Smoothie Moves

After trying a delicious (but expensive) smoothie at the gym a few months ago, I was inspired to start making them at home. Now they’re part of my breakfast routine at least twice a week.

My basic recipe below will make two servings, or about four cups. If you have large 2-cup mason jars, it’s easy to take these on the go.

Wild Blueberry Chocolate Smoothie

Here’s my typical smoothie base:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 cups of almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds (I soak them in the almond milk overnight)
  • a handful of greens or about 1/2 cup of frozen spinach
  • 1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill whey protein – you can omit this, but I love the frothiness and body it provides

Then, I give it some flavor with at least 1 cup of fruit, usually one or more of the following.

  • frozen (strawberries or blueberries are great, other berries have too many seeds for my taste)
  • fresh (papaya or pineapple are nice)
  • frozen fruit pulps (such as the Goya branded ones found in the international freezer section of my grocery store – I’ve tried these in tamarind, passion fruit, and blackberry)

Sometimes, I add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder (great with blueberries!). I’m low on fruit, or just in the mood, I sometimes make a peanut butter chocolate smoothie with cocoa powder and peanut powder.

The blueberry chocolate smoothie pictured above had the base ingredients with a cup of frozen wild blueberries and 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder. My wildest smoothie so far has been carrot cake, with shredded carrot, golden raisins, flax seeds, cinnamon, and a spoonful of sour cream for flavor.

Packing for a Two-Week Trip (Again)

Two years ago, I got a Timbuk2 Aviator backpack for a two-week trip to Europe and documented what I packed and the results.

I’ll be going on a similar trip again this year, so I’m reviewing my packing list to see what I’ll change this time. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Swap for smaller / lighter: pajamas, running tank, water bottle (just bought a collapsible Vapur bottle), dress, raincoat (just got this, very packable)
  • Swap for better: Instead of $10 Forever 21 skinny jeans (seriously!) I picked up a pair of Prana Halle pants in grey. I like that they convert to capris. I’m also going to try this Royal Robbins shirt – the sleeves can be configured in three ways.
  • Skip: Swimsuit (didn’t use), printed leggings (wore once), possibly the rain jacket depending on forecast.
  • Add: Sandals would have been nice in the heat, so I’m hunting for a lightweight, flat pair that I can walk miles in. I usually wear sandals with a 2″ heel and they are too bulky to pack.

Clothes for a 2-week trip to Europe


Here’s the full list from last time with notes:

  • 2 dresses – pack a very thin, light dress instead of jersey
  • 1 skirt – keep
  • 2 pairs of leggings (1 black, 1 gray print) – skip 1
  • 2 pairs of tights (1 black, 1 gray) – skip 1
  • 1 cardigan (gray) – keep (similar)
  • 4 tanks (black, gray, blue, green) – maybe bring 1 very light running tank and 1 or 2 others
  • 1 collared sleeveless shirt – maybe skip
  • 1 light, short-sleeved sweater -replace with tshirt
  • 1 pair running shorts – keep
  • 1 pair sneakers – keep
  • 1 pair flats – pack sandals in addition, or instead
  • underthings – keep, of course
  • sleepwear – bring something much lighter / smaller
  • scarf – keep
  • rain jacket – maybe keep depending on weather
  • on the plane: jeans / tshirt / hoodie – swapping jeans for pants

Truffled Mushroom Pizza

We’d just returned from a weekend out of town and Thursday’s vegetable share was waiting in the fridge. Two of this week’s items were cremini mushrooms from RI Mushroom Co. and pea greens from Allen Farms. We also had a stray shallot and some salty truffled cheese from Tony’s Colonial on Atwells.

Since I was short on time, I picked up a premade pizza crust from the supermarket. What a scam! It was almost $5 and I’d rather be eating the crust I usually make from this recipe, which costs less than 50 cents a pizza. Still, it was a delicious and fast dinner.

Truffled Mushroom Pizza

Recipe: Truffled Mushroom Pizza


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small shallot
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large handfuls pea greens
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 oz truffled cheese
  • 1 premade pizza crust, or your own dough
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Put dough on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil (I transferred mine to a pizza stone, whatever you prefer).
  3. Slice shallot thinly, separate into rings, and spread over the crust.
  4. In a large sautée pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium high heat.
  5. Add pea greens and stir until evenly wilted, about 2 minutes.
  6. Spread pea greens over the crust, and top with a grind of salt.
  7. Wipe out the pan and melt the other tbsp of butter.
  8. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
  9. Stir the mushrooms frequently until they let off and then reabsorb their liquid, about 6-8 minutes.
  10. Spread the mushrooms over the crust.
  11. Crumble the truffle cheese over the pizza, and top with a final grind of salt and pepper.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven 8-10 minutes.

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

My Comfort Meal: Creamed Spinach

When I was single and just barely making the rent, I’d often find creative ways to make a satisfying meal out of frozen vegetables. One of my favorite comfort meals is still a big, slightly spicy bowl of creamed spinach. Here’s how I make it.

Creamed Spinach

Recipe: Really Easy Creamed Spinach


  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen spinach (I prefer whole-leaf, but chopped works too)
  • chopped garlic or onions (optional, and perfectly satisfying without)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 c milk
  • Salt
  • Tabasco


  1. Defrost the frozen spinach in a pot over medium heat. If you bought the type that’s frozen in a block, it’s especially necessary to heat it for a while, flipping once or twice. But if you have the kind in a bag, it should be really quick.
  2. Meanwhile, in another pot, melt the butter over medium heat. (If you’re adding chopped onions and/or garlic, you can add them to the melted butter).
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk until combined. It’ll be lumpy.
  4. Still whisking, gradually add the milk. As it heats, it’ll combine to form a smooth, thick paste (a.k.a. a roux).
  5. Add spinach to the the milk mixture and stir to combine. If it wasn’t totally defrosted yet, just keep stirring and heating for a minute or two.
  6. Add Tabasco and salt to taste. A grate of nutmeg is also nice.
  7. Eat it by yourself, out of a bowl, without apologies.

Spelt and Kale Lunch Salad

If you aim bring lunch to work every day, I’m sure you’ve had one of these nights: it’s past your bedtime, you have absolutely nothing lunch-worthy in the fridge, and you want an easy option to pack the next morning.

For this salad, I cooked spelt overnight in the slow cooker. I worried it would get too soggy (most slow cooker recipes were written for a breakfast porridge), but it emerged intact and springy. The rest of the recipe was easy to assemble in the morning.


Recipe: Spelt and Kale Lunch Salad


  • 1 cup uncooked spelt (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey (or more to taste)
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds


  1. To slow-cook spelt: place spelt, water, and salt in a slow cooker. Cook overnight on low, about 6-8 hours. (Alternately, cook spelt according to the package directions.)
  2. Pour off any excess water from your cooked spelt.
  3. Make the vinaigrette: in a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, honey, and mustard until combined. Taste for sweetness and add additional honey if needed. Slowly add olive oil while continuing to whisk.
  4. Chop the kale: I like to roll it into a thin, long bundle and cut into 1/2 inch strands.
  5. Add the kale to the vinaigrette. If you’re not squeamish, massaging the dressing into the raw kale by hand will considerably soften your salad and make it easier to eat.
  6. Core and chop the apple.
  7. Add the apple, sunflower seeds, and spelt to the salad and mix thoroughly.

Mexican Cocoa Nib Cookies

We made the excellent decision of ordering five pounds of bulk cocoa nibs from Urban Greens. I’m going to a friend’s birthday cookout today, and since he’s a creative cook, I thought some cocoa nib cookies were in order.

Too bad the recipes I found were a bit boring. Most mixed cocoa nibs with chocolate chips, which is like putting a precious stone in a piece of costume jewelry. Some were ultra healthy paleo “cookies”. I wanted something decadent and creative, so I adapted a basic double-chocolate cookie recipe with thousands of positive reviews into this more unusual combination.

Mexican Cocoa Nib Cookies | StephanieDoes

Recipe: Mexican Cocoa Nib Cookies

Summary: Double chocolate spiced cookies with cocoa nibs and pecans. Makes about 20 cookies.


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 pinches cayenne powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne) in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the softened butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until fluffy.
  4. While mixing on low, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined (do not overmix).
  5. Stir in the cocoa nibs and pecans until evenly mixed.
  6. Drop onto the cookie sheet in mounds the size of a ping-pong ball. No need to make smooth balls.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookie is baked on the outside but still soft. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Preparation time: 6 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Homemade Spam Musubi

Over 5 years after our honeymoon in Hawaii, I’m recreating one of my favorite discoveries of the trip: Spam Musubi.

We picked some up in a convenience store near the volcanoes and it was an unexpectedly good breakfast. It was also the first time I’d ever eaten Spam. Though we had plenty of fresh fruit, raw fish, and other delights, this portable snack stuck in my mind.

When individually wrapped in cling wrap, these are perfect on-the-go snacks or work lunches. The one in the photo below might be a bit worse for the wear after a trip to work in my bag, but tasted great and held together well.



Spam Musubi

Makes 10. Adapted from several recipes.

Sushi Rice
  • 2 cups uncooked sushi rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
Rinse the rice in a strainer or colander. Combine with water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and water absorbed.
In a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, oil, sugar and salt and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Stir into the cooked rice and continue stirring for a minute or two until the rice is glossy.
  • Rice (from recipe above), cooled halfway to room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 ounce container Spam
  • 3 to 5 sheets sushi nori (dry seaweed), depending on desired width of wrapping strip
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. Slice Spam lengthwise into 10 slices. This sounds difficult, but just cut in half first, then cut each half into 5. It’s easy to cut.
  2. Stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Brush sauce on both sides of Spam slices and let sit for at least five minutes.
  4. While it’s marinating, saw out the bottom of the Spam can with a box cutter and fold over the edges so they’re not as sharp. Or, if you’re civilized (I’m not), you might own a musubi press.
  5. Heat oil at medium high in a large cast iron skillet. Cook slices until lightly browned; no need to wipe them off, just make sure they don’t burn.
  6. If you’d like, you can brush Spam with any leftover marinade after browning.
  7. Cut seaweed sheets in half (for complete coverage) or thirds (for a narrower strip).
  8. Put a strip of seaweed on your work surface, then the spam can on top, with an opening on the bottom.
  9. Press a handful of rice into the bottom of the Spam can from the top, then top with a slice of Spam,  and press down on the spam. Gently remove the Spam can and wrap one side of the  seaweed strip around the rice and spam.
  10. Dip your hand in a bit of water and wet the remaining length of the seaweed strip, then complete the wrap. The water helps the seaweed stick to itself.
  11. Wrap individually pieces in cling wrap if you’re not going to eat them right away.

Two Weeks in Germany with the Timbuk2 Aviator

Here’s a post-trip followup to my earlier post about packing the Timbuk2 Aviator.

I was very happy about my decision to take a backpack instead of a rolling suitcase.  After our flight, we had a train journey with three transfers going from Frankfurt to Berlin – and that was just our first destination. Rolling a suitcase through stations and down the train aisles would have been frustrating.

My Timbuk2 Aviator in the train station

Unlike some other huge backpacks I’ve worn, this one didn’t stick out far enough to make me feel like I was going to knock people over. When I first saw it, it was taller than I expected (extending above my shoulders), but it’s a good tradeoff for a slimmer pack. The backpack was comfortable and distributed the weight nicely on my shoulders; I never pulled out the hip straps.

I brought a small purse for everything I needed at constant reach – passport, wallet, phone. Like other backpacks I’ve owned, there’s no easy way to reach inside the backpack while you’re wearing it. Had it been cooler, had my clothing not suffered from minuscule female pockets, or had I been willing to wear one of those passport holders around my neck, I probably could have forgone the extra bag, but it was small and convenient, and I needed to bring one for day trips anyway.

Timbuk2 Aviator in Action

The packing cubes worked perfectly, and I packed well for an unpredictable trip which ranged from 50 degree rain to 90 degree blazing sun. As we traveled, we picked up some souvenirs along the way – beans from Bonanza Coffee Roasters, some spirits from Dr. Kochan Schnapskultur… even with heavier bags, we still were able to hike to the top of the Flak Tower in Humboldthain before our train out of the city.

We’d also packed a collapsible zippered shopping bag from Target. I picked it up in Portland OR last year and it’s fantastic, because it has more structure than most collapsible bags and folds flat. Before we left the country, I put my packing cubes in the folding tote and stuffed my backpack full of delicious German groceries – dark chocolate spread, Haribo gummies, dessert wine, chocolate bars, even my favorite fizzy vitamins. I zipped away the backpack straps and checked it on the way back – it weighed in at 13kg. The backpack provided good structure and protection, and our fragile goodies arrived unscathed.

Packing for a 2-week Trip with the Timbuk2 Aviator

When we booked a 2-week trip to Germany, I needed to replace my broken old backpack. Timbuk2’s Aviator backpack (the smaller, non-wheeled version) caught my eye. I liked how the front fully unzipped so you could pack with full access, just like a suitcase. I also liked the subtle design and black color; it’s more of a city bag than something you’d take on a camping trip.

The reviews were perplexing – some said it was perfect for a weekend trip, some for a week or two. The inner dimensions of the bag weren’t published, so I thought these photos might be helpful to others.

Here’s what I’m packing. It helps that we’ll be in an apartment with a washing machine during the first week.

Clothes for a 2-week trip to Europe

  • 2 dresses
  • 1 skirt
  • 2 pairs of leggings (1 black, 1 gray print)
  • 2 pairs of tights (1 black, 1 gray)
  • 1 cardigan (gray)
  • 4 tanks (black, gray, blue, green)
  • 1 collared sleeveless shirt
  • 1 light, short-sleeved sweater
  • 1 pair running shorts
  • 1 pair sneakers
  • 1 pair flats
  • underthings
  • sleepwear
  • scarf
  • rain jacket
  • on the plane: jeans / tshirt / hoodie

I bought the slim packing cubes from eBags and luckily they fit perfectly in the backpack. Everything except the shoes and rain jacket easily fit into 3 packing cubes.

I packed these in the main compartment along with 1 pair of shoes, an umbrella, a rain jacket, and a hairbrush. I stacked them on their short edge to make more space, but if I didn’t have much else in the main compartment, I would have laid them flat.

The top compartment of the bag will fit my glasses, chargers, and a bag each of liquid and non-liquid toiletries. I like this clear quart bag by Flight 001. I felt frivolous ordering it but I’m so tired of sandwich bags that disintegrate halfway through a trip.

The backpack zips up nicely and cinches on the sides.

That’s it! I’ll tell you how it goes.

Mardi Gras Dinner Party

For the past few years, I’ve looked at the calendar the night before Mardi Gras and swore that the next year, I would remember to invite people over for a dinner party. This year we finally did.

Mardi Gras Dinner

Our menu:

Muffaletta Spread  *  Fried Peanuts  *  Pickled Okra
Raw Oysters  *  Grilled Oysters
Jambalaya (with andouille, chicken, and shrimp)
Bananas Foster  *  King Cake

(Who doesn’t want two desserts?)

This was a low-stress meal. The jambalaya comes together in under and hour and requires no fussing or fancy plating; I did the chopping ahead of time and started cooking while we drank cocktails and ate snacks. Our guests brought a ton of oysters and a pitcher of hurricanes.