Pear Spiced Sangria

After moving to the cities in August, there is now enough distance between my family and me that it's easier to board a plane than drive a car to cut across it. With my loved ones no longer so near, I appreciate the time we have together on a different level. It was easy to take our time together before the move for granted, this realization only coming into focus now that the situation had changed. I fly out soon for the Thanksgiving holiday, ready to put aside my day-to-day stresses to concentrate on what really mattersβ€”the people I am most grateful for this time (and every time) of year.

We may have hundreds of miles between us, but my family will always be my home.

I enjoy the hunt of finding a seasonal drink that friends and family can share during holiday get-togethers. Pears are a favorite autumn fruit. Even though the profile is subtle, the tender white fruit brings a unique sweetness and aroma. The challenge was to pull out this character and find a way to allow it to shine. Since the flavor of the fruit mimics the quality of a fine wine, it seemed natural to pair them. Balanced with cinnamon and the deep vanilla tones of brandy, this sangria brings the spices of the holidays together.

In preparation, allow the sangria to rest overnight before servingβ€”it needs time for the flavors to merge and develop.

Pear Spiced Sangria brings together the holiday flavors in this drink to share. Dry white wine, brandy, and pear juice are stirred together to form the base. Sliced pears and cinnamon sticks, when stewed overnight, add an extra touch of flavor and spice. The drink can be served with or without the fruit, but company is always welcome. 

One Year Ago: Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Three Years Ago: Maple Roasted Chickpeas, Gingerbread Muffins, and Persimmon Cake
Four Years Ago: Cranberry White Chocolate Tarts, Pumpkin Granola Bars, and Banana Cocoa Smoothie
Five Years Ago: S'mores CupcakesChocolate Espresso Pots de Creme, and Sugar Coated Daydreams

Pear Spiced Sangria

Yields 6-8 servings

1 bottle (750 mL) dry white wine*
1/2 cup (120 mL) brandy
1 1/2 cups (350 mL) pear juice
2 firm, ripe bosc pears, thinly sliced**
2 cinnamon sticks

In an airtight container, stir together the wine, brandy, and pear juice. Add the sliced pears and cinnamon sticks. Allow to rest overnight (12-18 hours) in the refrigerator.

Remove fruit and cinnamon sticks by running mixture through a fine mesh strainer. To serve, add a few pear slices to each glass (optional).

*For the wine, I used Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. I recommend using a dry wine instead of a sweet wine (like a moscato). The  pear juice adds a significant amount of sweetness and using a dry wine prevents the sangria from becoming too sweet.

**I recommend bosc pears because they have a firmer texture which holds up better in the drink. Bartlett pears have a tendency to disintegrate in the liquid. I sliced the pears using a mandolin on a thick setting.

Iced Matcha Coconut Latte

When I moved to Montreal for graduate school shortly after starting this blog, I eased into life there slowly. My program would last two years; there was no rush to see (and eat) everything the city had to offer. I had plenty of time to explore. I stayed close to home, visiting the markets and bakeries lining my walk to the metro station, venturing further only when invited by friends. 

When I quit graduate school a few short months later, I scrambled. With a couple weeks left before flying back home, there was not enough time to check everything off the to-do list I had carefully curated. The plates went uneaten. The sights unseen.

I called Montreal my home, but I had missed out on many of the things that made Montreal so unique. As I boarded the plane, I vowed that I would never do this to myself again, whenever and wherever I should move in the future.

Three weeks into my move to the big city, I find myself in the same pattern as in Montreal, a pattern I promised myself I would never fall into again. I unconsciously created a bubble for myself, extending five miles in every direction, where I walk through the mundane activities of everyday life. My mother keeps asking me if I have gone exploring, visited a museum, walked through a park.

Not yet, I reply. I have plenty of time

On my short drive to the gym this morning, I listened to a segment on the radio about exploring the city you live in as a visitor instead of a resident. Instead of dismissing certain restaurants or neighborhoods as places you can visit any time, it is important to extend the limits of your backyard by making it a point to venture out of that familiar comfort zone. 

I moved to the city for the diversity and variety. It is time to leave the bubble and embrace it. 

Matcha is an ingredient I have known about for a long time, but never took the time to fully explore. Unlike most tea leaves, matcha is created when the entire green tea leaf is crushed into a fine powder, giving it an intense green tea flavor. It can be used for flavoring in baking, but traditionally it is used to make tea. I may have taken a less traditional route by using the powder to whip up an iced latte, but after looking longingly at my empty glass, I can assure you it was an excellent decision.

Although I have professed myself as an avid black tea fan in the past, I may have to make a little more room in my cupboard for the green.

Iced Matcha Coconut Latte is a treat for the eyes and the tongue. Matcha powder is blended into almond milk, with maple syrup for sweetness, and layered into a glass with thick coconut milk. The matcha and coconut complement each other well, making this latte as distinctive in flavor as it is beautiful.

Matcha should be a vibrant, bright green color when purchasing. Over time, the color will fade into a dark mossy shade. Use within 6-12 months for best results. Matcha can be found in tea shops, some health food stores, and online.

One Year Ago: Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies 
Two Years Ago: Blueberry Braided Bread and Date Flapjacks
Three Years Ago: Maple Roasted Peaches and Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
Four Years Ago: Malted Chocolate Cupcakes, Coconut Pancakes, and Rocky Road Cookies
Five Years Ago: Chocolate Prune Cake

Iced Matcha Coconut Latte

Yields 2 servings (or 1 large)

1/2 cup (120 mL) almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 1/2 teaspoons matcha powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Large handful of ice
1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk*

Place all ingredients except the coconut milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide matcha mixture evenly between two glasses. Pour the coconut milk over the matcha, dividing evenly between glasses. Stir before drinking.

* Full-fat (canned) coconut milk is my personal preference because it is so creamy, but light coconut milk will work as well. Avoid coconut milk from a carton (the milk is too thin to layer).

Mango Margarita

Mango Margarita

Mango Margarita

It was a rainy day, the type where the clouds are heavy and full and the sun stays hidden. I adore when these days come around, Mother Nature's excuse to spend the day relaxed and indoors. Though I don't need to find a reason to bake, these long, gloomy days make it feel just right. The oven never runs the apartment too hot and freshly made cookies and cakes taste just a little bit sweeter.

These days come as a surprise, a small reminder in a busy world to slow down and embrace the calm of a quiet day.

Mango Margarita Mango Margarita Mango Margarita

Last weekend was the start of summer break. To celebrate, a round of drinks was in order. I have made it no secret that margaritas are my cocktail of choice and that statement still stands today. In the past, I have played around with winter flavors, but this occasion called for something a bit brighter. With mangoes on sale at the market, it became an easy decision. After whipping up a couple in the blender, my boyfriend and I toasted each other for the coming months.

For sun, for hot afternoons, for cool evenings, for friends and family.

Mango Margarita

Mango Margaritas are a refreshing drink for warm summer nights. A traditional margarita is infused with the puree of fresh, ripe mango. With a squeeze of lime and a shot of triple sec, the fruity drink becomes lip-smacking tart. Though I found two teaspoons of sugar to be just right for me, you could add more or less to your own tastes. Serve on the rocks or blended to suit your own tastes.

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