Category Archives: drinks

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.

A Home Beer Tasting

My husband and a friend decided  to have a beer tasting to celebrate their birthdays, which are a week apart.  What a good excuse!

With all the beer lovers we know, it was difficult to keep the guest list small enough to fit in our dining room, and we wanted to try a somewhat serious sit-down tasting. We ended up with just short of 20 guests and asked each to bring a 750ml bottle of beer, which works out to a little over an ounce per person. We even ordered a case of beer tasting glasses and I designed a beer tasting sheet (PDF).

Since this was our first tasting, we decided not to specify a style or to taste blind. When guests arrived, we grouped their beers into themed flights. We spontaneously paired these groupings with the food – recipes are at the bottom of this entry:

  • Paler ales and soft pretzels (our first time making them!)
  • Belgians and Liege waffles
  • IPAs and buffalo chicken dip
  • Porter with meatballs
  • Dessert-type beers with stout brownies

We also had plenty of snacks on hand, including sriracha popcorn (pop and toss with sriracha and melted butter), bacon caramel popcorn, cheese plates, hummus with vegetables, and an assortment of chips and nuts.

If I had to choose a favorite beer from the night, it would be the Collaboration No. 3 – Stingo, a joint brew by Boulevard and Pretty Things.


  • Bacon Caramel Popcornbacon caramel popcorn recipe
  • Soft Pretzels: via Tasting Table. I let the dough rise all day at room temperature.
  • Liege Waffles: used the recipe on the package of Lars Pearl Sugar because it was so much simpler than others I found. I let it rise 3 hours or so, longer than recommended
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip: Pressure cooked 5 skinless chicken thighs on high for 15 minutes in some Franks’ Red Hot sauce. Shredded and mixed with a package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot, 1 cup shredded cheddar, season to taste and add more hot sauce if desired. Filled in ramekins, sprinkled with blue cheese, baked at 350 until bubbling.
  • Stout Brownies: I used this recipe but wasn’t too happy with it. It tasted great (how could it not?) but it completely stuck to the foil and was a total mess.

Coffee Cupping with New Harvest

I love smelling good things. Especially coffee.

This has been a long-time hobby for me – when I was a kid tagging along with my mom at the supermarket, I’d collect beans that had fallen onto the tray underneath the bulk coffee bins, bring them home, label them based on variety, and add them to my coffee collection. I’d delight in going through my collection and sniffing each bean to experience the world of Pumpkin or French Vanilla or Dark Roast.

It was fun until I got a coffee bean stuck up my nose.

Given my coffee-sniffing childhood habit, it’s only predictable that I’d end up at a New Harvest cupping. A coffee cupping is basically a coffee tasting, but unless you’re a coffee professional, it’s probably different than your usual coffee experience.

Coffee Cupping

A cupping is a very precise ritual: First, the grounds are weighed and placed in small bowls. We smelled the grounds dry for an initial impression.  Then, water is heated to the perfect temperature and poured over the grounds using a pourover kettle, after which we waited for a specific amount of time.

Once the coffee had steeped, we were told to drag a spoon through the crust of grounds on the surface while inhaling the aroma. Breaking the crust releases all the fragrant aroma compounds.

After we all put our noses to the grind (sorry), we skimmed the grounds off the top and started tasting. The best way to taste is to slurp the coffee out of a spoon, similar to wine tasting. Slurping aerates the coffee, releasing more flavor.

I loved this experience because I learned more about my own coffee preferences and also got some insight into how New Harvest purchases and roasts the beans. Best of all, I managed to keep the coffee beans out of my nose.

If you’d like to experience a coffee cupping, New Harvest has one almost every Friday at 3pm. For more details, see their public classes page.

New Harvest Coffee Roasters
1005 Main Street #108, Pawtucket, RI
Open 8:00 am – 5:00 pm M-F
Cuppings Friday 3pm


Kon Tiki, Tucson

When we were in Tucson I dragged (I am not exaggerating) my husband and parents to Kon Tiki, an untouched 1963 tiki bar. We weren’t even in the mood for a drink, and man were those drinks strong! But I wanted to bask in the Polynesian surroundings and leave with a tiki mug. This one was especially cute.

Mai Tai
Photo by Jeremy May

Its current content, also a perfect Arizona souvenir, is equally likely to put some hair – ahem, spines – on your chest.

Kon Tiki Cactus