The Best $3 you will ever spend!

Do you remember these?

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I know, what’s so exceptional about a $3 ice cube tray??  But I’m here to tell ya that there is waaaay more to an ice cube tray than simply just frozen H20.  What’s sad is that they’re actually relatively hard to find nowadays – you used to be able to just run into a grocery store and find them all over the place, but now that everybody has ice-machines, they’ve kind of gone the way of the Dodo Bird (or the Triceratops…whichever you prefer!).  But I want to show you one of my favorite ways to use an ice cube tray and I’m out to show that they really are the best bargain out there in so many different ways.

Coffee!  I love it, and I always have leftovers every morning.  Why throw it away?  And if you’re like me (or Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction), you always buy the good stuff.  So take your leftover coffee and freeze it into ice cubes (wait for it, I’ve got a recipe, but people also like pics, so here’s a little shot of what I’m talkin’ about):

Pre-Pour (and, yes, I make French Press – I can’t use a Coffee Pot to save my life):

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Post-Pour and ready for some Freezer-burn.

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Waste not, want not, right?  Freeze your little ice cubes and then store them in a bag for later use.  Howwwww do we use it?  I’ll show ya:

L’s Frap-o-cheap-o Coffee

  • About 1 cup of frozen Coffee Cubes
  • 1 cup of milk product (or creamer, Soy Milk, Half n’ Half)
  • Sweeten to taste with Confectioner’s Sugar or if you’re feelin’ fancy and have all the time in the world, then use Simple Syrup**

Frappe in your handy-dandy blender, serve immediately.  (And you can thank me later when you start saving $3 for every time you have a Frappuccino-attack from Starbucks).

**Simple Syrup

  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup water
  • Optional: Flavorings (like Vanilla, Hazlenut, Almond, Cinnamon, Cocoa, the sky’s the limit!  Rather, your favorite coffee flavor is the limit)

Bring to a boil, dissolve sugar, set aside.

This is just the *basic* recipe, but you could switch it up  and add Caramel, even Cocoa Powder, or, heck, if you take your joe black, then skip the sweetener altogether, though you do still need a liquid, so milk is a must!  And the bonus point is that when the coffee cubes melt, they don’t water down your drink – score!

So, do it!  Go out and buy an ice cube tray and start making your own icy drinks.  Though, admittedly, now it’s starting to get cool and it’s really not the best time, but stock-pile this idea away for a hot day.  How else do I use it?

  • Create fun cocktail ice cubes (H2O with citrus zest, fruit juices – how incredibly good would a Cosmo be with a Cranberry Juice Ice cube, huh?).  Remember, though, unless you have Liquid Nitrogen sitting around, there really isn’t a very good way to freeze alcohol.
  • On the topic of drinks – any liquid will do – teas, fruit juices, Coca-Cola, etc.  I’m not a big fan of H2O ice in my drinks (what can I say, I agree with the Europeans) mostly because it waters down the flavor of your drink, so pick your poison and freeze’er up.
  • Though I wouldn’t normally recommend this – you can actually freeze leftover wine, too! Toss the cubes into a Sangria or to cook with later for de-glazing dishes.  Wine is a *terrible* thing to waste, though I wouldn’t recommend “drinking” said cubes.
  • I cook a lot with Chipotles in Adobo, but they come in cans and then I’m left with chipotle cans sitting in my refrigerator for months until I whip up another batch of Chili.  Separate the chipotles and a wee bit of sauce and then freeze them and store in a bag.  When it’s time to cook with them, just chop up the “Chipotle Cube”.  Not only is it easy to cut, but it won’t stain your cutting board and leave Adobo sauce on your hands!
  • Too much Basil in your garden?  Whip up gobs of Pesto, freeze in small ice cube portions, and then store for later.  It’s so easy to put on Pasta, Baked Potatoes, Salad Dressings, etc, etc.  And the best part is?  You can have garden fresh Pesto year round!

Any other fun uses for ice cube trays?  It’s a little unsung hero in your kitchen and if you don’t own one, it’s worth the $3 to go out and buy one!  We can’t resurrect the Dodo Bird, but we can resurrect an Ice Cube Tray!

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