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 mattersโ€”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 servingโ€”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.

Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta

Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta

Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta

In many aspects of my life, I am a sipper. I hold a wine glass filled with hopes, dreams, thoughtfulness, silliness, adventure, and loveโ€”the components that make a life whole. I drink from my glass slowly, appreciating each mouthful, taking a sip only when I can feel the energy draining from my spirit. I am frugal with my glass of wine; so eager to savor my glass, to keep it full, I would rather swirl the liquid around the cup and look at my potential than experience what is inside. I want to take a sip, to drink the glass, to down a bottle, but fear whispers in my ear and I set my glass down on the table.

Sometimes I forget that when the bottle of life runs dry, it is okay to pop the cork on another one.

Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta

I have been doing a lot of slow sipping lately, taking in just enough of life to keep myself from feeling bogged down. I may be content, but I am not always satisfied, the routine of daily life trumping adventure and new experiences. I have a tendency to get caught up in work and responsibilities, turning my weekends into just another weekday. While I realize I cannot always drink a full glass of life, I seem to forget that I can still take a few mouthfuls. It is a work in progress for me.

I am learning how to adjust, to remind myself it is okay to take a little break every now and then, to drink the glass instead of admiring the liquid swirling around in the light.

Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta

When I am not drinking life out of wine glasses, I like to enjoy eating desserts out of them. The ability to layer and present a dessert in a new and interesting way appeals to me, especially when serving them to someone special. These Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cottas were originally an idea at the tail end of December, but I envisioned them as a dessert for Valentine's Day. The vanilla panna cotta contrasted against the pinks and reds of the pomegranate seeds seem like a colorful match. With a little white wine, these desserts make it hard to go wrong.

These desserts can be made a day ahead of time, so if you are planning a fancy evening or a dinner party, you can cross off the desserts well ahead of time.

Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta

Pomegranate White Wine Panna Cotta is a flirtatious little dessert. A rich vanilla panna cotta is topped with a white wine reduction and a handful of pomegranate seeds. The pomegranate seeds add a crunch to an ordinarily smooth dessert. For a smoother texture, you could certainly substitute the pomegranate seeds for raspberries or softened strawberries. This is a sweet dessert to share with a dear friend or special someone.

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Cranberry White Wine Spritzer

Cranberry White Wine Spritzer

cranberry white wine spritzer

I don't always take my food photographs in traditional locations. Sure, I have plenty of photos taken in the kitchen or dining room, but I have just as many taken elsewhere. My motto is to follow the lightโ€”when the light isn't in the kitchen, I pack up my equipment and move. I've taken photos on the laundry room floor, the ledge of a floor heater, and many more on top of the dryer... No place is safe from my camera lens.

This spritzer posed a unique challenge. Light flooded every room in the house which left me with many options. I initially set up for the photo shoot on the dining room table. Napkins and garnishes covered the table to offset the drink, but the photos were dull and uninspiring. I moved to the side table in the living room. The window curtains were reflecting in the glass. I moved to the bedroom. It was even worse. After moving to four separate locations, I was ready to throw in the towel (or napkin, as it may be).

But then I was hit with an idea. A wonderful, awful idea.

Barefoot in the snow on the deck, I snapped these photos. And it worked.

I love it when it works.

cranberry white wine spritzer

This cranberry white wine spritzer is bubbly, fizzy, and just plain good. The cranberry syrup is tart and tangy but, when combined with the wine and the soda, the whole mixture become light and sweet. This cocktail is perfect for dinner parties, sharing with friends, or when you simply want a little pick-me-up at the end of the day.

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