Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Peaches 'n' Cream Smoothie

Hey there! How have you been? I've been awsome since I recently got two GIANT crates of peaches. Seriously, there are probably about 100 peaches in my house, awaiting their fate. Mwahaha. 

The thing about peaches, though is that they ripen rather speedily, so I had to figure put how to use them up within a week. It wasn't too hard considering how scrumptious they are, whether they're plain or in something.

Whether you are a peach purist, or of you like to put them in pies and cobblers and such, you'll looove this smoothie! The peach and the banana compliment each other well, although the banana's flavor is not really the star of the show. It's more of the supporting role.

Peaches 'n' Cream Smoothie
1 peach, cut into chunks and frozen
1 Banana, cut into rounds and frozen
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 scant tsp cinnamon

Blend in a blender untill smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Comment below your favorite way to use peaches!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter

Remember my last recipe for peanut butter? Well here's another!

Peanut butter is seriously my favorite food. Now over the course of this blog, I am sure I'll frequently state otherwise, saying, "mango is my favorite food", or "chocolate is my favorite food", but the truth is, I have many favorite foods, but it just so happens that peanut butter is at the top of the totem pole. In fact, this blog might have been titled "Chits and Chats and Peanut Butter", if Chocolate didn't sound better.

But, chocolate is another of my favorite foods, and it's just so wonderful that two of my favorite foods happen to be such a brilliant pair.

And now, you too can have your fill of peanutty-chocolatey goodness without the chemicals and sugar in Reese's peanut butter cups, or store-bought chocolate peanut butter!

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter
Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups

2 cups peanut butter
1 tbsp. Coconut oil
3-4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz. dark chocolate 
1-2 tbsp. agave syrup (more or less depending on desired sweetness)

Grind peanuts and coconut oil in food processor until it forms a coarse paste. Add remaining ingredients and continue to process until completely smooth. The peanuts will go through phases--
1) coarse crumbs, like sand
2) a thick, coarse paste, like play doh mixed with sand (yum, right?)
3) a giant ball, mostly smooth
4) the ball will melt down into a smooth, luscious dream come true

Refridgerate in an air-tight container ~2 weeks. Use your best judgement.

~~{~@ Danielle

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Letter Challenge

When was the last time you sent a letter? This form of communication is becoming increasingly unpopular as technology advances, which is a shame, because I think receiving letters is so much more fun than receiving e-mails of texts.
So, I'm starting a challenge. Once a week for at least a month, I'm challenging you to send a hand written letter to a friend or family member. Trust me, it's not that bad, and it's one of the best ways to show that you're thinking of them and that you care. And it is not unlikely that if you send a letter, that you'll receive one in return!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let's Chit and Chat no. 2

Hey! Welcome to my Let's Chit and Chat post no. 2! My last one has been one of my most popular posts, but no one commented! Please comment. I don't bite. Really. Unless if you are a bowl of salted caramel pretzel chocolate peanut butter banana soft serve. Then I can't make any promises.
 Anyway, like last time, my answers are in italics. Comment your answers below, pretty please with sugar on top!

Secret Talent?
I taught myself how to play the harmonica.

Do you have any pets? What are their names and what animal are they?
No pets! 

What's your favourite sport to watch? To play?
Does figure skating count? I love playing tennis!

What does your ideal vacation look like?
A tropical cruise.

If it was your last meal, what would you choose?
Crab for dinner, cheesecake for dessert!

So please comment your answers! I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blueberry Peach Cobbler Baked Oatmeal

Originally, this oatmeal title was not going to include the "cobbler" part, but the second I took my first bite, I knew I had to forewarn you all: this tastes shockingly unhealthy, or at least a lot like dessert. Not all deserts have to be unhealthy. This recipe just so happens to be healthy enough for breakfast, and tasty enough for dessert. The best of both worlds!

The blueberries bloat in the oven untill they become little packets of flavor that burst in your mouth with every bite. The peach sweetens it and give it that wonderous cobbler-like texture and flavor. Yes my friends, this is the breakfast of champions!

Blueberry Peach Cobbler Baked Oatmeal
1 peach
1/3 - 1/2 cup blueberries (depending on your preference)
1/3 cup milk of choice (I used almond)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
Sweetener to taste, optional
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
Pinch of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Baking powder

1) Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit
2) Combine last three ingredients and set aside
3) In a blender, puree 1/2 of the peach, milk, vanilla, and sweetener if using. Pour the liquid over the dry mixture and stir gently until combined.
4) Dice the remainder of the peach, and fold it and the blueberries into the oat mixture until the are evenly distributed.
5) Bake in a greased ramkin for 25-30 minutes, or until center is no longer very wet.
Allow to cool a little before consumption.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to: Spaghetti Squash

I'd always heard about how amazing spaghetti squash is, how by just running a fork through the flesh of the gourd, impastas come to be (sorry, bad joke... couldn't resist).

I just had to see it to believe it. So, I bought one. And guess what? It worked! Yes, by just running a fork through the squash, I came upon healthy, flavorful, bountiful "noodles".

Here's a few tips and notes:
~When cutting the squash in half,  use a super sharp knife because the raw gourd is pretty tough, and you'll want to make as straight of a cut as possible so that the squash will steam itself evenly.
~One medium-sized spaghetti squash is about the equivalent of two to two and a half cups of "noodles".
~For maximum efficiency, use a fork to get as much of the flesh out as possible, but then scrape the insides of the skins out with the edge of a large spoon to remove the remaining fruit.

So, Heres the technique

Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees (Fahrenheit)
2) Cut squash in half length-wise.
3) Line a baking tray with foil, and place the squash cut-side down over foil.
4) Bake for forty minutes, or until the squash has become as tender as you'd like it.

~~{~@ Danielle

Friday, July 18, 2014

What's new?

Well, I don't know about you, but a lot has been going on in my life recently! I recently had some grafting done in my mouth. Not trying tobsound too graphic here, but for those of you who don't know what that is, it's when a periodontist (gum specialist) cuts skin from the roof of one's mouth and sews it to the gums. I had this done because I had a bacterial infection that ate away at my gums.

So naturally, I've been eating a lot of this:

And a lot of these. 

Also, I impulse bought some new nail polish that I loooove! 

The color is called Cinderella.

Another impulse buy:
85% is the bomb.

I'm looking forward to vacationing in Wisconsin next month, too! I could use a break from life! 

What's new with all of you? 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Garden: An Update

Well it's been a while since I've shared about my garden! So long in fact, that back then, it looked like this:
That is, if you can even call that a garden. Now I've gotten a few grape tomatoes ripening...
Not to mention some GIANT cucumbers!
Also, this year I've learned the hard way that squash do not need tons of water. I was over watering them for a while, so now they are looking mostly dead. (Excuse my  The Princess Bride reference.) Also, I've learned that herbs don't need much water. Thankfully, all of them (except for the stevia plant) are 98% alive. 

So, do you have a garden? How is it doing (comment below)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting Your Child to Read

Hey All,

I love reading. Maybe you love reading, but these days, most people prefer TV, Internet, and Video games to books. Sad, but true. While this is a problem when it comes to adults, I believe it is even more so a problem when it comes to children and teens. You see, the young mind is still growing and developing. Like a muscle, giving it exercise and using the imagination is what makes it stronger.

Television and video games and many of the things young people do on the internet require little to no imagination. Many teens and children dislike reading because they subconsciously correlate books with school.

But perhaps if they find a good enough book, thier minds can be changed... hmmm....

So I've put together a short list of novels that I am positive could entertain all ages and genders. Really and truely.

First on my list: The False Prince  (the Ascendance Trilogy) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
This novel/series is packed with swordfights, plot twists, and bits of romance. Don't be fooled by the title, this is not just a girly princessy book. Boys (as well as girls) will love Sage, an orphan selected by a royal official, to compete for a chance to win the throne.

Next up is The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Wow. This book is crazy. Composed of both words and beautiful illustrations, I am continually impressed by the work that must have gone into this book. Hugo, a young orphan, is constantly tinkering with cogs, clocks, and machines. But will he be able to fix the mysterious mechanical man his father left behind? And will it be able to answer his questions? 

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Yes, the same Suzanne Collins as the Hunger Games Suzanne Collins. This is just an earlier, and in my opinion better, work. This is the first in a series of five novels about a boy and his sister who accidentally fall down into a world below where spiders and cockroachs and rats and bats are freakishly huge. Join Gregor on his quest to leave the underland, save the city that resides there, and try to figure out how his father mysteriously dissappeared a while back.

And finally, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I cannot give these books enough praise. They are packed with suspense, strong characters, laughs, and tears. Harry is off to wizarding school. Join him, his friends, Ron and Hermione, and teachers as they grow up together and work to defeat the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort. There is no way I can summarize Harry Potter as the series is composed of 7 long books. But believe me, by the end of book seven, you'll be wishing for more!

There you have it. If these books won't get your child to read, I don't know what will. But keep on trying. It will be worth it.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Life should not revolve around eating healthy all the time. I constantly have to remind myself of this. Yes, eating whole foods is wise, but once in a while just relax. Indulge. Don't feel guilty. 

And boy, oh boy, I have a perfect indulgence for you all today! Flakey, rich, and buttery, these shortbread cookies are TO DIE FOR. my family is frequently begging my to make them, no joke!

Several years back, I became convince shortbread was disgusting. Dry and bland. But. But. My opinion was based off of those gross girl scout cardboard disks that they call shortbread. Don't get me wrong, girl scouts know how to make a dang good cookie (hello, Thin Mints), but they could use a lesson or two on shortbread. Just sayin'.

These cookie would be marvelous with macadamia nuts, but alas, we have tree nut allergies in our house, not to mention they're sooo expensive!

Anyway, last summer, for some reason, I went on a shortbread-making marathon, developing variation upon variation:
Triple chocolate
Chocolate peanut butter
Lemon poppy seed
Oatmeal raisin
Cinnamon spice
Orange cranberry
And so on.
And of all these, our favorite was this one. (With cinnamon spice in second place). 

I just love foods that are blank pages; onces that can be experimented with in countless flavors, such as oatmeal, rice noodles, and shortbread.

And so (at last) here is the magical combination:
(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
1 cup flour
3 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1/2 cup white chocolate chunks or chips, or chop up a bar into chunks
1/2 cup dried cherries

1) Two hours ahead: stick butter in the fridge.
2) Two hours later: preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit
3) In a small bowl, soak cherries in warm water for abot ten minutes until slightly bloated and soft. Drain water and lightly pat cherries dry with paper towel.
4) In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar.
5) Using a cheese grater, shred frozen butter over flour mixture quickly, before it melts. While shredding, you may want to toss the freshly grated butter with the flour-sugar every few seconds to keep the butter from sticking to itself.
6) Using clean hands, knead the crumbly mixtur together until it forms a ball. Then knead in chocolate and cherries.
7) Spread about 1/2 inch thick onto a lightly greased pan (I used a stoneware shortbread pan) and prick the dough with a fork or toothpick multiple times.  Bake about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
8) Let sit after removing from oven for about 20 minutes before removing from pan and cutting into wedges or squares. I always get 9 fairly large squares.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Maximize Your Wardrobe

Hey there!
Today I am going to show you all how to make the most out of your wardrobe. The key is to have a variety of both tops and bottoms, in divergent styles and colors (this trick works best when each shirt matches each pair of pants).

See above? There may only be 12 articles of clothing shown, but there's 36 potential outfits. For example:
a/g,  a/h,  a/i....  b/g,  b/h, b/i... and so on and so forth.

But, the important thing to see is that say, you only have three pairs of pants. By eliminating only three articles, you cut your outfit potential in half (it's 18 now)!

So, if you do the math, if someone has 20 shirts and 20 pairs of pants (or skirts!), they have 400 potential outfits! That means they could wear a different outfit each day of the year, and well into the next year as well!

Although this is great, and I totally understand owning a ton of clothes (guilty!), remember there are people in the world who don't even have any clothes to wear. If you have extra clothes you don't wear often, clothes that don't fit you, or clothes you don't need, consider donating them to a charity that can distribute them to those in need. You'd be surprise at how a simple shirt or pair of pants can change someone's life!

~ Danielle

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve

Wow that title sure is a mouthful! Think of it as a warning about how you'll want to get as many mouthfuls of this bliss as possible.

The flavors and textures of this are mind-blowing. It's like a giant mouth party. And good news: eat your heart out; this concoction is guilt-free! On the contrary to "normal ice cream", this is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and protein.

The caramel extract is not really health food, so omit if you'd prefer, bit there's such a small amount in this and it add such fantastic flavor without all the sugars that I figure it is worth it.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve
Makes 1 giant serving, 2 standard servings

2 Bananas, cut into chunks and frozen solid
2-3 Tbsp almond milk
1-2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1-2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp caramel extract
1 handful pretzels, lightly crushed

1) Remove bananas from freezer and place in bed of frood processor. Process until very small crumbs.
2) Add almond milk, cocoa powder, peanut bitter, and caramel extract. Process again until a smooth soft serve has formed.
3) Add pretzel bits and whirl them into the mixture until evenly distributed
4) optional: return soft serve to freezer for 30 minutes to an hour to solidify a bit more, for more of an ice cream experience, and less of a soft serve one.

~~{~@  Danielle

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Coconut + Olive Sugar Scrub

Last year when I was Christmas shopping, I stopped in Bath and Body Works. I love that place, and almost always go crazy trying out all those tester bottles of lotions, perfumes, and soaps. And don't even get me started on candle-smelling. (Oh my gosh, the mint chocolate chip!)

Anyways, it was there that I first discovered sugar scrubs. I was just going along, sampling basically everything, when suddenly my life got much better. It's shocking how smooth my skin gets from that stuff! But at $16 a bottle (I'm on a tight budget) I decided to forego the indugence until a later time.

But on the ride home, the wheels in my head started turning. There had to be a easy, cheaper way to recreate the magical lotion. And so I did. Now this is not much like the chemical-laden stuff at Bath and Body Works, but it completes the job with the same outcome. Maybe if you want the same consistency as the stuff at the store, substitute your favorite lotion for the oils. I have not tried this, so let me know if it works!

 I like to use this on my legs after I shave. It makes them feel like butter! This also makes a cute gift for hostesses, party favors, etc.

Coconut and Olive Sugar Scrub

1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 Tbsp. Coconut oil

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Add extra oil if you'd like a more spreadable consistancy. Store in an air-tight container, and avoid allowing liquids into container.

To use:
Rub the scrub against skin in a back and forth motion. Wash off with washcloth or running water.

~~{~@  Danielle

Friday, July 4, 2014

Homemade Ketchup

Hello Everyone, and happy Fourth of July!
I have a last minute recipe for all your barbecues today, which works out well because this is the type of recipe perfect for last minute needs!

This homemade ketchup is not only easy, but it's also at least a million times better than store bought. Not only is it more delicious, but also, it's waaaay more healthy. No high fructose corn syrup and no preservatives. Hallelujah!

This condiment also is a bit thicker than the stuff you buy at the store. If the thickness bothers you, maybe add a bit more water about a teaspoon at a time, until it's to your liking.

The contrast between this recipe and Heinz Ketchup is so huge even in appearence. Below is a picture of Heinz.
Notice how it lacks texture and the deepness of color that the homemade retains. Well, if this discussion hasn't convinced you, it's convinced me! I'm never going back!

Of course, I could brag on this ketchup all day because, it's not really my own recipe, I've just veryslightly modified it. To try out the legit recipe and visit the totally awesome blog from which I extracted the formula, visit Edible Sound Bites.

Homemade Ketchup        Makes about 1 cup.
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Cumin
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tiny pinch cloves
1 larger pinch salt
1 can tomato paste

1) In a small saucepan over medium- low heat, dissolve sugar in water.
2) Stir in vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and salt until they are dispersed throughout the sugar water.
3) Remove from heat and stir in tomato paste.
4) Store in an air tight container in the fridge.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Best Creamy Peanut Butter

Okay, I know, I know, I know. Everyone and their uncle has seen a tutorial for one ingredient peanut butter. I don't know about you, but every time I tried the one ingredient variation, it turned out rather grainy.

As a girl who's grown up on Jiff- style peanut butter *hides behind hands* I've become accustomed to the silky smoothness and slight sweetness of highly processed peanut butter. So, I took on the challenge. Shown above is a picture of the peanut butter about 3/4 of the way through processing, as you can see, it still is quite grainy. If any [wackos] out there prefer crunchy or grainy peanut butter, feel free  process for a shorter amount of time, or stir in extra peanuts after processing is complete

The Best Peanut Butter
2 c. Dry Roasted Unsalted Peanuts
1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 pinch salt

Process all ingrrdients an a strong food processor until desired consistancy is reached.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks.