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Chocolate Peppermint Bark

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Soooo, I took one thing and I made it another thing.  If you've read this blog for some time, you may recall a chocolate peanut butter bark recipe that I made this summer.  That was so tasty that I decided to "Christmas-fy" that same bark!  Or should it be "holiday-fy"?  That doesn't seem to roll off the tongue quite as easily.

Since our temperatures have been hovering around the 50 and 60 degree range and I haven't been chugging my Starbucks peppermint lattes, I felt like I needed an extra boost to really get into the holiday season.  Anything containing candy canes are immediately festive in my opinion.  Let's pair that with dark and white chocolate swirled together in a pretty pattern and I am sold.  This recipe is an excellent way to use up all those extra candy canes during (or even after!) the holidays.

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No-Churn Salted Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

 

I think Pandora's box has been opened and it can't be closed.  I simply can't un-know how to make this ice cream at home!  Now this is a problem because it means I have way to much ice cream in my apartment right now, and being that it's pretty hot outside, I'm craving exactly all of it.  It's probably poor form to eat everything in one sitting. Right? ...

I'm not really a vanilla ice cream kind of gal, so when I decided to make this ice cream, I knew I would need some mix-ins.  After some thought, I decided to go with a salty-sweet theme because how can you ever go wrong with that?  I had kosher salt and chocolate chips on hand and I thought those went perfectly well with the creamy base.  And oh, did I forgot to mention that this ice cream base is made with ONLY 2 ingredients?  TWO!  I die.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bark

 

Who do I think I am, keeping this wonderful treat from you guys?  I'm the worst. I know.

Truth be told, I was planning on making these a few weeks ago.  But um, I ate one of the ingredients before I could make it...Let me explain.  It all started out with me just "taste-testing" these mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's.  Any good cook knows that you're supposed to taste your ingredients!

Well.  This spiraled into me eating quite a few of these peanut butter cups over the course of a few days.  I found that I enjoy these more than regular peanut butter cups because the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter is right up my alley (i.e. there's more chocolate!).  So anyhow, I'm minding my business eating these peanut butter cups, telling myself that I really only need to save about a half cup for my recipe.  And then I realize that I had no more mini peanut butter cups.  Oops.  So I took another trip to TJ's and replaced my beloved treats.  I kept these ones under lock and key and refused to open the container until I started to make this recipe.

Soon, I was rewarded with this amazingly easy and delicious snack.  It was definitely worth the wait and was just as addictive as eating mini peanut butter cups by themselves!  I am already envisioning all the variations of these that I will be making.  Do not be surprised if you see a few chocolate bark recipes popping up on this blog in the coming months.  You've been warned!

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Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

 

I really want to be so ready for Cinco de Mayo, but truly, I'm not.  My taco and nacho game are not on point.  I'm so sorry!

But but but... If you invite me to your party, I can redeem myself and bring you this fresh-to-death Strawberry Basil Lemonade.  Not only does it allow me to add basil, which is pretty much my spirit herb, but it's an amazingly tasty beverage.  I would sincerely recommend adding a little (or a lot of) tequila in there to jazz things up if you dare.  Could you say "No" to a party guest like me? Didn't think so.

If a Cinco de Mayo party isn't your jam, you could enjoy this lemonade straight up, with no liquid courage added.  It's still a unique combination of flavors that remind me of those summer days which are allegedly approaching.  Never fear.  I don't actually need an excuse to put strawberries, lemon, and basil in all the things and then guzzle it down!  I dare you to try it too.

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Cinnamon & Sugar Almonds

Cinnamon & Sugar Almonds

 

"I need deez."

That's what I said to myself when I saw this recipe.  Actually, I said that when I saw quite a few recipes on Dena's site, Oh! You Cook!  I was quite fortunate to be assigned Dena's food blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club because she pretty much makes everything that I want to eat. And because I'm definitely going to need that Chocolate Tart in a Macaroon Crust (for Easter, for the kids...that I didn't celebrate with), and that Lazy Lasagna (that I may be a little too lazy to make sometimes, but I have really really good intentions), and that Baked Lemon Herb Fish (I really need to make a fish dish soon because one cannot live on chocolate alone, although I seem to be testing that theory.)

After all this searching, I finally decided on the Cinnamon and Sugar Almonds.  I hadn't "candied" anything in a while and I have been trying to eat healthier recently because ALL OF THE SUGAR AND CARBS HAVE BEEN VISITING ME!  So anyhow, instead of making anything with chocolate or pasta (sadly), I decided that these almonds would be my gateway back into the Land of the Healthy.  There's a little bit of sugar and a little bit of spice and a lot of healthy protein.  So let's do this!

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Chocolate Coconut Sugar Scrub

In case you're wondering, you can eat this.

Not that I have tried it or anything.  I'm just saying...

I've begun an obsession as of late with bath scrubs.  I'm pretty sure it has to do with the weather being colder and other such things.  So imagine my surprise and excitement when I found this recipe to make my own sugar scrub.  I don't know if you know this, but those little pots of sugar, oil, and really nice scents can get pretty pricey.  Making my own would not only allow me to save a little money this holiday season, but I could also customize my scrub to my own liking.  I'm just winning all over the place.

Let's also think ahead and if you still need a holiday gift, you can make this, put it in a fancy package and boom!  You have solved your problem.  I did this myself this past weekend when my girlfriends and I had our annual Secret Santa gift exchange dinner.  That dinner was epic, as per usual.  Can we say "fried chicken and eggnog waffles" at Melba's in Harlem?  I'm still dying just thinking about that dish.  Trust me, you need it in your life.

I'm pretty sure you also need this scrub.  This scrub is a combination of chocolate and coconut and sugar.  Nothing can go wrong here.  Nothing.

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Candy Cane Vodka

This year, a few friends of mine decided to set up a Secret Santa exchange.  We got really into it and it ended up being more than awesome.  As I was deciding which gifts to give, Tracy from Shutterbean got all up in my face.  You know what she did?  She showed me how to make Candy Cane Vodka.  I was beside myself.

I'm not typically a fan of vodka.  Did you know that?  Probably not.  But I do make certain exceptions.  The first is for Strawberry Infused Vodka.  The second is for this Candy Cane Vodka.  I love the way it looks so pink and pretty.  It also tastes amazingly peppermint-y.  And it's hella strong.  Yeah, I said "hella".

Anywaysssss, I got super excited about this.  I knew I had to make this goodness for my Secret Santa and also the other ladies in the exchange.  Because why not share all this wealth?  I picked up some containers from Michael's (which, by the way, is the death trap for all things Christmas-y) and got to work.

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How To Roast Beets

Beets happen to be one of those things I sort of associate with an aluminum can (or in more recent years, a glass container).  Make no mistake.  I have no problem chomping down on those beets.  I have always been a fan of these lovely root vegetables.

However, I recently began wondering if I could roast my own beets.  I have no idea where this urge came from.  It's just one of those things I can't explain.  There are a lot of things I can't explain about myself, but let's not go there.

Let's talk about beets.  Roasted beets, specifically.  Roasted beets are tender and slightly smoky, yet slightly sweet.  They're one of my new go-to vegetables.  You can do a lot with them.  More on that topic coming in a future blog post...

This "recipe" is more of a guideline.  Before I woke up one day and decided to roast my own beets, I didn't realize how easy it would be.  I found out that the most difficult part was trying to get the red beet stain off my fingers.  After the first beet, I got wise and donned the latex gloves that I keep around to chop jalapenos.  This is a wise move, my friends.

I was able to find both red and golden beets at my local farmers market, so I snagged those and got to work on roasting them up!  Another smart move is to take those beet greens and saute them with some garlic and red wine vinegar.  Go on with your bad self.

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Balsamic Caramelized Onions

I've recently been introduced to the concept of "sprouted bread".  Did you know about this?  It's supposed to be good for you.  I'm into that.  I'm also into it being stored in the freezer.  Since I travel so much, I desperately need the freezer to store food so things won't spoil quickly.  I know, I know. I understand that this is not a new concept and you can pretty much freeze any type of bread you like. Don't rain on my parade.

Since this sprouted bread and I have been hanging out more often, I've become completely re-interested in grilled cheese. Grilled cheese with onions have been calling my name. Since I will eventually make French Onion Soup, but it's now summer and a hot soup may be out of the question, I will have to satisfy myself with a version of this grilled cheese. But wait! I need to caramelize some onions first. Let's make that happen so my grilled cheese dreams can become a reality.

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Popcorn in a Brown Paper Bag

Did I ever tell you about that time those lovely people at Patron sent me a care package? Yes indeed, they did.  Unfortunately, there was no alcohol involved in this gift.  What the heck, right?  Oh well.  I did receive the following:

  • 2 Tequila Patron champagne glasses (This pretty much elevates me to Baller status.)
  • Tangerine Rimming Sugar
  • Gingerbread cookie mix
  • Gingerbread house cookie cutter set
  • Mulling spices
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Caramel popcorn seasoning
  • Woven wood salad bowl
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