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Tequila Lime Squares

27 Jul


Summertime! The word itself conjures up images of pure fun – swimming, sunning, playing outside, picnics and barbecues – so many awesome things to do! But let’s face it, baking isn’t one of them.  When the temperature soars into the 90s or higher, who wants to be pulling sheets of cookies or pans of cupcakes out of a hot oven, especially when she could be lounging by a refreshingly cool pool? But does this mean no goodies until the fall? Not at all!  Enter the simple square.


In an era before Pinterest and AllRecipes and made finding the perfect recipe a quick click away, one of the things my grandmother and I enjoyed sharing with each other was the discovery of an amazing recipe. Because we lived almost 400 miles apart, we had to share these finds originally by photocopying and mailing, and later by attaching to an email. But she always held onto a special recipe or two until I visited so we could make it together. My gram’s lemon square recipe was one such treat, a recipe so simple but so delicious, it remains one of my top go-to summer recipes to this day.


Squares and bars are the perfect summer dessert. Super easy to whip up, only one pan to dirty, requiring minimal oven door opening. Cover the pan and you’ve got your brownies or lemon squares or cheesecake bars ready to go for the perfect ending to any picnic or cookout. So imagine my delight when I came across this recipe from, believe it or not, food, for Tequila Bars! Light, citrus-y, easy enough to toss together, and with a generous helping of tequila, definitely B.U.I. worthy. I had to give them a try, and I’m so glad I did. A new summer go-to recipe, I’m pretty sure my Gram would approve.



1 12-ounce box vanilla wafers

1/2 cup pine nuts

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup tequila

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

5 large egg yolks

2 egg whites

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse wafers and pine nuts in food processor until well ground.

Add butter and blend until mixed. Set aside 1/4 cup of crumbs.

Press remaining crumbs evenly into a 13 x 9 pan.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together tequila, lime juice, egg yolks and condensed milk. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat egg whites and sugar with electric mixer until they hold soft peaks.

Gently fold the egg whites into the tequila mixture.

Spread the filling over the prepared crust and bake for 25 minutes. Cool.

Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top.

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight before cutting.







Corona Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting

4 May


This year, a terrible calamity has befallen Cinco de Mayo – there is a shortage of limes! Apparently, the harsh winter from which we have all just emerged decimated the lime crop in Mexico, our biggest supplier of those beautifully tart little gems. As a result, limes will be hard to come by, and if you do happen to find them, they’ll tend to be small, juice-less and more expensive than diamonds.

“So, what’s this have to do with me?” you might very well ask. Well think about this – how about a nice, cold Corona to go with those chips and salsa? Oops, sorry, no cute little lime wedge to squeeze into the top of the bottle. Would you like some fresh, creamy guacamole to go with those nachos? No can do, can’t make the guac without freshly squeezed lime juice. OK, forget the Corona, maybe a salty margarita on the rocks instead? That would be a big N.O.  – as in NO lime juice and NO lime slice. This is too much, give me a shot of tequila! Sure, here’s your salt, here’s your shot, here’s your wedge of li….. oh yeah, no.


As one journalist put it, it’s a LIMEPOCALYPSE! And it’s not just the Mexican food that’s been affected. Think of a world with no key lime pie, no Thai noodles with lime peanut sauce, and I absolutely refuse to garnish my gin & tonics with a slice of lemon. A part of my palate is dying just thinking about it.

Fortunately, I was able to snatch up a couple of pathetically minuscule limes for my Cinco de Mayo recipes, including these deliciously festive cupcakes. A nice, light lime-flecked Corona cupcake, topped with a heady tequila lime buttercream. So quick and easy to make, these cupcakes are simply subLIME!



1 box yellow cake mix

1 cup Corona beer

3 eggs

1/2 cup oil

grated peel from 1 lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.


1 1/2 sticks of butter

4-5 cups confectioners sugar

juice and grated peel from one lime

2 tablespoons Tequila, or to taste

pinch of salt

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add 4 cups confectioners sugar, lime juice, salt and tequila, mixing at low speed until combined, then at high speed until light and fluffy, adding more sugar if needed until desired consistency is reached.  Frost as desired, and sprinkle with grated lime peel.



Cinco de Mayo Margarita Cupcakes

23 Apr


We Americans love to party. We’ve turned partying into an art form. Give us a reason to celebrate, and we will pick it up and run with it.  So it’s no wonder that what started as a local Southwestern celebration of Mexican heritage, culture and tradition has, in recent years, spread across the country and turned into a holiday so huge, it now has more significance here in the U.S. than it does in Mexico. I refer, of course, to Cinco de Mayo. A day originally set aside to commemorate the Mexican Army’s win in a battle against the French, May the 5th is now a day when many of us head to our local Mexican restaurant, order pitchers of margaritas and bottles of Corona, feast on tacos and enchiladas, all while being serenaded by a 3-piece mariachi band.


It’s no surprise that, coming from our closest neighbors to the South, many Mexican traditions have become an inherent part of our culture. Mexican restaurants, for example, from local authentic taquerias to quintessentially American chains like Chili’s to fast food restaurants such as Taco Bell, can be found in just about every neighborhood. In fact, that uniquely American way we have of taking bits of other cultures and melting them with our own gave rise to the perfect culinary blend of both cultures: Tex-Mex cuisine.  Just like St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve kind of adopted Cinco de Mayo as our own.

No, we had no part of that Mexican-French battle so many years ago. But  honestly, is there a better reason to celebrate the warmer, sunnier, end of winter, promise of summer, first days of May? I don’t think so. I, for one, am counting the days until I can crunch on a spicy, crispy taco or two, dig into a pile of cheesy refried beans, and wash it all down with a gigantic, salt-rimmed, Gold margarita served in a glass the size of a swimming pool. Clichéd? Definitely. But what a great way to celebrate the 5th of May…..or the 6th, or 7th or 8th…….


I found this recipe for margarita cupcakes on the internet a couple of years ago, and have been making them regularly since.  I didn’t note the website, but the recipe has been out there for a while. They are by far the favorite of many of my friends, and the recipe itself is a favorite of mine for two reasons: 1) it’s a “cheater” recipe that starts with box mix and 2) well, you’ll find out for yourself….keep reading…


Margarita Cupcakes

9 0z margarita mix

3 oz tequilla

3/4 oz Grand Marnier, Triple Sec or other orange liqueur

1 box white cake mix

3 egg whites

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon lime zest

Mix together the margarita mix, tequila and orange liqueur in a large measuring cup or spouted bowl. Reserve 1 1/4 cups for the cupcake batter and (here comes the best part) drink the rest as a treat while you are baking. I know, right!?!?!  These cupcakes truly are Baked Under the Influence!


In a stand mixer, add the margarita mixture (1 1/4 cups), cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil and lime zest. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Fill paper lined muffin tins about 2/3 – 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes to rack to cool completely.


Lime Buttercream Frosting

4 cups confectioners sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon lime zest

decorating sugar

mini candy fruit slices (optional)

Beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar, salt and lime juice and zest on low-speed until blended, and then beat at medium/high until light and fluffy. Add a little water or milk if necessary until desired consistency is reached.

Frost cupcakes. Carefully roll the outside edge of each cupcake in decorating sugar and garnish with fruit slice.





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