Monday, April 29, 2013

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

So I know it's Monday and weekend is over (boo!) but I have a recipe today that I am so excited to share with you today! 

Three words: Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Cheesecake. 


Do I have your attention yet?

Some friends had Cameron and I over for dinner last week, and I was requested to make a dessert (twist my arm!) and after much deliberation I decided on these chocolate peanut butter mini-cheesecakes because we happened to have some peanut butter on hand from making puppy chow (Midwest, what up!) during my sister's visit a few weeks ago. They turned out really well and were a huge hit with our friends!



 This recipe combines three of my favorite things in an adorable mini portion, and it's definitely going to be one of my new go to dessert recipes for sure.  I love cheesecake but I rarely make it because it's such a huge production (the springform pan, the water bath, all the time--so annoying). What's great about this recipe is you still get the same effect of homemade cheesecake but it's much easier. Way easier than making a batch of frosted cupcakes even. And the awesome part is that unlike cupcakes or other baked good that might go stale if you bake them a day or two before a party, these little guys store really well in the fridge so they'd be absolutely perfect to make in advance if you're entertaining. 


Plus, I personally like to stick to individual serving desserts like this for parties because 1) I feel like people are more inclined to actually take one if it's not something they have to feel all awkward cutting a piece for themselves, it's already portioned out into the right size 2) It's less risky than making a big cake or pie or something (IMO) because if that burns or falls apart or something you're screwed, where as with something like this if you mess up one or two, it's fine. And honestly, I don't think you could mess these up, they seem pretty foolproof! (Take that Ina!) I also like that it's really easy to make them look pretty because the tops of the cheesecakes will be cracked when you pull them out of the oven, plus mine sunk a little in the middle once I let them cool. However, just cover those babies up in chocolate ganache and no one will be the wiser!


Moral of the story--you should probably make them ASAP.

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes 
Adapted from: Snappy Gourmet

Ingredients
1 cup finely crushed chocolate graham crackers (or cookies)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted
2 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup peanut butter
⅔ cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 (12oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup finely crushed peanuts (optional)




Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
In a small mixing bowl, mix together the graham cracker (or cookie) crumbs and butter. Press crumbs onto the bottom of the cupcake liners. (The original recipe didn't call for it, but I added 1 tablespoon of sugar to my crushed chocolate graham crackers/butter and then I baked them for 10 minutes before adding the cheesecake. The crust was still a little crumblier than I wanted, so next time I'll use a little more butter and bake for longer!)
In a large mixing bowl, mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Beat in eggs until well combined.
Spoon cheesecake filling onto tops of crusts. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until set on top but still soft. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Place chocolate chips and cream in small microwave safe bowl in microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Spoon the chocolate on top of each cheesecake. Sprinkle nuts on top if desired.
Refrigerate cheesecakes for at least 3 hours or overnight. Store cheesecakes in refrigerator.



This recipe has me inspired to try other variations this summer using the same method, like a traditional graham cracker crust with traditional cheesecake and fruit compote on top...or maybe a key lime pie cheesecake with whipped cream on top...or maybe a version with an Oreo in the bottom of the cupcake liner as the crust and crushed Oreos on top...


Seriously, someone please invite me over for dinner...I'll bring dessert! Xoxo  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Weekend

TGIF, that's all I have to say. 

I have been feeling kind of blah all week, just really struggling to find motivation and sort of like I'm in a slump. I've been majorly slacking on things like walking Lola (and the weather is gorgeous, which makes me feel even guiltier for not doing it!), drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. Seriously, I've stayed up way too late this week for no good reason and it has definitely taken its toll on me. Oh, and my cell phone isn't working. I can make calls and use all my apps, but the keyboard function just isn't working which is super annoying because I can't Instagram (wahhh), look up websites, comment on anything, or send texts.  

{via}
But the good news is the weekend is here. 
And we're going to San Francisco. 
And I'm excited. 

I think a change of scenery is just what I need and I'm really looking forward to a spring weekend in one of my favorite places. It will be awesome to just be in a city again, eat good food, do some shopping, and enjoy life. (Even if I won't be able to Instagram any of it...boo)

Hope your weekend is wonderful! Xoxo

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cameron's Breakfast Casserole

My husband and I have a some little routines for how things get done around the house. Every night before bed, I pack his lunch for work the next day; I make sure he has fruit, veggies, and a good serving of protein (usually leftovers from dinner the night before). In the mornings, he usually gets out of bed first while I lay in bed for a few minutes getting more sleep/browsing social media sites on my phone and goes downstairs to make us both breakfast. One big change for us in eating Paleo for over a year now is that we almost always have eggs/meat (usually good bacon from our butcher shop or organic chicken sausage) for breakfast. We both like it (plus coming downstairs each morning to breakfast made by my hubby is pretty nice), it's very filling, and we don't really ever get tired of it.


However, it is nice to change things up every now and then! The other day Cameron randomly mentioned he wanted to make a breakfast casserole, and then a few days ago he just decided to throw one together...and it came out awesome! It's been great to have a little variety this week as far as breakfast goes, plus it's super easy to just cut off a slice of casserole in the morning and warm it up. I did not have anything to do with making this dish as Cameron did it all (I promised him I'd give him credit on le blog) but I thought I'd share the basic recipe he used as it's a great way to have a hearty breakfast dish prepared that will easily last two people the whole week! 


Cameron's Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients
2 lbs of ground pork 
(you could substitute grassfed beef or really any other type of protein that you like!)
2 onions, chopped
4 cups of spinach (a few large handfuls)
24 eggs
Coconut Oil
Salt and Pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the chopped onions in coconut oil over medium heat until translucent, and then remove from pan and place in a 9x13 rectangular baking dish (Cameron didn't grease our glass 9x13 and we've had no problems getting the casserole out, but feel free to grease if you like!)
2. Season the ground pork with salt and pepper and then brown in the same pan you used for the onions over medium-high heat until the meat is no longer pink (it doesn't necessarily have to be browned all the way through since it's going in the oven) and then remove from the pan and add to the baking dish with the onions
3. Add a little additional coconut oil to the pan and add your spinach. Saute over medium heat until spinach is wilted and then add to the baking dish with the onions and pork. Use a spoon to mix onions, pork, and spinach in the baking dish until combined. 
4. Take a large mixing bowl and whisk together 24 eggs (yes, I realize that's a lot!) until well mixed. Season eggs with salt and pepper and then pour into the baking dish over the onions/pork/spinach mixture. 
5. Bake casserole at 350 for 40 minutes or until the eggs are set (it's ok if it's a little wobbly in the middle as the casserole will continue to set as it cools)
6. Slice and serve! (Or put in the fridge and eat the leftovers throughout the week!)



This is a fairly simple recipe that Cameron just threw together but it turned out really well! However, there are tons of variations you could use when making this dish, including: 

-Incorporating other veggies: Bell peppers, shredded carrots, leftover brussels sprouts, whatever veggies you have on hand, you could probably throw them in! (I'd definitely make sure you saute them first though to soften them up!)
-Adding cheese: Cameron chose to leave the cheese out of this casserole in order to make it Paleo, but I know that incorporating some cheese (either to the top or mixed in with the eggs or both!) would be a tasty addition!
-More seasoning: Cam just used salt and pepper for this casserole, but adding a wider variety of herbs and spices could definitely kick it up a notch and we'll be trying that in the future!

{I added some shredded raw milk white cheddar to the top of mine before warming it up--yum!}
Bon Appetit! Xoxo

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Favorite Eco-Friendly Products

As you probably know, Monday was Earth Day. Seeing as my blog is called In the Pink & Green, I couldn't let this week go by without some sort of post about living a more eco-friendly lifestyle! (A topic that I would like to post about more often but somehow pictures of Tahoe and recipes seem to take precedence!) 

Now I am truly a marketer's dream when it comes to consumer products (which is why Target is my weakness) but I am (slowly) discovering that truly living a more "green" lifestyle is more about reducing consumption vs. buying a bunch of unnecessary things just because they sell them at Whole Foods...or as Cameron likes to say to me "you need to fight the idea that you can buy your way to eco-friendliness!" Le sigh. But it's so true that cleaning/beauty products you can make at home from natural ingredients in your pantry are often going to be more economical, more effective, and safer for you/the planet then a so-called "green" alternative you can buy at the store. You can check out my post on spring cleaning for some ideas on great products you can make using things like baking soda and vinegar, and Pinterest is filled with many more ideas on these types of solutions! 

That being said, you still need to buy stuff sometimes.
aka I will not be pinning ideas on how to make my own toilet paper anytime soon...or ever.  

So here are a few of my favorite "green" household staples that I buy on a regular basis: 
Green Mission Paper Towels
We try to limit our use of paper towels as much as possible, and we try to buy recycled paper towels when we can. However, some recycled paper towels are horrible because they basically disintegrate as soon as they get wet. These paper towels from Whole Foods are by far the most durable I've found, and they're made from 100% recycled paper.

Laundry Detergent: Unscented Liquid Laundry Detergent
Dishwasher Detergent Free & Clear 75 oz.
Liquid Dish Soap Free & Clear 50oz.
Green All Purpose Cleaner Free & Clear 32oz

Seventh Generation Products
Cam is really sensitive to fragrances (they bother his allergies) so we use a lot their Free & Clear products around the house. We currently use their laundry detergent, their dishwasher detergent, their dish soap, and their organic all-purpose cleaner and all the products seem to work well. All of Seventh Generation's products are non-toxic and plant-based and the company is all about sustainability. (Plus, their products are available at Target and many other chain stores, so they're easy to find!)


Method Gel Hand Wash
Speaking of Target, this is one of my favorite products there. This soap is naturally derived and biodegradeable, and I like that it doesn't dry out your hands. Plus, their fragrances are amazing and don't seem to bother Cam's allergies--my favorite scent is the Vanilla Chai from their fall collection, so yummy!



Ecover Natural Stain Remover
This stuff is the best when it comes to getting stains out of clothes, but yet it's plant-based and not as harsh as  conventional stain fighters. I got mine at Whole Foods, and one bottle has lasted me forever!

Yes to Cucumber Facial Towelettes Image
Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes
I have been using them for years (and I know they're pretty popular in the blog world!) and I absolutely love them. While the idea of using a wipe on your face all the time isn't super eco-friendly as it creates a lot of waste, these wipes are biodegradable and FSC Certified, meaning the fibers are produced through sustainable forestry practices. The ingredients in the towelettes are 98% natural and they do an excellent job of taking off make-up, perfect for traveling or those nights when you're just too tired to wash your face!



Reusable Produce Bags
Cameron and I are pretty good about using our reusable grocery bags when we go to the store, but since we usually buy a lot of produce we end up using a ton of those little plastic bags and end up throwing everything away when we get home. Awhile ago we purchased some mesh produce bags (we bought ours at Whole Foods, so I don't know the exact brand but these are similar) and they're a great way to help reduce waste. There are tons of different sizes and styles available on Amazon, it's a little thing that can make a big difference!

So there you have it, some of my favorite eco-friendly stuff!
Now tell me, are there any "green" products out there that I should know about? I'd love to hear what you use in your home! Xoxo
*Also this was not a paid post, just me sharing my personal opinons (although if any of the above companies wanted to send me free stuff, I'd totally be down)*

{I'm linking up for WILW and Oh How Pinteresting Today!}

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The First Hike of the Year!

Happy Tuesday everyone! 

So I meant to post these pictures yesterday, but didn't quite get around to it...mainly because I was in bed by 9:30pm (which is super early for me) with one of the most excruciatingly painful sunburns I've ever had in my life, complete with feverish chills. 
No bueno. 

How did I get in this predicament you might ask?

Oh, just out enjoying the sunshine on our first hike of the year...that ended up being almost eight hours long. Let me explain...


Our plan was to hike Horsetail Falls (pictured behind me) which is in California on the way from South Lake Tahoe to Sacramento. You can see the waterfall from the road, and since we've driven by it so many times we figured it was time we check it out. When we got to the trailhead where we had planned to park, it was still closed for the winter. So we drove up the road a little bit and parked in a turnout on the side of the road and walked back to the trailhead, and this was right around 9:30am.

We chose not to bring Lola because our neighbors had warned us that all the rough granite boulders on this hike had cut up their dog's paws. In retrospect, it was a really good choice not bringing her because the hike we ended up doing was something she wouldn't have been able to handle.

We started out on the trail, but it wasn't super well marked so we figured we'd just explore and make our own way to the falls. This area is part of Desolation Wilderness, a giant protected wilderness area that covers a lot of the Tahoe region. Our plan was to hike up over the top of the falls and check out some of the lakes that we had heard were at the top.


 We decided that rather than head straight to the falls that we'd climb up to the top of the ridge first and then head across the top to the falls. Easy enough...not. This hike was definitely a full body workout because it was basically climbing up these giant granite boulders for most of the way up. Because we weren't following any specific trail, it was essentially just Cameron and I trying to figure out the best way to get to the top. And trying not to fall to our deaths.

 

 At this point, we were still kind of far from the falls, but kept heading up over the ridge and figured we'd make our way over eventually.


It's funny, sometimes Cameron wants me to put the camera away and stop taking a million pictures...and then other times, he's the one wanting to take a million pictures and suggesting poses. Like this senior picture-esque shot next to the tree with the waterfall in the background, it was definitely his idea. Love that guy.


 Once we got to the top of the ridge, we were met with snow and some nice views of Pyramid Peak! At this point we started making our way towards the falls, however, because there was no clear path we ended up continuing to climb up. After awhile, we saw some little lakes below us, but could not figure out a safe path to get down. At one point, it was literally so steep that we couldn't walk down at all so we had to sit in the snow and scoot our way down using our bare hands and digging in our heels to keep us from sliding into the rocks. It was definitely challenging!


After what seemed like forever, we finally made it down to the lakes and they were gorgeous! The water was so clear, and it was a great place to stop, eat lunch, and relax. 


 This was also the point that Cameron was telling me to put on sunscreen, but I wasn't listening. Even though it was sunny, it also wasn't super warm--I mean we were hiking through snow for pete's sake! I put a little sunscreen on my shoulders and neck to humor him, but figured I'd be fine. So dumb. So so dumb. Thank goodness the tinted moisturizer I was wearing had SPF 20 in it our my face would have gotten toasted! The sun was really intense up there in the mountains, so lesson learned big time because I'm still seriously feeling the effects of my irresponsibility today.

By this time it was mid-afternoon and we literally hadn't seen a single person since starting our hike...and considering we were way off the trail in the middle of Desolation Wilderness (which is a fitting name), we figured it was time to start trying to make our way back. We were still pretty far above the falls at this point, and needed to figure out how to make our way over to them...and more importantly, how to start making our way down.


Luckily we spotted some other tracks through the snow that we tried to follow to make our way out. Walking through the snow was definitely a little nerve-racking as it was starting to melt and we didn't know what was underneath. Sometimes one of us would take a step and our foot would sink down into the snow up to our thigh, so we were definitely moving quite slow as we didn't want to crash through the snow! (Both Cameron's mom and my mom read the blog so I'm guessing they're probably not super happy about this post right now...sorry...)


We finally made it to the very top of Horsetail Falls and it was gorgeous! After standing there for a few minutes taking in the sheer power of the rushing water, we started trying to figure out how we were going to get down because at this point we still had a long way to go and still had not seen any other people the entire day. There's definitely something a little worrisome about looking out across the mountains and knowing your car is really far away and you have no idea how you're going to get back. But hey, at least the views were great! 


Going down was physically very challenging. We were already pretty tired at this point and the granite is super hard, so heading down was really tough on the joints. When things are steep, it can often be much more difficult to get down than it is to climb up something, especially when a lot of the rocks were wet. For me, this point in the hike was really mentally challenging as well because often when we're hiking on a trail I can get in a rhythm and zone out, but that was not the case with this hike. I felt like my brain never got a break because I was constantly thinking about my next step, where I was going to put my hands, and how I could make it down this next rock without slipping.


 Although there were a few semi-scary moments where I really thought I wasn't going to make it down (mainly because some of the rocks were covered in water and we literally had to inch our way down on our butts or our stomachs holding on for dear life), we finally started to make progress. Once we made it most of the way down the falls, we finally started seeing people again which was a huge sense of relief!


The falls are definitely gorgeous and this was a great time of year to see them as they were roaring with all the snowmelt! We finally made it back to our car at 5pm, so it was quite a long day! I have no idea how far we went distance-wise because so much of the day we had to move really slowly due to the conditions, so it's really tough to say how much ground we might have covered. But despite my (awful) sunburn and a few scary moments climbing, we really did have fun and it really was a great to be outside. Being out in the mountains away from people and technology and noise is so incredibly peaceful and relaxing. I'm really looking forward to doing a lot more hiking this spring and summer...but in the future, we'll probably stick to hikes where we can take Lola and try to stay on the trail! 
Safely back at our car--whew!
Hope you're having a great week everyone! Xoxo

{I'm linking up for Travel Tuesday!}

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