Apple Cider Sangria

I made some hot caramel apple cider recently and expected to be floored. It was good, but not ground breaking (apple cider, caramel sauce, & cinnamon). Then, I turned the leftovers into sangria and it was the best sangria I’ve ever made. Ever. Seriously. Write this down.
Apple Cider Sangria

I saw the idea for apple cider sangria and adapted it to what I like/had around.

Ingredients:

½ gallon apple cider
2 tbs caramel sauce (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup simple syrup (1/2 cup water + ½ cup sugar dissolved)
1 cup cranberry vodka
1 -2 cups red wine
craisins and chopped apple

Directions:

Mix cider, caramel & cinnamon (optional), simple syrup, and vodka together.
Add craisins and apple and keep refrigerated for 24 hours before serving. Drink this as a cocktail or continue on for sangria.
Apple Cider Sangria
Add wine and serve.

Can I gush about how great this was? Ok, great! ;)

It was fall, and crisp, and sweet, and had a serious boozy kick to it. I loved it. The apple cider and cranberry flavors were great together. I liked how sweet and cool it was. Craisins absorb the liquid and plump up.
Apple Cider Sangria

Mr. J was introduced to sangria in Barcelona and and he actually loved it! He liked this one too. It was kind of a hybrid between a cocktail and sangria anyway. It packed a serious punch. I finished my glass and was bopping around totally feeling the wine and alcohol in there!

I want to make more. Already. It was fun to just have sangria around. I’m afraid I “save” thoughts and recipe ideas for special occasions. I think this was a good reminder that anything can become a special occasion.

Refreshing White Sangria

Seriously, I’m not drinking as much sangria as I’m blogging about lately. Lucky you! I’m back at it! I wanted to share this one too. This was a white one I made for Memorial day but it would be perfect for your 4th of July celebrations.

It wasn’t quite as amazing as the berry one but I liked it…and I wanted to be sure my fantabulous drink dispenser got some good blog exposure. I’m sure people saw it on my wedding registry and thought “like anyone would ever use that”. I’ve used it 4 times in just 5 months (Thanks Ms. M!). It is the hit of the party each time. I suppose I could always use it for something non-alcoholic. Crazy talk.

I started with a simple syrup
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Ingredients:

1 cup water
2 cups sugar

Directions:

Bring to a gentle boil until all the sugar is dissolved.
Allow to cool before adding to sangria.

I mixed moscato white wine, triple sec, champagne and orange juice with the simple syrup. It was a sweet one that wasn’t too strong. Simple syrup is a good way to sweeten up a drink.

Berry Sangria

This sangria is a long overdue but this intense heat makes it more appropriate right now. I love sangria and just wish I had it more often!

I made sangria for our housewarming, for my birthday, and for Memorial Day. The berry one for the housewarming was the best but the others seem to be hits too.
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The key is really letting it sit for at least 24-hours. I made a berry sangria one last year and it was ok, but it only sat for about 6 hours. We drank the leftovers the next day and were wowed at how much better it was.

Ingredients:

1 cup raspberries
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 bottle white wine
1 cup cupcake vodka
1 cup cranberry vodka
1 lime
1 green apple

Directions:

Bring berries, cranberry sauce, water and sugar to a gentle boil until all the sugar is dissolved.
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Strain fruit from the liquid.
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Mix fruit syrup, wine, and vodkas. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.
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Garnish with lime, lime zest, and chopped apple before serving.
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I added a bottle of prosecco just before serving.

Spanish Winery Tour & Tasting Fun

One of the most fun cities on our honeymoon cruise was our visit to the city of Palma. Mr. J thought just saying Island of Majorca was pretty fun before we even got there.It was a surprise of sorts because my research suggested this coastal resort city wasn’t going to be as touristy or have as many sites we had to race around to get to.In Florence, Rome, and Naples we did our own thing since the excursions seemed too rigid and slow for us who wanted to see everything (read as: run around every minute we had in each city). In Palma, we opted for a winery tour and tasting the cruise offered and it was awesome. We went to Macia Batle Winery.
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The tour was super informative. I’ve been on winery tours before and I love them. It was so impressive that the tour guide was originally from Germany. She moved to Spain a few years ago. She’s fluent in German, Spanish, and English. Makes me feel like our education is lacking.

We saw the bottling machines and all the wine barrels. Some hicks on the tour were surprised that wine is stored for lengths of time. Wine aged? Shocking!
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I LOVED that they have local artists or artists with connections to the area design the labels. The art was hung throughout. I wanted to buy prints but they don’t sell them. What a cool souvenir!
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Now for the tasting…They had snacks too. I loved this place!

We tried 3 wines and several foods. The wines were so good. This was just the perfect setting to be poured wine, and told about it, and had plenty to drink and ponder. Marcia Batle grows herbs, grapes (obviously), olives, and have honeybees so we had wonderful things to try.
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Their olive oil is delicious. I wished it was bread to soak it up more, rather than our crackers. Then they sprayed the crackers with wine infused fleur de sel. Ohh my salty goodness. Amazing. I bought some fleur de sel with rosemary and cannot wait to use it. Sorry for the blurry photo…I was so excited to see the food!
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They also served some tapanades…three of ‘em. I’m not a huge olive fan, but these were very good. I probably liked them more than usual because of what else was in them. The roasted red pepper one was my fav and it was delicious with the wine.

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The winery served a local pizza too. It had a crisp crust with peppers and artichokes on top.  I wasn’t a big fan. Maybe because we’d just come from Italy or maybe because the spreads and crackers were so good, but this just didn’t do it for me.
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There was jam made with their grapes. Delicious! This was on a biscuit-like cracker. It tasted more like grapes than any grape jam I’ve ever had. Ever. We had it with a dessert wine which was think and syrupy.

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Marcia Batle had lovely frosted glass wine bottle lights and really creative decor. Now I want to try to make art out of my favorite wines. I was so in love, and so happy to be there. Mr. J and I left with a lovely wine-induced haze and lovely memories.

Sangria Kickoff

Before the honeymoon, I’d never been to Spain before. I’ve been to England, France, Italy, Greece, and all sorts of random countries in Eastern Europe but never Spain. Barcelona definitely made me want to go back. I loved it! It’s such a beautiful city. We landed, checked into our hotel, and immediately started to explore. I chose a hotel just steps off Placa de Catalunya. What a lovely area! It was also a holiday so it felt like our honeymoon was really off to a great start.We were starving and strolled past a bunch of out door cafes on las ramblas. We found a spot at one and began with some sangria. Ohh. The. Sangria. This is a half order! Mr. J tried it as well only because a when-in-rome mentality and loved it too!
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We each chose a dinner option for 3 house tapas and our choices of paella, pasta, or pizza. The tapas was heavy on fish, but I didn’t mind at all. Mr. J didn’t seem to either. One was a warm potato wedge with a sweet & creamy dressing. I liked it. Another was a crustini with tomato and a sardine. The last was a cold pasta salad with tuna. The sampler was good since we would’ve spent forever picking piece by piece.
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I went with the seafood paella. It was so good! I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’ve always wanted to try and and I got my most authentic chance ever! There were huge shrimp (with the heads), scallops, muscles, and some sort of tougher fish…calimari-esque but not exactly the same. I could definitely taste the saffron but it wasn’t overpowering.
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I loved it. I ate my first shrimp head since apparently that’s where all the flavor is. I’m not sure if that will happen again or not.

Mr. J got pasta that was good, but not as blog-worthy as paella!

I fell for Barcelona while sipping my sangria, munching on paella, and watching a street festival unfold before my eyes. I guess there were fireworks but I was too tired/jet-lagged to even stay awake until 9 PM (also known as when locals eat dinner).

Happy Halloween!!

Thirsty in the Bahamas

Don’t worry…this is the end of my Bahamas vacay recap. Our last day in the Bahamas before heading back to the cruise ship seemed like the perfect time to grab a smoothie at the cutest little hut you’ve ever seen.
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We soon realized that apparently it was election day. Do you know what Bahamians don’t do on election days? They don’t drink. Liquor isn’t served on election days. How interesting?! We got our smoothies sans liquor and enjoyed them just as much.
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I chose mango & sis chose a mixed fruit one. I liked hers better and wondered why I didn’t go with strawberry, a seemingly obvious choice for me. Ohh well. Next time. Ohh, wait, we were in the Bahamas on the last day.

While we’re speaking of drinks on vacation, we took advantage of the 2-for-1 happy hour on the cruise one day. I thought: there are 2 of us, and we’ll pay for 1 drink. Nope. We got 4 drinks and paid for 2. It was fun to tote the 2nd along with us to dinner after a few rounds of skip-bo. I got a traditional mojito and sis got one called something like Strawberry Lava or Strawberry Fiesta or something like that. Half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri.
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Hers was too sweet for me, but it was definitely a fun cruise-y drink garnished with fresh pineapple. Mine had a great amount of mint. It wasn’t super muddled but my straw + ice cubes helped with that.
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Blast of Berry Sangria

I was racking my brain to come up with what to bring to a 4th of July weekend with Mr. J’s family at the lake house. There’s always more than enough food and snacks so I went with a drink!
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I figured a sweet sangria was the way to go! I made it early in the afternoon and we drank it a few hours later. It was even better the next day. Making the strawberry sangria was huge for the flavor.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup sugar
2 tbs honey
¼ cup water
1 packet Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light
1 bottle Reisling, chilled
1 nip citrus vodka

Directions

Bring 1 cup strawberries, ¾ cup blueberries, sugar, and honey to a low boil for 5 minutes. Add  water and remove from heat.
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Strain to catch all the pieces, leaving berry syrup.
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Prepare lemonade according to directions
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Mix in wine, vodka, berry syrup, and remaining berries.
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Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
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I’d definitely make this again. I think the berry lemonade was a nice touch to mellow it out a bit. Reisling was a good addition too.

Traveling Drinks

While traveling, we like to try some of the local everday beverages. Somewhere in Greece a few years ago I purchased a canned beverage but didn’t drink it right away. It was called Hello Boss and I thought it was just a funny name. I didn’t drink it until Albania, a few countries later, because I was tired of toting it around.

On my trip to the Bahamas with my Sis, we saw a guy drinking an interesting can of something while he sold us our terrible kayaking trip. It’s not his fault we are AWFUL kayakers. I saw his Goombay Punch and assumed it was alcoholic…not sure why. Turns out, it’s not.
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We got ourselves Goombay Punch and Fruit Champagne and drink them while watching a wedding reception being set up at our hotel. I wasn’t a fan of either. Both were sickening sweet.
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I thought the Goombay Punch was OK but the Fruit Champagne tasted like strong Red Bull. I love champagne but I think just the name came about because it was bubbly.

Check it out, you can order it online!

 

Now it’s just about time for a long holiday weekend. Enjoy some festive beverages! I’m toying with bringing some sangria to the lake in Maine…

Cheers to a Wine-Off

Once upon a wintery Saturday night, some friends hosted their annual Wine-off. This competition is not your average wine and cheese night.
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This is a night each couple brings their a-game in the form of an inexpensive wine ($15 or less per bottle). Each is covered and everyone drinks & scores. There were 16 entries before the crowning of the best as well as the Golden Stink Award.
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I was really looking forward to this after thoroughly enjoying it last year AND it was a fun night out after a big work event that day! I’m the wine drinker of the apartment so I pulled a wine out of my wine rack to bring. I never spend more than $15-per-bottle anyway so I was all set! I chose a Malbec, thinking it would be a crowd pleaser and would hopefully score well.Malbecs are a grape variety originally from the Bordeaux region of France but more recently grown in Argentina for this red wine. It pairs with food very well and will stand out against ordinary Merlots or Cabernet Savignons.
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We scored just above the middle of the pack. I wish we brought a chilled white wine since there were so few and after alllll the wine they were refreshing and different.

Ingredients:

friends bringing wine to your apartment
paper wine bags
scorecards
a scoring method to calculate results quickly!
appetizers
dump cups for any heavy handed pours or stinky wines

Directions:

Invite your friends to bring cheap wines to your cocktail party.
Have extra wine bags on hand to conceal the wines.
Make a score card and prepare to tally the scores at the end of the night.
Serve some simple aps.

Presto, you have a wine-off! I love opportunities to have lots of opinions and try new things!

I was so impressed with Miss M’s scorecard. They were so professional it made me anticipate a scantron machine to tally our choices! Cardstock? Bubble choices? Wow!
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Miss M & Mr. R also invited guests to submit a song to the playlist for the night. What a great idea? It was super fun to hear a wide variety and see reactions when somebody’s song came on.

It’s not too late to message your friends and have an impromptu Valentine’s Day get together, or anti-Valentine’s day bash! Careful, it is Monday. This is a great winter party.

I had a small Pumpkin Beer tasting around Thanksgiving which was a lot of fun. I’m thinking about some sort of taste-off for my birthday.

Cuchi Cuchi – ooo la la!

Yay! A new fav!

I went to Cuchi Cuchi on a Thursday evening at 6 PM with one of my favorite people to eat with, Miss L. We were so enraptured by the decor, costumes, and cocktails we couldn’t even order when prompted.

Miss L and I have been meaning to try this home-y vintage hideout. Normally, we study menus and read reviews anywhere one of us has plans to go, even if we not both going! I should have studied the cocktail menu more closely before awkwardly not being ready each time our adorable waitress came over…at least we warmed her up for when we weren’t ready to order food either!

Cuchi Cuchi is small, with a bunch of small tables, a few couch & coffee table lounge areas, and a great looking bar. The employees wear amazing costumes. I distinctly remember us commenting on a white flapper-style dress we saw pass by. Our waitress was friendly and maybe Russian? She donned a black velvet hat with a birdcage veil. Don’t you just wish everyone wore them nowadays? She genuinely wanted us to like everything we ordered and she applauded our drink choices and her return was timely. I chose a hibiscus martini and Miss L had a blackberry cosmo. We found them sweet, a good strength, and well made. I was impressed.

Cuchi Cuchi describes the food as, “international, ‘straight up’ smaller plates to be paired or shared.” They seem concerned people will call it tapas, which also seems to be a big deal to them.  We shared and really loved it. Our charming waitress suggested we order four plates to share. Given the price and being unfamiliar with the size, we started with just two to share.

After much deliberation, we got the potato croquettes with tomato curry dipping sauce and warm brie dipping sauce. Yum! I preferred the tomato sauce since the potato croquettes were small & cheesy so they need something to balance it. We also got the chicken kiev. I have no idea how they formed it the way they did. Mushrooms and herbs were cupped within an incredibly thin chicken breast shaped into a bowl. Must recreate this at home! Ordering anothing plate might have been a good idea but we were leisurely enjoying our bites, drinks, and convo so it was fine.

I’ll definitely be back. Clearly the Cuchi Cuchi crowd shows up at a fashionable 8 PM or later so 6 PM is definitely the time to sit back, and take your time. I envision a great drink and a bite at the bar in my future too.

Likes: memorable experience, amazing drinks, really unique atmosphere, historical references for the cocktails
Dislikes: prices were a bit high for me to truly be a regular.

Photo courtesy of Jason Bagley via Creative Commons