{Healthy} Chocolate-Peanut-Almond Bars

How’s that for a dessert name?

Chocolate AND peanuts AND almonds… What’s not to love?

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of healthified desserts. Thanks but no thanks. If I’m going to eat dessert, I’m going to treat myself to the real thing. Calories and butter and sugar and chocolate-y goodness, for the win!

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I have never tried beans in my brownies or avocados in my cookies. The thought makes me gag. I know, I know… Don’t knock it ’til you try it, but realllyyyyy? Beans in “dessert”?? Beans belong in my tacos, not in my chocolate, unless they’re coffee beans then we can chat ;)

Even though I’m not a huge fan of healthy desserts, here I am today with a somewhat healthy recipe for y’all that will satisfy your sweet tooth without overloading you with sugar or other junk.

Hypocritical? Maybe. But I promise it doesn’t taste healthy nor is it lacking in the healthy fats and protein department. Plus, it is chocolate that is a-okay for breakfast in my book and I’m not one to turn down chocolate first thing in the morning ;)

Savory and sweet. Crunchy and smooth. Refreshing and satisfying. These {Healthy} Chocolate-Almond-Peanut Bars have it all and then some.

Full of protein. Lotsa good-for-ya fats. Mixed with my favorite nut butter. And topped with a nice layer of choc-o-late.

Healthy dessert fan or not… Make these now. Your chocolate-loaded breakfast (or midnight snack…) awaits you!

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{Healthy} Chocolate-Almond-Peanut Bars

Makes 8 bars

Ingredients

Bars:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 servings (about 1 cup) vanilla protein powder

Chocolate Topping:

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds

Directions

In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine oil and peanut butter. Microwave until the ingredients are liquid and stir together easily. Mix in milk and vanilla protein powder. Pour batter into an 8×8 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Place in freezer while preparing the chocolate topping. In a second microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and oil. Microwave for 15 second increments, until chocolate and oil stir together smoothly. Remove bars from freezer and drizzle chocolate topping over the top, sprinkling with the almonds to complete. Freeze for at least 4 hours prior to serving (I photographed these bars before they were set – Make sure you give them enough time!) and bring to room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

After your first bite, you’ll forget these are the slightest bit healthy!

Healthy “desserts” – Yay or nay? Favorite non-healthy dessert??

Peanuts or almonds? {recipe!}

Peanuts or almonds?

Almonds or peanuts?

Everyone has a favorite and lately it seems that the lovely almond has taken the spotlight. Well, not today my friends! Today is for my personal favorite, the peanut.

Think the little ol’  peanut is plain and boring? Think again!

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I’m sharing a super easy, super tasty, and super healthy treat over on Jen’s blog today and you should most definitely check it out. It’s like Halloween candy without all the junk ;)

Peanut Butter Joy Bites.

You know you don’t want to miss ’em!

Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Thank you all for your kind and loving birthday wishes yesterday! Kyle also suggested that I thank you for dealing with my obnoxious birthday Instagrams over the weekend… ;)

With a birthday comes one of my favorite things… cake.

Chocolate and sprinkles and frosting and candles – I love the entire experience of selecting a recipe, decorating the cake, blowing out the candles and, of course, enjoying each sugary, chocolate-filled bite.

This year’s cake was a very important decision. I knew it had to be the best recipe EVER since I hadn’t had cake (or any dessert for that matter) for the past 24 days. Thankfully, Davida’s ingenious suggestion a few weeks ago provided the perfect inspiration for my cake.

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You are going to have to forgive the photos today – both the quality and quantity. I was much more focused on wine and chocolate and birthday-ing myself through the weekend than spending time taking pretty photos. If you want to see pretty cake pictures, head over here to see a very similar cake :)

What matters most is that this cake is absolutely delightful in every single way.

Because the cake is flourless, it is as dense and gooey as a brownie. The center provides a thick, peanut-buttery filling that tricks your brain into thinking you’re biting into a giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. And the frosting, oh the frosting – rich chocolate encases the mouthwatering chocolate and peanut butter layers creating perfection.

Pure, cake-alicious perfection <3

Before looking at the recipe, you have to promise me one thing… Ignore the quantity of butter in this blissfully decadent dessert. Birthday cakes aren’t meant to be slimming, #amiright? And, if you’re worried about health, just remind yourself that this baby is gluten-free. And gluten-free – as we all know – means it is the epitome of health ;)

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Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Serves 16

Ingredients:

  • 18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, melt 12 ounces of the chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups butter until completely melted and combined. Pour into large mixing bowl and add sugar, eggs (one at a time) and cocoa powder. Mix until just blended.
  3. Pour half of cake mixture into springform pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until there is a thin crust on the top and the middle is just firm to the touch. You do NOT want to over-bake the cake! Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Once cooled, remove outer edge of pan and flip cake over onto a serving platter. (I find it easiest to hold both the bottom of the platter and the pan in each hand to have a smooth cake transfer.)
  4. Repeat Step 3 with remaining cake batter.
  5. While cake bakes, combine powdered sugar and peanut butter to create cake filling. Spread on top of bottom cake layer and top with second cake once cooled.
  6. Melt remaining 6 TBSP butter and 6 ounces chocolate chips in saucepan. Once melted stir in milk, honey and vanilla and pour over cooled cake, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides of the cake. Place in refrigerator to cool completely, approximately one hour.
  7. Enjoy!

Yes, I managed to bake up a birthday cake that includes two of my favorite things – chocolate and peanut butter. This year’s birthday is going to be difficult to beat!

What type of cake do you request for your birthday? Chocolate, always chocolate!

Peanut Butter Berry Bars

Two recipes in one week? Who am I?

I’d like to blame (or thank?) Laura for this conundrum but before I get to that, I have a confession to make.

I love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Like love love LOVE, could eat for every meal, reminds me of my childhood, always puts a smile on my face kind of love.

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I know, they’re not the fancy type of food that healthy living/food bloggers should like (or admit that they like…) but peanut butter & jelly sandwiches are wholesome and innocent and they just taste so darn good!

Oh PB&J’s, if only everything in life could be as wonderfully simple as you…

Anyways, on Sunday Laura posted a recipe for Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly BarsI knooooow, right? And I immediately knew I had to make them ASAP but there was a problem.

A big problem.

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I needed to remove the processed sugar and delicious butter from the recipe so that I could devour enjoy them. That or I could make the recipe as Laura wrote it and be required to give the entire batch away… The latter was just not an option! Priorities my friends, priorities…

I quickly got to work in the kitchen and I’m pleased to report that my Peanut Butter Berry Bars were the result! A rich blend of peanut butter, oatmeal, coconut oil, honey and berries – the flavors combine perfectly to taste just like my favorite childhood PB&J’s.

Pure and innocent happiness <3

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Peanut Butter Berry Bars (Inspired by Pies and Plots)

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey (I used slightly less)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1.5 cups frozen berries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Melt peanut butter in a medium bowl in microwave for 45 seconds, until warm and easily stirred. Mix in coconut oil, honey, vanilla and cinnamon until combined then stir in oatmeal. Press 3/4 of oatmeal mixture into bottom of pan. Sprinkle frozen berries evenly over oatmeal base then crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture on top. Bake 20 minutes, until edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool completely prior to lifting parchment paper out of pan. If you can wait, cool in fridge for 2 hours before enjoying! Store in airtight container in fridge.

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I’m linking up with Jenn today because these Peanut Butter Berry Bars are what I’ve been eating lately. Believe it or not, they taste even better the next day :)

And here’s another confession, I had to put half of the recipe into the freezer to keep myself from eating the entire pan!

  • PB&J’s – yay or nay? Yay, of course ;)
  • What is your favorite childhood, comfort food? PB&J’s, Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese with peas, Grilled cheese sandwiches – My love of carbs was formed at a very young age…

#9 Treat Yourself Tuesday {TYT}

It’s WEEK 9 of Treat Yourself Tuesday! Y’all are awesome for continuing to link up each week <3Treat Yourself Tuesday Badge

Again, a BIG thank you to everyone that participated in Treat Yourself Tuesday last week. I loved reading all of the ways you treated yourself and can’t wait to see what this week has to offer!

If you’re new to TYT, head over here to read about why I am a firm supporter and advocate for treating ourselves – even in the smallest of ways – everyday! I promise you will fall in love with the idea and once you do, please link up below :)

Remember last week’s purchases? Well, I ended up returning both items from J. Crew… I knew the sweater had to go back and when I tried on the tank top again, I just didn’t love it and it definitely wasn’t worth $100. Thankfully, I kept my new coat so my shopping trip wasn’t a total bust ;)

I haven’t told you yet but I’m on this little thing called a budget. Lame, right? Kyle thinks we need to start saving for me to become a housewife I mean, err… a house, A HOUSE… where did those four letters come from??! ;)

So, it’s time to become a bit more responsible with my money. That said, my TYT this past week was quite affordable and – believe it or not – actually gave me more happiness than a stop at J. Crew!  Also, rumor has it, I have some beautiful blends coming to visit me in a few short days and I need to save money for shopping adventures with them.

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This gorgeous bouquet came from Trader Joe’s. Isn’t it pretty? As a side note, does anyone else rearrange flower bouquets when you get home? I do it every single time… Should have been a florist ;)

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I love how much color flowers add to a room and I haven’t purchased any for myself since starting my job so it was time. Gahh – flowers just make me so happy and they added some life to my favorite corner – the wine corner – of the apartment :)

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My other treat was this little piece of deliciousness from TJ’s – Peanut Butter + Chocolate <– Heck YES!

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Both of these treats were less than $7 combined and were a great start to my Saturday.

This post is proof to myself when I’m pouting from my budget… You don’t need to spend a lot of money to treat yourself and make yourself feel loved and special. A cup of coffee, a piece of chocolate, an inexpensive bouquet of flowers, a walk in the sunshine – all of these are great ways to give yourself some love without breaking the bank!

Tell me, what did you do to treat yourself this week? What great finds have you discovered at TJ’s recently?

October 2013 Foodie Pen Pals

BOO! Happy Halloween!

How are you celebrating the holiday? Since Kyle and I celebrated with friends this past weekend, I’m just planning on dousing myself in sugar and calling it day ;)

Today I am happy to be participating in Foodie Pen Pals via Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean. It has been MONTHS since I last participated so I jumped at the chance to join in on the fun for the month of October.

In case you’re not familiar with Foodie Pen Pals…

FPP

On the 5th of every month, you will receive your pen pal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your pen pal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions. The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

Foodie Pen Pals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your pen pal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

This month I was paired up with Monica. Monica is currently stationed in Japan teaching children on a U.S. military base. Once I found out where she lived and learned more about her career, I immediately gained an immense amount of respect for her and couldn’t wait to send her a box full of goodies. Plus, she requested all things peanut butter and chocolate so – let’s be honest – she had my heart from the beginning ;)

I know we’re not supposed to talk about what we sent but since Monica doesn’t have a blog, here is a quick photo of all of the goodies she received from me – are you jealous?! Look at all the peanut butter and chocolate-y goodness! {Accept my apologies Amanda, you’re probably on the verge of feeling your peanut allergies from just looking at this photo!}

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And cue the hunger and cravings for all things sugar.

Great. Remind me why I posted this photo again?

At least it’s Halloween so I have an excuse to overeat indulge in chocolate and peanut butter :)

Anyways, I digress…

Monica was very generous and sent me TONS of goodies from Japan!

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Those “veggie” chips are dangerous. I may have eaten the entire bag between two sittings. If I ever head to Japan you better bet I’ll be stocking up on those!

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Check out ALL of the flavors of Kit Kat’s Japan makes.

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Honestly though, the item I was most excited about was this jar of PB2. The blog world has been raving about it so it has been on my radar for a few months. I tried it plain (mixed with water per package instructions) and it was just okay, it did have the taste of peanut butter but lacked the texture – I like real peanut butter much better (obviously…) Then I tried it in a smoothie and holy amazingness! It adds the flavor of peanut butter, blends very well and doesn’t get chunky or stick to the sides like normal nut butters. SO, smoothies it is for my newly acquired jar of PB2!

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I have yet to try some of the goodies – gummy candies, green tea and canned coffee – they’re being saved for a special occasion also known as, my cupboards are empty and I don’t want to make a trip to the grocery store ;)

Have you participated in FPP? What’s you take on PB2? Have you ever been to Japan?

Confessions, Part II

Confession: I don’t love almond butter. I know, I know… Healthy living blogger fail big time fail. I mean, it’s not that I don’t like it – I have no major problem with the butter of almonds but I much prefer peanut butter or Nutella (obviously…) or almonds in their whole state. It is definitely a texture thing. Almond butter just doesn’t get as creamy or as smooth as peanut butter does and because of that, it doesn’t do the trick. Love me or hate me, it is what it is – peanut butter will always hold true to my heart. Heaven forbid I have a child that is allergic to peanuts <– The thought of this actually just gave me mini-panic attack! If that’s what my future holds, Kyle and I will have to have a peanut wing in our house because there’s no way I could give the stuff up ;)

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Confession: Carly, Katie, Alisha and Sara are coming to visit MEEEE (okay, they’re coming to visit Chicago but it’s conveniently where I live so I say they’re visiting me…) in 2.5 weeks – TWO AND A HALF WEEKS biotches! I’m so darn excited for blend-y blogger friend time I’m about to internally combust. Get ready for a weekend of debauchery and shopping and eats (Chicago pizza) and Scott’s <– Because men with this name tend to flock to us when we’re together… Unfortunately I’m not kidding – Remember Blend and Napa? I guess it’s a good thing for Katie (being the single and ready to mingle girl of the group), she only needs to remember one name for the weekend ;)

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Confession: When I applied for my current position, I used my full name “Rebecca” on my resume. I also went by Rebecca during the interview process. I was nervous starting my job so I never corrected anyone during my first few weeks and now it is much too late to pull a name change out of the bag. So I’m officially Rebecca at work and it’s weird. It took me a few weeks of getting called Rebecca to actually start responding – my coworkers must think I have hearing problems or that I’m lacking half of my brain. And I’ve awkwardly introduced myself as Becky a few times. I’m obviously the cool girl at work <– HEAVY sarcasm…

Confession: I felt like a rockstar this morning when I could actually give someone accurate directions to a destination in downtown Chicago! I’ve been able to point people in the general vicinity of locations and have definitely sent people the wrong way before (sorry ’bout that!) so I was extremely proud this morning. It’s the small things ;)

Confession: I miss Target more and more every day. They really have their stuff together and I miss working for an organization that has distinct goals, processes and structure for their employees. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ELATED to be in Chicago, I just wish Target would relocate 400 miles southeast! Hint, hint Triple G ;)

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Confession: I’m going to see 50 Shades! tonight. Yep, a musical parody based on the book series. Kyle surprised me with the tickets when we moved to Chicago back in August. (As a side note, I don’t think he knows what the books are about – He’s in for a BIG surprise tonight!) I’m anticipating a crowd of middle-aged women and a room full of tension. Things could get awkward.

Time to confess – What’s on your mind?

{Homemade} Peanut Butter Cups

I’ve taken my love for obsession with addiction to peanut butter and chocolate to an all-new level y’all.

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I’m eatin’ it plain.

Yep, you heard me right. Just peanut butter and chocolate in their wholesome, pure and perfect goodness.

And by plain, I don’t mean shoving spoonfuls of peanut butter and melted chocolate into my mouth – although I’m not saying that hasn’t happened before ;)

No, I mean I’ve created something delicious, something heavenly, something so rich and perfect that allows the true flavors of our favorite sandwich spread and our favorite dessert to shine through.

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Oh yes.

Once you make these though, you have to promise me one thing, okay?

Promise me that you won’t hate me for creating such a gem of a recipe because – believe or not – you aren’t going to be able to keep your hands (or your mouths) off of these beauties. #twss

Creamy, salty peanut butter filling encased in a sweet milk chocolate (or dark chocolate or white chocolate – whatever your preference) shell. Absolute perfection.

{Homemade} Peanut Butter Cups.

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Oh yes – These make me as happy as Mitchell chasing a ball. And his happiness during those moments is hard to beat.

{Homemade} Peanut Butter Cups

Makes 12 large cups

Ingredients

  • Chocolate Almond Bark (or any type of melting chocolate you prefer), melted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Place 12 cupcake liners into cupcake pan and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt peanut butter and butter until combined. Do not bring to a simmer or boil. Once melted, remove from heat and slowly stir in powdered sugar. Spoon approximately 1/3 inch of chocolate into each liner and then plop (yes, so dainty) a spoonful of peanut butter mixture into each chocolate-filled liner. Top peanut butter with remaining chocolate and place in refrigerator to harden for about 30 minutes. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before enjoying!

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Seriously now, is there anything better than the combination of peanut butter and chocolate? I think not.

Favorite food and/or flavor combinations. Go!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Cookies

It’s Thursday! That means tomorrow morning (bright and early – my flight leaves at 7am) I leave for the Healthy Living Summit in Minneapolis!

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Wahoo!! I’m so excited to see some of my best blogging friends including Melanie, Katie and Jen and meet so many new blends.

Who am I excited to meet? Well, I’m so glad you asked ;) Here are just a few of the lovely ladies I get to spend time with this weekend!

I’m so pumped that I can’t form a coherent post so I’m going to take the day off. Yep, even bloggers need some time to recharge.

But before I go, I want to share a recipe with you!

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A month ago, I created a batch of mouth-watering cookies for Nicole while she was on vacation in Florida.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Cookies.

They’re full of peanut butter and chocolate. They’re easy. AND – here’s the kicker – they’re good for you! So head on over to get the recipe and then make a batch for yourself!

Are you going to HLS? Introduce yourself! I can’t wait to meet you :)

{Chocolate-Lovers} Peanut Butter-Banana Bread

Peanut Butter + Chocolate.

Weird.

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Even though pretty much everything else is changing in my life at the moment you will always be able to count on my addiction-driven love for peanut butter and chocolate. And, of course, recipes that mash the two flavors together.

This combination is one of the few things that is keeping me sane at the moment.

Spoonfuls of peanut butter topped with chocolate chips? Skinny Chunky Monkeys? Peanut butter toast drizzled with honey and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips?

Yes, yes and yes. HECK yes.

Seriously y’all, I would most likely be in the loony bin right now – fighting my way out of a straight jacket sleeping blissfully in my padded cell – without my beloved jar of nut butter and the 5 lb bag of chocolate chips that are currently sitting in my pantry.

George Washington Carver, you are a lifesaver and I will forever be indebted to you.

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Anyways – enough with my love obsession for all things chocolate and peanut butter. Let’s get down to the recipe of the day, the reason for this post, the best thing you’ll read all day, your soon-to-be favorite breakfast, something that will get you out of your seat and to the store to buy… You guessed it, peanut butter and chocolate!

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My {Chocolate-Lovers} Peanut Butter-Banana Bread.

This recipe combines rich and dense banana bread spiked with the creamy, nutty deliciousness of your favorite nut butter. And then, when you think it couldn’t get any better, it does – oh yes, my friends, this banana-peanut butter dream is then sprinkled with chocolate.

Chocolate – Peanut Butter – Banana Heaven.

Could this Monday get any better? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

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{Chocolate-Lovers} Peanut Butter-Banana Bread (Adapted from Baker Bettie)

Makes 2 small loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal
  • 5 large ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

 Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and spray 2 mini loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. In a food processor, blend oatmeal until it is the consistency of flour. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together except for the chocolate chips and pour batter into loaf pans. Top each loaf with chocolate chips and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until bread is fully cooked. Allow to cool for 20 minute in pans (to prevent chocolate from smearing) then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Wrap in saran wrap and store in fridge and enjoy!

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Oh, I also forgot to mention that this is a vegan and gluten-free recipe. It can also be made with whatever nut butter your little heart desires. So I lied, your Monday did just get better ;)

What’s the best breakfast treat you’ve baked lately? 

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