Cooking & Living in Small Spaces with Style


Pumpkin Pie Coconut Smoothie

Beveragesshirley byrdComment

You don’t have to wait for pumpkin season to roll around to enjoy a pumpkin pie coconut smoothie!! I seldom visit the canned areas of a grocery store but to make this smoothie, I gladly shop from the canned section. I like to use pure pumpkin and canned coconut milk that . . .

New Orleans Style Bloody Mary

Cocktails, Beveragesshirley byrdComment

I'm so very excited to offer this recipe for a New Orleans style Bloody Mary by James Gaffney.  He shares a wonderful brief history on the Bloody Mary.  If you love a good Bloody Mary like I do, make it--you're in for a delectable adventure. 

How To Make A Tequila Sunrise - Group Effort

Beveragesshirley byrdComment

How to make a tequila sunrise coctail is easy peasy!!  This post, however, is also Part I for Ladies Grill for Breakfast (But Ate At Lunch!)  Or rather, they didn't get to eat until lunch, after a few disasters!!

Watermelon Martini

Beverages, Cocktailsshirley byrdComment

Welcome home.  It's the end of the day, possibly even a long commute, you just walked into your apartment and you're ready to 'get real.'  That is, relax.

Lemon Mango Smoothie

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What's not to love in a smoothie, especially on a warm spring or summer day!  Well, you can pucker up for this one with fresh lemon juice, mangos . . .

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas For One

Food Talk, Desserts-Snacks, Beverages, Meats, side dish, Salads-Soups-Sandwichesshirley byrd2 Comments

Dining alone for Thanksgiving this year?  So am I.  And I shall enjoy my Thanksgiving Dinner to the max with my girl, Susie, a Portuguese water dog.

My Thanksgiving dinner menu depends on how I feel and is often based on one of three basic menus that I follow or alter.  Here are the three menus to inspire you.  Follow a menu or make a substitution with your own favorites. Most important is to just have fun!!   

Witch's Brew Martini

Cocktails, Beveragesshirley byrdComment

Celebrate Halloween with this Witch's Brew Vodka Martini. 
It will blow your witch socks off!! 
But you can keep them on by heavily munching on a
cheese and fruit tray idea.

Three-Fruit Extra-Thick Smoothie

Beveragesshirley byrdComment

This recipe is all about summer harvested peaches and strawberries.  A banana pumps in more flavor. Lemon juice brightens the taste and honey carries a gentle sweetness.  This extra thick smoothie is topped with chai seeds  You may need a spoon to get those last drops of the smoothie.

Left Over Papaya Becomes A Smoothie

Beveragesshirley byrdComment
Papaya Strawberries SmoothieVer2-Top-8104.jpg

Why call this a left over papaya becomes a smoothie?  Well, first, I had made a Papaya and Strawberries Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing and had fruits left over.  

Second, what I love about smoothies is that you don't really need to go out and buy special ingredients. Just check the fridge, the fruit bowl on your kitchen counter top and whatever is on the food shelf, then have fun with flavors.  Throw the ingredients in a blender, add some ice cubes and voila-- a new smoothie creation made just by you!  

Here's mine made with a left over papaya, some strawberries, lemon, honey and garnished with shredded coconuts sitting on a shelf.


Did you know you can eat papaya seeds?  They have a wonderful peppery flavor and can be used in a variety dishes.  I'll save the rest of this story for another blog.

The Recipe (yields 16 ounces)


  • 2 cups papaya, chopped

  • 2 cups strawberries, cut in quarters

  • 1 banana, medium

  • Juice from one half of a lemon

  • 3 Tablespoons honey

  • 3-5 ice cubes

  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut


Add all ingredients to a blender.  Mix all ingredients, except the ice cubes, until smooth.  Add the ice cubes, blend on chop until ice cubes are in smaller pieces.  Or you can just add the ice cubes to glass and pour the smoothie over it.  Garnish with shredded coconut.

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It's a good idea to have spoons handy to dish out the coconut garnish or just the delicious lumps in a smoothie.  No lumps?  You don't have really have to make it as smooth as milk?

Be sure to serve this left over papaya smoothie very, very cold!


Enjoy this smoothie papaya with someone

or all by yourself!

What's your favorite smoothie?

Hot Chocolate And Party Flavors

Beveragesshirley byrdComment
Hot Chocolate-MarshmellowV2-5506.png

Never had a hot chocolate party?  Not even after a snowball fight?  Perhaps this hot chocolate recipe will inspire you.  

My goal here was to create a basic dark hot chocolate recipe that both children and adults could enjoy.  But for us adults I wanted to be able to "bump up" the flavor with choices from a variety of alcohol flavors.  

First, I must attribute the use of half and half milk along with whole milk to an Ina Garten hot chocolate recipe.  The half and half adds a bit of creaminess to the flavor.  I always keep Dutch processed cocoa powder on the shelf, so that too was an easy ingredient to include in my recipe.

The basic recipe Ingredients for four:

  • 2 Tablespoons dark Dutch processed cocoa powder

  • 3 Tablespoons boiling hot water

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 2 cups half and half milk

  • 6 ounces dark semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional when using other flavors)

  • Garnish with toasted marshmallows, optional (But I strongly encourage this garnish!)


Heat the whole milk and the half and half milk into a sauce pot on medium-high heat.  While you are waiting for the milk to get very hot, pour the boiling hot water over the cocoa powder and mix until very smooth.  When the milk becomes very hot but just before it boils, add the chopped dark semi-sweet chocolate and remove the sauce pot from the heat.  Using a whisk, start with a slow stir and then increase to a vigorous whisk as the chocolate melts.  

Add the blended dark cocoa to the mixture.  Continue to whisk.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Continue to whisk to get a smooth mixture with little to no tiny chocolate specks.  Your chocolate will cool a bit during the mixing, so return it to the heat to make it a hot chocolate just before serving.

For flavors added, I started by replacing the vanilla extract for each flavor.  (I did test with including the vanilla and found that to be a nice option as well.)  The flavors I tested were peppermint extract plus Peppermint Schnapps; almond extract plus Amaretto liqueur; and orange extract plus Grande Marnier liqueur.   

One of my most favorite flavors is the peppermint:

  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

  • 1 shot of Peppermint Schnapps for every 8 ounces of hot chocolate. Add the Schnapps to the cup or glass of hot chocolate and stir.

  • Garnish with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy

Hot Chocolate-Pepperment-SprinkleV2-5568.png

My other most favorite flavor is Disronno Amaretto:

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (This is optional. I tried the Ameretto without the almond extract and with it. Loved both of them.)

  • 1 shot of Disronno Amaretto (Add the liqueur to the cup or glass of hot chocolate.)

Okay, I confess.  As you can see in the image below, I grabbed a homemade biscotti to dunk into my Ameretto hot chocolate.  And yes, I loved it, especially the part where I finished off this wonderful ritual just drinking the Ameretto hot chocolate. 


My least favorite is hot chocolate with Grand Marnier liqueur, although I love and I mean LOVE Grand Marnier.  But for those interested in trying it out:

  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

  • 1 shot Grand Marnier liqueur

If you want to experiment a hot chocolate with other alcoholic flavors, you may want to try a bourbon or a brandy.

For another but non-alcoholic flavor with hot chocolate, experiment with caramel, such as adding a caramel extract or caramel syrup.  Just make sure to use a syrup in the hot chocolate, such as what is used in coffee rather than the heavier and thicker caramel topping used to garnish whip cream or ice cream, like that in the image below


Why not leave one of the party flavors above just for Santa Claus! Who knows, perhaps you’ll get your request. Here’s mine:

Dear Santa Christmas 2018-1V2Size-6933.jpg


Ready for a hot chocolate with party flavors now?  
I hope so or just go with the hot chocolate.  
And then, don't forget, share your hot chocolate experiences with my readers and me.  
We'd love to hear from you!  Really



Ice Cream Brandy Alexander

Beveragesshirley byrdComment

This decadent brandy Alexander commands the rich flavors of thick and lumpy vanilla ice cream, brandy and crème de coco.  Two sticks of chocolate hazelnut crème de Pirouline are added to help scoop out that brandy rich ice cream.  For garnish, a dark chocolate cacao and of course a lovely stem red cherry is added.  As in this picture, the recipe yields 16 oz for one high ball glass.

The Recipe:

Ingredients for Ice Creme Brandy Alexander:

  • 2 small cubes of ice

  • 1 - 2 oz shot of brandy

  • 1 - 1 oz shot of crème de Cacao liqueur

  • 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream (Be sure to get a creamy rich vanilla ice cream, not that anemic white vanilla ice cream!)

  • 2 sticks of chocolate hazelnut crème de Pirouline

  • 1 cherry on a stem

Equipment needed:

Blender and a high ball glass (Or as noted in the options below, 2 martini-like glasses.)


Toss 2 small cubes of ice in a blender.  On the "chop" setting, chop the ice by pulsing about 5 times.  What you want are small pieces of ice--not big chunks.  Add 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream, brandy and the crème de Cacao liqueur.  Again, on the "chop" setting, pulse about 4-5 times.  The mixture should be thick and lumpy, not a liquid.

Pour the ice cream brandy Alexander into a 16 oz high ball glass.  Add 2 piroulines, then top with 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream.  

Garnish with dark chocolate cacao and a cherry.


  • Split the ingredients by pouring them into 2 martini glasses (or similar shaped glasses). Add a small scoop of ice cream and continue with the finishing touches.

  • Sprinkle with nutmeg rather than cacao.


Brandy Alexander V2 with Hand -4559.png


Tried it? 


More Cocktail Posts:

Fresh Pineapple Margarita With Honey

Beverages, Cocktailsshirley byrdComment

This fresh pineapple margarita is absolutely fabulous for those who enjoy chilled cocktails and the combined flavors of sweet and salty.  Another reason I love this great cocktail is that a batch can be made ahead of time for welcoming guests at a party. 

Pouring Pineapple MargaritaV2-Display-8821.jpg

 First let me say that my recipe was inspired by Ali from Gimme Some Oven.

Things you will need:  blender, cutting board, knife, measuring cups, straws, cocktail napkins--and of course fun glass!


Round up the ingredients:  fresh pineapple (please, no canned pineapples; fresh lime (but if you must, pure lime juice from a bottle will do); honey; triple sec; and tequila!!


Be sure the glass is nicely chilled.  Then coat the rim with lime and dip in salt, lots of dipping in the salt!!

Dipping glass in salt Pineapple Margarita-8814.jpg

The Recipe:

Ingredients for fresh pineapple margarita:

  • 1-1/2 cups of fresh pineapple chunks (Go for it and purchase the whole pineapple!)

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1/2 cup tequila (I use tequila reposado)

  • 1/2 cup triple sec liqueur (or Cointreau)

  • 3 tablespoons of honey (less or more according to your taste)

  • 3-4 ice cubes (if serving right away)

  • Margarita or kosher salt

  • Chilled glasses (margarita glasses or some other fun glasses such as mason jars)

  • Lime quarters (sufficient to line glass rims)

  • Lime and/or pineapple wedges for garnishes and serving (optional)


In a blender, stir pineapple chunks into a mush.  Add lime juice, tequila, triple sec and honey (to taste).  Continue blending on stir.  If you are serving right away, add 3-4 ice cubes and blend.

Line the rims of the chilled glass with a lime wedge. Dip the rim of glass into the margarita or kosher salt.  Serve on the side and/or add a garnish of a pineapple or lime wedge to the rim.  Add a straw, if desired. 

Remember, you can make this ahead of time for a party.  Keep the batch chilled in the refrigerator.  Your guests will love you even more when you greet them at the door with a very cold fresh pineapple margarita. 

Serves 2 in a deep margarita glass.  Of course, bump up the ingredients for a party!


Pineapple Margarita-CompletedV2-Display-8825.jpg

You may also enjoy these beverages:

How To Make An Old Fashion Root Beer Float

Beverages, Desserts-Snacksshirley byrdComment

It's sooo very easy to make an old fashion root beer float.  The key is to use an original flavor root beer.  So just be sure to read content label on a root beer bottle before buying.



  • Chilled ice cream fluted glass (or any tall glass)

  • About 5 medium sized ice cubes

  • one large scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

  • A sprinkle of chopped pecans

  • One stemmed cherry

  • 12 oz bottle of ice cold root beer


After chilling the glass for about an hour, drop the ice cubes in the glass.  Add the large scoop of vanilla ice cream so that it sits on top of the ice.  Sprinkle the pecans over the scoop of ice cream.  Place the stemmed cherry on top of ice cream scoop.  Pour the root beer into the glass down the side of the glass so as not to disturb the nuts.

Another options:  Try a different flavor soda, such as a cherry soda.  Of course, it wouldn't then be a root beer float but a cherry float.  

Note:  Don't hesitate to be creative, such as adding two scoops of ice cream, other fruits such as pineapple or strawberries.

Grab a tall tea spoon and straw.  




How I Make A Brandy Hot Toddy

Beveragesshirley byrdComment

This is how I make a hot toddy.  It's easy and oh so very, very good to drink on those cold wintry days.  

It's been said that it's even good for sweating out a cold.  I tried it once to get rid of a very nasty cold and I can vouch that it did work.  Just remember to stay in bed and under the blankets.  


This recipe is for one hot toddy with lemon, honey and brandy or whiskey.


  • 6 ounces of boiling water

  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons of honey (I like lots of honey, so I tend to add a bit more.)

  • 1-1/2 ounces of brandy or whiskey

  • Lemon wedge (optional)


Squeeze fresh lemon juice and pour it into a mug or glass.  (If using a glass, be sure to wrap it with pot holders or double thick large cotton napkins.)  Add boiling water. Drizzle in honey and then stir in the brandy or whiskey.  

Garnish with a lemon wedge, if desired