s Lace. I pick the yellow flower umbrellas once the yellow flowers begin to open.

Ingredients for about 2 liters

  • 2-3 large handfuls of wild fennel flower umbrellas. ( I fill a 32-oz mason jar 1/2 to 3/4 high with the flowers)
  • 1 liter of Everclear (151 proof – grain alcohol) Please do not use rubbing alcohol!
  • 800 grams of sugar (about 3 1/3 to 3 1/2 cups)
  • 2-liter jar that closes hermetically (We used hermetically sealed lemonade bottles from Aldi)
  • Funnel- wide mouth
  • cheesecloth

Instructions

  1. Immediately after picking the flowers, wash and let dry thoroughly on a clean dish towel.
  2. Place all the flowers in the jar and pour the grain alcohol into the jar, making sure all flowers are covered. Close the jar and place it in a dark place for at least 30 days. ( I use my closet)
  3. Keep the bottle out of direct sunlight. All the color will leach out into the alcohol turning the alcohol a green color. No problem if you leave it longer than 30 days.
  4. After the 30 days or longer are up, prepare the sugar syrup.
  5. Make a simple syrup by boiling 1 liter of water with 800 grams of sugar for 15 minutes. Let it cool before the next step. (about an hour)
  6. While the syrup is cooling down, filter the alcohol. Using a wide-mouth funnel, place into another mason jar and place the cheesecloth in the funnel.
  7. Pour the alcohol through the funnel making sure none of the fennel plants get through.
  8. Mix the cooled sugar syrup into the filtered alcohol. Pour into a clean 2-liter hermetically sealing jar (the one you used before is fine, just make sure it’s clean & dry first.
  9. Let it sit another 4-5 days in a cool, dark place.
  10. Now we filter again and bottle.
  11. Put a regular funnel in the bottle with another piece of cheesecloth and pour the mixture into the bottle or use a small ladle so it doesn’t spill everywhere.
  12. There might be some organic matter caught in the cheesecloth. Wash the cloth for re-use.
  13. In a cool dark place, store the bottled fennel for at least another 3 months. The longer it sits the clearer it gets.

 

Note: Wild Fennel Liqueur makes a great Wild Fenneltini!

Recipe adapted from cucicucicoo.com

 

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