Friday, August 21, 2015

Sonoma Weekend


Dan and I had a fun weekend getaway last week. We've been racking up airline miles (with building those houses and all) so we cashed them in for a Friday night flight to the Bay Area. Our lovely friends AJ and Sheena picked us up and we drove out to wine country to meet up with the rest of our friends. The Wanamaker's rented a an awesome airbnb house and we split it between all of us. 

On Saturday we went to the Roth Estate Winery down the street from our house and played Cambodian jenga while wine tasting...later on we went on a Russian River Float! It was really fun -- a calm cool river, sprinkled with a few "Oh my god" rapids ;) I ended up popping my floatie on the first rapid...my valiant husband insisted on giving me his. What a guy! After the float we came back to the house, made dinner, drank a bit more wine and explored the land behind the house.

The next day we drove to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, lounged by the pool, sipped on mudslides and had a private tasting and tour at the winery! Thanks for the hook up Mr. Wanamaker! It was really interesting to learn about the wine making process! I had no clue how complicated it really is...

What a fabulous weekend.
I love these people <3



Now I'm not a wine connoisseur by any means...I have know idea what I'm doing, but I thought it would be fun to put together a little list of my personal favorites that we tried over the weekend! I'm on my way to understanding why people go nuts for wine!

********


Roth 2012 Alexander Valley Heritage Enticing deep, dark purple color. The wine features smoky, firewood aromas and dark fruit notes such as blackberry, and cherry. The palate draws you in with a good mouth-feel and rich flavors of violet, coffee, clove and vanilla bean.

Roth 2014 Sauvgnon Blanc is crisp and balanced with a nice vibrant acidity. On the nose, it displays notes of tropical fruits, citrus zest and floral aromas that carry through to the palate with lively flavors of melon and grapefruit. This wine finishes strong for a long, juicy finish.

Coppola's 2010 Archimedes is a luxurious Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, delivering immensely concentrated flavors of black cherries and juicy red plums. Opulent and aromatic, opening with an alluring fragrance of cherries, figs, cocoa and lavender. Dark, luscious flavors of cassis, plums and blackberries are accentuated by spicy notes of cloves and allspice. The wine is dense with medium tannins and a long, flavorful fruit finish crowned by the scent of cigar box. 

Coppola's 2012 Reserve Viognier Chardonnay is a real show stopper that bursts from the glass with perfume of pears, honeysuckle and cloves. Its rich, lush palate includes pineapple, peach, and melon flavors that are balanced by zesty citrus fruit, notes of minerals and a beautiful butterscotch finish.
^^^I do believe this award winning beauty is my favorite!!! I’m a bit of a wimp when if comes to big bold wines, so this one is perfect -- smooth, easy and fabulous to drink by the pool or dine al fresco on a warm breezy evening. A complex and creamy Chardonnay, layered with juicy citrus flavors and a buttery finish. Ahhh yes…this is my pick right here people!



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oh Hey There Minted.


I have been crushing on Minted for a long time. When they reached out to see if I would be interested in a sponsored post, I jumped at the chance because their company is one of my favorites and their products are just too gorgeous not to share! Minted is a marketplace of independent artists who create and submit designs for all your paper necessities… everything from wedding invitations to limited edition art prints and paper party decor. Minted has it all! Being an art lover myself, I think it's a fabulous company and a great way to showcase and support artists. The public is welcome to vote and submit for free! <-- LOVE this!



It’s easy to lose track of time while exploring their site – they have so many options! I’m especially fond of Minted's save the date cards. Wedding fever is catching among our friends... every time we open our mailbox it seems that another couple is tying the knot!  I was recently the MOH for my best friend Shan and she decided on these beautiful Minted wedding invitations. They were perfect for her garden wedding! I recommend Minted to any of my bride-to-be friends who are searching for their save-the-dates and wedding invitations. You can’t go wrong!





Yes, Minted is the dream one-stop-shop for all your wedding paper needs, but they are so much bigger than just weddings. I really enjoy Minted's personalized stationery, day planners and journals – helpful items to get your family organized with the new school year fast approaching. And photo calendars are a beautiful way to display some special moments throughout the year.

Gawwww I love this personal stationery ^




A few more things Minted offers ^^^

P.S. Is it too early to be thinking about Christmas cards? I am falling for these

***All pictures come from Minted***

My Best Friend's Wedding


My best friend got married to her Navy man a few months back! I've been holding off on the post, because I wanted to share some of their gorgeous wedding pictures too! Thanks for letting Danny and me be a part of your special day! We love you both so much and wish you all the happiness in the world.

A little MOH love to her best friend and groom. 
A small slice of my cheesy speech... 


"It is impossible to not see the love, respect and friendship between you. It is the kind of relationship we should all aspire too…one that pushes you to be your best, to trust in your partner and to live by the motto -- home is where your heart is / or home is wherever I'm with you. 


Love is powerful – it’s the virtue that holds all others together. Whatever plan God may have for your future, you will know with certainty that he gave you each other to get there as a couple
to love each other 
to support each other 
and to make each other stronger 

Cheers to Justin and Shannon and their greatest adventure yet.  May you both grow more in love each day and be surrounded by the support of family, friends and God’s immeasurable love.  Cheers to a lifetime of happiness."


A little wedding clip I put together:
"All I Do Is Dream of You" by Debbie Reynolds and Bobby Van {S and J's 1st Dance Song}




































 





Photography: jmfoto photographic co.  | InvitationsMinted  |  Venue: Twin Oaks Garden Estate  | Catering: Twin Oaks  |  Floral Design: "Petite Bouquet" | Linens & China: Twin Oaks | Wedding Dress:Allure Bridals 9121 | Suit Rentals: Men's Warehouse & Navy Dress Whites  |  Hair & Makeup: Annie Mergenthaler & Camille Smith 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vegan Vanilla Caramel Slice














































The most AMAZING vanilla caramel slices! They taste like caramelly cookie dough heaven! Vegan and refined sugar free. Made from wholesome ingredients with healthy benefits! I like to keep these in the freezer and have one for dessert...or breakfast ;) with a cup of coffee. Awww perfection! 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Base:
1 cup soft pitted dates
1 cup almond flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. water

Blend ingredients in a food processor until combined. Press date mixture into a lined (wax paper) 9X9 glass dish.  Place in the freezer.

Middle Layer:
2 cups soft pitted dates
1 tbsp. peanut butter
3 tbsp.  tahini
1/2 cup hemp mylk
1 tbsp. mesquite powder (*see note below)
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Pour on top of the base mixture and use a spatula to spread it evenly into the corners of the dish. Place back in the freezer.

Top Layer:
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup (optional sweetener)
Mix ingredients in a cup. Use a microwave if needed to melt the coconut oil.
Pour on top and spread chocolate sauce evenly over the caramel-date layer.

Sprinkle with topping of your choice or keep plain (I used chopped pistachios and Brazil nuts).
Place in the freezer for 8 hours (or over night). Cut into slices and serve!


*Note on Mesquite Powder

So when I first heard about Mesquite powder, I thought it would taste like smoky BBQ; not so... it has a sweet nutty caramel-like flavor, making it ideal for a natural sweetener in desserts. Mesquite powder is ground from the pods of the mesquite plant and is high in protein, low on the glycemic index and is a good source of soluble fiber, calcium, iron, lysine, manganese, zinc, and potassium. Nice...



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites


I'm obsessed with Laura Bars...my favorite is their chocolate peanut butter bar. At $1.79 a pop things can add up quickly, so I decided to make my own. It looked simple enough, right? It was! My version is refined sugar-free and packed with protein. They are the perfect treat! 



Ingredients:

15 soft pitted dates
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter (raw or regular)
1 tsp. water
1/2 peanuts
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips or cacao nibs

1 cup shredded coconut


Instructions:

Blend pitted dates, peanut butter and water in a food processor until the mixture turns into a coarse paste. You may need to add more water depending on the brand of peanut butter you use (some pb's are drier than others).

Add peanuts, salt and chocolate chips to the food processor. Pulse a few times to incorporate the ingredients and break the peanuts into smaller pieces.

Take spoonfuls of the mixer and roll into 2-inch balls. Roll each ball in finely shredded coconut and place on a plate.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to serve.
*I usually keep these in the refrigerator for the whole week and grab one whenever a sweet craving hits.  





Thursday, June 18, 2015

Peanut Butter Banana Date Nice Cream Bowl with Caramelized Coconut Banana's, Brown Butter Chocolate Drizzle N Berries



I was craving something sweet...sometimes nothing will do, but a big bowl of peanut butter and chocolate! My solution --> a smoothie bowl made with bananas and dates drizzled with organic chocolate and peanut butter and topped with caramelized coconut bananas, brown butter chocolate squares, berries, mint, buckinis, cacao nibs and everything you dream about. 

Ingredients:

Nice Cream:
2 frozen bananas
3 soft pitted dates
1 tbsp. organic peanut butter
1/4 cup water

Chocolate Drizzle:
2 squares of chocolate (I used this amazing Brown Butter Organic Chocolate) You can also opt for one of Altereco's vegan chocolates.
1 tsp. coconut oil

Peanut Butter Drizzle:
1 tsp. organic peanut butter
1/2 tsp. coconut oil

Caramelized Coconut Sugar Bananas:
6 banana coins
1 tbsp. coconut sugar
1 tbsp. coconut oil

Extra Toppings:
5 berries
3 sprigs of mint
1 tbsp. buckinis (sprouted buckwheat groats)
1 tbsp. cacao nibs


Directions:

Nice Cream:
Blend frozen bananas, dates, peanut butter and water together. set in the freezer until ready to serve.

Chocolate Drizzle:
In a small cup melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until liquified.

Peanut Butter Drizzle:
In a small cup melt peanut butter and coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until liquified.

Caramelized Coconut Sugar Bananas:
Dip each side of the banana coin in coconut sugar and place in a hot pan with 1 tbsp. hot coconut oil. Fry on each side until a crispy shell is formed. *I like to flip them with chopsticks...it's easier than a spatula.

Assembling:
Take the nice cream out of the freezer and pour/spoon into a bowl. Drizzle chocolate and peanut butter sauces (if you want to make it look pretty swirl them with a toothpick, move quickly because both or these sauces will harden in 10 seconds or so). Place caramelized banana's on top, followed by berries, mint, buckinis and cacao nibs. And there you have it!





Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vegan Chocolate Nut Butter Caramel Cups With Sea Salt



























I'm not a vegan (as you can see from many of my other recipes), but lately I've have been experimenting with healthier options. I think I nailed this one! I wouldn't feel right keeping this to myself so I had to should share it with you guys! It will improve your life...or at least put a satisfied smile on your face. I even like these better than Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! Whaaaaat!? It's true. They are super easy to make and taste amazing + you'll feel less guilty indulging in these little treats because they are all natural with no preservative. Without further ado, I give you Vegan Chocolate Nut Butter Caramel Cups With Sea Salt.

Makes about 8 (2 inches round 1 inch thick each)
Ingredients:

Chocolate shell:
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
2 tsp. coconut oil

Nut butter caramel:
2 tbsp. nut butter (any kind will do...I like peanut)
8 soft pitted dates
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. water
pinch of sea salt


Directions:

-Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwavable cup for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir to incorporate the oil into the chocolate. You'll want the consistency of the chocolate to pour off your spoon in a thick stream (not too runny or it won't set up)

-Spoon a bit of the chocolate into your mini nonstick muffin cups, just enough to cover the bottom of each cup. Then place the tin in the freezer. Any leftover chocolate can be set aside and used later.

-Now start the nut butter caramel! Place the nut butter (cashew, almond, peanut or whatever you like), soft pitted dates, coconut oil, water and sea salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until the the ingredients turn into a fine paste. 

-Take the frozen chocolate tin out of the freezer and distribute the nut butter caramel evenly among the cups. Press the paste firmly into the mold to avoid any gaps between the layers. Make sure to pat the tops so they are level and flat.

-Reheat the leftover chocolate and pour it over the cups. Give the tin a few taps on the counter to level the chocolate. Sprinkle with a sea salt flakes.

-Place in the fridge or freezer until the chocolate has set. * To release the treats from the mini muffin tin, hold the bottom of the tin over a flame for 5 seconds on each cup. Take a thin knife and run it along the edge of each circle. They should pop right out. Serve at room temp