Bunny Brownies – I murdered my Easter Bunny

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Yesterday I picked up the Easter bunny.  Yummy little guy from See’s, the good stuff.  He has been just hanging around since Easter 2 weeks ago, what a freeloader.  So I picked him up and said: “I’m gonna murder you”.  Sounds dark, I know.  But it just came out…totally not my fault.

Sure, he tried to escape.

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But I apprehended him and even got him to pose for a photo with his soon-to-be ingredients (which I completely made up).  Oh and I never ended up using the dark chocolate, oh well.

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Notice that instead of Easter Eggs in his basket he’s carrying an egg for his brownie batter. Clever, I know.

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I’m such a monster, ahhhh!!

Bunny Brownies w/ Almond Butter & Sea Salt

1 Easter Bunny (I used a 10 oz. See’s chocolate bunny)
2 tablespoons butter (I used 1 tablespoon unsalted and 1 tablespoon ghee, using 2 tablespoons unsalted is fine)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or while whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant espresso or coffee powder (optional)

1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup palm sugar
1/3 cup sucanat
(can use 2/3 cup of whatever sugar you choose)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

3-4 tablespoons almond butter
Sea Salt to sprinkle on top of almond butter

Preheat oven to 350, prepare a 9×13 baking dish (greased or with parchment paper).

1. Melt chocolate bunny with your 2 tablespoons butter, either w/ a double boiler method like here (stirring consistently) or in the microwave w/ 30 second increments, stirring after each.  Once melted, take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

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2.  Mix your (dry ingredients) flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso/coffee powder in a large bowl.

3. Mix your (wet ingredients) greek yogurt, applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and egg in a smaller bowl.

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4. Combine your melted chocolate with your wet ingredients and mix.

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5. Mix your chocolate mixture into your dry ingredients.  At this point in my made-up recipe experiment I thought to myself, “hey, it looks like batter, good news!”

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6.  Let your batter rest for 20 minutes (you can skip this if you’re in a hurry but as you can see the batter really thickens up and changes during this time).  During this resting time I decided almond butter would be delicious to add, yay!

almondbutter.batterbunny

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7.  Layer 1/2 of the batter in your pan, then drizzle the almond butter on top of this layer.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt.  Add the rest of the batter on top.

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Stick in the oven for 30-45 minutes, my oven is crazy so you might want to start at 25 and work your way up :).

These were actually DELICIOUS.  But then again, how can you go wrong starting with a chocolate bunny???

Original Recipe

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5 Hour Energy? I Got Something Way Better

Do you ever feel sluggish or worn out?  Do you eat fruits and veggies but struggle get enough raw servings?  Are you a walking, breathing, human being?  If you answered yes to any of these questions I have the PERFECT solution for you… juicing!!!

It tastes delicious, I promise.  Your body will feel even more delicious though, talk about instant energy from readily available nutrients.  BAZING!

I try to do at least 1-2 green juices or smoothies per day (juices are made with a juicer and smoothies made in the blender).  Here’s my current favorite green juice recipe:

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Green Lean Mean Energizing Machine

Makes enough for 2 servings of juice:

1 large apple or 2 small-medium apples
2 pears
1 cucumber
1 lemon
8-10 leaves of kale, more if using the Tuscan kale
4-6 carrots
Split up produce into 2 sections.  You will juice each section at a time into a mason jar or glass.  Juice and enjoy! (I will post about the green smoothie soon, very similar to this but with banana, no carrot or cucumber, and in a blender!)

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Healthier Dark Chocolate Mint Brownies

Today I created my first baked good recipe.  That’s right, my very first ORIGINAL recipe!!  Super exciting and most of all, delicious.  Moist, fluffy, rich, complex, all those yummy words you can think of.  Although these are not low fat/calorie, they are made with whole ingredients and coconut cream instead of butter or oil which is a healthier fat.

These would also be great as cake or cupcakes.  These can easily be made vegan by omitting the egg, they will be less cakey and more dense.

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Healthier Dark Chocolate Mint Brownies

1 can coconut cream (I used trader joes)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 egg (omit if making vegan brownies)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar (I used a combo of palm sugar and xylitol)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Approximately 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Your coconut cream should be very think out of the can, if it is not leave unopened in a can or bowl overnight to firm.

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix coconut cream with wet ingredients and whisk together.
3. Mix dry ingredients and whisk together.
4. Combine wet to dry ingredients and mix.
5. Line a 11×7 pan with parchment paper or grease pan.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
7. Bake for 35-40 mins or until a toothpick inserted to middle of brownies comes out dry.
8. Cool for at least 1 hour.  Insert chunks of dark chocolate if wanted.
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What is this, a roast??

This week I roasted so many delicious things.

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Roasted Healthy French Fries

2 pounds of potatoes, olive oil, spices

I used a combination of different potatoes, this will work with any kind of spud ya got.

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Wash and microwave potatoes in a glass bowl for 5 minutes.

3. Cut potatoes into strips.

4. Cover with spices (I recommend salt, pepper, chili powder, and paprika) and olive oil, mix.

5. Bake for about 15-20 mins then flip over and bake for another 15-20.

Done!

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Roasted Broccoli (same recipe works great for asparagus)

Couple heads of broccoli, parmesan cheese, 1 lemon, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Wash and cut broccoli into florets.

3. Toss broccoli with juice of one lemon, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

4. Bake for 15 minutes.

5. Toss with parmesan cheese.

Done!

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Coconut Oil – “If You Don’t Know, Now Ya Know”

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Please tell me you’re using coconut oil!  Ok good.  Phew.  Because if not I was going to have to give you a very concerned look and question your sanity.

Coconut oil is wonderful.  Fantastic.  One of those things you would put on your “stranded on a desert island” take-a-long list.  Although if you’re lucky the island would have coconuts and, well, you get the idea.

Annnnnnnyway.

There are literally hundreds of uses for this stuff.  I currently use it for daily face/body moisturizer (claims to stave off wrinkles and offers minor sun protection, whaaaat?), hair conditioning treatment (see pictures), make-up remover, cooking, baking, and oil pulling in the morning.

Before Coconut Oil Treatment (my ends were getting dry and had that crunchy, sticky feeling).


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After Coconut Oil Treatment (take a tablespoon or so of coconut oil and rub it onto the bottom half of your hair, leave for 30 mins-over night then wash regularly).  As you can see the last 1/2 of my hair is completely restored, brought back to life!  I don’t use traditional shampoo and conditioner so this treatment every couple weeks really helps to bring back that silky feeling.

This photo was taken after leaving coconut oil in my hair for about 3 hours, washing it with organic shampoo, no conditioner, and air drying.

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Bonus Links:

Here’s a delicious recipe for a ice cream/cupcake “Magic Shell” topping using coconut oil:

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2010/05/20/homemade-artisana-cacao-bliss/

Here is site with an extensive list of coconut oil uses:

http://www.hybridrastamama.com/2012/01/160-uses-for-coconut-oil.html

So the conclusion would have to be….go buy yourself a jar of this perfection and then figure out all the ways you’ll be putting it to work!

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Natural Make-Up and More

This last year has been one of sadness, strength, togetherness, and change.  One of these changes has been simplifying life.  Less stuff, less ingredients, less stress, less distractions.  We are eating more whole foods, focusing on time with family, paying attention to what we put on our bodies, and trying to focus our path on a life of positive achievement.  It may be corny but it all matters.

One of the major changes I’ve enacted is cosmetics.  Have you ever read the ingredients on your lotion bottles or shampoo?  Do a little research, it might spark some concern.

Good database to start out with:  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

I (along with friends) have put in A LOT of research to find the best, most natural, products that WORK.  None of this hippy dippy rip-off stuff that still has weird ingredients but charges you double for the word “organic” in the title.  You’re welcome.

PICKS:

Best natural mascara (for the best price tag I’ve seen): Rejuva Minerals Mascara, $8.50

http://www.rejuvaminerals.com/store/product573.html

Best concealer, blush, and highlight: RMS, $36-$38

I use the un-cover up 22 for a light foundation and 11 for under my eyes/concealer.  I got samples of all of them so sometimes use the 33 or 44 colors for a contour shade under my cheekbones and on the sides of my nose.  The rapture Lip2Cheeck and Living Luminizer are also must-haves for me.

http://rmsbeauty.com/

Best shampoo: Bubble and Bee, $14.99

For my shampoo/conditioner routine I use Bubble and Bee’s Organic Hard Water followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse.  Sounds weird but it works.  And it’s actually good for your scalp!

http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-344/%22Hard-Water-Shampoo%22/Detail

Best lotion: Bubble and Bee, $16.95

The coconut lime is my favorite but the raspberry vanilla is divine as well.  This sounds expensive but is very concentrated since she doesn’t add water to her products.  I find it works best to put on when I get out of the shower and am damp, then I can just grab a little and spread it all over.

http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-Organic-Lotions/Categories

Best body wash: Bubble and Bee, $11.95

You just need a tiny bit, gotta love this stuff.  Purest ingredients unless you just want to wash yourself with some soap nuts!  I have the Lemongrass Rosemary.

http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-Organic-Shower-Gel/Categories

Best face wash: Bubble and Bee, $14.99

I like all her facial cleansers so I would recommend getting the sample pack which contains all 3 types.  So good!

http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-Organic-Facial-Care/Categories

Best lip balm: Bubble and Bee, $3.99

Many of her lip balms are 100% organic.  One zero zero!  The flavors are great too, I recommend the orange, coconut lime, and karma apple.

http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-Organic-Lip-Balms/Categories

Best deodorant: Bubble and Bee, $10.85

I’ve tried many natural deodorants.  Bubble and Bee’s Geranium Lime Pit Puddy Cream is by far my favorite.  I like the spray with it too but it’s not necessary.  It’s the first time I’ve tried a deodorant (natural or not) that keeps me dry and smelling good all day long, no matter what my activity level.  I wish I would have found this stuff years ago!

http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-Organic-Deodorants-cln-NEW-Pit-Putty-Deodorant-Creams/Categories

Best eyeliner: Lauren Brooks Cosmetiques, $13.50

http://www.naturaljoybeauty.com/servlet/the-776/Lauren-Brooke-Cosmetiques-Eye/Detail

Best eye shadow: Real Purity, $15.50

http://www.naturaljoybeauty.com/servlet/the-672/Real-Purity-Eye-Shadow/Detail

That pretty much covers my line-up.  And no, I’m not a rep for Bubble and Bee.  I just love her stuff, it’s fun and as pure as it gets.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about this stuff, I’ve done countless hours of research so any time savings I can pass on to you is my pleasure!

You won’t believe how much better you feel when you know the stuff you slather on your skin every single day has no potential to build up and cause problems later!  “A freeing sort of experience it is” – Yoda (I’m sure he said it at some point).

Picked your Passion?

Five years ago, fresh out of college, I picked my passion.  Rather, it picked me.  I started a job working as a teacher’s assistant at an after-school program for students with developmental disabilities.  I imagined it would be my introduction into the working world, a job that I would have for a couple years to get my start.  Fast forward 5 years.  Still there, more in love with the students withe special needs I work with and excited to know that I’ll be working with this population of amazing individuals for the rest of my life.

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Knowing what you were put on this earth to do is a good feeling.

What is it that drives you?  How can you make it more central in your life?  Is it your family, your volunteer position, your hobby, your art?  Nothing matters more than doing the thing that contributes to making our little corner of the world a better place, no matter what that thing is.

We can live with less stuff, we really can.  I promise.  What we can’t live without is knowing that we didn’t do all the loving to God, our soul, and others that we could possibly do on this earth.  LOVE IT UP!  And please, go feed your passion!

 

 

Doing What You Love

Today I bought tickets to ‘Pink Floyd Concert Experience’  show! Image

Awesome music, laser light show, moving lights, and sound effects?  CHECK.

 I fell in love with Pink Floyd in college, listening to all their albums constantly.  I saw Roger Waters perform Dark Side of the Moon in 2007 , so killer.  Although I listen to them less now, I still have that same appreciation for their melodies, ingenuity, and style.

The last couple days I’ve been thinking about how everyone needs to fuel that passion for what they really love every now and again (everything in moderation, yea?).  I LOVE live music but have to fit shows into my schedule and budget.  My husband LOVES photography but has to pace himself on his lens purchases.

I think it’s mucho important to recognize what makes other people’s souls happy as well (I’ll have to write about love languages next time).  This is a dire need especially in a marriage, but is necessary for all healthy relationships.  If we are always looking for ways to make each other happy instead of serving ourselves, the other will always be taken care of (does that make sense?).

Lamentably we are all selfish creatures that need a little prodding to put others ahead of our own ego.  But, oh, when we do, we remember how great it feels to do good for others, not to mention the good vibes indubitably headed our way!

First.Blog.Ever

Courtney.Tahoe.1

Here I am, starting a blog.  Questions that are running through my mind include:

“Who the heck cares what I have to say?”

“Aren’t there like five thousand trillion blogs out there?”

“Am I really going to have the patience to maintain something like this?”

“What’s the difference between inflammable and flammable?”

Anyway, moving on from said rhetorical questions, I’m going to try this crazy 21st century bis-nass.  I’ve been doing my best to learn a lot about living a healthy, happy, Christ-centered, fun-loving, balanced life.  Losing my mom to breast cancer last June made me realize how precious not only every day is, but every decision as well.

Armed with a passion for cooking and baking, a love for researching healthy living tricks, a yearning for a fulfilling life beyond the lies of society, and my husbands super fancy camera, let us see what this adventure might bring!

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