Summertime To-Do List

So, yesterday I came across a fun Summer To-Do List on this lovely blog, and just had to do one of my own. I dream about summer all year round, thinking of what I want to bake, make and do once the silly cold decides to high tail it’s way out of Memphis. Not much of a winter fan, here. I would much rather spend my days running around barefoot.

That being said, I am also a big to-do list fan. Cross it out, check it off, and it feels so good. So, let’s combine the two, shall we?

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1. Get plugged in, in Memphis. aka: volunteer

2. Bake a pie from scratch. Like this one.

3. Try out some freelance writing

4. Go to the beach often. very often.

5. Get a J.O.B. Finally feeling settled from being back from Switzerland. Now it’s time to do work.

6. Read some good books. One Thousands Gifts and Seven are on the list. More suggestions, please!

7. Play tennis again. The one sport that my husband and I are evenly matched (thank goodness!)

8. A tan is always welcome

9. The house. Yes, the whole house is on the to-do list. furnish, paint and beautify.

10. Sign up for another mud run. We do one every year, and they are a blast!

11. Host a cookout

12. Make these berry s’mores pronto. I mean, look at them!

What’s on your summer to-do list?

Have an awesome day!! –Ashley

 

 

 

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A Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

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This week we’ve had a few fun things happening. One, our nephew will be coming soon!! yay!! Two, a good friend came in yesterday to stay with us from out of town, and three, we are pretty much done with painting the kitchen cabinets! (holla!) No more plastic wrap, a fridge in the middle of our kitchen, or painting awkward cabinet corners. We are ELATED. 

With so much goodness, I thought chocolate chip cookies were in order. And lucky me, I stumbled across the greatest recipe. I am convinced that these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Bakery worthy, even.  Big, soft, chewy, chocalatey, with a slight crisp on the outside. Everything a cookie was made to be. And oh my gosh, I ate like 13 of them. Baking went something like make a dough ball, eat a dough ball, make a dough ball, eat that dough ball.

Plus, they were really simple!

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From Smitten Kitchen

2 cups white/all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips

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Preheat oven to 325.

In a medium size bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a larger bowl, beat melted butter and sugars until well mixed. Add in the vanilla and eggs and continue to beat until it forms a creamy mixture.

Mix in the dry ingredients until well combined. Then, with a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough on a well-greased cookie sheet, keeping a few inches in between each.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool (or break one on “accident” and eat it because you can’t have a broken cookie…)

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Pour yourself a big glass of milk, and enjoy! So, so good.

–Ashley

Raw Chocolate Berry Treat

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Nate and I have made it! We conquered the 16 hour travel day (yeesh), and have made it home to Memphis. Jet lag is currently reigning on my parade, as was expected, so I am going to keep this post short and sweet.

So, let’s talk about the sweet. I am not sure whether this yummy treat would be considered a pie, a cookie, a cookie bar, a pie bar, a treat bar? I really don’t know. But what I do know is that it is healthy and can kick your sweet tooth goodbye. And those are two very good things.

I found this recipe on an awesome blog, the Wellness Mama, and was excited to try it.  Sadly, I didn’t get around to making the whipped cream that was also listed with the recipe, but think that you should definitely do it! I am sure it would be delicious.

This treat was super easy and required very little.

All you need is:

  • 1 cup raw almond meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter (melted)
  • 4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey, or to taste
  • Berries of your choice

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Mix together the almond meal, coconut oil or butter, cocoa powder and honey in a bowl. It should result in a somewhat crumbly consistency. You can always add more melted butter/coconut oil if needed. Then, press the mixture in an 8×8 pan.

Allow to cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, then top with a big helping of your favorite berries. Drizzle a little extra honey on top if you’d like.
A perfect afternoon pick-me-up!

Hope you enjoy! And I really hope all of my sentences made sense, because I am too tired to proofread. Have a wonderful day! –Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

Nutella & Peanut Butter Banana Panini

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If you are needing a snack, you should make this. If you are needing some breakfast, make this. If you are just needing a pick me up, make this. Whatever you are needing….make this. You will lick the knife, lick your fingers and probably even lick the plate…and you will wish you had ten more in front of you. I don’t even lie.

I try to eat as healthy as I can for the most part. You know, no processed foods. Lots of veggies. Lots of fruit. Good sources of protein. And I love it…..but once in awhile I get a craving. And sometimes it is good to give into those cravings simply because it puts a smile on your face.

Enter this lovely, ooey gooey sandwich.

The hubs and I made it on Sunday when we cooked brunch together. So much fun, by the way. He whipped up the healthy portion of the meal. Sweet potato hash and fried eggs, and I took on the wonderful duty (or privilege) of making these bad boys. They are easy peasy, and you will love them! The key to making these is to be generous. With everything. Peanut butter. Nutella. Bananas. Butter. All of it. There are no measurements needed. I will leave that up to you :)

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees (if you don’t have a panini maker).

Switzerlandmonth2 036editAfter cutting 2 slices of fresh bakery bread, butter one side on each slice and place facing down on the plate. Then, smother one piece with peanut butter, and one piece with Nutella.

Switzerlandmonth2 043editkeepCut up however many bananas you see fit, and pile them on top.

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Then place in the panini maker, or in the oven for about 7-10 minutes.

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Switzerlandmonth2 055edit yum.yum.yum. Making this was one of my best decisions! Enjoy! –Ashley

Healthy Sweet Tooth Smoothie

bluesmoothienewHello all! Hope you enjoyed a great weekend! Yesterday I returned back home from a trip to my parents, and it was wonderful. There was lots of coffee sippin, kitchen experimenting, money spending and couch sitting…all the things you need for a perfect weekend :) My mom and I tackled a homemade apple pie, which was WAY easier than I thought it would be and we spent probably too much time bouncing from one antique store to another. Going antiquing may be one of my favorite things to do. It’s like a treasure hunt. Sometimes you strike out but other times you come out on top, and with the neatest things. Luckily, we had a successful trip and I scored a few awesome finds that I am excited to share with you later!

Another thing we like to do at home is make smoothies. We are big smoothie people, and how can you blame us? They are awesome :) You can get so many good for you foods into one glass and it is a great, sneaky way to get your veggies in as well. Smoothies can be a great, light pick-me-up when you need a snack, or you can make them a little heartier and use them for a quick breakfast. The options are endless!

My current smoothie obsession is one I came up with in order to kick a sweet tooth craving, and it has seemed to work thus far! The directions are kind of loose, because I usually just wing it. But you can’t really mess it up! Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your liking. All you need is:

a splash of milk (or almond milk)

1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Shake of cinnamon…just a little shake will do

2 tsp. peanut butter

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 banana

four or five ice cubes

handful of fresh spinach

Put all the ingredients in a blender, and mix it up! It is delicious and the cocoa powder is great for tricking me into thinking that I am drinking a not so good for you drink, but it’s not true! Next on my list is a kale smoothie, with other ingredients of course because that would be gross. But I think it can be done! Hope you have a wonderful Tuesday– Ashley

 

//link parties//

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

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Hello friends! Take a look at these beauties! These are what days off are made of. One of the best things I can think to do on a day off from work is to sit on my booty all day get in the kitchen and bake like a mad woman. Sweets are by far the most fun to make because you can lick the bowl. Don’t you agree?

I really didn’t feel like venturing out on this particular day, so I googled a couple ingredients that were just hanging out in my pantry to see if they could be put to good use. Luckily, good ole’ Google led me to this yummy recipe which I ended up tweaking a little to make these guys. I like to pretend they are healthy because I made them with white/wheat flour, but I think the sugar and chocolate chips cancel that out. OH WELL…they are delicious. I brought them to work the next day in order to prevent me from consuming them all and the plan worked very nicely. They were all eaten up :)

For these cookies you will need:

1 cup of white/whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1 large egg at room temperature

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or more if you want!)

Preheat your oven to 350. Get those cookie sheets ready and spray them down with non-stick spray/parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Next, pour in the flour mixture little by little until well mixed. Then, add in those dry ingredients: oats, pecans and most importantly, the chocolate chips! Mix until “just incorporated”. Finally, you will form some yummy cookie dough balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 13-15 minutes, and allow to cool afterwards. Waft in the smell of freshly baked cookies, then dig in!

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— Ashley

Raw Granola Bars

Today is wonderful.

It is an absolutely perfect fall day. I currently have the smell of oatmeal pumpkin chocolate chip cookies filling the house, Nathan is watching some Sunday football and the sunshine is just pouring through the windows. Does it get any better than this?? I think not :)

Now this has zip, zero, zilch to do with what I am talking about today, but the thought was too wonderful not to share. I LOVE FALL.

What I AM talking about today, though, is granola bars. Nathan and I love them, we really do, but we have had to boycott them for awhile since they are usually full of sugar and don’t offer much nutritional value. It was a sad day when we gave them up, but after months of searching, I have finally stumbled across a recipe for granola bars (here) that I am not intimidated by. Don’t ask me why, but every time I would hop online to start looking for recipes I would get all nervous when I found one. Like there was no way I could make them and that I should just.stop.looking. So weird, I know. But thankfully, I conquered my fear and now I have my go-to recipe that is super tasty (and good for you!) and makes me happy happy happy.

These little guys don’t take much time to make, nor do they require too many ingredients. Ten minutes tops. And the recipe makes 8 squares, depending how big you cut them.

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First, you take a heaping cup of raw almonds. Grab your food processor and throw them in there :) Blend them for about 30 seconds until they are finely ground. They will be sort of powdery-ish, if that’s even a word.

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While the almonds are blending, boil some water in a saucepan and toss in a 1/2 cup of pitted dates. Allow to boil for about two minutes to soften the dates.

When the two minutes are up drain the dates and put them in the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients:

1/3 cup of peanut butter or nut butter of your choice

2 Tbs. chia seeds

1 Tbs. honey or pure maple syrup (honey seemed to work better for me)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Blend until everything is well combined. It is important that these bars have a sticky consistency. If they are too dry and crumbly, add a tad bit more nut butter. If they are too wet, you can add some more dry nuts to the mix.

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When you have acheived that sticky consistency, you are ready to form the bars. For this step, I used a 10″ bread pan. Place parchment paper or tinfoil at the base and around the sides of the pan. Empty the mixture into it, and press gently with your fingers. Then, pop it in the fridge and allow to set for about an hour before cutting the bars (you can store in an airtight container afterwards).

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Once cut, you are ready to dig in! And I promise, you are in for a treat. I have made these three times in the past two weeks and have officially memorized the recipe. They are that good. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Happy Fall!

xo Ashley

Simple Dark Chocolate Candies

So, what does someone write about for their first blog post?

Great question! I have no idea.

I just figured that I would start with something we all love. DARK CHOCOLATE. Yes! I am just so excited.

Dark chocolate is delicious and is a great go-to sweet when the cravings take control…. in moderation, of course :) And it is even better, believe it or not, when you get to put your own little twist on it! That is what is so fun about today’s little concoction; you can add pretty much whatever and it will taste great because it is covered in DARK CHOCOLATE. Are you getting the picture that I like dark chocolate?

I hope so.

Anyways, this recipe is super duper easy and makes about 15 candies

And it goes a little something like this…

First you are going to gather up your ingredients, like so

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Fill up your 1 cup with chocolate chips…to the brim people! I like to go with the good stuff, like Ghirardelli (yes, I had to look at the above picture three times to make sure I spelled it right).

You are then going to melt the chocolate in either a double boiler or in a bowl over simmering water.

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Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty. Or the nutty-gritty, if you will. Combine the following into a small bowl (and give it a good mix with your hands) while waiting for the chocolate to melt:

1/4 cup dried cherries (try to find ones with no-added sugar)

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup whole, raw almonds

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

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Pour the chocolate over everything, making sure to coat evenly.

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Grab a tablespoon and start plopping them onto some parchment paper, and just TRY to not lick your fingers in the process. I dare ya.

(word to the wise: you may want to put a cookie sheet underneath the paper, making transportation from the counter to the freezer a much easier process)

You should have seen the balancing act I was performing when trying to do this without a cookie sheet…not cute.

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Find a nice little nook in the freezer for them to hang out for awhile….and after about 30 minutes or so VOILA! They are ready to be eaten. Feel free to adjust the recipe as you see fit! I also thought dried blueberries with some cashews would be a good combo. You can just go crazy with it!

Now go make some! You will be glad you did :)

xo Ashley

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