Chocolate + Peanut Butter Cups

IMG_5654As I was looking through my recipe index, I stumbled across my chocolate peppermint pattie recipe. It immediately had me drooling craving those bad boys. Six months ago I would have jumped into the car, driven to the store, picked up the ingredients and sped home to make them. Considering I have a cute little six month old napping upstairs, that’s out of the question. I’m on house arrest while he sleeps. Instead of going to a real grocery store, I went grocery shopping in my pantry. Chocolate, check. Coconut oil, check. The remaining ingredients…no where to be found. So what’s a chocolate craving chef to do? Improvise! I spotted the peanut butter and honey which triggered my idea for chocolate peanut butter cups. Honestly, I have taken the spoon to the peanut butter jar, dipped it in the chocolate and been a happy girl.  I resisted the urge and took the 15 minutes to make the peanut butter cups. Thank goodness I did…they are taaaaasty! Although,  it’s nearly impossible to go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate, so it was guaranteed to be a successful recipe.

I kept and ate these frozen. They are a bit messy when eaten at room temp, but still finger lickin’ good (literally).

According to my recipe taster, Taber, these taste “exactly like Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. The only difference is the dark chocolate”. Not too shabby of a review, especially when it comes from someone still on the fence about dark chocolate.

 

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps

IMG_4554Have you ever had a PF Chang Lettuce Wrap? I haven’t had one in a very long time, but am still in awe  of how perfect their lettuce cups are?  How do they get the lettuce like that? No matter how delicate I am with the lettuce, my lettuce cups do not look like theirs. I usually manage to get two or three perfect cups from one head of lettuce. The rest of them aren’t horrible, but definitely have their flaws. I’m convinced PF Changs has a modified lettuce plant that grows single lettuce cups. It’s the only explanation I can come up with.  My lettuce wraps may not be as pretty as the PF Chang version, but they taste very good, and that’s really what matters.

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Watermelon + Honey + Mint Soda

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Hello again, I’ve been off the radar for awhile because of a cute little fella that has been taking up all my time. The little fella I’m talking about weighs in at 6 pounds 15 ounces and is 19.5 inches long. He is the cutest of all cute babies. I’m a bit biased because he is my son 🙂 He is six weeks old and has been an absolute joy.  Now back to blogging….

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the summers. It is hot hot hot. Technically it isn’t summer yet, but once temps hit the 90s it’s officially summer by my standards.  To beat the heat I have single handedly been keeping the watermelon farmers in business. I can’t get enough of it. After day 7 of drinking straight watermelon juice, I decided it was time to fancy it up a bit. Just how did I do this? By juicing half a watermelon, adding soda water, honey and mint and wa-la… watermelon honey soda was born. After a while that plain watermelon juice can start to feel pretty boring.  Enjoyable but nothing too special. By adding just a bit of honey, soda water and a touch of mint it transforms the watermelon juice into the swankiest of swanky drinks. Just having this drink in your hand multiplies your cool factor by 100.  You’ll go from feeling normal to feeling like a rock star in one sip. I’m not sure how it does this, but it does. It may be the pretty pink hue, perfect balance of sweetness, the uber refreshing taste or a combo of all three. Whatever it is, it works.

This drink is fit for a crowd.  At your next summer get together, whip this up for your guests to enjoy and they  will experience that fancy and luxurious effect.  I mean really, who doesn’t want their cool factor to be multiplied by a 100 all while sipping on a pretty pink drink on a warm summer night. I know I do!

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Burrata + Beet + Blood Orange Salad

IMG_3763Have you ever had Burrata cheese? If your answer is no, stop what you are doing and immediately go buy some. Burrata is the God of all cheeses. It looks like a ball of Mozzarella cheese, but when cut into it reveals itself as a distant (and way cooler) relaitive . It oozes out a rich, buttery and creamy filling. Buratta tastes amazing on it’s own, which is why it is important to keep the recipe simple when it involves this gem of a cheese. Today I tossed it with some arugula, roasted beets, blood orange and finished it off with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The spiciness of the arugula, sweetness of roasted beets, tartness of blood orange and overall amazingness of the burrata came together to create magic. Serious deliciousness.

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Salmon Tacos + Avocado Corn Slaw

IMG_4199Winter is officially behind us in Austin, Texas. Which means goodbye chilly days and comforting foods and hello hot sun and refreshingly light dinners. For a quick minute I thought I would miss the ease of throwing a bunch of ingredients  into a pot and making a soup to warm the soul on a cold day.  That was until I made these salmon tacos with corn and avocado slaw. This recipe gave me the little nudge I needed to be 100%  excited about the departure of winter and arrival of spring foods. These tacos hit the spot on warm evening. Of course, anything with avocado hits the spot for me.

This recipe makes more slaw then needed for the tacos. I did that on purpose because the slaw is DE-licious. You can eat it as is or top a salad with it. Having a dinner party? Corn and Avocado Slaw also works great as a dip! Endless possibilities.

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Sweet + Tart + Green Lemonade

IMG_3941As I mentioned in my last post I was in Disneyland last week with my family. There is one thing holding Disneyland back from actually being the happiest place on earth…a juice bar. Ok, I admit I may be the only person in the world who thinks a juice bar is the one thing holding Mickey Mouse’s motherland back from being the happiest place on earth, but I’m pretty sure there are many people who would enjoy this service. Eating a nutritionally balanced meal is hard work at Disneyland. There aren’t many options. Which makes sense…I don’t think there are many kids who think broccoli and beets belong in the happiest place on earth. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed some traditional Disneyland fare. Who can resist an ice cream bar shaped like Mickey Mouse? But I was craving some liquid nourishment.  Immediately upon my arrival home, I broke out my juicer and made a big batch of Green Lemonade. It was a great welcome home.

Hosting a ladies brunch? This would be delicious with a splash of champagne. A green juice mimosa…hmm maybe Mr. Walt should consider adding that to the Disneyland menu.

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Kale + Pesto + Pasta {gluten free}

IMG_3960Last week I was in the happiest place on earth with the happiest little boys on earth. My mom, sister, brother-in-law, two nephews and I hit up Disneyland for 3 days. Being 8 months preggo and walking around Disneyland may sound like a nightmare, but it was quite the opposite. Maybe it was the ridiculous large Minnie mouse ears I wore the entire time, the people watching, or the sheer joy in my nephew’s faces that were a distraction from all the walking. Whatever it was, we had the absolute best time.  I will add that I strongly believe three days is the max any sane person can do Disneyland. At the end of day three we were all ready to lounge by a pool for a few days and give our feet a rest. Thankfully that was the plan and after snapping some photos with Mickey Mouse on our last day we loaded up the car and headed to Palm Springs for some R & R.

I am at my happiest when I am with my nephews. At their young age they have the ability to make me laugh harder and smile bigger than any adult. Quite the accomplishment for a 2 and 4 year old. I made my Kale Pesto Pasta with them in mind. They are pasta boys. Ask them what they want for dinner and there is a good chance they will say “pasta” with absolute zero hesitation. I was planning on making this for them while we were in Palm Springs, but most of the days we stayed in the pool until we were called up for dinner. Let’s be honest…diving for sticks and practicing “shark bobs” (going under water) is way more exciting than cooking dinner 🙂

Quinoa pasta is my gluten free pasta of choice. It has the best texture and taste. Use your favorite pasta in place of quinoa pasta for this recipe. Or forgo the pasta all together.

I love using Kale in my pesto for an extra nutrient boost. If you have spinach on hand you may sub it for the Kale. To make a vegan version, just swap the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast. This recipe is super versatile and can be used on fish, chicken, veggies, pizza, sandwiches…pretty much anything. The recipe makes 2/3 cup, which depending on how pesto-e you like your pasta, may be more than you need. I freeze the extra or use it throughout the week.

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Chocolate + Coconut + Smoothie

IMG_3932Thursdays are like the middle child of weekdays. The anticipation of Friday and hump day Wednesday steal the spotlight causing it to get lost in the mix.  This morning I woke up wanting to acknowledge the excitement of Thursdays. It is one day away from Friday, which means one day closer to the weekend. So what better way to honor a Thursday than to start the day off with a chocolate coconut shake. Special right? It’s not everyday I kickoff the morning with a smoothie that tastes like dessert. It is highly likely it will become my new Thursday morning trend. Although the smoothie tastes like a sweet treat, it is packed full of essential nutrients to start your day off right. Avocado, hemp seeds, banana, almond milk, raw honey…major benefits!

I should add that I love middle children. I don’t think they get lost in the mix, it’s just an old theory. My middle sister is my BFF. If you are a middle child you should feel pretty excited about being compared to a Thursday. Thursdays are awesome, you are awesome and this smoothie is awesome!

Feel free to skip the honey and just use dates to sweeten the chocolate shake. I prefer to use the honey for a nutrient boost, especially the allergy fighting properties it offers. Allergies are killer this time of year in Texas. Another option is to use only honey as a sweetener and skip the dates. Up to you.

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Banana Pancakes

IMG_3820Jack Johnson gets full credit for these Banana Pancakes. Not because he was here in my kitchen cooking with me (how awesome would that be), but because hearing one verse of his song on Pandora inspired this recipe. I’m sure I’m not the first person this has happened too. Now that I think of it, Jack Johnson should get some sort of royalty on Banana Pancakes.

I love bananas, but want my pancakes to taste like pancakes not like a full fledged banana. For that reason, I love this little gem of a pancake recipe. It has a very subtle banana flavor. Just enough to get the point across that they are made with bananas.

I used 2% milk in the recipe. Use any milk you have on hand or your favorite nondairy milk. Just be sure the nondairy milk is unsweetened.

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Oat + Berry Bars {gluten free}

IMG_3811A dear friend of mine recently introduced me to the raspberry oat bars at Whole Foods. OMG are they good. The Whole Food bakers have mastered the perfect ratio of crust to berries to oat topping. I bought one thinking it would last a couple of days…wrong. It was gone before I made it out of the parking lot. These bars only have one flaw- they are super heavy. I am pretty sure my biceps got a workout by lifting it up to my mouth. After tasting them I knew I had to make a lighter version. One that wouldn’t leave me feeling weighted down. After a few recipe tweaks I think I have found the perfect replacement. There is still a place in my life for the occasional Whole Foods Berry Oat Bar, but I will be keeping a stash of my version in the freezer for when I am having a craving.

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