Category Archives: Drinks

Banana Matcha Smoothie

It’s hot in Chicago. So hot, all I want to do is eat smoothies. And frozen yogurt. I’m mildly obsessed. As in, Wednesday I sat on an El for forty minutes just for Forever Yogurt. I told you I was obsessed.

Unfortunately, I’m stuck on a college campus eating dorm food and bagged lunches for the next two and a half weeks as a sleep deprived version of myself plods through Teach for America Institute. That means no frozen yogurt. That also means no smoothies. A girl can dream though, right? And dream of this smoothie I will.

This smoothie is a Jessica original inspired by a drink I once had at, according to their website, the largest Japanese Market in the United States, Mitsuwa. My mom and I make a trip up to Arlington Heights from my childhood home in the western suburbs once or twice a year. While we always take the time to wander through the supermarket, we really go for the food court. I can’t resist the barbeque pork buns or the dirty cheap, amazingly fresh sushi. Nom nom.

In the corner of the food court is a little tea shop slash ice cream store. Usually too full from stuffing my body with spicy tuna rolls, I’ve only ordered from there once. That once, I decided to get a banana matcha drink that caught my eye for some strange reason, particularly given the fact that I had no idea what matcha was at the time. Regardless of the mystery ingredient, when the drink was presented to me I dove right in. Let me tell you, it was good. So good, in fact, I left Mitsuwa with a tiny container of matcha that day.

I had zero idea of how the drink was made so I went home and started to experiment. I opted to use a frozen banana instead of the room temperature ones used in the food court shop. I tossed some milk and matcha into the blender along with my banana and managed to create a pretty solid concoction on my first try. That usually doesn’t happen. I’ve played with the recipe since, adding soy milk or yogurt as my liquid, stirring in honey or vanilla extract, and topping it with granola. Below is my favorite version to date. Undoubtedly, my experimenting will continue though. It always does.

Banana Matcha Smoothie 

There are two important ingredient notes to be aware of: First, Matcha green tea can be found in Japanese grocery stores and some specialty tea shops. Do not try to use regular green tea. Matcha is ground into a powder much finer than the green tea found in most grocery stores. The later will not mix into your drink well. And really, who wants to be sipping bits and pieces of tea leaves?

Second, I played around quiet a bit with how to add the bananas. I like my smoothies thick and prefer to eat them with a spoon instead of drink them through a straw. If this is you, peel the bananas, slice them into 1/2 inch chunks, let them freeze, and then add them to your smoothie. If you prefer a more liquidy smoothie, either add more yogurt, let the bananas defrost slightly, or blend for longer. I have found that either way, it is best to cut the bananas into chunks before freezing as it allows them to break down in the blender quicker. Oh! And one more ingredient note. Feel free to use milk or soy milk instead of Greek yogurt.

Serves 1

1 1/2 overripe bananas, sliced and frozen (see note above)

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon matcha

Granola, if desired

Add the bananas, Greek yogurt, and honey to a blender. Blend just until smooth, stopping and scrapping down the sides with a spatula as needed. (Depending on the quality of your blender the bananas may take quite some time to puree. Be patient and try using the pulse function to soften the bananas.)

Add the matcha and, using a spatula, fold it into the banana mixture. Blend for 15-30 seconds. Pour into a glass and top with granola if desired. Eat using a spoon.

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Filed under Cookies, Drinks, Fruit

Magical Coffee

Since I’m currently sitting smack dab in the middle of coffee territory, i.e. Costa Rica, I figured I’d share a recipe for cold brewed coffee with you. This is one of those recipes that is more like a guideline. While I suggest you stick to the basic technique (if you can call mixing ingredients and putting them in the fridge a technique), I recommend playing around with the spices to find a combination you love. Here are some suggestions:

– Fennel seeds and almond extract

– Lavender and vanilla bean (slice the vanilla bean in half length wise before adding it)

– Ginger and cardamom

– Vanilla extract and raspberries (mash the raspberries slightly before tossing them, and their juices, in)

– Clover, peppercorn, and cinnamon

– Peppermint extract and cocoa powder or chocolate extract

As a disclaimer, I don’t like my coffee sweetened. If you do, add sugar (white or brown), honey, or maple syrup to the suggestions above or the recipe below. I won’t be offended. I promise.

Magical Coffee

adapted from Food52 via the New York Times

Makes 2 drinks

1/3 cup coarsely ground coffee coarsely ground coffee

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves (if using ground, reduce to 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

Milk, half and half, or cream, to taste

In a jar, stir the ground coffee, water, cinnamon, cloves, and orange zest. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.

The next day, pour the coffee base through a sieve or strainer into a bowl, then strain back into the rinsed jar for easy storage. Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Pour in coffee until glass is about 3/4 full. If desired, add milk, half and half, or cream to taste.

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Filed under Breakfast and Brunch, Drinks