Real Life | Week 2: Guilty Pleasures & White Chocolate Peanut Butter

This week’s prompt in my photography e-course was “Guilty Pleasures”. The challenge was to photograph the stuff the stuff I enjoy but am not necessarily proud of, with the idea that these so-called guilty pleasures are often fleeting phases and can change drastically over years or even months.

I would have to say my biggest guilty pleasures is catalog shopping. I enjoy the catalogs I get in the mail the way some people enjoy magazines. I’ve actually enjoyed catalogs for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my mom, flipping through a catalog of fancy girls’ dresses. I would point to one I liked and ask, “How much is that one?” And my mom would read me the price, which meant absolutely nothing to me at the time, and then we’d move on to the next one that caught my eye and I’d repeat the question over and over until we had flipped through the entire thing.

Little Bird Nest | Guilty Pleasures 4

Even now, every time I check the mail, I’m secretly hoping to find a catalog, preferably one from Hanna Andersson or Lands’ End or The Company Store or Knit Picks— those are my favorites. I almost never buy stuff from catalogs. Occasionally I’ll see something I really like and order it online, but for the most part it’s strictly eye candy.

Originally I thought I would have difficulty documenting my catalog obsession this week due to a large purge that happened at my house a couple of weeks ago. But, like a true addict, I was able to find some squirreled away throughout the house, including the Spoonflower catalog– seriously, I think I may never throw that one away!

Little Bird Nest | Guilty Pleasures 2

Another one of my guilty pleasures is my love for classical choral music. Ola Gjeilo happens to be my current obsession. I never listen to this stuff with other adults around– not even my husband. It’s not that I’m that embarrassed about my slightly choir-nerdy music tastes– I just don’t want anyone to say anything negative about it and ruin it for me. Have a listen for yourself and see what you think.

Okay, enough about catalogs and choral music– let’s get to the good stuff. My current food obsession: white chocolate peanut butter. If you like peanut butter at all, you’re going to want to try this stuff. I literally eat it by the spoonful.

Little Bird Nest | Guilty Pleasures 1

My version is based on a recipe from Laura Fuentes’ cookbook The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet, and it seriously is the easiest thing to make. It’ll take you like less than 5 minutes. I make it with fresh ground unsalted peanut butter that I get from the bulk section of my favorite grocery. Using fresh ground or homemade peanut butter makes it a minimally processed food that’s actually not so bad for you when eaten in moderation. However, in moderation is generally not how I eat this stuff, which is why it landed a lead role in my “guilty pleasures” post.

Scroll down for the recipe!

Little Bird Nest | Guilty Pleasures 3

White Chocolate Peanut Butter

Makes about 1 pint

Ingredients

1 cup fresh ground or homemade natural peanut butter
1 cup white chocolate chips or vanilla melts
pinch of sea salt (optional)*

Directions

Combine the peanut butter and white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for about a minute or so, until the white chocolate begins to melt, being careful not to overheat it which could cause the sugars to caramelize. Stir until the white chocolate has completely melted and everything is evenly mixed. Add sea salt, to taste. (*If you use pre-salted peanut butter, you can skip this step.)

Spoon into a glass jar and allow to cool… or just eat half of it right away, like I would! 🙂

Note: When I make this, it’s really thick at room temp, though it will depend on the texture of the peanut butter and type of white chocolate you use. If it’s too hard to spread at room temp, microwave it for a few seconds before serving.

 

What are your current guilty pleasures?

 

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A Favorite Family Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Coconut

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend! Just in case you haven’t already had your fill of holiday food, I’ve decided to share one of my all-time favorite family recipes.

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes With Coconut

I have no intention of turning this into a food blog– I just don’t have the kitchen skills to handle that. But I do believe in sharing favorite recipes. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to create that perfect taste from a recipe that someone took with them to the grave. And that’s why I was thrilled when my Aunt Jeanie gave me permission to share this amazing recipe here on my blog. Because good food should be shared!

But first, a little Thanksgiving recap. Garrett and Will and I spent the day with Garrett’s family. When we left our home in Salt Lake, it was pretty mild outside. Chilly, but pleasant and sunny, and not a single snowflake on the ground. When we got to Garrett’s parents’ house 40 minutes north of us, this is what it looked like:

Cox Family Thanksgiving 2015

Helloooo, winter! Personally, I love snow. I love cold white winters, so I didn’t mind this at all. But we didn’t come super prepared. Neither Garrett nor I had proper shoes for traipsing through snow, and Will definitely wasn’t equipped to play in the snow. All he had on were canvas sneakers which immediately got soaked, and although I was working on knitting a pair of mittens for him, only one was complete, so his hands froze. He did have a hat, though, which he refused to wear. I felt terrible. Will’s initial excitement over the snow quickly turned to tears and we ended up heading inside for some warm cuddles and by the fire while his pants, socks, and shoes dried out and his hands and feet thawed. Not one of my finest moments in parenting.

Cox Family Thanksgiving 2015

Garrett and I went shopping in the evening to catch some of the late-night sales while everyone else slept off their food comas, and we made sure to purchase a good pair of snow boots for Will which he has insisted on wearing around the house ever since. I also finished knitting that pair of mittens this weekend, so hopefully we won’t have any repeats of Thursday any time soon.

Okay, so back to the sweet potatoes. These are seriously soooo easy to make and soooo good. And if you ever had a craving for a sweet potato bake that’s not made with brown sugar, pecans, or marshmallows, this one is for you.

Cox Family Thanksgiving 2015

Check out that baby bump hanging over the counter! I have to be super careful when cooking these days so I don’t burn it on the stove!

This recipe has become my go-to recipe for any holiday season gatherings, whether they be for family or church or potlucks, or whatever. Since it always goes so fast, I like to cook enough sweet potatoes for 2 recipes (about 6 cups, so 5 to 6 sweet potatoes, depending on their size). That way I can make a second batch just for me and the immediate family once the first one has been devoured. You can save yourself a lot of prep time on the day you want to make these by baking the sweet potatoes a day or two ahead of time, mashing and preportioning them into 3 cups, and storing them in the fridge or freezer until needed.

Baked Sweet Potatoes With Coconut

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Coconut

(vegetarian, gluten free)

Prep time: 10 minutes (+ 1 hour if you start with uncooked sweet potatoes)
Bake time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hr, 10 min
Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (lumpy is okay)
2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter, softened or melted
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup shredded coconut*
5 eggs

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Using an electric mixer or crank beater, beat the first 3 ingredients together until the butter and sugar are completely mixed in with the potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into a 3 quart baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350° for about 1 hour, or until the edges are slightly browned and the center is set. And that’s it! So easy!

*I always use sweetened shredded coconut, because it’s cheap and easy to find. But feel free to use the unsweetened stuff, especially if you’re looking for ways to cut back on sugar a little. This dish is already very sweet.

 

So there you have it– a new, slightly different recipe to sweeten up your holiday meals. If you try it, let me know what you think in the comments below!