Growing up I always remember my Mom baking and the sweet smell of all of those tasty treats in our home. Especially at Christmas time she would make dozens of cookies and we could eat them every day, all day and never run out until well into the New Year. I think that’s why I love baking so much. It reminds me of home. There is just something so comforting about a sweet homemade treat that was made with love. When Christmas time came around last year I knew I wanted to do something special for my Mom and so I thought making her homemade vanilla extract would be a perfect gift because let me tell you she goes through a lot of it! It was actually really simple to make and I just followed this recipe from Beanilla. Their website was actually a one stop shop for everything I needed. I was able to order a 12.5oz glass bottle and enough beans to fill three bottles all at once. They so many varieties of beans from the rich, dark and creamy Madagascar bean, which I chose, to the fruity and smooth flavored Tahitian bean! Yummm!
Are you ready for how simple this recipe is?
Take each bean and slice it down the middle leaving about a 1/2″ intact on each end.
Measure out 8 ounces of 35%+ alcohol. The recipe recommends using a bottom shelf vodka so that it will not add any additional unwanted flavors to the extract. You can also use bourbon, rum or brandy to achieve a different flavor if you wish.
Fill your bottles up with the liquor of your choice and add your vanilla beans.
Place the extract in a cool, dry place and allow a minimum of 8 weeks for the beans to infuse with the liquor.
The best part about homemade extract is that it is the gift that keeps giving because as soon as you use a bit of your extract simply add more liquor to your bottle to replace what you have already used.
I also made these cute little labels that were inspired by the labels Kathleen from Twig and Thistle made for her homemade vanilla extract! Make sure to stop by and checkout her post because she has a free printable for you to use to make your very own extract! Jake and I decided we needed to call ourselves The Smith Family Bakery Company since we made so many tasty treats as gifts for Christmas this year. I thought it was cute and we just had to incorporate it into our labels!
Check out those pretty beans in that gorgeous colored extract! Are you ready to start baking yet? I sure am!
There is just something about a bakery! The aroma you can smell from blocks away and all the different treats just begging to be tasted! Growing up it felt like my Mom would always be baking something new. She makes the most amazing blackberry and peach cobbler and when it comes to Christmas time…forget it! Christmas cookies were not just a staple in our home but were and still are a tradition. Some people make two or three different types of cookies, oh no at our house we grew up with what felt like dozens of different types. To me baking is so much fun. It is a way to relax and unwind. Over the past couple years I’ve really gotten into baking cupcakes. I’ve made so many different kinds and I just love experimenting with new flavors. I’ve watched all of those cupcake TV shows and my sister and I always joke that we should just open up our own bakery.
I mean really how much fun would it be to have your own bakery? Baking has made a big come back in the commercial market in the last couple years and it seems like a new bakery is popping up around every corner. When I came across these photos of the most amazing bakery on Babyology I just had to share!
Cioccolato is a unique bakery in Monterrey, Mexico that is unlike any bakery I’ve ever seen. From a girl who is OBSESSED with color I love how they have created a stark white environment and then allowed all the sweet treats to be the color show stoppers of the store.
Their displays are so unique and simple. Savvy Studios, the designers of the store, were aiming to have a Willy Wonka Factory feel of slight madness in the space. I think it is fun and what kid (or parent for that fact) wouldn’t want to go crazy in the store?
So Momma and big sis wanna go in together and have a shop like this???
Okay I am in full on birthday planning mode over here! Well just in my head…I still haven’t done anything. But I am planning it all out while I work away on cornhole boards this week. So when I took a break to stroll through Facebook for a minute I came along this beauty!
Seriously how amazing is this cake!?! If I lived in Portland I’m pretty sure I would just have her whip me up one of these! 🙂 You should go by and check out the rest of her cake designs and her sugar flowers are unbelievable. She makes me want to become a cake designer!
I always loved rock candy when I was little but I never thought about putting it on a cake. This is so much fun! I love how there is still an ombre effect because of all of the different shades of the candy.
I think doing ombre on not only the outside but the inside of the cake as well is genius! I think it would be so fun to make this but I might go crazy before I could ever finish it. I know I want to do cupcakes but I love pretty cakes or maybe even some cake pops? To hard to decide! Either way I just think I need some cake now! YUMMY!!!
So you know when you have one of those days where you swear that you will be productive and have an AWESOME day?? That is how my morning started out. I was able to get a ton of work done around the house and spend some time playing with the kids. Everything was going so well I invited my Dad over for dinner and pulled up my trusty Pintrest boards for ideas on what to cook. I picked some great recipes I had been dying to try and they all turned out pretty great! That being said this is before I on accidentally dumped the chicken onto the bottom of the oven and burned my hand trying to grab it. Then one of my burners stopped working while I was trying to make the roux for my mac and cheese and then I over cooked my blondies because my oven is insane and has a mind of its own! That being said dinner though, dinner was TASTY!! Next time though I will make sure to put the kids in bed and wait until my guests leave to run the self clean on the oven. Oops! Sorry Dad!
Do you ever have those days when you are trying to cook and nothing goes as planned? I swear cooking is always an adventure in our house!
Check out what we had for dinner and try them out for yourself!
4 oz white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
2 tsp – 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp hot sauce (like Frank’s)
In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 1/2 minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve hot in bowls with spoons.
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. Cool slightly. Add egg (beaten) and vanilla and blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Mix in 2/3 cup M&M’s. Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/3 to 2/3 cup M&M’s on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.