Basil Pesto Pasta for One (Nut-Free)

We have been having unseasonably hot and humid weather in our part of the world. Considering the heat, I haven’t wanted to cook or bake heavy dishes. This easy-to-make pesto pasta has been a meal that I’ve been eating frequently. It is relatively light, can be ready in a few minutes, and the pasta is the only thing you need to cook!

I have a few basil plants in my kitchen (thanks to my mom!), and they are full of leaves. The abundance of basil, along with the heat, inspired this dish. This recipe is specifically adapted to serve one person. I am more of a pasta fan than my husband, so I make this for myself when we are eating separate meals. However, you can easily multiply the quantities to serve multiple people.

I chose to make it nut-free because my mother doesn’t care for nuts, and there are some nut-based allergies in our family. I don’t miss the pine nuts, but the pesto itself is a bit thinner than traditional pesto. I have also added lemon juice to this recipe. You may choose to omit the lemon juice if you would like the pesto a bit thicker.

A few notes on the recipe:

Fresh Garlic: The garlic in this recipe is raw (not cooked), and raw garlic can have a bit of a bite to it. If you do not like the taste of raw garlic, you can roast it in the oven, prior to making the pasta dish (click here for a roasting guide). You can also substitute the minced garlic with a 1/8 teaspoon of dried garlic powder.

Parmesan Cheese: Shredded Parmesan cheese is blended into the pesto mixture. You can use Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan cheese, but it is saltier. Keep this in mind when you are adding salt to the pesto mixture.

Fresh Mozzarella: I add fresh mozzarella to the pasta dish. You an either add an ounce of the mozzarella “pearls” or cube fresh mozzarella. If you do not have fresh mozzarella, you can add a couple tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Tomatoes: This recipe benefits from the addition of cherry or grape tomatoes. If you would like to add tomatoes to the recipe, simply halve the tomatoes prior to making the dish. If you do not have cherry tomatoes, you can add half of a diced Roma tomato. If you choose to add a Roma tomato, remove the seeds before dicing it.

Cost Analysis:

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

  • Difficulty: easy
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An easy homemade pesto pasta recipe that is nut-free and results in one serving.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 ounces pasta (I used fettuccine, but any shape will do)
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 ounce of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • suggested add-in: 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

Directions

  1. Boil salted water in a saucepan and prepare pasta noodles per box instructions.
  2. Combine basil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch or two of salt in a small blender or food processor. Blend until well combined.
  3. Drain pasta and remove it from heat. Add pesto to the pasta noodles and mix until combined. Add fresh mozzarella and uncooked tomatoes (if using) to the pasta.
  4. Top dish with additional Parmesan cheese and basil.
  5. Enjoy!

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Watermelon Lemonade

There is no more quintessential summer food than watermelon, and there is no beverage more representative of summer than lemonade. This recipe is a fun way to combine both summer favorites into a refreshing and tasty drink.

We don’t keep many flavored beverages on hand in our home, because we are blessed with tap water that tastes wonderful. Quick, easy summer beverages like this one allow us to offer guests something other than tap water, without investing in a large selection of pre-made beverages that we probably won’t consume on our own.

Cost Analysis:

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Notes on the Recipe:

Lemon juice: A typical lemon has 2 tablespoons of juice. I don’t normally keep lemons on hand, so I use lemon juice concentrate. It is much less expensive and has a longer shelf life. However, you can use the juice from one lemon in this recipe. Alternatively, you could use lime juice to make an excellent watermelon limeade!

Watermelon: This recipe calls for chilled cubes of watermelon. I typically cut my watermelon into about 1.5″ cubes (click here for a tutorial), and place the bowl in the refrigerator. If your watermelon is not chilled, substitute ice cubes for some of the water.

Tartness: This lemonade is relatively tart. However, you can adjust the amount of lemon juice to your own personal taste. I have made this lemonade with three tablespoons of lemon juice which was a bit sour for me.

Fine mesh strainer: When you blend watermelon, it creates a slight pulp. If you want a smooth glass of lemonade, pour the beverage through a fine mesh strainer prior to consuming.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Watermelon Lemonade

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This fresh watermelon lemonade blends a pleasant tartness with the sweet summer flavor of watermelon. Delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of ice cold water
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice concentrate (or from a fresh lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup coarsely diced seedless watermelon (cold from the refrigerator)
  • Ice, optional

Directions

  1. Combine water, lemon juice, sugar, and watermelon in a small blender.
  2. Blend ingredients until the watermelon is well blended into the beverage.
  3. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a glass.
  4. Add a few ice cubes to the glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon if you are feeling festive, and enjoy!

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Eggless Devil’s Food Cupcakes (Small Batch)

You need at least a few good eggless baking recipes in your repertoire. You may be short on eggs, or you may need to consider a friend or loved one with an egg allergy.

The lack of eggs won’t be what you are thinking about when you bite into these luscious treats. These cupcakes are rich and dense, with a pleasant and unusual texture that falls somewhere between a dense cake and a fluffy brownie. In fact, they may remind you of a grown-up version of some of your favorite childhood packaged snack cakes, but without all of the artificial flavors and preservatives…

Notes on the Recipe:

Soured milk: Combining vinegar and milk is a quick way to create “sour milk”. If you have sour milk that you would like to use up, you can use it in lieu of the vinegar and milk mixture.

Batter: This cupcake batter is very thick. The batter will not pour easily, and you will need to spoon it carefully into the muffin tins.

Cupcake Texture: These eggless cupcakes are drier than traditional cupcakes and have a texture similar to a cake brownie. They are very good, but taste differently than a traditional cupcake.

Cost Analysis:

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Eggless Devil's Food Cupcakes (Small Batch)

  • Difficulty: easy
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These eggless cupcakes are rich and dense, with a pleasant and unusual texture that falls somewhere between a dense cake and a fluffy brownie.

Ingredients


For the cake:
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon softened butter
– 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
– 2 tablespoons milk
– 3/8 teaspoon white vinegar
– 5/8 cup (or 10 tablespoons) flour
– 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
– 2 tablespoons boiling water
– 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/8 teaspoon table salt

For the frosting:
– 4 tablespoons softened butter
– 7/8 cup (or 14 tablespoons) powdered sugar
– 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
– 1 tablespoon milk
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease.
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk and white vinegar. Set this aside for 5 minutes to “sour” the milk.
  3. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and water in a separate small bowl and set aside.
  4. Add butter to a medium-sized mixing bowl and cream it with a mixer on medium-low speed.
  5. Add brown sugar and oil to the butter. Mix on medium-low until the mixture is combined.
  6. Combine boiling water and baking soda. Add this to the brown sugar mixture and mix until well combined.
  7. Gradually stir flour mixture and “sour” milk into the brown sugar mixture. Alternate between adding the flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  8. Stir until well combined, but don’t over-mix the batter!
  9. Fill 6 cupcake liners about 1/2 of the way full.
  10. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick. It should come out relatively clean when the cupcakes are done.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 1 minute. Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool completely prior to frosting.
  12. For the frosting:

  13. Mix softened butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla with a mixer on medium speed. It should form a thick buttercream. If it is too thick, add a little bit of extra milk.
  14. Frost cooled cupcakes.
  15. Enjoy!

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Easy Fettuccine Alfredo for One

Everyone needs a few good single-serving recipes. Whether you need dinner-for-one, or a quick homemade lunch, this recipe is a good addition to that list.

Fettuccine Alfredo has been one of my favorite indulgent meals since I was a child. Unfortunately, my husband James is not a fan of Alfredo sauce. So, I make this single-serving recipe for myself when I am craving a creamy pasta lunch.

This recipe is creamy and flavorful with the addition of garlic and parsley. You may, however, also consider adding steamed or sauted vegetables. Alfredo pairs especially well with broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes. Simply saute the vegetables in a separate frying pan with olive oil until softened, or steam the vegetables while you prepare the Alfredo sauce. Then, stir the vegetables into the completed sauce prior to adding the pasta.

Notes on the Recipe:

Garlic: This recipe calls for one clove of minced garlic. You can also use about 1/2 teaspoon of already minced garlic or 1/8 teaspoon of dried garlic powder. If you are a garlic-lover, add two cloves of garlic. I frequently do this, but the garlic flavor is very strong.

Half-and-half creamer: I use half-and-half for this recipe because it is something I usually have on hand for my coffee. It has more fat than milk, and this makes the Alfredo creamy. You can also use whipping cream, which will result in an even creamier sauce. If you don’t have either on hand, you can use milk. If you use milk, the sauce will remain relatively thin.

Cost Analysis:

Fettuccine Alfredo is known as a rich and indulgent meal, so the cost and time requirement to make this dish may surprise you. This single serving recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and costs about $0.76 for the serving.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Easy Fettuccine Alfredo for One

  • Difficulty: easy
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This easy homemade Fettuccine Alfredo recipe is made with common household ingredients, costs less than a dollar to make, and results in one delicious serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half creamer
  • 4 ounces pasta (I used fettuccine, but any shape will do)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter on low heat in a small saucepan. Separately, boil water in a saucepan and prepare pasta noodles per box instructions.
  2. Add minced garlic to the melted butter. Increase the heat to medium-low and allow the garlic to cook for about one minute. Stir carefully and do not allow the garlic to burn.
  3. Add half-and-half creamer to the butter mixture one tablespoon at a time. Wisk or stir after each addition. Allow the butter and creamer mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes, until it has thickened slightly.
  4. Add shredded Parmesan cheese and wisk or stir until well combined. This should take about a minute.
  5. Add dried parsley to the sauce and stir.
  6. After the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the sauce mixture. Stir until well combined.
  7. Top the pasta dish with additional Parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper, to taste.
  8. Enjoy!

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Oven Baked Black Bean Quesadillas

Black bean quesadillas are a staple in our household. They are easy-to-make, cheap, quick, and tasty. Plus, you only need four ingredients to make this recipe! Well – perhaps five ingredients because I rarely eat a quesadilla without good salsa!

Why make quesadillas in the oven?

I frequently make quesadillas in a frying pan (click here for that recipe). A frying pan does get a quesadilla nice and crispy, but there are two major reasons to bake your quesadillas.

  1. It is easier to make a batch of quesadillas. If you want to make multiple quesadillas at once, you can prepare all of your quesadillas and bake them in one or two batches. If you use a frying pan, you will need to prepare and bake each quesadilla separately.
  2. All the quesadillas will be ready at the same time. Unlike preparing quesadillas in a frying pan, all of your quesadillas will be hot and ready to eat at the same time.

The only noticeable difference between oven baking and pan frying is the texture of the tortilla. The oven baked tortilla is much crispier, while the pan fried tortilla has a crunchy yet chewy exterior. Both are good.

Cost Analysis:

Black bean quesadillas are a nice and cheap meal or appetizer. A basic black bean quesadilla will cost about $0.88 to make. This doesn’t include the cost of salsa.

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Oven Baked Black Bean Quesadillas

  • Servings: 2 quesadillas
  • Difficulty: easy
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This quick and easy vegetarian quesadilla recipe is the perfect no hassle lunch or party appetizer!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 flour tortillas (preferably taco size)
  • 6 tablespoons of shredded Mexican cheese
  • a few drops of olive oil (or other oil neutral oil if preferred)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Lay your tortillas on a baking sheet. Place a few drops of oil on one side of the tortillas. Lightly rub the oil into one side of each tortilla.
  3. Flip the tortilla on the baking sheet so that the oil side is DOWN.
  4. Add three tablespoons of shredded cheese to one half of the tortilla (non-oil side)
  5. Add a quarter cup of black beans to the same half of the tortilla (non-oil side)
  6. Fold the tortillas in half
  7. Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, and flip halfway through the baking process.
  8. Slice tortilla into four pieces (I use a pizza cutter)
  9. Serve with salsa, preferably pico de gallo!

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Oatmeal Granola (small batch)

James is the granola-maker in our house. He used to make it frequently, and we would eat it by the handfuls. It is salty, crunchy, and naturally sweetened with honey. Plus, the baking process makes your house smell great!

This is James’ go-to granola recipe. It is simple, but absolutely delicious. It is so good that I usually eat it plain, but it is also a great topping for yogurt.

It is also relatively cheap to make, especially compared to specialty pre-made granola that you find at the grocery store. This granola costs about $0.21 for a quarter cup serving.

Cost Analysis:

The cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

A few notes:

Granola (especially in a small batch) can burn easily! You need to check and stir it frequently. For this batch, we stirred it at the 3-minute mark, 6-minute mark, 8-minute mark, 10-minute mark, 12-minute mark, and then every minute for the final three minutes.

Allow the granola to cool completely before eating. It is worth the wait.

We prefer small batch baking because we are a family of two. However, this recipe can easily be multiplied if you need more granola!

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Small Batch Oatmeal Granola

  • Difficulty: easy
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This small batch granola recipe is easy-to-make and sweetened naturally with honey.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons uncooked oats (we use old fashioned)
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • a pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine oats, flour, almonds, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Melt butter in a small container and stir vanilla and honey into the butter mixture.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix with a spoon or rubber spatula until it looks evenly combined. Try not to over-mix.
  5. Pour granola onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Push the granola together into a lump and gently push the granola down until it is 1/2 to 1/3 deep.
  6. Bake granola, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. The granola will brown around the edges of the lump, so you need to mix it often so that new pieces will brown. For this batch, we stirred it at the 3-minute mark, 6-minute mark, 8-minute mark, 10-minute mark, 12-minute mark, and then every minute for the final three minutes. It can burn quickly, so it is best to check and stir it often.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the granola cool completely before enjoying!

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Grandma’s Vienna Sugar Cookies (small batch)

While flipping through a very old community cookbook that I inherited from my grandmother, I noticed a recipe for a cookie that was unfamiliar to me. I had never put yeast in a cookie, so I was interested to try them.

Not wanting to commit to a large batch of unfamiliar cookies, I reduced the recipe to yield a dozen. The resulting cookies were thin, crispy, and buttery with a sweet sugary coating.

Vienna Sugar Cookies

I served the cookies to a few friends who noted they tasted a lot like “elephant ears”. If you are unfamiliar with elephant ears, they are a form a sweet, fried flat bread usually topped with sugar and cinnamon sold at every fair or carnival in the United States.

These cookies are also great for a tight budget. As the cost analysis shows, the cookies cost approximately $0.05 a piece. I used a name brand butter, so you could further reduce the cost with a generic butter.

Cost Analysis:

The cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Notes about the recipe:

The dough is very soft and sticky. I originally tried rolling the cookies with a rolling pin, but found pressing the dough with a flat-bottomed cup or mug resulted in more uniform cookies.

Next time I make these cookies, I may experiment with adding some cinnamon to the sugar coating.

The cookies bake quickly and brown around the edges. Watch carefully after the 10 minute mark.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Vienna Sugar Cookies (Small Batch)

  • Difficulty: easy
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Thin, crisp, and buttery with a sweet sugary coating, these cookies are an indulgent compliment to a good cup of coffee or tea.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread granulated sugar on a smooth surface (like wax paper) and set aside.
  2. Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Cream butter and granulated sugar together in a separate medium mixing bowl.
  4. Beat flour into the butter mixture.
  5. Add yeast and water mixture to the sugar and flour mixture, and beat until combined.
  6. Form dough into walnut sized balls (the dough should make about a dozen balls).
  7. Press dough ball down in the sugar mixture until flat. Flip and coat the other side. Continue flipping until you have a very thin cookie. Continue this process with the remaining dough balls.
  8. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven when the cookies are lightly browned and crispy.
  9. Allow to cool for a minute on the baking sheet and move to cooling racks.
  10. Enjoy!

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Banana Muffins (small batch)

A lonely brown banana seems to be a staple in most kitchens. I often throw my brown bananas into quick fruit smoothies (click here for an easy recipe), which is an easy way to get them off of the counter. But, sometimes you have to cave and make banana bread.

I enjoy a good slice of banana bread. There is something almost comforting about it. However, it is hard for James and I to finish a full loaf by ourselves. So, I prefer to make a small batch of banana muffins.

This recipe is quick, easy, and only makes four muffins. It also uses up one brown banana, and costs about $0.22 per muffin (see below for full cost analysis).

Cost Analysis:

Note – costs are what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Small Batch Banana Muffins

  • Difficulty: easy
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This small batch recipe results in four fluffy banana muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 overripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin pan with liners (or grease).
  2. Cream butter and granulated sugar together in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the banana in a small bowl.
  4. Add the mashed banana and egg white to the sugar mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Sift remaining dry ingredients together and mix into the sugar mixture.
  6. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  7. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full (about 2 to 2.5 tablespoons each).
  8. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool and enjoy!

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Roasted Breakfast Potatoes with Easy Homemade Seasoning

Crispy, salty breakfast potatoes are a key component of a lazy morning breakfast. This recipe combines a few basic spices and seasonings with some oil and a potato. The result is our favorite roasted potatoes.

A few notes:

This recipe is for one generous portion of breakfast potatoes, but can easily be multiplied to create more servings.

I used a yellow potato for this recipe, but I sometimes use russet potatoes. Either is fine. If you use russet potatoes, make sure to peel them first. I do, however, leave the skin on my yellow potatoes.

I use Kosher salt for my roasted potatoes, but you can substitute table salt. Sometimes the Kosher salt will give the potatoes a bit of a gritty texture (which I like), but you may not.

If you don’t have Italian seasoning, you can substitute a different dried herb of your choice. Perhaps parsley or rosemary.

Cost Analysis:

Note: The costs are based on what I paid for ingredients in 2020. Your total cost may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Roasted breakfast potatoes with easy homemade seasoning

  • Difficulty: easy
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These crispy, roasted potatoes are the perfect side dish for a great breakfast. This recipe makes one generous serving, but can easily be multiplied.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow potato with the skin (or a medium peeled russet potato)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika powder (sweet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or table salt)
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Dice potatoes into quarter cubes.
  3. Combine garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl. Add olive oil to the bowl and mix until a runny paste forms.
  4. Add diced potatoes to spice mix and toss until combined.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread potatoes on baking sheet.
  6. Bake potatoes for 25-30 minutes in oven. Check halfway through and flip.
  7. Enjoy! (I eat mine with tomato ketchup)

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Basil Lemonade

I like fresh lemonade, and we are currently having hot, sunny weather. Unfortunately, we don’t have any lemons in the house. Thankfully, you can make lemonade from lemon juice concentrate that tastes deceptively like the real thing!

I made my lemonade with fresh basil leaves. You can omit the basil, or use a different fresh herb.

Also keep in mind that you can easily tweak this recipe to your liking. If you like really tart lemonade, cut the sugar or add more lemon juice concentrate.

Cost Analysis:

Note: The costs are based on what I paid for ingredients in 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Basil Lemonade

  • Difficulty: Easy
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This fresh basil lemonade is easy to make and can be made with lemon juice concentrate.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of ice cold water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice concentrate (or fresh lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 2 basil leaves, optional
  • Ice, optional

Directions

  1. Combine water, lemon juice, sugar, and basil leaves in a small blender.
  2. Blend ingredients until you can no longer see the basil leaves. Note – the lemonade will be frothy from the blending process.
  3. Add a few ice cubes to a glass. Then, pour the lemonade into a glass. If you do not like the froth, pour carefully or strain. Or, refrigerate the mixture to allow the frothiness to decrease.
  4. Garnish with a basil leaf if you are feeling festive, and enjoy!

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