Food & Drink

Dark Chocolate & Red Wine Truffles.

Do you know what rhymes with Friday? WINE.

Another fun fact for you, a small container of indulgent, velvety smooth, and deadly dark chocolate truffles is not as easy to forget about in one’s refrigerator as one might suspect, no matter how carefully one hides it.

It also turns out that, when those dark chocolate truffles are spiked with lush Cabernet, they might as well be doing a freakin’ tap dance and singing karaoke—forget about forgetting them.

truffles 1

They’re rich. They’re romantic. They’re naughty enough to be exciting, but not so naughty that I don’t feel like a lady at the end of the night. My perfect date.

Making homemade truffles is as simple as melt, stir, roll, with a little chill time in between. Honestly, it’s a little dangerous having this kind of power.

The finished wine truffles are indulgent, addictive, and sure to win the affection of whomever takes a taste. Strike that: it’s exceedingly dangerous having this kind of power.

truffles 2

While the cocoa dust on the outside is optional, after testing a few batches, I became convinced that life would be better if more things were dusted in chocolate. Simple enough conclusion. I like the balance of bitterness that the cocoa provides, but if you are looking for something sweeter or extra festive, rolling them in sprinkles would be fun and cute also.

truffles 3.jpg

Here is what you will need:

♥ 8oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate – roughly chopped

1/2 cup of heavy cream

4 tablespoons of dry red wine (I use a Cabernet Sauvigon)

2 teaspoons of powered sugar

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon of espresso powder

cocoa power for dusting

truffles 4.jpg

Here is what you will need to do:

♥ In a large mixing bowl, place the chopped chocolate and set aside.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium high heat until it boils. Pour the hot cream directly into the bowl with the chopped chocolate and add the wine, powdered sugar, vanilla and espresso powder.

Gently whisk the mixture together until chocolate is smooth and melted. If the chocolate does not melt completly, plae it over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until it melt all the way. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to set for 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and dust cocoa powder into a wide plate or pie dish. With a small scoop (you can use a melon baller or spoon also) scool chocolate and form into a small ball. Roll the ball into the cocoa power and place  the baking sheet.

Refrigerate truffles for 30 additional minutes to set.

Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

Don’t forget to subscribe to LiveLaughLearn.blog to stay up to date and follow on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog

XOXO.

B.

Beauty · Fashion · Real Talk

How to battle the comparison game on Instagram.

Social media is notreal life. It is a highlight reel.

I don’t think that can be said too many times. Can I get an amen? I know that I personally need to be reminded of this on the regular. Because, even though I KNOW this, I still find myself falling for the marketing schemes of fellow digital influencers, which is that things are exactly as they appear. But let’s shed some light on that notion. Most of the time, the reality of the situation is that things are most certainly not always as they appear – or as we’re led to believe by way of imagery.

The fact of the matter is that the job of a digital influencer is to do just that – influence. And a lot of the time, influence means inspiring by way of portraying “the ideal”.

I don’t mean to discount bloggers (HELLO! I am one!), but I’m just stating the fact that most of the photos are a little staged. Because they have to be – it’s just the nature of the business. Unfortunately, I don’t have cameras that follow me around 24/7, so if I want to capture a moment, I have to create it.

But anyway, I’m just reminding you of the reality and encouraging you to remember this truth the next time you’re fighting comparison. I just wanted to state that things aren’t always as they seem. Even I fall for it, which makes me laugh because I know what goes into getting a good photo! And trust me, it’s not as easy as it looks!

But just in case you needed someone to tell you AGAIN, here I am. (hi!) Remember that the photos/lifestyle are just that – a projection. You don’t know what the reality of the situation is like or what their day actually looked like; you can only see what they chose to “project” or share with you. And us bloggers are good at tailoring what we share so that you get the best snapshot of our lives. Remember that it’s believable because it’s supposed to be.

What to do when you fall into the Instagram comparison trap?

It has basically become part of the new norm these days – playing the comparison game. Getting sucked into the ugly downwards spiral. It’s always been something humans struggle with, but social media has brought the issue to a whole new level! So I just accept that it’ll continue to happen no matter how hard I try to fight it.

The important thing to learn and recognize is that it’s HOW you respond to these feelings that will make all the difference. So accept that it’s normal, but be proactive in how you deal with it.

Here are a few tips I’ve come up with to help you do this well. Just to be clear, I’m more so talking about the comparison game when it comes to influencers and people on social media who “curate” images.

Admit you’re playing the comparison game.

Well, first and foremost, recognize that you’ve fallen into a TRAP (because that’s what it is!). And admit the simple fact that you are comparing yourself, even though you know you shouldn’t be. Sometimes we do this in our subconscious and there is power in actually admitting it to ourselves and bringing it into the forefront of our mind.

Don’t be fooled – bring in the truth.

Accept and appreciate that what you see is the ideal and that it’s either someone’s job to get cool photos like that, or they’re adding to their brand (usually).

Imagine what it was like to take that photo.

Remind yourself that they had to “get” that photo – try to imagine what that situation looked like. Who took the photo? How did they capture that moment so perfectly? Even just considering these two questions will make you feel a little better about yourself and your situation.

Purge who you’re following.

If this person always makes you feel bad about yourself, then do yourself a favor and hit that unfollow button. Part of being an influencer is providing positive inspiration – which hopefully you get from those you choose to follow – but if not, #bye. You’re supposed to be inspired and not feel worse about yourself because of what someone is posting. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Don’t let their awesomeness discount yours.

In other words, just because she’s pretty or having a really cool experience (like, all the time…) doesn’t say anything about you or your life. You can both be pretty and awesome. I know it sounds silly, but it helps me to think like this. And also, it doesn’t diminish how pretty or awesome you are. I also remind myself of my mantra “good for her, not for me” in these times.

Get off social media!

Taking a break is always a good idea! I do it at least one day a week and I think that’s okay. I usually only open my personal pages on the weekend and leave my blog for Monday-Friday. When you feel yourself getting down-in-the-dumps over where you are in life (in comparison to hers), free yourself from that by just simply cutting it out of your life! I promise it’ll still be waiting for you when you choose to come back.

Do something to lift your spirits.

Get off the couch and do something for yourself! Get dressed or do the dishes or something that will move your life forward, no matter how big or small! Shifting your focus will make the world of a difference! And I guarantee you that you’re better off spending your energy on doing something than sitting there watching someone else do something.

I’m sure I could go on about this FOREVER, but in all honesty, it’s something I think about pretty much every single day. Which is silly because looking at social media is a choice that I make, but it’s also part of my job. But still, I think I could handle things much better – and I’m guessing I’m not the only one who feels like that. Maybe? Either way, I thought it was important to be honest about my social media life as an influencer, and to let you know that I struggle with it just as much as the next person.

If you can add to this conversation, please do. It makes me feel less alone and like I’m going somewhere with honest talks like this. So please comment either here or on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog if you feel like it!

XOXO.

B.

FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT – lol.

After writing this post, I was inspired to go through some of my photos and tell you what was actually going on and give you some insight to what was happening behind the scenes:

laundry day.jpgAn insane amount of spring cleaning was done this day and countless repeats of wash, dry, fold, repeat went into this photo. It wasn’t even meant to be used for Instagram or the blog but to sent to my boyfriend explaining my day but with some cropping and lightening, it made a pretty good photo to share and put up for The weekend hostess with the mostess.

winter wak.jpg

You can’t see it but there two children in the window of the house across the street that were watching me try and capture this photo for maybe 15 minutes. I was walking Winston alone and didn’t have anyone to take it for me so after multiple attempts and weird children watching, I made due. Would have been nice if the garbage bin wasn’t in the way but oh well, #life.


Food & Drink

BBQ Chicken Salad.

Fast food is a pretty rare occurrence for my boyfriend and I as our refrigerator consistently brims with leftovers begging to be eaten as midday meals. But, I have a confession to air with you…I am addicted to Panera’s BBQ Chicken Salad, and these “rare occurrences” have started looking less…rare.

This addictive grilled chicken salad and I first met when I had been out of town for a week. After a long morning of running errands, the prospect of returning home to face an empty refrigerator was so unappealing, I decided to pull into Panera. I opted for a new (for me) menu item, the BBQ Chicken Salad.

And so it began.

Between the crispy onions, smoky corn and black beans, and BBQ ranch dressing, I was hooked at first bite. Everything I knew vanished and it was just me alone with this salad.

Two days later, I ignored the guilty stares from the container of leftover Pasta Salad in my fridge and headed out on the 22km drive to Panera Bread to order a BBQ Chicken Salad for the second time. It tasted even better than I remembered it.

From this pivotal moment of BBQ Chicken Salad obsession, I had two options: redirect some of my income and savings into purchasing this salad from Panera on repeat (which if you’ve been to Panera recently you know adds up quickly), or to create my own, at-home recipe so that I could enjoy it for a fraction of the price anytime I pleased. Guess which one I picked.

bbq chicken salad

Not only is this homemade BBQ Chicken Salad a dead-ringer for Panera’s, it’s loaded with twice the toppings for a fraction of the cost. Although I appreciate the fact that Panera offers healthy menu options compared to most fast food chains, the portions can be skimpy. By making my own at home, I was able to load it with as large a serving of crisp veggies, juicy chicken, and crunchy tortilla chips as my heart desired.

Plus, the fact that the chicken in this recipe is freshly grilled, versus reheated in the back of a food assembly line, guarantees for a richer taste and increased BBQ Chicken Salad satisfaction.

Even my coworker, who does not consider “salad” and “main course” synonymous gave this recipe a vote of approval. It’s healthy, easy to make, and the chicken even tastes good leftover the next day. I see this BBQ Chicken Salad on our weeknight menu often this summer, especially in later months when fresh corn is in season.

bbq chicken salad2

Since for most, fresh corn is not available year round, I’ve suggested using canned corn for the recipe. It makes the recipe super fast and easy to prepare too.

If you are lucky enough to have fresh ears of corn at your disposal when you make this recipe, grill them along with the chicken, then slice the kernels off the cob and add them to the salad, along with the beans, onions, and other goodies.

My one request: don’t skip the crushed tortilla chips. I promise this grilled chicken salad is still plenty healthy, and the salt and crunch even a few chips provide will have you addicted to this BBQ Chicken Salad too!

bbq chicken salad3.jpg

Here is what you will need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – pounded about 1/2 inch thick

2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce

6 cups of chopped romaine lettuce

1 cup of cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes) – halved

1 cup of canned low-sodium black beans, rinses and drained

1/2 cup of canned corn

1/4 cup of diced red onion

Crushed tortilla chips or strips

For the BBQ ranch dressing:

1/3 cup light ranch dressing

1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

Here is what you will need to do:

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the chicken bresats with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on one side for about 4 minutes, flip and brush the grilled sides with BBQ sauce while grilling the other side for about 4 minutes. Sauce up the other side. Set aside, cover and rest for about 5 minutes then chop into bite-sized pieces.

Prepare the dressing in a small bowl by combining the ranch and BBQ sauce. Adjust the ratio as needed.

In a large serving bowl, combine the romaine, tomatoes, beans, cord, red onion and chicken. Drizzle with the salad dressing and then top with crushed tortilla chips.

ENJOY!

Don’t forget to subscribe to LiveLaughLearn.blog to stay up to date and follow on Instagram @LiveLaughLearn.blog