Category Archives: Drinks

Enter the RoMango Banana Smoothie

Enter the RoMango Banana Smoothie :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals
This was my lunch and these were my lunch dates today. The barbies were sort of superficial, but the animals were magnetic! There was a car there too, but he didn’t have any drive.

Yuk, yuk…

Impressed by some of my blogging friends, I wanted to take an au naturale photo of my green smoothie for you today; the smoothie that I had to sneak sips of because my kids downed most of it. Kids being the reason why there are toys all over my house.

I was inspired to make this by a friend who was asking me, today, if I had any good green smoothie recipes. I don’t usually make them, but after this one got sucked down (mostly) by the kids, I may have to start making them more often. Anything to get my almost 4-year old and 15-month old to voluntarily consume lettuce.

Yep, there’s lettuce in here!

RoMango Banana Smoothie


1 ripe mango, pit and skin removed, cut into chunks

1/2 a ripe banana (preferably frozen)

3 ribs Romaine lettuce, washed

almond milk (or juice, or another nut milk) to cover


Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy. Pour into¬†a tall glass or mason jar (for extra coolness), add a straw, and sip. Pretend you’re trying to keep it away from the tiny people in your life. Watch them suck down the green yummyness. Wish you had made more. ūüôā

If made exactly the way I did, this has only 229 calories. Enjoy!




Friday’s Flavor; Ginger, Not Just a Pretty Red-Haired Girl

Author: Veronica Hilliard

Oh ginger. You make my taste buds happy. You taste so good in both savory and sweet dishes. You make a smoothie great. And if I find you in dressing… watch out. I’ll eat the whole bottle in a week.¬†

Because just one post won’t do you justice, my tasty friend, check out these delicious applications of spicy, yummy ginger. These bloggers have got it right.

Ginger, Strawberry & Watermelon Smoothie Ginger, Strawberry & Watermelon Smoothie from Korean American Mommy

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup from Joy the Baker

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing {vegan & gluten-free}

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing {vegan & gluten-free} from Ambitious Kitchen

Ginger Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry

Ginger Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry from Life’s Ambrosia

Ginger Maple Miso Ice Cream

Ginger Maple Miso Ice Cream from spabettie

These images are not mine. They belong to the blog owners I have featured here. Click the pictures and follow the links to even more delicious food blogging. Visit those blogs and share the love. Try their recipes. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Homemade Granola and Almond Milk

Author: Veronica Hilliard

  Homemade Granola :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog 

There are SO many reasons why we have cut out cereal from our diets. It’s ultra-processed, full of refined sugar, potentially full of GMO’s, and to quote Seinfeld’s Elaine, “Fake, fake, fake… fake!” ¬†But my husband is not so keen on never having cereal again. So I have been¬†meaning to make granola for a while now and yesterday, I finally tackled it.

I put the baby down for her nap thinking that would buy me about an hour to get this all put together and into the oven. I am really bad at following recipes. I just use them as a base for whatever I’m planning. In this case I decided I liked the looks of this granola recipe, so I loosely followed that one.

Homemade Granola :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

I compiled all the dry ingredients. Oats, whatever nuts and seed I had on hand which happened to be chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, flax meal, and flax seeds, and some dried cranberries. Another reason why I rarely follow recipes correctly is because I rarely have all the ingredients they call for so I just make it up as I go.

Homemade Granola :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

I used about half of everything called for since I didn’t want tons of granola in case nobody liked it. Then I added some brown sugar.

Homemade Granola :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

And DON’T forget the salt! It really brings it to the next level. I use Real Sea Salt.

Homemade Granola :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

Next I got all my “wet” ingredients together. Maple syrup, cinnamon (not wet, just forgotten until now), vanilla, coconut oil, and honey. I don’t like most vegetable oils so I substituted Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and I’m glad I did. It gives this granola a slight coconut flavor and it doesn’t taste greasy. Keep in mind while using coconut oil for cooking that it is higher in saturated fat than butter.

Because I didn’t pay much attention to the directions, this is where I did things VERY differently. The recipe says to put them all together with the sugar in a pan and then drizzle it over the dry stuff. I didn’t do that and it came out fine. But I might try that next time.

I finally got everything ready to go, turned on the oven, and then the baby woke up. She was cranky and still pretty tired so I went to get her and ended up nursing her for the next 20 minutes. I remembered the granola, and the hot oven, when I smelled smoke and went¬†back into kitchen to smoke pouring out of oven from forgotten spilled cheese from hubby’s pizza the day before. Oops!¬†And I hadn’t even put the granola in yet!¬†

Then my 3.5 year old realized that I was making something and she wanted to help. So she stirred it for a bit while I dealt with the screaming toddler clinging to my leg. I was actually able to snap this picture in between the two of them screaming at each other and wanting to be on the same chair. See said toddler’s curly head in the background.

Homemade Granola :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

Finally, with the baby on my back in my Ergo, I was able to spread the granola out onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. I probably didn’t need the paper but it made me feel better and cleaning up was a breeze. I was glad that I had cut the recipe in half now because I wouldn’t have enough cookie sheets to go around and would have had to have done this in two batches. It goes into a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes (again, the recipe I followed is different. It said 20 but mine needed longer.) turning once or twice.

Homemade Granola :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

Ta Daaaa! This granola is delicious and lightly crunchy. It’s the perfect blend between sweet and salty and nutty.

Homemade Granola Recipe:

4 Cups Rolled Oats                                     1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Flax Meal                                     1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1/2 Cup Chia Seeds                                   1/4 Cup Honey

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds                        1/2 Cup Coconut Oil Рwarmed

1/2 Cup Flax Seed                                     1/2 TBL Ground Cinnamon

1 Cup Sliced Almonds                              1/2 TBL Vanilla

1 Cup Dried Cranberries                         1/2 TBL Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients, mix. Add wet ingredients, drizzling warmed to liquid coconut oil last, mix well. Spread on two large baking sheets and bake 20-30 minutes, turning once or twice until browned and toasted. Let cool completely on the baking sheets before storing.

**EDIT 3/29/13 

I recommend putting the dried fruit in after you bake your granola. Our craisins got very hard and chewy. Still yummy, but harder to eat. **

Add some homemade almond milk and you’ve got the best breakfast on the block! And to top it off, you know every ingredient that went into it.

Homemade Granola and Almond Milk :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Blog

Almond milk is easy and in my opinion, tastes so much better than the store-bought kind. It tasted closer to skim milk and has no preservatives!

Homemade Almond Milk:

Soak 1 Cup almonds overnight or for at least 6 hours.¬†Drain soaking water off. Blend almonds with 4 Cups of water for a couple of minutes. I strained off the liquid in a¬†sieve and then strained it through cheesecloth. Then to make sure I got all the liquid out I put the almond “meal” into the cheesecloth and squeezed the last bit out by hand.

**EDIT 3/29/13 

I have found that adding 1-2 tsp of honey makes this “milk” that much better. And squeezing the last of the liquid from the almond meal is important. It thickens and flavors the “milk” a little more and helps if you choose to dry out your meal to use later. **

Oh, and after you make your homemade almond milk, take the leftover almond meal, bake it on a pan for about 20 minutes  to dry it out, and add it to your next batch of granola. Or use it to bread your fish for some nutty, crunchy breading. No waste!

Do you have a granola recipe you love? Have you made milk out of any other nuts, coconut, or rice?