Honey Simple Syrup

Honey has so many wonderful uses including as tried and true substitution for sugar.  With several varieties at the farm, it’s a great way to mix up the flavor in your favorite recipes.  I love to use honey to sweeten my Arizona Sun Tea in the summer! Except, have you ever noticed that that gooey honey is sometimes hard to mix into your favorite drinks straight from the jar?  That’s where simple syrup comes in:

  1. Add equal parts honey and water to a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir until honey is dissolved.
  3. Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container. (I like to use an empty honey jar!) Syrup will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 month.

It’s just that SIMPLE (pun definitely intended)!  But if you are feeling extra adventurous, you can add culinary lavender, mint, ginger, basil, citrus zest, or even red chili pepper to the saucepan and strain before cooling for an infused honey syrup!

simply syrup

Honey Lemonade

Waiting for the next community farmers market but missing that fresh squeezed lemonade?  Or, maybe your neighbor dropped off a bunch of extra backyard lemons.  When life hands you lemons, make some lemonade!  I like the Laveen Alfalfa for this because it has a sweet honey taste.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
  2. 4 cups water
  3. Honey simple syrup (to taste, but I like ½ to 1 cup)

Add lemon juice, water, and honey simple syrup to your favorite pitcher and stir.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with lemon slices and serve over ice.  If you are feeling fancy, muddle some strawberries and basil in a glass before adding ice and lemonade for a refreshing mocktail. 

lemonade and honey

French 75 Cocktail

Named for the French 75 field gun commonly used in World War I and popularized in movies such as Casablanca and a couple John Wayne films, this drink is festive and perfect for a celebration.  For cocktails, I like the Mesquite honey because it adds a light taste.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 ½ ounces gin (vodka works too if gin is not your thing)
  2. ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice (about ¾ medium lemon)
  3. ¾ ounce honey simple syrup (recipe follows)
  4. 2 to 3 ounces chilled Champagne, prosecco, or dry sparkling wine (enough to top the glass)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add gin, lemon juice, and honey simple syrup, and shake until well chilled.  Strain into a champagne flute and top with prosecco. Garnish with a lemon peel and drink responsibly. Prost!

French 75

Linzer Cookies

Linzer cookies are a traditional Austrian holiday cookie made with a shortbread dough, dusted with powdered sugar, and filled with jam.  The top cookie has a peak-a-boo cutout to showcase the jam.

I wanted to make these cookies back in December, but we had already had our fill of cookies both from our kitchen and the kitchens of friends and family. Instead, I held onto this recipe knowing I could play with the flavors and shapes for other holidays.

Jam: UNLIMITED Flavor Possibilities.

Traditionally, a Linzer cookie is flavored with almond, a hint a of cinnamon and filled with raspberry jam. I opted to replace the cinnamon with lemon zest and paired it with cherry preserves.  The Amadio Ranch cherry preserves are made with whole cherries and you are certain to get a piece of fruit in every bite.  Plus, the color is a vibrant red perfect for Valentine’s Day.  Here are some other flavor combinations you could consider:

Strawberry rhubarb + Lime

Mango + Ginger

Very Berry + Orange

Lemon Curd Topping + Poppy Seeds

Shortbread Dough

You can use your favorite shortbread cookie dough for this cookie.  I used this Easy Almond Linzer Cookies Recipe.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Because this is a sandwich cookie, you will want to roll the dough to ⅛ to ¼ inch thick.  Thicker cookies won’t have the same jam to cookie ratio that makes these cookies so sweet.
  2.  If the chilled dough is hard to roll, let it warm as you work it, but pop the cutout cookies into the freezer for a few minutes to set and prevent spreading in the oven.
  3. You can incorporate the center cutouts into the extra dough or you can bake them!  I think the mini cookies make a festive addition to your cookie platter.  That is, if you don’t snack on them while you assemble your cookies. 

Cookie Cutters

You can buy cookie cutter sets of nesting hearts or circles.  You can even buy a Linzer cookie cutter set to get that perfectly centered jam window. I opted to use things I had around the house including a mason jar lid, heart cutter stolen from my daughter’s playdough set, and a milk carton lid.  I think I will make a flower cookie with a mango preserve center for Easter!  Wouldn’t that make a lovely bouquet on a platter?

No cookie cutters?  Not in the mood to roll out dough?  No problem!  Simply roll dough into a ball and place a thumbprint in the center.  Once cool, add jam to the center and drizzle with an icing made of powdered sugar and a splash of milk.

Simple Marinades

Did you know that many of the products at the Amadio Ranch make excellent ingredients for marinades and sauces? Marinades are a great way to add flavor and tenderize meat.  There are literally thousands if great flavor combinations, but a basic marinade has 3 simple components:

  1. Fat (oils such as olive, coconut, avocado or canola and dairy/dairy alternatives such as full fat plain yogurt, buttermilk, or coconut milk)
  2. Acid (vinegar like apple cider or balsamic, citrus such as lemon, lime, or orange, or acidic day like yogurt)
  3. Flavor Enhancers: (garlic, green onion, shallots, herbs, spices, sugar, and/or condiments but ALWAYS Salt and Pepper!)

I am not much of a measurement person when it comes to mixing marinades, but a typical ratio is 3:1 fat to acid.  Too much acid and your meat may become mushy.  I also love a little sweetness in my marinades like honey or brown sugar.  Sugar adds a nice caramelization on the grill, but too much will burn!  These are some flavor combinations my family loves:

Lemon + garlic + mustard +honey + basil

Ginger + garlic + scallion + soy + rice vinegar +honey

Chipotle in adobo + lime +scallion cilantro +honey

Balsamic + oregano + cracked black pepper + mustard +honey

When it comes to kitchen tools, you don’t need anything fancy.  A microplane can be helpful for preparing garlic, ginger and citrus zest but any kitchen knife works just as well, albeit a bit longer to mince! A handheld citrus squeezer is also helpful. I like to put my ingredients in a recycled jar and give it a good shake, but you can also use a bowl and whisk! A few more tips to keep in mind:

  • Meat and poultry can generally be marinated for 2 hours to 24 hours, but seafood and fish should be marinated for no longer than 1 hour.
  • Always refrigerate your meat while it’s marinating.
  • Don’t reuse marinades once they have been in contact with raw meat.
  • Marinades are also great for vegetables!

About Rebecca:  Rebecca is an 8-year resident of Laveen along with her husband and 2 kids under 4.  When not moonlighting as an amateur cook and blogger, she’s working in a non-partisan role at the Arizona Legislature.  As a self-proclaimed Amado Ranch SUPER fan, Rebecca has been buying honey and peaches off the Amadio’s front porch since before there were refrigerated coolers, Venmo, and even before pies!