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Easy and Inexpensive Sangria

During the hot summer months, you’ll be hard put to find a beverage more refreshing than Sangria. A few weeks ago I made a batch using an inexpensive red wine and it has become so popular around our household, I have been keeping a pitcher in the refrigerator ever since.


I think you will like this recipe too because it is quick and easy as well as light on the pocketbook. Try it and let me know what you think.


2 Liter Paisano
1/2 c Sugar

1 Liter Ginger Ale

1 Lime
1 Lemon
1 Orange
1 Apple

Sangria Ingredients

Pour Paisano (or any red wine) into a pitcher and stir in sugar*. Add Ginger Ale and stir gently.

Slice fruit very thinly** and add (all except the apple core) to the liquid.

Stir and chill thoroughly.

Enjoy! It’s that easy.

* I discovered it is better to add the sugar before mixing in the Ginger Ale because if you add the Ginger Ale first and then the sugar, the mixture will bubble up and make a mess all over your counter.

** For slicing I use a Mandolin. I really like using the one I have made by OXO which allows many options for slicing, dicing, and julienne with an easily adjustable setting for thickness.

OXO Mandolin

Recipe Review – Star Anise Cookies in “The Illustrated Cook’s Book of Ingredients.”

I have long been fascinated with the spice called “Star Anise.” It is used primarily in Asian cuisine but also in Malay, Indian, Pakistani, and Vietnamese. It is a recent newcomer to the West with a flavor like that of Anise, although they are unrelated plants.

Star Anise

Recently having purchased some Star Anise I have been looking for a dish I could use it in. Today, while browsing through a new book, I was reading the section about Star Anise and it had a recipe for cookies made with this spice. The recipe is simple and so I could not resist.

Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

The recipe is from the book “The Illustrated Cook’s Book of Ingredients” which was given to me as a gift.

I liked the results and so am sharing them with you here. Two things however, I will change with the next batch I make will be to reduce the baking temperature to 350 degrees because the cookies baked a little bit too much even with checking and rotating at 5 minutes and taking them out at 10.  I will also increase the amount of Star Anise in the dish because I find this amount providing too subtle a flavor. I would like to taste more of the Star Anise flavoring in the cookie.

Here is the recipe:


8 Star Anise Seeds

1 c Self Rising Flour*
1 t Baking Powder
1/4 c Brown Sugar

4 T Honey
7 T Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Star Anise ready for grinding

Remove seeds from pods and finely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Star Anise seeds

Combine flour, baking powder, and brown sugar with ground Star Anise seeds. Stir in the honey and then the butter. Mix well until smooth.

Lightly grease a baking sheet (or two) or line with parchment paper. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet, lightly pressing with your hand keeping 2 inches between to allow for spreading.

Star Anise Cookies ready for baking

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden. The cookies may still be a little soft when they come out of the oven, but will become crisper as they cool.

Star Anise Cookies

These are good served with a glass of dessert wine.

* I did not have self-rising flour on hand so I substituted with 1 c flour, 1 1/2 t Baking Powder, and 1/2 t Salt.

Mexican Four Bean Salad

If you love TexMex style dishes, you will love my spin on three bean salad. This dish is not only delicious, but beautiful. It has many layers of flavors and will be a refreshing addition to any meal from South of the border.

Mexican Four Bean Salad


1 lb Black beans * (or one 15 oz can rinsed and drained)
1 lb Pinto beans * (or one 15 oz can rinsed and drained)
1 lb Green beans ** (or one 15 oz can rinsed and drained)
1 lb White beans * (or one 15 oz can rinsed and drained)
1 lb Corn, whole (grilled then cut from cob, or a one pound package frozen – thawed)
3 Green onions, sliced
½ c Cilantro, chopped

1 lb Cotija cheese

2 Jalapenos, seeded, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, sliced thinly
½ c Olive oil
½ c Lime juice
6 T Sugar
1 ½ t Salt
1 T Pepper
1 T Cumin
1 t Chili powder
½ t Red pepper flakes

In a large bowl, mix together beans, corn, green onions and cilantro.

In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, lime juice and the remainder of the ingredients listed.

Make the marinade and mix the vegetables (but not the cheese) and place in separate containers in the refrigerator one day in advance.

The night before the meal, toss the vegetables with the marinade. Cut Cotija cheese into small cubes, and toss gently with marinated vegetables. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


* Final weight after cooked, drained, and cooled. This requires about 6.5 ounces of dried beans per recipe.

** To prepare green beans trim off stem end, cut into 1” sections, drop into boiling water for five minutes, drain and place in bowl of ice water for five minutes, then drain.