Back to the Kitchen: Sangria and Tapas for Easy Entertaining

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Here are some easy fall or back to school entertaining recipes. A light cocktail and some tapas or small bites of food are perfect for a tailgate party or just having some friends over.    While on occasion I enjoy traditional sangria, I prefer the light fruity crispness of white wine sangria. You can toss together the sangria before your event, but the best sangrias are chilled around 24 hours in the refrigerator allowing the flavors to really marinate into each other. Enjoy these Spanish inspired tapas and sangria at any event with friends and family!

Traditional Sangria

1 bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz) — or instead of red wine, try Eppa Sangria . It’s organic and made of “super fruits.” Available locally at Gelsons or Whole Foods.

1 lemon cut into wedges

6 oranges cut into wedges

3 lime cut into wedges

2 tbsp sugar

2 shots of gin

1 cup of sliced strawberries or raspberries

1 small can of diced pineapples (with juice)

4 cups ginger ale

Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon, orange and lime into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and pineapple then add sugar, orange juice and gin. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale, berries and ice just before serving. If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice.

White Wine Sangria

1 bottle dry white wine

1 cup frozen lemonade

4 cups ginger ale or 7 up

1 orange, sliced

1 lemon sliced

1 lime sliced

4 strawberries, sliced

1 peach, sliced

In a large pitcher mix together white wine and lemon aide. Add fruit slices and about 4 cups ice. Pour over the ginger ale or 7-up and mix well. Best is a pretty glass pitcher so you can see all of the fruit.

Shrimp with Prosciutto

24 large raw tiger shrimp, tails on

12 sheets prosciutto

Olive oil for drizzling

Lemon Juice

Slice the sheets of prosciutto lengthways, and wrap each shrimp in a half sheet. Thread onto a skewer. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook on a BBQ or griddle for about 3 minutes and then flip over and cook 3 minutes more until the shrimp are cooked through and still moist and firm to the touch.

Spanish Olives

24 large unpitted Spanish olives

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed

1 sprig thyme, chopped

1 sprig rosemary, chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with rosemary sprigs

Bread with Tomato, Garlic and Smoked Ham

4 cloves of garlic

3 ripe tomatoes

12 Slices of smoked ham

12 slices crusty bread

Olive oil

Pan-fry the slices of bread. While they are still hot, rub them with the clove of garlic until they absorb the flavor. Add a pinch of salt, olive oil and finally top with the tomato and slice of ham.

Spanish Garlic Shrimp

1 lb shrimp, 25 count to a pound, peeled and deveined

6 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 oz of cognac

¼ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

In a sauté pan or heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about one minute or until they begin to brown.  Add the shrimp, lemon juice, zest, cognac and paprika. Stir well, then sauté, stirring briskly until the shrimp turn pink and curl – about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Juice and zest of 1 lime

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

2 stalks of lemon grass

2 inches ginger, peeled and minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2-tablespoon warm honey

1/4-cup olive oil

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 pound jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined

Combine the limejuice, zest, jalapeno, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, olive oil, honey and cilantro in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the shrimp, coating well and marinade in the refrigerator for four hours or overnight. Thread on skewers (if wooden skewers soak in water for 1 hour.) Grill over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side and brush with marinade while cooking.

Shrimp and Chorizo Quesadilla

10 large shrimp peeled, deveined, sliced in half

3 links chorizo, remove skin

4 12-inch flour tortillas

1 bag mixed monterey jack and cheddar cheese



Sour cream

Olive oil

Chopped cilantro

In a sauté pan with olive oil, cook peppers, shrimp and chorizo. Drain and place ingredients on half of the tortilla shell then add cheese mixture. Fold the shell over in half and lightly brown until cheese melts in nonstick sauté pan or oven. Cut in 4 triangles and put a spoon full of salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Add a little chopped cilantro for garnish and taste.

Chocolate Truffles

12 ounces semi- sweet chocolate (chips or a bar broken into small pieces)

1 stick butter

1/2-cup ground chocolate

In a double broiler, melt the chocolate over simmering water, stirring constantly. (If you don’t have a double broiler you can use a smaller pan for the chocolate and a larger one to simmer the water. Just be careful especially with the kids, as it is slightly awkward.) Remove from heat. Add butter stirring until melted. Chill until firm enough to form into small round pieces. Roll in ground chocolate. Chill overnight in refrigerator.  Makes about 40.


Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies.  Check out her websites and  Her Sweet and Savory Cookbook is available through AMAZON .


About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.