Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Best Vanilla Iced Coffee!

for Lisa

A strong claim, I know.  But it's really good and pretty easy!

This recipe has multiple steps that you can start days in advance.  I always have 2 items on hand:

-Coffee Ice Cubes (Not necessary but makes it less watery)

-and Vanilla simple syrup.  (Similar to the syrup they use at Starbucks!).

I always make extra coffee on Sunday mornings and pour the excess into ice cube trays.

The recipe for the vanilla simple syrup is below.

I usually anticipate that I am going to drink iced coffee several hours to a day ahead of time.  That way, I have time to make a normal cup of coffee, and either sit it on the counter to cool or put in the fridge overnight:)

Once I am ready for the coffee, I start by putting several ice cubes in a cup, followed by about 1-2 tablespoons of the simple syrup.

Sometimes, I will add a squirt of this delicious caramel sauce.  It is the closest I have ever found to the kind they use at Starbucks.  I found this in Walmart in the coffee aisle.  It just adds a tiny bit more sweetness!

After the optional caramel sauce, I pour in the coffee (not pictured).  Now comes the good stuff.

 You can use your favorite creamer.  I personally love this local half & half.  It is SO rich and very creamy.  For a long time I was using plain milk until my husband brought this home one day.  I have to say, it makes such a difference!

 Add the optional straw and mix up!  It goes great with any breakfast and tastes so refreshing on these warm summer days!

What I love about iced coffee is you can drink it fast!  Which means you can wake up even faster:)

A great outdoor space always helps too!

The Best Vanilla Iced Coffee
-Few cups of brewed coffee, chilled (however many cups you'd like)
-Several coffee ice cubes
-1-2 tbs Vanilla Simple Syrup (recipe below)
-Splash of Milk, creamer, or half & half
-Caramel sauce, optional

1.) Start with a cup mostly full of ice cubes.  Pour in 1-2 tbs of simple syrup.  Can increase/decrease depending on desired sweetness.

2.) Pour in chilled coffee, leaving room for creamer.

3.)  Add creamer.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Simple Syrup
-Vanilla Extract

1.)  Add one cup of water and one cup of sugar to a saucepan.  Bring to a light boil over medium-high heat.

2.) Once boiling, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

3.)  Remove from heat.  Once mixture has cooled, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Stir well.

4.) Store in refrigerator until ready for use.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Favorite Holiday

The 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday.  It started that way mostly because it meant it was the beginning of a long summer at Lake George.  While that's unfortunately not the case anymore, it remains my favorite because everyone is so happy!  There's good food, festive activities, and reasons to get together and have a BBQ.  This year was great since July 4 fell on a Friday, that meant a 3 day weekend!  Nothing kills the 4th of July buzz faster than a July 4 Wednesday, with work early the next day. :)

This year we went to the annual car show in town again. 

We went to 2 different BBQs: one at an English family's house, and another at some friends across town.  One friend has a knack for making killer sangrias.  Here was her July 4th one:

We made peach cobbler and homemade vanilla ice cream.

On Saturday we took a hike in the Shenandoah! 

We hiked along a stream nearly the entire way, which meant lots of little waterfalls.  Sadie was in heaven.  The water was so clear, cool and refreshing!


We found a patio set for 50% off in July!  I was expecting to wait until October at least to find a sale like that.  We got lucky:)

I've been perfecting my iced coffee recipe.  I think I finally have it down.  The secret is coffee ice cubes, vanilla simple syrup, and half-and-half produced locally.  So refreshing!

Also not pictured: our Hibachi night out with friends, complete with the chef pouring sake into our mouths and drinks that came out on fire.

It was such a beautiful weekend.  There was 0 humidity and the weather stayed in the 70's/low 80's for the most part.  It was almost like I was at Lake George. :)

Recent Happenings

What's been going on recently:

The weather finally turned beautiful (ok, like 3 months ago) and we've been enjoying our new deck!

We've slowly been adding furniture:)

Sadie loves it, obviously!

 We really have enjoyed some beautiful sunsets.  And of course with some Rappahannock wine! 

So we decided to add some height to our front flower bed this year.  (We always seem to buy a new tree or bush each spring.)  This year we bought the "blue star" from the nursery.  Not extremely blog-worthy except as we were checking out, we 300 received free.....
 Live ladybugs.

I released them ASAP.

Work is going well. 

And as always, I love capturing the most random vehicles as we all sit together on 66: