Thursday, August 30, 2012

By the Batch – Creamy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bark

You may have seen me mention on the Facebook page last week that I had an impromptu chocolate and peanut butter craving one afternoon that had to be satisfied. I didn’t have any flour in the house which seriously limited what I could bake and the baby was asleep upstairs so I couldn’t go out. So I went with the most literal translation of the craving and combined peanut butter and chocolate chips into a super delicious bark. I debated sharing because what I made is so simple you could hardly call it a recipe but I’ve decided to post about it because it was just so darn good and it looks quite pretty too.

Creamy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bark


  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter


It doesn’t get much easier than this. Melt the chocolate chips and the margarine in a double boiler (or just put a bowl on top of a pot with a little bowling water in it like I do). Once it’s melted smooth let it cool for a minute and then spread it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. How thin you spread it depends on how thin you want your bark to be. While the chocolate sets up a bit pop your peanut butter into the microwave for 30 seconds to soften it up. You want it to be a bit runny so feel free to heat a bit longer until it gets to the right consistency. Once you’ve got it right simply spoon it over your chocolate and then take a butter knife and swirl the peanut butter into the top of the chocolate. You want to make sure to leave a layer of chocolate at the bottom so it will harden. Once it’s all swirly and pretty stick it in the fridge until it’s set (about an hour). Break it into pieces and enjoy.

The chocolate will harden but the sections of peanut butter will stay a bit soft and creamy recreating the wonderful texture of a peanut butter cup. Because I was embarrassed by how simple this “recipe” is, I tried to complicate it but doing some variations but I promise you that nothing made it better. Straight chocolate and peanut butter are where it’s at!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Guest Post – Simple Blueberry Sauce

Happy Saturday! Yesterday was actually Sugar and Shimmer’s two year blogiversary! It's' hard for me to believe that I’ve been posting here for two years. Thanks to all of you who have been reading. To celebrate I’ll have a fun free printable to post next week. I’ll also be sharing my peanut butter bark recipe that I teased over on the Sugar and Shimmer Facebook page. Until then, here’s another recipe from One Hungry Dude.

A few weeks ago, I shared a recipe for Blueberry Barbecue Sauce. Luckily, I still had some blueberries left over afterwards, so I decided to create a more traditional sauce, which goes perfectly with pancakes, waffles or even dessert. Blueberries are so versatile, they can easily form the base for a delicious dish at any time of the day.

Blueberry Sauce
• 1 pint Blueberries
• 1/2 Cup Water
• 3 Tsp Granulated Sugar
• Juice from 1/4 Lemon
• Splash of Vanilla
• A pinch of Salt

Place the ingredients in a small pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat by about half, and stir occasionally. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Place on top of pancakes, waffles or vanilla ice cream. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and serve.

This recipe yields 1 to 1 1/2 Cups of sauce.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DIY Summer Paper Wreath

I’m on a real paper crafting kick as of late. Working with paper is cheap and easy and there are so many beautiful things you can create. And between Google and Pinterest, I’m never short on inspiration. I bought this paper pad on clearance from Michaels for only $5 and knew right away that the colours and patterns would lend themselves very well to a cheerful wreath. I used this wreath as a jumping off point and came up with a pretty wreath that looks like it took a lot of effort but was really super easy to make.

DIY Paper Wreath

Want to make your own? You’ll need:

  • 6 sheets of double sided 12x12 scrapbook paper (you can use single sided but you’ll end up with 6 patterns instead of 12)
  • 18 inch wreath form (mine was straw but foam would work just as well)
  • Hot glue
  • Straight pins
  • Ribbon

Start by wrapping your wreath form with ribbon. You’ll only be covering the front of the wreath with paper and the ribbon will hide the sides of the wreath form. Leave yourself long enough tails that you can tie them into a bow for hanging once the wreath is finished. If you’re ok with your straw or foam showing you can skip this step or you could paint the wreath form.

Next cut your paper into strips that are 2 inches wide by 4 inches long. Each sheet should yield 18 strips so you’ll have a total of 108 strips. Take each strip and fold it in half (but don’t crease it) and secure the ends with hot glue. What you’re trying to create are flat-ish 2x2 paper loops like the ones below. If you’re using double sided paper make sure to fold half of each page in the opposite direction so all your patterns will show.

DIY Paper Wreath - Details 

Once the glue is dry all you have to do is pin the loops to your covered wreath form with straight pins. You could use hot glue for this step but, if you’re like me, you’ll end up wanting to rearrange a bit as you go and you won’t have that option if you use glue. My basic pattern was to alternate rows of three and then two loops, fanning them out to cover the wreath form and to hide the pins. I didn’t have a pattern for using my papers, I just tried not to put the same ones too close together.

DIY Paper Wreath - Details 2

Once you’ve got all your loops in place just tie the tails of your ribbon into a bow and you’re done! Gluing and pinning all the paper loops takes a bit of patience but it’s pretty mindless work so you can get lots of thinking done ;) This wreath is definitely not weather proof so if your front door gets exposed to rain then you’ll have to hang this inside. Mine has actually found a home in our kitchen and it makes me smile every time I pass it!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Guest Post – Green Bean Casserole

Happy Saturday! It’s a beautiful sunny day here without all the humidity we’ve been experiencing through much of this summer. Hope it’s a wonderful day where you are too! To make your day a little more wonderful here’s a new recipe from One Hungry Dude. I seriously cannot wait for him to make this one again, it was that good!

This is the time of the year when I really start to see the rewards of months of toiling in our backyard vegetable garden. I've been pulling tomatoes and cayenne peppers for weeks, and the carrots and red peppers are only a short time away from harvest. But we've also got a row of green bean plants, which have been producing a gorgeous and tasty yield for weeks. Here's a simple take on a classic dish, Green Bean Casserole. It's made with only a few simple ingredients, and the vegetables are tender and flavourful.

green bean casserole 2
• 6 Tbsp Margarine
• 2 Small Yellow Onions
• 10 to 12 Button Mushrooms
• 3 Cups Green Beans
• 1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
• 1/4 Lemon, juiced
• 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
• Salt and Pepper
• 1 Cup Grated Cheddar and Mozzarella blend

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Meanwhile, melt the margarine in a large frying pan. Sauté the onions and mushrooms in the margarine over medium-high heat, until the onions begin to soften, about five minutes. Add the green beans, and cook for another five minutes. Add the vegetable broth, lemon juice, Worcestershire Sauce, garlic, salt and pepper, and lower the heat by about half. Cook until the liquid reduces by about half, stirring occasionally. Strain the mixture, making sure to save the liquid.

Pour the vegetables into a greased baking dish, then begin adding the liquid, until you can see it evenly coats the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the cheese, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler, until the cheese begins to bubble (about 3 to 4 minutes), then remove the casserole from the oven and serve.

This recipe yields four to five servings.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another DIY Birthday Card

Just popping in with a quick post today to share a card I made for my grandmother this weekend for her birthday.

I think that sometimes with cards simpler is better. This card is made from few pieces but I think it still has big impact. The backing papers (the flowers and the circles) are actually both from the same jumbo tag that I cut up so I could layer them. On top of them I added a little index card embellishment that I inked and paper letters to spell out HAPPY. I thought just that word was enough to get the sentiment across!

DIY Birthday Card 

And if you’re a regular reader then you’ll recognize this birthday hat sticker since I seem to work them into all my birthday cards. They are just so cute and add just the right festive touch. I only have one or two left though so I’m going to have to start searching the stores for another package!

DIY Birthday Card - Close

On another note, I’m excited to say that this is my 300th blog post! Sugar and Shimmer is coming up on its second birthday this month – I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Post – Grilled Cheese with Sautéed Red Peppers & Onion

My apologies for how quiet things have been around here in the last week. Things got busy on the home front and crafting and baking fell to the wayside. But I’ve got some fun projects on the go and will have some things to share soon. Be sure to check back tomorrow for another DIY birthday card. In the meantime, I’ve got another fabulous recipe from One Hungry Dude. Enjoy!

Sometimes, the most satisfying recipes develop unexpectedly. A few weeks ago, on a night where we really didn't have a lot of time to prepare a complex dinner, I decided to experiment with this latest sandwich idea. It was prepared very quickly, and each bite had a deliciously salty, spicy, cheesy and mildly sweet flavour. It's a great vegetarian sandwich idea, with a surprisingly complex taste, but uses common ingredients that most people will have in their refrigerator or pantry.

Grilled Cheese with Red Peppers and Onions

• 3 Tbsp Margarine
• 1 Onion, Thinly Sliced
• 2 Garlic Cloves, Diced
• 1/2 Jalapeno, Chopped
• 1/2 Large Red Pepper, Thinly Sliced
• 1 Tsp Thyme
• 1/2 Tsp Basil
• Salt and Pepper
• Splash of Red Wine
• Splash Vegetable Broth
• Juice from 1/4 Lemon
• 8 Slices of Bread
• Roughly 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese Blend

Heat the margarine in a large frying pan over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion begins to soften, about five minutes. Add the jalapeno, red pepper, thyme, basil, salt and pepper, and cook until the red peppers begin to soften, about five to eight minutes. Reduce the heat by about half, and add the red wine, and vegetable broth. Cook until the liquid had almost completely boiled down and absorbed into the vegetables. Mix the lemon juice into the vegetables, then take the mixture out of the pan, and set aside. Place four of the bread slices on the pan. Put a handful of cheese on top of each, then add an evenly divided portion of the vegetables. Cover with the remaining bread slices. Flip the sandwiches once, when the bottom slices of bread begin to brown. Once the other side reaches the same colouring, remove each sandwich from the heat. Let sit for two to three minutes, then slice and serve.

I usually recommend a dipping sauce for sandwiches. But there's so much flavour in this recipe (especially since you're browning the bread in vegetable juices), there's almost no need for dip.

This recipe yields four sandwiches.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Guest Post – A Blast of Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

Hello weekend – I’ve been looking forward to you! Even though I’m home on mat leave and not going to work Monday to Friday this year I still wait for the weekend with such anticipation. Saturday and Sunday mean family time, clean laundry and Chris (aka One Hungry Dude) having extra time to make delicious food. Here’s an example of just that with his Blueberry Barbecue Sauce.

Whenever possible, I always try to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables into cooking. Those fresh, juicy and delicious products make summer one of my favourite times of the year. This is a really simple sauce, with easy to find products. Give it enough time to let the flavours blend together, and you’ll be quite pleased with the uniquely delicious results.

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

• 1 Pint Blueberries
• 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
• 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
• 1/2 Cup Red Wine
• 2 Garlic Cloves
• Zest and Juice from 1/2 Lemon
• 1 Jalapeno
• About 2 Tbsp Margarine or Butter
• 1 Tsp Thyme
• 1/2 Tsp Salt
• 1 Bay Leaf
• Pepper, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small pot or saucepan. Cook for two hours over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. If the sauce still tastes acidic towards the end of the cooking process, add more butter or margarine, as needed. Remove the sauce from the heat, and puree using a food processor, blender or immersion blender. Serve either on ribs, pork or chicken, or use as a dipping sauce.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Marianne LoMonaco Prints Giveaway Winner!

Thanks everyone who entered my Marianne LoMonaco prints giveaway and welcome to those of you who started following Sugar and Shimmer! I hope you’ll stick around even now that the giveaway is over :)

And now for the winner…Congratulations to Colleen Carlisle! Her name was chosen at random by Rafflecopter. Colleen, look for an email from me later today at the address you registered with Rafflecopter.

That’s a wrap. Huge thanks to Marianne for sponsoring the giveaway – be sure to check out the gorgeous art in her Etsy shop!