Smoothie Week #6 – Orange Cream Smoothie

Right off the Virginia Tech Campus lies Main Street, the major artery through ‘downtown’ Blacksburg. Really, this downtown is about three blocks, very small, and in this downtown there’s an hard-to-notice establishment called Joe’s Diner. Joe’s was always a great place to hit after a late night of Shenanigans (capital ‘S,’ mind you) when those midnight munchies struck. One of my favorite delights was there orange cream milkshake. I’m sure most of you have had your own orange cream milkshake growing up. Good stuff.

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

Does one dare attempt to duplicate the awesomeness of a milkshake with it’s healthier, slightly less ‘cool’ cousin the smoothie? Indeed! A world where I can’t go nuts experimenting on smoothies is a world I don’t want to live in. Of course, the hurdle of compensating for a lack of ice cream is no trivial matter; but I think I gave the old classic a run for its money. I used fresh mango for this simply because it was on sale at my local grocer. Feel free to opt for the frozen variety; just don’t add the ice.

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
1/2 banana
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup fresh mangos
3-4 ice cubes
1 cup orange juice
3/4 milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients and blend. Enjoy!

Day #5 of Smoothie Week – Piña Colada Time!

Happy Friday, everyone!

smoothies umbrella

Piña Coladas are one of my favorite mixed drinks, but not when they’re loaded with weird artificial syrups and sweeteners. Piña coladas typically include pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum – but this smoothie version isn’t exactly like a pina colada (no rum, for one thing… though I don’t see why you couldn’t spike it?).


This smoothie also unfortunately does not have a really cool story of origin like the piña colada. According to Wikipedia,

“The earliest known history states that in the 1800s, Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí (a.k.a. “El Pirata Cofresí”), to boost his crew’s morale he gave them a beverage or cocktail that contained coconut, pineapple and white rum. This was what would be later known as the famous piña colada. With his death in 1825, the recipe for the piña colada was lost.”

monkey closeup


In addition to sharing recipes this week, don’t forget there are a lot of ways you can dress up your glass. Blueberries or raspberries make a great garnish, as does some flaked coconut, mini umbrellas or plastic cocktail monkeys (you can see I got a little carried away…).


Hope you enjoy this sweet, tropical smoothie, and go easy on the rum if you decide to add some!


Piña Colada Smoothie
makes 2 small size servings, with a little extra

1 1/2 cups milk (you could use coconut milk if you want more coconut flavor)
1 cup frozen chopped pineapple
1 medium frozen banana
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 tablespoon orange juice (optional)
1/2 tablespoon honey

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached – the pineapple and coconut may take a little longer than usual to blend completely.

It’s time to take a slight detour on our adventure in the wonderful world of smoothies. We’ve given you several recipes that we hope not only enjoy but use as inspiration come up with your own. Smoothies are great to experiment with because even when you “fail” you end up with something that doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t taste great. So in the spirit of inspiring, let’s move the focus away from the fruit and shift it to protein.

Peanut Buter and Chocolate Protein Smoothie

I don’t need to tell you the value of protein in one’s diet. I’m sure you’ve heard about the amino acids, how it gives you energy, helps you heal; oh and did I mention your body doesn’t store protein like other dietary sources (carbs come to mind)? Of course, it’s easy to add protein to something with those whey suppliments they have, but that’s not how we do things at DinnerCakes. No, we like to go au naturale (you could, if you wanted, add some supplement without much effect on taste). With its nutritional benefits, you can tell yourself you’re doing something good even when you’re having a tasty delight.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Smoothie
If you want a stronger chocolate kick, trying adding a squirt or two of chocolate syrup; maybe a bit more cocoa powder. Just try the recipe as is first then adjust accordingly.

1 cup yogurt
1 cup milk
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup peanut butter (any kind)
1/4 cup oats (no need to cook)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sweetener (sugar, splenda, etc)
3-4 ice cubes

Throw all your ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Makes one 16oz cup (with a bit to spare). Enjoy.

Day #3 of Smoothie Week – Berry Breakfast Blend

You know those people who wake up just as the sun is rising and a crisp new day begins, jog a few laps around the neighborhood and pick the newspaper up on their way back in the house, throw together an energizing breakfast smoothie and then drive to work for the day?


That’s not me! In fact, my friends and family will tell you that I’m grizzlier than a bear when awoken…

But I will accept the energizing breakfast smoothie – thanks!

Today’s smoothie is lightly sweetened, but rich in fruit, fiber and dairy. It’s a little more complex than my Blue Afternoon smoothie, but it’s still very easy to put together and enjoy. It combines my preferred frozen fruit with a bit of fresh fruit (blueberries) so that I’m still able to buy and use all those great blueberries on sale right now.

zoom bbb

Unlike Edwin I don’t use juice, so if you’re on the fence about which method you prefer try experimenting with both. My base here is yogurt and skim milk. The yogurt gives the smoothie a little extra kick, but don’t worry about it tasting too “yogurty,” to put it elegantly.

To answer a question I’ve received – I typically wrap my peeled bananas in foil to freeze them, but I’d also stored peeled bananas in a gallon ziploc freezer bag. You want to make sure that your bananas don’t freeze together, get freezer burn, or turn dark brown too quickly.

Hope you’re enjoying Smoothie Week so far! Please let us know how your experiments are going – or if you have your own concoction that we should check out!


Berry Breakfast Blend
makes about 3 servings

1 heaping cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
2 medium frozen bananas
1 cup frozen strawberry puree
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon wheat germ/bran
1 tablespoon simple syrup (it incorporates better than sugar)

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached.

I’m a very simple man when it comes to smoothies. While occasionally I’ll go all out with a variety of ingredients or try to conjure up some flavor like key lime pie, usually I go for the classics; the expected. I first started making smoothies after reading (and watching) one of Mark Bittman’s posts at the New York Times. Bittman is all about simple; getting straight to the flavor without a lot of culinary magic.

Frozen Fruit for Smoothie!

I like fruity drinks, so I tend to opt for the banana over the yogurt and very rarely use any milk. I find juice to pack the best punch for what I’m going for but often go to a powdered drink like Crystal Light. I grew up on the stuff so maybe it’s just a preference, but I find it works well and is low on calories.

The cherries in this recipe bring out a sweetness with the strawberries (it’s hard to tell there’s cherry in there) and of course pairing that with banana is classic. I love a good lemonade so I top it off with that. This is the one I always come back to.

Strawberry Lemon Smoothie

Strawberry Lemon Smoothie
I tend to skimp on the initial amount of juice I use at the start and add it to get the thickness I want. You can always add more but of course can’t take any out.

2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen cherries
1/2 frozen banana

Combine the frozen fruit into a blender and add enough lemonade to cover two inches past the top of the fruit. Blend, adding lemonade accordingly. Servers 3-4 16 ounce glasses, depending on your preferred thickness. Enjoy.

Sweetened & Smooth Iced Coffee, Finally Without the Bitterness

“What’s this black sludge?” Not the words you want to hear from your husband while his head is in the fridge. When I told him it was an experiment, he looked even less convinced.


Last week I went to Starbucks with some co-workers for a little afternoon caffeine. One of my co-workers was sipping a Diet Coke instead of ordering coffee, so the barista decided to give her a little sass, “I think you should know,” he said, “since you’re not ordering a coffee… They did a study that showed soda was more effective at cleaning out car engines than other products.”

Now, the comment was unnecessary and snarky, and I’m not saying I believe him, but it did get me thinking.

I’ve always been a soda drinker more than a coffee drinker. My own breakfast of champions, I used to start out the day in high school with a Coca-Cola, followed by one at lunch and another when I got home from school. One can of Coke is, what, 140 calories? Multiply that by three and you get 420 extra calories per day that were giving me absolutely nothing in return. When I made the switch from regular Coke to Diet Pepsi back in college, I was thrilled to find that I also dropped a few pounds (byebye, extra 420 calories!). After and since college I finally dropped my soda consumption down to just one can a day (of course, not including weekends, free refills at restaurants, giant size fountain soda cups, etc…).


But even though I dropped those extra calories in regular soda and I decreased the volume I’m drinking, what am I really giving my body in return? Besides the sweet jolt of cold caffeine and the refreshing taste, ignoring the slightly troubling burn of soda as it goes down the throat, what is the nutritional value?

The Pepsi Products website lists the ingredients as CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CARAMEL COLOR, SUGAR, PHOSPHORIC ACID, CAFFEINE, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVORS. What’s really natural about soda?

I don’t mean to get preachy here. As far as vices go, one Diet Pepsi per day is pretty darn good! But what if I could replace one vice with a slightly less harmful and more natural vice?


And that’s how my husband arrived at “black sludge” in the fridge. The sludge was actually coffee grounds and water, being cold brewed overnight. I’ve read it’s the only way to make good iced coffee.

Before you recoil at the phrase iced coffee, know that I am a reformed skeptic/hater of the stuff. Every time I’d had it in the past it was sharp and bitter, too reminiscent of hot coffee gone cold and left to sit for hours in the pot. Then I tried Starbucks Iced Coffee, Sweetened, with Non-Fat Milk – only $1.95, beckoned the billboard outside the store (and only 80 calories, says the website). It was so much better than any iced coffee I’d had before, and I decided it was time to harness the power of iced coffee in my own home and pocket the $1.95.

strained coffee

I’ve seen a lot of recipes for iced coffee on the internet, and I’m sure you have too. Even the recipes that use the cold brew method, though, don’t seem to go that extra mile and tell you how to make it Starbucks style. If you’ve ever watched the TV show “True Blood,” there’s a scene where the grandmother wonders why on earth anybody would pay three bucks for “a cup of coffee with too much milk.” Well, I do it because I enjoy the extra milk and sweeteners! I also appreciate the ease of just walking in and grabbing a cup. The cold brew method does require a little planning ahead, but the prep is minimal.


For once I’m so glad I gave in to the billboard advertisement and tried a Starbucks iced coffee. Though I will say, I went back for a second one yesterday and it was very bitter and nowhere near as good as the first one. I’m thinking they may have forgotten to sweeten it, or maybe I’m just used to my home-brewed version by now! This recipe isn’t an exact replica of Starbucks of course, but it gives me exactly what I wanted – an ice cold, mostly natural, smooth, sweet and refreshing caffeinated beverage. It’s very much like the frappuccinos that you can buy in grocery stores.

This summer I’m going to try swapping out the additives and unnaturalness of soda without giving up the caffeine (this is officially my third day “off the sauce,” lots more to go!). Why don’t you try it with me?


Sweetened & Smooth Iced Coffee
Makes two cups

Total ingredients (water, sugar, milk and vanilla will be divided):
1/4 cup coffee grounds (not instant)
2 cups cold water
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar (*see note below)
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Handy tools – 2-cup measuring cup, wok skimmer or large strainer, coffee filter

Step 1: Combine 1/4 cup coffee grounds and 1 cup cold, filtered water in a 2-cup measuring cup. Stir to combine, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2: The next morning, add the remaining 1 cup of cold, filtered water to the cold brewed coffee. Stir to combine. Pour into a separate large glass and rinse 2-cup measuring cup to use for next step.

Step 3: Set wok skimmer or strainer over the clean 2-cup measuring cup. Place paper filter inside strainer, and pour coffee mixture over paper filter to strain into the 2-cup measuring cup. This should take approximately 5 minutes (prop the long skimmer handle onto something so that you can do other things while this is straining. If you’d like to use your coffee machine instead, just filter grounds throu
gh machine without plugging in)

Step 4: Fill two large glasses with ice and divide cold coffee between glasses. Add 1/4 cup non-fat milk, 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract to each glass. Stir and enjoy!

*Note – For the best and most even distribution of sugar, consider making a simple syrup. You can actually make a good amount at once and then just store it in an empty bottle in the fridge to use as needed. Here is a great how-to for simple syrup.

Day #7 of Rainbow Week – Rainbow Vodka

You’re looking at day seven of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Today marks final day of Rainbow Week. Heather and I had a blast and we hope you enjoyed the ride as well. Today we’ll wrap things up with something to quench your thirst: rainbow vodka. I really wish I could take credit for this, but the clever people at Mix That Drink deserve the credit.

Rainbow Vodka from Mix That Drink

With their simple step-by-step instructions, it doesn’t get much easier than this. This is definitely on my to do list (perhaps with rum?).

Thanks again for reading. DinnerCakes will return to its regular programming Monday. See you tomorrow!