Category Drinks

salted caramel hot chocolate mix

I decided that it would be nice to whip up a simple gift for some of Jude’s mother’s day out teachers. I knew I couldn’t spend a lot of money and I was lacking on time to bake cookies or sew a bunch of gifts so I opted for for salted caramel hot chocolate mix. It’s an interesting recipe because you make the caramel, let it harden and then pulverize it to a powder in your food processor with chocolate chips (and other ingredients) before mixing it all up. It certainly tested the ability of my food processor! But man. It’s delicious. There were several tablespoons left over after jarring them up so I got to sample the mix as intended and in my coffee. Both were out of this world.

Then I whipped up a few labels to go on top of the mason jars and they are ready to be handed off! I hope Jude’s teachers enjoy them!

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix


The continued decent into hippy-dom is still happening. My neighbor brought me a scoby (because NextDoor is awesome and connects you safely to your neighbors). Yes – 1) my neighbors and neighborhood are awesome and 2) Scoby – symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The scoby is used to make kombucha tea which is similar in a lot of ways to vinegar (real vinegar, kefir, sourdough, ginger beer, all made with scobys). It’s basically a fermented tea with proposed health benefits.

So yeah, I brewed some. The scoby is a gelatinous disk that you slip into cooled, sweetened, black/green tea. Here’s day 1. You can see the scoby floating in the tea. It has to breath so it’s covered with a breathable kitchen towel to prevent anything from falling in it. A couple other things to note – no contact with metal (see cork to replace metal spigot)  and glass containers with a wide mouth is your best option.

Kombucha - Day 1

And here is day 9. You can see the weird layer at the top? It’s a baby scoby. The mother scoby did it’s thing and made a baby.  It smells pleasantly vinegary and sweet. Stir with wooden spoon and taste to make sure it’s not too sweet (let it go a couple more days), or vinegary (oops).

Kombucha - Day 9

And here it is all stored to sit on the counter for a day to carbonate. Yep. It’s fizzy. I mixed in a bit of cranberry juice because my favorite local kombucha, Buddha’s Brew, has a cranberry flavor. I just added it before I screwed the lid on.  Ginger, crushed berries, sliced fruit. . . all can go in to flavor the kombucha at this point.

Kombucha - Day 9

I’m looking forward to giving it a taste once it’s been refrigerated! I’ll report back . . .


bubble tea

Is bubble/boba tea something that everyone knows about? I feel like it’s something I grew up with due to a highly concentrated Asian population in my surrounding neighborhoods. I love it – the chewy pearls of tapioca at the bottom, the endless variation of teas, smoothies and fruit juices, it’s just delicious. But much like coffee, if you drink it at the shops the dollars add up and you end up with a pricey habit. Unlike coffee, cooking tapioca pearls is not common practice.

Tapioca pearls. Yeah. I impulse purchased these from my local HEB one day with no idea how to cook them, only that I really wanted some bubble tea. Which lead me to buying the bubble tea straws. . . because honestly, how else can you drink up the giant tapioca pearls (also good for really thick smoothies)?


I had pinned a couple of  bubble tea pins awhile back but after a quick revisit, they did not have sufficient information on how to cook the tapioca pearls. Pinterest, you failed me there. Google, on the other hand, did not. I quickly found this recipe for bubble tea and pinned it to get the good info circulating on pinterest.  What resulted was incredible.

bubble tea

This variation is made with strong Earl Grey tea (because I have an over abundance in my tea stash), half and half and simple syrup. Delicious. The variations on this are endless – the pearls are good in smoothies, green tea, matcha tea, fruit juice – you can use dairy or non dairy creamer . . . or in my near future, sweetened condensed milk and chai tea. Yeah, thats right.


Oh pinterest – you keep me trying new things! Lately it has put me on a smoothie kick.

In the interest of finding quick breakfasts that are hearty, healthy and homemade, I decided to try out this oatmeal smoothie that I found here. I figured the oatmeal would make it a bit more hearty that a typical smoothie and it was. I drank it for breakfast one morning and it kept me full until lunch. And look how gorgeous this color is:

berry oatmeal smoothie

And of course, whenever I see something on pinterest that has nutella in it, it gets pinned on my nutella board (because nutella does indeed make the world go round). Nothing was different when I saw this nutella milkshake that I found here. Surprisingly, this milkshake was decently healthy! Banana, milk, ice and a tablespoon of nutella. Not bad to get a chocolate fix!

nutella shake

This one is going to weird a lot of you out. An avocado smoothie. A friend from Brazil introduced me to the concept of eating avocados in a sweet context and I actually enjoyed it! I had an avocado that was heading south on my counter and I decided to use it in our afternoon snack. Jude LOVED it. And so did I.

avocado shake

What’s your favorite smoothie combo?

recent eats

Holy moly, I have cooked some good things recently and have not been sharing them with you guys! Instead of writing up too many food posts, I decided to just dump them all here into one post. You guys don’t mind, right? Let’s get started.

Back in July, I made some Beef Empanadas for a friend’s birthday party. I wanted a hardy, handheld appetizer and empanadas came to mind! Not to mention, I have been wanting to make my own empanadas for quite some time. These were surprisingly delicious and simple to make due to the use of puff pastry. The black bean dipping sauce was certainly a winner as well – adding a certainly creamy richness to balance all the spice in the filling. I eventually do want to try and make my own pastry for the outside, but in a pinch, puff pastry sure makes a quick substitute!

Beef Empanadas

When I saw this recipe posted on Budget Bytes, I knew I wanted to make it. I love yogurt marinated meats and this Chicken Swarma and Homemade Naan really hit the spot. I mean, homemade naan is freaking awesome – fresh grilled bread slathered in melted butter. Oooo. Yes. And then you add the grilled, yogurt marinated chicken and it gets even better. Yes please. Add some fresh summer tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce and you have an easy handheld meal!

Chicken Shwarma

So, I may have developed a little bit of a girl crush on Gwyneth Paltrow. This is a bit strange for me since I’m not really one to follow much of what celebrities do – their world usually doesn’t collide with mine often, but Gwyneth kept popping up . . . First on Glee (ohmygoodness, did I just admit I watch that show? Guilty pleasures!) and then on the cover of my Bon Appetit magazine. So I read her article and it turns out we have some similar interests: food, kiddos, music, sustainability . . . and now I think I really like her! The first recipe I made from her recipes was the Corn Vichyssoise. Cold, sweet, fresh summer corn soup with a dollop of sour cream = so refreshing on a hot summer day. Win.

Corn Vichyssoise

Next up, I tried her Mahi Mahi with Mango Avocado Salsa and it was amazing. I love the combo of avocado and mango over such a meaty fish. Such a great summer meal! I could see myself making this salsa to eat with tortilla chips too. So yummy.

Mango Avocado Mahi Mahi

Next up, Pioneer Woman’s Enchiladas. Ree really knows how to knock recipes out of the park. Everything I make by her turns out amazing (although usually pretty gut/calorie busting). So a couple notes – I made this for a friend that’s gluten free, so I thickened the sauce with cornstarch instead of the rue with flour that Ree suggests. This was my first time frying the corn tortillas in oil instead of simmering them in chicken stock and dang, that extra fat makes them extra delicious. We sliced some avocado thin and ate it with the enchiladas for the final win.

Pioneer Woman Enchiladas

I bought 16 pounds of cherries. Yes, you read that right. Sixteen. Pounds. On my defense, they were organic cherries that Whole Foods was running a special on for $2.99 a pound. So I bought the max you could buy and spend the next several days using the back end of a chop stick to pit cherries! This of course lead as much cherry consumption as possible. Enter Cherry Pie with Coconut Crumb Topping. We made them in mini tart pans so everyone got their own pie. Who doesn’t like having a pie all to themselves?

Cherry Mini Pie

Continuing on my cherry trend, I remembered a recipe I had seen on GoodLifeEats awhile back and went to check it out. Cherry Limeades quickly became our refreshing drink of choice. I made a giant batch of limeade and we regularly blended it with some ice and frozen cherries for a brief respite from our summer heat.

Cherry Limeades Cherry Limeades and Life Cereal

Whew, how’s that for a diverse round up of the food I’ve been cooking lately?!

What great recipes have you tried lately? 

Chai Concentrate

Angry Chicken posted about this recipe awhile back and I’ve already made three batches of it. I love chai. And while I know this isn’t REAL chai, it is delicious and versatile. You can add it to tea or coffee, drizzle it over ice cream, or if you really wanted to, add it to milk – kinda like chocolate milk, but chai milk. It’s just a little something special to make your daily coffee/tea a little bit more special. 🙂 I didn’t have cardamon when I made it, so I substituted some ground ginger and all spice. . . but really, you could put whatever spices you enjoy in the mix. I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong!

Recipe for Chai Concentrate

Chai Concentrate

Watermelon-Lime Agua Fresca

So Mindy had some leftover watermelon that needed a home and of course, I volunteered to take it! I originally had thought of making sorbet, but when it stopped raining and the temperatures spiked again I thought agua fresca.

You can use any melon to make an agua fresca since all it is simply pureed fruit, water and sugar. You can dress it up with a flavored simple syrup (like ginger or rosemary) or add seltzer water to make it fizzy. It’s easy, refreshing and delicious.

Recipe for Watermelon-Lime Agua Fresca

Pieces of one watermelon, pureed and strained
Equal amount of water (to watermelon juice)
Simple syrup, to taste
1/4 c lime juice

Mix and serve over ice.

Vodka Limoncello Mint Fizz

So each summer we seem to create a signature summer drink. Last summer, it was the Garden Party. This summer, once Jude was born, this drink was born out of the Limoncello-Mint Sorbet with Blackberries. It started with us adding vodka to the sorbet, which was delicious, although still a little sweet. Since I had leftover mint, I muddled it in a cocktail shaker with some Paula’s Texas Lemon, added ice, vodka and a bit of simple syrup and shook away. Poured it into an ice filled glass and topped it with some tonic water. Certainly a nice refreshing drink for these hot summer nights that we are still having!

Here are the basic proportions:
1 shot vodka
1/2 shot limoncello/Paula’s Texas Lemon
one sprig mint
1 tablespoon simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, then cooled)
tonic water to top of the glass

Rosemary Peach Lemonade

This is quickly becoming a recipe blog! Sorry guys – I will eventually get back to crafting but I haven’t really had the energy as of late. 🙂

So yeah, still not drinking liquor because this kiddo isn’t here yet (but I’m yearning for my first Garden Party to say ‘cheers’ to this already sweltering Austin summer). So when we had some friends over (that helped us repair our fence that fell down down a storm – thanks Bobby!), I figured we needed some sort of refreshing summer drink sans alcohol. Lemonade always comes to mind and I know there are a lot of ways to gussy up the tried and true recipes. So I set out to find something a little more unique. If you know me, you know that I love rosemary. A lot. So this recipe quickly peaked my interest! It was very easy to make and delicious – we all chugged down the pitcher that I made without any hesitations and everyone loved it! I will be making this one again!

Recipe for Rosemary Peach Lemonade

The Summer Drink To End All Drinks

Fino is one of our all time favorite Austin restaurants. I love their small plates – it’s my favorite way to eat dinner. Our favorite cocktail happens to reside at Fino. It’s called a “Garden Party”. Now the last time I was there (Tuesday, June 10th), the bartender was kind enough to give me the recipe. Now, I don’t think they would be ok with me sharing the exact recipe with the internet world, but I will share the ingredients and if you choose to mix and match and try to figure out the concoction on your own, so be it!

The Garden Party contains fresh strawberries, basil, lemon juice, Tanqueray 10 gin and Paula’s Texas Lemon. You could use limoncello if you wanted to, but I support the local Texas alcohol makers. 🙂

OK, how funny is this:

That was just too funny to pass up!