February 15, 2017

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


Do you have bananas that look way past due? Heavy dark brown and black stains?

Back away from the trashcan, do not throw them away, and make this easy chocolate chip banana bread today!

Ingredients
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or substitute with olive oil)
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar (or 1 cup of sugar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 bananas, mashed
1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate morsels)
1/2 cup of walnuts (optional)


Directions
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F .

Grease a 8 1/2-inch x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

Mix in the oil, bananas and eggs.

Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into the greased loaf pan.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes, until golden brown, or a butter knife  inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely, right side up.


February 1, 2017

Valentine's Gift Guide and Sharing the Love



Ah. Valentine's Day. To some it's a special and lovely day to celebrate love with their significant others or friends. And to some it might not mean as much.

Well if you are wondering about me, I think it's a sweet day. Valentine's is not a day that is meant to be negative. It's a positive day. I have been lucky and grateful that I found a partner many years ago. He and I respect and love each other very much. He is a true partner. One who cares, listens, is kind, caring, loving, respectful, and funny.

We don't traditionally go out on Valentine's Day, but we do make it a point to do a little something special. Usually it involves takeout from our favorite place and that usually involves spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread (my favorite meal). And I make it a point to send my loved ones near and far a little something to remind them that I am thinking of them and that I love them. I like making a little box and sending them little treats and something I think they will enjoy.

So I made a little list of some ideas for Valentine's Day that you could give or send to a sweet loved one or even yourself. I also think it's important to treat yourself once in awhile. It always feels good to do something special for someone else, but it is equally important to do something for you too.

Plan something for tomorrow's you.  For example, it might not be a secret, but I love breakfast. I could eat pancakes for lunch and dinner too. Sometimes I will make some chocolate chip and blueberry pancake batter on Sunday night, so on Monday morning I can quickly make pancakes before heading to work. Sunday night Kim was planning and doing something nice for Monday morning Kim. It's all about sharing the love with one another and ourselves. When we treat ourselves right, we have room to share that with others.

Black Feather Jewelry. Choker necklaces are in trend right now and my red stone chokers are a perfect gift and so are our heart and pyrite "flame" earrings. We also have amethyst pieces which are February's birthstone.

Oreos Covered in Chocolate
. These make perfect gift to give to most on your list. Everyone I know loves a sweet treat. I know I certainly do. Chocolates on Valentine's Day is a sweet tradition, and these chocolate covered oreos I make come in Valentine colors and hearts. They arrive before or on Valentine's Day and are ready to be gifted with a box and bow wrapped around each. They come in 6, 9, or 18 packs. Make sure to get the order in before Feb 8 for before Valentine's Day delivery.

Black Letter Board. These vintage inspired board are the latest trend. They are cute to leave special messages, motivational quotes, and more. I recommend writing a sweet message to a loved one with a special gift. I like to use mine to post the day's menu (dinner and dessert).

Burberry Heart Rain boots. These Burberry rain boots are not only very cute with the heart motif on top of their traditional plaid, but they are also very comfortable, however, the calf width varies and is snug.

Thymes Goldleaf Gardenia candle.  This scent has notes of jasmine, rose, amber, opulent patchouli, and praline. Thymes has my absolute favorite candle right now which is Thymes' Frasier Fir. I don't have a real Christmas tree, so I lit this candle up and it smells like a beautiful pine fresh forest. The Gardenia candle is a beautiful sweet and refreshing candle to light as we head into spring.

Love Pillow. This "Love" pillow from Pottery Barn is a sweet addition to your Valentine decor. It is hook and loop embroidered. And if you don't have Valentine's decor well consider this piece to start.

Rifle Paper Co Greeting Card. Make your own or buy a sweet card like this pretty "You're the Bees Knees" from Rifle Paper Co. I also think making your very own is very thoughtful. Whether you buy one or make one, make sure you share how you feel to your loved on. Expressing your love and feelings are important in all types of relationships/

William Sonoma Love is Love Mugs. This is my favorite thing on this list, the Love is Love mugs sold out on PotteryBarn and William Sonoma has them still available. You receive a pair of two mugs, and a portion of the proceeds support the LGBT community. I think mugs make a great gift and you can fill them with little chocolates.


January 17, 2017

Chocolate Layer Cake



I love chocolate and one thing I have not been able to perfect is a Chocolate layer cake, but I found the best recipe for a chocolate layer cake and this was exactly what I was looking for. The only note I will make is next time I will put a lot more frosting in between both layers and I am going to add mini chocolate chips to the batter. Other than that, it was perfect.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups sugar
14 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, 4 ounces coarsely chopped and 10.5 ounces finely chopped
15 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces and chilled
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream


Directions:


Position a rack in the lower third (one down from the center) of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then grease the parchment.


In a saucepan, dissolve 2 cups sugar in 2 cups water over medium-high heat. 


Remove from the heat, add the coarsely chopped chocolate and 6 tablespoons butter and whisk until smooth. 

Whisk in the cocoa powder. Beat in the eggs, then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. 


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Add the flour mixture, whisking until incorporated.


Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until the cakes are springy to the touch and have pulled away from the sides of the pans, about 30 minutes.


Transfer to racks and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and place on the racks. Let cool completely.


Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the finely chopped chocolate and the remaining 9 tablespoons butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon salt. 


In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar to a boil. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir the mixture until smooth. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a spreadable consistency, about 1 hour 15 minutes.


Remove the parchment from 1 of the cake layers and place the layer on the cake stand. Place about 1 cup of the chocolate frosting in the center of the layer and spread.

Remove the parchment from the second cake layer and place the layer on top of the first and spread the rest of the frosting on the top and sides.

I didn't plan anything special for the top, and really just wanted to cut right in and enjoy it, so I just added two hearts I made and called it a day. But this cake is perfect without any decorations or you can add whatever you would like on top it's a perfect canvas.


This chocolate layer cake is meant for a yummy birthday cake, but I made it for fun. I think it would also make a beautiful Valentine's Day cake too.

I hope you enjoy making this as much as I did. Enjoy!!


December 6, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for the Ladies



I made a list of some of my favorite things right now that I think some of the ladies in your life might like for a gift or that you just might want to pick up yourself.

Gap Sherpa Denim Jacket. This jacket is perfect for warmth and yet still stylish and casual. I live in my denim jacket come spring, and now I can wear one in the cooler fall and winter months.

Essie Nail Polish. The Essie brand is one of my favorites. They have such staying power and have the most beautiful colors. For the holidays I love wearing colors in berries like Maki Me Happy and hunter green tones like Off Tropic. Nail polishes are great stocking stuffer. I haven't met a gal who doesn't love doing their nails or getting them done.


Velvet Green Choker. Chokers are officially back in style. They were huge in the 90's and they have come back in a big way. I love the velvet green from these two Etsy shops: Aurabora and Lunabluestore.

I have a few black velvet choker in my Black Feather shop too.

Leather Backpack. Yes, this made it on the list again this year. I mean a backpack bag that looks great, but is also multi-functional is hard to find. A little leather backpack is great when going out to run errands, when you want something casual, yet also fashionable.

Richmond & Finch Marble Phone Case. Comes in Green, White, Black, and Gray Marble. It is a hardshell iPhone case.

Thymes Frasier Fir Candle. My absolute favorite candle right now is Thymes' Frasier Fir. I don't have a real Christmas tree, so I lit this candle up and it smells like a beautiful pine fresh forest.

Godiva Chocolates. These are my favorite. Every year for Christmas, the Mister buys me a big box of chocolates and I pretty much eat the whole box in one night.

S'well Water Bottle. S'well bottles are stainless steel re-usable bottles that can keep you drink col for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours.

Cactus Bud Vases. Aren't these the cutest little cactus bud vases you have ever seen? They are handmade and sold on Etsy by WhiteFauxTaxidermy.

Evil Eye Bracelets. I love to wear evil eyes and these protect you from an evil eye stare while looking perfectly awesome in green and pave.

Ted Baker Floppy Hat. I love wearing hats. And I have tried quite a few of these floppy hats, and this one is the perfect size. It is not too overwhelming in size.

Oreos Covered in Chocolate. These make perfect stocking stuffers and already ready to give.
Mini Cactus Snow Globe (set of 4). I love succulents and cacti and these mini snow globes are the cutest. They are mini, but this is a set of 4 would be perfect to split and give to co-workers as individual gifts.


December 1, 2016

Holiday Gift Guides for Kiddos



So, not to scare you or anything, but Christmas is about 3 weeks away..and if you are anything like me you haven't even started, not even remotely started. I pride myself in starting to buy and tuck away gift in October, but not this year.

So thank you for the motivation, because I decided to make a small Holiday Gift series and this definitely helped me find a few little charming gifts to give to friends and family.

This gift guide is dedicated to the little ones.

Vilac Wooden Animal Magnets - These wooden animal magnets are beautiful. They are designed by Nathalie Lete and wonderful for children who love animals and fun for them to play with in front of the fridge.

BlaBla Knitted Animals - These soft knitted animals are hand knit in peru and our soft and cuddly. They come in different sizes and there is an array of different little animals to choose from. For every handcrafted doll purchased, 10 meals are provided to children in need. There are more than a dozen different critters to choose from on the site.

Dylan's Candy Bar Gingerbread House - What makes this the best is that it's pre-assembled, you just have the fun of decorating it. I also saw some fun Hanukkah ones at Michaels.

Mouse in a Matchbox -  Is this mouse so cute. Maileg is an award winning Danish toy company founded in 1999 and they make all sorts of cute toys. The Mouse in a Matchbox is one of the cutest they make and you can find all sorts of little mice, a mom, dad, little baby mouse.

Micro Kickboard - This is a Mini2Go 3-in-1 Scooter. It's perfect for the little ones to sit around and use their legs to move around. Recommended for children ages 18 months and up.

Eat Your Veggies -  This wooden crate comes filled with cute and soft handmade rattles. This set is perfect for teaching babies and toddlers about nutrition. Made in Bangladesh.

TeePee -  I haven't met a child who doesn't love to build forts or sit inside a cozy little place to read or play in. This teepee is 6 feet tall and comes with stars that you can stick on the outside or inside that glow in the dark. I also found this awesome fort builder at Toy R Us.

I hope these help with some ideas for your little ones or a kiddo you know.


November 30, 2016

Quick Easy Chili


So the mister absolutely loves chili and orders it whenever he has the opportunity too. He has been on a chili kick lately, every cafe we have been going to has been serving it. Me, I am not such a chili fan, I like it, but I don't go out of my way to order it. But knowing how much he loves it, I decided to make him some homemade chili.

And it would give me the opportunity to make some cornbread. I think cornbread and chili go so well together. I have been on a mission to make sweet cornbread for the longest time and I can't seem to make it just the way I hope and want it to be.  I also made some mexican brownies with this meal and it paired so well. I will be sharing that recipe soon.

This chili is so easy to make and you don't have to leave it cooking for hours. It's just one pot and it takes about 30-45 minutes to make depending if you like your chili thick or not.

Ingredients

1 1/2 - 2 pounds of ground turkey or beef
1 onion (diced)
1 green pepper (chopped or diced)
1 can of kidney beans
1 tablespoon of butter
2 cloves of garlic 
2 cups of beef broth
1 (28 ounce) can of crushed or diced tomatoes
Paprika
Cumin
Chili Powder


I will walk you through each step below:


In a large pot, medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter, minced garlic and the chopped onions and cook until onion is tender.


Add meat and combine with onion in pot and cook until meat is no longer pink.

Add salt, pepper, and seasoning (paprika, cumin, chili powder).


Add the chopped green peppers.


Combine the green peppers with the meat and continue cooking until peppers are tender.


Once the peppers have softened add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.


Add the kidney beads, stir to combine and continue simmering.


Depending on how you like your chili leave it simmering. The mister likes his chili pretty thick and no liquid, so I kept it simmering until all the liquid was evaporated.


I love cornbread and added a cornbread muffin and mixed it all together and it was divine on a cold fall day. For just the two of us this lasted for days and days. Those are my favorite type of meals, the ones that feed us lunch and dinner for a few days. It's great to not have to think about what's for lunch and dinner for a few days. Just warm this up and enjoy with some cornbread and topped with shredded cheese it's so good.


October 26, 2016

Pumpkin Cream Sauce and Penne


So I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins the other day and had some extra pumpkin and I thought what should I do with this? Make another batch of muffins or make something savory for dinner? And I opted for making something for dinner. Pumpkin Cream Sauce with Penne is absolutely delicious and it's all made in one pot.

What you need:
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic 
  • 1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions
In a large pot boil water and cook the penne pasta. Once cooked, drain the water, but keep 1 cup of the pasta water.


In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and minced garlic, season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5-7 minutes. 

Stir in the pumpkin and heavy cream and bring to a boil. 

Return the pasta to the pot along with the pasta cooking water and toss. 

Stir in the parmesan; season with salt and pepper, and presto chango (yes, we are magicians) you are done!


Top the pasta with the parsley and more parmesan. Heck add any cheese, I bet shredded cheddar or mozzarella would taste amazing on top of this too.


This tastes absolutely delicious with cheesy garlic bread! I happily ate it as leftover for a few days. For the two of us this was lunch and dinner for about 3 days.


October 24, 2016

Halloween Decorations


Well Halloween has arrived, well it will be in exactly one week. And I was a little late decorating this year. 

This year we did a similar table as last year. Check out last year's Halloween table here. This time we decided to make it a little spookier with a back tablecloth from Target; a huge black felt skull in the backdrop with bats and a haunted village that we made ourselves with little finds from the Dollar store and other little figurines and lit it up with led lights. I still have some work to do on the table. I haven't decided what I was going to put in the crates. So the above picture is just how it is now, but I am hoping to have some more time this week to arrange it differently.

The vampire mug is our best find. We found this super large Dracula mug at a consignment shop a few years ago. The owner was unfortunately closing the store and everything was only $1. My boyfriend loved it as soon as he saw it and I didn't know what he saw in it. 

But now I love it and I use it every Halloween as a vase and I love how Dracula has beautiful roses or marigolds on his head every year.


I made this backdrop for about $1.50. I bought the black felt skull at the Dollar Store, and the bats were from last year's project made out of black cardstock paper. Check out my tutorial here. If you don't have a cricut machine, just cut out bats from construction paper. Use a free template (like this one) online to cut around.


I also found this cute huge cardboard bat that I put in our entryway. I also added a few bats on the walls around the house.


As an unexpected find, and also at a small consignment shop, this past weekend, I saw these adorable little Halloween bears. And I just giggled and giggled when I saw them and how cute they were. My love, snatched up the three little bears, two were Halloween themed and the other was a Thanksgiving themed bear. 

I have to come find out these are Lucy Rigg bears. I never heard of them before. And there are hundreds of them dressed up in all sorts of adorable outfits. There are collectors out there that collect all different types of these cute little bears.

I have never been one to collect little toys, figures, or even stuffed animals. But I was delighted and purely happy when I saw these. And I am so happy my love bought them for me. 

Since then, I may have looked up more little bears and I might have bought a few more for Halloween and the Holidays. 


This is how the haunted village looks with the little lights on. I love how my boyfriend lit up each house with it's own little color. He did this all by himself. We were going to add moss, but we decided to keep the project simple.


Baking always makes me happy. So I have been baking tons lately. My boyfriend absolutely loves chocolate chip cookies, and I always make him a small batch of a dozen cookies so he can enjoy a few during the week.


As soon as Halloween is complete Day of the Dead will be here. I have been working on a few skulls and pieces. I listed this skull and a few others in my art shop.


Enjoy plenty of little treats because you deserve it. If you can't eat candy or chocolates buy yourself some flowers. And when you see them every day, I want you to smile, tell them how beautiful they are, and remind yourself that you are beautiful too. 

Have a wonderful week!