This Week’s Top 4

Hello, everybody! I hope you all had a fabulous Labor Day weekend. Let’s check out some links!

1. These Blueberry Lemon Glazed Doughnuts look absolutely delicious. And at only 119 calories each, that means I can eat two in a row if I make them, right? 😉

2. I always love a good DIY jar craft, and these glitter-ized tea light holders are no exception!

3. Somehow, I had never really eaten mango until a few months ago. Now I’m a total mango convert, so I’m diggin’ this 30 Magnificent Mango Recipes! list from Babble.

4. I actually haven’t tried out a raw recipe yet, but I have fun looking at them. I especially like the “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” videos on YouTube – for example, check out the episode on Mint Chip Ice Cream!

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This Week’s Top 4

I love reading other people’s blogs, and I always particularly enjoy link roundups. It’s nice to get suggestions from people on cool/interesting/cute things to read/watch! Therefore, I’ve decided to start doing roundups of my own. Each week, I’ll post a few things here that have caught my interest that hopefully you’ll enjoy as well. There probably won’t be four links every time; it just depends on what I’ve stumbled across that week! And I don’t really care if the content is old or new. As long as it’s interesting, it’s fair game. So without further ado, here are a few Internet findings I’d like to share:

1. “Peanut butter is one of those items that when people love it, they really love it; it borderlines obsession.” You said it, Huffington Post. Now somebody please bring me one of these desserts.

2. Ever wonder why you weigh less in the morning than you do at night? NPR explains.

3. Oh, how I wish Zagat had posted this video on making hot chocolate from scratch during the winter! It looks too easy and delicious though to wait until the colder months to make it, so I might just have to give it a try soon.

4. I seriously can’t get enough of Ray Charles, the blind golden retriever. If you haven’t heard about him, you have to check out his Facebook page. So much cuteness.

My Family’s Cookbook: Chocolate Chip & Orange Banana Bread

Hello, everybody! After a bit of hiatus, I’ve returned to the blog. I just graduated from college last weekend (wahoo!), and the past month has been a bit chaotic with finals, preparations for graduation, etc., but I’m happy to be back and blogging – especially because I have a wonderful recipe to share with you all: chocolate chip & orange banana bread.

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I don’t make breads all that often, so when I do, I prepare myself for something to go wrong. The thought process: it seems so easy, so something must go wrong. To my pleasure though, everything went smoothly, and the bread was a big hit! I made two loaves, and I’m not even sure if they lasted much more than 24 hours.

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I was planning on adding some pecans,but at the last minute I realized one of my friends is allergic to all nut-like products. Even though I plan on making at least one loaf with pecans next time, it’s a perfectly fine recipe without them! So I hope you try it out, and I’ll see you again soon!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3-4 mashed bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour milk (make it by adding 1/8 tsp. vinegar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 small bag (6 oz.) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  • Mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy.
  • Add milk.
  • Stir in baking soda, baking powder and flour.
  • When completely mixed, add the bananas, chocolate chips and orange.
  • Pour batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans and baked at 375°F for 30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake

I love shakes and smoothies, but I rarely make them. After having this one though, I have a feeling they are going to become a much more regular part of my life. This was my post-workout meal, so I wanted something healthy and protein-y. I’m also currently in the midst of a pretty serious peanut butter addiction (it’s actually starting to become a problem) and I had a few bananas that needed to be used STAT, so this recipe was basically calling my name!

I used almond milk, so it had some thickness to it but not a lot, which I liked. I also really enjoyed the cinnamon, but next time I make this, I might cut down on it juust a little – if you love cinnamon though, keep it all! Most importantly, it’s very filling and as an added bonus, it almost tastes like a dessert! So simple, yet so much perfection.

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Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake

Recipe adapted from Createlive

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 1 cup almond milk (or whatever kind of milk you want)
  • 1 banana, cut into slices
  • 1 Tbs. peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients, blend and enjoy!

Artfully Gifts & Chocolate: Bringing Out Chocolate’s Inner Diva

Chocolate: whether you’re feeling down, celebrating something special or just want to indulge a little, it’s always there for us. And at Artfully Gifts & Chocolate in Old Town Alexandria, VA, you can find it in all shapes, sizes and attitudes.

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The first Artfully Chocolate shop was established in 2007 by combining the talents of executive-turned-artist Eric Nelson and chocolatier Rob Kingsbury. As their website says, the combination produced something that was “Part art gallery, part chocolatier, part cocoa bar and completely fabulous!”

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The theme behind Artfully Gifts & Chocolate is the diva, which inspires many of its sweet creations. The menu features treats based on everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Charo, taking into consideration their personalities and physical attributes. For example, the Charo contains “Semi-sweet chocolate swirled with caramel and topped with whipped cream & Ghiradelli Caramel Sauce,” while the Liz Taylor includes “semi-sweet chocolate infused with lavender.” Each diva is available in milkshake or hot chocolate form. Looking for a recommendation? The Lana Turner milkshake is a great choice. As somebody who normally shies away from white chocolate, I had to give in to its white chocolate and blueberry goodness.

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The diva attitude can be found throughout the rest of the store as well. Photos of select divas line the walls and tables, and even the other miscellaneous treats and trinkets available for purchase show off their sassy sides, such as one chocolate bar that tells everyone: “My Thoughts on Cooking: Get Rich and hire Someone.” Words to live by.

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Once you’ve grabbed your dessert of choice, you can either enjoy it outside or at the hand-painted tables inside the shop. If you fall in love with the table you choose, you can even arrange to purchase it from the store.

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And if chocolate isn’t your main squeeze or you’re just in the mood for something else, Artfully Gifts & Chocolate provides something for everybody. There’s jewelry, cards, food, drink mixers and plenty of items if you’re looking to pick up a small gift for somebody.

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But Artfully Gifts & Chocolate isn’t just about selling; they’re here to teach, too. The shop hosts a chocolate and wine pairing class twice a month, as well as a chocolate tasting class from time to time. You can also schedule a private class if that’s more your style, or if you’re looking for the perfect gift, you can buy a coupon code that can then be used to purchase a class online.

And if you somehow haven’t found an option that works to satisfy your cravings yet, there’s always the chocolate and wine club. Subscribers receive a bottle of seasonal wine plus two chocolate bars each month, which you pick up at the store.

And one final thing to keep in mind: for all those who have a “Belly” rewards card, you can check in and earn some points here. All in all what I mean to say is: if you have any fond feelings about chocolate at all, Artfully Gifts & Chocolate is the place for you.

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My Family’s Cookbook: Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Hello, all!

Apparently I’ve been going through a salad phase lately, since the last two recipes I’ve made from the family cookbook have been salads, and today I’m bringing you a third! I suppose I’ll have to start branching out soon, but for today: more salad.

I had never actually made this dressing myself before, and it was quite yummy but one thing I noted was that it is super sweet. That wasn’t very surprising since the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar, but since the strawberries are sweet already, I think you could probably go with 1/4 cup of sugar for the dressing and be fine (my mom said the same thing, so we’ve got the mom stamp of approval on that statement). It’s quite scrumptious though, and the poppy and sesame seeds add a nice crunch to the salad. You could always use this as a base too and add all sorts of fun things to it! Blueberries, walnuts, feta cheese – the possibilities are endless!

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Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bag baby spinach
  • 1 large package of strawberries, sliced

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbs. poppy seeds
  • 1/2 C. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. scallions
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika

Instructions:

  • Combine all dressing ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • In large bowl combine spinach and strawberries.
  • Toss with dressing to taste.

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