Hot Mulled Wine reminds me of Christmas, Madrigal dinners, and travel. The aroma of the simmering wine is wonderful and sipping it is even better. While my paternal line is Czech, mulled wine was not a tradition in our home.
Wishing you a Veselé Vánoce (Merry Christmas) andŠťastný Nový Rok! (Happy New Year)
2 bottles of red wine (we use Cabernet Sauvignon)
5-6 cinnamon sticks
6-8 whole cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
4 allspice berries
4-6 star anise
zest of one tangerine (use fruit)
zest of one lemon (discard fruit)
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup raisins
tangerine slices from zested tangerine
2 apples, sliced (we used green apples)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup raw honey
1 cup apple cider (optional)
2 Tbsp. Czech Rum (I used Cointreau)
Combine all ingredients in a simmering pot. Simmer until hot. Serve.
There are folks who ladle it into a cup, fruits and all, but we prefer to strain it and just serve the hot wine with a cinnamon stick in the cup as a garnish.
It is at it’s best when served immediately after mulling but this delicious drink will keep fairly hot even when taken off the heat for about 30 minutes. The leftover mulled wine (if you have any) can be reheated in a saucepan on the stovetop. If you wish to keep some for the next day, allow it to cool completely and then pour into glass bottle or mason jar, closing tightly and refrigerating.
When the temperatures drop and the snow flies, my mind races to a great bowl of chili. My oldest daughter, Megan, has been raving about the Paleo Chili, that I will refer to as Sweet Potato Chili. She is on a Whole-30 and Paleo diet, and she referred to this chili in her post on Life Love and Garlic.
I modestly adapted the originally recipe and the result was amazing. I’m not on a Paleo diet, but I LOVE this recipe. I could see this recipe easily adapted to Vegan by browning mushrooms (with a dash of olive oil) instead of beef and substituting vegetable broth for beef broth.
SWEET POTATO CHILI (AKA PALEO CHILI)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon paprika
1-2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)
Chop onions and bell pepper and place in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat with ground beef. Using a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the meat, as it browns, into small pieces.
Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, drain fat if needed.
Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, and all spices except hot sauce and lime juice. Stir well.
Add peeled and diced sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
Optional: Add hot sauce and lime juice. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Spiced Pecans are a family and gift tradition started a few years ago. I do not remember where the recipe came from, but it is an all-time favorite. It makes a great gift for friends and family and a nice change from the traditional sweets of the holidays. Spiced Pecans can be made early in December and given throughout the holidays. I typically triple the recipe and make several batches. Enjoy!
GLAZE: 1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecans on a baking sheet for 6 minutes.
Stir together the spice mix in a small bowl.
In a saucepan, combine the glaze ingredients. Bring glaze to boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Stir in toasted nuts and continue to stir until all the nuts are shiny and the liquid is gone (1-2 minutes).
Place glazed nuts in a bowl, sprinkle on the spice mix, and toss well to coat. Spread the coated nuts on a cookie sheet and return them to the oven for another 4 minutes.
Summer and watermelon go together like Mac and Cheese.
When the weather is scorching hot…
a chilled slice of watermelon hits the spot.
As a kid we would take a half slice of watermelon outside and let the sweet juice run down our chins and arms. Seedless watermelons were unheard of so a little ‘seed spitting’ was in order, too! Mom probably had to hose us down before letting us back in the house.
My Mother would always eat watermelon and canteloupe sprinkled with salt. I prefer my watermelon naked but daughter, Sarah, and her friends introduced me to TAJIN fruit with lime seasoning a few years ago. From the moment I tried it, I was hooked and it has become family favorite. The combination of lime, salt and a little kick with the sweet juicy watermelon is delectable.
I find TAJIN at Walmart and sometimes at the local grocery store in either the fruit section or ethnic foods section.
Apple Butter was a fall tradition in my Mother’s kitchen back on the Iowa farm with plenty of local apples to use. She would can several jars and store in our ‘fruit room’ in the basement. Neighbors and friends would share the fruits of their apple harvest with the offer to come pick what remained on their trees. That’s just how neighbors treat neighbors.
Years ago, a co-worker shared her crockpot apple butter recipe with me. It’s been in my recipe box ready to be used and this was the year. The process takes a while but you don’t have to stand over the stove watching it to assure it doesn’t stick and burn. I’m easily distracted so this is the ticket!
What to serve with the apple butter? I made a loaf of oatmeal quick bread (see post of October 23) and served a slice of the bread with fresh apple butter on top for an autumn dessert to die for.
12 to 14 apples
2 cups apple juice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Wash, core and quarter apples (do not peel).
Combine apples and apple juice in lightly oiled Crock pot.
Cover and cook on Low setting for 10-18 hours (or on High setting for 2-4 hours).
When fruit is tender, put through a food mill to remove peel. Measure cooked fruit and return to Crockpot. For each pint of sieved cooked fruit, add sugar, cinnamon, allspice and loves; stir well. Cover and cook on High setting for 6-8 hours, stirring every 2 hours. Remove cover after 3 hours to allow fruit and juice to cook down.
You can can the apple butter by spooning into hot sterilized jars and processing according to standard cooking methods. I chose to refrigerate and share with family for immediate (and I do mean immediate consumption). It’s too wonderful to last long!