How did you celebrate Valentine’s day?
Clockwise from top left:
1 // Delicious takeout pasta with tomato basil sauce and mushrooms
2 // Such a pretty table!
3 // View from my work… if my office had windows! So I guess this is what the view would be.
4 // July 4th white chocolate-dipped strawberries that my aunt made! This photo is waaay overdue: these were beautiful and delicious.
5 // Caramel-filled brownie
6 // Tiny easel
7 // Pretty printed notebooks
8 // Funniest sign ever.
9 // Cupcakes!! The ones with the cookies on top were cookie-dough flavored and divine.
Ever heard of #kindawesome? It’s a movement by KIND Healthy Snacks, and it’s all about documenting awesome things that happen to you. KIND gave me some bars to share with my sorority sisters, so I decided to share them with you all, too!
I received four varieties of KIND bars: two from the PLUS line and two from the Nuts & Spices line. From the PLUS line I got Almond Walnut Macadamia + Protein and Blueberry Pecan + Fiber, and from the Nuts & Spices line I received Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt and Cashew and Ginger Spice.
I sat on my sorority house’s porch to take some photos of the bars, and my sorority sisters immediately started asking about them. I told them about the products, and they were so excited to try them!
KIND bars have stellar nutrition stats, and the stats vary for each bar flavor. The PLUS bars are full of protein and low in sugar. All bars contain only pronounceable, recognizable ingredients: nothing artificial here! I love that key nutrition info about the protein, fiber, and sugar content of each bar is listed right on the front of the wrapper. It’s quick and easy to find a bar that’s right for you.
Dark Chocolate Nut & Sea Salt: These bars contain 7g fiber, 6g protein, and 5g sugar. They’re nutty and have a chocolate-coated bottom. There is a ribbon of chocolate on top, making this bar so pretty. It tastes indulgent, and the sea salt really brings out the flavor of the chocolate.
Almond Walnut Macadamia + Protein: These bars contain 2.5g fiber, 10g protein, and 7g sugar. These bars have my three favorite nuts in them, and they’re the perfect mix of crunchy and chewy.
Cashew & Ginger Spice: These bars contain 5g fiber, 6g protein, and 4g sugar. The ginger gives these bars a special twist: they reminded me of a gingerbread cookie!
Blueberry Pecan + Fiber: These bars contain 5g fiber, 4g protein, and 9g sugar. They contain tangy blueberries, and the combination of pecans and berries tasted like a blueberry muffin… yum!
It can be difficult to eat healthy, whole foods when you’re on the go. Realistically, it’s so much easier to grab a bar and throw it in your bag. KIND bars make it simple to eat healthy even when you have a busy lifestyle. I’m so thankful to KIND Healthy Snacks for providing me with these products, and I know that my sorority sisters are, too!
Have you tried KIND bars? What is your favorite flavor?
Hi lovelies 🙂 I’ve been super busy lately, so I’m sorry if I’ve been slow to respond to your comments! When I’m overwhelmed with work, I try to appreciate the little things that make me happy. Here are some of these things as of late.
Archer Farms Dark Chocolate Espresso Trail Mix
My friend Veronica introduced me to this trail mix, and WOW it is addicting. The chocolate-covered coffee beans give you a jolt of energy, making it a perfectly indulgent study snack.
(Productive) Study Breaks
Painting my nails is my favorite way to take a study break. Notice the autism notes in the background? It’s productive, but it gives your brain a break! Confetti nail polish is great inexpensive polish. I got this bottle (called “Not Your Mother’s Pink”) for $2, and it goes on smoothly and lasts for a fairly long time without chipping. It comes in plenty of fun colors, so it’s great for when you want to try a new, fun color but don’t want to splurge.
One Less Thing to Worry About
My research assistantship grant proposal was accepted, so I’ll be getting paid this summer! Thank goodness.
Veggies and Hummus
It’s finally gotten warm in Chicago, so my sorority sisters and I have been spending a lot of time on our porch lately! On Saturday there was a concert on the quad, so we picked up some snacks at Whole Foods and hung out. I got this roasted red pepper hummus on sale, and it was delicious!
I liked Emergen-C on Facebook, and they sent me free samples! I tried both flavors, and they were both pretty good! Surprisingly, I liked the Tangerine flavor better than the Lemon-Lime flavor. I usually love lemon-lime flavored drinks, but this one just wasn’t tart enough for me. The tangerine flavor was refreshing and sweet. These drink mixes are full of vitamins, and very tasty!
Also, Geneologie was generous enough to send me a cup koozie and a tank top. An employee also sent me a lovely handwritten note… I felt so special! Geneologie is a really cool sorority merchandise site where you can customize everything from water bottles to running shorts.
What little thing have you been loving lately?
These cookies are easy to make and so delicious. You only need a few ingredients to make them. These cookie cups are such cute, fun treats that everyone will love. They are perfect for cookie exchange parties!
Peanut Butter Cookie Cups – makes 36 cookies
1 Pouch Peanut Butter Cookie Mix
36 Miniature Peanut Butter Cups
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.
2. Make the cookie dough according to package instructions. Spritz a bit of nonstick spray on your hands, and roll 1-inch balls of cookie dough. The spray prevents the dough from sticking you your hands. Place a dough ball in each well of the muffin tin.
3. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. While the cookies bake, unwrap the peanut butter cups.
4. Immediately after taking the cookies out of the oven, press a peanut butter cup into each one. Let the cookies cool in the muffin tins until the chocolate has hardened.
Whenever I bring homemade treats to a gathering, other people tell me that they can’t bake. In response, I tell them they’re wrong. Baking is actually not that hard to do.
The key, for me at least, is to cut corners. I know, I know, this is really bad, but I’m going to be completely honest with you here. There are several things that recipes instruct you to do that won’t make a noticeable difference in the final product. So save yourself some time and effort. Here are some baking “rules” that I just don’t follow. You don’t need to do them either.
There are other baking rules that you definitely should follow, such as preheating the oven to the correct temperature, measuring your ingredients fairly precisely (though I have been known to eyeball measurements and nobody has called the kitchen police on me yet), and setting a timer so that you remember to remove your treats from the oven. But those are all obvious and easy to follow.
I can’t bear to write a baking post without sharing a recipe with you, so here is a brownie recipe that I made today. It’s from Smitten Kitchen, so of course it does not disappoint. The recipe is courtesy of Deb, but the photos are mine.
My adaptions to the recipe:
I hope you enjoy these brownies as much as I do! If you’ve never baked before, then this recipe is a good one to start with. Baking is easy, I promise. 🙂
Boy Scouts are selling popcorn. Which means they’re selling chocolate-covered caramel popcorn. Which means this is my reaction.
I got to see one of my lovely BFFs Jaime yesterday. She is from Pennsylvania so I haven’t seen her all Summer, but now we’re reunited! Jaime Instagrammed this photo.
We went to a football game along with my boyfriend Sebastian. I can’t wait to see all my friends on Friday when I move back to college! As for the game, I’m excited to say that the Northwestern Wildcats are currently 3-0!! YAY!!
By this point in the afternoon I was tired of my hair being in my face, so I put it up in a ponytail. I have extremely thick hair, so my hairstyle options are “up” and “down.” If anyone has any styling tips for thick hair, please share!
Today I went to the gym, then stopped by my local library’s charity book sale with my parents. I found this giant coffee table book for only $5. It’s full of big, full-color images of Toulouse-Lautrec’s fascinating paintings.
That made me happy, but this made me even happier. I was flipping through the book when this pamphlet fell out. It’s from a 1979 exhibit at The Art Institute of Chicago! It’s in perfect condition and I plan to frame it. I love old stuff, and this was a great find!! I also think it’s funny that this particular image was chosen for the cover of the pamphlet. It’s called Yvette Gilbert Taking a Curtain Call (1894) and I adore the sweet yet almost-smug look on Yvette’s face.
Who is your favorite artist?
Any thick-haired ladies have hairstyling tips? Please help me out!
Last weekend my boyfriend Sebastian and I made chocolate chip cookies. He recently bought a fancy DSLR camera, so I
asked forced him to be my photographer for the cookie-baking process.
I didn’t have enough semisweet chocolate chips for the cookies, so I mixed several kinds of chips to use them all up. The result? Triple chocolate chip cookies!
Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 30 cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose power
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butter into small cubes in a large glass bowl, then microwave it for 30 seconds or until soft and slightly melted. Add the brown and granulated sugars and mix well until the batter is light and fluffy.
2. Add the egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Stir, then add the flour in 1/2 cup increments, stirring after each addition.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips. This is really good dough, so taste a little if you want. Err.. or more. No judgement here.
4. Using a small spoon, scoop blobs of dough onto an ungreased metal cookie sheet. Wet your (CLEAN) fingertips with water and shape the dough blobs into more uniform circles. This makes them look prettier. But frankly, nobody really cares if they’re pretty or not.
5. Bake for 7-9 minutes. The edges of the cookies should be golden brown, but the middles should look slightly under-done.
6. After 2 minutes of chilling on the cookie sheet, transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Eat them fresh from the oven or after the cookies cool off – they’re good both ways!
This bread is perfectly sweet and so good for you. It’s packed with pumpkin, protein, and whole grain. There’s no sugar added except for the chocolate chips, but as we all know, chocolate doesn’t count. 😉 This recipe makes enough for two loaves: one for yourself and one to share.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread – makes 2 loaves
- 1 small can pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 6 0z. mini semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin, peanut butter, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl until well blended.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t overmix the batter. If it looks more like biscuit dough (flaky and crumbly) than bread dough (sticky), then add some skim milk in 1/4 cup increments until you get the right consistency.
- Fold in the chocolate chips! Yay!
- Line two loaf pans with aluminum foil, and spray the foil with cooking spray. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and spread it out so that it reaches the edges of the pans. Sprinkle more mini chocolate chips over the tops.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the loaves cool in their pans on a wire rack.
What is your favorite kind of quick bread?