Easy liqueurs for gift giving

Fruit LiqueursFor a lovely homemade gift, consider giving a liqueur or cordial. Below are recipes for various liqueurs. If you’re giving these as gifts, I’ve added how far ahead you should make them. Click here for cordial recipes. At the end are hints for packaging ideas.

To sterilize glass bottles, wash in warm soapy water and then dip in water mixed with a little bleach. Rinse thoroughly.

Scotch Liqueur (Make one to two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. anise extract
1 pt. Scotch
Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomHoney Liqueures syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise and Scotch. Swirl gently and place a tight fitting lid on it. Allow mixture to age in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Galliano Liqueur (Make two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar 1 cup water
¼ cup anise extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 drops yellow food coloring
1 fifth vodka

Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise extract, vanilla and food coloring. Swirl gently and then add the vodka. Allow mixture to age for two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Crème de Menthe (Make ten days ahead)
4 tbs. fresh mint leaves
1 fifth vodka
4 cup sugar
2 cup water
10 drops peppermint oil
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)

Crush mint leaves in a mortar and pestle. Place in a glass jar and pour vodka over them. Cover and let sit for ten days. Strain, discard mint. Heat the water and sugar mixture on low heat in medium heavy saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool. Add syrup to the mint-flavored vodka; add peppermint oil and food coloring; stir. If liqueur is not clear, filter a second time. Keeps for one year. Makes 48 ounces.

Chocolate Liqueur (From Busy Cooks at About.com)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. chocolate extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vodka

Combine sugar and water in medium heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in chocolate extract, vanilla and vodka. Pour into a sterilized glass bottle with tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dry place. This can be used as a substitute for Crème De Cacao. Makes 1 pint.

Packaging ideas:
Include liqueur glasses in the gift package.
Carefully arrange glasses with the bottle in a basket or flat box surrounded by fresh fruit and color-coordinated tissue or other filler. Tie with ribbon. Green and gold packaging works well with Crème de Menthe, as does either silver or gold with the chocolate liqueur. Add some mints or chocolate roses. Tiny flowers such as dried baby’s breath complete the ensemble.

Easy liqueurs for gift giving

Fruit LiqueursFor a lovely homemade gift, consider giving a liqueur or cordial. Below are recipes for various liqueurs. If you’re giving these as gifts, I’ve added how far ahead you should make them. Click here for cordial recipes. At the end are hints for packaging ideas.

To sterilize glass bottles, wash in warm soapy water and then dip in water mixed with a little bleach. Rinse thoroughly.

Scotch Liqueur (Make one to two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. anise extract
1 pt. Scotch
Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomHoney Liqueures syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise and Scotch. Swirl gently and place a tight fitting lid on it. Allow mixture to age in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Galliano Liqueur (Make two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar 1 cup water
¼ cup anise extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 drops yellow food coloring
1 fifth vodka

Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise extract, vanilla and food coloring. Swirl gently and then add the vodka. Allow mixture to age for two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Crème de Menthe (Make ten days ahead)
4 tbs. fresh mint leaves
1 fifth vodka
4 cup sugar
2 cup water
10 drops peppermint oil
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)

Crush mint leaves in a mortar and pestle. Place in a glass jar and pour vodka over them. Cover and let sit for ten days. Strain, discard mint. Heat the water and sugar mixture on low heat in medium heavy saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool. Add syrup to the mint-flavored vodka; add peppermint oil and food coloring; stir. If liqueur is not clear, filter a second time. Keeps for one year. Makes 48 ounces.

Chocolate Liqueur (From Busy Cooks at About.com)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. chocolate extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vodka

Combine sugar and water in medium heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in chocolate extract, vanilla and vodka. Pour into a sterilized glass bottle with tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dry place. This can be used as a substitute for Crème De Cacao. Makes 1 pint.

Packaging ideas:
Include liqueur glasses in the gift package.
Carefully arrange glasses with the bottle in a basket or flat box surrounded by fresh fruit and color-coordinated tissue or other filler. Tie with ribbon. Green and gold packaging works well with Crème de Menthe, as does either silver or gold with the chocolate liqueur. Add some mints or chocolate roses. Tiny flowers such as dried baby’s breath complete the ensemble.

Handling the Holidays

stressed out-woman-holidays-pam roller-romance authorAh, the joys of those weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The lights, the music, the sales, the chipper shoppers! Finding that perfect gift, singing carols, decorating the tree, wrapping presents, preparing for houseguests. All is merry and exhilarating and zippy.

The big day approaches, and reality hits. Everyone is in a hurry and everyone else is in the way.

All is harried and hurried and exhausting. The crowds, the noise, the traffic. Moods plummet. Sighs of frustration taint the atmosphere. Folks become tense, anxious. So much left to do!

And those jolly holiday Rudolph and Santa coming to town songs that set the mood weeks ago are now so annoying that you’d like to twist them into some dark hardcore screamo.

How do we get through it all without going off the deep end? Here are some tips from examiner.com and a few of my own:

  • Make lists and manage your time, including giving time to yourself. Extra time, if need be.
  • Adjust your expectations. We all want things to be perfect, but they rarely are. Just go with the flow.
  • Try smiling. Smiling gives you an emotional boost, and your smile will improve the stressed moods of all those around you.
  • Manage your alcohol intake. Too much drinking can lead to aggressive behavior and conflict.
  • Watch your spending. There’s no use going into debt trying to please others if it will affect your mind and body (and bank account) in a negative manner.
  • Ring that bell. The Salvation Army could use your help. Empathy and giving go a long way in dissipating anger and frustration.
  • Forgive. Holding a grudge against another only hurts you. Wash away the resentments and marvel in how much lighter is your heart.
  • Lack of self-confidence is the root of bullying and bad attitudes. Love and believe in yourself, and you’ll attract the good to you like a powerful magnet.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. You’re pissed off, disappointed, or sad. Or all three. Recognize how you feel, cry if you need to, yell it out into your pillow, and let it go.
  • Remember the reason for the season, and celebrate! Christ is born, our savior.
  • Take some time and go to your quiet place, and reflect on how good life has been, or how good life will be. Positive thinking brings about positive things in your life. Read this post for an lovely, peaceful message.
  • Love. Your family, your friends, yourself. Just…love.