Sunday, September 21, 2014

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer

My disclaimer for this post is that I LOVE Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Lattes, hot or iced. This recipe is not a replacement or copycat of a PSL, but it will help scratch the itch between your Starbucks runs.

Over Labor Day weekend, I spent some time searching for pumpkin recipes. I found recipes for bread, muffins, desserts of all kinds, and pancakes. But when I found this recipe for pumpkin spice creamer, I was really excited to try it. This week, in Houston, was slightly cooler and very rainy. It's our first hint that our seasons are changing from oppressively hot to mildly hot, our version of fall. 

This creamer involves just a few ingredients and it is super easy and fast to make. Simply combine a milk of some kind (I used half and half this time), some pumpkin, maple syrup, and a ton of spices in a saucepan.  Whisk until warm. Then stir in the vanilla extract and allow it to cool. I poured it back into the half and half bottle and relabeled it for easy storage. All in all, I think it took about 10 minutes from start to finish. And as a bonus, it cost less than $2 to make about 16 servings of creamer. You have to try this scrumptious taste of fall!!!!

2 cups (1 pint) half and half 
2 Tbls. canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
2 Tbls. maple syrup (use the good stuff, this serves as a sweetener as well)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

1. Combine all ingredients except the vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until combined and mixture is warmed. 
2. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 
3.  Allow to cools. Then place it in a container in the fridge. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunday Lunch Prep

Ok - so I posted an innocent comment about packing up lunches for the week on Facebook and I got an onslaught of replies.  :)  I was there a couple of months ago too.  The dreaded lunch packing in the morning, just grabbing anything in sight and throwing it haphazardly towards the lunchboxes lying on the counter.  (Some mornings are still like that!) But for the most part, this is what Sunday lunch prep looks like now...

Stella's lunch (pink) and Jackson's lunch (right)

Lunches stacked up on one shelf in the fridge

I'll try to take better photos for this upcoming week, but in general here's what lunches look like in out house.  

Braeden & Jackson - We try to choose as healthy as possible foods.  We stay away from artificial colors and flavors.  I pack a main dish (protein), a chip/cracker, fruit/veggie, drink, and homemade snack.  Braeden definitely has an affinity for junkier foods than Jackson does.
Stella - Same as the boys but soy and dairy free due to her allergies.  Think Paleo life here!  :)
Dusty - likes some kind of salad around 400 calories.  He prefers vegetarian.  
Amy - I want it to taste good!!!!  But I'm also trying to stick around 500 calories.  

For this week, lunch prep went like this...

Braeden - He wanted PB& J!  He's on a kick.  But I don't pre-make sandwiches on Sunday.  I've heard of people making them on Sunday and then freezing them, but I haven't tried that yet.  I add in grapes, Ritz crackers, and my mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies and he's ready to roll.
Jackson - He wants Lunchables!  Our compromise is mommy-ables.  I picked up Ritz crackers, a Boar's Head uncured ham lunch meat, and cheese sticks.  Of course, nothing can touch!  I add in grapes and my mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies and he's all packed up.  These lunches I do fully make on Sunday.  Then each morning, I just grab out a container and put it in his lunch box.
Stella - She gets the exact same lunch, with these minor changes.  She gets a different dairy/soy free cracker and no cheese stick.  She gets all packed up on Sundays as well.
Dusty - He is hooked on this Tomato Mozzarella and Basil Salad.  We tried it with quinoa first, like the recipe said.  He LOVED it!  Then, the next week I forgot the quinoa when I went to the store and substituted orzo.  He SUPER LOVED it with the orzo.  It's a great sturdy salad that just gets better as it sits in the fridge.  
Amy - I'm taking a hard-boiled egg with a whole-wheat English muffin for my lunch.  I also eat my breakfast at school so you see my yogurt stacked up in the fridge too with a serving of granola to put on top.  

Check out the salad and the links for the handy containers are below!  Do you prep your lunches on the weekend?  Or do you make your lunches each day?  I'd love to hear some of your tips too!