Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recipe | Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Whew!  I'm wiped. I've got allergies or a cold or something making me sniffle AND I spent the entire day shopping for the kitchen.  {with 3 kids in tow, mine + a friend} We went all over town, showrooms, appliance stores, you name it.  I went with my crude drawings and measurements and responded more times than I care to remember that "no, I'm not working with a contractor, I'm the contractor on this project." and "please, kids, this is not a playground." I'm at the stage where most estimates are in and they are pretty much all over budget, now I need to prioritize and scale back on the less important items. It's fairly reminiscent of planning a wedding.  Not willing to skimp on the dress, so nix the extra flowers on the pews at church.  It isn't easy because I know what I love and it's not the stuff they sell at Lowes {no disrespect to Lowes or any of their products}.   Today lights were ordered, also a dishwasher {yawn}, and I found a stove that I'm 99% certain will work.  But I'll save all that for another post.  Leave you in suspense!  Ok, what was that about peanut butter cups?!?!  Yes, yes, those little things... Highly important blog recipe sharing here...

When my friend, Tiffany, pinned this recipe from Blue Eyed Bakers for crunchy, salty, chocolate peanut butter cups, I didn't waste a minute whipping up a batch. They are an easy, no bake, perfectly deletable treat to devour and share with friends.  I'm pretty sure they will make a repeat performance at Christmas time when I bake for friends and neighbors.  I'd like to try them with dark chocolate next time.  

Peanut Butter Cups
Recipe from Blue Eyed BakersMakes 26 mini or 8 regular
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup whole milk
Sea salt
Line a mini muffin tin with papers (you could also use a regular muffin tin if you prefer).
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter & peanut butter together for 45 seconds.  Stir until smooth.  Add graham cracker crumbs and sugar and mix to combine.  Distribute mixture evenly between the prepared muffin cups.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set peanut butter layer.
After the peanut butter has chilled, combine chocolate and milk in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 25 second intervals until chocolate is just melted.  Stir until smooth.  Distribute chocolate evenly over the top of the peanut butter layer.  Sprinkle with sea salt and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.  Store covered in the fridge.

ps. I ate my last two writing this post, thank you very much.
pps. Adding the recipe index tab above has made me realize the imbalance of cooking to baking recipes on this blog.  I plan to remedy that.  More main meal recipes to follow. I think. Ha!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Kitchen Paint Colors | Version 2.0

Oh no, it's happening again.  My indecisiveness is getting the better of me.  For those of you around a year ago, you listened patiently to my endless woes regarding what to paint the exterior of our home.  Well, my apologies, because I'm about to put you through it again, but this time with the kitchen.  I confidently shared my choices for cabinet and wall colors last week.  Then I called to schedule my painters.  A little doubt started to creep in.  Then I spent an afternoon in a bookstore this weekend and saw a pretty room painted in a perfect shade of greyish, maybe a bit greenish, white.  Hmmmm. more doubt.  The truth is, if I was building from scratch I have NO doubt I would choose a white kitchen. It's classic and clean and exudes order and practically.  Things I want in my kitchen.  However, ours is not a new home.  The style is very much a colonial farmhouse.  We don't have white trim, and all of a sudden the thought of a white, albeit off white, kitchen no longer felt right for THIS house.  I began to study my pinterest boards and found I have pinned as many gray kitchens as I have white.  So... the search now begins for a new cabinet color and a new wall color and I'm taking you along for the ride.  Brace yourself!  Here's some inspiration...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

recipe | dark chocolate chunk cookies

Oh my! A couple weeks ago I had it bad, a rather uncontrollable, unexplainable, need for a decadent chocolate treat.  Cake seemed too fancy and chocolate chip cookies not sufficiently chocolaty. We have a small bakery in town that just sells cookies and cupcakes.  The owner makes a really good chocolate, chocolate chip cookie that is perfect with a cup of coffee {Starbucks sits right below her bakery}.  I wanted to try recreate a similar cookie at home. I combined ideas from a few recipes and ended up with these slightly crisp on the outside, gooey and chewy on the inside, chocoholic cookies.  They are perfect as is, but if you want to make them insane, dip 'em in a little ganache.  You'll either love me or hate me for sharing this, but I had to get it down so I didn't forget, you know, in case when I'm struck by a repeat craving...


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate chunks, divided
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • {for ganache: 1/2 cup heavy cream + 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped}

  • directions
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt HALF of the chocolate chunks with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla; mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in remaining chocolate chunks.  Scoop batter using an ice cream scoop; place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces begin to crack, about 15 minutes. Transfer on parchment to wire racks. Let cool 5 minutes. Makes 12-14 cookies. {For ganache ~ bring cream just to a boil, remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk till melted, cool slightly and then dip in edge of cookies}. *Tip: I use Ghirardelli Chocolate + Cocoa*  
  • printable recipe

ps.  I'm working on populating my new blog template.  My mission was to simplify + organize.  I added a stream to my Instagram pics and I'm working to create a complete recipe index.  I heard you!  I'm working on it!! I need it for myself too!! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

please excuse the mess...

sorry, i'm in the midst of switching to a new template and i've made a little mess in the process.  all will be sorted out sooner or later.  :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Recipes | Summer Fun | Farmer's Market Meals

It is hard to believe we are heading into the end of July.  We've had picture perfect days full of quintessential summertime memory making material -- bike rides, pool time, frozen treats, trips to baseballs games, adventures at amusement parks, spontaneous outings and plenty of time with friends.  Moments I could burst seeing my children carefree, with their dirty knees and sweaty faces, looking so happy. But we've also had our share of days when the sweltering temps have gotten the better of us, keeping us inside where battles ensue over what show to watch on TV, where whiny demands have had me teetering on the brink of insanity, and where sibling spats erupt without a moment's warning.  The house seems in a perpetual state of disarray with goggles and swim suits and towels and Crocs and Popsicle sticks turning up in the most unusual places.  That's the just the reality of motherhood.  When it's good, it's really, REALLY, good and when bad, you pray. Haha.  Don't worry, I pray and give thanks for the good too!! :) All. The. Time.

One of the things I most enjoy about summer is the produce and it's been INCREDIBLE this year.  I'm certain I've eaten my weight in cherries and peaches.  I look forward to our Sunday trips as a family to the farmer's market.  I nearly did cartwheels when I saw the arrival of tomatoes this past weekend.  FINALLY!  We shop, we people watch {I'm forever curious about what people are cooking} and we listen to live music while Charlie eats his snow cone and Andrew nibbles on a warm waffle. Good times.  I personally find the prices high, so I'm pretty selective.  I love to shop local and organic, but it has to taste better than what I can buy for a lot cheaper in the grocery store.  My favorite things to pick up are corn, tomatoes, fresh bread, artisan cheese, and homemade pasta.  This weekend I couldn't resist a bunch of gorgeous peaches too.

I like the challenge of thinking up what to make based on what I see and what looks best. I do have a couple new favorite recipes, that are perfect for days when you've been to the farmer's market...

Roasted Panzanella Salad

Peach + Goat Cheese Pizza
{Recipe calls for nectarines, I used peaches along with Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough}


Monday, July 16, 2012

Kitchen | Lighting Options

Our kitchen makeover is moving at a snail's pace, wait, no, that implies it is indeed moving, no, I'd say it has been at a bit of a stand still.  Part of the reason is I haven't had the time or motivation to really begin.  Another part is I promised myself to start living on a budget.  I haven't been doing too well on that front either.  Too many cute clothes, fabrics, lamp shades etc. out there each day tempting me.  Curse you, pinterest!!  This week though, I'm calling to schedule the carpenter for the shelves and our painters for the cabinets.  Here are the colors I've decided on {I think}...

farrow + ball pointing on cabinets

farrow + ball off white no. 3 on walls

Even though, occasionally, I'll come across painted cabinets in a different shade and reconsider...

But then I'll see
 a pretty creamy white and I'm back on board again...

So, onto lighting....

I'm going to replace the hanging lanterns over my island with two brass pendants.
I've narrowed it down to 3 choices.
I have a favorite. but would love to get your vote.
So here they are...

Option No. 1

Option No. 2

Option No. 3

all lighting from Circa

ok, kindly cast your ballots now...
thank you!! :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Boys of Summer

if you can't beat the heat, you might as well make the most of it.  my oven has stayed off, we've slept on top of our covers, taken multiple showers a day, and played in the sun....

i will learn to hold my phone in landscape when filming, i will learn, i will...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!!

I think July 4th is one of the greatest holidays.  All the patriotic pride, the old fashioned + iconic summertime traditions, parades, cookouts, fireworks, what's not to love.  I don't have a ton of July 4th memories growing up.  Probably because my parents are European and we didn't have a local firework celebration until I was much older.  I know Andrew really looks forward to all the 4th festivities.  He begins asking me as soon as school is out what dessert I'll be making this year.   I snapped a ton of photos the last couple days.    Here's a peek at our two day {simple} celebration....

I decorated Charlie's bike while he napped yesterday.  He was soo excited when he woke up, but as soon as he realized Andrew decorated his scooter, he had to have his scooter decorated too. Brothers.

Our village fireworks were on Tuesday night. Jimmy and I were torn about how to spend the evening. We had tickets to see Jimmy's favorite musician in concert about an hour away.  I hated to miss our town's fireworks, hated for the boys to miss it, and worried about leaving them with a sitter, so I canceled on my hubs at the last minute.  I stayed and took the kids to the park and he went to the concert.  Alone.  Boo. He understood and didn't given me a hard time, but I felt a little bad for him.  Any other night {so long as it didn't interfere with a holiday, kid's activity, birthday, etc.} and I would have been there. Happily.

Today we headed to nearby Ault Park for the bike, scooter, stroller parade.  The boys found the fountain full of bubbles on arrival.  They went a little crazy. I mean head first into the bubbles.  I lost Andrew, then I lost Charlie and discovered he'd landed in the fountain.  He was fine, but not happy.  He was soaked and ready to go before the parade started.  Luckily he was quick to turn his mood around. But not before he tore his contestant number off his back, see picture below.  I think he actually tore it off, crumpled it up, and stomped on it... You know those moments when every single child around you is behaving like an angel and yours, well, yours just isn't.

Those are not tattoos on Charlie, but Avenger band-aids.  No boo-boos underneath them either, he's just making a fashion statement.

It was SOOOOOOOO hot.  Sweaty faces + hair.  Thankfully I hadn't showered or bothered with makeup, both would have been useless.

There were 180 children in the parade.  They did a total of 3 laps while Yankee Doodle Dandy boomed from the speakers on the stage.

A certain shirtless child of mine kept going after the rest or the parade ended.  Maybe 10 laps.  Clearly having the time of his life.  His tumble into the bubble fountain long forgotten.

Hey Charlie, the parade is over buddy.   There were, of course, the over achievers, showing the rest of us up...

But we didn't walk away empty handed.  Even Andrew's more modest decorations earned him a medal for  "best decorated" in his age group...

The rest of the day I spent playing hostess to my little family of four.  We had a simple dinner outside. Salad, burgers, fresh lemonade and wine....

Table set with paci, sippy cup and a jar of pickles.  I swear it looked cute before we sat down.  But this is real life, not a magazine, there is a BIG difference!  :) {And yes, Elizabeth, this would be the second time in one week we are eating the same salad!!}

I rarely, RARELY, like a picture of myself, but this one of C and me, I love.  Wish Andrew was there though, he was still busy eating.

We ended the day on a very sweet note!! Happy Birthday, USA!!