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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Pumpkin + Coconut Granola

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It’s that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about…the season of pumpkin craze. Everywhere I turn pumpkin is jumping out at me. I nearly fainted when I saw “pumpkin spice oreos”. Consumers do know there isn’t any actual pumpkin in those oreos, right? And pumpkin spice candy corn, there isn’t any real pumpkin in those either. I’m not going to mention a peep about the lack of real pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte. If I start on that one, I may never stop. I’m not against the pumpkin spice craze that seems to be growing bigger and bigger every year. In fact, I’m a huge fan of it, as long as it’s the real deal.  So, to jump on the pumpkin spice band wagon and officially kick off Fall, I made a batch of pumpkin granola. With REAL pumpkin, of course.

Granola is a great staple to have in the pantry.  It can be tricky to find a store bought granola that isn’t off the charts in sugar or loaded with unnecessary additives. Plus, when you make your own you can add top notch ingredients, like chia seeds, that normally wouldn’t make their way into the store bought box of granola. Making your own is easy and cheap. Mix some with kefir/yogurt and a banana and you have yourself a quick breakfast. This would also be a great edible gift, now that we’re making our way into the giving season.

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Greek Salad

IMG_4689I love salads. Not dainty little side salads with a few leafs of lettuce and one slice of tomato, I’m talking about big hearty keep you satisfied for hours salad.  The type of salad that you eat out of a mixing bowl because it doesn’t fit on a salad plate. Those are the salads I love. My salad of choice this summer has been a greek salad with basil and garbanzo beans. So simple. So good. It has also been my staple summer BBQ dish. Anytime we go to a BBQ this little gem of a salad is my contribution.

The measurements and ingredients are super flexible, just one reason I’m this salads biggest fan.   Throw in whatever you have in your fridge that needs to be used. Some days I have less tomatoes and more cucumber, or I may only have half an avocado.  Add whatever your little heart desires,  toss and enjoy.

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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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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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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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Herb Stuffed Chicken Breast

IMG_3804When we found out we were expecting a little one, Taber and I decided it was time to bid farewell to downtown living and move into a house with a yard.  This was a bittersweet decision. On one hand I was super excited to be able to let Lily out in the morning without having to change out of my raggedy sweat pants that should have gone to goodwill many years ago (not proper elevator attire). On the other hand, I was sad to leave the downtown life of being able to walk to restaurants and the dog park. Luckily we found a house five minutes from downtown, so we didn’t have to move too far away. It isn’t within walking distance to our second home usual dog park, but we can live with a short drive.  I immediately fell in love with this house. The large kitchen and closet both spoke to my heart, but what hooked me was the flourishing herb garden in the back yard. Once I saw that I was ready to sign the lease in permenant marker. It was meant to be. Since moving in I have been itching to use the herbs. Today was the day it happened.  And I have a feeling I am going to be using them nightly.

I made a herb stuffed chicken breast using fresh oregano from the garden, spinach, prosciutto, garlic and a white cheddar cheese. Putting melted cheese on anything pretty much guarantees it will be delicious, so I didn’t have too many worries about this recipe not turning out. “Stuffed Chicken” sounds like it would be difficult to put together, but it was quite simple. For that reason, it is the perfect dish to make while entertaining. Your guests will think you slaved over the stove all day when really you had enough time to prepare dinner, get a massage, pedicure and manicure.

To keep some moisture in the chicken, I suggest covering it with foil when baking it. That way the heat won’t dry out the chicken breast.

I used an organic raw milk white cheddar cheese to stuff the chicken. It paired well with the salty prosciutto and herbs. Any cheese would work well in this recipe.

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