Tonight I hosted the Brown Deer happy hour club (yes, I just named it) in my back yard for some cocktails and snacks. It’s August 5, and this is the first time I’ve had people over for a yard gathering – I’ve been delinquent in my landscaping skills this year. They forgave me, I’m pretty sure because I made sangria. The night was perfect – nice and cool which kept the mosquitoes away, and perfect for a fire in the stone fireplace.

We started with a delicious new taco pizza recipe – a few healthier substitutions made for a great treat.


This recipe was super easy – both layers of “dip” we’re quick food processor blends, topped with my favorite taco fixin’s.

Base: black bean whip

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
1 package taco seasoning
Food process until creamy and spread on the bottom of your pan or plate.

Second layer: taco dip

1 block cream cheese
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
1/4 c. Salsa
1 c. Greek yogurt
1 package taco seasoning
Food process until creamy and spread on top of your bean dip.

Add toppings of choice – I did chopped tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and cheese. It was a hit!

On to the important part – Summer Sangria


4 bottles white wine (I used the cheapest Pinot Grigio I could find)
1 c. Pear brandy
2 oranges, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 c. Agave nectar
2 pears
1 quart strawberries
1 peach
1 bottle champaign

Mix wine, brandy, juices and agave in a big container. Slice pears, strawberries and peach, add to sangria and let marinade in the fridge at least overnight (I gave mine 2 nights). Add the champagne just before serving for some sparkle and bubble.

So here’s what happens when your sangria is too good:


Someone can’t get enough, and gets a little to eager to get more, and yanks the spout right out of your glass canister.


And then he is sad. And you have to tip the container on its side to save the rest of the sangria, and hope you don’t get any glass in your mouth.

And then your neighbor yells at you for either laughing too loud, or having a smokey fire. But since its only 8:00 and you can’t figure out what you’re in trouble for, you finish the sangria anyway, and tuck away the memory of the night things got broke.