Category Archives: Beverages

Better than Starbucks Chocolate Frappuccinos

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With finals week approaching, I thought it would only be appropriate to share my new favorite way to consume copious amounts of caffeine. I’ve come up with a spectacular, easy way to get a drink that tastes as good as Starbucks without breaking a grad student’s budget (plus I bet my recipe is even lower in calories then the purchased kind!). If you are a coffee drinker, I bet you’ll have almost everything you need right in your kitchen. The one thing you may have to add to your grocery list is chocolate syrup or powder. The addition of the chocolate completely transforms the every day ordinary (sometimes boring) cup of coffee. To say that I am totally obsessed with this recipe is an understatement–I have literally been addicted and have made one every day! Give it a try! I bet you’ll love it as much as I do.

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The Ingredients:

Necessary equipment: blender or large food processor 

  • 1 cup brewed coffee–I usually let mine chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes but if you don’t have the time to let it chill, just add more ice
  • 1/2-1 cup milk–depending on how strong you like the coffee flavor
  • 2 tbs chocolate syrup or chocolate powder
  • 1 tsp or 1 packet of sweetener of your choice
  • 1 cup ice

How to:

  • Add ice, coffee, and milk to blender
  • Pulse until smooth
  • Add chocolate syrup and sweeter and pulse until well incorporated
  • Top with whipped cream if desired and enjoy:)

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Peach Sangria & Our New Bar

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Peach Sangria & Our New Bar

We decided to break our new bar in right by having a Sangria night. It is actually a chest! It is on casters and is able to be displayed open or closed. I am so in love with it and think that it really adds a lot of character to our apartment. This recipe was inspired from when Matt and I used to frequent a restaurant called Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant while we lived in Indianapolis. Our favorite part of their menu was the Peach Sangria. It is so delicious! What we love about it is that they dice the fruit into small pieces that get wine soaked and super flavorful. Not often do I actually eat the fruit that comes with Sangria but for this particular drink it really is the best part. We even tried hard to obtain the recipe from the bartender–but unfortunately they wouldn’t budge! This recreation is really great though and I am wicked happy with how it came out. Our neighbor, Jenny, usually doesn’t like Sangria but had a few glasses! So I think it’s safe to say this recipe is a success. I added Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea to the mix and it really helped bring out the sweetness of the peaches and add a lot of great flavor to the mixture. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Red Wine–we used a Malbec
  • 1 cup Crystal Light Peach Flavored Ice tea
  • 1/2 cup Seltzer water
  • 1/4 cup Peach Liqueur
  • 1-2 tbs. sugar depending on your desired sweetness
  • 2 peaches, diced
  • 1 granny smith apple, diced

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Achieving a Balanced Diet With the Help of Your Juicer

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Achieving a Balanced Diet With the Help of Your Juicer

Some days it is really hard to get the recommended daily allowance of fruits and veggies in your diet. An easy way to make sure you are getting a few extra servings is by using your juicer. The great thing about juicing is that if you always use carrots and apples as your base, despite adding spinach or other hearty greens, it still retains a sweet flavor. Plus you know that there are no additives–you are only consuming fresh fruits and veggies not sugar filled juice cocktails. It is also said that juicing allows you to digest the produce more readily so your body is making the most of the nutrients–but there is a draw back to juicing. Juicing doesn’t provide a high amount of digestible fiber like just eating a piece of fruit with edible skin does (fruits are most fiber rich with the skins left intact–that’s when it is important to get your fiber from a different source too–from beans, corn, whole wheat pasta, brown rice etc). It’s important to only juice as much as you are going to drink in one setting because fresh juice doesn’t store well (no preservatives = gross bacteria growth). Great juicers are really coming down in price too, so they are a great gadget to add to your kitchen.

I absolutely love my juicer and love the fact that I’ve never had the same juice twice. I often just gather whatever produce I have in the fridge and give them a try. Today I had an apple, 3/4 cup of carrots, a kiwi, 3 ripe plums, 1/4 cup of green grapes, and 1/2 cup of strawberries. I usually toss in a handful of spinach or some fresh ginger but I didn’t have any of that on hand today. I really enjoyed today’s combo though–I had never juiced plums before (remove the pits obviously) and I loved the flavor and color it added to my juice. There’s no real recipe–it’s pretty much trial and error to find what you like. I often incorporate cucumber into my juicing combinations too, which is really light and refreshing. Adding carrots gives you a lot of great health benefits (vitamin A and antioxidants) and also keeps the cost of juicing down. Enjoy!

Strawberry Watermelon Cocktails…just in time for the weekend!

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Strawberry Watermelon Cocktails…just in time for the weekend!

Matt has been away on business all week so I always like to try and surprise him with something special when he arrives home. I thought that since he’s been so busy, a cocktail would be the perfect sweet treat to come home to and relax with. He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s manly enough to admit to enjoying fruity drinks. He’s been sipping on my fruity drinks for the past 5 years and realizes most often they really do taste better then the more manly counterparts. We’ve been married for over a year and a half now and he’s finally started ordering his own sweet tasting cocktail, instead of always stealing half of mine. Don’t get me wrong…he still enjoys a good beer or good glass of wine, but we both agree that nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day than a light, crisp cocktail. I’ve never made a watermelon cocktail before, but I fell in love. I see many more Strawberry Watermelon cocktails in our future–with or without alcohol, both versions taste fabulous.

The Ingredients:

Equipment needed: blender & a small mesh strainer

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Sparkling water or Sprite
  • Liquor of your choice–I used Tequila
  • Lime juice or a splash of orange juice

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Refreshing Peach & Mint Iced Tea

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Refreshing Peach & Mint Iced Tea

A few weeks ago, Matt & I went out with two of our very great friends Greg & Katee. They brought us to a restaurant called Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in West Chester, PA. The food was great but the stand out item for me was the peach iced tea. I never used to like iced tea–but my very midwestern husband has converted me to a sweet tea sipping fanatic. Ever since Matt & I tasted the peach tea we have been obsessed with the stuff–seriously, drinking it by the gallons. I have since been working on a recipe and I think I’ve done it! It’s super easy too and stores well in the fridge for a few days…that is, if it even lasts that long.

Ingredients:

Recipe makes 1 gallon

  • 2-3 Ripe Peaches
  • Sugar
  • Tea bags–I use the Lipton Cold Brew but definitely use your favorite
  • Fresh mintoptional 
  • Cheese cloth or a coffee filter

Mango fever! Avocado Mango Salsa & Strawberry Mango Smoothies.

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Mango fever! Avocado Mango Salsa & Strawberry Mango Smoothies.

I had never been a huge fan a mangos but after dining at Cuba Libre in Old City (fantastic food!) and sampling their Avocado-Mango Salsa I quickly realized that I was missing out! The next time I hit Produce Junction (located in PA & NJ…a land of amazingness! think whole sale fruit & veggies…CHEAP!) I grabbed a few. They weren’t ripe initially and since I was craving them ASAP, I popped them into a paper bag with an apple for two days. Heard of this before? All I remember from my years of chemistry is that apples produce a gas that acts as an accelerant to help ripen other fruits! Thank you chemistry for the practical lesson for once! Anyhow, I created a few yummy things to share!

Avocado-Mango Salsa:

Matt & I are obsessed with guacamole so I knew after we sampled the salsa at Cube Libre I would have to figure out how to recreate it. Please forgive me! I forgot to take a picture! Next time for sure…that is if I can abstain from stuffing my face! ha!

The Ingredients:  

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup red onion (a little or a lot…you call the shots)
  • jalapeños (optional)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • small pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper
How to:
  • Dice the mango–a great how to located here: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cut_a_mango
  • Follow the same rules with the avocado–I love dicing them in similar sizes because it really helps the ingredients to mesh & do their delicious things!
  • Add the 1/4 cup of diced red onion to the mix–if you aren’t a huge fan of red onions, give them a rinse with cold water! it realllly helps to take the bite out of the onion and mellow them out (seriously, try it!)
  • Dice the jalapeños…as few or as many as you like depending on your preference
  • Give the lime a roll on the counter or pop it in the microwave to “really get the juices flowing”–name that chef!
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Mash it around with a fork to help really bring the ingredients together
Refrigerate until chilled and serve with tortilla chips–homemade or store bought. As you can tell it’s definitely just a recipe you can throw together. It’s super refreshing and perfect for summer.
Not to mention the great health benefits of avocado and mangos! Seriously good food for your body. It’s a win win snack! Tasty and great for you.