Energy Bites

 

I was looking for something to soothe my chocolate craving. A snack that wasn’t completely unhealthy but would appease my sweet tooth. Enter Energy Bites, a bite-size snack that can be shaped to fit any taste and the perfect healthy stand-in for dessert. As much as I would love to claim this ingenious invention as my own, I can’t. To view the original sources, click below:

Energy Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and place in the refrigerator. Chill for half an hour.
  2. After the mixture has chilled, roll into bite-size balls. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.

 

The Happiness Project

 

This, I hope, will be the first of many posts regarding books I stumble upon and fall in love with. I read a wide variety of books, everything from Jane Austen to Joseph Ellis, and am always telling my friends and family about books “they just have to read!” Then the other day, an epiphany! “I should be keeping a list of good reads on my blog!” I am always looking for book suggestions and love sharing my favorites with whomever I can find, so why not here?

My most recent discovery, prompted by another blogger whose post I read a few weeks ago (I am so sorry, but I don’t remember who it was :(  ), was “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. A fantastic record of her year-long journey to increase personal happiness, this story will truly change your life. She shares a practical month by month account of her experience making and maintaining resolutions to add a little joy to an already enjoyable life.

Though I have not started charting my progress (as she wisely does in the beginning of her tale), I have been looking for little ways to increase my own happiness and keep tabs on certain less-than-desirable behaviors. An avid library goer, I only buy the books I find most worthy of adding to my collection, and this one definitely made the cut. I plan to reread it again soon, because I know I will get something new out of it the next time.

So, to Gretchen, thank you for your enlightening account of a most noble project. To you, please read this book! And if you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. :)

Check out these links if you’re interested in finding out more:

 

Bite-Size Fruit Cocktail

With summertime comes a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, irresistable to the produce shopper. Whether you’re at the farmer’s market, fruit stand, or regular grocery store you are undoubtedly faced with limitless choices. Walking in the supermarket the other day, berries in all shapes and sizes caught my eye. Ginormous watermelon, canteloupe, and pineapples were gorgeous on their displays, beckoning me to buy at least one to take home.

I was having a few friends over and looking for the perfect summery treat, something cool and refreshing. This overwhelming parade of color made the choice easy: fruit, of course! I grabbed strawberries and a pineapple and headed for the door.

Bite-Size Fruit Cocktail

  • 1 16 oz. package fresh strawberries, cut into halves
  • 1 pineapple, cut into small pieces
  • Toothpicks*
  • Dark Chocolate Ganache, for dipping, if desired*
  1. Wash and cut the strawberries in half (I prefer to do this from the top to the bottom as opposed to across the middle of the fruit.)
  2. Cut the pineapple into bite-size pieces.
  3. Take the toothpick and press it into the center of the cut strawberry. Add the pineapple and set on a lined baking sheet. Continue this process until all of the mini cocktails are prepared. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

*If you are dipping your cocktails in ganache, prepare it according to the following instructions and chill before serving. Make sure your fruit is dry before you dip it into the chocolate. If you would like a larger version of this dessert, use skewers and additional fruit.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Ghirardelli 60% cacao)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. In a double boiler, warm the heavy cream. Add the chocolate and allow it to melt, stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Note: Make sure the water is simmering as the chocolate is melting. If you boil the water the entire time, your chocolate may burn.

In the near future, I’d like to buy skewers and add grapes and cantaloupe to the mix for an appetizer-sized version. These little guys were perfect small servings for my girl’s night and paired beautifully with the Prosecco-based cocktail I was serving. Have you ever made something similar? What are your favorite fruit combinations? Love to hear your summertime food stories! :)

Fudge Puddles

I’ve written about my love of chocolate and peanut butter before, but have failed to share one of my all-time favorite ways to combine them. Fudge Puddles, small peanut butter cookie cups filled with luscious chocolate ganache, are the perfect mini-fix when you’re craving dessert. They’re great for two reasons: 1. they are small, so I feel slightly less guilty eating one, and 2. they pair perfectly my two favorite ingredients for dessert.

Fudge Puddles

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Filling:

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Ghirardelli 60% cacao)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. In a double boiler, warm the heavy cream. Add the chocolate and melt until the mixture is smooth.

Note: Make sure the water is simmering as the chocolate is melting. If you boil the water the entire time, your chocolate may burn.

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl or electric mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture (in thirds) to the first six ingredients and mix until completely combined.
  4. Take a heaping tablespoon of dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball. Place the dough ball into the first well of a mini-muffin pan. Continue to do this until all of the wells are full. (Your balls of dough should cover the bottom of each well completely.)
  5. Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes and remove from the oven when they are a light golden brown. As soon as you remove them, press down the centers using  a tart shaper.* Allow them to cool completely before removing from the pan.
  6. While the cookies are baking and cooling, make your ganache. Fill the center of each cookie with the ganache and allow to cool.

*Note: If you do not have a tart shaper, a muddler or even the top of a wine bottle (cleaned, of course) will work just fine!

Have you ever made some variation of these cookies? Any other ideas for mixing it up?

Make Your Own: Vintage Subway Sign

So…it’s been awhile since my last post. Things have been a little crazy lately and it’s not exactly calming down. Despite this, I have found time for a couple of DIY projects, which of course, I will be sharing with you here.

For months now, I’ve been dying to get my hands on a vintage subway sign. I first saw them on pinterest (of course) and fell in love. I began looking to buy one but decided they were too expensive. Besides, I wanted one that featured our favorite cities. After some DIY research, I found that others had come up with the same idea and executed the project in all kinds of different ways. I saw personalized prints and painted canvases but nothing that really captured what I was picturing. I knew I wanted to accomplish three things with this project:

  1. An aged/vintage look
  2. Personalized cities that would bring back great memories
  3. The classic white on black lettering for authenticity
So with this in mind, here is what I came up with:
  • 1 12×20 inch wooden board from Michael’s
  • Vinyl letter stickers (1 in, 3 in, and 4 in sizes)*
  • Paint (black and white)
  • Homemade glaze (Valspar Glaze and Minwax “Special Walnut” stain)
  • Sandpaper
And here’s what I did:
1. First, I sanded down the edges and front and back to smooth it all out.
2. Next, I painted the front side white and let it dry completely.
3. Using a leveler and pencil, I drew the first line for the first city. Then, I carefully stuck on the letters. I found that starting with the first and last letters and building in from there helped me center each city name. Following a straight line will keep them from sinking or climbing.
4. I repeated step 3 until all of the city names were on the board. (If you run out of stickers, you can do half the board first, allow it to dry, remove the necessary stickers and complete the second half. Be very careful painting if you do it this way! Trust me, I found out the hard way.)
5. I coated the front and sides of the board with a couple of layers of black paint and allowed it to dry. Once the paint dried completely, I removed the stickers. If the edges are a little rough, you can touch up the letters with white or black paint.
6.  Next, I took the sand paper and roughed the sign up a bit . I wanted it to look nice and worn, so I sanded it a lot.
7. After I sanded to my heart’s desire, I grabbed the glaze and wiped it all over the front of the sign. After letting it sit for a few minutes, so it had started to dry but was not completely set, I wiped it down with a paper towel. You can continue this process until your sign has the aged look you are going for (it took me about three coats).
8. (OPTIONAL) If you’d like to hang yours on the wall (like me), you can pick up whatever picture hanging supplies you’d like to use and attach them to the back. I used small self-leveling sawtooth hangers from Home Depot. I simply nailed one into the back and hung it like I would anything else. There are many options if you explore the hardware aisles of your local home improvement store.
So here it is, the finished product. It took awhile, but I think it was worth it. Have you tried a similar project? Have another good idea for a vintage sign? Love to hear from you, it’s been awhile! :)
*Note: I picked up the 4 inch vinyl letter stickers at Michael’s and found a great combo pack of 1 and 3 inch sizes at Target.