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Triple Ginger Cookies and Holiday Sangria

This past weekend, I hosted my third annual cookie exchange party. Cookie party, for me, is quite simply an excuse to have a bunch of my friends over to my festively adorned house, so we can indulge in afternoon cocktails and eat cookies.

We eat cheese. We drink holiday sangria, pomegranate champagne cocktails, and cocoa. We trade cookies. The kids make holiday crafts. Everyone has grand time.

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This year’s party was apparently so grand and inviting, that perfect strangers decided to join us.

No joke.

My cookie party got crashed by three women wearing Santa hats.

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They walked up our driveway, let themselves in through the front door, sat on our stairs to remove their winter boots, coats, and hats, then proceeded to walk through the house in search of someone they knew.

One of my friends alerted me to the presence of my new guests, who were wandering my house at that very moment. I ran to my husband to find out what to do.

We were just about to greet our new guests as they walked into the living room and realized their mistake.

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One woman, who appeared to be the mother of the other two, mumbled an embarrassed apology, then made a hasty exit. The other two women sat on the stairs while they laced up what seemed like the tallest winter boots in creation. They then chased after their mom, who was already in her car driving down the road in search of their intended party.

Had it been me, standing there, eating a piece of cheese in the living room of a complete stranger, surrounded by that stranger’s family and friends, I would have run out of that house barefoot, into the foot and a half of snow on the ground.

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Had they brought cookies to share, I would have eagerly encouraged them to stay. But, as I always say, every time someone crashes my cookie party… No cookies? No cocktails!

Next year, I’m hiring a cookie bouncer for my party.

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These spicy, triple-ginger cookies were my contribution to the cookie buffet. They’re sweet and chewy and oozing with gingery flavor. The holiday sangria, which follows, is accented with festive flavors of orange, ginger, cinnamon, and pomegranate.

You’d have crashed my cookie party too, if you knew these cookies and sangria were waiting inside.

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Triple Ginger Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  •  1 2-ounce bottle crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, eggs, and oil. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Roll into 1″ balls. Arrange the balls about 1 1/2″ apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until crackles form on the top. Remove the cookies from the oven, then give the baking sheet a little whack on the counter to flatten the cookies.

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Holiday Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1.5 liter bottle of sweet red wine (I used Sutter Home’s Sweet Red Wine)
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 pomegrante
  • 1 orange

Directions

Combine the wine, triple sec, orange juice, and ginger ale. Add the cinnamon stick and the chopped pear. Remove the arils from the pomegranate and add to the mixture. Remove the orange segments from the orange, chop into small pieces and add to the mixture. Remove the white pith from the orange peel, then slice the peel into small slivers. Add to the sangria. Chill and enjoy.

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Grown-Up Fruity Sangria Popsicles

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As first time parents, we had it all figured out..or so we thought. We did our research, planned and applied strategies, and relished in our grand successes. Our baby was sleeping through the night by four months, a skilled walker by 10 months, and a calm communicator using our own made-up sign language by a year. My husband and I would pass by other toddlers in the midst of full-fledged tantrums, while our own sweet boy happily babbled on and delighted elderly passers-by. With a wordless glance, we’d silently pat ourselves on the back for our stellar parenting, because clearly we must be doing everything right. Our child would NEVER behave in such an appalling fashion. You see, even parents find themselves silently judging other parents’ parenting skills. You think we’d know better, but we’re human.

Turns out, we’re not the only parents who have been through this. I remember chatting with a neighbor a few years back, who jokingly commented that he and his wife were so swollen with pride over their exceptional parenting skills with their first born, that they’d considered writing a book. They had this parenting thing all figured out and were going to share their remarkable wisdom with the world. After countless discussions with other parents, there seems to be a trend that first children are deceptively ‘easy’ (or as easy as raising any child can be). I’ve yet to figure whether this is a biological trait or simply the result of having more undivided attention to devote towards the first born. But many (not all, of course) parents have a deceptively idyllic experience with their first.

Such was our experience. And then we had our second son. Our second son was (and continues to be) an entirely different animal. Though we held the same expectations and applied our proven expert parenting skills, the result was not the same, by far. Our second son slept in our bed for a good part of his first year. He woke often. He screamed a lot more often than used sign language. And suddenly WE were the parents with the tantruming child in the grocery store, despite all of our best intentions. It’s just what he did. And sometimes no amount of thoughtful parenting can prevent that. We know that now. We don’t judge as much now.

Our third son is just as unique as his brothers. We’ve learned that there is no one set of parenting strategies which is guaranteed to work with every child. They are all born with their own little unique personalities. And sometimes it takes a whole lot of experimentation, trial, and error to find what works. We parents are like scientists testing hypotheses. And sometimes you need to be the parent with the screaming kid in the grocery store until you figure out what works with your particular specimen.

And that 3-year-old drinking Kool-aid from a baby’s bottle while my own 13 month old peacefully nurses hands-free in his baby sling as I load my shopping cart with all organic fruits and vegetables and cage-free, grass-fed, golden-egg-laying, smiling-as-they’re-slaughtered meats (totally exaggerating)…I don’t judge. Ok, maybe I judge a little, but I also understand that perhaps that’s the first moment of silence that mom had all day. Perhaps that Kool-aid was simply an unfortunate compromise to get her through the shopping trip. Because sometimes parents just need to get through, even at the cost of our own parenting ideals. I didn’t get that when I had my first. You couldn’t have convinced me of it then. But I get it now. Most of us are just doing the best that we can. We’re muddling through and hoping that in the end, we produce a kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and responsible human. It’s hard work. And for that you deserve a treat.

That’s why I made you these grown-up sangria popsicles. Even if you don’t have any kids, these are for you, because everyone deserves an ice pop made with wine. I froze them in the kids’ popsicle molds, which gave me the same naughty feeling as when I use the cupholder in the stroller to hold my beer at the fair. Thank you, Graco, for your thoughtful stroller design. When you’re sitting outside, baking in the 90+ degree heat, as you watch your children play, go ahead and pull one of these out of the freezer.

Sangria is simply a cocktail made with wine and fruit. It can be made a million different ways. Simply start with any kind of wine, then add some fruit and perhaps some other liqueurs, juices, sweeteners or spices. It’s really hard to go wrong when making sangria. (Check out these recipes for Ginger Peach Sangria and Very Melony Sangria) For this popsicle, I made  a simple white sangria. You can use any white wine. Pick something you enjoy drinking. I selected a white table wine from one of my local Finger Lakes wineries. (I picked it because the winery shares a name with my snuggly second son.) To the wine, I added a little gingerale and some fresh cherries, blueberries, and orange segments. A touch of honey adds a little extra sweetness. Freeze and enjoy.

Fruity Sangria Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white wine
  • 3/4 cup gingerale
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup chopped fruit

Directions

Combine the wine, gingerale, lemon juice, and honey. Taste and adjust sweetness with more honey and gingerale, as desired. Place a few spoonfuls of the chopped fruit in each popsicle mold. Fill the remainder of each popsicle mold with the wine mixture. Freeze for several hours. To remove, dip the molds into a bowl of hot water to loosen.

Makes about 8 popsicles

Very Melony Sangria

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Well…the new windows are installed! What a difference it makes to have fully functional windows throughout the house! And I’m completely in love with the new sliding glass doors which open our living room to the backyard. At the moment, I’m enjoying a cool breeze being wafted through the open doors as a summer storm passes by. Ahhhh… The end result is well worth the week of craziness we endured.

A second batch of sangria sure helped make the week a bit more pleasant too!

I gave my second batch of sangria a very melony twist; loaded with three different types of fresh melon, soaked in melon liqueur, and finished with a crisp white wine. The result is a bright and refreshing summery beverage (for those of drinking age, of course); perfect in a tall glass filled with ice!

Melon Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 cup honeydew melon balls
  • 1 cup cantaloupe melon balls
  • 1 cup watermelon balls
  • 1 1/2 cups sparkling water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup melon liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 (1.5 liter) bottle white wine
Directions
Combine melon, sparkling water, sugar, melon liqueur, and lemon juice in a large pitcher. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Add the white wine. Serve over ice.

Ginger Peach Sangria

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This week will forever be known as the week we got the windows replaced, the week we toured the Syracuse public restrooms, and the week mommy officially lost her mind.

It’s hard living the gypsy life with three very young children in 95 degrees weather. Even the fun adventures I’d planned to keep everyone engaged have gone wildly awry. Who even knew it was possible to not have fun while enjoying a picnic at a beautiful park on a sunny day with bubbles and a gigantic bouncy ball??? I’m here to tell you that it’s entirely possible.

In fact, the best part of today was the hour I drove the kids around in our air-conditioned Honda Pilot while two out of the three napped and the third watched Up on our second row DVD entertainment system. Did you know that gypsies drive well-equipped Honda Pilots?

To say that this has been a tiring week is an understatement. The level of exhaustion involved in caring for an extremely active preschooler, a potty-training toddler, and a breastfeeding newborn everyday, for an entire week, from the trunk of my car, is overwhelming. It’s akin to having taken the three of them through Disneyworld on a hot summer day, by myself, only a heck of a lot less fun. We’ve tried to make the best of a tricky situation, but it’s been tiring for us all.

The weather is expected to hit nearly 100 degrees tomorrow. I’m planning to keep the kids in the air-conditioned mall most of the day, since the outdoor activities I’d planned for today were such a bust. The new windows are almost completely installed. I think we’re going to make it through this odd week (with sanity partially intact).

In the mean time, mommy needs a drink. An iced cold drink. Something of the adult beverage variety. How about an icy pitcher of ginger peach sangria??

Yes, please!

(Oh, and in case you’re wondering…our local Wegmans takes the prize for best ambience in a public restroom.)

Ginger Peach Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, very finely grated
  • 3/4 cup peach schnapps
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 white peaches, chopped
  • 1-2 granny smith apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 large (1.5 liter) bottle Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine

Directions

Combine the water, sugar, ginger, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Add the peach schnapps and the fruit. Transfer the mixture to a pitcher and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Add the white wine. Refrigerate until well-chilled. Pour over ice.

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