DIY Vanilla Extract

PSA – Making your own vanilla extract is SO easy, I will (probably) never buy vanilla again! This is such a fun little project to do with your sister(in-law)/mother(in-law), friends, or by yourself. At the beginning of May we made vanilla with our mom and are planning on gifting the bottles away at Christmas (it takes 6 months for the bottles to be ready). We figured we would share this easy recipe with you all so that you could make bottles, and have them ready by Christmas.

Materials Needed:
1. Bottles – we used these bottles
2. Funnels – to pour the vodka into the bottles
3. Vodka – any type, it does not need to be high quality
4. Vanilla Beans – these are the beans we used, and for 24 bottles we bought 6 packages. Yes they are expensive (vanilla extract is expensive) but you can reuse the beans when you are finished making the first bottle!
5. A fun label (not required) – Ansley from Ellington Paper Co. is making cute custom labels for our bottles!

Instructions
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the vanilla beans down the middle so the inside is exposed (depending on the length of the bean vs jar you may need to cut them in half to shorten the beans)
2. Place 5-6 vanilla beans in each jar.
3. Pour 8 oz of vodka on top. Make sure the beans are fully submerged. Cover and shake a few times.
4. Store vanilla at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
5. Everyday for 1 month you will need to shake the vanilla bottles a bit. After one month of daily shaking, just leave the bottles and they will work themselves into vanilla extract that is ready to use in 5 months.

I knew I would forget to shake, or if I shook, so I am storing my bottles in the box that they came in and drew a little calendar a flap. Now whenever I shake the bottles, I cross off the day!

Cinco De Mayo Recipes

Cinco De Mayo Recipes

With Cinco De Mayo right around the corner, we figured we would share a festive dinner that would work perfectly for the occasion! This dinner is so easy to make and all three of my boys eat it (with a little extra cheese on Preston’s to hide the chicken). I love Cinco De Mayo – it is such a fun excuse to get a little festive, make a delicious meal, and enjoy a margarita.

Chicken Tostadas
This recipe is from ifoodreal and is delicious. One great thing about this recipe is that flexibility of it. I love that you can add more or less toppings depending on the person eating the tostada. Don’t like black beans? Great, swap them for refried. Want salsa? Add it on! You get the point.

  • Ingredients
    8 corn tortillas or store-bought tostada shells
  • 3 medium tomatoes diced
  • 4 medium avocados diced
  • 3 tbsp red onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Lime juice of
  • 15 oz can low sodium black beans drained & rinsed
  • 3 cups shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup feta or Cotija cheese crumbled
  • Cooking spray
  • Instructions
  • To make homemade tostada shells: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  • Arrange tortillas in a single layer, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt on both sides.
  • Bake for 6 minutes per each side, means flipping once.
  • Prep toppings: While tostadas are baking, make easy guacamole salsa by combining tomato, avocado, red onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and lime juice. Get other ingredients ready.
  • Assembly: To assemble tostadas, top each shell with guacamole salsa, beans, chicken and cheese.
  • Storing tostada shells: You can bake homemade tostada shells for up to 48 hours in advance. Just store in resealable Ziploc bag to keep shells crunchy
homemade guacamole
finished product

Mexican Street Corn Salad
This salad can also be used as a salsa/dip for an appetizer if you are having a dinner party, barbecue, or anything really!

Ingredients
Dressing
½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp honey 
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cumin

Salad
Splash of oil
4 ears of corn about 3 cups (shucked and kernels removed)
1 clove garlic minced
2 TBSP lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1cup canned black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1/2cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro chopped
1/2 cup cotija cheese (we used feta)

Let us know what you think if you try either of these recipes for dinner.