Ahhmazing Autumn Sangria Recipe

Perfect for fall.  Tasty for your October gatherings.  Nice beverage for your adult Halloween party.  This Autumn Sangria recipe is the perfect combo of not-too-sweet with a little spice.  a-san-drinkI recently served this to my gal pals and they asked for seconds…and thirds.  Everyone commented how unique, refreshing and tasty this particular sangria tasted.  One chef friend of mine exclaimed, “It tastes just like Fall”….true!  If you love Sangria, you will love this.  If you are not a Sangria fan, you may be surprised that you like this one because it is not near as sweet as traditional Sangria. Give it a try.   I am pretty sure it will be a big hit at your autumn gathering!  It was at mine!  Here is the easy recipe that marinates overnight, too.  I think another reason this is so delish is the pumpkin pie spice that is also included in the recipe.  A big thank you to Hob Nob wine for sharing this recipe with me! Hob Nob has their wicked wines available at Total Wine & More now and the Halloween labeling is so cool.  Plus the price is right at only $9.99 a yummy bottle.  Thanks Hob Nob!  mail-wine

Now here is the video recipe preview that I showed on my morning show, with the written recipe instructions appearing below this fun and quick video….

And here is the written recipe below that my gal pals and my morning show team just loved (including the chef on set)! show-set-sang

Autumn Sangria

(15 servings)

  • 2 bottles HobNob Chardonnay
  • 1 cup vanilla vodka
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 apples
  • 2 pears
  • 1 orange


Combine vodka, sugar, apple cider and pumpkin pie spice in a large pitcher and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Chop fruit (apples, pears, orange), add to mix and marinate overnight.  Add chilled Chardonnay. Serve over ice.

So cheers to Fall!  Cheers to Halloween!  And cheers to you, my loyal readers.  Happy Autumn all!

Last Minute Fabulous 4th of July Party Food & Drink Ideas

Manic:  You have been invited to or are hosting a 4th of July celebration and you need something fun and festive to bring…but also something that is easy and simple to prepare.

Managed:  I put together an assortment of ideas for you to quickly choose from.  Some are from awesome social media and some are my own ideas.  

Take a look and have a safe and festive 4th of July!  Let’s kick off the fun with a simple sangria recipe (if you can even call it a recipe…super simple!)…

Simple Sangria That Your Guests Will Swear You Made From Scratch!

set up san

sangria in jug


Sam’s Club sells a yummy premade sangria that is so good that all of my guests swore that I made from scratch.  It doesn’t get any easier than this.  Here are the four steps for colorful red sangria that is perfect for the 4th and so easy to make, too…

  1. Purchase Lolailo Imported from Spain Sangria in the 1.5 liter glass jar (under $8) at Sam’s Clubs stores.
  2. Fill pitcher with lots of ice.
  3. Add full bottle of Lolailo Sangria.
  4. Add packet of frozen fruit that is also sold at Sam’s Club. Make sure it is frozen as that works well and looks nice and festive in the sangria pitcher. The fruit floats to the top and looks and tastes great!

Easy Breezy Flag Brownies

flag brownie

Simply prepare brownies and cut into rectangle shapes.  Then spread brown frosting on top so that it matches the brownie color and then top with red, white and blue M&Ms to make little American flags.

Star Spangled Cheesecake

star cheesecake

Make or buy a prepared cheesecake and top it with blueberries all around.  Then take strawberry slices to make a star right in the center.

Sweet & Salty 4th of July Popcorn Mix

popcorn pic

Add red, white and blue peanut M&Ms to a bowl of popcorn and you’ve got a sweet, salty and festive mix of yummy fun.  Party City sells red, white and blue candy that is similar to M&Ms and Target sells the red, white and blue seasonal M&Ms.

Star Spangled Soda/Beverage of Choice

ice tray drink

Freeze pieces of cut up strawberries with blueberries and raspberries in an ice tray.  Then once frozen simply place in clear glass and add ginger ale or Sprite to get a bubbly red white and blue festive beverage.

Oh So Easy Red, White & Blue Treats Display

red white blue treats

Grab three clear glass or plastic containers and place white yogurt covered pretzels in one jar, red licorice sticks in another and blue M&Ms in the third and place side by side.  Make a fun little 4th of July treats sign to place by the display.

4th of July Flower Treats

flower treats

For these take square shaped pretzels, cover with white icing and then place red, white and blue M&Ms around the pretzel to form a flower.

Party Stuff Ideas

Here are some ideas for easy and fun party decor and a few things that make good sense, too.  Check these must have party items out…

*Great Plate – Show your spirit on the 4th of July with The Great Plate! Available in red, white, and blue for the festivities, the Great Plate offers guests an extra hand with this innovative plate and cup holder that is constructed as an all in one plate.  great plate imageSuch a smart invention since this plate easily allows guests to hold both food and beverage comfortably in one hand, leaving the other hand free for eating, drinking, and socializing. The Great Plate is available in a variety of bold colors, including a Red, White & Blue set and it is BPA-free, dishwasher/microwave safe, reusable and recyclable. great plates colorsSold in a set of 4 for $15. Plus, it is made in the USA! Plates can be ordered at www.greatplate.net.

*Bear Paws – Bear Paws are a must-have tool in your kitchen arsenal that are perfect for serving barbecue pulled pork or chicken.  bear pawAnd I also like to use these as tongs for my salad or to help me cut watermelon, which is always a great food to serve on the 4th of July.  watermelon cut
The extremely sharp and easy to grip, Bear Paws make it much quicker to shred pork or chicken.  Bear Paws come in red & white, as well as several other colors. Bear Paws are proudly made in the USA. Available at select BBQ stores and retail outlets as well as Amazon.com. Learn more at http://www.bearpawproducts.com/.

All of the decor and party favor/hat items I showed were purchased at Party City.  When you shop there, always go to partycity.com on your phone to see if they have coupons. Many times they do!

So now you are ready to put on (or attend a party with an easy to make fun food to bring) a festive and easy 4th of July celebration!  Have fun and Happy Independence Day!

Quick & Easy Foods To Bring To A Holiday Dinner

Manic:  You have been invited to a friend’s Thanksgiving dinner but you don’t have a lot of time to prepare something elaborate.  Or perhaps you have a long road trip planned to get to your family’s Christmas celebration.  In both cases, you want to bring something festive and fun, but you don’t have a lot of time to make something elaborate.

Managed:  Found some easy ideas, some prepared and some store bought to take to that holiday gathering that folks will love and appreciate…and you don’t have to work hard.  Check out these ideas…

Salad in Seconds

*Easy 5 Second Salad – I call this the easy 5 Second Salad because you can grab the ingredients at the store and toss right before you bring the salad to the dinner.  Simply buy your favorite salad greens mix and buy a 1/2 pound (or 1 pound for large salad) of the deli Greek salad mix that includes the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, etc. and add to the salad greens.  Then toss and top with a little olive oil and white balsamic vinaigrette to enhance the Greek salad dressing.  salad fastAdd a dash of salt and pepper and you’ve got a tossed salad that you made in seconds.

Fun & Festive Appetizer

*Cheese & Meat Turkey Tray – Found this super simple and visual idea on Pinterest.  Simply use cheese, crackers and meat to create a turkey.  turkey meat cheese platterStart with the outside layer of feathers made with crackers.  I recommend the Flipsides pretzel crackers.  Make two layers of these.  Then make the next inside layer next to the crackers using squares of yellow cheese of your desired cheese flavor.  Next the inside layer is made with salami, then a layer of Colby jack cheese squares and another layer of the salami.  Make the center inside piece look like the turkey using a piece of Colby jack cheese cut into the shape of the front of a turkey body.  Put a round piece of yellow cheese on top to make the head with two peppercorns for the eyes.  Use an empty pistachio nut shell to make the beak.  Use a folded piece of salami for the part of the beak that hangs down.  Use two toothpicks for the legs.

Grazing Goods

*Trader Joe’s A Joyful Mix Trek Mix ($4.99) — This is perfect to present as a hostess gift with a bottle of wine or to put out as a grazing snack.  mixThis holiday packaged nut mix contains Greek & Yogurt flavored chips and colorful chocolate buttons mixed in with almonds, pistachios and dried cranberries.

Sweet Tooth Offerings

*Give Thanks Cookies – Make a platter of turkey and pumpkin shaped sugar cookies and place two big cookies in the center of the platter.  Decorate the first cookie to say, “Give Thanks” and the second cookie say “Have Cookies”.  Place both cookies next to each other in the center.  turkey day cookiesFun and visual.  If you don’t have time to make sugar cookies buy a batch at AJ’s Fine Foods.  That is what I did and the lady at the dessert case wrote on the cookies for me right then and there.  The giant iced sugar cookies at AJs that are shaped like pumpkins, turkeys and leaves cost $2.79 each at the dessert case.

*Pilgrim Hats – Another simple treat to make are pilgrim hat cookies.  pilgram hatsSimply take a fudge striped cookie (Keebler makes these) and turn it face down.  Then dip a miniature chocolate peanut butter cup into white (or yellow) frosting and place it over the center of the cookie so that it covers the hole.  This makes the hatband and crown.  Last place an orange Tic Tac on the crown to make the buckle.  Super easy and tasty Turkey Day treat.

*Miniature Dessert Tray – Trader Joe’s frozen section has some terrific miniature dessert options that include Trader Joe’s Mini Pie Medley ($4.49 for 6 little pies) with mini strawberry, blueberry and peach pies and Trader Joe’s A Dozen Sweet Bites ($6.99 for 12 mini cakes) with chocolate & coffee opera cakes, raspberry Macaroon Aux Framboises cakes and caramel and chocolate mini cakes.  mini dessertsPlace these minis on a platter for a crowd pleasing dessert or a post dinner snack later in the evening with coffee.

*After Dinner Coffee/Hot Cocoa Idea with Trader Joe’s Iced Pumpkin Scone Cookies ($3.49 for 8 oz box) — Put these delightful little scone cookies out with after dinner coffee for a nice post meal treat. And for the kids put out CC Drink Original Hot Chocolate with Premium Belgian Dark Chocolate Sticks ($3.99 at Trader Joe’s) out to dip into warm milk to create instant and satisfying hot chocolate.  basket cocoaAdd a bowl of mini marshmallows to the dessert display.

Seasonal Spirit Beverages For The Grownups

*Trader Joe’s Cabernet Sauvignon Truffles ($8.99) paired with Borrellie Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine ($14.99 at Trader Joe’s) — This is a fun idea to give as a hostess gift or to put out with dessert and wine.  nuts wineThe Borrellie Wine label has a picture of a reindeer on it, making it festive and the chocolate truffles are filled with Cabernet Sauvignon inside.  Perfect!

*Oversized Champagne and Wine Bottles – Trader Joe’s has oversized bottles in champagne ($12.99 for a 1.5 L bottle of Incanto Prosecco) and red wine and white wine.  I purchased the big pretty blue bottle of Incanto Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend for $12.99 for a 1.5 L bottle.

*Josephs Brau Winter Brew Beer ($5.99 for a 6 pack at Trader Joe’s) — I thought this beer looks festive making it the perfect addition to the holiday spirits offerings.

For Christmas:

*Ugly Sweater Sugar Cookies – I found this fun cookie kit at Sprouts Farmers Market and I love this tasty and funny idea.  hats & cookiesThe Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit includes pre-made vanilla sweater cookies, candies for decorating, premade icing tubes and sprinkles.  I love this unique sugar cookie idea!

*Red & Green Yogurt covered pretzels – These are so yummy and look so festive.  Plus I love the sweet and salty combination.  Got these in the bulk section at Sprouts Farmers Market. Yum!

*Christmas Crunch & Munch Station – Make a Christmas Crunch & Munch station, that is sure to be a hit, by combining the Sprouts bulk yogurt covered pretzels that I mentioned earlier in one bowl and fill the bowl next to it with Trader Joe’s Candied Pecans ($3.99 for a 5 oz bag) and then display Trader Joe’s Sesame Honey Almonds ($6.99 for a 16 oz bag) since those look snow covered and lastly fill in with a bowl of Trader Joe’s Iced Gingerbread Mini Cookies ($2.99 for a 16 oz box).  This is perfect for those who want to graze in between meals and the sweet and salty combo is a definite crowd pleaser!

What quick and easy and fun and festive holiday food ideas do you have to bring to the celebration?  Share in the comments section and Happy Holidays!







Hot & Cool Coffee Bar Ideas To Entertain Holiday Guests

In the morning or after a nice dinner, a cup of java always sounds good and is a nice beverage to have on hand for your holiday guests.  So take it up a notch and create a festive holiday coffee bar that is inviting and relaxing.  Mix in decaf for your guests that may want to partake without the caffeine.  Here are several satisfying recipes for a festive and fun coffee bar setup.  I have included both hot and iced options to give your coffee bar some variety.

Hot Coffee Options

Sham coffee

Decorate your table with a holiday table cloth and a few decorations and put out a pot of hot regular coffee and a pot of decaf.  On a pretty tray, assemble Shamrock Farms Half & Half and sugar cubes.  If you have a frother machine, add the froth and a serving spoon.  Make a little sign with a coffee recipe suggestion like this one….

For a little holiday touch, add this much –

Top your coffee drink with Shamrock Farms Half & Half and a touch of snowy white froth

and then sprinkle a dash of cinnamon 

and the flavors will sink

into this festive hot drink.”

On the other tray, set out a bottle of Bailey’s and whipped cream for a little holiday coffee with some spirit.

Cold Coffee Recipes

First freeze some prepared coffee into an ice tray. coffee tray Now you will be able to offer your guests who prefer iced coffee the perfect ice cube to keep their beverage chilled.  Here are two simple and sweet recipes for iced coffee that can be offered along with those iced coffee cubes…

Magical Iced Coffee

 2/3 cup coffee

Splash of Shamrock Farms Half & Half

3 cups water

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsps dark brown sugar

Splash of milk

Serve over ice

Shaken Iced Mocha

3/4 cup cold coffee

1/4 cup of Shamrock Farms Half & Half (reg or fat free)

2 tbsps chocolate syrup (dark)

Shake and serve over ice.

What cool coffee recipes do you like for a little festive holiday pick-me-up?  Share in the comments section and Happy Holiday season to you!



This creative article was sponsored by the awesome Shamrock Farms.  My opinion about how much I love delicious Shamrock Farms is 100% my own. 

Several Sips & Spirits Recipes for the Holidays

I was very fortunate to get to work on the last show that our beloved Lisa Haffner hosted, that aired yesterday. After 22 years at KTVK and the last eight of those years hosting our “Your Life A to Z” morning show, Lovely Lisa is taking some time off from her career to spend more time with her family.  I’m so happy for her!  And I will also miss doing the show with her as she is the real thing.  She is a good friend who has your back, both on camera and off.  So to honor her, our entire show focused on her favorite things.  It was pretty cool, so the first cocktail I showed how to make is Lisa’s favorite that is all the rage right now.  It is called the Moscow Mule and it is unique and tasty.  I also showed how to make a pretty red and white Raspberry Shooter using Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE and how to turn regular champagne into some specialty bubbly beverages in less than five seconds.  shootersTake a look at these recipes and cheers to Lisa, to you and to the holiday season!

Refreshing Party Drinks For All That Can Be Made In Minutes

Manic:  Throwing a party (or attending one that is BYOB) and spending more time mixing drinks and less time sipping and enjoying the party because you are busy in the kitchen preparing cocktails and mocktails.

Managed:  Lisa Gylling with her Popcorn Served Daily YouTube channel!  She recently showed two tasty drink ideas, one for the grownups and one for the kiddos, that can be made in under 3 minutes.  And her margarita calls for beer as one of the ingredients!  I was intrigued, so I watched her Popcorn Served Daily YouTube video channel, made the yummy drinks and then got her permission to show them to you in my KTVK morning show segment today.  I also show how to make two non alcoholic beverages for your guests that call for fresh lime.  And one of these drinks is very healthy for you because fresh ginger is also in the beverage.  So take a look, grab a pitcher and the easy ingredients I show and you will be ready to host AND enjoy the party since these drink ideas can be made so quickly.  Cheers!  And be sure to check out Lisa’s YouTube Channel for more party recipes and lots of cool DIY home decor and more projects!