Coffee Shop Inspo

When we were galavanting around town enjoying some delish coffee, I had two delish concoctions that I NEEDED to try at home. I decided to put a NuNaturals spin on this, though honestly both required syrup and I only have NuNaturals syrup, so my tastebuds decided for me. πŸ™‚

Mint Julep- Houndstooth Coffee

As much as I love a coffee shot, I knew immediately whilst taking this that my version would not look as cute. First off, this Cerci Lannister goblet is EVERYTHING. Second, they clearly purchased mint in that level of Mario 3 where everything is gargantuan.

Now Houndstooth doesn’t make this recipe a mystery, they shared it online for the Kentucky Derby:


  • Generous dash simple syrup (10 grams) (I used NuNaturals vanilla syrup)
  • 2.5 ounces cold brew concentrate
  • 1.5 ounce club soda (I used Topo)
  • Top with crushed ice (I did not have crushed ice. So I used geometric ice shapes)

Garnish with agitated fresh mint. 

Now I believe my mint was already agitated because it knew it was Joe Pesci compared to the mint at Houndstooth, but for those new on the agitate mint scene, Imbibe Magazine has you covered:

A mint garnish is all about adding aroma to the final cocktail, so it’s important to know about the oil on the underside of the leaf. Ever seen a bartender slap mint in their hands before adding it to the drink? This movement is the quickest and easiest way to express those oils. β€œWe’re allowing the oils to release and make the general environment around the top of the drink great,” Voisey says.

I ordered this the last time I was living in Austin and I thought the barista was making this up when he slapped the mint in his hand. I was like “alright, bro. You do you.” Turns out he reads Imbibe Magazine, I guess…

Here’s my version:

I asked Jon to try it and he liked it so much that I made him one as well. I consider that a job well done. The only thing agitated in this house was the mint. Last agitation, joke. Promise.

Throwback Matcha Cooler- Manana

This drink was the special on the day we went to Manana (part of the South Congress Hotel). I took a picture of just the tea and it came out terribly. Luckily their Instagram had this picture and now I want that reusable straw.

The Throwback Matcha Cooler had:

  • Unsweetened matcha powder (in a water concentrate made in-house)
  • Lavender Syrup
  • Lemon Juice
  • Sparkling Water (they had their own on tap, pics below)

I asked for the ratios of this drink because it was freakin delightful. They said 3oz of the matcha concentrate, 1 oz of lemon juice, a splash of syrup, then the rest was sparkling water. I am not sure why it is a throwback. They had a version with Strawberry lemonade and I imagine some curmudgeonly hipster was all “boooo! play the classics!” so they included the throwback as an option.

Anyways, here is a picture of us enjoying this concoction:

Eerily, my nail polish is almost identical to the George Costanza, er hand model, for Manana.

I had a leg up on the drink lewk because they did not have the goblets and fresh mint like Houndstooth (but what they lacked in those areas they made up for with a TAP OF SPARKLING WATER THAT YOU COULD USE TO HAVE AS MUCH AS YOU WANTED). I want one in my house when I grow up. Here is my version of this tasty beverage:

I used the recipe above, but replaced the lavender syrup with NuNaturals vanilla syrup. Jon said this one was even better than the one we had at the coffee shop. This feels a bit unfair because I served it to him right after he worked out and any cold beverage post-workout tastes like heaven. Here’s a picture of my ingredients:

Since the baristas told me they put the water in last, so I poured the lemon juice and matcha over ice, then finished it with sparkling water. And I don’t know if you noticed, but I used a metal straw like their instagram account. Ballin.

Let me know if you try either of these! πŸ™‚


Michigan Food Tour

Every trip to Michigan feels too short. This one DEFINITELY did because we haven’t been there since 2019 (thanks, Covid…). So I didn’t get to see everyone I normally see OR eat all the staples I normally eat, but I did eat some delish food and wanted to share. I’ll make another similar post over the Holidays when we return.

Sister Pie Grey Ghost

OBSESSED with Grey Ghost. During Covid I kept receiving emails that they were selling burger kits and all I kept thinking was “one day I’ll get that burger.” That day happened in July! We went to Grey Ghost with my bestie Jason (he’s also the person who chooses food pics when I am stuck, so this dinner was actually a meeting of the FULL PhD and Patisserie media team). πŸ™‚

Mocktail: I had the Rock n’ Rye mocktail and it was SO. GOOD. I love when a restaurant has a dedicated mocktail menu because you know they thought things through. I also wasn’t mad about that bendy straw.

The cheeseburger was delightful and melty and the flavor was fantastic. The carrot tartar was so interesting and delightful. The scallion pancake has the best little pals hanging out- bok choy, a spicy sauce, and carrot.

I basically ONLY ate this meal for that day. Not on purpose- but it was probably for the best. Holy cow.

La Pita

For those people reading who are not from/in the Metro-Detroit area, there are THE BEST Mediterranean restaurants in the Dearborn area. At La Pita they have a lunch plate, which you can get all day. Due to this all-day availability, I think it should be called an “Awesome Plate.”

This meal has fattoush salad, a shish tawook (chicken kabob with chicken breast), rice, hummus, and toum (garlic paste). Not pictured: the EXTRA plate of garlic paste and baskets of fresh bread. The REALLY good Mediterranean restaurants have a special oven for bread. Look at this:

Delightful. πŸ™‚

Mexican Gardens Camino Real

We were planning to go to Mexican Gardens to see my cousin, but they were closed for the week. As if there wasn’t a damn parade when people heard we were coming to town. πŸ™‚

The good news was I got to try this place for the first time AND THEY HAD TOPO CHICO. When people drink margaritas I feel like a Topo is the best option to still feel fancy. Here’s my meal and my super cute cousin. She taught me how to braid hair, curl my bangs, play Contra and Super Mario 3, and other important skills.

Kate’s Kitchen

Oh, Kate. She makes pies with lard (and a secret recipe). She makes homemade cinnamon swirl toast that is grilled and topped with icing. GOOD LORD. I also asked for the “Bob Klein eggs.” That’s not what they call them. But my dad used to melt American cheese on eggs and I know they do this at Kate’s.

Sadly, they closed their dining room so we had to get it to go. I am happy to report that the food was just as good when I placed it on my mom’s adorbs dishes (which are the same design I grew up eating off of). πŸ™‚

Candlelight Dinner Powered Dinner with String Lights

My friends Matt and Aya are the most AMAZING people. They are thoughtful, hilarious, great hosts, and were willing to STILL host us when their power went out. We ended up noshing on the delish medditeranean spread you see above. The dessert was amazing matcha pudding made by THEIR 11 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER who makes macarons that are better than mine. It’s cool. She fed me and I’m not mad about it. πŸ™‚

This pic sums us up pretty well:

TV Diner Red Olive

We met up with UJ and A2 for breakfast. It was supposed to be TV Diner, but by this point you realize that we were really struggling with the locations for planned meals out. Ha! TV diner wasn’t going to open until 9 (we met at 8) so we met down the road at Red Olive. It was a great reason to get a breakfast plate with gyro meat.

Mom’s House

As usual, my mom stocked the fridge with more food than we could ever consume. We even had apples and carrots for the road. We wanted to have a chill last evening in Michigan, so my mom made a delish dinner using the grill: red skin potatoes, baked beans, brats, and grilled veggies.

I also wanted to share a few snacks. I enjoyed my mom’s chips and dip (the sour cream and onion soup mix dip), a TON of fruit salad, and even some little bebe muffins from Meijer.

Fun Fact: my mom ate a lot of ice cream when she was pregnant because she didn’t like milk. My favorite food is ice cream.

We finished the trip with a delightful breakfast (seen above) before heading to Pennsylvania. You’ll see the PA “Food Tour” next Thursday.

Bonus Fun Facts:

  • My mom has several “fake food” items in her house. These were purchased when I was in high school, I believe. The OJ carafe and glasses pictured made me afraid something terrible happened because it was displayed on the counter when I got home from work. I thought “something TERRIBLE must have happened for mom to leave this OJ on the counter!” This was pre-cell phone so I just sat at home hoping for the best.
  • My mom put one of the earliest pictures of me and Jon in a frame that said LOL. She still insists this means “lots of love.”

Thanks for “visiting Michigan,” friends!

Watermelon Collagen Refresher

Hello, Friends!

It is HOT right now. And my favorite thing to eat in the summer when I am warm is watermelon. So I decided to make a refresher using NuNaturals Collagen! πŸ™‚

The ingredients are SO simple, this is barely a recipe. The only thing you need to remember to do is freeze some watermelon and banana.

First, I blended the watermelon and banana with a splash of coconut milk. I continued to add the coconut milk until it was a smooth almost daiquiri-like texture. Then I added the collagen and blended it a little more so it would be evenly incorporated. Enjoy!

Stay hydrated, dudes!

Cold Brew Taste Test (part 2)

How do we like our coffee in Texas summers? ICE COLD! Alright-alright-alright-alright… (I enjoy Outkast as much as iced coffee).

Today’s Iced Coffee Adventure was STRAIGHT UP cold brew. No flavor, no milk. But Naturally I had to spruce up the coffee (seen after our vote). We have four contenders:

Since these were SO similar (no milk or flavors to rank), we decided to just rank them from 1-4. This was the easiest way to separate them. And in true cold brew couple fashion, my fave was the only one Jon would not purchase again. πŸ™‚


  • Jon: 1st place, would buy again
  • Me: 3rd place, would drink if milk sub and stevia was added

Civil Goat

  • Jon: 4th place, would not buy again
  • Me: First place- hells yeah I’d drink this again.

(opposites attract, folks)

Giddy Up!

  • Jon: 3rd place, would buy again
  • Me: 2nd place, would buy/drink again
  • Kirkland

  • Jon: 2nd place, would buy again
  • Me: 4th place, would drink if milk sub and stevia was added
  • My issue with the Kirkland is just that it is SOOOOO strong. I always add milk and stevia to those. Well, I did. Jon hasn’t purchased them in a while. I think it was fun to put this “‘ol standard” with the new dawgs.

    When we ranked the coffees we split them to finish drinking. I was given the Giddy Up and Civil Goat remainders, which were used to make these iced coffee bevs:

    Blue Cowgirl

    I love a blue milk. This was done with spirulina and also some NuNaturals stevia. I whisked them together then poured over the leftover coffee and ice.

    Butters the G.O.A.T.

    This was also coconut milk, but I added some chai syrup and an adorbs pineapple slice because it looks so tropical in that fancy lil bebe coupe glass.

    Thanks for reading! FYI coffee fans: we will be sharing some local coffee shops in August.


    Done with Booze.

    Hello, dear readers!

    Today is a special day because it is my two-year soberversary. I had no clue my last drink WAS my last drink. But my last drink was poured from a freshly opened bottle of Courvoisier, which I took from my dad’s woodshop after he passed. It sat on all of my bar carts and I never drank it. I decided it was fitting to drink that on my last night in Austin, where I had just earned my PhD. Then I left the bottle in ATX and headed to Pennsylvania for the summer.

    Then something happened in PA. I don’t know what “clicked,” but I told Jon “I am not going to drink for the rest of 2019.” There was no terrible drinking story that happened before this decision (they exist, for sure, just not immediately before/close to the time of the decision). I just wanted to see what it would be like to remove it as an option. Previously, I drank socially and also at home when stressed. Inevitably EVERY time I drank I decided to eat alllllllllllll the foods as well. It was not helping my goals for fitness or body composition. So, I thought half a year of not drinking would be an interesting experiment.

    Well, friends… that experiment has resulted in two years of sobriety. I feel weird about the word “sober.” I don’t go to AA or get triggered when I see people drink. But drinking didn’t serve me well. It made me have crap sleep, eat weird foods, have gastro issues, and WAS A DEPRESSANT. Not good for people literally diagnosed with depression (aka me). So I’m done. Done with booze.

    The best way to sum this decision up is Chris Cooper’s Done with Fish moment in Adaptation. Watch this short clip if you haven’t seen it. He’s so good in everything but this role is special. And this sentiment is perfect:

    Meryl Streep’s character was interviewing Chris Cooper’s character about how he was able to walk away from something he used to be passionate about. He explains how he used to be obsessed with salt water fish and had SIXTY tanks in his house!

    Then one morning, I woke up and said, “Fuck fish.” I renounceΒ fish, I will never set foot in that ocean again. That’s how much “fuck fish.” That was 17 years ago and I have never stuck so much as a toe in that ocean. And I love the ocean.

    I love a manhattan, but fuck alcohol. πŸ™‚


    While “that’s how much fuck alcohol,” I do love a cocktail glass. So I wanted to share a few recipes using some ingredients from Hunt and Gather Dry Foods. I posted a full YouTube video here. In said video I may or may not hug some cocktail glasses.

    If you aren’t a YouTuber, I have included pictures of the cocktails below, along with ingredients.

    Main Ingredient/Star of the Show: I received the coolest jar of amazingness from Chantal (aka Hunt and Gather’s Goddess of Dry Foods). I saw her making these on Instagram and was OBSESSED because they are so beautiful:

    Pictured above, this Hibiscus Rose Cocktail Kit smells AMAZING! The jar is filled with Hibiscus, Rose Buds, Lemon, Orange, vanilla Bean and a sugar cube dyed with beet root powder. I was so pumped to use it (but also sad because it is beautiful- I now understand when people say my cookies are “too pretty to eat.” Okay, thanks- but eat the cookie plz).

    I digress… First, I followed her sage advice and steeped the contents of this jar with some OJ (my pals who imbibe would add booze here to infuse it). Then I strained out the beautiful dried flowers and citrus. What remained was a beautiful burgundy liquid.

    I decided I wanted to make mocktails three ways with this:

    730 Sparkler

    • 1 part Hibiscus Rose Infused OJ
    • 1 part Topo Chico or Clean Sparkling Yerba Mate
    • Garnish with Strawberry

    This is poured over ice, so it will stay nice and chilly on a summer day! This is called the 730 sparkler because that’s how many days I haven’t had a drink. I had to use a calculator because I don’t keep track. πŸ™‚

    Coupe de Ber

    • 2 part Hibiscus Rose Infused OJ
    • 1 part tea
    • splash of bitters
    • garnish with blueberry skewer

    This one is served in a coupe glass, which is generally used for cocktails made with an ice shaker. Since these ingredients were already cold, I did not use a shaker. However, the skewer of blueberries is frozen and can be used as a “stir” in the drink to keep it cool without watering it down.

    Cerci Arnold Palmer

    • 1/4 cup mocktail mix
    • 1/2 cup sun tea
    • 1/4 cup strawberry lemonade

    This goblet, paired with the deep red color from the mocktail mix, has Cercei Lannister written all over it. Though she’d be pissed when she took a sip and realized it wasn’t wine. She’d be all “who gave me this?!” And I would hide and let this badass handle it:

    I also made a delicious arnold palmer with the Watermelon, Blueberry, and Basil Sun Tea Kit. I did not place the tea in the sun (May is quite rainy in Texas), so it steeped overnight in the fridge instead. This was so delightful. I used a stevia-based strawberry lemonade to mix with it. Here’s a quick video of the process of the drink below. You can see it is lighter because the cocktail mix was still steeping when I made this tester for the video. πŸ™‚

    Odd Timing…

    So some might not think that moving to a new state to start a new job is a good time to stop drinking. Or a pandemic, perhaps. Or a snowstorm where one flushes their poop with melted snow in the middle of said pandemic? All valid points.

    I had no idea that the Courvoisier I took from my dad’s woodshop would be my final drink. OR that it would be the weekend I earned my PhD- LITERALLY poured into a glass that said “Dr. Amber” on it. But that’s when it happened. And I am so happy it did.

    I want to end this by quoting Snoop Dogg as he accepted his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

    Last but not least, I wanna thank me.

    I wanna thank me for believing in me.

    I wanna thank me for doing all this hard work.

    I wanna thank me for having no days off.

    I wanna thank me for, for never quitting.


    Spiced & Shaken Espresso

    I am a HUUUUGE fan of coffee shops. I used to go to Starbucks a lot in Montana because they gave me lots of ways to earn stars (aka free drinks). Those opportunities have lessened recently so I have been branching out to other shops like Epoch and Merit. However, recently I noted a new drink making the rounds on social media called an “Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso.

    Naturally, I promptly went to a local Starbucks for some beta testing… I am selfless. This is OBVIOUSLY for you, dear readers. Not because I love coffee. And sugar. And when they combine.

    This picture below is me looking for an excuse to try a new drink offering at SBUX:

    Found an excuse. You’re reading it.

    I made one change whilst ordering- I do not like oat milk so I subbed coconut milk. I know oat milk is all the rage right now, but it makes my throat feel scratchy. Am I making this up? Maybe. But it seemed true twice so I have decided to avoid it as a milk sub. The drink was delicious, but really sweet. I wanted to make a lightened up version of my own using NuNaturals stevia products instead of sugar. I also decided that I was going to make a spiced version, which afforded me an opportunity to use NuNaturals Chai syrup.


    Some of the smaller details:

    Cold Foam: When you are making cold foam you’re essentially just adding air with a frother. If you have a non-fat milk it will whip up nicely. If you use a milk substitute with 1% or 2% fat it will not stay aerated for quite as long. Both are tasty, but if you’re “doing this for the ‘gram” make sure you have your shot set up before hand. Pour the milk once you have the shot composed for quick photo turnaround. You can add the MCT powder before frothing (and/or add a packet of stevia to the milk when frothing if you wish). Want to learn more? Eater wants to help!

    Making a Cold Espresso Drink: Yeah, espresso is warm. This drink is not. So we need to do a few things to make sure your drink is chilled but not watered down. First, I add the syrup to the bottom of my glass before pulling my double-shot of espresso. It looked cool because the espresso sat on top! I stirred the espresso and syrup together and filled the rest of the small glass with the milk I was using. This helps cool it to the point where you can add it to a cocktail shaker.

    Mise en Place: The French use this term when talking about having everything out/measured when baking or cooking. Then you can methodically work through the process with everything (you guessed it) in its proper place. I suggest doing this because the cold foam is time-sensitive. Here was my set up:

    • I set up the milk with the MCT powder in a cup to froth (but did not actually froth it yet).
    • I had a cocktail glass ready with ice inside.
    • Then I put ice in a cocktail shaker. I did all of this while the espresso was cooling. Make your espresso first.
    • I poured the espresso mixture over the ice in the cocktail shaker. You’ll want to shake until your hand is cold- it is really neat how the shaker goes from warm to cold so quickly!
    • Using the strainer, pour the espresso over the ice. You’ll notice it does not melt the ice in the glass.
    • Then froth that milk up quick and pour it on top!
    • Garnish if you want. I put some cinnamon on top and added a cocktail skewer, which I explain below.

    Presentation is Everything

    I have really missed drinking out of cocktail glasses. I have been sober since mid-May 2019* and I did not move any cocktail items with me when we spent a year in Montana. So now that we are back home in Texas I have purchased some cocktail glasses and skewers for garnishes. I wanna feel fancy, too. πŸ™‚

    I decided that the ONE sugary item here would be the garnish (When NuNaturals makes chocolate spheres I will totally use those instead). You do not have to have a garnish… I think my husband was not amused (his fell in the glass because I was beta-testing two shapes of cocktail glasses. He lost).

    Since Easter is coming up, I used Cadbury mini egg garnishes. This was not easy because they are a chocolate shell with a creamy filling. The trick was to place the skewer in a damp towel that was recently heated in the microwave (DO NOT PUT METAL SKEWERS IN THE MICROWAVE BECAUSE SCIENCE). This heated metal helped me pierce the egg without cracking it. In the name of science, I included a visual aid below:

    If you want this drink “neat” (aka no ice in your glass)

    Here’s a reel up on my Instagram account showing a lot of the tips and tricks discussed whist making a Dirty Chai Mocktail. The recipe is the same for the most part, however you are not poring this over ice when served. So you are going to have to, as Outkast once said, “shake it like a Polaroid picture.” This needs to be chilly so it is not warm halfway through. If it gets lukewarm, you can just shake it with ice again or put a cube in the glass. We aren’t on Downton Abbey, so no one will clutch their pearls if you do this.

    This was garnished with a chocolate sphere and served in a coupe glass. There’s less room in these, so basically every cocktail or mocktail served in these bad boys follows the golden Polaroid rule here.

    Shake it, shake, shake it…

    P/S- An Angel appeared in my espresso shot and told you to try these techniques out.


    Are you calling me a liar? Here s/he is:

    *Sobriety Footnote: I do not have a story where one event or thought made me decide not to drink. I am on Zoloft for anxiety and depression and this does not mix well with booze. I miss the fancy glasses and offerings, but I was able to try some rad mocktails before Covid rained on that parade. There aren’t enough mocktails available IMO, so I’ll be making more on this blog. As Busta once said, “If I ain’t gonna be part of the greatest, I gotta be the greatest myself.”

    Also, sticking with Busta vernacular- you can go “flipmode” and add booze to these. I am all about other people imbibing. It just doesn’t work for me. πŸ™‚