Category Archives: Food & Travel

5 Starbucks to drink to get you through your 8:00 AMS: As told by a Starbucks barista

  1. Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice

What it is: LOTS of espresso over ice, mixed with classic syrup , and topped with 2% milk.

Why we love it: The Doubleshot is a great way to get your caffeine fix while also staying cool in the Texas heat. It is an awesome mix of strong and sweet, just like us Longhorns.

How to make it your own: The Doubleshot is one of the most easy to customize drinks on the Starbucks menu! You can substitute any syrup on the menu (caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, sugar-free cinnamon dolce, etc.) for the classic syrup or ask for no syrup at all. You can also swap out the 2% for a variety of kinds of milk (almond, whole, heavy cream, etc.).

Barista tip: Try adding vanilla bean powder for a bit of added sweetness and texture!

2. Chai Tea Latte

What it is: Black tea infused with an element of spice, a hint of water, and 2% milk.

Why we love it: The Chai tea latte is the perfect way for tea lovers to get a kick of caffeine. It is also a great combination of spicy and sweet.

How to make it your own: Chai tea lattes can come hot or iced. Plus, you can switch the standard 2% milk for any milk (coconut, soy, breve, and so on). If you are in the mood for a richer drink, you can request no water and all milk for the hot version of the chai tea latte (the iced version automatically comes with no water added).

Barista tip: Try adding vanilla syrup (regular or sugar-free) to make your tea, and day, a little sweeter.

3. Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino®

What it is: Whole milk, vanilla bean powder, ice, and coffee blended together and topped with whipped cream.

Why we love it: Between the coffee and the sugar in this drink, it’s sure to give you an energy boost to help you make it through any study session. It’s also the perfect treat to congratulate yourself with for a job well done or just for going to all your classes that day.

How to make it your own: The whole milk in frappuccinos can easily be swapped out for a different type. You can also add java chips or hazelnut syrup to create a more complex and unique flavor.

Barista tip: Add an affogato shot (a shot of espresso poured over the whipped cream and Frappuccino) for some extra caffeine and a stronger taste.

4. Guava Passionfruit Drink

What it is: Coconut milk, a guava juice blend, and pineapple-ginger syrup shaken over ice. 

Why we love it: This is the perfect summer drink. It’s fruity, bright, sweet, and most importantly cold. Plus, the vibrant pink color of the Guava Passionfruit Drink makes it a great addition to anyones Instagram.   

How to make it your own: The coconut milk in this drink can be swapped for any other milk on the menu. If you’re not a guava fan, you can also ask to substitute a peach juice blend in place of the guava. Plus, depending on how much on a sweet tooth you have, the number of pumps of pineapple-ginger syrup is completely customizable. 

Barista tip: Try getting the Guava Passionfruit Drink blended with creme base for a delicious slushie-like version. 

5. Cold Brew with Dark Cocoa Almondmilk Foam 

What it is: Cold brew (brewed for 20 hours), ice, and a topping of almond milk blended with mocha syrup and cocoa powder. 

Why we love it: This is the drink you have been waiting for, dairy-intolerant folks! There is just almondmilk in this delicious drink. The strength of the cold brew mixed with the sweetness of the chocolate foam makes a yummy and low-calorie (only 40 calories in a grande) treat. 

How to make it your own: Even though “almondmilk” is in the name of the drink, you can still swap it out for any other milk. If you’re a chocolate-lover, you can ask for pumps of the mocha syrup in the cold brew as well as in the foam. 

A Guide to Grocery Shopping for college students

Grocery shopping is a common dread for many college students. A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially if it is a store that is unfamiliar. Not only is it a hassle to find the time to physically go to the store, but it can also be expensive. After a few laps up and down the aisles, somehow $80 has quickly disappeared, and on what? Sandwich meat, a box of cereal and eggs turns out to be the quickest money ever spent. Although it may be dreaded, grocery shopping cannot be avoided. Here are some tips to make this weekly chore more efficient and cost-effective.   

  1. Planning is the key to success at the grocery store.

Yes, planning takes time and effort, but in order to avoid overspending, food waste and an unsatisfied stomach, a plan needs to be set. Take 10 to 15 minutes before making a grocery trip to plan the purchases. Think about what meals will be made that week and if any extra ingredients are needed. Go through the fridge and pantry and check for items that have already been purchased. The easiest way to save money while shopping is to use what is already available.

  1. Schedule your trip to the store into your weekly routine. 

Block off time using the planner format that you are most comfortable with. Knowing the trip is already scheduled will make the experience at the grocery store less stressful and rushed.

  1. Download a grocery app. 

Almost every grocery store has an app that allows for online shopping, member discounts and other resources. The HEB app has several tools to make shopping easier. Users are able to scroll through HEB’s inventory and create a shopping list that is automatically organized based on the item’s location in the store. The app also showcases weekly coupons that can be stored on the user’s account and scanned during check-out.

  1. If curbside delivery is available, take advantage of doing the absolute least! 

Ordering your groceries online through curbside is the best way to keep the cart total low. While perusing the aisles in person, temptation from the infinite delicious items on the shelves is unavoidable. Ordering online with a running cart total helps prevent unnecessary and expensive snack purchases. Always check for added fees with curbside and save money by selecting time slots or days that are free.

  1. Do not forget to check expiration dates on items. 

Search through the shelves to find the date that is furthest away from the current day. This will decrease food waste and decrease the number of shopping trips.

  1. When purchasing produce pay attention to the prices.

At most stores, fruits and vegetables are priced by the pound. Do not get trapped into paying $9 for a bag of grapes (This is a mistake I made last week. Do not be me.)

  1. Purchasing spices is an easy and cheap way to take meals to the next level. 

Spices can completely change the boring chicken that has been a recurring meal for the past week into a lemon-pepper-garlic flavorful meal. Start with staple spices like Italian seasoning, garlic salt, fajita seasoning and explore from there.

  1. To save money, buy store brand items. There is typically no outstanding difference in taste or quality, but the price drop is significant.
  1. Do not shop hungry. 

Shopping while hungry will only lead to impulse purchases and overbuying that will hurt your college budget. 

The grocery store does not have to be a fearful place. Approach the shopping trip with an open mind and a simple plan. When in doubt, do not underestimate the motivation found at the sight of an empty fridge. Grocery shopping is unavoidable, so you might as well do it right.

HOUSTON RESTAURANT OWNER FEEDS FIRST RESPONDERS AND HOSPITALITY WORKERS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m, two men in surgical masks and gloves stand outside The Tasting Room restaurant and wine bar in Uptown Park, a fashionable outdoor retail center located near the heart of Houston. 

Just a few months ago this upscale retail center was bustling with people headed into artisan craft stores or to their restaurant reservations. The Tasting Room’s sprawling gazebo outdoor seating area would have been full of such people. There would be sounds of conversation, the clatter of silverware and the clinking together of elegant glasses that would have held any one of the restaurant’s vast assortment of wines. 

Now, the only sound is the steady hum of cars zipping by on the I-610. 

One of the masked men standing in the Texas heat is none other than Jerry Lasco, owner of The Tasting Room. After a few minutes, a car slowly pulls up next to the restaurant and Jerry exchanges a few friendly words with the driver. 

Between the baseball cap and the surgical mask, you can only see a thin sliver of his face, but his crinkling eyes tell you he’s smiling. 

Lasco hands the driver a bag containing four freshly made lasagna dinners through the car window.  He does the same thing for the next car and then the next.

“We say hi and ask how they are doing. Most are struggling but hanging in there. They are extremely grateful and appreciative,” Lasco said. 

The people pulling up outside of Lasco’s restaurant are all hospitality workers who have been without a source of income since the state-mandated restaurant shutdowns as a result of COVID-19. 

“I’d say the most valuable commodity to any business, at least any business that relies on a staff, are the employees. It’s a small gesture, but it’s meaningful if you’re in a very tight situation, and some of our folks frankly are, they live paycheck to paycheck,” Lasco said. 

As a restaurant owner himself, Lasco said he had no choice but to furlough 90% of his own staff, not just at this location but at all eight of the restaurants in Texas that his company, Lasco Enterprises, owns. 

“We just talked about how we don’t know how long this is going to last, we don’t know how severe this is going to be, you know, this is how much money we have in the bank,” Lasco said. 

Even before Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to shut down restaurants on March 19, people in Texas had already begun the process of transitioning their lives behind the defensive barriers of their own homes. Offices, schools and universities were closing across the country and people began to retreat from public gatherings. The astoundingly low numbers Lasco was reading from revenue earned the previous week showed what he and his co-workers already knew to be true — restaurants were going to have to shut down very soon. 

“There was a lot of accounting that had to be done to figure out, what can we do to survive?”

Jerry Lasco’s area of expertise was in operations, and he would usually spend his days making sure his restaurants were well supplied and that they were generating revenue– but with all of his restaurants closed except for takeout, what operations were there left for him to run? His wife Laura Lasco, vice president of the company, sat in the office neighboring his, busily trying to sort out human resources and legal issues. Jerry spun in his swivel chair, feeling a little lost.

“I felt a little helpless because my job really was taken away,” Jerry said. 

The man helping Jerry hand out free meals for the hospitality workers and their families is Dave Berry, the first person to donate to Lasco Enterprises. He donated $1,000, to which Jerry matched with another $1,000 to provide free meals to his own staff. 

“We went two weeks without the GoFundMe account and I was pressing him, really his PR people, to get that set up,” Berry said. 

The Gofundme page Jerry and his PR team created, titled “Feeding Houston’s Hospitality and First Responders,” raised $21,372 in donations from 86 donors, exceeding its reach goal of $20,000. The donations, along with some additional funding from Lasco Enterprises, have allowed Jerry and Berry to provide 500 free meals a week to not only Lasco employees but anyone in the hospitality industry who drops by the restaurant. 

“I was really just winging it and wrote about what we wanted to do and what our vision was and hit send and next thing you know, it took off. I started getting tons of emails,” Jerry Lasco said.

After providing meals to hospitality workers and their families for a few weeks, Jerry received an email from Sgt. Brian “BK” Klevens with a proposal to expand the free dinner program to first responders and health care workers at a second restaurant location. 

Beyond Kleven’s work at the Houston Police Department, he has been an avid supporter of the first responder community, donating to various causes, hosting fundraisers and even opening a law enforcement themed tattoo parlour called Prison Break Tattoos. About 95% of his clientele are first responders looking to get a tattoo meaningful to their work, according to Klevens. Prison Break Tattoos even has an A&E network reality TV show called Hero Ink.

“The Houston community has been great. Any opportunity that people have had to give back — that’s what they’ve done,” Klevens said. 

Over several years of hosting benefits for the first responder community, he had become very familiar with another Lasco Enterprises restaurant, located just a two-minute drive away from his tattoo parlour, called Max’s Wine Dive. Now, every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. Jerry Lasco and his 16-year-old son, Max, can be found handing out individual  meals to first responders at Max’s Wine Dive on Washington Avenue. 

“After being quarantined for so long, I truly lost perspective  of the world around me and being out there truly reminded me of the challenging times people are overcoming. It really was an honor to give back to these people who risk their lives to help others,” Max Lasco said. 

Restaurants, movie theaters, retail centers and churches have all been permitted to reopen at 25% capacity as of May 1. Aside from his Austin location, Jerry Lasco has reopened all his restaurants with a “skeleton crew” but is still keeping the free meal programs.

“We’re willing to do it as long as people still need it,” Jerry said.

Top 5 Best Breads to Bake

Baking is bittersweet. There’s always the risk of falling into the dangerous cycle of baking, eating and repeating. But, now that we’re all trapped inside, what better way to pass the time? 

Baking bread is highly underrated. Sure cake and pie are just as delicious, but during quarantine, bread is perfect for fulfilling your daily (and nightly) snack sessions. It also satisfies as a yummy breakfast. 

All recipe graphics by Kara Fields


Quarantining has been hard on everyone, so I hope this list of recipes makes it a little sweeter!

A beginner’s guide to coffee roasts


One of the best things about going to the grocery store is the coffee aisle. The deliciously warm scent of roasted coffee beans pulls you down the aisle, making it unmissable. If the scent wasn’t enough, there are also so many inviting options for which roast to choose from. There are beans from all around the world in every flavor and richness. In fact, it can be hard to choose the right roast or even know the difference between them. 

Coffee roasts can be categorized into four different categories. Light, medium, medium-dark and dark. 

Most people are under the impression that the richer and darker the coffee roast is, the more caffeine it will have. This is not true. Lighter roasts tend to have more caffeine than darker roasts. Some say that this is because darker roasts require less beans than lighter roasts to brew the same amount of coffee. In this case, the lighter roast would have more caffeine just because there are more coffee beans. 

Regardless of the caffeine concentration, there are differences in the taste and richness of light and dark coffee. Lighter brews tend to be more acidic than darker brews which taste bitter. 

Here are some examples of different brews that you might recognize from the grocery store or your local coffee shop. 

Light roasts can be identified easily because the beans are not waxy looking like dark beans. Here are some common kinds of light roast coffee:

  • Light City
  • Half City
  • Cinnamon
  • New England Roast

Medium roasts are most commonly served in restaurants and places in America. It is most people’s preferred roast because it is richer than a light roast but not bitter like a dark roast. These are common examples of a medium roast:

  • Breakfast Blend
  • American 

Medium-dark roasts have some oil resting at the top of the brew, but in general the beans don’t look as waxed as dark roast beans. This coffee is slightly bitter and previews the rich roasted flavor of the coffee. Here are some common medium-dark roasts:

  • Vienna Roast
  • Full City

Dark roasts are commonly associated with true coffee aficionados. This is because dark coffee is the most bitter of all the roasts, making it unbearable to coffee drinkers who prefer sweet and milky cups of joe. Here are some popular dark roast coffee names:

  • Espresso
  • Italian Roast
  • French Roast
  • Continental Roasts
  • New Orleans Roast

The world of coffee beans is a diverse and complicated one. Coffee is a universal drink for all, from those who prefer it hot or iced, or black or creamed. There is a cup of Joe waiting for you, so step outside of your comfort zone and explore the wonderful world of coffee roasting.