Recipe: S’mores Bark

Right now the internet is overrun with of pictures of perfectly roasted, gooey marshmallows and S’mores covered faces. I’m a city person though – I don’t have bonfires and beach parties at the ready, and I only go camping once a summer – but I want S’mores too! Good thing I came up with this recipe which involves no burnt marshmallows and no sand in your S’more.

Domestocrat’s S’mores Bark
4 tbsp. butter
1.5 bags (18 oz) chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
3.5 cups (7 oz) mini marshmallows
7 graham cracker sheets – 6 chopped, 1 pulverized into crumbs

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The only ingredient prep you really need to do is with the graham crackers – roughly chop six sheets of the crackers (I used a serrated knife) and pulverize one sheet into crumbs (I crushed mine with the bottom of a glass but you could use a meat tenderizer, food pro, rolling pin, whatever!).

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Once the ingredients are prepped, it’s time to begin! Start by melting the butter over a double boiler. When the butter is melted, add the chocolate.

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Stir to combine until the chocolate has all melted and remove from the heat when it’s smooth.

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Carefully, stir in the chopped graham crackers and the ‘mallows.

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Scoop the mixture out onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread out to form an even layer. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top and gently press down into the warm chocolate to ensure it sticks. Protip: To make sure you don’t get chocolate everywhere you can wet your hands with cool water and form the bark with your hands, or you can spray a spoon/spatula with cooking spray and do it that way. Same goes for pressing the crumbs down on top too.

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Put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about 3 hours to fully cool. You could leave this overnight too.

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When the chocolate has completely hardened, cut into squares and enjoy! This recipe has the perfect ratio of chocolate to graham to marshmallow, which is how a good S’more should be.

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Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Yeah, like it will last that long!

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The Monday Mix

Here’s The Monday Mix for this week! To visit past mixes, click here.

MondayMix

SNew

The new Weird Al parody video Tacky is totally making my life right now. I love Jack Black!

SDelicious

Half Baked Harvest‘s Quinoa Crusted Baked Three-Cheese Zucchini and Eggplant Parmesan looks like just what the doctor ordered!

SBrain

I’m just ging tp put this out there: Scientists Say Smelling Farts Might Prevent Cancer.

SFun

22 Ingenious Products That Will Make Your Workday So Much Better.

SCrafty

Check out this Railroad Tote from The Purl Bee. Looks like the perfect summer bag, no?

SReal

Super into this video of Obama talking about his family’s favorite snacks. “If there’s a bowl of good chips and guacamole … I lose my mind.”

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This Just In: New Taza Chocolate Bars

I’ve written about Taza Chocolate before – they are the local organic chocolatier in our city, located about 2 miles from our house. We’ve been on their factory tour a few times (a must!) and very much enjoy their entire catalog of stone ground, organic chocolate.

In mid-June Taza launched five new chocolate bars in their Amaze Bars line – Coconut (70% dark), Sea Salt & Almond (80% dark), Cacao Nib Crunch (80% dark), Toffee Almond & Sea Salt (60% dark), and Raspberry Nib Crunch (60% dark though not pictured here, I’m not a raspberry/chocolate fan).

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Each bar is 2.5 oz and definitely has a personality of its own. The quality of the chocolate itself is very true to the rest of the Taza catalog – earthy, gritty, sharp, deep – but these added flavors do add a dimension to the taste and texture that their plain dark chocolate bars don’t have.

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My favorite of the lot is the Sea Salt & Almond. Taza is generous with the sea salt, which I really appreciate as a sweet/salty fan. The almonds are the perfect compliment to the already-grainy texture. The whole thing just works!

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Also, I’m really obsessed with the packaging of this line. Taza really took it up a notch! Bright colors with cute representations of the ingredients, while remaining simple and appealing. I also have to mention another thing I love about Taza and this packaging – each bar includes a batch code (which you can look up on their website to see how it was made) as well as a ‘best by’ date.

In addition to being a recognized community leader and all around amazing Somerville neighbor, I love Taza for their mission and what their company represents. Taza Chocolate pioneered the first third party verified Direct Trade cacao sourcing program in the US, called the Taza Chocolate Direct Trade Certified Cacao. It is also certified USDA organic, non-GMO Project verified, certified gluten free, kosher pareve, dairy free, soy free, and vegan.

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All of these bars are available to purchase online (they are having a shipping deal until 7/31 to boot) or in their factory store right here in Somerville!

(Product reviews are never sponsored; I am in no way paid, given free samples, or told to say anything you just read. I have posted about this product because I went out, purchased this item myself, and want to share my findings in a candid and informative way.)

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Boston’s Best: USS Constitution

I know I’ve said it so many times before but one of the reasons I love Boston so much is because I love being a tourist in my own hometown. No matter how long I’ve lived here, I always find new things to explore and appreciate.

A few weekends back the weather was beautiful and we were wondering what to do for the day when the Constitution popped into my head. As you know, John is a huge fan of naval and maritime history so I almost couldn’t believe we had never been there before. Plus it’s literally 3 miles from our house.

The USS Constitution is located in the Boston National Historical Park at Charlestown Navy Yard, one of the 15 National Park Service parks in Massachusetts. The Navy Yard was established in 1800; the workforce served the fleet for nearly 175 years and built more than 200 warships there (maintaining and repairing thousands more). It was closed in 1974 and became part of the Boston National Historical Park.

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Incidentally the Constitution is also the last stop on The Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile path through Boston that includes 16 historically significant sites throughout the city including Boston Common, Site of the Boston Massacre, Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, etc.

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Launched in 1797, the Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. The ship was retired from active service in 1881 and was designated as a museum ship in 1907.

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The Constitution is a wood-hulled, three-masted, 44 gun, heavy frigate. During active service, the Constitution’s battery of guns consisted of thirty 24-pound cannons, 15 on each side of the gun deck, twenty-two 32-pound carronade cannons, 11 per side of the spar deck, and four chase guns positioned at the stern and bow.

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Most notable, of course, is the name and nickname of the ship. It was named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America. However, the nickname, Old Ironsides, came during the War of 1812 when the Constitution defeated the British frigate Guerrière - witnesses claimed that British fire merely bounced off the Constitution’s sides as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood.

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Inside the Constitution are three decks: the orlop deck (the lowest deck, which is not included on the tour), the berth deck (seen below, which includes the captain’s quarters and sleeping area), and the gun deck (also seen below with the cannons facing outward).

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Adjacent to the ship is the USS Constitution Museum, full of interactive exhibits, artwork, historical artifacts, and displays dedicated to preserving the history and memory of the Constitution.

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Where the ship tour focused on the active service of the Constitution as well as life on the ship, the museum educates visitors about the historical significance of the ship on American and naval history. Both activities complement each other wonderfully; you’ve definitely got to do both!

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After visiting the Constitution we were walking through Charlestown and I happened to catch this view of the Bunker Hill Monument (the second to last stop on the Freedom Trail, right before the Constitution). We didn’t visit the Monument (it’s definitely next on our list!) but the view was so quintessentially Boston, I had to post it here: beautiful federal-style rowhouses, narrow, gaslit streets, and brick sidewalks. Gorgeous, right? I love this city!

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The Monday Mix

Here’s The Monday Mix for this week! To visit past mixes, click here.

MondayMix

SNew

As you may know, the 2014 Emmy nominations were announced last week. All in all a well deserved crowd, albeit predictable. However, I am really bummed Tatiana Maslany was not nominated for Orphan Black. (Though maybe I shouldn’t be?)

SDelicious

Must try these crispy eggplant parmesan subs from A Beautiful Mess! Maybe when it’s safe to turn the oven back on again though…

SBrain

New research on how eating a nutrient-rich diet be good for emotional health and effect mood.

SFun

Dana Carvey recently performed the choppin’ broccoli song on Jimmy Fallon, and I all but died.

SCrafty

Could the Maker Movement start to show up in formal education for kids (beyond the wood shop classes from our parent’s generation)? This article has an interesting take on how kids can promote themselves and their skills by being the drivers behind this change. I’m all for this – why should kids be reduced to test scores and grades when the innovators and makers of the 21st century are anything but?

SReal

More on the age old career question of what’s better: being broke doing the job of your dreams or having a steady job and pursuing your passion on the side?

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Recipe: Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

It’s almost the weekend! Weekends mean late, lazy breakfasts that fill the whole house with a lovely fresh baked aroma. These kinds of breakfasts take a little effort to make, but are the perfect use of your time. You’re starting the day right but you’re also starting it with a total treat – and that’s how the weekends should be in my book. I recently made these fluffy ricotta pancakes and they were an instant weekend must-have.

Domestocrat’s Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes (makes 10 pancakes – adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe)
2/3 cups AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup buttermilk (or any milk you prefer)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
Your choice of pancake toppings: butter, fruit, powdered sugar, syrup, etc.

First mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, then add in the wet ingredients (minus the egg whites), and stir until the batter fully comes together.

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In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites together with a hand mixer until soft peaks have formed.

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Add the egg whites to the pancake batter and gently fold in until they are fully incorporated. Don’t stir here, you really need to use a careful folding technique so that the egg whites stay intact.

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For the most efficient and least messy pancake making situation, set up an assembly line of a hot pan, pancake batter, and non-stick spray right next to the stove.

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Pre-heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat for a few minutes. When the pan is hot, spray with cooking spray and carefully spoon on the pancake batter. I would recommend small pancakes here – roughly two tablespoons of dough. They don’t spread out so you should flatten them slightly once they’re in the pan. They also don’t form the telltale bubbles like traditional pancakes so keep an eye on them. Each side should cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the center or the pancake is cooked (this will depend on how flat they are/how much batter is in the center).

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These pancakes are light, crisp, and just slightly sweet. The ricotta and buttermilk really add a creamy, savory quality where the egg whites create a fluffy and pillowy pancake texture.

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Plate up with your favorite toppings and enjoy your weekend!

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Home Project: Front Room Makeover

There’s nothing like vacation to give you a new-found perspective on life. I came home from this year’s road trip refreshed and ready to take on new things. That said, the second we got home my gaze landed directly on the front room of our house and I couldn’t let it go: this room needed some sprucing up.

More specifically, two things had been bothering me about this space: this part of the house gets the most sun and I’ve always wanted plants here and all of Reggie’s gear is in this part of the house and it was looking really worn down.

A few before pictures:

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Cue sad trombone – Reggie’s old scratching post and dilapidated basket/bed:

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Mom, please don’t take my stuff!

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First things first, I ordered Reggie all new cat swag online. His scratching post was replaced with the PetFusion Cat Scratcher Lounge. Our friends Melissa and John have one for their cats and I knew Reggie would love it too. It is made out of recycled corrugated cardboard but looks sleek and snazzy with its modern style.

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Reggie loved it immediately (obviously) and nestled right in to its comfy, ergonomic design.

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And Reggie’s sad basket was replaced with a Cat Tipi! I have had my eye on one of these for about 6 months and finally bought one for him. They are made in the US from cotton canvas and birch wood.

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The tipi couldn’t have been simpler to put together – it comes pre-assembled, all I needed to do was set it up, put a blanket inside for His Highness, and let him enjoy it!

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We played around with a few different arrangements in the front room. This is the one we started with just so Reggie could get used to his new stuff:

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Next up – plants!

In early May I saw these gorgeous planters on A Beautiful Mess and knew I needed to have them. They are hand crafted in Brooklyn by Farrah (Light + Ladder on Etsy) and made of porcelain and leather. I love them so much, I already have plans to buy more for other rooms in the house.

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We bought three small plants from Home Depot – succulent, ivy, and marginata.

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I got some small rocks for drainage and put them in the bottom of each planter (that way any excess water won’t rot the roots). I then carefully transplanted each plant into its own planter, removing some of the dirt so that watering wouldn’t cause an overflow.

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We hung the plants on the wall that gets the most sunlight, with the three slightly off set.

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After a little tinkering, we finally got the set up in the front room just right.

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We love the new look of this space in our house! Reggie is much more comfortable, we’re happier with our lush, oxygen rich plants, and the room has benefited from a sleeker style and new pops of color.

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I couldn’t resist adding a few more Cat Tipi pictures. He just loves it and I cannot get over how cute it is!

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