What the fudge?

This was a new and odd predicament I found myself in.  There I stood, Sunday afternoon (post-yoga) and I had no idea what to bake!  Although the berry cake was enjoyed at the studio, with temperatures finally beginning to rise, my berry cake quickly turned into a melty-mess.

It was quite gross. 

With the changing of the seasons, I realized I needed to switch up my baking tactics; it was time to move away from the luscious treats and towards treats that were easily pop-able, less guilty, and ones that could be easily refrigerated.

Still at a loss at which direction my baking venture should take, Tommy had no problem throwing down a challenge: something with peanut butter.  Peanut butter is a dangerous venture for me, especially since I killed half a jar of it this past Friday with a spoon.

I try to stick to (somewhat) healthy-ish eating habits, but when it comes to peanut butter, all self-control goes right out of the window.  However, I was up for the challenge.

Tommy had suggested peanut butter sugar cookies, but I quickly shot that down.  After our Volunteer Brunch, I was a little sugar-cookied out (because if you’re going to do peanut butter sugar cookies, you need to do them right – with peanut butter or Nutella frosting and all).  Finally, we came to an executive decision: peanut butter fudge.

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Resisting the urge to dive face first into this delicious beauty, the fudge was easy enough to prep and make.  Before popping the fudge into the fridge, I decided to make a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache to go on top (because there is no better combination than peanut butter and dark chocolate)!   

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Peanut Butter fudge was definitely a good call; my manager and I suffered from a post-brunch daze all week, and looking ahead, this week will be full of Adoptathon prep, Adoptathon itself, and my mom’s birthday!  Since there will be plenty of baking coming up in these next few days, I am glad that a simple recipe was decided upon for yesterday.  Not only did it give me a chance to mentally tune-out and movie marathon Rogue One and the Hunger Games, but above all else, I could finally relax.

Well, if relaxing is even truly possible for me. 

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When life hands you lemons, eat peanut butter

I have to admit, it was a quiet week on the western front, one where I was simply trying to keep my head low and get through the week.  Motivation has been hard to come by, often feeling stuck and scattered instead of secure and inspired.  I guess this is where I need to take a step back and tell myself it’s okay to stand still, to stay rooted where I am and strive for growth.  An overwhelming feeling of impulsiveness and anxiousness does not help that though.  In times like these, it is no surprise that I turn to my baking to ease my troubles, unless of course I am baking with the one ingredient that causes me to throw all forms of common sense out of the window: peanut butter. 

This week, my attempt to bake treats for others did not go according to plan.  Normally, I am pretty good at abstaining from tasting my baked treats; however, all bets are off when peanut butter is involved.  As much as I enjoy experimenting with different recipes, and attempting to make “healthy” treats, that is when I begin to bargain with myself and convince myself that it is okay to try them: Oh, it’s peanut butter, there’s no added sugar or flour, this recipe is healthy!  And more often than not, once I try one that is when I eat half of the tray (as I have absolutely zero self-control when it comes to all things peanut butter).

IMG_1230  Although these make look odd, and similar to last week’s PB banana treats, these came out so much butter than I could have imagined!  In addition to peanut butter and bananas, these squares also contained mini chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, oats and shredded coconut. (Almost healthy!)

Waking up this morning, I could definitely feel the after effects of my peanut butter tray binge, but sometimes, I guess you need to fall off of the wagon in order to jump back on with a new vigor.

This weekend, I have quite a bit of baking to do to; luckily, all of my upcoming treats will be peanut butter free (and temptation free)!

 

; my story is not over yet

Everyone always asks me, “why do you bake so much?”  Baking can be time consuming, costly and a situation on the hips; so why do I do it?

Well, why does anyone take part in any hobby?  It makes me happy. It’s that simple.  Why do I practice hot yoga so much? It makes me happy.  Why do I wander around taking photographs? It makes me happy.  Baking takes me out of my head.  When I find myself slumped, baking helps pull me out of it.

This week, I was on a health(y-ish) kick.  As a lover of all things peanut butter, I was determined to bake something with my favorite indulgence.

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After a quick search, I settled on a recipe that only called for three ingredients; what could be better than that?  Peanut butter, (gluten free) oats and bananas.  Healthy(ish), quick and simple.  I threw some mini chocolate chips and peanut butter chips on top (because: why not?) and called it a day; at the root of it all though, this recipe was created with good intentions.

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Finding hobbies that make us happy are so incredibly important.  They take us away from the negativity, even if just for a moment.  However, in times where we are truly struggling, hobbies may not be enough.  Anxiety and depression can be so painful, so debilitating, that it can feel as though nothing will pull us out of the downward spiral.  Sometimes, it is not easy for someone to open up about what he or she may be feeling; therefore, it is important for us to be kind, sympathetic and brave enough to listen, to help he or she feel safe and accepted.

The most heartbreaking news I could have heard all week was that Amy Bleuel, the founder of Project Semicolon, passed away.  Although I did not know her personally, as a school counseling student and someone who has dealt with their own feelings of depression and anxiety, I found Project Semicolon to be extremely moving and inspiring.

(To learn more about Project Semicolon, please visit: https://projectsemicolon.com)

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Amy’s passing in no way lessens this beautiful movement, or all the work she has done to serve as an advocate within the mental health community.  The semicolon will always remain as a symbol of hope for anyone who may be struggling, who has struggled or who has lost someone.  We must keep striving forward and keep spreading hope; our story is not over.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

Fun Monday!

When the boss is away, the workstudies will play; at least, that was my thought process heading into work last Monday.  Although I currently work full time (Tuesdays-Saturdays) at North Shore Animal League America, on Monday evenings you can find me behind the desk at HotYoga4You Rockville Centre.

I fell in love with the practice back in 2012, but living the life of a part time retail worker and full time graduate student eventually led me to take quite the hiatus.  There wasn’t a day that I did not miss that studio, the classes or my favorite instructor (HI CHRIS!)  At the start of 2016, I was determined to return.  Fast forward one year later and now you’ll find me working behind the desk and spending just as much time at the studio as you would at my regular job.  To be honest, I was shocked when I was asked to be a workstudy; I was simply that quiet introvert who checked into class and went straight into the room. To be honest (and in an attempt to not sound like a Debby Downer), I didn’t think anyone noticed me.  I’m used to being unseen, whether through my own actions or life’s natural occurrences.  Now, not only do I love the studio for the practice, but becoming a workstudy has allowed me to open up with the students and instructors around me, creating a few really great friendships.

Hence: FUN MONDAY!

 

Although I have grown close to several people at the studio, I have probably grown closest with fellow workstudies (now instructors) Michelle and Stephanie.  Seeing the three of us slotted to work together, I knew it was going to be an awesome shift.  For the past few months, my fellow workstudies and instructors have been wonderful taste-testers for all of my baked treats; so, I promised Michelle that this batch would be on the healthy-ish side.

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These flourless, peanut butter chunk cookies proved that if at first you do not succeed, try and try again! While baking these cookies, it seemed that fun Monday was turning into everything but that.  I was your regular bull in a china shop: tripping over the kitchen rug, nearly dropping my mixer bowl, tearing aluminum foil like a spazz, and finally, burning my first batch.

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These soft and chewy cookies quickly turned into bricks with every minute of cooling.  I am all for learning how to make a crunchy cookie, but not if the trade off is serving someone a hockey puck instead of a treat.  So what is a girl to do?  Simple: scrap it and try again.  I’m sure if my mother was home, she would have protested and said they were fine.

When it comes to baking, though, I am quite the perfectionist.

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Round two was a success: a healthy(ish) peanut buttery cookie!  Fun Monday proved to be a lesson in patience and perseverance, but overall, it was definitely worth it.

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