Homemade Mulled Wine

We haven’t seen rain in San Francisco for over 2 months. 2 months! And when it did rain 2 months ago, it only rained for one day…it’s so weird and I’m anxiously waiting for some drops so that we can get some snow up in Tahoe. Fortunately for me, I’m running away and heading to the warm beaches of Mexico for a few days this week! Muahaha. But when I get back…I expect rain. :)

However, the warm weather has not stopped my friends and I from embracing Fall and enjoying some seasonal festivities (including a Friendsgiving potluck this past Saturday and a friendly game of softball yesterday). In my opinion, the best way to celebrate the holiday season is by chowing down on some delicious food and sipping on tasty drinks.

Warm, spiced drinks scream comfort to me. It’s quite possibly my favorite part of the holiday season (besides snow!!). If you’re looking for a last minute drink to make or an item to contribute to a potluck, this is your recipe! It’s extremely quick to whip up, it will make the entire place smell like winter spices, and you can double or triple the recipe to accommodate a huge group of people. Plus, you don’t need expensive wine for this so it’s pretty cheap to make…Helloooo, 2 buck Chucks from Trader Joes.

I do love making this mulled cider with fresh fruit recipe but this mulled wine might have surpassed the cider this time around. If you already have the spices on hand, all you need to buy is wine, an orange, and some brandy.

Trust me, this recipe is a must.

Mulled Wine

You just add orange zest, sugar, and spices to a medium sized pot, pour in enough wine to juuuust cover all of the ingredients and then bring everything to a rapid boil for about 8-10 minutes to create a spiced syrup. Then you add the rest of the wine, squeeze in the juice of the orange you zested, and warm everything up over low heat.

Once your mulled wine is heated (not boiling or else you’ll burn off the alcohol), you top it off with some brandy, and that’s it! Serve and enjoy.

What’s your favorite holiday drink?

Mulled Wine
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 1 bottle of Cabernet Savignon (or your favorite red wine)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large orange
  • 1/4 cup brandy (more or less to your taste)

Instructions
  1. Zest the orange skin (by using a vegetable peeler or knife) into thick slices.
  2. In a medium sized pot, add the orange zest, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, and sugar together.
  3. Pour just enough wine to cover everything (in a medium pot, this was a little less than 1/4 of the bottle for me).
  4. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil for about 8-10 mins while stirring occasionally. This will thicken it a little bit and create a flavorful syrup.
  5. Bend head over mixture and smell..it smells like winter!
  6. Once the syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low. Add the rest of the wine. Squeeze the juice out of the orange you zested earlier into the pot.
  7. Let the wine slowly warm up. You must do it at a low temp so that the alcohol doesn’t burn off.
  8. Once it’s warm enough, add the brandy and serve immediately.

 

Spicy Jalapeno and Bacon IPA Burger with Pepper Jack Cheese

I like my bacon extra crispy. Like so crispy that it’s nearly burnt. That’s the only way to eat bacon. Bacon + Avocado + Pepper Jack + IPA + Meat? Even better.

Cooking with beer is awesome. It adds so much flavor to a dish and is fun to pair with your meal. My friends and I headed up north to the quiet town of Willits last weekend and we even created a beer-inspired menu! More on that next week though.

This burger is a summer must. It’s really easy to throw all of the ingredients together. Switch up those boring frozen burger patties and give this a try! The IPA adds a nice taste and I love the kick that the jalapeños and cheese add. I also encourage using grass-fed beef and fresh ingredients to keep it on the healthy side (well, ya know what I mean). Also, this burger tastes just as delicious when it’s made on a grill pan in your kitchen as it does on an outdoor BBQ grill. Add some easy baked sweet potato fries on the side and you’re good to go.

You can also freeze them! I ended up doing this because it made about 6 patties. Every once in a while, I’ll take one out of a freezer, toast a hamburger bun, and cook one up for dinner. So if you’re planning on grilling this weekend or are just in the mood for a burger, you should give these a taste. My only wish…is that I topped the burger off with onion rings. Anyone agree? Next time!

Spicy Jalapeno Bacon IPA Burger with Pepper Jack Cheese

Spicy Jalapeño and Bacon IPA Burger with Pepper Jack Cheese
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
  • 1 lb Lean grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 Cup of your favorite IPA beer
  • 1/4 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4-1/2 Of a small yellow onion (depending on how big the onion is)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard (a spicy brown one works too)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper (a couple turns, about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon)
  • 4-6 Hamburger buns
Toppings (grab enough of the ingredients below to top each burger):
  • Bacon, fried
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Jalapeños
  • Pepper Jack cheese, sliced
  • Lettuce
  • Spicy mustard/ketchup

Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients (except for the toppings) in a large mixing bowl. You can mix everything together with a wooden spoon or your hands.
  2. Using your hands, grab a handful of the mixed burger meat, and shape it into a patty about 1 inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the meat.
  3. Heat grill pan or grill to med-high heat.
  4. Place the patties on the hot grill and cook for about 4 mins on one side then flip and then cook another 3-5 minutes (depending on how thick your burgers are).
  5. When the patties are almost ready, top them each off with a generous amount of jalapeños and then lay a slice of pepper jack cheese over the jalapeños.
  6. Cover the grill (or use a large pot lid to cover an individual patty) and let them cook for another minute, or until the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve the burgers on a toasted bun with all of the toppings.

Notes
PRO TIP #1: This recipe makes 4-6 burger patties depending on how big each of them are so adjust recipe accordingly when cooking for a group of people. PRO TIP #2: To freeze the burgers, individually wrap each patty in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer ziplock bag.

 

Blackberry Mint Spritzer

This week was a two dinners in one night kind of week. Literally. Pad Thai at 5:30pm and then 3 amazingly delicious pizzas (split between 9 of us) around 9pm on a Wednesday night. I mean, my co-workers and I were hanging out in North Beach and since that neighborhood is the home of Little Italy, we had to check out Tony’s Pizza. I don’t regret a thing. And yeah, my co-workers love food as much as I do!  It’s awesome.

Blackberry and Mint Spritzer

This week I watched the Great Gatsby! That soundtrack is…wack. I mean it’s good but weird. Jay-Z produced it? I can tell! Overall, I liked the movie though. There were a few scenes that didn’t fit but it was a good movie! Now when I see a pic of Leo I can’t imagine him without his Jay Gatsby accent…old sport.

This week we also saw Guy Fieri at the food truck park by our office! He was filming an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dive. I don’t even really watch that show but I thought it was awesome that he was there (Guy is actually from my hometown Santa Rosa!). I watched him drive back and forth 5 feet at a time trying to record the intro to the show, and I also snapped some pics. It was fun :)

Blackberry Mint Spritzers

This week I mis-read my own recipe and baked up a disaster. A salty distaster, friends. The kind that you just have to toss in the trash. Note to self: Don’t attempt to make cookies when watching the Sharks game. Ugh.

This week I made this Blackberry Mint Spritzer! It’s so refreshing and bubbly and easy to drink. This spritzer is the perfect fake fancy drink to make if you’re looking for a last minute drink recipe on Memorial Day weekend! AKA it tastes and looks awesome but is suuuuuuper simple to make. Fruit, mint, and bubbles. Delish. I didn’t add any alcohol in it but if you want, just swap out 1.5 oz (a shot glass size) of the sparkling water for rum or vodka and you’ll have yourself a refreshing cocktail to start your weekend with. You could also pair this drink with these red, white, and blue chocolate dipped strawberries for a festive snack!

The week still has more adventures to come. A few of my college friends are coming into the city tonight and we’re going to have a girls night! Not like a let’s-hit-the-town girls night…but more of a 80-year-old-grandma girls night. My favorite kind of night. We’re going to order some take out, put on a chick flick, catch up on each other’s lives, and probably go to sleep at 10pm. Glorioussssss!

What are you up to for the 3 day weekend? Happy Friday!!

Blackberry Mint Spritzer
 
Ingredients
For the Simple Syrup (makes enough for 4-6 drinks)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
For the Spritzer (makes 1 drink)
  • 5 blackberries
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1.5 oz simple syrup (a little less than 1 shot glass!)
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water
  • Ice
  • Garnish (optional): extra mint leaves, 3 blackberries, lime slices

Instructions
For the Simple Syrup
  1. Comine the sugar and water in a small pot and bring mixture to a boil. Stir when needed.
  2. Once it boils, turn down the heat to low for about 2 minutes and let simmer until all the sugar is disolved. Let cool to room temperature.
For the Blackberry Spritzer
  1. Combine the blackberries, mint leaves, and simple syrup in a cup. Using a muddler (or the back of a wooden spoon), muddle everything together, squishing the juice from the blackberries and mint leaves.
  2. Then add the sparkling water and fresh lime juice.
  3. Fill the rest of the glass with ice, garnish with some sprigs of mint, a few black berries, a slice of lime and serve immediately.

Notes
Pro Tip #1: Use more or less simple syrup depending on how sweet or tart your blackberries are — taste testing is encouraged! Pro Tip #2: If you want to make this an alcoholic drink substitute 1.5 oz. of the sparkling water (about the size of 1 shot glass) with your favorite rum or vodka.

MpUQVZ on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Huzza! The glory of working at a startup in San Francisco means…free snacks and drinks! ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. Which is a good and bad thing depending on how you look at it. Can you guess how many bags of chips I can eat in one day?! It’s too embarrassing, I’m never telling!

One quality I pride myself on is how quickly I can notice when our office kitchen gets restocked. The downside to this is that I find myself eating a lot of unhealthy snacks throughout the day. I’m lucky that our company provides some healthy alternatives though! Or else I probably would have gained 15 pounds by now. Hummus, raw almonds, and Silk Soy Milk are some of the great healthy options in the office kitchen.

We are always fully stocked with Silk Soy Milk! Whether my colleagues and I are adding it to our morning cup(s) of coffee, pouring it into a bowl of cereal, or dipping cookies in it, we’re using it daily.

And then there’s Silk Iced Latte. WOAH. I didn’t even know they had an Iced Latte product so when Silk asked me take a taste, I couldn’t pass it up! 100 calories a serving (1 cup), espresso, and soy. It’s the perfect mid-day office drink and just awesome to have on any warm day in general! My colleagues and I like to go on a lot of coffee runs throughout the work day so this is a great alternative to have around.

Silk Iced Latte

Basically, Silk Iced Latte is a win in my book. It’s sweet, creamy, and has the perfect amount of espresso added to it. And so simple to drink! Just pour over ice and enjoy.

I would say that Silk Iced Latte can be summed up as smooth indulgence and espresso decadence all channeled into Endless Love. (Yep, Lionel says it the best.)

Oh! And if you were to blend it with some ice (or ice cream!), that milkshake would definitely bring all the boys the the yard…if you know what I mean. Ok…I’m done hehe

Delicious Silk Soy Latte

Seriously though, not only is this Iced Vanilla Latte an awesome addition to the Silk family, but when I walked into the grocery store and saw so many different Silk flavors and options, I wanted to try them all! Although Silk did sponsor this post, these thoughts are entirely my own…so for realz, go Silk Soymilk!

Do you drink Silk Soymilk? If so, what’s your favorite type? I need more recommendations :)

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This post is brought to you by Silk. Take the Tastemaker Challenge on facebook.com/silkUS

Green Monster Smoothie

How do you guys feel about juicing? I still can’t decide. I think juicing has its benefits and it’s great for cleansing but I also feel like juicing wastes a lot of the fruit/veggie when you’re just extracting the juice. I guess maybe if there were easier ways to use the left over fiber I’d be more into it?

I’m a huge fan of green smoothies though and definitely don’t mind the fiber that’s mixed in. In fact, I actually like that they’re thicker because it makes them taste heartier and I get pretty full from drinking a whole glass! Plus, I really enjoy benefiting from all the nutrients each vegetable/fruit has to offer. Party on.

Green Smoothie

This is seriously how I get my day’s worth of vegetables (and some fruits as well!), and this recipe only takes about 10 minutes to make. Lightening speed, y’all. I use this awesome blender to make a batch when I get home from work, drink half of it with my dinner and then save the other half the next morning. It might be better to make it all in the morning and then drink the 2nd half later in the same day but let’s be real, I don’t get up early enough to fit that into my routine.

Anyway, this smoothie is amazing. The added fruit makes it just sweet enough so you can’t even tell how much spinach/kale you’re taking in during each sip. Sometimes I like to switch it up and add new fruits and veggies to the mix but this is my go-to recipe whenever I want a quick, delicious, healthy green smoothie.

Here are some of my favorite things to add/experiment with when making green smoothies (on top of the ingredients used for the smoothie pictured):

  • Extra ginger! (Love me some extra spicy smoothies–does that make me a weirdo?)
  • Wheat Grass
  • Cucumber
  • Green Apple
  • Orange
  • Chia Seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Lemon
  • Celery
  • Almond Milk

What’s your favorite smoothie combo? And do you prefer juicing or smoothie-ing?

Chug, Chug, Cheers.

Green Monster Smoothie
 
 

Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups spinach
  • 2.5 cups kale
  • 1 cup 100% carrot juice
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • 2 kiwis, small/medium sized
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions
  1. Add the carrot juice, kiwi, blueberries, flaxseeds, and ginger root to a blender. Blend until everything is well incorporated.
  2. Then add the spinach and kale a handful at a time, blending after each handful.
  3. Add water and blend everything for a minute or so, making sure that the texture is smooth.
  4. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container (mason jars work great for this) and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

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