You Need To Try Starbucks’ New Pina Colada Drink (Photo)

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By Cooking Panda

You probably want a vacation right about now, but maybe you don’t have the time. What if I told you that you can get a tropical trip in a cup for less than $5 and only 80 calories — and you can carry it into work with you?

You can, and it’s called Starbucks’ new Teavana Iced Pina Colada Tea Infusion.

The pleasantly peach-colored, summery beverage is made with Teavana pineapple black tea and coconut milk, finished with ice for a refreshingly cool drink. It’s now on the permanent menu across the country.

With just 80 calories in a grande serving, the drink is a guilt-free alternative to a boozy pina colada. But since alcohol makes everything more fun, the tea infusion can always be used as a base for something a little stronger.

“It needs rum,” one Reddit user determined. Rum it can have, indeed. Add a shot of your favorite brand to the Starbucks beverage, then throw the mixture into a blender with ice for a low-calorie cocktail. A cherry on top certainly won’t hurt.

Some fans suggest using other Starbucks drinks to heighten the flavor of the tea infusion. One smartie with a sweet tooth says to ask for the drink to be combined with the store’s toasted coconut syrup and a vanilla Frappuccino for a creamy, dessert-like treat.

“It’s delicious,” they wrote.

Starbucks itself is urging customers to customize the drink with other teas, according to Delish. It can be mixed with any Teavana iced tea, like strawberry white tea or pineapple green tea, for a fruity caffeine fix. If you’re into citrus, try it with lemonade for a tart Arnold Palmer situation.

The chain’s coconut milk craze goes beyond tea infusions. Their new Iced Cascara Coconutmilk Latte combines the milk with espresso and cascara, the brown-sugary dried fruit from the coffee plant. Coconut milk is mixed with ice, a white chocolate mocha and espresso in the returning Iced Coconutmilk Mocha Macchiato — an alternative to the caramel macchiato for coconut lovers.

Suddenly craving coconut? We’ve got you covered. Get your fix with this coconut butter pecan praline sheet cake, coconut beer-battered shrimp or coconut banana cream pie.

Source: Delish / Featured image credit: Pixabay

Tags: Coconut, Coconut Milk, pina colada, Starbucks, Tea
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The Horrors Of Pina Colada Cheese Have Officially Turned Us Vegan

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By Cooking Panda

Yes. You read that right. Pina Colada cheese now exists, and the world will never be the same again.

According to Grub Street, the horrifying new product is being sold at Aldi, a discount grocery store chain. The Pina Colada cheese is even sold by the Aldi’s store brand—Happy Farms—an already troubling label that has previously been faulted for the fact that it is not an actual farm.

Happy Farm’s latest transgression, however, far outshines its last. Shoppers recently noticed that the brand has started selling Pina Colada and Tequila Lime-flavored cheddar cheese—products so disgusting that the mere thought of them might turn us off of dairy forever.

Gone are our fond memories of macaroni and cheese; vanished are all thoughts of ice cream or milkshakes—all that is left is a horrifying taste in our mouths, left by an item so revolting that it does not even deserve to be called “cheese.”

The Pina Colada and Tequila Lime-flavored monstrosities are sold in seven-ounce blocks, and claim to be “infused” cheese, whatever that means. All we know is that they sound disgusting, and you will never catch our mouths anywhere near them.

If you are curious however, there is some good news. The products appear to be semi-permanent, so they might stick around long enough for the most revolting taste test of your life.

Personally, though, we’re more than happy with tried and true favorites like parmesan and regular cheddar. While we love a good tropical drink, we are firm believers that Pina Coladas should stay by the beach and away from the dairy isle! 

Source: Grub Street, The Guardian / Photo credits: Lincoln Michel/Twitter, BravesLove/Twitter

Tags: Aldi, cheese, pina colada, Tequila Lime, vegan
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We Try: Puerto Rican Cuisine

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By Cooking Panda

If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s travel with no regards to moderation, my health or — apparently — the sun (I am rocking a nasty full-body burn right now). 

Luckily, I know this about myself, and was therefore reasonably assured that I would be able to taste-test a respectable variety of foods and drinks during my three-day vacation in Puerto Rico — and then write about the experience.

Here’s some background information:

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an island and unincorporated U.S. territory, found just east of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea. Before visiting, I knew about Puerto Rico for its white-sand beaches and affinity for Rum (yum). Those who are more educated than I was, however, will know that PR is also famous for its food. Although Puerto Rican cooking is in many ways similar to Spanish, Cuban and Mexican cuisine, it is also a unique blend of Spanish, African, Taino, and American influences.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are my favorites of the Puerto Rican dishes, drinks and snacks I was able to try:

Frituras/Cuchifrito

Frituras is the generic term for fried treats, and they were sold everywhere. We found them as appetizers and at little street vendors on the side of the road; some were stuffed with cheese or meat, while others were thin, traditional finger-foods.

Almojabanas

Although it isn’t strictly Puerto Rican, my personal favorite was the Almojabana. Typically enjoyed with a cup of coffee in the morning, Almojabanas are small, gluten free (!) bread rolls found throughout Latin America, especially in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Panama. Made with cheese and cornmeal, their sweet, crispy exterior gives way to a soft and cheesy center, and eating these made me feel like I was being greeted by a hug — welcome to San Juan! I’ve been back home for less than 24 hours and have already scouted out a local bakery that serves up a similar roll — “pan de bono” — in my neighborhood, so I can keep getting my breakfast fix.

Cafe con Leche

Considering that PR is America’s leading coffee producer, it should come as no great shock that the three variations I tried in PR blew me away. While I was able to enjoy a cup of it black (the taste was powerful yet soft, and had mild but fragrant sweetness), my fellow taste-testers raved about the cafe con leche. It was similar to a latte, but seemed to involve a large dollop of frothed, sweet milk in a larger cup.

Tostones (pictured here sandwiched between ceviche and quinoa salad)

There is only one thing that could get me to swear off french fries for life without regressing into my 7-year-old, tantrum-throwing form, and that is tostones. Traditionally served as either an appetizer or a side dish, these little discs are twice-fried plantain slices, and make a great conduit for transporting generous dollops of different sauces and condiments into your mouth. They’re golden brown and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and are sprinkled with just enough salt to make them flavorful without being overpowering. When given the choice, I ordered these with every meal, and I’ve been scouring the internet for recipes ever since returning.

Mofongo

Before I left, I asked a few Puerto Rican friends to recommend their favorite dish, and every single one of them told me to try mofongo. Essentially, mofongo is a mashed mound of plantains (usually flavored with garlic) that serves as a sort of subtly sweet and fried edible bowl. As if that weren’t enough (I like the idea of dishware you can use and then consume), the starchy mound is commonly filled with a combination of seafood, meat, or vegetables, and drizzled with a warm broth, making it something of a national staple amidst a wide assortment of local food offerings.

Ceviche

Seeing as Puerto Rico is an island right in the middle of the Caribbean, it follows that seafood and shellfish are amongst the most common and tasty things to eat there (even though much of the seafood is imported). I had both a shrimp ceviche (light, flavorful and refreshing) and a conch ceviche served inside a “1/2 avocado” which was probably the size of my five-year-old niece’s head. 10/10, would attempt to devour again.

Medalla Light

The Compania Cervecera de Puerto Rico is one of two breweries in Puerto Rico, and its main brand is Medalla Light. I don’t think I went to a single establishment that didn’t offer up this beer.  The taste, smell, and feel are all what you would expect from a light lager, and it was highly, highly drinkable. As in I didn’t have any qualms downing one after the other in rapid succession as I got sunburnt lounging by the ocean — the booze-buzz, at least, helped to temporarily mask the searing pain. 

Pina Colada

Rupert Holmes knew what he was talking about: I actually tried my first Pina Colada after being caught in the rain on the beach in Rincon. I am not a particular fan of creamy coconut flavor profiles, so this was a pass for me, but come on: I wasn’t about to go to PR and not sample at least three different rum-based cocktails. As a fellow traveler noted:

“The best part about rum punch happy hours in Puerto Rico is that they are much longer than an hour.”

Turron de Ajonjoli 

I flew out of Rincon back to San Juan in a tiny plane that boasted a total capacity of around eight passengers. Because only four of us were flying that trip, our pilot introduced himself personally to each of us… and immediately recoiled when he got to me. Perhaps it was all the drinking and sunbathing, but three days in PR left me with a stuffed nose, a blocked ear, unwashed hair, and a pretty remarkable sunburn. As a consolation prize — or maybe because I just looked truly pitiful — he gave me a Turron de Ajonjoli at the end of the flight, and then recommended his favorite brand of aloe for my nose (thanks, pal).

The bar itself looks like a small, rectangular tablet, and has a strong, almost savory, sesame smell. I’ve had more brittle sesame snacks before (my old, wheezy babysitter used to keep a stash in her purse), but these roasted sesame seeds seemed to be held together with a sweet, caramelized brown sugar and biting into the bar was very soft. It left a pleasant and comforting goodbye-taste of Puerto Rico in my mouth.

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Photo credit: chalmerman/Instagram, Pac, Food Network (2)

Tags: pina colada, puerto rico, rincon, san juan, Taste Test
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