crema de vie

Boozy, Sweet Crema de Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Is So Good!

Cubans have their own version of eggnog known as crema de vie, and if you have a sweet tooth, you’ve got to try it! The Spanish translation for Crema de Vie is cream of life, and I can see why it’s called that. It tastes a lot like spiked flan because it has very similar ingredients.

I like to drink my crema de vie as I’m cooking. It makes it feel more like Christmas. Because when you live in Miami, you need a little help getting in the Christmas mood while it’s 80 degrees outside, so every little bit of Cuban eggnog helps!

crema de vie

Ingredients In My Delicious Crema De Vie

The reason I love this Cuban eggnog is that it tastes a lot like spiked flan. Like my caramel flan, crema de vie is made with eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. In fact, I always drink a bit of the flan when I make it because it tastes so good!

Crema de vie has two more ingredients not found in flan, though. Star anise syrup and rum are added to the mix. Not all recipes use star anise, some use cinnamon instead. But I love the flavor of the star anise in this Cuban eggnog recipe. And, I always sprinkle a little cinnamon on top, so you get all the Christmas flavors going on!

Now be warned, crema de vie is super sweet. I make mine with less sugar than most, but it’s still really sweet. The syrup contains one cup of sugar, and that’s in addition to a whole can of sweetened condensed milk. What can I say, Cubans are sweet ❤️

The rum helps cut down the level of sweetness, so it balances out the flavor. But eggnog is a sweet drink, whether you make the Cuban crema de vie or the traditional version. I use only half a cup of rum in the recipe, but you can add more if you like your eggnog very boozy. I stick to half a cup because that way, those who don’t like it super boozy can enjoy it, and the rest can add a little more.

Cuban eggnog

To Cook Or Not To Cook The Eggs

Crema de vie is made with raw eggs, six egg yolks to be precise. Cubans don’t cook their eggnog. My mom says Cubans have been drinking it this way forever, and no one ever gets sick… that’s Mami’s logic for you!

However, if you’re giving it as a gift or bringing it to a gathering, you may feel better cooking the eggs. So, this recipe has an optional cooking step. Cooking the yolks takes a little patience because you don’t want the eggs to cook too much or too fast, or you’ll end up with lumpy eggnog. Nobody wants that. So, it’s important to temper the eggs first (this means gradually introducing little amounts of warm milk to the yolks). You also need to cook at a low heat and stir constantly.

Give The Crema De Vie A Day To Settle

I gotta be honest, if you taste this Cuban eggnog right after it’s done, it’s not that great. The flavors need a little time to settle and get to know each other. So refrigerate the nog overnight before serving and always keep refrigerated.

Try some Cuban eggnog this Christmas, and let me know how you like it!

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cuban eggnog

Boozy, Sweet Crema de Vie (Cuban Eggnog) Is So Good!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 11 1x
  • Category: drink
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: cuban


Crema de vie (aka Cuban eggnog) is a traditional Cuban drink made with sweetened condensed milk, rum and star anise. So good!


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 star anise (2 full stars)
  • Cinnamon for garnish


Make Simple Syrup

  • Mix 2 cups of water, 1 cup sugar and two star anise. Add to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Let cool.


  • Remove the star anise from the cooled syrup and add to a blender, along  with the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, rum, vanilla and pinch of salt. Blend on low for a few minutes.
  • Strain and pour into a bottle and refrigerate overnight. You need to give the flavors some time to mellow and get to know each other.

If you have an issue with using raw eggs, you can cook the eggs:

  • Heat the evaporated milk over medium heat until it’s warm, but not boiling. Should take about 8-10 minutes .
  • Beat the egg yolks in a bowl, then slowly add a few spoonfuls of the milk to the eggs to temper them. Continue to add the warm milk to the eggs a bit at a time. You don’t want the eggs to cook. Once you’ve added all the milk to the eggs, return to the pot and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so the eggs don’t settle and cook at the bottom of the pan. Let it cool and strain before mixing with the other ingredients. Blend as indicated above.

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Refrigerate overnight before using, it’s much better that way.

Keywords: crema de vie, crema de vie recipe, cuban crema de vie, crema de vie drink, cuban eggnog

sweet sangria

Fruity Sangria Recipe That’s So Easy and Delicious

I just love this fruity sangria recipe! My hubby said it was the best sangria he’s had, and we have had our fair share of sangria ???

Sangria is just such a party drink! You can dress it up with whatever fruit you fancy and make it more or less strong, just right for your crowd. Can you just picture yourself with a pitcher of sangria (to share, of course), a nice cheese board or some BBQ tapas on a lazy Saturday afternoon? I know I can!

What is Sangria?

Some of you may be wondering what I’m going on about. Is sangria a cocktail? Is it a wine? 

Sangria is a Spanish wine punch made with red wine, liquor, fresh fruit, a little mixer, and a dash of sweetness. It’s usually served with Spanish tapas, cheese boards or appetizers. Sangria is served cold, with ice cubes. It’s like a wine cooler but sooo much better!

Sangria is definitely on the sweet side so you can easily drink more than you realize. It tastes so good and refreshing that I can overindulge (I’m a lightweight and feel tipsy after two glasses of wine). That’s why I usually water down my glass with a little extra ice. 

red wine sangria

What’s The Best Wine For Sweet Sangria?

You can use any sweet red wine, but it doesn’t have to be a specific one. I used Merlot for this fruity sangria recipe, but you can use pinot noir, zinfandel, or a red blend. Depending on the wine you use, you may want to adjust the amount of sweetness you add.

The other beauty about sangria is that you can use a cheap red wine, so it’s perfect for a crowd. You can also adjust the potency by adding more or less of the mixers  and ice cubes. 

fruity sangria recipe

What Fruit Goes In Sangria? 

Oranges and limes are the most common fruit for sangria. My fruity sangria recipe has oranges, limes, and apples, but you can add other fruits if you like. For example, you can try it with blueberries, grapes, or strawberries. However, it shouldn’t be something that can get too mushy, so I would avoid bananas.

How To Make Sweet Sangria At Home

You can buy sangria ready-made at the store and just add fruit. But what’s the fun in that? Sweet sangria is easy to make and only takes ten minutes. Here are the ingredients you need for this fantastic wine punch. You can start out with my fruity sangria recipe and then adjust the amounts of each ingredient to suit your tastes. I tend to like my sangria on the sweet side and not so boozy, but you can add more or less of brandy, less mixer or simple syrup to suit your palate.

Red Wine – you can use merlot, pinot noir, zinfandel, red blends. Cheap wine is fine!

Mixer – you can use lemon-lime soda. I used Sprite. 

Brandy – if you don’t normally have brandy at home, buy a small bottle just for sangria. Cheap brandy is fine for this, too.

Triple Sec – this is an orange liquor. You can buy an inexpensive non-alcoholic version at the grocery store. Or you can use Cointreau or Grand Marnier if you have them on hand. 

Simple Syrup – you can buy this where you find the cocktail mixers at your local grocery store. Or you can make it yourself. It’s just equal parts water and sugar heated together to give the sugar a chance to dissolve. 

Orange Juice – I really prefer fresh squeezed for this. You don’t need a lot, about two oranges will do. Or use the orange juice you have on hand. 

Fresh Fruit – definitely use oranges and limes and then add other fruits you like. I like to keep it simple so I go with oranges, limes and apples. Just don’t use Granny Smith, it’s not sweet enough.

Ice Cubes – Sangria is served cold, over ice. You can add more or less ice depending on the potency you want. 

Tapas – you need this too! You can’t drink sangria without a little noshy food, it’s criminal! 

OK, noshy is a made-up word that I love to use. So a definition is in order. Noshy means foods with the potential to be nosh.

Nosh Definition: (Origin: Yiddish) a snack or light meal

sangria y tapas

Sangria Y Tapas Are A Power Couple!

Sangria y tapas go together like white on rice. You can make a simple cheese board with one or two cheeses, some crostini and a little salami or prosciutto. Add a few olives and nuts in for good measure. Or you can try some of my tapas recipes.  

Here’s a very simple cheeseboard you can make:

  • Manchego Cheese
  • Tetilla Cheese (if you can’t find this cheese, substitute a mild cheese like mozzarella)
  • Serrano Ham or Prosciutto
  • Spanish Chorizo
  • Spanish Olives
  • Candied Walnuts
  • Guava Marmalade

This fruity sangria recipe and the cheese board are quick and easy to put together and make for a lovely little party starter or date night. Cheers to you and yours!

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fruity sangria recipe

Fruity Sangria Recipe That’s So Easy and Delicious

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: cocktail
  • Method: mix
  • Cuisine: Spanish


This fruity sangria recipe is quick and easy to make and so delicious! It’s a great way to get the party started!



1 bottle Merlot (750 ml)

½ cup Sprite

3 ounces Triple Sec

2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)

1 ounce Simple Syrup

1 ounce Brandy

1 Orange

1 Lime

1 Apple (I used gala, but any sweet variety is fine – just not Granny Smith)

Ice Cubes


Slice the orange and then cut in half. Slice the lime and dice the apple. Set aside.

Pour the wine into a pitcher. In a cocktail shaker add the Sprite, Triple Sec, Orange Juice, Simple Syrup and Brandy. Fill with ice cubes and shake. Strain the contents of the cocktail shaker into the pitcher with the wine. Add the fruit and the ice cubes and serve with tapas!


If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, you can just mix in a bowl or a separate pitcher. By mixing with the ice cubes, the ingredients get cold and you won’t have to use as much ice, if you want the sangria to be a bit stronger.  


  • Serving Size: 6

Keywords: Fruity Sangria Recipe, Summer Sangria, red wine sangria, red wine sangria recipe, sweet sangria, sangria y tapas, how to make sangria, merlot sangria, wine punch

apple pie smoothie

Apple Pie Smoothie Tastes Like Good For You Dessert!

I just love Apple Pie Smoothies! It’s like having dessert for breakfast without the guilt trip. This smoothie hits all the right flavor notes, and it’s filled with yummy goodness. You know when you really love to eat something, you take that slight pause to anticipate the first bite? That’s how it is with me and this apple and banana smoothie that tastes like my favorite pie. But in this case, it’s a sip, not a bite.

You can taste the apple and cinnamon you expect, and the banana adds a touch of sweetness without adding sugar. I also love the cold creaminess of the yogurt that reminds me of the melting scoop of ice cream that crowns apple pie a la mode. The almond butter flavor and oats remind you of the apple pie crust. All these flavors come together for a homey, delicious apple pie smoothie treat that’s good for you, too.

Why This Is The Best Apple and Banana Smoothie I’ve Tasted

This apple pie smoothie has a sweet flavor and a great smoothie consistency. That’s not usually the case because apples tend to be grainy and not as smooth as other fruits when blended. To counter that, I’ve tried many apple pie smoothies with the right flavor notes that didn’t have much body. They were a tasty breakfast drink more than a smoothie.

So, I tried a few things to make the smoothie creamier. I blended in some ice, but that just watered down the flavor and made it icy. I replaced half the milk with yogurt, which helped, but it was still watery. Oat flour added a little more bulk but not enough to really feel like a smoothie. I even tried adding flaxseed meal which is a great binder. But that didn’t do it for me either.

Next, I used frozen bananas, instead of adding ice cubes, because frozen fruit makes smoothies frothy without watering down the flavor. But that really wasn’t enough. In the end, what worked was freezing the apple chunks. That gave this smoothie all the flavor and body to make it one of my favorites!

apple pie smoothie

The Right Mix of Ingredients

So, the mix of ingredients that made for the best flavor and texture are frozen apple chunks and banana slices, yogurt, almond milk, almond butter, oats, and cinnamon. I think the banana adds enough sweetness, but you can add a little honey or Stevia if you want it sweeter. 

I like to use Granny Smith apples for this apple and banana smoothie, but you can use whatever apples you like. Granny Smith apples give this smoothie a refreshing, tart taste. Other apples will deliver a sweeter taste. So if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you may want to go for that. 

Add the milk and yogurt first to make it easier to blend the frozen fruit chunks. I used a teaspoon of cinnamon since that’s more likely to be in your pantry. But you can use pumpkin pie spice if you have that. 

Enjoy this healthy apple pie smoothie that tastes like you’re having dessert for breakfast. Which, by the way,  you can totally do if you’re a grown-up unless your kids are watching ;-P

bean train food for thought

I love Apple Pie. It’s one of my favorite desserts that’s not chocolate. The funny thing is that I loved this pie even before I tasted it. Just the phrase “as American as apple pie” made me love it. Because as a child of Cuban exiles, I very much wanted to feel American. It turns out that I love fruit desserts and crust, so I loved apple pie even more once I got to taste it!

But that’s the thing about flavors. They can take you back to a memory or bring you into a new culture. That’s one of the reasons we love to try local foods when we travel. Enjoying local foods is one of the best ways to immerse ourselves in a culture. 

As I share my favorite Cuban recipes for this blog, I want you to also get a sense of my culture and traditions. I want to pass down my experience as a Cuban and give you a taste for Cuba with a bowl black beans or picadillo

This is funny considering that all I wanted growing up was to be American, not Cuban. But now that I am an American, I understand that there’s room for my Cuban side too. And I’m grateful for all the newly minted Americans that have shared the culture of their parents and grandparents with us. It’s no wonder they refer to America as a melting pot. The cuisines of our countries of origin meld together to create a new flavor that is new, different, and yet reminiscent of where we’ve come… a dish entirely all-American.

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apple pie smoothie

Apple Pie Smoothie Tastes Like Good For You Dessert!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: American


This is Apple Pie Smoothie is refreshing, nutritious and tastes just like apple pie a la mode, but without the sugar and guilt trip! 



1 Granny Smith apple, cut into half-inch chunks and frozen

Half a frozen banana, sliced

½ cup almond milk

½ cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons dry oats

1 tablespoon almond butter


Add the ingredients to a blender, starting with the milk and yogurt. Blend until smooth and enjoy!


I like the tartness of the Granny Smith apple. But if you want this smoothie to be sweeter, you can try a sweeter apple or a little stevia or honey. 

If you want to reduce the calorie count, you can omit the banana and reduce the whole milk yogurt to 1/4 cup or switch to low-fat yogurt instead. That will shave about 122 calories bringing your total calories to 339. And it will still be frothy, tasty and filling. 

Keywords: apple pie smoothie, appple and banana smoothie, green apple smoothie, apple cinnamon smoothie

mango orange smoothie

Mango Orange Smoothie Is The Creamiest

Good mornings are always on the menu with this super creamy and tropical mango orange smoothie. It’s everything I love about Miami… it’s sunny and bright, tangy and tropical. The flavors blend so well that every sip feels like a conga line in your mouth! 

This is the absolutely most luscious frozen fruit smoothie you’ll ever make. 

  • Frozen mango gives it such a silky and frothy feel
  • Coconut milk adds the perfect creamy finish
  • Orange juice has such a tangy little kick at the end

Together, these three ingredients give this smoothie a very tropical vibe, like you should be sitting on a beach chair, with a little paper umbrella in your smoothie! Bananas, almond milk, and protein powder balance out the smoothie and give it the satiety you need to make it more like breakfast. 

There have been times that I’ve been craving this smoothie with no orange juice on hand. I just replace the orange juice with a bit of extra almond milk. It’s still delicious, but I do miss the citrus tang, though. In that case, it’s more of a mango banana smoothie recipe. Either way, it will brighten your morning!

What Mango Should You Use?

I like to use frozen mangos for this smoothie. Frozen fruit helps make your smoothies thick and frosty without diluting the flavor with ice cubes.  You can freeze your own or buy frozen mango chunks. 

Back before Hurricane Irma destroyed her tree, my mom (aka Bean Train) used to bring me the mangoes from her backyard which were absolutely the best I’d ever tasted. I would freeze them and have mango smoothies all the time! 

Now I use frozen mango chunks from the freezer section unless it’s summertime. Then, I use fresh mangos that my friends and neighbors give away. The mangos are falling off the neighbors’ trees, so they are always happy to share their extras. In fact, you can find little roadside stands even in residential areas where folks are either selling or giving away their extra mangos. Talk about pop-up stores!

When I’ve had to buy them at the store, I usually buy the Kent mangos, but you can try other mango varieties. They should work fine. 

how to cut a mango

How To Cut and Freeze Mangos

If you’re using fresh mangos, one mango yields about one cup of mango chunks… maybe a little more. Mangos have a huge pit, so the yield is not as much as you’d expect from such a big fruit. 

The pit also makes them a little tricky to cut. Instead of peeling the mango, cut the fleshy sides of the mango, avoiding the pit in the center. Then, to each fleshy side, you’ll make shallow cuts lengthwise and crosswise to form a hashtag, but don’t cut through the skin. Then bend the skin back to reveal little cubes you can easily eat. 

But wait! We’re cutting these to make a smoothie! So, don’t eat them, instead, cut them and lay them out in a single layer on a plate or small tray. Now cut the flesh around the pit as much as you can and lay those pieces on the tray as well. Now you can nibble on the pit! 

Go ahead and freeze for about 2 hours and then you can store it in a ziplock bag. To make things easier, you can freeze in cup portion bags. I like to wait until the next day so the mangos are totally frozen and will give my smoothie that frothy feel without adding ice cubes. 

mango banana smoothie

Healthy and Delicious

This is a healthy mango smoothie with coconut milk, banana, orange juice, almond milk and protein powder. I used just ¼ cup of canned, unsweetened coconut milk because it gives it such a rich taste. But you could opt for ¾ cup of Silk coconut milk with fewer calories (replace the ½ cup almond milk in that case). It won’t be quite as rich, but still a treat! You can use any protein powder you like. I used whey protein, but you can use a plant-based protein powder to make this a vegan mango smoothie.

What Makes This Mango Smoothie So Creamy

This smoothie totally lives up to its name, it’s absolutely the creamiest I’ve ever had! Everything about this smoothie contributes to it’s super creamy texture.

  • Sometimes mangos can be stringy, but I’ve found the Kent mangos to be buttery and blend really smooth.
  • The coconut milk gives it a really silky feel and super tropical taste.
  • The protein powder also contributes to its rich, creaminess. I’ve made it without the powder and it’s not quite as velvety.
  • I also have to give my mixer a lot of the credit. My son accidentally broke the glass pitcher on my old blender and we splurged and got a Vitamix blender. OMG! That machine is so awesome! It’s one of the reasons I’m making so many smoothies now. It’s also great for cashew cream, creamed soups and all kinds of sauces. I held off getting it because it was a bit pricey, but I use it every day.

Good Morning Sunshine Smoothie

Mornings seem a little perkier with orange juice. But orange juice by itself wouldn’t make much of a breakfast, would it? So this little orange and mango smoothie is the perfect alternative! I promise you’ll love mornings again with this delish smoothie that reminds you of sunshine and paper umbrella drinks!

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mango banana smoothie

Frozen Mango Orange Smoothie

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 2
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x
  • Category: breakfast
  • Method: blender


This healthy and delicious mango orange smoothie is the perfect way to start your mornings! The mango and coconut milk give it a very tropical taste vibe and the protein powder gives this frozen fruit smoothie some staying power!


  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 1/4 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used whey protein, but you can use whichever one you like)


Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. 


Frozen Mango Chunks: I used storebought frozen mango chunks, but you can cut your own fresh mango. Either way, you’ll need to freeze the mango to get the best creamy texture without having to use ice. One mango yields about a 1 cup or more of mango chunks. 

Protein Powder: I used whey protein powder but you can use whichever one you like. You can make this into vegan smoothie by using a plant-based protein powder. 

Prep Time: It should take less than 5 minutes to throw this mango orange smoothie together if you’re using frozen fruit. Calculate 10 minutes more if you’re cutting and freezing your own mangos. In that case, you’ll also need to wait a few hours or overnight to make the mango smoothie. 


  • Serving Size: 1

Keywords: mango orange smoothie, mango smoothie with coconut milk, orange mango smoothie, frozen mango smoothie

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