Tag Archives: mulled wine

Lately: Winter in Minnesota


I am not one of those people who live in Minnesota because I can embrace winter. Even with this year’s mild winter, there’s really nothing to complain about. But there’s something about winter that makes me anxious for spring… So that I can get outside!

Sure, when the winter temps are reasonable, you can spend time outdoors in Minnesota. That’s just not me. So here’s a list of things I’ve been spending my time doing over the last few weeks.

Weight Lifting

I don’t have a photo, but for the first time ever, I’ve been lifting weights consistently three days a week. I am lucky to have my husband as my trainer. Previously, I’ve been totally clueless in this category of fitness, so I’m grateful to have his instruction and encouragement!


I took a community ed “Beginner” Acrylic painting class that proved to be out of the realm of my ability. I think I’ll stick with the paint and sip classes for now. At least I’m able to hang those on my wall at home!

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Mulled Wine

I made a nice batch of mulled wine to watch the final Packer Game of the year at home. 😦 I’ll definitely be keeping that recipe as well as these sangria recipes in case our homemade wine doesn’t turn out as well as we’d like!

Juicy Lucy

This cheese-stuffed burger at Buffalo Tap is the best one in the Twin Cities, IMHO. It’s winter in Minnesota – so you need to have a Lucy and tots at least once.



For Christmas, I gave Rob a 1000-piece puzzle of Cinque Terre, Italy, thinking he could spend time putting it together on our coffee table on cold winter nights. Instead, it proved frustrating, especially with the dim lighting in our living room. He wanted nothing to do with it. I moved what we’d started to the dining room table. It took me about a month to finish. {Though I received a text from my teenage nephew with a photo of the 1000-piece puzzle I got him for Christmas. He completed his in one day.}



Sometimes I wonder if the amount I remember reading as a child was in another life. Somewhere, along the way, I lost it… I became too busy. Still, I really wanted to return to the world of books because I enjoy them so.

A couple of years ago, I told myself that I had so many books in the house that I hadn’t read yet that I needed to read those first before getting anything new. I had so many books started… and just never finished them. Obviously, they weren’t keeping my attention. I had to give myself permission to let them go!

Instead, I did what I should have done a long time ago – I renewed my library card. My previous card was listed in my maiden name with an old address! Now, I can read whatever I really want to read! I know. Simple. Obvious. But I finally did it. There’s really not much better in the winter than snuggling under a blanket and reading with a cup of hot tea in hand.

Salt Cellar {CLOSED}

You. Guys. We dined at Salt Cellar in St. Paul last weekend with our friends Jared and Matt. And I must tell you, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a really long time!!! {Well, except for the fab NYE dinner we had at Sul Lago; but that’s a given, right?!}

I didn’t take any photos while we caught up over dinner that night, but I will say this…

We arrived early for a Happy Hour cocktail at the bar. The Martinez is probably my new favorite!


Martinez Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Carpano Antica Formula, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Regans Orange Bitters

We even got seated a bit early when the boys arrived. The menu changes often at Salt Cellar, so the Seared Scallops that I was eyeing on the online menu were not available. However a different, and perhaps more exciting, version was! There were multiple layers of flavor and texture that I can’t recall them all. But I will say that they included some of the creamiest polenta I’ve ever had as well as a new-to-me ingredient called cardoons!

I sampled everyone’s food and it was all delicious. Rob ordered the Tenderloin Tips aux Poivre, which  was served with heirloom potato gnocchi, kale, and Hen of the Woods mushrooms in a brandy cream. Get this – he was raving about the KALE! From appetizer to dessert, everything wowed us. Even the wine prices were reasonable. A $34 bottle of Minervois turned into two…

This is my kind of place with a setting that makes you feel warm, toasty and special inside. It felt like a true night out. I’d recommend it if it’s been a while and you need an intimate night out with your sig other. You’ve got the stellar ambiance, cocktails, service, wine and food all rolled into one.

Tip: Go for the $7 valet parking. Parking can be atrocious on Selby Avenue in St. Paul on a Saturday night. We figured that we’d pay at least $10 to park in a ramp in downtown Minneapolis anyway!

Oh, while we were having cocktails at the bar prior to dinner, Rob declared that we’d be making a trip back to try Salt Cellar‘s bar-only burger…

How are you keeping busy this winter?


Mulled Wine & More Winter Warmers


I’ve been making mulled wine for years now. Especially on days when we are snowed in.

In France, they call it vin chaud. {Literally, hot wine.We had a two-day {by design!} layover in Paris on our way home from Italy on our Honeymoon right around Halloween in 2010. We saw vin chaud advertised outside of cafés everywhere. It was the perfect comfort after walking the city in the chilly weather.

Vin Chaud & Espresso

Vin Chaud & Espresso at a cafe in Paris

This time of year, it’s especially festive, too.

There is really no way to go wrong making a mulled wine. There are hundreds of recipes. If you skim through a dozen, you come to realize that the basic ingredients are the same or similar and you can just tweak them to your liking.

Over the years, I’ve collected a few recipes for mulled wine and other winter warmers. For that reason, I can’t tell you where I got them and I apologize that I can’t give credit where it’s due. In any case, here are a few favorites:

Clarence’s Mulled Wine

2 bottles red wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1 orange
1 lemon

Zest the fruit, avoiding the white pith. Put this, the sugar, cinnamon and cloves into the water. Bring this to a slow boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Now add the wine. Add in the actual orange and lemon fruit part, sliced up. Warm this on low heat for 40 minutes (do NOT boil). Strain out the wine and serve!


Vin Brûlé

“This winter-evening cheer offers a bonus before & after drinking.  When touched with a match, it bursts briefly into a tall blue flame – worth extinguishing the lights for.  And the French say this grateful potion is better than aspirin to ward off the grip of cold as well as the night chill. Serves 4.”

Place the following a in a saucepan, covered over high heat:

  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • Peel of one orange
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons of sugar

When the mixture comes to a boil, uncover and ignite.  When the flame has died down, remove mixture from heat and ladle at once into mugs.


Hot Pineapple Wine Punch

1 (46 oz) can unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 1/4 c. dry white wine
Cinnamon sticks (optional)

Combine pineapple juice, sugar, lime juice and nutmeg in large pot, mixing well. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and stir in wine. Simmer until thoroughly heated. At this point, you can move to a crock pot to stay warm. Serve with cinnamon sticks, if desired.


Okay, so this last one isn’t a wine warmer, but it is one I’ve been meaning to make for years. It sounds love since I just adore raspberries. It was stuck together with my list of winter wine warmers, so I just had to include it. Let me know what you think if you give it a try!

Raspberry Liqueur

  • 3 bags frozen strawberries
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy

Take frozen raspberries, unsweetened, and place them in a bowl with one bottle of dry red wine. Let sit for a day or two. Strain the wine into a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. Let simmer twenty minutes or so, until it thickens. Let cool. Add brandy. Bottle or serve. Lasts one year refrigerated. 

Makes a great gift!

What is your favorite winter warmer or holiday beverage and why?

Is there a tradition behind it?

Happy Holidays~