2.11.2017

Quick, Easy and Delicious Valentine's Day Treats!

I don't see Valentines day as a day to celebrate couples, but as a day to celebrate love in general and enjoy a few chocolate treats. Not to brag but I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to sugary sweets.

Lately I've had a love for white chocolate (I might be confusing love with dependency)  so I was on my way to the grocery store to pick up a heart shaped box of Rafaello's. For the record, I stand by my decision to buy myself chocolates for Valentine's Day. Rafaello's are a holiday favourite of mine but I'm technically allergic to the almond in the middle so they aren't exactly the best choice for me. That's when I remembered I had found a recipe for Rafaello's and I decided to have some fun. I also knew that getting creative in the kitchen would be more of a budget friendly option.

Thomas was playing on his own which I knew would give me about an hour in the kitchen so I started with some white chocolate dipped pretzels.


First step was to melt the white chocolate. Using two sauce pans of the exact same size I put a little bit of water in one and brought it to a boil. I placed the white chocolate in the second sauce pan and placed on top of the first one. Since it fit snuggly, the steam from the bottom sauce pan melted the chocolate in the pan above without burning it.

I dipped a few pretzels in the white chocolate and set them aside. Next I added a few drops of red food colouring to create light pink chocolate and dipped a few more pretzels. Then I added a few more drops of red food colouring and repeated the process. This created a pink ombré of chocolate coloured pretzels. I topped those off with a variety of sprinkles I had in my baking cupboard.



Now for the white chocolate truffles! I used this Raefello recipe and it is delicious. It's a vegan recipe so if you're plant based it's a great option for you. I chose to replace the vegan chocolate and butter with non vegan options.

Once I had made the truffle mixture I had to move pretty quickly. I needed to do everything before the mixture cooled completely. I scooped out 3 little scoops of white mixture using a small cookie scoop. I cut each one in half and set them aside. Then, using the same process as when I dyed the chocolate pink, I dyed the truffle mixture a light pink. I scooped out 3 little scoops and cut them in half. I then repeated the whole process one more time with a darker pink truffle mixture.



I rolled the white truffles into small balls and then in the coconut. For the pink truffles I attempted to dye the coconut a light pink with little success. I ended up with a very light pink and white coconut mixture with a few hot pink pieces of coconut mixed in. At this point I was running out of Thomas free time so I just finished up coating the truffles with what I had.

I also decided to get festive and turn a few of each colour into little hearts which I think turned out adorable.


I think these truffles and pretzels would look so cute in little bags and given as gifts! They will also look equally as cute in my fridge and then given to myself for Valentine's Day.

If you're looking for a couple quick, easy and delicious last minute treats for V-Day I highly recommend giving these a try. If you can only make one... I have a soft spot for these truffles. They are insanely addictive. Even if you don't feel like dying them different shades of pink they would still be such a great gift for someone!

Or, if your Valentine's Day looks anything like mine, you will be eating these treats while watching Scandal on Netflix while a baby sleeps on you.

Happy Love Day from my little kitchen helper and me.



1.30.2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Store bought granola bars and protein bars and I don't get along. Most of them are full of sugar and I'm trying to be mindful of how much sugar I'm putting into my body. I also have a tree nut allergy and most of the more natural bars are full of nuts.

When I first saw this recipe it seemed too good to be true. It had minimal ingredients (I had all of them in my cupboard already) and seemed extremely easy to make. It was vegan, gluten and refined sugar free. It was chocolatey, healthy AND a good source of protein. I've experimented with most of these ingredients enough to know that it seemed like they would taste good. One issue I have with trying new bar recipes is it's usually hit or miss whether they will stay as bars once cut.

I'm happy to report that these bars are delicious!  They stayed in bar form nicely and I'm hoping they will help me curb my sweet tooth.


 CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN BARS
Recipe from What Molly Made with a few small changes

INGREDIENTS

• ½ cup natural peanut butter  
• ⅓ cup coconut oil
• ½ cup 100% pure maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• ½ cup chocolate protein powder
• ½ cup cocoa powder
• 4 cups organic rice puffs or rice cereal

• ½ cup dark chocolate chips, optional (I chose not to include them)
• ½ cup natural peanut butter, melted for topping

DIRECTIONS

Cover a 9x9 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the peanut butter, coconut oil and maple syrup. Place in the microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture then place it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds to melt completely. Whisk together until combined. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Add the protein powder and cocoa powder and mix well. Mixture should be thicker but still wet. Add the rice puffs and stir to coat completely. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and press gently to set the bars in place. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. While freezing, place the peanut butter in a small microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds until melted. When bars are set, drizzle peanut butter over top. Place bars back in the freezer for 10 minutes. Cut into bars and enjoy! You can keep them in the freezer for up to two weeks.

If I were to make any changes the next time I might up the amount of coconut oil and lower the amount of peanut butter by just a little bit. I think it'll help keep the bars firmer. I would also consider putting in half the amount of protein powder and replacing it with some cacao powder for the health benefits it would bring to the bars.I randomly had chocolate protein powder on hand but if I didn't I would just use cocoa and cacao.

Enjoy!

1.24.2017

Reflecting on January

With January coming to an end (what!?) I've been reflecting on how the year has started. As far as my new years resolution of "Effort" goes, I think I'm doing pretty well. It's been helpful when trying to stay motivated to ask myself how much effort I'm putting in and will I see the results I'm looking for. I've also been trying to set weekly and/or monthly intentions. Right now I'm challenging myself to live a little more in the uncomfortable. Getting out of my comfort zone will be really important in ensuring Thomas gets to try new things and gets all the experiences I would like him to have.

I'm also trying to really slow down and enjoy every day a little more. I'm always looking ahead and if January has reminded me of anything it's that Thomas is over 6 months old and time is flying by. I'm definitely loving watching him get older but I really want to cherish each moment of it.



Wearing:
Aldo Pumps

1.17.2017

Five Easy Ways I Stay Organized


 Trying to properly organize my work tasks and home tasks hasn't always been my strength. I have struggled to keep on top of things and as soon as I got behind I would throw my hands up and avoid everything. I had a pretty good organizational system down at work before my maternity leave but I admittedly still avoided any daunting task at home. Since I couldn't exactly let my work suffer I would just avoid my home tasks.... Laundry? A pile of unfolded clean laundry never hurt anybody.

Once Thomas was born I realized that I really needed to stay on top of things. I wouldn't say it's a mom thing because the types of tasks I was avoiding are tasks that most people do, children or not. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming etc. The only difference for me personally was that with Thomas around, I often had a pretty small window of time to get these tasks done so I had to be on top of them. If you're busy for any reason (work, family etc) you can probably relate. I needed to find a way to organize my time so I could keep the house the way I wanted, spend lots of time with Thomas (not that he gave me a choice) but also so I wouldn't forget my other to-do's that don't need to be done daily.

I knew that I needed to find an organizational system that worked for me and in order to do that I had to be honest about what I was looking for. I'm a planner. I am visual. I like writing lists. I like checking things off lists when they are completed. I don't like to be late. I don't like having too many different lists going. I don't really want to carry around a paper planner anymore. I avoid when I'm behind or overwhelmed.

After a lot of trial and error I can honestly say I am the most organized I've ever been and in a way that makes me happy. I'm not over scheduled, I can still be flexible and my to-do list is getting done.

ONE
I found a calendar that works for me.

 



 I honestly love a good planner but it stopped being practical for me. I found the app Weekly Cal a few years ago (I think? It's been a while) and I've never looked back. My favourite thing about it? It's visual. There are a variety of different views and my favourite is the mini month. I like being able to see what I have going on each day for the entire month. You can change colours, add emoji's and just really personalize it. I've recommended it to everyone I know. 

 (This photo is from the app store)


 




TWO
Before bed I write my to-do list for the next day.

 I write everything on there. An email I have to reply to, a blog post I'd like to write, my grocery list, laundry I will need to fold, a thought I had, my workout... everything. Before I go to bed I quickly check to see if there is anything I can quickly tackle right then. When I wake up I look at my calendar and my to-do list before I start my day. I am trying to drink hot (ish.. hot-ish. Okay, it's warm) lemon water each morning so I have that on the top of the list while it becomes a habit and I honestly don't know if I'd remember right now if it weren't for it being on the list.

Speaking of my to-do list...



THREE
I found my perfect To-Do List.


I think I've downloaded and deleted every to-do list app available but nothing really worked for me long term. I stumbled across the One Note app and it was exactly what I was looking for. It's visual and it's everything I need all in one place. You can create different tabs (the example shown is from the app store) and some of the tabs I have are Personal, Home, Thomas, Blog and Meal Planning. In those tabs I have notes and lists. The notes pages are pages you can write in, add photos and you can also create lists. There are also list pages and when something is completed on one of those lists it disappears which is very satisfying haha. Under my personal tab I have my main to-do list which is just ongoing. I am always adding things to my list throughout the day when I think of them. So if I go into the pantry and decide it's a little cluttered I will quickly add "organize pantry" onto my list and I get to it when I can. I am also 100% that person who will write a completed task onto my to-do list just so I can check it off haha.

 (As mentioned above, the example photo is from the app store)


FOUR
I ask myself "If not now, when?"

  I am a procrastinator and sometimes I have to remind myself that there isn't a magical chore fairy that will take care of something for me if I leave it there. Sometimes when I ask myself this question it just gives me that push I need to complete the task in that moment and other times I am content with waiting and doing it later.



FIVE
 Make sure everything has a place

While this might not necessarily seem like a way to staying organized and more a way to help keep things clean, I realized for me there is a huge connection. As I mentioned previously, if a task seems overwhelming (and I don't really want to do it) I'm pretty great and convincing myself not to do it. My solution for that was to make household tasks less overwhelming  since they take up a large portion of my to-do list and I realized the easiest way to do that was to make sure everything has a place. Unloading the dishwasher is quick when I have an easy place to put every dish.

We recently (after the generous amount of toys and clothes Thomas received over Christmas) revamped his closet with some new storage so everything has somewhere to go. The faster I can tidy up the better.


 What are your favourite organizational tips and tricks? I'd love to hear them!

*I am not connected to or sponsored in any way to either of the apps I mentioned. I just really love them