National Peanut Butter Lovers Day {Celebrate with Unilever Ice Cream}

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Did you know today is National Peanut Butter Lovers Day? That is definitely something worth celebrating! My favorite way to indulge in peanut butter is with chocolate of course. I know I have expressed my deep love of the combination a many a time around here. I mean, there’s peanut butter bars (one of my all time favorite desserts), peanut butter eggs, cookie dough bites, Elvis ice cream, need I go on? I really have an undeniable love. So when I was contacted to try Unilever’s peanut butter ice cream products I knew I couldn’t say no. I’m calling it research. I can’t let those products sit on the shelf and not let my loyal readers know how they are, it’s for the good of the people. That’s how I justify the calories at least.

And what better way to celebrate National Peanut Butter Lovers Day then with ice cream! I don’t care if it’s cold outside, it’s always ice cream time.

I was provided the opportunity to try Breyers Blast! Reese’s Chocolate, Klondike Reese’s and Magnum Double Peanut Butter. Well, I was a fan of the Klondike Reese’s Bars before I was contacted so they have been gladly consumed many times around here. I love the bits of Reese’s cups throughout the ice cream and of course, the chocolate coating. I went to Klondike’s website and they suggested making a shake with one. What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn’t try that out? I did, just for you. And it was good. Do it, do it now.
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I definitely enjoyed the Magnum Double Peanut Butter Bars the most. I’ve never tried any of the Magnum Ice Creams Bars before so I can’t compare them but I’m pretty sure the chocolate coating was made by sweet, sweet angels.  It’s so rich and tastes like pure, real chocolate unlike lots of coatings out there that taste weird and waxy. I love the peanut butter layer between the chocolate. It adds an extra creamy richness that just puts these over the top. I see the almond, dark and gold varieties in my future. The Double Peanut Butter variety are only available at select retailers, such as Target, but will be released nationwide in April. Like we needed another reason to go to Target? Just add these to the list, or don’t…because you know you don’t just buy what’s on your list when at Target anyway. I did that once and I was super disappointed in myself as I walked out of the store. Felt like a serious failure at life.
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Last, and least for me, was the Breyers Blast! Reese’s Chocolate. This ice cream wasn’t bad by any means, but it was chocolate. Those that have been following me for awhile know that I like my chocolate in small doses. Chocolate chip cookies? Yes. Chocolate cookies? No. Chocolate cake or ice cream are not my thing. It’s just too rich for me. I have to say though, I liked the big chunks of Reese’s throughout the ice cream. I just would have enjoyed it more in vanilla. When we go out for ice cream at places that blend toppings into your custard, I always choose peanut butter cups in vanilla ice cream. ALWAYS. I ordered a limited time flavor once and immediately regretted it. Some may say I’m a creature of habit but I like to think I know what I like.
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So if you need a little peanut butter pick me up to celebrate National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, make sure to go check out one (or all) of these delicious ice cream treats. Or come on over to my house so I don’t eat ALL THE ICE CREAM.

*I was compensated for these products but all opinions are completely my own.

Klondike Reese’s Shake
recipe from Klondike
serves 1

1 Klondike Reese’s Bar
1/4 cup milk
Handful of ice

Dump all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Frosted Animal Cracker Puppy Chow

Frosted Animal Cracker Puppy Chow 1
So, do you call it puppy chow or muddy buddies? We’ve always referred to it as puppy chow but either way, it’s one delicious snack. I’ve always enjoyed the classic chocolate and peanut butter combination but with all the unique recipes out there these days, it was about time we try something different.
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When I came across this recipe I knew it would be perfect to make for Hannah’s carnival themed 1st birthday party. Yes, I made this back in October and am just sharing it now. Which is pretty much a travesty seeing that it’s one of the best snacks ever. Seriously, I could not stop eating this stuff. And I don’t even like white chocolate. But I do have to admit that frosted animal crackers are a weakness of mine. They were one of my favorite snacks as a child so when I indulge in them (every few years), they always bring me back.
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And adding cereal, white chocolate and sprinkles just makes them a million times better. Gah, it’s a good thing I don’t have any of these ingredients in my house because it would so be happening right now.
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Frosted Animal Cracker Puppy Chow
recipe from Inside Bru Crew Life

9 cups Chex cereal (14 oz. box)
16 ounces vanilla almond bark
13 ounce bag frosted animal crackers
1/4 cup nonparil sprinkles
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. Crush enough animal crackers to get 1 1/2 cups. Mix with sprinkles. Set aside.
2. Place cereal in a large mixing bowl with a lid. In a microwave safe bowl, melt almond bark in 30 second increments. Drizzle melted almond bark over the cereal and mix until covered. Dump in animal cracker crumbs and stir thoroughly. Add in powdered sugar and mix again.
3. Crush remaining animal crackers into chunks and stir into the puppy chow. Store in an airtight container (we liked ours refrigerated).

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls {No Bake}

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites
These are my new favorite snack and dessert and breakfast. I’ve pretty much been finding any reason to eat them. So much so that we have gone through 2 batches in less than a week. And Saturday night I was having a major sweet craving and just couldn’t get them out of my mind…so I made another batch.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites
They absolutely satisfy your sweet tooth and contain only healthy, all natural ingredients. Major bonus. I’m pretty sure these will become a staple in our refrigerator.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls {No Bake}
recipe from Food Doodles
yields approximately 2 dozen small bites

1/2 cup peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt, if peanut butter is unsalted
1/4 cup cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips)

1. In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey and vanilla. You may need to microwave the peanut butter a bit so that it’s easier to combine. Stir in the oats, coconut, salt and cocoa nibs. I mixed with my hands.

2. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes. Roll into balls and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites

White Chocolate Raspberry Skewers

White Chocolate Raspberry Skewers
Looking for a last minute, quick, incredibly easy yet still festive dessert for Valentine’s day? Well, I’ve got you covered. These adorable white chocolate raspberry skewers take less than 5 minutes to put together and are so simple, even a 3 year old can do them (with supervision of course). Literally, Noah did some of these. He was proud that he did them all by himself and he loved “wolfing” them down (his new favorite term when talking about eating). And the sprinkles, forget about it. There was no way I was going to be allowed to help with those.
White Chocolate Raspberry Skewers
So you can also add kid-friendly to the perks of this “recipe.” Oh yeah, and only 3 ingredients are required. Is there anything else I have to do to convince you of the awesomeness?
White Chocolate Raspberry Skewers
Maybe just show you how happy it will make your kids, family or friends. I could only keep him at bay for a few seconds while taking pictures.
White Chocolate Raspberry Skewers
Mommy, that’s enough pictures. I wanna eat one.
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White Chocolate Raspberry Skewers

1 pint raspberries, washed and dried
4-6 oz. white almond bark*
sprinkles
skewers

Melt almond bark in the microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth. Thread 4-5 raspberries on each skewer and dip one side in the melted almond bark. Sprinkle with sprinkles and set on parchment or wax paper to set. Keep covered in the refrigerator.

*They would be amazing with dark chocolate too!

Halloween Popcorn Munch

Halloween Popcorn Munch
To continue with my lazy, not so creative Halloween treat ideas, I bring you Halloween Popcorn Munch…a fun twist on cookies and cream popcorn. I don’t know why holiday themed Oreo’s seem to taste better than the regular ones, but they do and I always have a hard time resisting them. So of course I didn’t have any self control and had those darn Halloween Oreo’s staring at me from the pantry, begging to be eaten but I really wanted to so something with them besides soak them in milk and stuff my face.
Halloween Popcorn Munch
Then cookies and cream popcorn, which I have been wanting to make forever, popped into my head. I also had candy corn staring at me, along with Halloween sprinkles that I also couldn’t resist buying (I have a thing for sprinkles too). So I thought I would combine them all into a super-sweet, yummy mix that is perfect for any Halloween gathering.
Halloween Popcorn Munch
It only takes a few ingredients, comes together very easily and is sure to impress. I know you are going to really love me for this one cause the kids won’t be sugared up already from their candy haul. So, your welcome in advance.
Halloween Popcorn Munch
Halloween Popcorn Munch
recipe adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth

1 bag microwave popcorn or 4 cups air popped
12 Halloween Oreo’s, finely crushed
1 cup candy corn
Halloween sprinkles
6-8 oz. melted white chocolate

1. Pop popcorn and remove all unpopped kernels. Mix popcorn, Oreo crumbs and candy corn together in a large bowl.

2. Melt white chocolate at 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted. Drizzle over popcorn mixture and stir until completely coated.

3. Dump onto parchment or wax paper then sprinkles with Halloween sprinkles. Allow to set, about 20 minutes, then break into pieces and enjoy. Store in an airtight container.
Halloween Popcorn Munch

DIY Vanilla Extract

Did you know that besides saffron, vanilla is the most expensive spice you can buy? Did you know that it’s super easy and cheap to make yourself? Oh, and it tastes so much better than the store bought stuff.
DIY Vanilla Extract
You literally need two ingredients, good quality vanilla beans and vodka. I get my Madagascar vanilla beans from Penzeys Spices and buy them in bulk (15 at a time) so that I always have some on hand and can have several batches of vanilla brewing at a time. As for the vodka, you don’t need to use top shelf but I don’t recommend the cheap stuff either. I used Smirnoff and was happy with the results.

I use the formula of 5 vanilla beans to every cup of vodka so take that into account depending on how much vanilla you want to make. I started with a 2 cup batch in this fun bottle but you could divide it into smaller batches for gift giving or make a huge batch to keep for yourself. A 750 ml bottle of vodka is a little over 3 cups of vodka so if you want to make things really easy, throw all 15 vanilla beans into the bottle and call it good.

To make your vanilla extract, split open the vanilla bean pods and scrape out the beans with the dull side of a knife. Dump the seeds and pods into your vodka, seal the bottle (mason jars work great if you don’t have bottles) and shake shake shake. Store in a cool, dark spot and shake every couple days (I keep mine in my pantry). Now, for the hard part, wait 2 months. As time goes by, the vodka will turn darker and become a rich brown when it is complete.
DIY Vanilla Extract
If you are making small batches, make sure to divide the vanilla beans and vodka between all the bottles (for example, 1/2 cup vodka and 2 1/2 beans per bottle) rather than making a huge batch at once then dividing it when it’s ready. As the vanilla beans sit in the vodka, they continue to deepen the flavor, even after the 2 months, so you always want the beans in with the extract.

Just a little side note, you can also make bourbon vanilla. I chose to go with vodka because it’s more universal and will be delicious in any recipe. From what I have read, bourbon vanilla is better for recipes involving chocolate. I think I will whip up a batch to have on hand for the times I do make chocolate treats. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you do choose to go with bourbon instead, follow the same steps above.
DIY Vanilla Extract
Once you have used up all your vanilla, don’t throw out the vanilla bean pods! Dry them out and throw them in a jar with some sugar to make up some vanilla sugar.

I started my vanilla making adventures quite a few months ago and have just gotten around to sharing the method with you all, sorry. I’ve actually already used about 3/4 of this bottle! But I wanted to make sure to post this now though so that you can whip up your own vanilla extract in time for your holiday baking or gift giving. It truly does give a richer, deeper flavor to baked goods and whipped cream and saves you lots of cash.

I’ve even looked into other DIY extracts (orange, lemon, almond) and am considering making them too so keep your eyes open.

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd 1
I love lemon desserts. Besides pumpkin, it is my favorite flavor for sweets. I have always wanted to make a homemade lemon curd but I just never have known what to do with it. Well, I found the perfect reason when my mom’s 50 birthday rolled around. We ordered a cake from our favorite bakery for after her birthday dinner but I wanted to make something homemade to surprise her with at work. And it was so delish! Don’t you want to know what it is? No worries, I will be sharing it with you this week.
Lemon Curd 2
I know lemon is a spring or summer flavor and it’s winding down but my mom feels the same way about lemon as I do so I knew it would be perfect. It all starts with this zippy homemade lemon curd. Although it takes a little bit of time to whip up and you have to allow time to cool, it is so much better than the store-bought version (and a lot cheaper too). Plus, I usually have all the ingredients on hand…can’t really beat that.
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Lemon Curd
recipe from Taste and Tell

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-6 lemons)
zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, cut into small cubes

1. Fill a small pot with about 1 inch of water and place on the stove over medium heat.

2. In a larger glass bowl, (you’ll want it big enough to sit on top of the pot of water on the stove without the bowl touching the water), combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and eggs.  Whisk well.  Place on the pot on the stove, and start whisking.

3. Whisking the whole time, cook until the mixture starts to thicken and will coat the back of a spoon.  This will take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.  Once it has started to thicken, start adding in the butter.  Add the butter, one cube at a time, waiting until one cube is almost melted before adding the next.  Once all the butter has been incorporated, transfer the curd to a jar or container and refrigerate until cool.

*Photos updated 6/6/14