Tag Archives: chocolate

PB all the way

22 Mar

There has been a trend to my baking lately, without my even trying.

PEANUT BUTTER.

I love peanut butter. Especially with chocolate. You know I’m not much of a sugar person; give me salt! But peanut butter and chocolate…just can’t beat that combination.

A while ago, I made these buckeye brownies from Brown-Eyed Baker. They were amazing. My roommate still talks about them. Sadly, though, they didn’t really last long enough to take pictures of them.

Then a few weeks (months?) ago, my friend KB talked about these homemade peanut butter cups she made. Homemade? With salt? I had to try the recipe. So I got the recipe from the blog she found it on and tried it.

IMG_0675
Bite-sized amazingness.

The recipe used full-size muffin liners; I made them mini-muffin size. The chocolate part didn’t quite work for me, I think because I used skim milk. So I remade them and this time just used melted chocolate. I should have added some cream, but they were fine without it.

Then I saw a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that I had to try. Especially since my roommate pinned the same recipe because she wanted me to make these.

most-awesome-cookies
Amazeballs.

They were great. A huge hit at book club. I made them smaller than the recipe said to, and they worked out great.

Three fantastic recipes that use peanut butter. All of them so very good. And easy too.

Great, now I’m hungry for a Reese’s.

Weekly roundup

11 Mar

So last week, I…

*Ran outside for the first time in a long time to prepare for a 5K. Not as bad as I thought it would be. Except for when the jog interval on the program I used started over halfway through. And I ended up running for 50% longer than I had planned to.

*Babysat for a friend. And learned very interesting things from the oldest child.

*Saw this fantastic picture on the Facebooks and remembered that we’re all awesome in different ways.

dont-compare

*Gave up on online dating.

*Had great dance lessons. So much progress still being made. Did lots of dance homework too.

*Declared war on the non Gus-Gus mice in my house.

gus-gus

*Ran a 5K! In 36 minutes – the exact time of the last one. Except that this means I was faster than before, because we lost about 2 minutes traipsing through a snowbank to walk around a ginormous puddle.

*Did a dance group class and a lesson after the 5K. Yep, met my quota of physical activity that day.

*Had brunch with KC. (No sunshine band, though.) We tried a new restaurant that was so good. So yummy. Must go back soon.

*Made these:

IMG_0675

Homemade peanut butter cups. SO GOOD. More on these soon!

*Realized that my body now wants a certain level of physical activity. Whoa, that’s new.

All in all…a very FANTASTIC week!

Crafting for Christmas

24 Jan

Well, look at that. I never told you all about the crafting I did for Christmas. Meaning the stuff I made to give as presents, not stuff I did for decorations in a Martha Stewart way. Because we all know that’s not me.

Because I knew I was making things for presents, I started early. Like July early. And even then, it was a bit of a scramble to get it all done in time to give as presents. Maybe I was a bit ambitious. Maybe I was just slow. Who knows. And really who cares…it got done!

Remember those friends of mine who had a baby? Well, I decided to make a little sweater for said baby. I have an awesome knit-down, no-finishing pattern that’s super easy. And it looks adorable.

baby sweater

It’s really a purple color with grey trim. For some reason, the colors on my iPhone get screwed up. I should really look into that…anyway, I was happy with how it turned out. I think the parents of said baby were too.

Next up…a scarf for a friend of mine. Most patterns are kinda girly and this was for a guy. So I went to my local yarn store and asked them. They had a great pattern (I think they called it a “rugby scarf” but I call it a “manly scarf”. Tomato, tomahto.) Got the pattern, got the yarn, and started knitting. And knitting. And knitting some more. AND KNITTING. I forget how long scarves are, especially when the recipient is over six feet tall.

manly-scarf

But it turned out and I’m happy. I didn’t quite block it enough; the edges curl a bit. But meh, close enough, it was fine.

Scarves for the ladies! I found a great cowl pattern on Ravelry upon recommendation of the fine sales people at the yarn store. And it was free – even better! I got some great wool blend yarn that’s quite soft. That pattern was just K1 P1 in the round, so it went fast.

finished-cowl

I should do the pen in the photo for reference, like in science films. Anyway, I made three – gave two and kept one for myself. But I’m not sure I’m stylish enough to know how to wear a giant cowl. Luckily my friend SP has one and will guide me.

Last up, for my dear friend and roommate SR, hot cocoa mix! She LOVES her hot cocoa and who can blame her? Especially with the winter we’re having. I was a bit nervous about it, because she usually adds sugar to hot cocoa because it’s not sweet enough for her. But I found this recipe on Brown-Eyed Baker that I thought might just do it. And psst…it’s so easy! Sugar, chocolate, powdered milk in a food processor and blend. Done. While I was at it, I made some for other gifts too. One batch filled about 8 of these jars.

hot-cocoa-mix

And you know what? SR loves it and says it’s sweet enough. No need to add sugar. Yes! Success!!

Weekly roundup

3 Dec

Last week, I…

*Got back to doing yoga in the mornings. OK, so it was only 3 mornings. But still, that was more than the few weeks prior to that. And it felt good, so I’m going to try to do it more this week.

*Realized that for me, dancing is so much more than just dance.

*Started getting excited for the holiday season.

*Watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

it's-a-wonderful-life

And cried. Again. Don’t judge.

*Started working on a new header for my blog. Stay tuned!

*Got stood up by two friends on two days. Both for good reasons, but still. Oh well, at least it was a cheaper weekend as a result.

*Made an egg bake for dinners this week with an ingredient I haven’t used much before…chorizo!

egg-bake

It’s fantastic.

*Made great progress on knitting for Christmas presents. But I can’t show you those til after Christmas. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!

*Finally saw the Gangnam style video. Yes, I’m way behind the times. Just call me old and out of touch, thanks.

*Made those chocolate-covered pretzels again. And haven’t eaten TOO many of them…yet.

*Read. I finished “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for book club and “The Lost World” just because. Now I’m on to “Jane Eyre” and “The Alchemist”. I love reading.

*Went to my first dog agility trial. A friend of mine and his wife run their two dogs – miniature poodles – so cute! Their dogs are really good.

That’s a random shot of the course. Sorry, IPhones aren’t real great for taking action shots. Or close-up shots.

dog-agility2

The black blurry ball in front of the tunnel? That’s one of their dogs. It was a very interesting experience and tons of fun. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a dog event. And how can that be bad?

*Had two great dance lessons. Huge progress being made here, people!

*Received what might be the best text message ever.

If you don't watch TBBT, you don't get this.

If you don’t watch TBBT, you don’t get this.

Made me laugh out load and almost spit out my coffee. Thanks, AD!

Weekly roundup

17 Sep

Last week, I…

*Watched our medal ball judge get excited about taking a picture with Snoopy. Apparently all dancers are dance geeks?

*Made an amazing slow cooker chicken curry. Check it out here. It was so good! Oh, and I made brownies. Mmm.

*Had a super-fun, way-awesome dance lesson. Yep, the joy is back in dancing!

*Finished knitting a project. Details soon.

*Got handed a big project to lead at work. I’m very excited and feel good about the faith my boss has in me.

*Had my biannual eye exam. Eyes are good but I’m wearing my contacts way too much. Like waaayyyy too much. Now I have to wear my glasses for 1-2 hours every day. SIGH.

*Learned to make martinis.

*Had one of the most productive weekends ever. I got a lot done on Saturday, and I had a ton of time on Sunday to relax. I even took a nap!

Weekly roundup

10 Sep

Last week, I…

*Celebrated the Labor Day holiday with lunch with LS. I love spending time with my friends and talking. So fun and just makes my soul feel better.

*Finished my crafty projects. More on one of them later. The other is a gift, so I have to wait to tell all of you until I give it.

*Continued my progress in my attitude about dance. I’m really starting to enjoy it again – a lot.

*Was the recipient of the best regift EVER.

Jealous, aren’t you? I know. I would be too.

*Made fabulous gluten-free brownies that were so good, they tasted like full-gluten brownies.

*Had dinner with MH. More spending time with friends and relaxing.

*Ran the Warrior Dash and completed every obstacle except the two involving heights. And I ran it in 45:32.35. Not bad for a 5K and for my first race!

*Had one of the most relaxing, enjoyable Sunday mornings ever.

Coffee, the crossword, a good book, and coffee cake as a treat. Ahhhh.

Gluten-free brownies

4 Sep

I baked this weekend.

Given my mood lately (and by lately, I mean like three months), I haven’t done a lot of baking. And when I have, it’s been the baking equivalent of grilled cheese and tomato soup. (You know, that was never comfort food to me. But it is to a lot of people. So I reference it as a pop culture thing. If it were referring to my comfort food, it’d be toast. But I digress.) I’ve been making Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and the like.

I found a recipe I wanted to try. You know that occasionally I like to make gluten-free things because one of the staff at the dance studio can’t eat gluten. And I feel bad for him when I and other people bring in food he can’t have. So I saw this recipe last week and thought I’d give it a go. It’s an easy gluten-free recipe; most of them have 6000 ingredients in them.

I added extra chocolate chips in because I didn’t want a partial package of chocolate chips around. So I dumped in the whole thing. Sorry for the lack of photo. Brain not fully engaged yet after Dance-O-Rama. It’s getting there though.

You have to check out the blog I found them on. I follow her because she has great recipes that are pretty simple. But also because she has awesome, hilarious stories about med school and being a doctor. Makes me appreciate my job and its mundane-ness a bit more.

These brownies were so good, I’d make them as regular brownies and just not tell anyone they’re gluten-free. Well, other than the guy at the studio with celiac. I told him. Because it’s only fair he get more than his share of them, since he can’t eat most of what shows up at the studio.

And by the way, he thought they were fabulous. So go try them. And follow the domestic diva, md. She’s fabulous too.

The light at the end of the tunnel (aka weekly roundup?)

28 May

I may have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, that’s not the exact metaphor I’m looking for. But the bottom line is that I’m starting to feel better. I think this funk I’ve been in is starting to lift.

It started on Friday. It was super quiet at work as most people had taken the day off. I got through a ton of my to-d0s, which made me feel great. I got a chance to really clean my desk too with desk cleaner and get all that dust off. When I left at the end of the day, my desk was clean, clear and orderly.

Which makes me happy.

Saturday, I had an excellent therapy appointment. We made some connections about this funk I’ve been in, what it means, and how to begin to address it. Taking action always makes me feel better, and making some sense of this helps too.

Since some of it relates to dance, I had a long talk with my teacher about some of it too. He had some good insights and ideas, and I think I’m feeling better about going to the studio. Tomorrow will be the test though.

After my lesson Saturday, I hung out with SP. We got awesome burgers and then tried a new yogurt place in town. I can’t tell you the last time I had a real burger. It was divine. Ditto with the frozen yogurt – haven’t been out for it in years. And it was fabulous. Plus she’s just fun to hang out with. The rest of Saturday was spent with the usual errands and cleaning.

Sunday, I did my laundry, made my food for the week, and read. Read and read and read. It was heavenly. I also realized that I had the needles I needed to start the next knitting project, so I started that. It felt good to be doing something creative again. I realize now that I’ve been neglecting that part of my soul (hence the lack of blog posts recently), so I really need to focus on that. I also rediscovered (ok, remembered) the apps I have from Andrew Johnson. I use his Relax one and his Move On one. You definitely need to check out his stuff. It works.

Today was glorious. I went for an hour bike ride this morning in the sun. It felt good to get out there and really work out outside. I read. I did the crossword. I baked some great food: chocolate cinnamon pudding and a chocolate buckwheat cake. And I knitted a lot.

So…lessons learned this weekend:

*Therapy is good.

*Talking to friends is fun and help you out sometimes too.

*I need to stay active, body and mind.

*Three-day weekends are freaking awesome.

*Remember this feeling and do my best to not lose it tomorrow. Don’t give in to the funk.

Weekly roundup

16 Apr

Last week, I…

*Had my first baseline mammogram. Yep, I’m old. Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as bad as people say it is.

*Tried to figure out  how I would treat a 5-year-old that was going through what I’m going through. (Yep, still no answers on that one.)

*Had another fitting for my dance dress. Can’t wait!

*Reminded myself that the comparison game can be dangerous, and the important comparison is my life to what I want it to be.

*Made a great chicken pasta with lemon cream sauce and a FANTASTIC chocolate salted caramel shortbread. YUM.

*Had coffee with KB at a great neighborhood coffeehouse – outside on a beautiful Minnesota morning. Much laughter ensued.

*Got deblonded again by my hair stylist. I love being a brunette!

*Dinner and shopping with SR and NA. This involved pretty cocktails like a strawberry mojito…

and a pear-lavender martini…

and a glass of red wine for me because I was driving.

*Bought something I’ve wanted for a really long time…

red heels!! I finally found a pair with a good size heel in the right shade of red for a reasonable price.

*Had two great dance lessons.

And most importantly….

*Found out that enough people have signed up and put money down for Dance-O-Rama in Chicago, so now the price is cheap enough that I CAN GO!!!!!! Bucket list items being crossed off. Dreams coming true here, people. DREAMS COMING TRUE!!!!

I’m a terrible blogger

15 Apr

I’m really not a terrible blogger. But today, I made two fantastic recipes and neglected to take any pictures of either one. FAIL. So just read along and use your imagination. Well, and the pictures from the original blogs.

First up, chicken pasta with lemon cream sauce.

image courtesy of The Comfort of Cooking

I found the recipe on the Comfort of Cooking blog. It sounded good, and I thought I could lighten it up some. First I baked some chicken seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I cooked some whole wheat rotini and drained it in a colander over some frozen peas. (Oops, forgot to buy asparagus, so it’s just peas!) In a pan, I melted some butter and sauteed some garlic in it. I added a cornstarch/chicken broth mixture and let it thicken. I stirred in fat-free half-and-half, lime juice (because I didn’t have lemons), salt and pepper. I mixed the sauce with the pasta and added the chicken on top. Voila! Lunches for the week.

Next up: dessert!

image courtesy of Tracey's Culinary Adventures

A recipe found on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures sounded fantastic. It mixes the best combination of salt and sweet. Yes! So I made a base of shortbread and let it cool. Then I made a caramel mixture, spread it on top of the shortbread, and let it cool. Then I melted some chocolate and spread it on the top. Right now it’s all cooling in the fridge so it doesn’t get too gooey. Can’t wait to try it!

***
Chicken Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce (from The Comfort of Cooking)

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
8 ounces uncooked rotini
1.75 cups (1 1/2-inch) slices asparagus (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used fat-free half-and-half)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked and juices run clear. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add asparagus during last 2 minutes of cooking time. Place peas in a colander. Drain pasta mixture over peas; set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; saute 1 minute. Combine broth and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir until well blended. Add broth mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in half-and-half, juice, salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add pasta mixture to broth mixture; toss gently to coat. Slice chicken and serve on top of pasta.

***
Salted Caramel Chocolate Bars (from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

Ingredients:
For shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

For caramel:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

For chocolate:
8 oz chocolate, finely chopped (I used bittersweet)
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Fleur de sel for sprinkling (optional) (I used sea salt)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

To make the shortbread layer: Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press into an even layer over the bottom (it’ll be a fairly thin layer). Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the caramel layer: Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns a light caramel color. This may take 10 minutes or more, so be patient. (And know you will have a sore arm for constantly whisking the mixture for 10 minutes.) Pour the caramel mixture over the cooled shortbread and spread in an even layer. Allow to cool completely, then chill briefly (I stuck mine in the fridge for a few hours, but you just want to chill enough that it won’t melt when you add the warm chocolate in the next step).

To make the chocolate layer: Add the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter to a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. (Ah, the double boiler method! My favorite one for melting chocolate.) Heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the chocolate over the chilled caramel and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Let cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle the top with the fleur de sel (if using). Let the chocolate set completely before slicing and serving.

%d bloggers like this: