Blending your wines

Why blend your homemade wine, with bonus Tea wine recipe!

Why blend your homemade wine, with bonus Tea wine recipe!

Today was a racking my wine day, I racked the Blackberry I started on 1/23/16 and the Tea wine I started on 2/14/16, and I realized I haven’t talked much about blending wines. you would be missing out on some awesome wines if you did not give this a try.

When I made my Blackberry wine I reused my blackberry mash to make a lighter gallon of wine, to use for topping off when racking, do to volume loss (dead lees and sediment on bottom of carboy), this lighter version when tasted at racking was REALLY good and sweeter then the 3 gallons of my full bodied blackberry. I made the decision to rack all 4 gallons plus the extra growler I had into a bucket to blend and then rack into my carboys, my outcome should be a more balanced wine.

I will caution you however to measure each wine in small amounts in a glass and taste and adjust ratios to your liking before blending.

If you ever have a wine that lacks complexity consider blending, I made my Tea wine for the single purpose of doing this, I felt the extra tannin would help a wine that lacked that. Now I have another problem! the batch I made and racked today turned out so good on it’s own I fear when it clears and goes to bottle we are going to just want to drink it! Now what started as an experiment wine for blending just might end up on my regular rotation. I’m adding the recipe I used if you want to give it a try, I feel it will be a fun one to experiment a bit with, I’m going to make another small batch and add some Jasmine Tea as well.

Tea Wine 

For one gallon of wine

  • 12 Tea bags
  • 2 lb sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 lb raisins
  • 1 tsp Acid blend
  • 1/2 pkt Champagne yeast

Steep Tea for 30 min in one gallon of water, remove tea bags and add sugar, syrup, and raisins, bring back to boil and simmer 30 min. Cool and add acid blend and stir. pitch yeast. Pour mixture into carboy and place airlock. Rack at 90 days, and rack again every 30 to 60 days until clear. When clear rack and bottle.

I’m really excited about Tea wine, at first racking I got a little taste and It was like nothing I have ever had. If I had to describe it (at it’s young age) it was like a sweet white with the back note of caramel and tea so it did not stay to sweet on the tongue and quite completed for such a young wine.  I’m loving the way it taste now, so I will bottle as soon as mine clears.  I can’t wait to explore this recipe more and try a variety of teas! 


Love Hope

Cheesy sausage and pasta – one pot meal

cheesy sausage and pasta - one pot meal

cheesy sausage and pasta – one pot meal

 I love a one pot meal that’s quick and really yummy! This fits the bill perfectly, plus it is easily adjusted to fit what you have on hand. Add bonus…it’s one of my husband’s favorites.   



  • 8-12 oz. smoked sausage
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes w/chilies (Rotel)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz. pasta (about 3 cups dry)
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterrey jack (or whatever cheese you like)
  • 1 whole green onion


  1. Slice the smoked sausage and add it to a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the sausage over medium heat until it is nicely browned (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Dice the onion and add it to the skillet. Continue to saute until the onion has softened (about 5 minutes). Add the can of diced tomatoes with chiles and the chicken broth. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits off of the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and make sure it is all submerged under the liquid. Place a lid on the skillet and allow the mixture to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about ten minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir once or twice while the pasta cooks to keep it from sticking.
  4. Stir in the fresh spinach, one cup at a time, until wilted. If you add it all at once, the skillet will be too full to stir. Keep the heat on while adding the spinach, so the liquid will continue to simmer and thicken.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, replace the lid, and let it sit for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Slice the green onions and sprinkle them over top. Serve hot!

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers with jalapeno Jelly dipping sauce

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers with
jalapeno Jelly dipping sauce

Baked Chicken Thigh Fingers with
jalapeno Jelly dipping sauce

Let’s talk about Chicken for just a minute, everyone has their preference to white or dark meat, so do as you will, for me and the hubby…well, we enjoy and juicer dark meat, and yes I know why it’s so moist and juicy..more fat! That is just fine with us, it’s still a great choice, all things in moderation right? Plus I think I get extra points for baking them.


  • 2-3 pounds boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, Cut in strips
  • 2 cups Panko Bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 eggs


Preheat oven to 450, and line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Mix together in a bowl Panko and all spices, in a separate bowl slightly beat eggs.

Take chicken strips and dip in egg, then coat in Panko spice mixture, pat on well to make even coat.

lay on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minuets.

Serve Hot with this Jalapeno jelly for dipping

Or if Jalapeno is not your thing try this yummy Sweet BBQ Sauce


Love Hope


3 Amazing Cocktails to make with Ginger Beer


Ginger Beer

Three AMAZING cocktails made with Ginger Beer you must try! along with great bonus recipes for making your own Ginger Beer, Hope makes it Fun and Easy!

I started making Ginger Beer about a year ago, at first I think my family was a bit skeptical, none of us had tried it. Then came our first Dark and Stormy and we never looked back. It’s delicious all on it’s own, but then in a cocktail something spectacular happens. It’s pricey to purchase but can be made very inexpensively. Give it a try! 

We will start with the Cocktail that launched a thousand gallons of Ginger Beer being made at my house….
My Husband LOVES this, so refreshing! 

Learn to make Ginger Beer with Hope HERE  Ginger Beer

Dark and Stormy


  • 2 oz Dark Run
  • 5 oz Ginger Beer (or to taste)
  • Lime wedge
  • ICE


Squeeze lime wedge over ice, add Rum, then Ginger Beer.


Moscow Mule


  • 2 oz Vodka (for a Kentucky Mule add Bourbon)
  • 6-8 oz Ginger Beer
  • 1/2 of a Lime
  • ICE


Add 2 or 3 large ice cubes, Squeeze lime into Collins glass (or copper mug) and drop in half lime., then pour in the vodka and fill with cold ginger beer.


Rhubarb and Ginger beer cocktail – Hope’s Version


  • 1/2 oz Rhubarb Ginger Syrup (my amazing recipe)
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 Lime wedge
  • ICE
  • 6 oz  (or to taste) Ginger Beer
  • 1 sprig Mint leaves


Squeeze lime wedge over ice, and drop in lime wedge. Add Rhubarb Ginger Syrup, and Vodka. Fill glass with Ginger  Beer, and add mint to garnish.


 For more Ginger Beer recipes go here Hope’s Homemade Ginger Beer

Enjoy a refreshing Cocktail!

Love Hope

Hope’s Top five reasons for making your own Wine.

Hope's Top five reasons for making your own Wine.

A delightful read on why you should try Wine Making. Want to learn wine making? Hope will show you how! Why make your own Wine

Why make your own Wine…. or,maybe it’s just… why do I love Wine making? perhaps if I explain it to you, the method behind my madness, you might just see it my way, and give it a go!

Hope’s TOP FIVE: 

It’s science, for those of us that just love a good science project it’s so fun!
The very BASIC equation:  Fruit, vegetable or eatable plant + sugar + yeast, over time = WINE!
Yes there can be more to it then that, but not always  I’m going to geek out here just a bit, come on bakers, back me up! Science is FUN!

It teaches you Patience, this might be hard for some…it is for my husband. most wine will be drinkable a year after you start it, and some two years. Now, that said, just keep making wine and you will always have some to drink! I’m always amazed how fast a year goes by so it’s really not that bad. Think of it this way, if you have prayed for patience then this could be God’s way of telling you to make wine! Now really….couldn’t we all have more wine be more patient?

You can sometimes make it for almost free, with very little cost in equipment see my post on How to get started Wine Making, I sometimes can make 24 bottles (5 gallons) for about 5 dollars….go back, read it again, yup, 5 gallons for, 5 bucks!  I take all the free fruit I can, making the only cost sugar and yeast. I have made my Plum using the plums off my own tree, Blackberry, they grow wild everywhere in the northwest, Apple and Pear, my folks have an orchard but I know lot’s of people with trees that will let you pick all you want so they don’t have to pick them up off the ground later. This year I will be planting strawberry’s and rhubarb for wine making. Note: Use quality fruit at the peak of ripeness, cut out any and all bad spots, quality in, quality out.

No two will ever come out the same, if you love to mix things up, experiment, love change….hey! (we might have swung back around to science) you might get a recipe close by formulating the sugar content of your fruit after you have extracted the juice…but really wheres the fun in that! oops I forgot if you REALLY love science you will be doing that, but if you only like it a little bit or if you just want to make some darn good wine you don’t have to go all extreme. I like that they don’t all taste the same, each one is unique and lovely.

You can make wine as good or better then what you can purchase, I do it and you can too! Now, will they all turn out? maybe not. I have not had to dump any yet, and I may never. If something goes wrong and it turns to vinegar, is that so bad? I use wine vinegar and lots of people make it on purpose….so if I did end up with a lifetime supply and packaged it in cute bottles and everyone I knew got artisan wine vinegar for Christmas would that be a terrible thing? I think not!   

The reality is, you will make a lot of wonderful wine, there is something so satisfying in the entire process, the wonderful outcome, and that you did it yourself.

It’s a little bit science, a bit of an art, and a whole lot of fun!
Go make some wine!    

Love Hope

You may also enjoy Wine Recipes – 12Home Wine making 101 

Jalapeno Jelly


Jalapeno Jelly

Jalapeno Jelly

I still might be on my Jam/Jelly kick… In my defense I had a bag of peppers that needed to be used up to make this yummy Jalapeno Jelly! Plus my daughters boyfriend loves spicy and is doing a lot of cooking on his Traeger BBQ so he will be the recipient of some as well.

Jalapeno Jelly


  • 1 lg. red bell pepper
  • 1 lg. green bell pepper
  • 10 jalapenos – leave seeds in for spicy hot, or take out for more mild.
  • 1 1/2 c. Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 c. sugar
  • 1 pouch liquid fruit pectin


  • In food processor, finely chop peppers.
  • Put in large pot with vinegar, salt and sugar. Boil for 10 minutes stirring often.
  • Add pectin pouch and boil 1 more minute.
  • Fill canning jars. Water bath for 10 minutes (it may take a day or two for it to set). Makes about 8 half pint jars. Great with crackers and cream cheese. Also use as a dipping sauce or marinade for steak or chicken.

Enjoy the spicy!

Love Hope

You also might love my Onion Marmalade – Sweet and Spicy

Soft Lemon Cookies

Soft Lemon Cookies

Soft Lemon Cookies

If you LOVE lemon like my daughter and I do, you will go nut for these! 

We are having a couples weekend with my daughter and her boyfriend, at the beach for the seafood and wine festival. We will be staying at a beach house so we can BBQ yummy seafood we catch, and crab off the dock.
I always take plenty of homemade snacks and goodies and my girl loves her lemon, so these are perfect!


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • yellow food coloring, optional and as desired
  • 2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as necessary for consistency
  • lemon zest, for garnishing (if you be fancy)


  1. To the mixer add, the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, light, fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the egg, and lemon extract, and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  3. If adding the lemon food coloring add now with the lemon zest, and beat on medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
  4.  Add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute; don’t over mix.
  5. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate of 2-3 hours. (do not skip this step)
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  7. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place 2 inch apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake for about 8-9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, don’t over Cookies firm up as they cool, leave on cookie sheet for 5 minuets before transferring to cooling rack . Allow cookies to cool completely before glazing.

Enjoy the soft tangy sweet goodness!

Love Hope