Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bars

We love chocolate and we love peanuts/PB, so when Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bars came up on Sally’s Facebook page, it definitely went on the “recipes to try” list. I had bought almond meal for a previous recipe that I never actually made, and I had bought dates for another round of Date Cake, so we actually had all of the ingredients necessary (although regular sized chocolate chips vs minis).

I was tempted to just eat the honey/PB/almond meal/vanilla mixture with the mixing spoon.

honey pb

I refrained. (Note: we made these a second time yesterday and added a little bit of molasses, which is also yummy)

I did try to chop up the chocolate chips a little, but FYI, the food processor really just makes chocolate dust, not smaller chips. It takes some patience and a little muscle to mix this stuff up well and then press it into the pan. Pretty sure mine were way thicker than Sally’s.

choc pb bars in pan

I’ve made some different granola/energy type bars before, this is the first one that included baking time. And after the baking time is a lot of cooling time, both on the rack and in the fridge. I opted not to add the extra chocolate on top, even though it looks pretty in the pictures.

baked choc pb bars

choc pb bar

Do they look yummy or what?!? As a matter of fact, they are incredibly yummy. I am planning to try and use them instead of snickers for my upcoming long run. The biggest problem I foresee with this plan is that they might get too sticky, but I’m willing to risk it.

 

Best Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cookies EVER!

I was in a chocolate mood. This is not unusual, but I was in a chocolate mood when the Sally’s Baking Addiction Facebook page posted a recipe for Salted Dark Chocolate Cookies and I noted that I had all of the necessary ingredients. I also have learned to actually read through recipes before beginning, which is how I saw that this recipe needs planning ahead. The batter needs to chill for at least 3 hours, then sit at room temp for 20-30 minutes.

FYI, these are very messy cookies to roll into balls.

messy cookie hands

I wasn’t sure about the “salted” part, but I did add a few flakes to each cookie.

salted cookie balls

They are so dark, it’s a little hard to tell if they look done. I’ve made them a few times now and they usually are, whether they look it or not.

choc cookies

They are SERIOUSLY the most amazing chocolate cookies we have ever had. And everyone we have shared them with has asked for the recipe. If they weren’t so dangerous, I would make them ALL OF THE TIME!

best choc cookies

I do like the salt, but only just a hint. Mixing chocolate chips and the chocolate chunks adds some different textures, which makes more of a difference than I had anticipated. These are at the top of the favorite cookie list!

 

Obedient Plant

Back when we first moved into this house, the landscaping was already beautiful. The people who lived here before us did a wonderful job getting it all started. In the front bed, there was a good sized patch of tall spikey light purple flowers. It was the perfect size for the first 3 years or so, and then I noticed that it was starting to take over the rest of the bed. Around year 5, I ripped much of it out. Each year it still came back, but not quite as thick.

Here is a picture from this year, it’s continues to hang around:

old obedient plant

The past few years, we’ve done a lot of reading and research on native plants and the benefits of converting from non-native ornamentals, to natives. Two years ago we even went to a local native plant sale and spoke to a Master Gardener, who recommended the Obedient Plant. Sounded like a good option, so we bought a small one, and planted it on the side of the house.

Imagine my surprise this spring, when I saw how big the plant had grown, and what it looked like…

new obedient plant

I’m not sure if you can tell, but there is a crap ton of Obedient Plant in there, and guess what, it’s the stuff I had ripped out of the front bed. I couldn’t believe it!!! The hubby and I ended up having a pretty good laugh over it, and I guess it’s a native, so that’s something. But who goes and plants the same thing she just ripped out? I guess I do.

 

 

Hey, Has Anyone Seen My Running Mojo?

Two weeks ago I ran a hilly 6 miler, and it felt pretty good. I even had some fun the last .5 after a neighbor offered me a cabbage which prompted some funny looks from passers by. It’s not every day you spot someone running with a water bottle in one hand and a cabbage in the other. I joked that some people get medals for running a 10k, but I got a cabbage.

run cabbage

I wore my new Hoka Clifton 3s and my new Sparkle Skirt, both of which felt good. Love the leg pockets on the skirt!

Two weeks ago was the last time I saw my mojo. I’ve gotten the majority of my miles in since then, not all, but I have had the internal battle each time. “I don’t want to run/don’t feel like running/feel old/feel creaky/have too much to do/it’s too hot/tired of the treadmill/etc/etc/etc vs I have to run/it’s good for me/I know I’ll be happy when I’m done/feel better when I’m done/be proud of myself/I signed up for this race so I have to train/I signed up for more than just a race WHAT WAS I THINKING/running is fun…

The constant internal battle is exhausting, so if you see my mojo, please tell it to come back because I miss it. Thanks!

Nifty Nifty Homemade Gift

Before my hubby gave me the beautiful large saute pan for my birthday, he gave me a homemade tool. He poked holes in the lid of a jam jar for me to use when shaking flour or confectioners sugar. I use it every time I make bread now. It is really way more handy than I think either of us realized it would be.

flour shaker

It’s hard to tell, but the holes are in the shape of an M, my initial.

2016 Garden Update

Well, we need some rain. I mean, we REALLY need some rain. Somehow, all of the rain and storms are missing our little part of the state while other parts of the state have flooding. Beyond the extraordinary amount of time it’s cost us in watering the veggies, it’s also caused veggie issues, most notably blossom end rot.

Blossom end rot is the result of calcium absorption issues. Our tomatoes are the biggest victims, not sure we will even get one tomato this year. The berry crops were also impacted in one manner or another. Though we had enough berries to eat fresh and to do some baking with, there are no jars of jam.

Here are some of the veggies that seem to be doing well with the hand watering vs rain.

broccoli

b peppers

b peppers 2

I do have small hands (especially compared to hubby’s in the broccoli picture), but this should help to show how huge the peppers are this year.

huge peppers

Hopefully we’ll be canning peppers again!

golden beet

We didn’t realize how big the beets had gotten, great crop so far.

golden beet bunch

We just picked the first cucumber yesterday, keeping our fingers crossed that the rest come through. The winter squash and the sweet potatoes are the later crops, maybe the rain will find us and help them along. In the meantime, Fargo finds fun in everything, including watering the garden.

fargo watering can

 

Even More Berry Baking

After multiple Berry Baking posts, I thought I was done, but there’s one more. I had seen a few friends post pictures on facebook of their Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream desserts. I wasn’t sure how I felt about blueberries and zucchini together, though we love both, but the pictures of the finished products looked pretty amazing.

We had blueberries and zucchini and we had bought some round cake tins but hadn’t used them yet, and it would mean a first attempt at buttercream, so we figured we’d try it.

The cakes came out pretty. I did use some white wheat flour as a sub for all white flour, and I used 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce as a sub for 1/2 of the oil.

b z cakes

What I didn’t really anticipate is that the cakes would be dome shaped, which doesn’t make for easy stacking. I tried to shave some of the higher spots off.

shaving cake

I’m not sure it really helped. I think I would have needed to cut the entire top off of both cakes for them to really look like the picture in the recipe.

The buttercream was easier than I anticipated and looked pretty. I did not use any zest, just the lemon juice.

lemon buttercream

I definitely need some practice spreading buttercream icing. Due to the domed cake, there were some gaps on the sides.

spreading buttercream

Not perfect, but passable in looks and VERY delicious. This goes in the favorites folder!

finished b z cake

slice of b z cake

b z cake inside

Something the author pointed out in the blog post is that this was originally a “bread” recipe, so don’t be surprised if it’s a dense, heavy cake. We also found it was easier to slice after being refrigerated, the buttercream didn’t ooze out of the middle like in the picture above.

Fargo’s Balls

No, I’m not talking about THOSE balls, the shelter we adopted him from neuters/spays all animals before adoption. I’m talking about the many balls he likes to play with. He likes to play with them so much that wonderful people give them to him as gifts.

You might recall it all started with the soccer ball during the coldest days of Winter, when it was too cold outside for the amount of activity he needed (and we needed) to remain sane. The soccer ball has been well loved and has been outside most of the Spring and Summer.

soccer ball shed

mangled ball

Next came the blue ball, a Jolly Ball, a thoughtful surprise gift from a friend and fellow dog lover. You can tell this picture was taken a few weeks ago, before the drought.

blue ball

He loves to bite it and stomp on it and feel the air come out of the little valve hole.

blue ball2

Then there was the BIG red ball, which the fawn liked too, but which popped pretty quickly when it got shoved under the composter. So, grandma and papa got him a BIG pink ball. Boy, can he dribble that ball across the yard at top speed. He can also run into everything with the ball at top speed, which is not necessarily a good thing.

pink ball

It has lasted way longer than anticipated, but it’s deflated enough that he can grab it and carry it around. And you can see that he also has another Jolly Ball, a red one, that is pretty solid but good for pushing/dribbling around the yard.

It’s a big decision which to play with each time we go outside. What I now understand, is that it’s never too hot for BALL!

balls 2

balls