Monday, June 30, 2014

Triple Thick Mocha Milkshake

Remember my healthy chocolate softserve? Well this magical mixture is an extension of that goodness. Milkshakes should aways be two things: extra large and extra thick. Yep, this one sure sets the bar high, as it also is chocolatey and healthy, two sets of mega bonus  points to the the Triple Thick Mocha Milkshake!

The ingredients are quite tweakable, although I cannot vouch for the results of variations using substitutions. You can't get much better than only 4 ingredients, now can you?
Frozen bananas
Cocoa powder
Coffee extract, or substitute 1 tsp. Instant coffee granules
As the queen of crazy extracts, it would be rude to expect all my readers to keep up with my collection, so I will try to offer substitures as much as possible! Any way, whether you're using extract or granules, you are in for a treat!

Triple Thick Mocha Milkshake      makes: 2 small; 1 large

2 bananas cut into chunks and frozen until hard
3/4 cup milk of choice (I used almond)
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. coffee extract (or sub. 1 tsp. Instant coffee granules)

Place frozen bananas and milk and extract.into a blender. Pulse until almost completely smooth. Add cocoa powder, and blend until the bananas have no remaining chunks and the cocoa powder is completey mixed in. Enjoy immediately or stick in freezer for up to a half hour.

~~{~@ Danielle

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stylish: Colorful Pants and Shorts

Lately I've been digging colorful shorts and capris and jeans. Such as these in beach glass
These also are quite fine in gray cobblestone and egret. Yeah, I do a lot of {window} shopping at Kohls.....

I think these Levis are adorable in geranium red!

So there you have it, a glimpse of my wishlist that will probably never come true... oh well; life will go on!

What styles are you into?

~~{~@  Danielle

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lightened Up Iced Coffee

Ever seen the nutrition information for Starbucks drinks? Not fun. I would not be surprised in the least if I heard the ratio of sugar to coffee is 1:1. So, I decided to attempt a lighter version.

I am a huge fan of iced coffee drinks. The hot ones are never the right temperature; either they burn my young or they are lukewarm. There are about thirty seconds of time in which they are perfect.

It must be some sort of psychological thing; if coffee is supped to be cold (such as iced), then its tasty,  but if its supposed to be hot, but it has cooled until it's cold, then it's nasty. Hmm...

I made this with my awesome cold-brew coffee because it is a bit stronger than regular brewed coffee so the ice didn't water it down as much. Use whatever coffee you have.

Either way, this stuff is of the tasty variety, and may I suggest you try it out with my cold brew recipe?

Lightened Up Iced Coffee              Serves: 1
1 cup brewed coffee
1/2-- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your choice of milk)
1 mL stevia extract, or to taste (The strength of the sweetness depends on the brand of the extract)
ice cubes
optional: Extracts such as caramel, peppermint, or hazelnut

Mix all but ice in a glass and serve over ice.

~~{~@ Danielle

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why I Love Audiobooks

Audiobooks. Some like 'em, some don't. I never did until last summer, when the online library I utilize, My Media Mall, only had the book I really wanted to borrow in the audiobook format. Gosh, that was a blessing in disguise!

I began listening to the book all the time, since audiobooks are hands-free; no page turning! They are very talented at making time speed by, converting hours to minutes and minutes to seconds. So in other words, got a long car trip, a tedious task, or a cumbersome workout ahead? Go ahead, don't dread it anymore! Download that audiobook, and look forward to those things you're dreading.

I especially love it when the reader of the audiobook uses much expression and multiple voices. It's like a movie without the screen. Remember that book review I posted a while ago, Dick Van Dyke's autobiography, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business ? Well guess who reads the audiobook version-- Dick Van Dyke himself! How cool is that?

May I also suggest the Harry Potter series? The reader, Jim Dale uses so many voices and expressions, it's mindblowing how he keeps them straight!

So go ahead, try it out. What do you have to loose? You sure have much to gain!

~~{~@ Danielle

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Caramelized Basil Onions

I'm rather picky about my onions. First of all, when cooked, they must be soft; I find it gross when a dish has partially raw onions. Also, they have to have the right mix of sweet and spicy, in that onion-y way to theirs, of course. And lastly, please don't serve me unseasoned onions!

So, on the quest for perfect onions, I developed the perfect recipe, and it meets every requirement! Best of all (for all you sodium watchers) there's no added salt! However, I rarely add any salt to my recipes, so I've become accustomed to unsalty flavors. If you think this needs salt, by all means, add salt!

With only 4 ingredients, these a super easy. Not to mention they have all my favorite things: onions
Butter (let's just be real here!)
I would have added a sqeeze of lemon, but alas, the fridge was barren of the citrus.

Caramelized Basil Onions
2 medium onions
2 Tbsp. Fresh basil, packed
1 tsp. Butter
Pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet, making sure it coats the bottom. Add onions and saute over medium heat constantly untill they have reduced and turned a soft brown (about 15 minutes). Add basil and pepper and continue to saute until basil has reduced slightly. Remove from heat and serve.

I ate mine with some chicken on a very fancy plate, as you surely noticed above.

~~{~@  Danielle

Friday, June 20, 2014

Let's Chit and Chat

Hello All,
I've got an idea! Let's have a discussion. Here's just some questions and leave your opinions and replies below in the comments! My answers are in italics.

What's your favorite beverage?
Probably an iced latte.

Whats your favorite color?
Definitely minty blue with charcoal gray in a close second.

Outside or inside?
Probably outside, although I spend more time inside.

If you could time travel, what time period would you go to?
The fiftys

Favorite month?

I'm excited to hear (read) your responses!
~~{~@ Danielle

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Chocolate pudding oatmeal. Mmmmm. This deliciousness is so creamy, chocolatey and rich, no one could guess that it's secretly a gathering of super foods. I mean really;
Almond milk
Cocoa powder
Who'd think that these simple ingredients could make such a mouth-watering quartet? The oats add texture, almond milk provides creaminess, cocoa powder brings flavor to the table, and the banana not only supplies the richness, but it also adds bulk.

As for nutrition, the oats and bananas both bear good-for-you fiber. The almond milk contains the protein. Studies show that cocoa can help promote a healthy heart. Bananas once again play two roles, as they also provide lots of vitamins and minerals.

Yay! Let's dig in!

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 ripe banana
1-2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (depending on how strong one  likes it)
1 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk

1) Cut the banana into circles before mashing it very well with a fork, until no large chunks are left.
2) Place the mashed banana, oats, and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and stir well.
3) Add the water and place pan over low-medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture begins to boil 
4) Add milk and continue to stir until the 'sauce' thickens, although the mixture still looks pretty wet.
5) Cover the saucepan and turn off the heat, leaving the pan on the stove*. Let sit for 10-20 minutes, or until its thickened a bit more.
6) Enjoy!

*Do not leave on burner if using electric stove.

I seriously have this at least 4 times a week. Its so good!
Hope you like it as much as I do!
~~{~@ Danielle

Monday, June 16, 2014

Inspiration: Disney Mania

It took me 8 solid hours to complete this drawing. I've always been a huge Disney fan, but qho isn't, right? My biggest inspriation is the thing I love, so this pencil sketch came to be one Saturday afternoon.

What do you love, and how does it inspire your life?

~~{~@  Danielle

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Avocado Chicken Salad

I've always loved traditional chicken salad, ya know, chopped chicken, salt and pepper, onions and mayonnaise.  But when I changed my eating habits several years ago, I decided the mayo had to go.

But whats chicken salad without mayonnaise? As usual, Pinterest held the answer.  I never actually clicked on a link leading to a avocado chicken salad recipe because I had a better idea.

Remember my awesome guacamole that I shared a while back? Well imagine that married to chicken and a few extra herbs. Yum. Normally, I do not add the feta to the chicken salad, but you can feel free to do so. In fact, don't make a special trip to the store if you're missing a minor ingredient (such as an herb or lime or vinegar)

My cooking philosophy is basically to add everything to taste, and according to whats in the pantry. It has always worked!

 Feel free to use white onions in lieu of red. You also can use extra vinegar instead of lime juice, and vice versa. Have fun with it!

Avocado Chicken Salad
1 cup chopped chicken (I use breast meat)
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 1/4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/4 Tbsp. lime juice
1 large ripe avocado, mashed well
1 Tbsp. oregano, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. dill
1/2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

1) Combine the last ten ingredients (this includes the salt and pepper as one ingredient)
2) Stir in the chicken and chopped vegetables until they are well coated with the avocado mixture.

* I garnished with cilantro, it adds more freshness to the flavor, I'd highly recommend it!

~~{~@ Danielle

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cold Brew Coffee

Did you know coffee can be made without any fancy machines, electricity or without heat?
Isn't that an interesting picture? I like the contrasting reflection, even if it is the result of a very very low quality camera...

Anyway, back to the coffee..... YES! If the power ever goes out for an extended period of time, not all hope is lost! That is, if cold coffee is acceptable. But diehards would drink it at any temperature, I'm sure.

Cold-Brew Overnight Coffee
1/2 cup ground coffee 
2- 2 1/2 water (depends on how strong the brew is desired to be)

1) Soak the ground coffee in the water overnight (~8 hours)
2) Strain grounds out of the coffee using a fine cloth. (A nut milk bag or cheese cloth may work)
3) Heat up, serve over ice, or drink straight up if desired.

~~{~@ Danielle

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

Hello All,
Last summer, I read what is a classic in the Christian world, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (the author of The Chronicles of Narnia) This book is composed of a series of letters from an uncle, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood. Both are Demons, assigned to tempt specific humans in different ways, be it greed, fear, or lust.

This is a very thought-provoking read. It really opened my eyes to the spiritual battle around, fighting over my soul. The enemy is constantly looking for a place to grab a foothold in my life. The Screwtape Letters demonstrated ways that Satan tempts us and attempts to lead us astray from the straight and narrow path.

Matthew 7:13-14

 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

I think this verse pairs well with the theme the book presents. It is easy to give into temptations of the devil, but if we (Christians) stand firm in our faith, in the end we will receive the reward.

Over all, this book was rather intense, and I'd recommend it to anyone wishing to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ.

~~{~@  Danielle

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Skittles: Friend or Foe

Okay, I'll just say it up front: Skittles are nasty! Sure, they may taste OK (although they've never be my first choice in candy), but the taste isn't necessarily the nasty part. Flip the package over and take a look at the list of ingredients. Yep. If you do not have any skittles in your house, you may already be on the right track. Here's the list of poisons:
Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, apple juice from concentrate, less than 2% - citric acid, dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, coloring (includes yellow 6 lake, red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 2 lake, yellow 5, red 40, yellow 6, blue 1 lake, blue 1), ascorbic acid 

First I'd like to point out that there's not one element on this list even remotely healthy. All apple juice from concentrate is is sugar, in case you were wondering. Sugar and corn syrup play a big part in weight gain. They also raise blood sugar levels which will lead to a crash. Hydrogenated palm kernal oil? Stay away. Try to exclusivelyconsume hydrogenated oils that have been processed minimally, such as extra virgin coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. The following ingredients are a series of chemicals that should no be in ones body. For the whole scoop on the dangers of these chemicals, visit here.

You've been warned......
~~{~@ Danielle

Friday, June 6, 2014

Healthy Chocolate Soft Serve

Hey All,
If you're on Pinterest, follow health blogs, or read health magazines, you've surely heard about coconut cream vegan ice cream, cashew cream ice cream, and banana soft serve. Well personally, I'm not a huge fan of cashew cream. (I can never get ot smooth enough!) Coconut cream isn't something in my pantry. Factory-canned food scares me a bit too much.

But bananas? Fresh, healthy, and loaded with vitamins and fiber, these super foods make the best three ingredient chocolate ice cream ever. Smooth and creamy and chocolatey and addictive, this recipe only takes about 5 minutes (plus freezing time) to make. Now, theres no excuse to buy store bought ice cream because:
1) This is made faster than going to the store.
2) Banana soft serve is a million times healthier than store-bought
3) No, this does NOT taste healthy

Chocolate Banana Soft Serve
Makes 1 huge serving

2 ripe medium bananas, cut up, then frozen
2-3 Tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk

Remove bananas from freezer and break up any chunks frozen together. Blend with the milk and cocoa powder until smooth. Eat immediately, or freeze until harder for a less soft-serve-y experience.~~{~@  Danielle

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Oxfords, My New Obsession

I tend to go through phases of styles of shoes that I'm crazy about. First, converse. Then Toms. Then Vans. Now Oxfords. Especially like these ones, as pictured above. I don't own any yet, but I'm seriously considering investing. I just want some every color of the rainbow!

What shoes are you digging?
~~{~@ Danielle

Monday, June 2, 2014

Danielle's Famous Guacamole Dip

I love avocados, but then again, who doesn't?
 But this has not always been the case. I wasn't a fan until last year. But I am Never. Going. Back.
This recipe is loaded with all the flavor and richness and texture that is all too often missing from store-bought guacamole. Ya know, the kind in the plastic tube-- bland and un appetizing?

Danielle's Famous Guacamole Dip
3 Avocadoes, diced
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBSP lime juice
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 TBSP dried oregano
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Mix all ingredients together without completely mashing the avocado. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days. (Not that it will last that long)

~~{~@ Danielle