{Peanut Butter, Candied Bacon and Dark Chocolate Chunk Baked S’mores } {Happy National S’mores Day}

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Last Sunday I barbecued with my neighbors.

And we ate our faces off.

…but would you expect anything less if I’m involved?

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My neighbor and friend Juan made the most amazing ribs, pork belly and Spanish sausage I’ve ever had.

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And to top that off, he made potato salad. A delicious potato salad. I don’t ever eat potatoes, and I’m not the biggest fan of mayo salads UNLESS they’re Don’s Salads (HI DAD), but this potato salad was SO freakin’ good I couldn’t stop eating it. And I didn’t. I devoured it.

Along with half a watermelon.

And Asian cucumber salad (recipe to come soon).

And pineapple chipotle salsa and chips.

OK I’m getting nauseous and hungry at the same time just thinking about it all.

But, you didn’t really think we could end the night without something sweet, did you?

Of course not. It’s me silly.

And given that my apartment complex has outdoor fire pits, and I’m moving in a week, it seemed only fitting that we make the most of it.

So I brought down to the fire pit with me a maple bacon chocolate bar.

And then I brought down a jar of peanut butter.

And marshmallows.

And graham crackers.

And then this happened:

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S’mores with maple bacon chocolate and peanut butter.

The best s’mores. Ever.

 I’ve been nicknamed “Debbie Dipper” and “Condiment Carrie” in the past. And today, I’m totally worthy of those nicknames.

So, on National S’mores Day, it seemed only fitting to re-create this amazing s’more concoction.

And so I did.

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Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt {the best way to say thank you}

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Southern Hospitality is real.

I recently returned from a four day business trip to Dallas to visit my client and I had a blast!  This trip was just what I needed to remind myself that making friends isn’t this difficult everywhere and there really is more to life than just sitting in traffic on I-95 every day, going to whole foods solely out of boredom and spending hours at the gym because I have nothing else planned (and I want a killer beach bod, duhhh!)

I spent several days last week working hard and spending much needed face time with the awesome people I email back and forth with and talk to on the phone every day. I had some great meals, especially the last night when a group of us went out for happy hour and then to this awesome Tex-Mex restaurant called Blue Goose Cantina. I had steak fajitas which were delicious! I think the best part of the dinner, aside from eating everyone else’s food and tons and tons of laughter, was the free dessert we got (hey the waitress asked if it was someone’s Birthday and how could we say no to that?!) Mini-Sopapillas (similar to Churros) served with honey and topped with whipped Cream and cinnamon Sugar. Holy cow…you have no idea how good this was. I meant to take a picture of it by itself but only got as far as the group picture. And quite frankly after this group picture we devoured it. All of it.

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After a week of hard work and tons of laughs, I’m home and find myself missing the southern hospitality. Sometimes I forget how easy it really is, or  how little effort it should be to make friends. And how far a simple smile exchange or small talk with a stranger can take you.

So I decided to bake cookies to say thank you to my Dallas friends for making me feel so warm and welcome. And what a better way to say thank you than to send a batch of freshly baked cookies with chunks of gooey dark chocolate and peanut butter topped with sea salt for the perfect bite of sweet and salty and melty chocolate goodness. And the best part, this is actually a normal cookie recipe and I didn’t even attempt to substitute applesauce for butter! Woohooo!

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Monday Morning Green Vegan Detox Smoothie

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After a weekend of good food, good wine and lot’s of recipe experimenting (and tasting), I find the best way to start my week is with a little detox. No, I’m not talking about a crazy week-long juice cleanse, but just a healthy, refreshing breakfast smoothie, packed with vitamins, potassium, antioxidants, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. And the best part about it? It tastes SO good you’d never know it was so good for you!

What’s in this smoothie?

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Banana– one of the best sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining healthy heart function and blood pressure.
PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter– the same taste of my ultimate favorite snack with 85% less fat calories than regular peanut butter.
Chia Seeds– known for its richness in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. Don’t worry- you won’t grow green hair 🙂
Spinach– high in nutritional value and rich in antioxidants (high in vitamins, calcium and fiber)
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk– with only 30 calories per serving  and 50% more calcium than regular milk, Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk is a healthy, non-dairy solution (and it’s gluten-free too!)

You can also add other fruits too, such as blueberries and strawberries, or even some protein powder to help you keep fuller, longer.

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Peanut Butter Oreo Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

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Today is a great day. You know why? It’s National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

You didn’t really think I was going to let this day pass without baking you something with my favorite ingredient did you?

And to celebrate I didn’t even eat peanut butter for a snack today.

Ok, fine. Who am I kidding. I only had a few scoops out of the jar. Hey, everyone needs a little protein, right?!

I came across a recipe that I just had to share with you.  And you know what the best part is? It’s made with one of my other favorite things in this world, Oreos.

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But not just any Oreo. Peanut Butter Creme Oreos.

It’s like a match made in heaven.

What could be better than a peanut butter Oreo?! Oh wait, that’s right. A peanut butter cookie stuffed with a peanut butter Oreo.

Remember in my last post how I shared with you things I just don’t quite understand?

Well I have an additional thought to add.

How did I not think of this first?

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Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Candied Bacon {and a peanut butter and cream cheese icing}

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I have an obsession with tornadoes.

I don’t know why. I don’t know where it came from. But all I know is they have always been my biggest fear and for some reason lately I just CAN’T STOP watching videos online, reading articles and scientific websites and watching Tornado Road and Storm Chasers on TV. Since I was little I’ve always been deathly afraid of thunderstorms because I somehow convinced myself a thunderstorm would automatically lead to a tornado. I’d be playing softball and it would start to storm and I’d get hit by the ball because I’d be too busy looking at the clouds trying to seek out a funnel cloud. When a severe thunderstorm warning would come on the bottom of the TV screen I’d make my mom go hide in the basement with me. One summer when I was in Virginia with my teen travel camp I hid under the sink because there was a tornado watch. And, the worst of it all, the only nightmares I ever seem to have involve tornadoes, and I’ve been having TONS of nightmares lately.

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Now, if you Google dreams and tornadoes you will find that they sometimes mean you’ve lost control of your life and are feeling overwhelmed. I can’t tell you how accurate this is to my life right now. Sure there has been a lot going on in the country with tornadoes lately and that’s all that has been in the news the past couple of weeks. But I’ve also been in a weird place the past few months. Maybe because I’ve been feeling so stagnant, bored, in need of a challenge, itching to travel and hike up a mountain. Or maybe because my roommate and closest friend in Connecticut moved across the country and it’s taking time to adjust. Or maybe because I’m trying to figure out my next move and make some big life-changing decisions- and that all scares and excites me. I’m not really sure what it is exactly BUT what I am sure of, is out of all this tornado hype something good evolved. Something more than good. Something INCREDIBLE.

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The most delicious tornado went off in my kitchen this weekend. I made a Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Candied Bacon.

Yes, that’s right. Peanut butter, cream cheese and candied bacon, all in one. And, to add to the amazingness? Topped with a peanut butter and cream cheese icing.

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Candied bacon has to be one of the best things I’ve ever had in life. The sweetness and chewiness of the maple syrup and brown sugar when it caramelizes mixed with the spiciness of the cayenne pepper and the saltiness and crispiness of the bacon. All the best textures and flavors in one. So good, I ate half of it before it actually made its way into the batter.

Now I have to say, I’ve been on a major peanut butter and banana kick lately. Which is what inspired me to add the peanut butter to the banana bread. I must go through a jar of peanut butter a week! I know it’s not that good for you (everything in moderation) but I can’t seem to just stop after one spoonful. But who cares, it tastes so good! That’s what the gym is for, right?! Except when you eat peanut butter right before a run…I don’t recommend it. And bananas, I can’t stop baking with them! In pancakes, cookies, breads. But at last, I combined all my loves into one, creating the most delicious, moist and flavorful banana bread yet. And a tornado in my kitchen while doing so. And it was all SO worth it. You must try it!

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