Treat Yourself

This post was supposed to be published on Friday morning. However, after sitting down to my computer to put the finishing touches on it, I was immediately distracted by the awful events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. Now I’m not one to talk about politics, gun laws, mental health issues, etc., but a horrible event such as this cannot go unmentioned. It wouldn’t be right for me to post about delicious chocolate covered strawberries and how you deserve to treat yourself every once in awhile, while ignoring current events. My heart goes out to everyone that was affected.


A few weeks ago I was asked if I would be interested in trying some Harry & David chocolate covered strawberries. Never being one to turn down chocolate, I happily accepted and was thrilled to find a pretty teal box waiting for me when I got home from work last week. I’ve been so wrapped up in buying gifts and being in the spirit of giving, I haven’t taken much time to do anything for myself. So these strawberries were the perfect treat!


I’m always fascinated when perishable foods are shipped – I expect them to arrive in less than stellar condition, but I’m always pleasantly surprised. They always come with reusable ice packs, which are always handy in a household of runners. After admiring the box (which I absolutely plan on re-using for gifts!) and the pretty bow, I tore into the strawberries. Each strawberry had its own compartment, and was surrounded by foam to keep it in place. I imagine this helped keep the strawberries fresh and bruise-free, which brings me to my next point.


The strawberries were so fresh! These weren’t just your average grocery store sized strawberries – they were big, plump, and juicy. Though I love strawberries, I usually shy away from them at the grocery store for a few reasons; they go bad so quickly, and they are generally just not impressive. So cover some plump and juicy strawberries in chocolate, and you have yourself a winner. These strawberries had a mixture of white and milk chocolate and made a surprisingly thick coating. Admittedly I couldn’t wait and dug right in. While I love strawberries, the chocolate definitely stole the show for me – it wasn’t just chocolate simply used to cover the strawberries, it was delicious in it’s own right. I would absolutely purchase these for myself, or a friend!

So in this time of giving, make sure to take a time-out for yourself, too. You deserve it. And don’t forget… Life is for one thing – living.

Disclaimer: These chocolate covered strawberries were sent to me free of charge, in return for my honest feedback. All opinions are my own. 

Product Review: Ghiradelli Luxe Chocolates

Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, blogging rules. Specifically, food blogging. As a Featured Publisher and member of the Tastemaker program on Foodbuzz, I get to try yummy things every so often. A few weeks ago, I got a sample pack containing three flavors of Ghiradelli’s new luxe line of chocolates.

I’m a huge chocolate fan, so I jumped at the offer for a sample. I’m not big on candy, but I’ll never turn down chocolate. I especially won’t turn it down when there’s nuts involved. The three pieces I received were milk, hazelnut, and almond. Even though they were just little squares of chocolate, being the good fiancée that I am, I shared.

I was least excited about the milk chocolate, and most excited for the hazelnut. I’m a serious fan of hazelnuts, and it’s my go-to coffee flavor. I like almonds, too, but wasn’t expecting anything special, as a lot of chocolates have an almond variation. While milk chocolate is the most common, I always gravitate to dark – milk is just average in my eyes. So I started with my least favorite, and it was a great start. I knew that even if it didn’t get any better, it was at least pretty darn good! As I continued on to almond, the flavor grew. For both the almond and hazelnut, there was actually a lot of nut in the chocolate. Usually, the additional flavor is minuscule, but Ghiradelli didn’t hold back. Of course, hazelnut wound up being my favorite, but it barely won out over almond. While savoring each square, I began dreaming up recipes where these chocolates could be melted down and combined into pure deliciousness.

After sharing with my fiancé, I was disappointed there wasn’t more. The chocolate is super rich and creamy, in a simply decadent way. It definitely earned it’s “luxe” name. I’m looking forward to getting some to enjoy as a treat every so often!

Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Cupcakes

I decided to get adventerous with the making of these cupcakes. I took a base recipe from Recipe Girl and kind of ran with it. I think the hardest part was coming up with a name for my creation that wasn’t miles long!

I’d been holding off making baked goods for a few reasons. One, being in super-saver mode I didn’t want to buy ingredients I didn’t have and all of the cupcakes on my to-do list had extra ingedients. I also hate baking when I don’t have somewhere to bring the goodies because some always go to waste.

So, since we saved a ton of money in groceries last week and were heading to a BBQ on Monday, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to make some cupcakes! While I made the cupcakes, my fiancé got started on his second batch of beer from the kit I had gotten him for Christmas. We had quite a nice little domestic Sunday afternoon.

The chocolate cupcake recipe I found actually mixed all of the ingredients together in a blender. As someone that still doesn’t have a stand mixer (hello wedding registry!), the idea of not having to do it by hand was amazing. I literally poured all of the ingredients into the mixer, turned it on, and waited. I did assist with the mixing a bit, but that’s really just because I’m impatient.

I decided to snazz up the regular chocolate recipe by adding espresso and hazelnuts. I was a little unsure at first if I should have just used hazelnut coffee, but I’m glad I went with the espresso and mashed hazelnuts. I didn’t brew the espresso, I just threw it in as a dry ingredient.

For the frosting, I decided to tackle a buttercream again. This time the hand mixer was a little nicer, and only spewed a bit of butter. All was well until I got to the actual icing of the cupcakes. I must have misplaced a piece of the pastry bag I just bought, so it’s basically unusable. We picked a tip and used a rubberband to hold it in place, but the tip was definitely too small to ice the whole cake. So I wound up just using a spoon and doing my ugly version. I really need to take a class or some lessons to get better at that!

I found the frosting recipe from a blog called Ming Makes Cupcakes, that has a ton of numbered cupcake recipes, and I seriously want to make them all. But I figured I’d do just one at a time.

They are definitely decadent cupcakes. I made them normal size and the batter only produced 10 cupcakes, so I made two batches and the icing was able to cover all 20 cupcakes. I definitely think they’re a one and done type cake, which I’m more than okay with!

Everyone at the BBQ that tried them was really impressed. It’s always nice to hear “oh man, these are awesome! Who made them?!?” when you’re at a gathering. My fiancé made a point to say he really enjoys when I deviate from the recipes and make them my own. I’m definitely becoming more comfortable with the idea of my own(ish) recipes, and I love it!

The base cupcake recipe is great if you’re pressed for time. You can pretty much add anything to snazz them up from regular chocolate. As for the icing, we all know buttercream can be made into pretty much any flavor, so get creative!

Go-To Chocolate Cupcakes
– makes 10 cupcakes –

1 cup flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup hot water
½ cup canola oil
1 large egg
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup of espresso*
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts*

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 12 regular-sized muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
2. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a blender. Cover with the lid and blend on medium-speed until blended. Pour in the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Cover with the lid and blend on medium-high speed until smooth and well-blended, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice.
3. Pour into prepared pan/cups, dividing evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of one cupcake comes out clean, 15-17 minutes.
4. Transfer to rack to cool for about 10 minutes, and then carefully remove cupcakes from the pan and set them on the rack to cool completely before frosting

* are my additions to the base recipe!

Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp coffee (I used espresso)

Blend all ingredients together
Frost cupcakes!

So happy nomzing!!

Happy Pi Day!

I wanted to name this post “The easiest pie you’ll ever make,” but since it’s Pi Day, I had to go with that, since without the day I probably wouldn’t have made pie. I don’t remember exactly where I got the recipe, but I’m sure it was one of my regular site visits.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this is the easiest pie you’ll ever make. Not only does it not require any baking, you use a pre-made crust, and two ingredients. I know this might sound blasphemous to the avid baker, but if you’re ever in a time crunch or feeling lazy, this is really a great recipe to have on hand.

I have never been a fan of math. So, it might seem odd that I am super excited that it’s Pi Day. You know, 3/14, which is 3.14, pi. But let’s be honest here; the mere thought of piE made it all worth the while to endure some “yay  math!” moments.

So to the recipe. This is a Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Pie. Sounds delicious? It is! And if you’re a fan of easy and delicious, this is definitely for you. It took me about 10 minutes to combine the ingredients, and then it just needed to set for 2 hours. Sure, mixing was a little labor intensive, but that was the extent of my manual labor.

With the combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and Cool Whip, how could you resist? I’ve recently had serious cravings for chocolate and peanut butter combinations, so this was right up my alley.

Of course, I varied a bit. Instead of using regular Cool Whip, I went for their light version, in hopes it would lighten the calorie and fat content of the pie just a smidgen. I also didn’t get a chocolate pie crust. Instead, I went with a graham cracker crust.

I brought the pie to my parent’s to have after dinner, and everyone loved it. My only complaint was that there seemed to be a little more crust than filling. But, the crust I got was a bit larger than normal (it was advertised as so, at least), so I’m thinking that might be why. I also might not have mixed the peanut butter and Cool Whip together as well since my hands were getting tired. Oh, to have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. But it was still delicious!

So, next time you are in need of some pie, consider this recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Pie

1 16 oz. jar of Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams *
1 8 oz. tub of Cool Whip
1 Keebler Chocolate Pie Crust
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

1. Empty contents of peanut butter into large mixing bowl, stir to soften.
2. Fold in Cool Whip until well-combined
3. Spoon mixture into pie shell, cover with plastic wrap, and place in freezer to set for 2 hours.
4. Top with peanuts, serve.

* if you don’t have this, just gently melt a few tbsp of semi-sweet chocolate chips into peanut butter.

Happy math nomz!

Easily Satisfy Your Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cravings

Almost daily, I get specific cravings for things. One minute I’ll want a burrito, the next I’ll want cereal. Or a buffalo chicken wrap. Or chocolate mousse cake. Or… you get the idea. Sometimes you just really want to eat something specific, and unfortunately in most cases you don’t get it.

The past few days I’ve had a consistent craving for chocolate and peanut butter. Specifically, in the form of a chocolate peanut butter bar. Knowing I had a recipe tucked in my kitchen drawer at home from a friend (she brought them to our Halloween party and I fell in love ) made it impossible to stay away. So today after the gym, I ran to check how much confectioner’s sugar I had.

After pouring what I had left (only one cup), I realized I was going to have to make some adjustments since I was already committed to making them, as the recipe called for three times the amount of sugar that I actually had.

This is seriously the easiest recipe I’ve ever made. There is no cooking, baking, etc. Unless you want to count making sure the butter is melted and melting chocolate. But I put both of those things in the microwave for a total of 30 seconds, so I’d hardly call that cooking.

So next time you’ve got a peanut butter and chocolate craving, find yourself some peanut butter, vanilla extract, chocolate, butter, graham crackers, and confectioner’s sugar, and make the bad boy below. I promise you’ll be glad you did!

Super Quick & Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

3 cups confectioners sugar
3 sticks of melted butter
1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cup crushed graham crackers
3 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except chocolate in 9 x 11′ Pyrex dish (Smush it with the back of your spoon)
Melt chocolate (about 30-45 seconds in the microwave, in 15 minute increments to stir)
Spread chocolate over top of peanut butter concoction
Cool in the fridge until hard
Slice & Enjoy!

Happy nomzing!!

Valentine’s Spice

For Valentine’s day, my fiance and I decided to go low key; maybe just a card, and then we’d get some Thai food for dinner. So, I thought it’d be nice to at least make something to go along with my card. I scoured the internet for some spicy cupcake recipes, and surprisingly didn’t find much. I did, however, happen upon a recipe from Vanilla Garlic.

I was overly excited to make this recipe for two reasons; 1. it started off with boxed cake mix (cheating, I know. But so easy!) and 2. it had chipotles in adobo sauce in it – one of my favorites!

So, after going to the gym and running 6-7 miles each for our half marathon training, we somehow mustered up enough energy to go out for Thai food. When it comes to spice, neither of us skimp. The particular place we went to, Thai Kitchen, offers spice in their dishes on a level of elephants from one through five. When I first started going there I went small; only a level two. By now, though, I’m up to five and loving it. We like to joke that if you aren’t sweating when eating Thai food, you’re doing it wrong. I also find that you eat less when it’s spicy, and I’ll never complain about that!

Enough rambling about my favorite Thai restaurant, back to the cupcakes! These were super easy; I only needed one actual chipotle pepper and some of the adobo sauce. I now need to search for some chipotle friendly (and quick and easy) recipes so I can make one for dinner this week. Other than that, they were just plain chocolate cupcakes. They didn’t use any frosting, though. Instead, I combined cinnamon and powdered sugar, and coated the tops with that. For my man, I used some decoration frosting and wrote I ❤ You on 5 of the cupcakes.

They were surprisingly good! I was actually a bit nervous, since I’d never combined spice and chocolate. I know it’s a big thing, and those Aztecs knew what was up, but I just wasn’t sure if my palate would appreciate it. Well, it did! The spice was a nice note in the background; the adobo sauce gave it a little bit of a smoky flavor, and then there was just a little bit of a kick at points as well. I also added chocolate chips into the batter, which was a nice melty gooey surprise as well.

While my family was skeptical about the spice and chocolate combination, I’m glad I went through with it and made them. Both my fiance and I loved them, and I’m looking forward to devouring the rest!

You can find the recipe below… happy spicy nomzing!

Chipotle Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes

1 Box of Dark Chocolate cake mix
Whatever the box tells you you’ll need. Probably eggs, water, and oil
1-2 tablespoon pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (base on your heat tolerance)
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, plus some extra
powdered sugar

1. Mix the cake mix as the box says.
2. Place the chipotle peppers in a food processor and puree. Add two tablespoons to the mix. Add the cinnamon.
3. Scoop into cupcake papers. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
4. Let cool. Combine the powdered sugar and some cinnamon to taste in a bowl, and scoop out, or sift on top of cupcakes.