For the Love of An Americano

I have been a crazy coffee addict for a long time. I love coffee. Before Starbucks opened I could always be found at a local coffee shop. Equator in Pasadena, Ground Zero in Burbank (which no longer exists) or that one place in Melrose, which I can’t remember. But, coffee, I love it. When Starbucks started popping up all over the place, it was a love hate relationship. I loved that I could go to almost any corner and get a Starbucks coffee. Hated it cause I could go to almost any corner and get a Starbucks coffee. The little small coffee shops were starting to disappear. And honestly, as much as people love Starbucks, I’m not a fan of their coffee. It has a very burnt taste to it. I’ll take it if there’s nothing else around. But, I’ll prefer a little coffee shop compared to Starbucks any day. I have a higher possibility of getting coffee with a nice rich smooth flavor. 

Because of Starbucks I have learned to love Mochas, Lattes and anything and everything sweet filled to mask the their coffee taste, but still get the coffee that helps me function. The past several years I’ve become more sensitive to milk. I don’t purchase coffee as often because of it. I almost completely forgot about drip coffee. So, I started purchasing that recently and it’s been a nice nostalgic trip. Reminds me of the coffee shop days, filled with time and spoken word.

But, then recently, a friend suggested an Americano. What’s an Americano, you say? Well that’s a few shots of espresso with hot water. Almost like a brewed cup of coffee, except richer in flavor. And you can add the amount of milk to your liking. Which is a perfect alternative for me and a new addiction.  It’s now my go to. It’s left me wondering, why I never knew about this before?

There are a few great places in the Pasadena area to get a good cup of coffee.  But, only a few places with better milk alternatives, other than soy.

Places that carry Almond Milk. (Would be nice if more coffee shops offered this option.)

Other great Coffee Shops in Old Town Pasadena Area

  • Equator (They have remade themselves into an Asian Fusion Restaurant. But, you can still get an awesome cup of coffee from them as well. Happy Hour is also great!)
  • Intelligentsia
  • Copa Vida (They’re new and I’m still on the fence about them. I went there on Tuesday and got a mocha. Unfortunately, my cup had lots of coffee grounds in it along with something else that tasted really strange. It was all good till those little pieces of chewable strange bits were found. I’m hoping it was a bad day and I will try again)

Pear Apple Brandy Pie

Thanksgiving in my family is a potluck event. The person hosting the dinner normally will make the turkey and the ham. Then everyone else brings side dishes. But, I have in the past made the Turkey. This year I was asked to make a few things. Mulled Wine, Green Beans, Stuffing and Apple Pie. For me the cooking starts the night before. Therefore, most of what I make needs to be made ahead and ready to be heated the next day. The only exception is the apple pie. They’re ready to be baked. They will bake while we are eating dinner. Then when we’re done eating and cleaning it’s dessert time.

Tonight I’m sharing with you the Pear Apple Brandy Pie I made. The photo below on the right is an image of the pie ready to be placed in the oven. Right now it’s sitting in the freezer, so tomorrow I’ll defrost it until it’s time to bake.


  • Homemade (See below) or Store bought pie crust.  Enough for bottom and top.
  • 4 Granny Smith, peeled and sliced
  • 3 Bartlett Pears, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 C Brandy
  • 3/4 C Brown Sugar (for a sweeter pie add 1/2 C White sugar)
  • 3 TB Flour
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp All Spice
  • 1 Tb Orange Zest
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 4 TB Unsalted Butter melted
  • 4 TB Lemon Juice and 2 C water – to keep the apples and pears from browning.

After you peel and slice the apples, place them in the lemon water mix. In another bowl mix all dry ingredients. Set aside a few TB of the mix. Take the apples out of the lemon water and pat dry. Then place in dry ingredients bowl add the brandy and mix. Place the pear apple mix into the pie crust. One layer, then sprinkle half of the dry mix that you set aside. Next add the rest of the pear apple mix and sprinkle the rest of the dry mix. If there is any brandy left in the bowl, pour over the pear apple pie. Then drizzle melted butter on the pie. Cover with other pie crust. You can use an egg wash to ‘glaze’ the top while it’s baking.

Bake, in 400 degrees for 1 hour until golden brown on the top.


For pie crust: I actually use Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee.

Updated: During the dinner conversation, someone had mentioned that they didn’t like apple pie because it was too sweet. I told them that this pie wasn’t. It was more tart than sweet. I realized I probably should have mentioned that in this post. This apple pie is not very sweet at all. If you would like to make it sweeter add 1/2 to 3/4 C white sugar.