Pinterest Review- Chocolate& Peanut Butter

Ok, I have no pin for this one, because there are a meeeellion pins for chocolate + peanut butter on Pinterest.

Seriously. One million.  Search it for yourself if you don’t believe me…. go. I’ll wait.

See. I told you. There are PB chocolate balls, bars, cupcakes, cookies, spreads, parfaits.  All sorts of crazy things.  The only thing… most of them aren’t all that unique.  I’ve made some of those things before.

So why am I reviewing something everyone has tried before? Short answer… Because I want to. Long drawn out answer…. I’m glad you asked!

I do not buy any peanut butter that comes in a jar with a Disney character, or misspelled word, that I really don’t know what it means. I don’t buy peanut butter in a jar that could last for years in my pantry.  I don’t buy peanut butter in a jar.

I grind my own peanut butter at our local store, back in the bulk area. Fred Meyer and Winco both offer this service. If your store has a bulk section, see if they have this option to make your own.  There is one ingredient. You know exactly what that ingredient is. There are no preservatives. The most refreshing part, if you don’t use it in a timely manner, it will go bad!  Some people might see that as a negative, but seriously, please do not eat ANYTHING that doesn’t go bad. It’s  not good for you!

Some people will say that the texture of fresh ground peanut butter is awful, and a long time ago, I would have agreed with you. Jason has always loved it, so I weaned myself off the jarred junk by purchasing the more natural version that you had to stir before using.  I hated stirring it up, and it always made a mess.  I bought the no stir option, but it added an extra ingredient that I didn’t want.  Plus, it is pricey!!  I decided to just go over to the grinder, and make my own for SOOO much less.  My boys love it, Jason loves it, and now, I love it.  Jarred peanut butter tastes gross  to me now. It’s so sweet with all the sugar they add to it! Blugh!  I have not bought jarred peanut butter in years.

Okay. I’ll put my soapbox away.

With the knowledge that I buy grind your own peanut better, I’ll let you in on the negative. There is just one. It is very difficult to bake with.  Baked goods just do not come out the same.  BUT!!!  It makes the best peanut better cups! The Best.

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These are mindblowingly delicious! And painfully easy to make. Which makes me wonder why I don’t make them more often? Oh yes, because they are dangerous to my hips.

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First you have to get your double broiler going.  Or if you do not have a double broiler, like yours truly, just set this up. Just make sure you use a heat resistant glass bowl. You’re probably smart enough to know that without me telling you though.

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Throw your chocolate chips in once the water is boiling. I used a little more than a handful because I wasn’t making a lot. Just eyeball how much you think you’ll need. The good thing is that it’s extremely easy to melt more chocolate if you didn’t do enough the first time.

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Pretty, melting chocolate. Make sure you stir it the whole time. This is not the time to go vacuum your living room.

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Now that the chocolate is melted comes the fun. If you used chocolate chips, you have some time to work with it. It takes a bit for it to set back up. But be warned it’s messy. Just think, you get to lick your fingers when you’re done. The easiest way to work with the peanut butter is to refrigerate it first. Once it’s hardened, it the peanut butter balls roll through the chocolate pretty easily.

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Reese's (14)I also spooned some chocolate onto the peanut butter that I had put into cupcake wrappers. I made a chocolate ball for all four of us, but only had enough chocolate for three. I didn’t want to melt more chocolate for one peanut butter cup.

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Then you stick it in the fridge for a while. Or the freezer if you’re as impatient as me. You can tell that it’s ready when it’s not shiny anymore. It’s a matte texture. That’s when you know it’s set. Even if there is just a tiny spot that is shiny, you need to wait a little longer.

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Ready.

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Heavenly!!!

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Gone.  The boys love these.  And I do not feel one ounce of regret letting them eat them. They are a very yummy, fun sometimes treat.

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Pinterest Review- Protein Ranch

I was intrigued when I saw this pin:

Protein Ranch Dressing

I pinned it quite a while ago, but never got around to trying it. I finally tried it this past week. I had Chef Salad on the menu, and thought it was the perfect time to try it.
But for some reason, I feel like I should explain something before I go on.  I love ranch dressing. Probably more than the average person. And I don’t just love it. I get annoyed…. almost angry, when I go out to eat, order a salad, and the ranch tastes like crap.  It’s a huge disappointment to me, and a lot of times, will dictate whether or not I will ever return to said restaurant. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.  Red Robin and Idaho Pizza have good ranch.  I can depend on them every single time.  Other places… not so much.  I almost want to ask for a sample before I waste my money on a salad. BLUH!

That being said….

I got all the ingredients, there’s only three; cottage cheese,  ranch seasoning, and milk. You put them in a blender and  that’s that.   (Don’t you love my  Clean Shower bottle?  It’s so old, but really strong bottle, so I’ve kept it and use it over and over again. I forgot to put it away though!)

It looked pretty good. I liked how thick it was!  Definitely off to a good start. And the whole blender thing was pretty quick. I made this on a soccer practice night, and we had to go pick up a team mate, so I needed quick.

I put together our salads. In disposable bowls. We were eating on the go. This picture will forever be a reminder that I once ate my dinner out of a red solo bowl! Booo!  But in my defense, at least I did not buy them! Jason’s mother brings me disposable dishes every time she comes over for a dinner. She insist we eat of them so I don’t have to do dishes! I hate feeling so wasteful!  Most of the time I use my own dishes anyways, but she often leaves them here. So I was lazy, and I used them.  Most of the time they are used for paint, or stain, or something like that. Whoo, I’m glad I got that off my chest!

But back to the dressing, you can see just how thick it is! I probably should have added a tad more milk, but like I said, I was in a hurry. Whenever we have Chef Salad, I always pick my veggies off, like I have a veggie plate, so the thick dressing was kind of nice for this salad, but if it was a traditional salad, thinner would have been better.

The Verdict?

Well this is kind of hard.  It was decent. I used a ranch packet brand I had never used before. I usually use the Hidden Valley packet, but I’m trying to get away from weird preservatives and junk, so I bought an organic brand that only has a few ingredients.  That alone was a big difference.  I did not care for that brand. I loved the texture, and creaminess of it. I will definitely try it again with my regular Hidden Valley. If I can find a recipe that tastes VERY similar to Hidden Valley, I will try it with that.  I will post an update to this when I try it again.

Pinterest Review- Baking Soda

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While searching Pinterest, I often see this pin. It claims that you can use baking soda as a weed killer. I am a huge fan of baking soda for a couple reasons.
1: It’s cheap
2: It’s not unhealthy, and safe for everyone in my family
3: It has about 3 billion uses

So, after searching, and reading all about the weed killer claim,  I have to admit I was a little nervous. It says it will neutralize the soil, and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to risk that.

Well, after a few weeks of mulling it over, I kept coming back to my side flower bed. I have rubber bark, and weed barrier in that bed, but the neighbors grass loves to come under the fence and grow in my flower bed. On a side note, I am not a big fan or believer in weed barrier. Jason insisted, and I let him do it, but I have to pick weeds ALL. THE. TIME. Such an invaluable tool, huh? A majority of those weeds I have to pick is grass. It drives me bonkers!

Not the greatest picture, but you can sort of see in the center of the bottom of the photo, my rock  boarder. The grass has totally overtaken it. And along the fence is awful too. I try to keep up with the grass, but sometimes it just gets out of control, and it takes days for me to get the whole flower bed. I’ll start one day, and do a few feet, a few more the next, and so on, only having to start all over at the beginning.   Behind my Coneflower on the left, you can see the grass gets much thicker. As the summer goes on, and my flowers get bigger it makes it even more difficult to get that aggressive grass. When I do pull the grass/weeds, they almost always break off at the ground level. I have to pull out my hand trowel to get the whole weed, but if you’ve ever tried to pull grass, you know the root system is pretty extensive, and is impossible to get rid it it. Plus, considering this grass is coming from our neighbors healthy yard, I don’t see it stopping just because I pulled it. (At ground level.)

You can also see why I was hesitant to try this experiment. The boarder, and the fence is very close to my flower.  I love my pretty flower!  I would be sad if it died! It would be even more heartbreaking it I was the one who killed it! But, after some thinking about it, and careful planning, I went for it.

I pulled out my trusty Baking Soda. I seriously use this for all sorts of stuff! Love.

I was very careful to not get it within 6-8 inches of the base of my flower. I wasn’t sure if that was still to close, but I had to try! As you can see I had two annoying dandelions on the inside of the flower bed, so I shook a little extra soda on those. You can also see I’m a compulsive weed picker, and I picked one even though I was running a test on a weed killer! I just had to. Sorry.

You can see in the circles where the dandelions turned black (left one), and the leaves got crunchy (right one). This was about a day and a half later. I was shocked to see it worked so fast.  In the before picture you can see that there was some brown grass under the green. That is because a lot of times when I pull the grass I leave it there to work back into the soil. The photo does a poor job at showing this, but there is actually more brown grass in the second picture.  I didn’t pull any of the grass in the area I sprinkled the baking soda. I raked it back with my hands!  The roots were dying. Amazing! The dandelion’s roots are still in the ground so we will see how that plays out in the next few weeks, but the leaves being black a day later was awesome.

A crumby, fuzzy picture of the black dandelion.

AFTER:

You can see my rock boarder again!!  All of the grass along the fence is gone. (In that spot)  To show the difference between hand pulling, and the baking soda:

This is behind the Coneflower. You can see where the grass is just ripped off at ground level, and will be out of control within a week.   I am looking forward to seeing how long lasting the baking soda lasts.  I do plan on continuing along the rock boarder, and the fence, but I’ll have to pay close attention to not sprinkle any of my lovely flowers. It’s late fall now, but I’m curious to see how this would have worked over the summer months if applied in the spring? I will need to do an update on this post in the future.

Initial results?  SUCCESS!

So how about you?  Have you ever used baking soda as a week killer?  Was it successful? How long does it last? Any tips?

Here is a glance at the work ahead:

Pinterest Review #1

So for my first review I decided to make taco shells in the oven.

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I’ve seen this pinned over, and over, so I figured I’d try it out. We have tacos once every two weeks, if not more often. It is my easy go to meal. I either make soft tacos with flour tortillas, or crunch boxed shells. I am trying to phase out as much boxed food as I can from my pantry. But, on the other hand I hate frying up my own shells because they are so greasy, and I hate the way my house smells after frying anything in my house. I never fry things. Blah.

I took a bunch of pictures, and somehow they all got lost??  They are not on my SD card. A few made it to the card, but they are not relevant.  Grrr. How does that happen? So my first review is kind of a bust.

BUT, I will share my opinion!  First I changed two things;
1: I only sprayed only one side of the tortillas.
2: I turned my oven up to 400*.  I was opening, and closing my oven door so often to check on them I decided it needed to be turned up.

At first it was kind of hard to get them on the racks, I was afraid I was going to burn myself, and was using my tongs, but then after ripping one tortilla and dropping the others through the bars, I got the hang of it, and used my hands. I left them in until they were pretty crunchy. All except one, Jason prefers softer shells.  He also hates corn tortilla, which is what I used.

*Imagine picture of finished shells here.*

Final opinion:  I’m pretty sure I will try this again. They were a little chewy, but they crunch was good. I think that if I sprayed both sides it might help the chewiness.  I would say this is definitely worth trying if you usually fry your shells. They are not greasy at all. The boys loved them!

*Imagine picture of my plate, with filled taco*

I would recommend them.