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Red Wine Sangria

I’m not a huge cocktail girl. Take me to the Caribbean and places where fresh pineapple and coconut trees grow and I could sip my weight in fruity drinks. But around here, they’re often just too sweet for me to crave more than a sip or two, fresh mint mojitos excluded.

However, I’ve always been a fan of sangria, especially the red variety when it’s not on the overly sugary side. I love the summery feel of cold red wine, the only time I typically drink it chilled, and I especially love the wine-drunken fruit. The drink also just speaks of fun and immediately draws memories of leisure, so it’s always nice to serve at friendly gatherings.

I won’t claim I’m a sangria expert, but I recently made this fairly simple version and it was a hit among all of my house guests that evening. I stuck with the classics – apples, oranges, limes – but feel free to experiment with adding any seasonal fruit. I really doubt you could go too wrong by throwing in some fresh berries to the mix. That thought alone leads me dreaming up a peach sangria. Looks like I might have to switch back from the dark side. Peach raspberry white wine sangria? Yes please. Though I won’t forget this recipe too.

Click here for recipe…

Sauteed Collard Greens with Red Wine Raisin Sauce

I feel like greens are always in season.  Undoubtedly they’re best in the early spring and fall, while they’re young, tender, and holding the mildest flavor they’ll ever carry.  But the greens in my garden continue to thrive from spring all the way through the early weeks of winter.  That’s one heck of a season!  It also means a lot of greens are going into my body, as they should be in yours too because they’re one of the most nutrient rich foods around.

I won’t get into the details of all the vitamins that various varieties of greens encompass (because there’s a lot).  We all know veggies are healthy, but greens repeatedly win the gold medals of the talent show taking place among the veggie kingdom.  That’s all you really need to know.  As Michael Pollan would say, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Plants as in tons of fresh, whole veggies like greens(!) not french fries.)

While greens are easily allstars, here comes the challenge:  Giving them the VIG (Very Important Grub) status they deserve in your diet.  Eating greens nearly year around can get boring, as what would happen with practically every food item eaten frequently, well, except peanut butter.

There are two key concepts that I’ve found when it comes to ensuring that greens stay VIG’s all year around.  One is to wash up the leaves right up when you get the home from the store or harvest them from the garden.  That way you can’t use laziness as an excuse not to eat the leafy veggies when lunch or dinner (or even breakfast) rolls around.  Next comes the cooking creativity part of the equation.  To keep the greens continuously desirable, you’ve got to continuously find new ways to put them to use.  I grew up eating TONS of freshly steamed kale with a little oil and vinegar drizzled on top.  So at this stage in my life, I crave something a little different than the plain old steam.  But that doesn’t mean I stray away from simplicity.  Keeping greens consistently in my diet certainly doesn’t include daily complex recipes that I don’t have the time or energy for.

Instead, it includes recipes like the one below.  Simple sautes are perfect, allowing you to swap out ingredients you have on hand as you please.  For this one, I used a little left over red wine I had hanging around, along with a sweet kick of raisins and full-flavored handful of toasted pine nuts to complete the dish.  It’s a dish I continue to return to, even as I look for new ways to freshen up my green repertoire to keep them top VIG’s in my diet. Click here for recipe…