17 November 2014

Pic's Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Oh My. Heavens.


This is a recipe I've made a couple of times now, and it's beyond amazing. I'm a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate together (Hello! American here! Reese's Peanut Butter cups are still one of my favourites!) So, here is our Pic’s Peanut Butter Cook & Craft Challenge recipe!!

Pic's, our favourite PB here. It's "REALLY GOOD", but no, seriously, it is.

This is an adapted recipe I originally found in One More Slice, an amazing book with so many heart stopping sweet recipes! But here is my tweaked version.


Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until it's light and creamy. And check out the beautifulness of the melted butter and peanut butter!!! (drooooool)


Spread the brownie mixture in the parchment lined tin and put aside.


For the peanut butter cream, melt the butter in beat in the icing sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla.


By the the time you finish this, it will have cooled enough to spoon or drizzle the peanut butter cream on top of the chocolate mixture. Using a knife, make swirls in the tin to make the marbled effect.

The perfect crisp brownie top... and a missing piece! Ooops!
Pop it in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes until the sides are firm and middle is set.
Let it cool and cut into squares. Devour.

Mmmmm Gooooey....


Henk's favourite part about Pic's? "STAR!!!!!"

Pic's Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Ingredients for the Brownies
  • 200 grams softened butter
  • 175 grams sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 50 grams cocoa powder
  • 50 ml rice syrup
  • 3 pinches sea salt
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 90 grams plain flour
Ingredients for the Peanut Butter Cream
    • 50 grams butter
    • 65 grams icing sugar
    • 175 grams Pic's Peanut Butter (smooooooth for this recipe)
    • 2 pinches sea salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20x20cm baking tray with parchment paper.
    2. Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until it's light and creamy.
    3. Mix in the cocoa, salt, and syrup.
    4. Add the eggs, one at a time, adding the flour last.
    5. Spread the brownie mixture in the parchment lined tin and put aside
    6. For the peanut butter cream, melt the butter and whisk in the icing sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla.
    7. By the the time you finish this, the peanut butter cream will have cooled enough to spoon or drizzle on top of the chocolate mixture.
    8. Using a knife, make swirls in the tin to make the marbled effect.
    9. Pop it in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes until the sides are firm and middle is set.
    10. Let it cool and cut into squares.
    11. Devour.

    10 November 2014

    Speaking of holidays...

    December is a HUGE month for us. Jacob's birthday, the boys' birthday, Christmas, New Years, friends and family visiting, the parties and BBQs that happen almost every single weekend... Huge.

    I'm starting early. Sort of. I started making bows - last year! But I have a list a mile long of everything else I need to do... How about you?


    And speaking of chaos...


    Have a great Monday!!
    xx

    09 November 2014

    Eco-living and values for the family!

    Being eco-aware and Earth friendly as a family can be quite difficult. Obviously, two almost-two year old boys don't grasp the idea of "Darling, please turn the tap off, we can't waste water." Or "Please turn the light off, electricity is expensive." But we are working on that. 

    What we can do as parents, though, is instill those values in our growing children on their level. Teach them to respect everyone and everything. Teach them that there are limited resources in the world. Help them understand that there are less fortunate people all over, not just in third-world countries, but just around the corner. 

    I feel extremely fortunate to be raising my children and living in the one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And I want them to have that same feeling. Their home, their city, their country, their world.. is home. And it's the only one we may ever have.


    Cloth Nappies
    I know I've talked about cloth nappies before. But until we have finished potty training, we will still be using these. We do however use disposables when I know we will be out for a few hours and overnight. But just using at least one set of cloth nappies a day makes a difference. 


    Cloth Wipes
    It doesn't get much easier than this. When the kiddos are wearing cloth nappies, cloth wipes just go with the nappies into the nappy bin, after the poo is scraped into the toilet of course. No having to pull out wipes that can't go into the sewers.

    Biodegradable Wipes
    When we can't use cloth wipes, we use biodegradable wipes. Either Little Genie Brand or Silk. Luckily, we can find them at any of the larger supermarkets here in NZ. But if you can't, try the local co-op for something similar where you are. Also, if you live in an older house with older plumbing, DO NOT THROW "Flushable" wipes down the toilet. They are flushable, but they will get stuck on tiny little cracks in the pipes which means everything else behind it gets stuck and it's just gross, not to mention expensive to fix.




    Highchairs - Wooden vs Plastic
    This is more of a personal preference thing for me. Even though the plastic chairs we were looking at were easier to clean and quite durable and also quite a bit cheaper, we decided to go with wooden highchairs. I could go into detail about why plastic is bad and wood is at least a mostly renewable resource and will eventually breakdown, but you get the idea. For us, it was worth the cost to have something nice that was going to be a fixture in our house for quite a long time. Also, the chairs we did end up getting are super adjustable, and not molded plastic, so they will last the next few years. 
    Both are available here from Mocka.



    Potties
    Again, with the plastic people! I know, I know, potty training, which will be starting in full force this summer (hopefully), shouldn't be yet another thing to think about in a "green" sense. And yes, I know, I know, you can get plastic potties for damn cheap, but what happens when the kids are properly using the toilet? They could probably be recycled, but after a little research, we found these. How could I say no?! A biodegradable potty that the boys can help put into the garden and help plant something lovely as a reward that they will remember... Um yes please. Two please!

    The Library
    Ok. No brainer. We are library regulars. We make a morning of it usually. We spend about five minutes getting books for me, and about 30-40 minutes reading and finding books for the boys. The boys have their own library cards, which the late return fees are a lot less expensive than an adult card. That's a bonus. After that, since our library in the city is the best ever, we go the cafe, and have a little lunch - where there is a play area for the boys to run around. Paying for parking, a couple croissants and a random late fee is worth it. While we do have heaps of books for the boys, it's nice to find new gems that the boys want read - over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and....

    The Toy Library
    The idea of a Toy Library was something completely new to me. Think a library but instead of books, you take out toys. How amazingly simple! Well, simple is the idea, it's actually quite impressive to run. As a member of the Toy Library, you pay a membership fee, pay for missing pieces of toys, and have to donate a small about time. But in return, you can take out toys that you maybe would never buy for your kids. Slides, water tables, play kitchens, heaps of different duplo sets and lego sets, dress ups, board games, puzzles, bikes... the list goes on and on and on! Then instead of having to throw them into the landfill if you had to buy them, you return them to the library and get something else and the next family can use it. I really think something like this would take off back in my hometown - looking at you Central Baptist Church ;) ! I love our toy library!

    Eating Organic 
    I can't stress this enough. We try to eat and use as much organic produce, meat and products as we can. We get the majority of our fruit and veg delivered to our front door from Vegeboxes and then do a fortnightly stock up at Commonsense Organics. I guess eating organic food is just the norm for us. There are heaps of articles and research about why organic is best, but for me, it all comes down to the way it tastes. If you can't afford to eat all organic all the time, find out about the Dirty Dozen or...

    Grow your own!
    In a couple years time, when the boys are bigger and able to help out in the garden a little bit more, I'd like to have a really well stock produce front lawn. Jacob does an amazing job for what little time he has, and just being able to have access to fresh herbs and a few veggies is really rewarding!
    Below are some of our adventures in gardening!







     Raw Milk
    Again, one of those things that we use for the taste and the benefits, which you can Google. Strangely, what sold me on it, was the fact that, because we order so much of it, we receive it in a 10L pail once a week that is then brought back to the farm. We have a cycle of glass bottles that we use to keep the milk in our fridge, which cuts down on all of the plastic jugs going for recycling.

    So, in my mind, I think these little things will make the planet a better place, or New Zealand, or my boys' lives, or maybe it's just my conscience. But there are so many things you CAN do to help.
    Hope this is helpful or a little inspiring to those that would like to do something!

    I'd love to hear more ideas and things you do!! 
    xx

    06 November 2014

    PB&J Junkies (and being camera aware)

    Lunchtime can be such a struggle sometimes. It usually met with fussiness and cranky boys, over-tired and an exhausted mum. It is so hard. Parenting is just hard. There is nothing easy about this shit. The days it goes all good in the morning, the afternoons just lead to chaos.. and vice versa. It's rare that we have a seriously good day. It sucks. I want them to be all good days. But alas. No. 

    I recently gave up trying to be healthy for lunchtimes, well at least for a couple of days. Usually we have things like edamame, whole grain toast with tuna, mostly healthy and as unprocessed as possible. Then, it all turned to custard. I threw in the towel and decided to make them PB&J. ARGH!!! There was no bread. Out come the tortillas. I know I was a PB&J kid and still am. But now I know why. The boys were so happy. I was happy. All good.

    You can't be that mum everyday. Somedays you have to feed them PB&J for lunch and baked beans for dinner. 
    And it's ok.. 

    The new lunch favourite

    And quickly, look at this little heartbreaker above. He has been quite lovely lately and it's amazing. While Willem has had a pretty bad week, Hendrik is the one to help out. He gets their socks and shoes when Willem is having a tantrum on my lap and gets into the pram without question. And not to mention, he can work a camera like no other little boy! ;)

    xx

    03 November 2014

    Our very uneventful Halloween

    Sometimes, holidays sneak up. 
    I was completely unprepared for Halloween this year. 
    I promise, next year will be different. 




    But we did manage a quick trip into the city for a little Day of the Dead celebrations!

    And yes, the boys DID have a good time! It may not look like it though! 
    Hope everyone had a good Halloween!!
    xx

    30 October 2014

    To whomever dresses Norma Bates...

    You are a genius.

    I'm not one to be overly fashionable. I wear what I wear and I like it. I couldn't tell you what designers do what and I find shopping for clothes a complete waste of time and energy. I know there are women like me, somewhere. But I do love second hand clothes, vintage dresses, and wished more men dressed like they did back in the 1940's. There is no denying that. 

    So lately, we've been watching the Bates Motel, which is a good show, but now I find myself watching it to see what the Norma Bates character is going to where in the next scene! Most of the characters are dressed as a slight throwback to the 1950's. It's worth watching just for that. 




    Ahh, pleated skirts, proper waistlines, perfect hemlines, lovely shoes that aren't over the top. Granted, it is a little June Cleaver meets the Manson Family, but that's what's great about it!

    Image found here

    Image found here
    And so... ends my take on fashion. :P
    xx


    28 October 2014

    A very special Monday..

    Most Monday nights, we have a small group of very good friends come over for dinner. We all take turns cooking, which is a great break for me, but I love seeing what crazy things everyone makes. Anything from fondue to pork hocks, or coq au vin to spaetzle. It gets a little out of hand some nights. After consuming a ridiculous amount of food, we game. Like the geeks and nerds we are. 

    But most of the time, the boys are already bathed and in bed and only hear of the stories of the dinners, or via leftovers. But on Labour Day, everyone came over early and got to hang out with H&W. They loooooooooooved it! And they loved the BBQ everyone pitched in for. 

    Willem  trying on Aunty Jess' boots



    And not everything had bacon! See!!

    Aunty Jess having some boy-time.

    Thanks guys for making our guys' day!
    Love you all!!! xx

    21 October 2014

    Cheese Straws - who knew?

    It always makes me slightly angry when I find simple recipes like this that I could have been making for ages! Way too easy, way too yummy, way too quickly eaten. The recipe I actually used was from the Treats from Little and Friday. (which of course I'm dying to go visit the cafe in Auckland.)


    Check out the book at least. There are so many great recipes.

    Good cheese and fresh herbs from the garden.

    Yes, I cheated. Store bought puff pastry.

    Messy twisties.

    And yummmmmm. Amazing warm out of the oven.

    Yummy for boys, and yummy puff pastry crumbs on the floor for Timmy.

    16 October 2014

    13 October 2014

    Another Sunny Weekend!

    Life is good here in Wellington. We have lucked out with the weather. It's been simply stunning. Being able to play outside and get that fresh air makes all the difference in the world. 

    We had a great weekend spent with family and spending the time to catch up on little things ie. tree trimming and mending dresses (that I can actually fit into again!).

    Happy 22 months to these little flower children of ours!
    Hanging with Opa!

    Finally fixing some summery clothes. 
    And school holidays are now over! Thank goodness! The boys and I were back at Playcentre today. I'm so happy they love it! 

    Good times.
    And happy Monday!

    xx