recipe

apple cider sangria recipe.

how to make an easy apple cider sangria. perfect for holiday parties.

we are now smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and you know what that means. lots of parties, lots of hosting, lots of friends and family, and lots of need for fun drink recipes. this apple cider sangria recipe is a great addition to any party, because you can make a lot at once, and it’s incredibly easy to throw together ahead of time. in fact, i suggest you make it ahead of time.

[in related news, i did my first periscope the other day! it was simultaneously amazing/fun/terrifying/weird/wonderful. thank you to everyone who was able to join in or watch the replay. this is the recipe that i showed how to make, and there were some requests to put it on the blog for easy access. i aim to please, so here it is!]

apple cider sangria is a great variation on traditional sangria. it’s a fun twist on the classic drink, with just enough seasonal flavor to make it fun, but not enough to make it a pain to make. sangria should be made at least an hour ahead of time, the more time the flavors have to mix and marinate, the better. i’m including a full list of ingredients for you, but i do note the optional ingredients, as sangria should really be made according to your personal tastes. don’t like sugar? don’t add any. like a lot of fruity flavor? add more cider. half the fun is tweaking the recipe to suit your audience. (which hopefully is a large group of friends and family, but if it’s just you, that’s cool too. i won’t tell.)

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apple cider sangria (makes one pitcher, can be easily adjusted to make more)

  • half an apple, chopped
  • half an orange, sliced
  • 1/2 C. pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (you can also use 1/2 tsp. cinnamon spice if you don’t have any cinnamon sticks.)
  • 1 bottle of cheap red wine
  • 2-3 C. apple cider
  • 1/4 C. brandy (optional. you can also use apple liqueur, apple brandy, bourbon, whiskey or nothing. this just adds more layers to the flavor in the sangria.)
  • 1/4 C. sugar (optional. you can also use a sweet pomegranate juice or something similar to add more sweetness.)

add the fruit and cinnamon sticks to a large pitcher. pour the wine, cider and brandy into the pitcher. if you’re adding sugar, stir in at the end. taste the mix (but not too much!) and adjust flavors accordingly. let sit in the fridge until serving.  you can make this in advance, as early as the night before, but the morning before serving is ideal. salud!

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grandpa’s shrimp + corn chowder.

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i made this soup during nap time on a good soup day. never mind that for the next week the temperature jumped into the seventies and eighties, and we regretted turning on the heat too early (why is it always too early?? we can never get it right!). for this day, it was a good soup day. and because this is the tundra, there are many good soup days to come…about six months of good soup days. related: why does no one ever want to come visit us here in minnesota?

shrimp chowder

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if you look closely, you might notice something funny about this recipe…do you see it?

there is no shrimp in the ingredients list.

it tells you to add shrimp in the recipe directions, but it doesn’t tell you what kind or how much to add! this is why i love family recipes. when there is a typo, or the directions aren’t clear enough, i get to make up my own part of the recipe, and in that way, the recipe becomes mine. i made a couple variations on this recipe, so make sure you read the directions closely if you make it. (i definitely added shrimp, i went the easy route and used frozen, but you can be fancy and use raw shrimp. just make sure it’s cooked before you add it)

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i’ve been more nervous lately when i make these soups. at first i didn’t know why, but after this one, i realized what it was. now i’m cooking for my daughter, and even though i know that the opinion of a one year old shouldn’t hold that much weight, it does! i find myself holding my breath as she tastes my cooking, especially these special recipes that have been passed down. every time she likes them, i feel a sense of relief and happiness flood over me, like i’ve made my grandpa proud. i’m passing down his love of cooking and family to her, and even though she’s tiny, she makes me feel like i’m doing it right.

make this soup for a big group of people when you want a great, homestyle meal without all the work. most of the ingredients are canned, so the prep is really easy, but the outcome is very impressive. sunday dinners would be a great place to try this one out. i’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, i’m just saying.

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shrimp and corn chowder (makes a smaller batch, enough to serve 4-6. i’d double if you want to freeze any.)

  • 1/2 C. celery, chopped
  • 1/3 C. onions, chopped
  • 1 (2 oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (i don’t think that cream of shrimp soup exists anymore)
  • 1 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 can corn, drained (the recipe calls for corn with peppers, which i don’t think they make anymore. i cut up half a green pepper and used a small can of green chilies instead, and it was delicious)
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 (4 oz.) can green chilies
  • 1/2 lb. frozen cooked shrimp, dethawed and detailed
  • 1 C. potatoes, cooked and diced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, but highly recommended)

in a medium saucepan, saute celery, onions and mushrooms in the butter until tender, but still crispy. stir in soup and milk. mix well. add corn, green peppers/chilies, shrimp, potato, salt and pepper (cayenne optional). heat until hot and serve. i recommend serving with a hearty bread. we used cheddar and bacon bread from a local bakery here in st. paul, great harvest bakery. yum!

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grandpa’s hungarian mushroom soup.

oh man. grandpa, this is a good one. this is a keeper recipe if i ever saw one.

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i made this soup on one of our first truly cold fall days this year. the kind of day that is chilly in the shade but warm in the sun. the kind of day you can wear boots without your feet sweating. the kind of day where you NEED a hot beverage instead of a cold one. it was a good day.

i made the soup after amelia went to bed (with a pumpkin beer of course), because our playdate went late and dinner was a fancy frozen pizza. it was completely our own fault…we were two hours late to said playdate thanks to an incredibly long and out of character nap. thank goodness for friends who have young daughters and totally get what it’s like to get out of the house while your toddler is in the process of dropping her morning nap but hasn’t quite gotten there yet. margot – you are the best!

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where was i? ah yes, soup making after dark. apart from being just what i needed to feel cozy, the soup put me in a nostalgic mood. i’ve been loving making these soups again. it reminds me what a great tradition of cooking i come from. i get to imagine my grandpa making these soups for his family, and every memory makes me feel closer to him and thankful for this wonderful gift. it makes me happy to be able to share them with you. i hope that you make them and they get to be part of your family’s memories too.

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hungarian mushroom soup (makes a good-sized batch without doubling)

  • 8 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 C. onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 C. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. dill weed
  • 1 Tbsp. hungarian paprika (i used smoked paprika, but i’m sure regular paprika would also work)
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 qt. beef stock
  • 1/4 C. flour
  • 2 C. heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce

in soup kettle over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, and salt in 3 Tbsp. butter until onion turns translucent – about 5 minutes. stir in mushrooms, dill weed, paprika, and white pepper. add 2/3 of the beef stock. cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes.

in another saucepan, melt remaining 5 Tbsp. butter over low heat. whisk in flour and cook until smooth, stirring constantly – about 1 minute. add cream and continue to cook over low heat, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. add cream mixture and remaining beef stock to the mushroom mixture. stir in sour cream, lemon juice, and soy sauce. heat through and serve, preferably with some crusty french bread and cheese.

note from grandpa: “while we had our cabin on hay lake in pequot lakes, Minnesota, we often went to a restaurant called ‘sibley station’ specifically to have this soup, it was that good! before it closed, the owner shared the recipe with us.”

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watermelon bourbon cocktail

hah, two recipe posts in a week. at least one has booze in it? i promise saturday’s post does not have anything to do with recipes (but it is a good one). 

as if you haven’t heard me say this enough, one of my favorite things to do on a friday night in is to make up new cocktail combinations. i love looking in the fridge to see what i have to work with and seeing what fun recipes i can think up. there’s a fun challenge in earning my drink, you know what i mean? there are quite a few tries that end with a drink down the drain, but i love sharing the ones that work out!

this is one of those cocktails that, the second i finished making it, knew it would be a hit. it’s also one of those cocktails that was so good that i only took one photo of it, because if i waited too long, it’d be watery and not as fruity and warm and smooth.

something about the wintery bourbon and the summery watermelon makes this a perfect transition cocktail as the fall gets into full swing. i hope beyond hope that you can still find some fresh watermelon, but frozen will do just as nicely, as will any other watery fruit (pear? peach?).

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watermelon bourbon cocktail recipe (makes 2)

  • ice
  • 1 cup fresh watermelon cubes (thawed frozen will work too)
  • 1 large lime wedge
  • 1-2 tsp. honey
  • 2 oz. of your favorite bourbon
  • club soda (optional)

in a shaker, add the watermelon cubes, the juice from the lime wedge, and the honey. muddle together until they make a juice. add the bourbon and ice to the shaker. shake vigorously to mix together and chill. strain mixture out into a glass filled with ice. if you’d like some bubbles in your cocktail, leave some room and add a little club soda. finish off with a pretty straw and you’re set.

note: a standard american shot glass is 1.5 oz., so use a little over one shot for every 2 oz. the recipe calls for.

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jalapeño tomato mozzarella chicken bake.

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i made this recipe up the other day when i hadn’t gone grocery shopping and just knew that i had chicken in the freezer that i could defrost. back in the day i would have just popped a giant bowl of popcorn and cracked a bottle of wine and called it a day, but i have another human being to feed now who can’t even eat popcorn OR drink wine, so i had to cook.

i kind of like being forced to always have a real dinner, it does wonders for my self-esteem and my nutrition. and it helps me get a little creative in the kitchen too. we tend to get in a little bit of a rut, especially in the summer when you don’t want to cook anything. which is a damn shame because our precious tomatoes and peppers shouldn’t have to give their lives for boring meals. i’m not saying that this meal is revolutionary, but it makes me feel all rachael ray-like, whipping a meal up out of nothing but my brains and basic knowledge of how to work an oven. plus, something about cooking like this for my family is like giving them a big hug and saying i love you, but with baked chicken. that’s weird, right? oh well, it’s how i feel.

this recipe can be adjusted to accommodate whatever you have in your house, it’s kind of a garbage pail recipe if you will. you could replace the salsa verde with pesto, or with regular salsa. you could omit the jalapeños and add bell peppers or zucchini. use whatever product you have languishing in your fridge or on your counter and get creative.

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jalapeño tomato mozzarella chicken bake 

  • 3 whole chicken breasts
  • 1-2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 3/4 C. salsa verde, more to taste depending on the size of your chicken
  • 1 small jalapeño, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 C. shredded cheese (i used mozzarella but this would be great with most types)
  • garlic salt to taste

preheat oven to 400 F and line a square baking dish with tinfoil. lay the chicken on the baking dish, and spread each with an equal amount of mayonnaise. pour salsa verde over the chicken. lay jalapeño slices on top of each chicken breast, followed by tomato slices. top the whole thing with shredded cheese and garlic salt (if desired). bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. serve with rice or quinoa and some veggies for a quick weeknight meal!

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