Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vanilla Extract and Wine Slush- Homemade

Christmas has come and gone and the gifts have all been given.  In other words, I am now able to post about a few homemade gifts I attempted this year without spoiling the fun.  One of my highlighted items is a staple in almost every kitchen- vanilla extract.  The other is not necessarly a staple, but certainly should be- wine slush.  (Or maybe that's just me seeing as how I have 3 toddlers running the place.)

I never knew you could make vanilla extract until recently.  I began to hear rumors of a few of my friends making it themselves and sure enough, after a short google search realized it was not only possible, but simple.  A friend had given me a few vanilla beans so I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised.  You can supposedly keep the stuff forever as long as you just keep adding a little alcohol now and again to keep the beans covered and change out the beans occasionally.  The only disclaimer I have so far is that I only bake with it and still use the store vanilla for recipes where it gets mixed in and eaten as is.  But hey, if you like a little punch of alcohol in whatever it is you are mixing up, then by all means, go for it.  Here is the recipe I used:  (Taken from the cookbook Real Snacks, by Lara Ferroni).

Vanilla Extract (1 pint extract)

3 to 5 vanilla beans
1 pint vodka or white rum

Score the vanilla beans down the middle and place them in a tall bottle with a tightly fitting cap.  Fill with vodka.  Place in a dark cabinet for at least 2 weeks.  Top off with more of the alcohol after each use.  Every 6 months or so, replace the vanilla beans with new ones.  The extract will keep indefinitely in a dark cabinet. 

One of my favorite Pinterest finds so far has got to be Homemade Wine Slush.  A few years ago I came across a vendor who was selling a wine slush mix.  I am usually not the easiset person to sell things on, but one sip of this stuff and I was pulling out my purse.  I paid $10 for the mix which did not include the bottle of wine.  Not my proudest frugal moment.  Anyway, when I came across a recipe on a blog that claimed it was the exact same thing I had to give it a try.  It was fantastic!!!  When I broke it down price wise I realized each mix cost just under 50cents to make.  That is quite the savings!  Be sure to check out the recipe below and if you need a few visuals, click on the link to the blog Girl Ryanne.

Homemade Wine Slush

1 2/3 cups sugar (more or less based on sweetness preference) 
2 tsp Citric Acid (found in the canning aisle) 
1 bottle of Wine (I used a fruity Arbor Mist)
3 cups water

Combine sugar and citric acid in food processor or blender.  Run for 2 minutes or until consistency is powder like.  Transfer powder to large mixing bowl.  Add 1 bottle of wine and whisk.  Add 3 cups water.  Stir until combined.  Place in a gallon freezer bag or container and freeze 4-6 hours or until frozen.