Sicilian Sangria

June 12, 2009
Sicilian Sangria

Sicilian Sangria

My next adventure into sangrias also comes from Kim Haasarud’s 101 Sangrias and Pitcher Drinks.  We were having pasta so I decided to try the Sicilian Sangria.  The recipe from Haasarud calls for orange curaçao, but my trustee wine advisor at the Winery says that triple sec is a good substitute.  For the wine, he recommended Citra’s 2005 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo which was a decent $10 wine.
We liked this one better than the New Zealand Kiwi Sangria but it the flavor didn’t hold up over time as well.   Although the oranges tasted really good a couple days later.

1 bottle of Italian Red Wine
1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. triple sec or orange curaçao
1/4 c. simple syrup (boil 1 c. water with 1 c. sugar together – don’t stir)
Wedges of 2 oranges
Wedges of 1 peach
1 lime, sliced

Add club soda just before drinking to taste.


New Zealand Kiwi Sangria

June 10, 2009

IMG_3118Sometimes the public library knows more than you do about what you need.  The spring was a rough one and I’ve been trying to rejuvenate ever since it ended.  What should I find on display at my local public library branch a couple weeks ago?  Kim Haasarud’s 101 Sangrias and Pitcher Drinks.  Immediately, I began to remember one of my favorite vacations.  It was in Portugal and the first night we had the best sangria.  So in honor of that fantastic week in Portugal, I decided to search out the best sangria recipes.

I started with Haasarud’s New Zealand Kiwi Sangria.  I know, I know.  I should start with a Portuguese sangria, but I’m a big fan of New Zealand sauvignon blancs.  I used Spinyback’s 2006 Sauvignon Blanc.  We loved this sangria.  The danger is that it tastes so nice that you could easily overindulge.  Crisp, sweet and very refreshing with a bright, appealing kiwi green color.

1 bottle New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 c. Midori Melon liqueur
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. simple syrup (boil 1 c. water and 1 c. sugar together without stirring)
6 kiwis (peel and slice)
1 c. crushed pineapple
Club soda

Mix everything but the club soda.  Cover and put in the frig for at least 4 hours.

We tried it straight first and found it very sweet.  So add the club soda to taste.

The Great Shake Experiment Part Deux

April 19, 2009

sour-cherry-shakeNot to be deterred from my failed first shake with no ice cream experiment, I persevere.  The consistency was right on target so I’m keeping the frozen bananas.  The carob was too strong so I’m switching to fruit.  Drat!  I was really looking forward to inventing the next great carob something-or-other.

Fortunately, I have some great frozen cherries (courtesy of my mom – Thanks Mom!).  Unfortunately, we ran out of honey so I turned to raw sugar.  Truth be told I’ve been wanting to play with the raw sugar since Kent brought it home.  This was just the opportunity I’d been looking for–don’t tell Kent.

Experiment 2

Cherry Banana Shake
Take One


2 frozen bananas
1 c. frozen sour cherries
1 c. nonfat dry milk
3 T raw sugar
3/4 c ice water
1/2 t vanilla

Pros:  Great consistency again.  Color was okay.  Not great.  Pink but not a bright pink.  Very filling – one glass filled me up.

Cons:  Very very rich.  Too rich for Kent.  He added skim milk to tone it down.  I drank my straight.

Discussions:  Okay, okay, maybe it’s time to reduce the dry milk.  I don’t want to add more water because that might mess with the consistency which is the only thing these shakes have had right.

Trial Take

Okay, okay.  I guess it’s time to cut the amount of nonfat dry milk.  And the sweetener.


2 frozen bananas
1 c. frozen sour cherries
2/3 c. dry milk
1/2 t vanilla
3/4 c. ice water

Pros:  The good consistency is holding.  Color is much much better.  The sour cherry flavor is stronger and more flavoricious. There is a difference of opinion about the richness.  My sister and I agree that the richness level was good.  It was still a bit much for Kent who added skim milk to it.

Cons:  Grainy.  It’s been grainy all along but I was wanting this to be a simple “just put everything in and blend” kind of thing.  Looks like I’ll need to premix the nonfat milk and water.

Next time:  Fix the graininess.  And do I dare combine the two experiments?  A Cherry Carob Banana Extravaganza?!?!

The Great Shake Experiment

April 9, 2009

pineapple-banana-shakeWhen I was a kid, I dreamed of getting into my mother’s cupboard and conducting experiments with spices and herbs and sugar and flours.  So this week when the first recipe below was so disappointing, I decided it was time to become the food scientist I dreamed of being as a child.

First, let me tell you about my muse, The American Cancer Society’s  Healthy Eating Cookbook. I’ve tried a couple of recipes from this book that I checked out from the library and so far none have really impressed me.  But I acquired some unhealthy nutrition habits over the winter, so finding healthy recipes is part of my plan to get back on track.  When I saw that the ingredients for “Pineapple Banana Shake” did not include ice cream, but used nonfat dry milk, I did a double-take but decided to give it a try.

Basically, you combine the ingredients below, adding the ice cubes slowly through the blending process.

1 c. pineapple chunks
1 banana sliced
1 T. lemon juice
2/3 c. dry milk
1 c. ice water
1/4 t. vanilla
8 ice cubes

This shake smelled great and I couldn’t wait to taste it.  But the flavor was weak and the consistency was thin.  More like a smoothie than a shake.  If I ever try this again, I’ll leave out the 8 ice cubes and reduce the water.  The shake did get me thinking though – could you really make a shake without ice cream?

Banana Carob Shake

Banana Carob Shake

Experiment #1 – Banana Carob Shake

I decided that bananas would be useful for the consistency.  And I tried carob because I’m always looking for a good way to use carob (the reason why is another post).


2 frozen bananas
1 c. dry milk
3/4 c. ice water
1 T honey
1/2 t vanilla
1 T carob powder

Positive results:  The consistency of this concoction was very close to a shake.  The color was perfectly chocolatly.

Cons:  The flavor was strong.  Probably too much carob.

Discussion:  A little carob goes a long way.

Next steps:  What about cherries?

Sweet Sunday Smoothies

February 20, 2009


One of my favorite Sunday morning treats is a smoothie. It doesn’t take long to whip to them up and you can use a variety of fruits so it’s likely that you always have the ingredients on hand.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I usually keep a few bananas frozen in the freezer for baking purposes. But they’re also handy to keep around for smoothies. I think of the banana as the foundation of my smoothies. The basic recipe is

  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate (you can use a fresh orange but it doesn’t come with as much flavor)
  • 1 cup fat free milk or vanilla soy milk (we often use half a cup milk and half a cup soy)
  • 1 cup other fruit (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, etc.)

Put them in the blender and let ‘er rip.

Most fruits will work although I don’t recommend kiwi. I had high hopes for kiwis since their flavor often reminds me of strawberries. But the banana-kiwi-orange results were very disappointing.

Kent likes to add honey to the mixture, but I think Mother Nature loaded the fruit with enough sugar that we don’t need to contribute more. Although, I have to admit that Kent makes a mighty fine smoothie.