Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sparkling Raspberry Wine Cooler

We had an incredible summer, that's for sure.  Not only was it 70 degrees or more for the vast majority of the summer in Anchorage (last summer, the average temperature was 48), but we also had great weather when we traveled to Michigan and California.  It's hard to leave Alaska in the summertime because it is so beautiful up here--20 hours of sunshine, wild flowers, hillsides of green, snow capped mountains, greenish blue glacial rivers, wildlife galore, and other sights that one can't find anywhere else.

We did leave for two weeks to go to a wedding on the banks of Lake Michigan, and then proceeded to circumnavigate nearly the entire lake with stops in small coastal towns along the way.  If we ever move, I am going to Petoskey, Michigan for sure.  We ended with a weekend in Lake Tahoe where my parents met us and we helped a close friend complete the Western States 100 Mile Trail Run (in 120+ degree temperatures).  This was one of my favorite vacations of all time and I saw parts of the country that I have never seen before.

With the rain pouring outside, I am sifting through pictures from our summer road trip.  On the final night in California, the sun was massive, the water of Lake Tahoe was bluer than ever, and time with family was much appreciated.  That night, I made this sparkling raspberry wine spritzer.  It only consisted of sparkling wine that we toted from Michigan and fresh raspberries, but it was a memorable drink because of the memories involved. 

On this cold and gloomy night, I am warmed inside thinking of all the friends, family, and loved ones we got to see this summer and all of the fun that we had. time to light the fire.  :)

Sparkling Raspberry Wine Cooler:
  1. Pour your favorite sparkling wine into your drinking vessel of choice.
  2. Add fresh raspberries.
  3. Be thankful for your loved ones.
  4. ENJOY!

Zesty Quinoa Salad

I am not one for most pasta salads and the like, namely because they are generally coated in something processed and creamy, have soggy noodles, and taste only like raw red onions (because that's mostly what they consist of).  Yes, my opinion of pasta salads is extraordinarily negative, but I have had very few positive experiences.  What's frustrating though, is that pasta salad has so much potential--pastas, sauces, marinades, dressings, veggies, cheeses, nuts, and so much more.  Pasta salad doesn't have to be terrible...which is precisely why I made this zesty quinoa salad. 

Crunchy but tender quinoa, basil, tomatoes, feta, and a hint of lemon.  That's all one needs to make a great pasta salad.  It was incredibly fresh, tasty, and the perfect complement to a gorgeous summertime BBQ.  What I loved most about this salad was its versatility.  I could have added more or less of every ingredient (which I didn't bother to measure in the first place) and also could have added other ingredients too, like pine nuts or walnuts, turkey pepperoni, sugar snap peas, and/or so much more.  The options are endless.

This salad is what pasta salad should be.  Fresh, flavorful, and light.  Try all of your different variations and let me know how they go--I am excited to expand my pasta salad palette. 

Zesty Quinoa Salad:

Use the quantity of each ingredient to meet your taste.  You can't go wrong, I promise.
  • quinoa
  • basil olive oil
  • grape or cherry tomatoes
  • fresh basil, chopped thin
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper 
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Cook your quinoa according to the package directions.  Do not over cook.
  2. Let the quinoa cool until room temperature.
  3. Lightly coat with basil olive oil.
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil, and feta.  Mix well.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Mix again.
  6. Taste and adjust as needed.
  7. Serve with your favorite BBQ meats and beverages.
  8. ENJOY!