Tuesday, April 30, 2013

minestrone soup.

olive garden is one of my favorite restaurants. {italian is my favorite type of food, by far!}. i always get their minestrone as my soup, and it is incredibly delicious. so, this weekend i decided to try making it homemade.

this soup is amazing! i absolutely love it, and it tastes so similar to olive garden's! plus, it's easy, & it makes an extremely healthy meal...just veggies, beans, and some noodles {it's even vegan!}.

1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium-sized chopped zucchini
1 can {or 1 1/2 cups frozen} cut green beans
4 cups vegetable broth
1 {15 oz} can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 {15 oz} can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 {15 oz} can diced tomatoes {don't drain!}
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups hot water
2 cups frozen {or fresh} spinach
1 cup small shell pasta

  • in a large pot, saute carrots, celery, and zucchini for approximately 10 minutes or until vegetables are beginning to soften.
  • add vegetable broth to pot, plus drained tomatoes, green beans, beans, hot water, and spices.
  • bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • add spinach and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until noodles are done. enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

high five for friday!

happy friday ladies!

i seriously could not be more excited for the weekend {even though i have a paper to right about a topic i don't understand at.all...ugh. please wish me luck!}. this week has been insanely busy, and it's really only going to get worse...but, on the bright side, summer begins next month! you better believe i'm just hanging in there & counting down the days. anyway, my 5 favorite things from the week:

1. blueberry pancakes for dinner on saturday. my favorite {& the one perk of eating at the most un-vegetarian friendly restaurant e.v.e.r...yes, i'm looking at you, cracker barrel.}

2. i finally found something appropriately pink to wear to my aunt's wedding, which is a week from today! i love the polka dots. :)

3. i finished my 4 weeks of ripped in 30 yesterday! woohoo! and...instead of a picture of the dvd case or something, you get awkward pictures of my body! they are probably not impressive to you whatsoever, but i am SO impressed with my arm muscles {there's actual muscle there! it freaked me out originally, being so used to my weak arms.}

4. finally tried larabars this week...i'm obsessed. i'm already plotting how i'm going to eventually try every single flavor. they're going to be regulars in my pantry. plus, you can't beat the all natural 2-9 ingredients! 

5. i officially found a new show to watch...make it or break it! i'm loving it so far. :)

wishing you all the most fabulous of weekends! xo!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

sweet potato quinoa "mac" & cheese.

in browsing through recipes one day, i came across one for “sweet potato and spinach mac and cheese”. it sounded really delicious. then, i found one for “quinoa spinach mac and cheese”, which, especially considering the quinoa kick i’m on, also sounded great. so, I did what any sensible cook would do: i combined the recipes & created something of my own.

holy amazingness.
i concocted the recipe, baked it, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. it’s fantastic! flavorful, good texture, and not too shabby to look at either. :) plus, it is a "mac" and cheese, but with (superfood!) quinoa in place of macaroni noodles, and the addition of spinach & sweet potato, i think it's definitely a "healthier" way to get your mac & cheese fix, despite the amount of cheese!

try it--i guarantee you will be as obsessed with it as i am {& i made it for myself when i was home alone for the weekend...so i kinda sorta ate it for lunch & dinner 2 days in a row!}

1 cup dry quinoa (+ 2 cups of water for cooking)
1 medium sweet potato
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen--thawed/cooked) spinach

combine dry quinoa with water and cook according to package directions. set aside.

cube sweet potato (peeling is optional--I left skin on). bring a pot of water to a boil, add sweet potato, and cook until tender, 8-12 minutes. drain. place cooked sweet potato in a food processor/blender with ¼ cup of milk. pulse until smooth and set aside.

mix together mozzarella + 1 cup of white cheddar and set aside.

preheat oven to 400 F.

in a sauce pan, melt butter. once melted, whisk in flour and let cook for 1-2 minutes. whisk in remaining 1¼
cup of milk and cook until mixture begins to thicken. whisk in sweet potato puree and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes. remove from heat and add cheese mixture.

in a large casserole dish, add quinoa, spinach, and cheese sauce. stir until everything is thoroughly mixed together. combine remaining 1/2 cup of white cheddar + breadcrumbs & sprinkle over top of casserole.

bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheeses on top are browning. enjoy!

linking up with ashley & jessica for taste of tuesday!

Friday, April 19, 2013

high five for friday!

hi ladies!

happy friday! i am soooo excited it's finally the end of the week! i can't wait for this weekend, just to have some time to relax, catch up on things {particularly blogging...i majorly slacked on posts this week, but i'm strangely okay with it. next week i'll be back 110%!}, go shopping, and do some cooking/baking! my week felt kind of long, but it was really a great week:

1. avocados were 10 for $10...so we {3 people} kinda sorta bought 10 and made a gigantic bowl of guacamole! i beyond adore guacamole, though, so it's totally fine with me! i've been enjoying it all week {strangely enough, more so with carrots than with chips! healthy snacking, kids. it's a yummy combo!}

2. i finally made it to target and got this adorable notebook! half the blogging population owns it, so i'm being a total follower, but i don't care. :)

3. i watched life of pi on saturday! i never had any desire whatsoever to see it, but my parents rented it and i ended up just watching it. to my surprise, i really liked it! it was definitely a great movie.

4. my grandparents invited me over for dinner on tuesday, and let me just say: my grandma knows how to do dessert right: strawberry shortcake! we totally did it up with big slices of cake, lots of ice cream, and some whipped cream. not the healthiest, but such a delicious treat!

5. this ice cream = the bomb. i have no clue what the "technical" definition is, but it's like coffee ice cream + cookies & cream combined. it's amazing!

p.s. although it would appear all i ate this week was tons of sugar & junk, that's not the case! aside from the dessert, i've actually been really healthy this week & consistently sticking to my calories limit. plus, you all know by now that i get my exercise on with jillian every single day, religiously!

wishing all of you the best & longest-feeling weekends {because we all know they go by lightning quick}!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

banana cupcakes & chocolate peanut butter frosting.

we had 3 ripe bananas in our house this weekend, but i didn't want to just make plain old banana bread. i was in the mood for something different! so, these happened:
banana bread cupcakes, with, get this...chocolate peanut butter frosting. now, i don't know about you, but to me that sounds like one of the most winning combinations out there. i mean, my love for peanut butter is no secret, and i love it with banana! these are so delicious! you'll love them. :)
bonus: if you're looking for a nice & relatively healthy treat, these cupcakes are completely delicious on their own! just skip the frosting and have some awesome banana muffins. :) not that i necessarily recommend skipping this amazing frosting...

3 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 vanilla greek yogurt
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
 1/4 cup melted butter or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour {all-purpose will also work perfectly!}
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

preheat oven to 350 degrees. line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

in a bowl, mash bananas and add apple sauce, yogurt, and brown sugar, mixing until smooth. stir in vanilla and melted butter. combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and slowly incorporate into wet ingredients.

fill cupcake liners 3/4 full {i've found that the easiest way to do this, by far, is to use an ice cream scoop!}. bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on the top and a toothpick comes out clean. let cool completely.

4 tablespoons {1/2 stick} butter, at room temperature 
3/4 cup peanut butter 
2 cups powdered sugar 
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed 

using a mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until creamy. add in vanilla extract then gradually add in sugar and cocoa until entirely combined and smooth. as needed throughout the process, add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until frosting is perfectly creamy. frost cupcakes & enjoy!

linking up with ashley & jessica for taste for tuesday, as always!

Friday, April 12, 2013

high five for friday!

feliz viernes, ladies!

it's friday! woohoo! i survived my first week back from spring break--but really, it wasn't a bad week at all! it was great...take a look:

1. i went to the gym on saturday! you might be confused--while i do workout everyday, i do it at home & i haven't been to the gym since mid-january! but i finally got back {i'll be honest...i had a little "gym fever"..yes, it's a thing!} & got a great workout in!

2. it has been 70-something degrees all week. i'm in heaven! the flip-flops are in full force, so obviously this flip-flop fanatic couldn't be happier.

3.{disclaimer: i know i seem to watch a tv show a week...but i keep watching shows with only 1 season, so what can you expect?} i watched the first {& only} season of ringer over the week! i hadn't heard of it, but it has the same basic plot line as the lying game, so i watched it. it's so good! i can't understand why it got cancelled last year!

4. i eat pretzels on the regular. however, i mixed it up this week with some butter pretzels...aka pretzels 2.0! they are even more delicious, because, well...they taste buttery! and all the nutrition info is still the same as with regular pretzels, so why not?

5. last week, i won a giveaway for a brittany fuson print! i looked at all of her gorgeous prints for so long {girlfriend has talent!} before finally narrowing it down to this one! i totally love it and can't wait to frame it & get it up on my wall!

ciao belle! wishing you all the best of weekends!

*p.s. spanish hello & italian goodbye...look at me in all of my trilingual-ness! ...not. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

you HAVE time!

happy thursday, my dears!

today, i have a little bit of cold hard truth + motivation for you in regards to the "e" word. you know, exercise? i'm about to squash your #1 excuse! but don't be intimidated...keep reading!

i’m going to go out on a limb and say that every single one of you watches at least a ½ hour of tv each day. for most of us, it’s way more. after dinner, we generally plop on the couch and watch shows from the night before, or from netflix, etc. and 99% of the time, we're on our iphones & laptops simultaneously  pinning or tweeting or blogging. i’m guilty too. but….let me ask you this: how many of you have ever used the excuse “i don’t have time to workout!”?

here's the truth: you do. you always do! anytime you find yourself watching tv, or playing on your phone, or even blogging, that's time that could be spent working out! it's only a minimum of about 30 minutes...you still have the other 23.5 hours of the day to do whatever your heart desires!
going back to the tv or time on the computer--those are givens in your day, correct? things you always do? well, add working out to that list! working out is something i do every single day...it's built into my schedule. on weekdays, as soon as i get home, i throw on my workout clothes & get to it!

i have never let other plans stop me from working out. working out is one of my biggest priorities in life, and i make the time, no matter what! if you're going out to dinner, you may have to rearrange your schedule and workout in the morning {or, if you're making the plans, don't schedule things until after you've had enough time to workout!}.when i went on a 12 hour road trip last summer, we were leaving at 7:00am, so i woke up at 5:30 in order to have time for a couple miles on the treadmill! i've worked out as early as 4:30am, & as late as 10:30pm.
even if you somehow don't have 30 minutes {because it get it, some days are crazy!}...go for a walk or run around your neighborhood or on your treadmill {if you have one}! go on pinterest and look up a 10 or 15 minute workout! do just a part of a workout video! regardless of how jam packed your day is, i'm sure you almost always have at least some downtime! that lunch break? go take a walk! make the most of what time you do have.

i believe in each and everyone of you-- you have time to workout! don't use that as your excuse...there are really no valid excuses for not working out, outside of being sick or hurt! i get that if you are just getting into it, you may dread it...but i promise that once you get into a regular exercise rhythm, you will start to love it and even crave, yes crave, exercise! if i don't know when i'll be able to workout on a certain day, i get antsy..i need to do it!
don't be that cop out girl. there are a million and one excuses out there, but they are just that--excuses! you possess the time to workout...you just have to get up and go do it!
i encourage you to get up and workout today! pretty little liars will still be on your dvr or hulu tomorrow. the only spare time you have is your blogging time? ...skip your blog post for tomorrow! we will all understand. :) you and your health are the most important thing! be proactive, take charge of your time & your schedule, and go kick some serious butt!

get it, girl!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

loving lately.

hi loves!

happy wednesday! today, i'm sharing just a few things i'm currently loving:

1 // 2 // 3 // 4.

1. this one is self explanatory  unless this is your first time around these parts, you know how absolutely made for me this tank top is! i have to have it. :)

2. we studied robert rauschenberg in my class on monday, and i loved every bit of it! the man's artwork is definitely my style. i loved all of the combines {art term} and i especially loved this "collage" of his! it's so pretty.

3. i bought a $10 hard shell case for my ipad back in august. it's been amazing, so strong & protective! however, i may have dropped my ipad on the hardwood kitchen floor not once, but twice this weekend, and unfortunately my little case is so broken up it won't even stay on my ipad anymore. so, time for a new case! this one from pencil shavings studio is absolutely adorable!

4. i officially stuffed my trusty toms in the closet yesterday...hopefully until fall! i absolutely live in flip-flops during the summer, but i'm also thinking a nice cute pair of sandals would be good to have. i've seen a few friends wearing these sandals, and well...i'm being a copycat because they're just too cute not to!

it's the half-way point! hope all of you are having fantastic weeks so far! xo!

{linking up with the fabulous ashlyn & kristin for four favorites!}

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

quinoa zucchini lasagna.

sometimes i wonder if you guys think i just eat desserts for all 3 meals of the day, since that's all i ever talk about. while that definitely would not be a bad thing, i do eat real food! i love cooking just as much as i love baking. :) especially when i'm cooking super delicious things like this:

a yummy lasagna...made with quinoa instead of noodles! i tried quinoa for the first time just 2 months ago, and i can't believe i hadn't tried it before! i absolutely love it, and i'm always on the look-out for more quinoa recipes.

i saw a quinoa lasagna recipe on eating well last week, and i knew right away i had to have it! it sounded amazing, and it definitely was...plus, it's fairly simple. i changed it up a ton to make it my own, and it came out just perfect. one of my favorite things i've eaten in a while!

{also, did you know that besides peanut butter, i am also equally obsessed with tomato sauce? oh. my. gosh. it smells  & tastes incredible and everytime we eat italian food, i find myself saying i could just drink it! obsessed. i swear i was italian in a past life.}

anyway, i guarantee you will love this lasagna is you try it! despite being super cheesy and delicious, it's actually a pretty healthy meal!

2 cups water 
1 cup quinoa 
 3 cups tomato sauce {homemade or jarred!} 
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 teaspoon dried basil 
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 1/2 large zucchinis, sliced 
2 cups spinach, fresh or frozen {i used frozen} 
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees. coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. fluff with a fork. set aside.
  • combine ricotta, parmesan, basil and oregano.
  • evenly spread out all of the quinoa in a prepared dish. spread one-third of the sauce over the quinoa. make a layer of all the zucchini, then all the ricotta mixture, then half the remaining sauce, then all the spinach. finish with the remaining sauce and spread mozzarella on top.
  • bake the lasagna until it's hot and the cheese is melted, bubbling and slightly browned around the edges, 35 to 40 minutes. let stand for about 10 minutes before serving. enjoy!
{linking up with the lovely ashley & jessica for taste of tuesday!}

Monday, April 8, 2013

back in the saddle again!

happy monday lovelies!

it's that sad "i-really-don't-want-to-go-back-but-i-have-to" monday after spring break for me. i guess now it's just time to begin the countdown to summer, right? it begins next month...that thought will keep me going!

my weekend was pretty laid back. i spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen, and i have 3 yummy recipes to share with you soon {one coming tomorrow}! other than that, i worked out, watched more ringer on netflix, and that's about as exciting as things got. i'm just a party animal, i tell ya.

me, circa friday night. with my  lovely falling out half pontail/half bun.
anyway...since my 2 sentence weekend recap doesn't exactly constitute a whole post, i'm going to leave you with some randomness i've been wanting to share with you. i have a whole list of random little things i want to tell you about..i might just make it a weekly monday thing. ;)

  • you know the song breathe by anna nalick, right? my sister and i love that song. we both know all of the lyrics by heart. i don't even know what we love about it so much...but you better believe anytime it's on the radio, i sing out loud {& i may or may not be belting it out right now!}. somehow, my mom doesn't know a single lyric or even really like it {crazy!}. 
  • this was my email of the day from the vegucated "be vegan within a month" newsletter on friday {don't mind that awkward "daily nugget"!}. can i get a hallelujah? you kids know my crazy love for peanut butter...if this wasn't true, no way i could ever be vegan!

  • i talk in hashtags with my sister sometimes. we'll literally say the word "hashtag" and then whatever the hashtag is. it's like verbal tweeting! also, i always have this urge to use hashtags in blog posts. i mean, i know they're really just for twitter/instagram, but they're addicting!
  • i made cookies on saturday. i burned 500 calories at the gym, so of course i need cookies afterwards! they were delicious. and it's possible i told myself i would just eat 2, and then...ahem...i ate all my gym calories back {& them some!}. oops!
that's it for today. have a wonderful start to the week!

Friday, April 5, 2013

high five for friday!

happy friday, crazy kids!

i call my sister crazy kid all the time. and...travis said it on a cougar town episode i watched yesterday. so it's officially mainstream. anyway, {how did i just get so off topic so fast?} this week was the best because it was my spring break! of course, it flew by way too fast, & i'm definitely not ready for it to be almost over, but it was a lot of fun! now to start looking forward to summer. :) here's a little spring break recap:

1. i had a goal of doing a ton of baking this week, and that definitely happened! for easter breakfast, i made cinnamon roll scones {recipe coming!} & for dessert, i made a bunny shaped carrot cake. throughout the week, i also made this amazing chocolate cake with peanut butter glaze & these {healthy!} chocolate chip banana bread cookies. it was a winning week in the kitchen. :)

2. my favorite part of spring break has been my perfect mornings! i wish every day could be like this. waking up at 6:30 or 7:00, getting in my early workout {there is just nothing better!}, & then eating breakfast in my sunshine filled kitchen. perfection.

3. i hadn't really even heard of this show, but i saw it on netflix and thought, "what the heck?". guys. i watched the entire first season in less than 48 hours. i am obsessed. it's the best show! go watch it!

4. things got all crafty up in here on tuesday...i made a lightbox! i promise it looks a whole lot better in person. :) i can't wait to use it and hopefully take some great photos...i adore natural light, but it {sadly} isn't always available!

5. my grandma mailed us a box of these insanely good chocolates she makes! they are filled with caramel and a pecan {these also look better in person!}. the chocolate is some special chocolate from peru, which is where my grandma's best friend is from. i don't really know specifics, i just know they're the bomb!

now go off and have a fabulous weekend! xo!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

chocolate chip banana bread cookies!

lately, i'm really trying to cut out the junk/sugar and eat pretty healthy. however, i still love to bake, and i don't want to give that up! i had 1 old banana sitting on my counter yesterday {don't you just hate that? only 1 banana! you need at least 2 to make a recipe! i ended up just combining it with a newer banana, in case you were wondering.}, so i wanted to whip up something banana-y. 

and sometimes a girl is just bored with the same ol' same ol' banana bread. and also not digging the 1 1/4 cups of sugar banana bread calls for {aren't bananas supposed to sweet things naturally? hellllllo...}. so, i came up with these little things.
banana bread cookies. they are really not "cookies" at all. it's just banana bread, in a cookie form. {i know, i'm blowing your mind here!}. they're delicious! not too drastically different from basic banana bread, but these are also quite healthy. whole wheat flour, oats, bananas, and the only sweetener is 2 tbsp of honey. i can handle that. 

{bonus: they are vegan so long as you use agave {or any similar liquid sweetener you like} as opposed to honey!}

oh, and did i mention i dressed them up a bit with some chocolate chips? they're still a nice healthy treat {especially if you use dark chocolate!}, but it just makes them even yummier! they only require one bowl to make, so go do it. :) 
2 ripe medium bananas 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tbsp peanut butter 
2 tbsp honey {or agave, for vegan!}
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 cup white whole wheat flour/whole wheat pastry flour {all-purpose works, but it's just not as nutritious!} 
3/4 cup rolled oats  
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

  • preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • in a large bowl, mash the banana & add baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, peanut butter, honey, & oil and stir together. 
  • add in the flour + rolled oats and stir.
  •  add the chocolate chips and stir until just combined. 
  • scoop slightly rounded 1 tbsp measurements of the batter and drop onto a baking sheet greased/lined with parchment. space about 1 inch apart, & lightly press each cookie down with the bake of a spoon. 
  • bake for 10-11 minutes or until they appear set. 
  • let cool slightly on cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

on getting fit & looking cute.

it's no secret that i'm really into fitness. i workout everyday, but since i mostly do jillian michaels videos, no one sees me! so, i tend to workout in old, un-cute clothes. case in point: i just finished my workout this morning {spring break= 7 am workouts. heck yes!}, which was level 1 of ripped in 30 & level 1 of 6 week 6  pack back-to-back. and do you know what i did in in? umm...an old st. patrick's day t-shirt & some little black shorts i've had for about a decade.

when i go to the gym, i still wear old t-shirts , but i do have some actual workout pants i wear. :) it's safe to say my workout wardrobe needs some serious updating! i'm {obviously} not the girl who can't workout if she isn't looking cute, but that definitely helps.plus, since i;m trying to get into running outdoors, i'd like to look a little more presentable! here are some of my workout essentials for looking cute + kicking some butt!

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8.

i'm planning on doings some abs yoga & a 1 mile run later to finish off today's working out, and a cute jacket like 1. would definitely come in  handy for that run {although it's sunny out, the wind makes it freezing!}. i have to have a  nice headband anytime i workout...a ponytail alone isn't enough! i love the double band on that one. :)

i'll admit, i'd be one to take the pants and short sleeve tee options vs. the shorts and/or tank. i like to be a little more covered, i guess! my tennis shoes aer in pretty bad shape, so i definitely need some new ones--and i definitely want some brightly colored ones! white....blah. that coral is right up my alley.

lastly, i conclude my essentials with a polar ft4 watch! i am sooooo envious of all of you girls who have one of these {or anything similar!}. as i mentioned, i do a ton of home workouts, so i literally have no idea how many calories i burn! i end up just guessing/making it up {& i'm positive i'm lowballing myself!}. these watches are just so awesome--they not only tell you how many calories you burn, based on heart rate, but they also have other cool features like telling you when you're improving!

do you have any other essentials to add to the list? what is your typical workout wear?

have a happy wednesday, loves!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

chocolate cake with peanut butter glaze.

i made a bunny shaped carrot cake for easter on sunday, but it turns out that everyone in my family was really in the mood for something chocolate. so, yesterday, i decided to whip up this little gem.

you guys.

a fluffy chocolate cake with an awesome peanut butter glaze. and, i kind of "trashed it up" a bit more by covering the top with chocolate chips! it's definitely not health food, but we all deserve to treat ourselves sometimes, right? and this is perfect for that.

it's insanely delicious, super simple/easy, and bonus: it's actually 100% vegan {as long as you use a vegan milk, i.e. almond milk--but it's still a great cake no matter what milk you use}! 

try it! i guarantee you'll love it.
chocolate cake:
1 cup flour
 1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk of choice
1/3 cup canola oil
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

peanut butter glaze:
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
a splash of vanilla extract
3-5 tbsp milk of your choice

preheat the oven to 350 degrees. grease {and/or line with parchment paper} a loaf pan. set aside.
in a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients, making sure to break up any lumps of cocoa powder.
in a separate bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients until smooth.
add the wet ingredients to the dry. gently mix everything together with a spatula until smooth & just combined. pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. remove from the oven and cool completely.
to make the glaze: combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. whisk together until there are small "crumbs" of powder sugar/peanut butter {there will likely be some loose powder sugar in the bowl--that's fine!}. add the milk of your choice, and whisk a bit to get things going. i found it helpful to microwave the glaze for about 30 seconds at this point, just to warm it up and make it easier to get the lumps out. whisk until a smooth glaze is achieved. it should make ribbons that last in the bowl when you lift the whisk.
spread/pour the icing over the cake. top with chocolate chips, or any other topping of your choice, or leave plain {nothing wrong with pure chocolate and peanut butter!}.

{linking up with ashley & jessica for taste of tuesday!}
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