Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine

Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Kenwood Vineyards. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

The countdown is officially on. T-minus 7 days til it’s turkey time people! And I don’t know about you, but I’ve already been dreaming up all of the goodness that I will be stuffing my face with. I mean, how could I not?! It’s the ultimate foodie day. Believe it or not, though, it’s not just the food that I want to gobble up this time of year. I also gobble up the chance to slow down and spend time with family and friends, or the opportunity to host holiday gatherings, and participate in holiday activities. To me, the holidays are more than just food. They are like warm, fuzzy blankets thick with memories, traditions, scents, and stories and I look forward to when I can wrap myself up in them every year, making them thicker with new memories and traditions each season. Mulled wine isn’t a holiday family tradition, per se, but the aromas that arise while making it are a part of my holiday “blanket”. It’s basically like liquid gingerbread, or, as some people say, Christmas in a cup. For me, the scents bring back memories of my Grandfather making his special turkey stuffing, or helping my Grandmother cook, or the first Thanksgiving where Mr. RC’s family and mine met for the first time. Wine and wonderful aromas were involved in all of those memories, memories which have now come full circle to me making mulled wine for the hubby and I to enjoy while we take in the holiday times. Fun and memories aside, remembering to give thanks and give back is always a crucial part of our holiday season, as well. It can be easy to take for granted the family we have by our side, the food we have on our tables, the roof over our heads, and the clothes keeping us warm. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or not, Mr. RC and I always make an effort to tell each other the things we are grateful for. I also keep a gratitude journal to write down three things I’m grateful for each day. And volunteering to those less fortunate has always been, and still is, a big part of my life. When I heard about Kenwood Vineyards, the wine I used in today’s mulled wine recipe, I was intrigued, not only because we’re wine fanatics, but also because of their partnership with WhyHunger. Wine + a good cause? I’m all ears! WhyHunger is a leader in the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to healthy, affordable food and also through grassroots solutions for self-reliance and community empowerment. Kenwood Vineyards, a winery located in the heart of the Sonoma Valley, is dedicated to making premium wines that truly represent the Sonoma’s world-renown vineyards. They source grapes from dozens of vineyards, many farmed sustainably, and their wine is made  in a “small lot” or “cuvee” style, meaning each lot from each vineyard is kept separate the entire process to allow the wines to reach their fullest flavor potential. This Thanksgiving, Kenwood Vineyards has partnered with WhyHunger to do their part in ending hunger. Not only are they matching contributions made to the charity, but they will also be donating $25,000. Whether giving back is already a family tradition or not, I suggest mulling up some wine and then mulling (I had to, sorry!) over ways you can get involved. Here are a few ideas to get you started- 

  1. Make a donation to the Kenwood Vineyard/WhyHunger food drive.
  2. Buy an extra turkey for Thanksgiving dinner and donate to a local soup kitchen who will be serving Thanksgiving meals.
  3. Cook an extra turkey on Thanksgiving. Make it into sandwiches, then pass them out to homeless people.
  4. Spend time as a family, either before or after your Thanksgiving dinner, serving dinner at a local soup kitchen.
  5. Invite someone who has no family to dine with you and your family on the holiday.

How do you and your family give thanks and give back during this time of year?

Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine || Runway Chef #holidayrecipes

Easy Crockpot Mulled Wine
Serves 6
A tasty drink with festive aromas ("Christmas in a cup!") that's perfect for warming up during the holiday season
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 bottle (750 ml) of red wine (I used Kenwood Vineyard's Pinot Noir)
  2. 1 cinnamon stick (about 4 inches long)
  3. 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  4. 15 grates of fresh nutmeg
  5. 5 whole cloves
  6. 1 large pinch of dried ginger
  7. 1 large pinch of allspice
  8. 2 grates of black pepper
  9. 1 tablespoon of brandy (see notes)
  10. 2 tablespoons of orange cognac (see notes)
  11. 1 tablespoon of molasses
  12. 4 tablespoons of honey
  13. 1 orange
  14. 1 lemon
  15. 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional; see notes)
  16. Fresh fruit for garnish (optional; see notes)
Instructions
  1. In a large crockpot set on high heat place all the spices. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This step will help the aromas to fully release before any liquids are added.
  2. Next, add in the brandy, cognac, molasses, molasses, and honey. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
  3. Lastly, add in the wine and the citrus fruit. For the orange and lemon, I like to peel them, cut them into sections, then squeeze the juice into the wine mixture, before tossing in the fruit as well as the peels.
  4. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Add in the cranberries (if you are using them, which you definitely should, as they soak up all the spices and wine making one tasty treat at the bottom of your glass!), stir, then turn the heat to low and continue cooking for another 1- 1 1/2 hours. Serve immediately or turn the crockpot setting to "Keep Warm" until you are ready for the wine.
Notes
  1. This is perfect for holiday festivities and parties. Not only does it smell great, but it serves a lot of people, it's easy to throw together and it doesn't require much effort or maintenance. It goes great with appetizers, as well as popcorn for those holiday movie nights.
  2. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for large gatherings.
  3. Leftovers can be stored directly in the crockpot. Just place the lid on and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. This also makes it super easy to reheat.
  4. You can prepare this up to a day in advance. Just start heating it about an hour before you're ready to serve it. If you are planning to serve this at a party or gathering, just make sure to turn the setting back to the "Keep Warm" once the drink is heated through.
  5. For the dried fruit- Feel free to use whatever kind you like, cranberries, apples, apricots, etc are all good.
  6. For the cognac and brandy- Feel free to use only one of them, just make sure to do a full 3 tablespoons of whichever one you choose. You can also omit the brandy and cognac entirely.
  7. To make fruit garnishes, I used a pear, which I sliced into about 1/4 inch thick slices. I then used a mini cookie cutter to gently cut out shapes. You can either drop the fruit shapes directly into the mugs or you can place them on wooden skewers.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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Pumpkin Beer Tasting

Pumpkin Beer Tasting || @runwaychef #beer Happy Halloween! Are you guys doing anything fun to celebrate? Normally I get all into the holiday, but we’ve been on the go so much, that I’ve completely spaced out on the fact that Halloween is happening today. But let’s face it, the older you get the less fun Halloween becomes. I mean, no one is giving out candy to a grown woman (believe me, I tried to pass as a 14 year-old for the sake of candy and for some reason it didn’t work…humph). On the bright side, as an adult you can consume festive alcoholic beverages, hard apple ciders, and pumpkin beers. I rarely drink beer, but I make an exception for pumpkin ales (because you know if it’s got pumpkin in it than I have to consume it). In true testament to just how old we’re getting, the Mr. and I have decided to do a pumpkin beer tasting this year for Halloween (Hi, welcome to the Runway Chef Retirement Community). Who knows, we may even get real crazy and put costumes on. Anyhow, here are the 6 pumpkin beers we’ve tested so far and our thoughts on them. FYI,  we chose to rate our beers by pumpkins, with 6 pumpkins being the best and 1 pumpkin being the worst.

P.S. This beer cheese dip and pretzels are the perfect accompaniment for a beer tasting night or you could always just throw a beer and cheese tasting party.

Pumpkin Beer Tasting || @runwaychef #beer

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Harpoon's UFO Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin

Mrs: Smooth but a bit hoppy, sweeter smell and taste, a bit of a spice flavor, small aftertaste

Mr: Sweet, smooth, hoppy

Overall rating: 5 pumpkins

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Long Trail Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Long Trail Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Dark, smooth flavor, hints of orange and pumpkin

Mr: Dark, bold, bitter, light pumpkin flavor

Overall rating: 3 pumpkins

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Mrs: Light pumpkin smell, dark caramel/coffee hints, deep flavor

Mr: Hint of pumpkin, hoppy, fully body, slight taste of coffee/cocoa/cinnamon

Overall rating: 1 pumpkin (Mrs), 4 pumpkins (Mr)

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Pumpkin Beer Tasting {River Horse Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Hoppy flavor, strong cinnamon scent, smells of spices

Mr: Hoppy, mild pumpkin flavor

Overall: 1 pumpkin (Mrs), 6 pumpkins (Mr)

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {River Horse Pumpkin Beer} || Runway Chef Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Mendocino Seasonal Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Mendocino Seasonal Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Darker flavor, strong smell, touches of citrus, not as much of a pumpkin flavor

Mr: Hoppy, bitter, coffee/cocoa flavor

Overall: 2 pumpkins

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Fruity smell, woodsy taste, a bit sweeter and smoother, pumpkin and spices definitely come out in the taste

Mr: Nutmeg/cinnamon scent, tastes like a light IPA, strong cinnamon and pumpkin flavor

Overall: 4 pumpkins (Mrs), 6 pumpkins (Mr)

Pumpkin Beer Tasting || @runwaychef #beer What is your favorite pumpkin beer? Have you tried any of these?

Iced Coffee 5 Ways

Iced Coffee 5 Ways @runwaychef I used to think I was an iced coffee addict….until I met this girl. This girl is the true definition of an iced coffee addict. She would definitely drink me under the table if the drink of choice was iced coffee. Compared to her, I’m simply an iced coffee drinker, not an addict. But nonetheless, I still love my iced coffee. This past summer I decided to experiment and switch up my daily cold brew in a few new ways. Below are my 5 favorites-

Iced Coffee 5 Ways- Coffee Granita @runwaychef Iced Coffee Granita// Use a ratio of 4 parts cold-brew coffee concentrate to 1 part condensed milk (i.e. to make this batch I used 2 cups of coffee and 1/2 a cup of condensed milk). Whisk together until well combined and there are no clumps of condensed milk left. Pour into a medium-sized baking dish and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Scrape with a fork and serve. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

Iced Coffee 5 Ways- Coffee Granita @runwaychef Iced Coffee 5 Ways- Vietnamese Ice Coffee @runwaychef Vietnamese Iced Coffee// Use a ratio of 1 part condensed milk + 2 parts coffee. Pour condensed milk into the bottom of a glass (I like to use a mason jar) then top with hot coffee. Stir to combine (if you’re using a mason jar put the lid on then shake). Top with ice and serve.

Iced Coffee 5 Ways- Vietnamese Ice Coffee @runwaychef Iced Coffee 5 Ways- coffee & cream ice cubes @runwaychef Coffee & Cream Ice Cubes// Freeze coffee into one ice cube tray then fill another tray with either cream, milk, coconut or almond milk or a mixture of any of those and freeze until set. Add a few to a glass of cold brew. 

Iced Coffee 5 Ways- coffee & cream ice cubes @runwaychef Iced Coffee 5 Ways- coffee over ice cream @runwaychef Coffee Affogato// Add a scoop or two of ice cream to a serving bowl or glass. Top with cold brew coffee.

Iced Coffee 5 Ways- coffee over ice cream @runwaychef Iced Coffee 5 Ways- coffee over ice cream @runwaychef Iced Coffee 5 Ways- Cappuccino Popsicles @runwaychef Cappuccino Popsicles// Layer cream (or a milk mixture) with coffee and freeze. Get the full directions on how to make these here.

Cappuccino Popsicles @runwaychef

Orangeberry Smoothie + Florida OJ Tailgate Party

Orangeberry Smoothie via @runwaychef #breakfast #healthy #fruit I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Florida Department of Citrus. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Growing up, I’d watch everyone in my family start their morning with a glass of orange juice. At the time, pulp wasn’t quite my thing, so my Mom would sneak my OJ (always 100% Florida) to me in the form of a fruit smoothie, and boy am I glad she did. Do you know how much vitamin C is in just one 8-ounce glass of 100% Florida Orange Juice? Let me tell you…it’s a lot, as in ‘more than 100% of your daily value’ a lot. It also counts as one serving of fruit, serves as a good source of folate, thiamin and potassium, and is free of sodium, cholesterol, fat, and, something that is hard to find in most juices today, it is free of added sugar. Obviously I wisened up and now drink loads of OJ (pulp, no pulp, I’ll drink it all), but I still love adding it to my morning smoothies, and even more so, I love cooking with it (one of my favorite things to do is add it it to pork chops with apples and onions). The Florida Department of Citrus is working to help people (like my 5-year-old pulp hating self) to understand just how wonderful, healthy, delicious, and versatile Florida OJ is and I’ve teamed up with them to help them spread the message.

In honor of working with FDOC I wanted to share the recipe for their Orangeberry Smoothie, along with the healthy adjustments I make to it when I’m drinking it as my morning smoothie.

orange juice smoothie via @runwaychef

Orangeberry Smoothie
Serves 1
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Ingredients
  1. 4 ounces Florida orange juice
  2. 1/4 cup fresh Florida strawberries, sliced (I also like using a mix of berries, including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries)
  3. 1 frozen banana
Instructions
  1. In a blender combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve.
Notes
  1. To make this a more decadent treat for dessert add a 1/2 cup of ice cream (or frozen non-dairy product for vegans) in place of the frozen banana, and also add in 1 cup of ice.
Adapted from Florida Orange Juice
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

OJ also makes a splash when added to sauces, salad dressings, and even soups. With tailgating season coming up, there will also be plenty of opportunities for you to sneak some healthy OJ into all those game time apps. And speaking of game time, Florida OJ is throwing a tailgating event in New York City on Tuesday, Aug. 19. Come check it out! Special guest and sports broadcaster Erin Andrews will stop by to share her top tailgating tips. You can find out all the deets and RSVP here. Not going to be in the area? Follow along on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as I share live updates from the event with the hashtags #OJTailgate and #OJSelfie. Also make sure you’re following Florida Orange Juice on Twitter and Facebook for more event fun, OJ facts, and recipe ideas.

I’d love to know, what’s your favorite way to have orange juice?

An Italian in Mexico Cocktail

An Italian in Mexico- a San Pellegrino Cocktail by @runwaychef Today is your lucky day! Why you ask? Well, for starters, it’s Friday, and who isn’t excited about that? Secondly, you’re getting a double dose of me today, because two posts is always better than one. Third, and most importantly, I made you a cocktail recipe, and well, there’s pretty much nothing better than a cocktail on a Friday, am I right or am I right? The best part is that this cocktail was an “off the menu” inspired concoction based on my “off the menu” experience at last week’s S.Pellegrino event. I’ll be sharing all the pictures and details (including how you can win a “Live Off the Menu” experience) from the event in today’s 2nd post (update: now live here). In the mean time, I suggest you mix up one of these refreshing cocktails…..and then mix up another one to drink while you read my second post. Don’t worry….I won’t tell anyone you’re drinking before noon!

P.S. Mr. RC, aka cocktail mixer extraordinaire, gets the credit for concocting this San Pellegrino cocktail along with its clever name!

An Italian in Mexico- a San Pellegrino Cocktail by @runwaychef San Pellegrino Blood Orange An Italian in Mexico- a San Pellegrino Cocktail by @runwaychef

An Italian in Mexico
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ounces of tequila
  2. 1 ounce of Triple-Sec
  3. 1/2 a can of San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa (Blood Orange)
  4. 1 orange peel, twisted
  5. Smoked paprika, cinnamon & chili powder ( about 1/2 tsp. of each; for glass rims)
Instructions
  1. Pour the tequila and Triple-Sec into a shaker of ice and chill for about 5 minutes.
  2. Garnish the rim of a serving glass with the paprika, cinnamon and chili powder mixture.
  3. Pour chilled liquor into the glass. Then top off with the San Pellegrino fruit beverage. Garnish with a twist of orange peel and serve.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/