Recipe

Easy Sangria Recipe

I’m a fan of sangria, that’s no secret, and for my picnic birthday this year, I wanted to make a whole lot of it for my friends to enjoy as we played bocce ball and croquet. The sangria made me very bad at croquet, by the way. Yes, I’m blaming it on the sangria!

For the novices out there, sangria is a Spanish drink made of red wine, juice and fruit. The red wine part isn’t a hard and fast rule. I’ve had many a delicious white sangria, swapping the orange juice and other traditional citrus fruits for lemonade and peaches. That being said, I like my sangria red.

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Here’s how I made my sangria:

-2 bottles red wine (I used 2-buck Chuck Merlot from Trader Joe’s, but a cheap Sangiovese or Grenache would work, too)

-1 cup OJ (I like no pulp, but pulp is fine because you’ll be adding fresh orange in there anyhow).

-1/2 cup Captain Morgan’s Rum (We didn’t have brandy, but you can do it with that, too. I say start with 1/2 cup and pour in a few more shots after you give the lighter version a taste first). Vodka works, too. Why not throw in a little bit of triple sec? Have fun!

-1/4 cup granulated sugar

-2 Oranges (Sliced and quartered)

-1 lemon (Sliced and quartered)

-2 limes (Quartered)

-2 green apples (Roughly cut into chunks.)

-1 cup frozen berry mix, defrosted (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s and it was a mix of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. I feel like pineapple would have tasted good, too.) You can also throw in some red grapes if you prefer something fresh.

-1.5 cups seltzer water (Optional)

Pour the wine, OJ and Rum into a pitcher. Then add the sugar and fruit. Let the mixture sit in your fridge for 24 hours to fully marinate. It’s that easy! You can leave the rind on the fruit, but be wary, the longer the wine sits, the more bitter it will become because of the peel. I suggest removing most of the rind to avoid that unpleasant aftertaste on Day 3. Yes, you can keep sangria in the fridge for several days. I made two batches of the recipe above for my party and had about 1/4 of a pitcher left, which my other half and I finished a few days later. The fruit was super saturated with sangria goodness!

How to make mulled wine sets/DIY Christmas present

I am a DIY-er and I like to give holiday gifts that have a personal touch. This mulled wine kit is just that. You can go above and beyond and buy a bottle of wine to go along with the prepared spices, or give the jars on their own.

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What you need to buy to make one jar with enough spices to make mulled wine three times. Three’s always a good number.

  • 3 cinnamon sticks (broken up to fit in the jar)

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  • 3 whole star anise

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  • 1 tablespoon allspice (whole berries)

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  • 1 tablespoons whole cloves
  • IMG_20131214_1659251/2 tablespoon green cardamom pods

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  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • cheesecloth (enough to make three squares big enough to hold 1/3 of the spices in the jar)
  • 3 pieces of twine long enough to tie the cheesecloth into sachets
  • gift tag to write directions
  • Ball of Kerr jar
  • bottle of wine and orange (optional, depending how big you want your gift to be. You can always just give the spice set, which is what I did this year)

To do:

  • Measure out all the spices in a bowl, place in the jar with the cinnamon sticks
  • Stuff the cheesecloth and twine inside
  • On the tag, write a little note with the following directions: Place a third of the spices, minus the cinnamon sticks in a cheesecloth square and tie up with twine. Pour a bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, etc) the sachet, cinnamon sticks, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of bourbon (optional) into a pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

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After I made several of these as gifts I put the extra cloves and anise in a small little jar to use as potpourri. Dual use!

Shout out to Buzzfeed for the inspiration!

Snow storm? Make mulled wine

I drove out to Zion National Park to spend a weekend hiking with friends, but our athletic plans went astray after the fourth largest snowfall since 1904 slammed the region. The snow just kept climbing–8.5 inches in total–and I felt like I was living in a snow globe!

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To warm up in this winter wonderland, I decided to make mulled wine. I’ve had a special place in my heart for the cozy beverage ever since I visited Prague, where you can buy mulled wine from street carts and then stroll through a park. I’ll never forget the night I went to a bar in Prague and ordered mulled wine. The bartender just laughed. They said it was like me ordering coffee at a dive bar in the U.S. I switched my order to Pilsner, but the next day I made sure to get mulled wine from a street vendor!

My take is pretty traditional: red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Beaujolais), orange, honey, cinnamon sticks, ginger, cloves and brandy. We were missing a few of the ingredients, so I had to whip up a little variation, but it came out great.

Too bad we each could only have about a quarter of a mug since I spilled a little wine as I was trying to snap a photo of the pour, whoops, and we only had one bottle left -_-

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Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about the mile trek in the snow that piled almost as high as my knees to get more wine in an upcoming post.

Without further adieu, here’s how I made this crowd-pleaser:

-Poured a bottle of red wine in a big pot, much like the kind you’d used to boil Spaghetti. I used Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon (You can buy it at Whole Foods for $2.99). I wouldn’t buy the other Three Wishes’ varietals Merlot and Chardonnay, but the Cab is passable, especially if you’re going to use it as a mixer).

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-Cut up a whole orange and added it to the pot, peels and all

-Poured in a third of a cup of Crown Royal…it was that or Johnny Walker Black and I thought the former would be sweeter.

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-Added 1/8 of a cup of Agave Sweetener. We didn’t have honey and I’d usually double that portion if we did, but Agave can be sweeter than honey.

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-Tapped in two teaspoons of ground ginger and a teaspoon of nutmeg. We didn’t have cinnamon sticks, so I added three teaspoons of ground cinnamon.

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-Heated it on medium/low for 20 minutes. You want it to get hot, but not boil.

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Voila!

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Recipe: Bubbe’s Baked Apples with a Twist

Remember how I reviewed Clautiere Vineyard’s 2005 Port? Well if you do, which you should because it was literally the post before this one, than you’d recall that I gave a sneak peak into my favorite baked apple recipe, and now I’m going to do the big reveal.

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Check out that dark glaze!

Tada!

My grandmother used to make me baked apples all the time, only she made them with Manischewitz wine, like all good Bubbe’s do. If you’re not familiar with Manishewitz, it’s a common staple in a Jewish home, oft seen at Shabbos dinners and Passover Seder tables. It’s a bright purple wine made from concord grape, yes, concord grape, and it’s sugary with an unpleasant burn. But in baked apples, it’s great! The wine shrivels up into a bright sweet jelly-like substance.

My late-grandmother

My late-grandmother

I decided, though, to add my own twist to Bubbe’s recipe, swapping Manishewitz for a chocaltatey port. I also added cinnamon and walnuts, which my grandmother didn’t include. The result was a much more savory-sweet dessert with a deep flavor, possibly from the nuts, which also add a nice crunch to the mushy apples. I wish I had vanilla ice cream to scoop alongside it. Mmmmm.

Ingredients:

  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Port
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut in half, length-wise

Directions:

Core apples and then cut them in half horizontally. Place them in a Pyrex pan. Scoop a small cube of butter into each hole. Sprinkle a little more than a teaspoon of sugar and a half-teaspoon of cinnamon into the holes, as well.

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It’s OK to get sugar/cinnamon/butter on the peel.

 

Then pour the port, about a tablespoon and a half, into the holes. Lastly, cover up the holes with chopped nuts.

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I forgot to take a picture after they were chopped!

Place the apples in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

You could also make these with a dry white wine. I’d just use white sugar instead of brown and skip the cinnamon. Red apples would work, too.

 

Recipe: Steak wine marinade

I was running home late after a busy day at work and had planned to throw together a steak marinade recipe using the leftover Barbera d’Asti I reviewed earlier this month, but my boyfriend beat me to it.

In fact, he’s the one who first introduced me to using wine as a marinade for steak, a hand-me-down trick from his mom. We’ve used different kinds of wines since for varying recipes. The time prior to this, I believe I mixed some Torrontes, olive oil and zahatar I bought at Spice Station, a perfect little spice shop in my neighborhood. We’ve also tried Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Malbec and other reds and have largely had successful outcomes.

We typically let the steak soak and then grill to medium-rear, but this time around the steak was coated in a spice rub, heated in a frying pan and then braised in the leftover Barbera.

Here are the steaks cooking in the wine:

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And the finished product (swoon):

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The recipe is a variation on this one from allrecipes.com and includes:

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Directions:

Rub the spice mixture and two tablespoons of olive oil into the steaks–we used tri-tip, but the recipe calls for flatiron–and then add the remaining oil to the frying pan. Sear both sides of the steak for two to three minutes, making sure the inside is still rear. Remove steaks with tongs and add the wine to the pan, scraping up the goodies that have burned to the bottom. Replace the steaks in the mixture and cook on low for about five minutes. Check steaks with a thermometer to get your desired level of tenderness.

The steaks were delicious, spicy and juicy.

We enjoyed them with a nice Potuguese red blend I bought at a wine store in Berkeley when I visited a friend. I plan to review it soon, promise! Check out my Facebook page for a sneak peak of my thoughts.

To read my blog post about the Barbera d’Asti, click here. 

 

Wine Jelly

As soon as I saw we were out of Penman Springs wine jelly, I looked like this:

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When I found out that I could make my own wine jelly, perhaps one that could rival that of Penman Springs, I turned that frown upside down:

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You see, I first discovered wine jelly at Penman Springs while wine tasting in Paso Robles during Valentine’s Day weekend. Penman Springs is a country-style winery, fit with rolling hills, a white farm house and delicious, warm baguettes and house-made wine jelly ready for you when you come in for a tasting.

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That cute little farm house is where Penman Springs does their tastings

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That’s me hanging out in the vineyard at Penman Springs

I liked the wine jelly so much, I bought four jars of it. The jelly lasted me almost nine months, but when making almond butter (the best) and wine jelly (also, the best) sandwiches the other day for lunch, we reached the end of the last jar.

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Turns out, though, it’s not too hard to make wine jelly at home. Here’s the recipe I plan to use from allrecipes.com.

This makes 5 half-pint jars:

  • 3 1/2 cups wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounce package dry pectin (a jelling ingredient made from apple and citrus fruits)
  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar

In a large pot, bring the wine, lemon juice and pectin to a boil. Stir frequently. Add/dissolve sugar. Turn the heat back up and bring to a rolling boil for one minute, while stirring. Remove from stove and skim the foam off the top. Put the hot jelly into sterilized mason jars with 1/2 inch of space near the top. Close up the jar and put bathe them in boiling water for five minutes.

Do you have a better wine jelly recipe? Let me know!