My Trip to Philz Coffee

I’m not young anymore. Here’s how I know, I didn’t think driving around Berkeley was a fun, adventure-filled morning of getting out of town. I wanted to get where I was going, wanted to stop smelling all things old and pee’d on and couldn’t have cared less about the cool, artsy vibe of the place.

Was I glad we drove for 45 minutes to get a cup of coffee though? You bet I was.

Still, I’m old. I’ve become a creature of comfort and am pretty ok with that.

So, Philz. It’s the place that inspired my mint coffee post. We made it, we parked and I practically skipped to the shop. And you know a line out and around the door is always a good sign!



The drink board is full of temptation, I could have studied it for an hour, but the Berkeley crowd didn’t seem to excited to wait behind someone who wanted to slowly explore.


IMG_2929 IMG_2928


I had planned on a Mint Mojito Iced Coffee for a couple of weeks. But, that’s because it was all I knew! How was I to know they had drinks like a Gingersnap Iced Coffee? My Barista, Amber, suggested I stick with the Mojito. Ok friends, check out Amber.


She was the sweetest thing. Like, ever. See that extra coffee? She made it for me, knowing it was my birthday. She totally put up with my newbie enthusiasm and questions. Amber needs a raise, Philz. She was awesome  and did a great job of hiding her pity for me when I told her that “THIS” is what I was doing for my birthday.

Jy ordered a Tesaro Mocha, which is a mocha using Philz signature Tesaro coffee and it was sooo good. My mojito coffee was wonderful as well, but a bit ruined by a 525 calorie log of spice. I can only explain its spice by giving you a photo of massive stature.



By the way, it’s totally ok to eat something with more than five ingredients on your birthday. (Or when you really, really want it and no one is looking).

The mojito coffee served a purpose of cooling down my dragon mouth. Later in the day, I was able to enjoy the true flavor of the drink, while we shopped back in our hometown area.

I was a little off in my drink replication. Philz fills (no pun intended) their coffee cup about 1/4 of the way with full sized mint leaves before creating an iced coffee on top. How awesome does a minty, iced coffee sound as a summer drink?

Back in suburban shopping-land, Jy and I worked our way through the Giant’s Dugout store, Lululemon, some other sport-wear store and the Vitamin Shoppe. When an American store spells their brand a la Harry Potter style, you can bet it’s gonna be fancy. It’s like the theatre or Ye Ole’ Books.

Lululemon was a bit of a bust. Mostly because of my bust, and partially because I don’t have job. Luckily, I found a cute yoga outfit around the corner.

My sports wardrobe has grown from non-existent to intense since getting married, by the way.



If anyone has a recipe for Gingersnap Iced Coffee or similar, please share!

Gotta go work out. I’m 74 calories in the red today and not feeling it. Send me some sweaty vibes.



Challah At Me Girl




Try not to drool, but check out my pre-birthday dinner! My uber-talented Aunt Debi made a 94-course meal for our whole family. Brisket, a meat by many names, salmon with provolone and spinach in pastry, chicken nuggets for the kids (in all of us), corn, asparagus, heart-shaped carrots in a brown sugar sauce, sauteed mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, roasted potatoes, spinach soup and wait for it….CHALLAH!


Have you had homemade challah before?


Doesn’t that just looks so yummy? Your eyes don’t lie. It’s awesome. This isn’t my aunt’s recipe for Challah, I’ll save that for another post,when I can actually learn how to make the braided dough of heaven. However, this recipe from Fine Cooking is supposed to be awesome. The only problem you may come across is with your willpower. This is a bread I can not be around more than about two times a year. My heart hurt from trying to eat too many pieces last night.

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 6-8
  • tsp. instant yeast (Red Star Quick Rise, SAF Perfect Rise, Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise or Fleischmann’s Bread Machine Yeast)
  • 16-3/4 oz. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour (Hecker’s, Gold Medal, or Pillsbury); more as needed
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp. table salt
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling (optional)
  1. n a large bowl, mix the yeast with ½ cup of the flour.
  2. Add the warm water, stir, and let this mixture, called a sponge, sit until it starts to puff up, 15-to 20-minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, oil, honey, and salt; stir until well combined. The sponge will remain lumpy—this is fine.
  4. Add the remaining flour and mix the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until fairly smooth, about 2 minutes.
  6. The dough should feel very firm and will be hard to knead. If it’s soft and sticky, add more flour until it’s very firm.
  7. Transfer the dough to a large, clean container and cover it well.
  8. Let it rise until doubled in bulk and very soft to the touch, about 2 hours, depending on the room temperature. Line an insulated baking sheet with parchment or oiled foil. If you don’t have an insulated sheet, stack two sheets together (this keeps the bottom of the bread from overbrowning during baking).
  9. To shape the dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle a little more flour over it.
  10. Spread and flatten the dough a bit, but don’t worry about punching it down.
  11. Cut it into six equal pieces.
  12. Set aside the dough pieces, cover them lightly with plastic, and brush all the flour off the work surface. Have a small bowl of water handy. Using no flour, roll a piece of dough with a rolling pin into a very thin sheet, between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick (don’t worry about making a rectangle; an amoeba-type shape is fine).
  13. The dough may stick to the work surface; this is all right—just nudge it gently with a dough scraper.
  14. Tightly roll up the sheet like a carpet to form a strand. Roll the strand back and forth between your hands until it’s thin, very even, and 12 to 15 inches long. At the ends of the strand, angle the outer edge of your hands into the work surface as you’re rolling to make the ends pointy and the strand thicker in the middle (This will help you get a football-shaped loaf). The strand needs to grip the work surface slightly during this rolling; the “grab” will help as you roll. If the strand is too slick, very lightly dampen it with water to help it grip the work surface better. Repeat the rolling out, rolling up, and elongating steps with the remaining five pieces of dough, rolling them out to the same length.
  15. Lightly sprinkle all the strands with flour to prevent them from sticking to one another during proofing.
  16. Arrange the strands parallel to one another. At one end, gather and pinch the strands very tightly together.
  17. Weight the end with a heavy canister to keep the braid from moving and to leave your hands free, and braid closely, following the illustrations below. Lightly tap each end of the loaf with your palms to tuck it under the loaf.
  18. Move the second-to-the-right strand to the far-left position.
  19. Move the far-right strand left over two strands, to the center position (spread the strands apart to make room).
  20. Move the new second-to-the-left strand over to the far right position.
  21. Move the far-left strand (the same strand you moved in step 1) over two strands to the center position. Now repeat the steps.
  22. Transfer the braid to the lined baking sheet and cover it loosely but thoroughly with plastic wrap. Let proof until doubled in bulk and the loaf remains indented when lightly pressed, about 2 hours, depending on room temperature. (If in doubt, let the dough proof more rather than less.)
  23. To bake:
  24. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Just before baking, brush the dough with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, if using. With a thin wooden skewer, poke the bread deeply all over (the holes will prevent air pockets and help the bread keep its shape during baking). Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the challah 180 degrees and bake until the bread is a dark, burnished brown, about another 15 minutes. (If the challah is browning too rapidly cover it loosely with foil and let it finish baking. Don’t remove the loaf too soon, as you’ll risk underbaking.) Let cool thoroughly on a rack.
I totally would have taken a picture of my homemade birthday cake if I stopped to take a photo first. I had saved 1,000 of my daily calories for this dinner and I ate every. single. one. 

Look at this cute little photo of my dad with Dallas and my beautiful niece, Breslin. I’m totally working on  a plan to steal her. Now that I know she sleeps through the night, I’m upping my plan to serious mode.



bday photo


I’m going to spend my actual birthday (tomorrow) at Philz in Berkeley. I am SO excited to try their coffee! I’ll be sure to let you all know what I think. Some recipes will find their way back on to the blog very soon, promise. For now, have a drink for me (so I won’t have to count the calories) and enjoy your long weekend!




Thai-Style Iced Tea

Last night was the end of a busy week, it was Sunday and I wanted to throw in the largest towel I could find. Too bad they were all in the washing machine. Instead, I thought I’d treat myself to a little cocktail. Hey, all the other moms are doing it (according to Pinterest). Unfortunately, it only took about 1/2 an ounce of flavored vodka in my cup of cherry juice to give me more of a buzz than I want to have around my children. It’s one of the only areas of my life I can seriously call myself a light-weight. The only other I can think of is my level of insect tolerance. Lightweight.

Hence, I need some fun summer drinks that won’t involve my legs getting noodle-wobble. Enter, Thai-Style Iced Tea. You can find this drink of page 22 of June’s Bon Appetit magazine. However, I am convinced they used a little extra digital imagine, because their drink is a creamy orange. Like, extra orange. Tang, orange.



The only change I made to this recipe was with the tea flavor. I chose Chai, which is still a black tea, just with that extra bit of spice. You can make this recipe the sun-tea way, as described in the printable version, or you can steep your black tea with double the amount of tea you would drink if it was hot and pour over ice. Then, add your syrup and cream. Just don’t let it get too watered down.

I consider this an end of the week drink. A late Sunday afternoon tea that has 6 grams of fat in it. Yikes.  Here’s some info for all you calorie counters out there.

Nutritional Information

8 servings, 1 serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 60
Fat (g) 6
Saturated Fat (g) 3.5
Cholesterol (mg) 20
Carbohydrates (g) 4
Thai-Style Iced Tea
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 8
  • 10 star anise pods
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (or Stevia if desired)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup water
  • 15 black tea bags
  • 7 cups water
  • ½ cup condensed milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  1. Combine star anise pods, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Scrape in seeds from 1 vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer to a large pitcher. Add 15 black tea bags and 7 cups cold water. Cover; chill at least 4 hours. Strain into another large pitcher. Stir in ½ cup heavy cream and ½ cup sweetened condensed milk until dissolved. Serve over ice.
  2. Read More

Food Finds and a Lunch Favorite

I’ve been shopping for groceries for a good 15 or so years now and I think I’ve gotten worse at it. I have still not managed how to keep my shopping to one store and only visit once a week. In college, I loved that I could go to Safeway with $40 in my wallet and have plenty of food for the week. Yoplaits, seasoning mix for “Chicken in a bag”, Diet Coke, cottage cheese, bagged salad, Life cereal. That was the constant list.

The next stage of shopping happened when Jy and I moved in together. We tried to spend $80 a week and ate plenty of processed food. The weeks we had $100 to spend felt luxurious. Lots of frozen meals, canned beans, spaghetti and more cereal.

Stage three. Married with two boys. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Here I am, 15 years from the $40 Safeway trips, feeling frugal if I can make it through the week having only spent $200. My husband eats a lot. My boys eat a lot. I eat…uh, never mind. The majority of our food budget goes to all things dairy. Lactose-free for one child, regular milk, eggs and eggs and eggs, yogurt times a thousand. Then meat, then produce.

I usually hit three stores a week and they vary. My store tour changes depending on sales, my time, our cravings and needs. Here’s what I prefer from each store:

  • Fresh & Easy – Ready made food in a pinch, produce, breads
  • Sprouts – Sale produce, natural meats and yogurts
  • Costco – Produce, dairy, organic chicken
  • Whole Foods – Organic meats & fish
  • Safeway – Pantry or last minute items, sale stuff, coffee
  • Trader Joe’s – Fun snacks, hummus, nuts, fruit

I don’t think I’ll ever get it down to a science and I think I’m finally ok with that. I’ve even added online shopping to my tour, which I’ll talk about below.

I wanted to share some treats as well as a new favorite meal. Who doesn’t love new food ideas?

Let’s start with some Trader Joe finds.

This isn’t a new product, but if you haven’t tried it, you really should! I think it goes for $3.99, which is more than the other hummus options, but it is really worth it. It’s so creamy and full of flavor, my kids love it too. It doesn’t have that dry, pasty taste that so many pre-made hummus’ do.


Still at TJ’s:

Crunchy Black & White Rice Rolls. My mom turned my family on to these little rolls of 45 calorie, sweet and crunchy bites. They taste like little logs of Sugar Smacks. Not bad, eh?

Almond Butter with Sea Salt. I just described it.

Chocolate Almond Granola Cereal is just what it says! You’d expect 1001 ingredients in this cereal, luckily you would be wrong! It’s made of pretty basic stuff, including sugar. I’d consider this another treat as well and found it to be really tasty mixed with some flavored Greek yogurt.

Dried mandarin oranges! Clever, right? Just as the bag claims, they are soft and juicy! A tiny bit tangy, but mostly sweet, these dried oranges are a perfect way to distract your taste buds at the movies or on a long drive. Just be careful, there are SIX portions in the small bag.

The roasted coconut chips are such a treat, they are sweet little slices of coconut. After asking another mom at the park about what she was eating, she gave me a few to try. I’m sure she was just trying to make me go away, but I was really interested and so happy she shared! There are two servings in a bag and I think they are a great little treat.



I’ve gotten super into tea lately and bought a load of Teavana. You know, that expensive tea store at the mall? Yeah, that tea. It wasn’t until I got home and read up on their sales practices that I realized I wasn’t the first person pressured into way more tea and pricey tins than I would need. I didn’t love their customer service and won’t be supporting them until they change the way they work. Instead, I’ll continue to buy Adagio Teas!

My tea-loving cousin introduced me to this brand and though I was leery at first, it turns out buying tea online ain’t such a bad way to go! Their website is easy to navigate and the reviews are really helpful. Dorie (my cousin) suggested a specially blended tea, called Bilbo Brew. You’d have to check out their shop to really understand just how many tea blends there are! What I love about the blends (other than the actual tea) is the fun packaging! While I can’t say I understand the whole fandom thing, I do love that I can get a cute bags or tins of tea with some Game of Thrones, Sherlock Holmes or Harry Potter artwork on the packaging. (There are others too)!

Dorie was right, by the way. I do love the Bilbo Brew. I don’t know if you can read the package in this photo, but the blend consists of Irish Breakfast, sweet potato, vanilla green & cinnamon bits. Basically, it tastes like cinnamon roll tea. It’s wonderful and comforting. I have a ton left, so I don’t have to worry, but it looks like Bilbo is out of stock at the moment.



So let’s say you want to drink some tea and don’t have a few business days to wait for it. Hit the grocery store and look for tea that has actual leaves or flowers in it. Not the remnants of tea, I’m talking real tea. I found a box of Two Leaves and a Bud’s chamomile and have to say it was totally worth the $6 for the box. That seems so steep for a grocery store tea, but check out the photo below. It’s legit! You won’t need two bags for flavor and you can feel good about the source of the tea.

If you become addicted to buying online tea, you can shop Two Leaves this way, too.


And one more yummy suggestion. Grilled chicken over spaghetti squash with grilled apple chunks. It’s my new favorite. Be sure to season your chicken with some sage, because it totally works. The key to this meal is taking the extra hour to let your chicken brine. It’s worth all 60 minutes (or more). If you need a good recipe, I’d suggest giving Adam Perry Lang’s grilled chicken breast a try. If you don’t have that kind of time or that amount of spice on hand, just read over his basic technique and use what you’ve got on hand. If you put this meal together, snap a photo and let me know what you think!


Pineapple Upside Down Drink

Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother, whether it be baby, cat, plant or friends. I wanted to make a post for Mother’s Day that highlighted a food special to my mom. Here’s the list I made:

  • Alphabits Cereal
  • Chicken with rice and peas
  • Tuna Melts
  • People Magazine
  • Cow tongue sandwiches (She doesn’t eat these anymore, just when my grandfather made them – back in the day)

So you can see my dilemma. How could I choose from such a list of culinary treats? Jy suggested I fancy up a tuna melt with expensive cheese. Then, it dawned on me. Pineapple Upside Down Cake! My mom has always made this cake, probably because she liked how my grandfather made it too. Honestly though, this cake starts with a box and ends with a jar of maraschino cherries. Which the clerk at Sprouts told me are called “Marsh-i-no cherries.”

My brother reminded me that I used to ask for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake for my birthday and that really annoyed him. Why wouldn’t I just be normal and ask for chocolate? He says he doesn’t know if he just doesn’t like the cake because of how it tastes or because I liked it so much. Only a sibling could dislike a food for the simple reason that it was another sibling’s favorite.

In with something my whole family can agree on….booze!


This drink is cool, fruity and sweet. Perfect for brunch, dessert or anytime you want a slice of cake to sip. You’ll need to start with this:

Iced Cake Smirnoff Vodka. You can also experiment with the whipped cream vodka that’s out there too, it’s from Pinnacle and in a deep blue bottle.

Pineapple Upside Down Drink
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Drink
Serves: 1
  • Equal Parts:
  • Iced Cake Vodka
  • Orange Juice
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Plus:
  • Club Soda
  • Ice
  • Maraschino Cherries if desired
  1. In a cocktail shaker, mix together vodka and juice.
  2. Pour over ice and top with soda to lighten flavor, if desired.
  3. Garnish with Maraschinos.
  4. Party.