Category Archives: Beverages

Caramelized Banana Milkshakes

Caramelized Banana MilkshakesThis post really couldn’t come at a better time: New York weather has officially crossed over into the “totally disgusting” zone. Blazing hot, humid AF—you get the picture. There will be no baking in my Brooklyn kitchen until Monday, at the very least.

I love my apartment—love it!—but its one major drawback is that the kitchen is both windowless and un-air-conditioned. There is no amount or configuration of tiny Costco tower fans that can counteract the all-consuming heat of a 350F oven on a sticky 99F NYC day. Believe me, I’ve tried them all.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesSo, let’s skip the oven this weekend and make milkshakes instead. Caramelized Banana Milkshakes, to be specific.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana MilkshakesSure, they require five minutes of stove time to caramelize the bananas, but that small amount of cooking will be totally worth it when you’re blitzing up frosty, brown sugar & banana milkshakes.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesWe’re talking pure banana flavor here, unencumbered by cinnamon or anything else. You may, of course, add a pinch of whatever you like, but don’t go too crazy. Simplicity is the name of the game.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesThis recipe is a breeze: three steps, four ingredients (six, if you count the recommended whipped cream and drizzle of caramel or butterscotch). The hardest part is waiting for the bananas to cool so that they don’t melt your ice cream. After that, it’s just a blitz in the blender and deciding which of your dwindling stash of paper straws you’re going to use today.

Oh, and parking yourself directly in front of your air conditioner until the heatwave is over, but you already knew that.Caramelized Banana Milkshakes

Caramelized Banana Milkshakes
makes about 2-3 small milkshakes

3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream

For Garnish (optional):
caramel or butterscotch sauce
whipped cream

Peel bananas and slice into 1-inch chunks.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and pan is hot. Carefully add banana slices and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Combine bananas and ice cream in a high-powered blender. Blitz until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with caramel/butterscotch sauce and/or whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately.Caramelized Banana MilkshakesCaramelized Banana Milkshakes

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Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYour eyes are not deceiving you. I’m posting a cold beverage on a sub-30F day here in NYC. If you think I’ve lost my mind, you’re late to the party—I’ve been known to make ice cream in February.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasThe truth is that a small miracle occurred a couple of weeks ago when I managed to find better-than-decent ruby red grapefruit for a third time this winter, something that’s virtually unheard of in New York. I’m lucky to find quality grapefruit once per year (see here, here, and here), so three times is just…well, it’s making my inner Texan very happy. I try to keep that part of myself under control, but it’s very difficult around good South Texas citrus (and enchiladas), so here we are.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas are exactly what I want in these last weeks of winter. They’re a fruity, bright, seasonal, sippable reminder that there will soon be a day when I can leave my coat at home. If you’ve never heard of an agua fresca, it’s just a combination of fresh fruit, sugar, and water. I made a Spicy Mango version last summer that’ll knock your socks off, and I’m excited to be adding a wintry version to my repertoire today ❤ Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAs their name states, these aguas frescas are made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit and lime juices. They’re mixed together in a pitcher (or a big measuring cup, if you’re me) and sweetened to taste with a little simple syrup. I don’t care for super-sweet beverages in general, so I tend to limit the syrup to 1/3 cup for the entire batch, but feel free to sweeten to your heart’s content.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYou’ll also need simple syrup for salting the rims of your glasses. Salt is totally dreamy with both grapefruit and lime, so this is one lily worth gilding. Just dip the rim of each glass into a dish of simple syrup and then into salt. Voila! A salted rim 🙂 I used regular Kosher salt here, but anything slightly coarse will do.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAdd a few ice cubes to each of your salt-rimmed glasses and then fill them 3/4 full of the juice mixture. Most aguas frescas are blended with regular cold water, but I like to top these off with a little sparkling water. I use Topo Chico and love the subtle fizz it provides.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAren’t these fun?! I love their bright color and fresh, tangy flavor, and those salted rims, of course. They remind me a lot of a Salty Dog cocktail (aka grapefruit + vodka/white tequila + salt), but without the booze. I may or may not have taken to calling these Salty Schnauzers 🙂 Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYou may, of course, add liquor to the mix, but as someone who doesn’t drink anymore, I’m always thrilled when there’s an alcohol-free option that isn’t soda, juice, or plain seltzer. I may be sober, but that doesn’t mean I only drink boring drinks.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasNope. I don’t do boring.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas
makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 cups fresh ruby red grapefruit juice (about 3 large grapefruits)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 large, juicy limes)
1/3-1/2 cup simple syrup* (method in recipe notes)
ice
12 ounces sparkling water (I like Topo Chico)

For the salted rims:
1/4 cup Kosher or other coarse salt
1/4 cup simple syrup

In a pitcher or large (4+ cup) liquid measuring cup, stir together grapefruit and lime juices and simple syrup. Set aside.

Salt the rims of the glasses. Put simple syrup in a wide, shallow bowl. Make a bed of salt on a small plate. Working with one small glass at a time, dip the rim of each glass into the simple syrup and then into the salt. Repeat with remaining five glasses.

Place a few ice cubes in each glass. Fill 3/4 full with juice mixture and top each with a little sparkling water. Drinks will fizz (but not overflow) when mixture hits the salt rim. Serve immediately.

Aguas frescas will separate slowly as they sit; counteract this with a light stir. Any leftover juice mixture will keep covered in the refrigerator for a day or so.

Note: To make simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before using. Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas

Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasNew York City has reached a level of heat and humidity that can only be solved with one big cleansing thunderstorm. The trouble is, we don’t really get thunderstorms in New York City—maybe three times a year, and they’re never as spectacular as the storms in Texas.

I recall many times over the course of my childhood where my whole family would gather on our covered porch to watch the rain. Sounds dull, but when you live in a place that’s almost always teetering on the edge of drought, heavy thunder-and-lightning temperature-dropping rain is a thing to see.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasI had forgotten all about watching thunderstorms until I visited my older sister last summer. We had spent all morning boating on Lake Austin, where it was sunny and very hot (because Texas). By time we all got home and cleaned up though, the skies were ominous and the air was so thick, walking outside was more akin to swimming than anything else (because Texas).Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas FrescasWhen thunder started cracking, my sister broke out the blender, made some watermelon aguas frescas, and shuffled us all (three geriatric dogs included) out onto the covered porch to watch the storm. I don’t remember what we talked about out there, but I know I’ll remember watching that storm with (almost) all my favorite people and those cool lime-scented watermelon aguas frescas for a long time.

And also how my sister and I put on head lamps and took jigsaw puzzling to a new level as the storms continued and the electricity went out three hours later.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasBut back to aguas frescas. I should probably explain what they are. That’s a good place to start, right? Aguas frescas are a blended beverage made of water, ripe fresh fruit, and sugar, that are popular in Mexico and parts of the U.S. They’re super refreshing and make for a great non-alcoholic option on hot summer days.

I love my sister’s watermelon version, but I got the idea for these Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas last weekend and just had to figure them out. It only took one try—when you’re blending mango, lime, and jalapeño, you’re all but guaranteed to have great results.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas Frescas begin with a jalapeño simple syrup. This is the most difficult part of the entire process. Heat equal parts sugar and water with two split jalapeños until the sugar has dissolved.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasLet it steep until the syrup has a good amount of heat…Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas…and strain it out.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSo, yeah, not difficult at all. This recipe makes more than you’ll need for aguas frescas, but you can keep jalapeño simple syrup in the fridge for weeks on end. It goes well in cocktails and mocktails too—you won’t have any trouble finding excuses to use this combination of sweetness and heat, I promise.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasPour 1/2 cup of your jalapeño simple syrup into a blender, along with some fresh lime juice, water, and 3 cups of fresh mango chunks.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasBlitz it all until smooth…Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas Frescas…and strain out the pulp.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasPour it over ice and garnish with lime slices. And maybe some of those paper straws you bought at Target four years ago and keep forgetting about.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasIf you love mango and sweet heat, this is the drink for you. Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas have a rich, sweet mango flavor and a bit of a kick from the jalapeño simple syrup, while the lime and water balance it all out. This is what summer tastes like. For me, anyway.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasWe have storms in the forecast later this week. I’d love to invite you all over to watch them and drink some Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas on a covered porch, but this is New York and nobody watches storms. Also, I don’t have a covered porch.

It’s the thought that counts though, right?Spicy Mango Aguas Frescas

Spicy Mango Aguas Fresca
makes about 6 servings

3 cups fresh mango chunks (about 2 large mangos)
1/2 cup jalapeño simple syrup (recipe below)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2-3 cups water
ice, for serving
lime slices, for serving (optional)

Combine mango chunks, simple syrup, lime juice, and 2 cups of water in a high-powered blender. Put on the lid and blend on medium speed until smooth. Taste for sweetness and heat, and add another cup of water, if desired (I did).

Place a mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture through the strainer, pressing the pulp to get as much liquid as possible. Discard pulp.

To serve, place a few ice cubes in each of 6 small glasses. Divide aguas frescas among glasses. Garnish with lime slices.

Leftover agua fresca may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Mixture will separate over time; stir before serving.

Jalapeño Simple Syrup
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2-3 fresh jalapeños, stemmed and halved

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool for 45-60 minutes, or until the concentration of flavor/heat is to your liking. Strain out jalapeño halves and any seeds. Store simple syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator.Spicy Mango Aguas FrescasSpicy Mango Aguas Frescas

Wassail

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}My family didn’t do any holiday baking when I was growing up and we’ve never been much for big holiday traditions, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without my mom’s Wassail.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}Yes, Wassail. Like hot mulled cider.

Like “Here We Come A-wassailing.”

Does that song make anyone else automatically think of A Claymation Christmas Celebration, where they go a-waffling? No? Just me?

Whatever happened to the California Raisins?!

Anyway…

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}Wassail, y’all. It’s delicious and you should all make some this holiday season. My mom makes a big pot of the stuff in the days leading up to Christmas and then reheats it as necessary. And, oh, is it necessary.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}You’re going to drop by to deliver a gift or have a chat? Great! Would you like some Wassail?

You want to play a raucous multi-hour game of Dominoes? I’ll get the Wassail.

You’re going to go for a walk to see your neighbors’ insane Christmas light displays? I’ll make you a to-go cup.

Texas missed the memo that it’s Christmas and it’s blazing hot outside? Let me pour this Wassail over ice and top it with a little splash of seltzer.

We’re going a-wassailing? I don’t exactly know what that is, but I’ll bring the Wassail.

Bottom line: Wassail is appropriate for any and all holiday occasions.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}My mom’s recipe comes together in just half an hour and couldn’t be easier. You literally simmer a half-gallon of apple cider with a couple cinnamon sticks and then jazz it up with some pineapple juice, the juice and zest of a lemon, some honey and nutmeg. Serve it up with a slice of lemon or another cinnamon stick and prepare for a mug of sweet, tangy holiday bliss 😍Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}I love that this Wassail is non-alcoholic. It’s appropriate and appealing for kids and grown ups alike, and it’s a rare non-seltzer/coffee/soda option for those of us who don’t drink 🙋

This seasonal beverage has been a part of my Christmas memories for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine a holiday season without it. Make a batch in the next few days and it might become your tradition, too.Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Wassail
from my mom’s recipe box
makes about 3 quarts

1 medium lemon
1 half-gallon (8 cups) apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
24 ounces (3 cups) unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For Garnish:
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced, optional
cinnamon sticks, optional

Use a vegetable peeler to remove lemon zest in thick strips. Slice lemon in half and squeeze into a small bowl. Set aside zest and 3 tablespoons of the juice.

Combine apple cider and cinnamon sticks in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for five minutes. Stir in lemon zest strips and juice, pineapple juice, honey, and nutmeg. Bring back to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for five more minutes.

Strain out lemon zest and cinnamon sticks, if desired (I don’t mind them). Serve Wassail in mugs. Garnish with lemon slices or cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Wassail will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days and may be reheated on the stove or in the microwave.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarGrowing up in Texas, I was used to 100+ degree heat and blazing sun, but Texas has nothing on New York. The temperature rarely creeps into triple digits here in NYC, but that doesn’t mean we escape the heat. Oh, no. There is nothing quite as brutal as 85+ degree heat in a city made entirely of concrete and surrounded by water. I used to think New Yorkers were just wusses when it came to heat, but I am here to say that I was deeply wrong. So, so wrong. My sincere apologies to every sweaty, miserable New Yorker that I have ever called a weakling.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarWhen it’s this warm, baking is far less appealing than it might normally be. Today, I’m staying away from the oven and cooling off with an Iced Matcha Latte. Creamy, sweet and ice cold, it’s a great way to beat the heat!

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarMy single-serve Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar is completely vegan, refined sugar-free, and requires just six ingredients, two of which are ice and water.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarIced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarI start by combining 2 1/2 teaspoons of matcha green tea powder (I use this one), 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, and a splash of vanilla in the bottom of a pint mason jar. Stir that all together until all the lumps of matcha have disappeared and you have a paste.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarNext, stir in a few tablespoons of water.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarIced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarIced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarPour almond milk (or any milk you like) up to the 1 cup mark. Add an ice cube or two, seal the jar, and shake it up!

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarOpen the jar, pour it into a glass with some more ice cubes, and enjoy with a cute straw or two! Life’s just more fun when you have cute straws.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason JarMy Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar is just as cold, creamy, and sweet as any you’ll find in a coffee shop, and it’s a fraction of the price! Matcha contains antioxidants and caffeine, so these lattes make for a great mid-afternoon pick-me-up! Treat yourself to one this weekend 🍵💚Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar
makes 1 latte 

2-2 1/2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder*
2 teaspoons maple syrup (agave and honey work, too)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
4 tablespoons water
~2/3 cup almond milk (or other dairy or plant-based milk)
ice cubes

In a pint mason jar, combine matcha powder, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir together with a fork until there are no lumps. Add water, almond milk, and 2 ice cubes. Screw on lid. Shake for 1 minute, until combined. Strain out the ice cubes while pouring your latte over fresh ice. Enjoy!

Note:

Matcha comes in different grades and colors. For a brighter color, use ceremonial grade matcha. Food grade matcha (the variety I used in my Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies) will work, but the color will be subtler.

Iced Matcha Latte in a Mason Jar