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  1. Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    The Magic of Vanilla Bean Paste + Vanilla Vanilla Muffins

    Another fabulous discovery from the Favorite Things gift exchange I went to last December was vanilla bean paste. It’s so cool!

    nielsen-massey vanilla bean paste

    And just why is it so cool? You get the flavor and pretty speckliness (new word alert!) of vanilla beans without the work. It’s less expensive than vanilla beans, too. Vanilla bean paste is more viscous rather than paste-like, so it’s easy to pour and measure. It also is good for use in sauces and batter where you don’t want the vanilla extract to make things more liquidy (new word alert!).

    nielsen-massey vanilla bean paste

    You can substitute vanilla bean paste in recipes for both vanilla extract and vanilla beans. This stuff is super versatile!

    • If you want to substitute vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract, just measure the same amount that the recipe calls for. Easy peasy!
    • If you want to substitute vanilla bean paste for vanilla beans, use 1 tablespoon of paste for each whole vanilla bean called for.

    You can purchase vanilla bean paste at Williams-Sonoma, but you can also find it on Amazon where it’s cheaper. I use Nielsen-Massey’s vanilla bean paste. Apparently Trader Joe’s once carried it, but it has been discontinued so don’t bother looking for it there if you hear rumors!

    vanilla bean paste muffins

    I finally bought a bottle myself and used it for the first time today. I decided to make my friend Kristen’s Vanilla Vanilla Muffins. The muffins are simple, vanilla goodness. I don’t have one thing to say or change about the recipe, so be sure to click through to Kristen’s beautiful site to make them yourself!

    I can’t wait to use my new vanilla bean paste in more recipes! Oh the possibilities!

    In fact, I created a collection of 21 very vanilla recipes over on Babble that would be perfect for using vanilla bean paste in. Be sure to check them out!

    Also, please feel free to share your favorite recipes featuring vanilla!

    UPDATE 3/16/16: You can buy this vanilla paste in a large bottle on Amazon for significantly less than anywhere else. It’s awesome! Stock up!

  2. Sunday, June 2, 2013

    Week 332 Menu

    Last night Nate had a surprise date planned. Months ago he told me to get a babysitter for June 1 and that it would be a late night. I didn’t find out what we were doing until we were driving in the car last night! He did a great job keeping the surprise.

    imagine dragons sdsu 6-1-13

    So…where did we go? To see Imagine Dragons! I have to tell you about it because it was so much fun. The lead singer Dan is our friend’s brother, so it’s been really fun to watch their meteoric rise since the first studio album came out last August. It’s quite stunning, actually. Last night’s show was amazing and they are better live than on the album (not all bands can boast that these days…these guys are legit musicians, which became apparent watching them play). We randomly ended up sitting next to another band member’s mom and his two aunts. Ryan’s mom told us how she loves telling people that she got him guitar lessons in 5th grade and that he’s been devoted ever since. You could tell the family was so excited and delighted for the band, a bunch of nice guys that they love. And when Ryan spotted her in the crowd near the end of the show, it was so cute. At one point when the crowd was singing the lyrics, you could tell Dan was in disbelief. It was really sweet. Dan’s wife’s band Nico Vega opened for them. She was crazy in a really great way and a total rocker, plus her voice was amazing. The best part, though, was when she brought their headphone-wearing 10-month-old daughter on stage for a kiss. The entire crowd chorused with “Awwwwwww.” It was such a fun night, filled with positive energy and great music. Thanks, Nate!

    Alright, back to business!

    – Chicken Stir Fry
    – Dumplings

    Cilantro Sour Cream Enchiladas

    Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

    – Leftovers

    Rachel sandwiches

    – Eat out

    – Breakfast for dinner (tbd)

    You know the drill…please share your menus! And have a great week!