This whole week has just been absolutely gorgeous. While I would have loved to spend every second in the sunshine, I mostly stayed in my homework chair, diligently hacking away at my final project. I’ve also made a fair amount of progress on the sequel, though late-night reading cut into my writing time just a bit. My book of the week has kept me up reading waaay later than I should have been, so my alarm in the morning was even less welcome than usual. Luckily, this week’s warm weather inspired some delicious iced drinks that have kept me fueled up and energized.
I worked as a Barista through high school, college, and even a bit when we first moved to Minnesota. In other words, I know my way around fancy coffee and tea drinks. During that time, I experimented with flavors and learned how to concoct delicious drinks at home for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a coffee shop (as a Barista, you scoff at paying for coffee). This week, I brewed up two fabulous drinks–one tea based, one coffee based–that will keep your taste buds happy, no matter your preference!
Sweet n’ Salty Caramel Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is the perfect summer drink. Oooooo, do I love it. And this homemade brew is the best I’ve ever tasted. My secret? Instead of using traditional ice cubes which water down your drink, I make coffee cubes. All you have to do is brew a small pot of coffee and let it cool for a bit. Then pour the cooled coffee into an ice cube tray. Freeze over night. The next morning, you have caffeinated cubes! They are a girl’s best friend.
To make my Sweet n’ Salty Caramel Iced Coffee, you need a caramel coffee syrup. The one I recommend is Madhava’s Salted Caramel Coffee Syrup. Made with agave nectar (so it is low-glycemic and oodles healthier than high fructose corn syrup), the caramel flavor is OUT OF THIS WORLD. When I opened the bottle the first time, I was tempted to just guzzle the syrup. Fortunately, I decided to add it to my iced coffee instead. The best part of all this is the whole bottle of syrup will only set you back about what ONE iced drink costs at a coffee shop.
Here’s what you do:
1. Brew a pot of coffee the night before (my little coffee maker brews about 5 cups at a time)
2. Pour coffee into large mason jars. The mason jars should be about half-full with just coffee.
3. Refrigerate overnight.
4. The next morning, pour in about a 1/2 cup dairy or non-dairy milk (if desired). Add a Tablespoon of Salted Caramel Syrup and stir.
5. Add enough coffee cubes to chill, lid your mason jar and give it a shake. Stick a straw in your creation and sip pure bliss.
*Note: If you get a craving and didn’t refrigerate coffee overnight, you can totally make this recipe with fresh, hot coffee. It will just take more coffee cubes to chill it down to the right temperature.*
Iced Mango Green Tea with Frozen Berries
If your cup of tea is more, well, tea, then I’ve also got a drink for you! I love sipping tea any time of year, but a nice glass of iced tea in the summer is especially refreshing. My favorite iced tea is an organic mango green. The nice part is this particular tea is also decaffeinated *gasp*. So, if you want to chill out without getting buzzed up, this is the perfect spring treat. Loaded with fruity mango and slightly sweet from the frozen berries, it is sure to put a smile on your face!
I usually tend to sprinkle some organic Xylitol (a natural sweetener–what Shane calls my “Hippie Sugar”–that is derived from American hardwood trees) on top for an added bonus. Perfection!
*Note: If interested in trying Xylitol, use an organic brand that specifies the sweetener was derived from North American hardwood trees. Otherwise, it is most likely coming from GMO corn. If you aren’t sure, go to your local Co-Op and ask about the brand they carry.*
Here’s what you do:
1. Bring 6 cups of water to boil. Remove from heat and add mango green tea leaves(I usually do 6-7 teaspoons of loose leaf tea in 6 cups of water, but you could also do 6-7 tea bags if that’s how you roll).
2. Let steep about five minutes–any more than that and the tea will be CRAZY bitter–and remove the tea.
3. Refrigerate (if you have the time and self-control), or add a handful of berries directly from the freezer. I use whatever is on hand, but find that a mix of strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries is my favorite. Of course, frozen mango is a no-brainer.
4. Sprinkle in a little Xylitol or other sweetener, and sip! At the end of your drink, make sure to eat all those berries! 🙂
Book of the Week: The Gigantic Beard that was Evil
I love, love, love graphic novels. When I saw this one on display at my library, I snatched it up right away. The title alone makes me giggle. Soon after I cracked open the pages, it was evident that I would be doing a lot more giggling as I read my way through The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. And though the book delivers as much sardonic humor as the title suggests (the narration reminds me of Roald Dahl–whimsical and poignant), it also provides social commentary on the dangers of conformity and what life can be like if we dare to be different.
Here’s the synopsis provided by the publishers:
On the island of Here, livin’s easy. Conduct is orderly. Lawns are neat. Citizens are clean shaven-and Dave is the most fastidious of them all. Dave is bald, but for a single hair. He loves drawing, his desk job, and the Bangles. But on one fateful day, his life is upended…by an unstoppable (yet pretty impressive) beard.
The characters and artwork are so engaging that I’ve been staying up past midnight (a shockingly late hour for me) devouring this book! Whether you are a graphic novel nut like me or have never picked one up before, give The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil a try!
A delicious homemade iced beverage, a pair of sunglasses, and a hammock