Vanilla-Infused Limeade

With the temperatures heating up again, so has my taste for good, homestyle lemonade. Only I forgot to get lemons. Oops.

Vanilla-Infused Limeade

Makes 1 pitcher
Prep time: Approximately 20 minutes

Ingredients:
3/4 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 6-8 limes)
4 cups of cold, filtered water

Directions:
Stir the raw sugar into 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until sugar dissolves. Once sugar is fully dissolved, add the vanilla bean and bring to a small boil. Then turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool while preparing the limes and pitcher.

Wash the limes thoroughly – I prefer to scrub mine with a clean potato brush just to make sure they are clean before juicing. Juice the limes over a mesh strainer or pan cover in order to remove any seeds and large pieces of pulp.

Add the lime juice to the pitcher. Remove the vanilla bean from the simple syrup and stir the syrup into the lime juice. Add the cold, filtered water and stir. Feel free to adjust the water to your tastes.

Additional notes:
This simple syrup is great to add to iced coffee as well – much easier to stir in than regular sugar or other granulated sweeteners. Please play with the flavors and let me know what works, or doesn’t work, for you!

Also, the juice press you see above is one of my favorite Williams-Sonoma purchases ever and it was from the bargain table. Go figure!

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Water… Infusions

It’s simple. It’s summer, hydration is key. Over the years, I’ve come up with a series of recipes to keep my water fresh, interesting and most importantly – tasty.

The infusions are simple. Fresh, clean herbs or spices and cold, filtered water. Put it in a pitcher and let it “steep” in the fridge for a while. I’ve personally had the best luck with those below.

    ✦ Mint

    ✦ Basil

    ✦ Thyme

    ✦ Ginger – peel into long strips

    ✦ Cinnamon – whole sticks

Key warning – I wouldn’t leave any of the whole, leafy herbs in water for more than a day or so. They will start to brown and get slimy.

The next step is to get creative and start trying some combinations. These are my favorite “mixers”. Play with it, find what works for you, and keep me posted on what you find works well.

    ✦ Cucumber – the English seedless ones, thinly sliced work great

    ✦ Lemon – sliced or in wedges, Meyer lemons tend to be a little bitter sweeter (yes, that is possible)

    ✦ Lime – prepare like the lemons

I personally don’t like to add any sweetener to my infusions – not just to keep the calorie count down, but because I honestly feel that the right combinations are so refreshing without the sweetness, it’s just not necessary. But if you must, I’d suggest sticking to a minimal amount of raw sugar or honey and stir well.

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