Sipping Savvily: Book and Beverage on a Budget

April 25, 2012


 There has been a sudden return of toasty jackets and fuzzy boots as the weather bumps up and down between the 40s and 60s. Though some people may grumble PG-13 rated words under their breath when this climate comes along after a warm hiatus, I see it as the perfect time to curl up with a hot drink and a book. Mmmm. With the idea in place and a reused book in hand, the next question is, “What do I want to drink?”

My former roommate sprouted my addiction to Starbucks soy lattes a few years ago.  For us, soy latte = breakfast. When I considered it breakfast, I was okay with paying almost $4 for one drink, or so I told myself. Then the price became $4.10, which I also rationalized away and continued on with my latte dependence. But it was only a matter of time before I hit a breaking point. A couple months ago, after a few month hiatus where I had a love affair with my new Keurig, I loyally returned for my soy latte. The barista in the drive thru told me my total, and as I pulled around, I wondered if she misspoke. Was I really paying $4.62 for a grande soy latte now? It turns out, I was. That is when I put my foot down.

From there, I began extensive research on the most delicious drink recipes I could find. Beverages that would excite me and not skimp on taste. After all, I was now accustomed to Starbucks quality, just not Starbucks price. The following concoctions are the fruits of my labor, and I am here to share them with you so that you can save yourself some time, effort, and money in your search for at-home beverage bliss. For sake of the weather, this post is dedicated entirely too hot drinks. The very best of the warm and delicious. 

 Painless Peppermint Hot Chocolate 


- 1 cup milk (regular/soy/almond)

- 1 packet of your favorite hot chocolate mix

- 1-2 Tbs Peppermint mocha creamer

- Peppermint marshmallows (optional)

Warm milk in saucepan or in microwave. I usually go the saucepan route. If you use a microwave, try 2 minutes. Next, mix in you hot chocolate powder and then add the creamer. If you don’t have hot coco mix on hand, but you have chocolate chips, you can melt the chocolate chips in to the milk. The peppermint mocha creamer I use is by Coffee-mate and is usually in stock at Target. Target also sells a shaker of peppermint Jet-Puffed mallow bits that you can sprinkle on top. Simple and delicious!


Chocolate Hazelnut Hot Chocolate


The same idea as above, but instead melt the nutella into the warm milk and then top it off with chocolate Cool Whip and chocolate shavings! The recipe can be found here:

I truly love this website. The girls that created the website really know what they are doing when it comes to taste. The link takes you to their interpretation of twists that can be made to a classic recipe to make it even more delectable.


Red Velvet Hot Chocolate




I could go on about hot chocolate recipes for days. Here is a slightly more intricate one if you have a little more time. Definitely worth the added effort.


Trouble-Free Chai Latte

For a hot chai latte, I cannot get enough of Big Train Chai. My favorite flavors are Raspberry and Chocolate. 3 Tablespoon + 1 cup of water and you have yourself a quick, delicious drink. You can buy the mix on Another favorite is Trader Joe’s Spicy Chai Latte. Soooo good.



If you are feeling really ambitious, here is a link to create a do-it-yourself chai mix.


The Basic Latte

-1 cup milk of choice

-1 teaspoon instant coffee

-2 Tbs Coffee-mate or other creamer

Simply heat up milk, stir in instant coffee, and add creamer! I have recently been experimenting with different flavors of creamers, and while they have all been good, I definitely have my preferences. Try Chocolate Toffee or Italian Sweet Cream by Coffee-mate. I always get the liquid form available near the milk section. All you do is pour a couple spoonfuls into your drink. It is foolproof! I am dying to try Vanilla Cinnamon which is next on my list.

My mornings became so much more exciting when I learned how to make this basic latte mixed with different flavors of creamer. When you discover the right balance of coffee milk and creamer (which is a personal preference), you will agree that this is Starbucks taste-worthy.

To see all the tantalizing flavors, go here:


Tiramisu Hot Drink


This hot little number is from If you are more adventurous than me on a typical day, this is a great one to try!


Apple Cider Cups


Apple cider is sweet and smooth, especially warmed up, and this is a great presentation. You can skip the fancy flowers and top it off with some whip cream instead. Heaven.


Pumpkin Spiced Latte


Lastly, I leave you with fall classic, but in reality, I love pumpkin year round! Pumpkins are great for your skin, eyes, and immune system. This recipe is from, and is a delicious way to give into that pumpkin craving (and if you don’t have a pumpkin craving, you should get one… or at least try it out).  

If you have a favorite hot drink recipe that you would like to share, please post them on our facebook wall at: We would love to hear from you!


Nicole Steineke

Head Blogger

Marathon Books