homemade vanilla extract

If you love to cook and bake you probably use a lot of vanilla. When I started cooking more at home I was surprised at how much vanilla I used and how expensive it really is.  Pure vanilla extract will usually run you a little over $4 for 2 oz.  I snapped this picture at Target and you can see that it’s $4.19 there.

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***In my Good Eats and Good Reads posts I’ll share a recap of the last several weeks in recipes, photos, and links.***

School has started and we are back into our fall routine.  We have one in first grade and one in pre-k.  We also have both kids involved in sports for the first time.  So it’s a busy time of year but we are all settling into our new rhythm.  I, for one, am looking forward to the beautiful fall weather.  (But I do not like waking up to the dark outside!)

We’ve had a lot of simple dinners over the last few weeks and I’ve been relying a lot on my freezer.  I’ve been so thankful to have a freezer full of meals ready to go.  Here are a few meal ideas for you from the past two weeks.  Most of these are pretty simple.

***Mini Quiche Cups
We made about 36 mini-quiches the other night.  I detailed how we made them at the end of this post.  They made a delicious dinner and we had tons leftover for the freezer.  I pull them out the night before I want to cook them and they are ready for the oven in the morning.  I like involving the kids in this recipe because it motivates them to eat a few veggies.

mini quiches

quiche

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Fall is just around the corner and I’m so looking forward to the cooler temperatures!  In addition to that, one of the things I love the most about fall is making all sorts of pumpkin recipes.  I still have quite a few cans of organic pumpkin that I got for a $1 each last year and I’m anxious to use them up!  Pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pancakes are two of my favorite fall breakfast foods.  My love of the latter inspired today’s recipe.

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school lunches

Are you in a lunch-making rut?  Do you pack the same thing every day?  Are you wanting to make your kids’ lunches a little healthier?  Well, today I’m here to help you out.  I’ve got a few tips that have helped me out over the last few years and I’m going to share them with you today.  My kids’ lunches aren’t perfect and I’m okay with that but I do try to provide a variety of real, wholesome, healthy foods along with a few convenience foods when needed.  I don’t do anything fancy or cutesy but I have found a system that works for us.

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About ten years ago I had a subscription to Cooking Light magazine.  As I read through those magazines I would pull out recipes that looked good to me and slip them into sheet protectors in a binder.  Of course this was long before Pinterest and the popularity of finding recipes on the internet.  I’ve kept that binder and over the years I’ve tossed out the recipes I no longer make.  There are a few remaining and this mini meatloaf recipe is one of them.  I’ve made some changes to the original recipe to make it just the way we like it.  I swapped onion powder for the onion (my husband doesn’t like crunchy onions in his meatloaf), decreased the amount of ketchup, and added in some spinach.

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