A Green Life and Enchilada Casserole


When I was in Southern California visiting colleges, my views on what I wanted to do with my future took kind of a radical turn.

See, for a while now I’ve been saying I wanted to major in psychology and minor in nutritional science (or double major). I said I wanted to work in a recovery facility for girls with eating disorders, because I remembered how much more relatable and helpful those therapists were who admitted they had struggled in the past as well -it was like I could trust them more.

But I started to question myself once I visited my first college (UC Santa Barbara). I realized I have a love for the Earth. I want to learn more about it, to love it, to save it. My favorite class junior year was by far AP Envrionmental Science. I loved learning everything I did in that class, and I felt so empowered learning how much my diet helps the earth, and how much more I can do to help it. Being on a campus that was so environmentally friendly, spending a week by the ocean, being surrounded by hippies,  I realized that I don’t want to be a psychologist, sitting in an office, listening to other people’s problems (not that I don’t think they are wonderful!). I realized what I really want is to help people. To make a difference.

I got to thinking whether it was really me who wanted to work in a recovery facility, or if that was another outlet of the disorder that has plagued me. Yes, I wanted to help people, but is that the best way? Or is that simply me trying to find another outlet to let the obsession with food continue? While I love learning about nutrition, and disorders of the mind are interesting to me, is that really the best option for me to move forward from this stage in my life, to move forward from the hyper focus on food and lifestyle? Or is that me deciding, subconsciously, that I am not quite ready to let go? I am not saying that dietitians and psychologists are disordered, or that they are holding themselves back and settling. I am in awe of each and every professional for their passion to help people! They have helped me! They are incredible, and I will always be interested in those subjects. What I am saying, though, is that I realized I don’t want to spend the rest of my life focused on the same thing as my past, or be surrounded by clients that could potentially be a trigger for me, should I encounter a tough time in the future. After the final college I visited, I realized that I don’t want to focus on nutrition and health for the rest of my life, I want to spend my life making a difference in a bigger way. (After I decided this, I went and got some vegan ice cream. A large, since I decided not to focus anymore 😉 )

I want to major in environmental studies, maybe minor in sociology. I want to learn how to save the earth, I want to teach other people how they can do the same. I want to move forward in my life, to do something, to be out there, making changes, making my voice –MY voice, not any lingering disorder -heard.

After I decided this, I discovered the most amazing opportunity. It’s called Youth Empowered Action Camp (YEA), and it is a week long summer camp for youth aged 12-17 who want to make a difference in the world, whether it be animal rights, the environment, social justice, what have you. They help you develop leadership skills, knowledge, confidence and community. They help you discover your passion, and then develop a plan to make it happen. You are set up with an adult mentor to help guide you after the camp in making a difference, and are set up with local and national organizations focused on the same issues you are passionate about so that you can become an integral part of the movement. This is a program that has turned out youth with unlimited futures, making changes at their schools, speaking at public events, starting their own businesses (Ever heard of Clara’s Cakes?), and getting involved with organizations like Stop Child Trafficking Now and Compassion Over Killing. Oh, and the camp is vegan and eco friendly too. This was seriously like a break-in-the-clouds, I-absolutley-have-to-do-this moment for me, and I found out about it the last possible summer I could have. I am 17, so it is my last chance, I found out about it 3 weeks before the camp, and I managed to squeeze in and secure the last spot in the camp. I am going -I am doing this. I am changing my life -I am about to make a difference. Go check out their website here: www.yeacamp.org

And….shameless plug, if you want to help me out a bit, I could use a little help getting there 🙂 >donation site (big thanks if you want to help me:) )

Now, what does all of this have to do with enchiladas???

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Well, like myself, these enchiladas have undergone quite a bit of change…and they are green -like the environment.

That was a painful transition.

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We have been making these enchiladas (well, cheater enchiladas) for many years now, and they have evolved right along with us. Originally, you see, they were fish enchiladas with cream cheese. Instead of black beans and mushrooms, the filling was made with potatoes, onions, asparagus and mahi mahi. Instead of spreading each tortilla with refried beans, it was with cream cheese. So why in the world would I be giving you a recipe for fishy, cheesy enchiladas?

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When we went dairy free, we switched the cream cheese for tofutti. Then we went vegan. so we just switched the fish for yummy beans and mushrooms! The more we moved toward whole foods, we changed over to refried beans instead of cheese, and other brands of enchilada sauce (some of them have chicken stock and corn syrup solids-how about no) -and discovered green salsa works in a pinch!

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These are really customizable! I love them with asparagus (thats our original recipe) diced into discs, but any green veggie you have on hand works! Broccoli, zucchini, nopales (cactus), anything! Also, if you aren’t a wimp like me like spicy foods, use a medium or spicy sauce!! My sister and I are just to scandinavian to appreciate spicy (thats also why these aren’t traditional rolled enchiladas, we just aren’t that authentic haha!), so my mom has always made these mild for us! All the flavor, none of the burn! And if you really, really want to, make them the way we used to with Mahi Mahi and cream cheese -just spread each tortilla on both sides with cream cheese before layering into casserole.

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So you see, sometimes things change -diets, life paths, majors, ideas…But all that means is a chance to make something good and turn it even better!

Green Enchilada Casserole

or Green Enchilasagna, as I like to call it. But my mom said that was silly.

vegan, serves 9-12. Feel free to change to fit your diet preferences, or try it like it is!!

Filling:

  • 5-6 small/medium yukon gold potatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 7-8 mushrooms (or 2-4 portabellas), diced
  • 1 4 oz can diced mild green chiles
  • 2 small/medium zucchinis or 1 bunch asparagus, diced
  • 1/2  16 oz package frozen spinach (about 8 oz)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1.5 C. green enchilada sauce or green salsa (till it tastes good to you!)

Enchilada layers:

  • filling
  • 5-6 large whole grain tortillas (brown rice, teff, Ezekial, corn, etc.)
  • 1-2 cans vegetarian refried beans
  • 2-3 C. green enchilada sauce or green salsa (depending on how thick/thin you spread it)
  • non dairy cheese (optional)

Gather your ingredients

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Preheat oven to 400.

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Wash and chop your potatoes into bite sized bits and steam them

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Dice your onion and garlic and sautee them with a little veggie broth, water, or oil until the onion is translucent. Add your mushroom and continue to cook until they are all brown and fragrant and delicious. 🙂

Add your zucchini (or asparagus), then your beans, spinach, and peppers. Once the zucchini is somewhat cooked, add the steamed potatoes and enchilada sauce. Mix it all together (and whaddya get?! haha sorry)

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Now comes the fun part! In a large casserole dish, spread a layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom and sides. Add a layer of tortillas.

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Spread a layer of refried beans on the tortillas

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Then a layer of filling (about 1/2), followed by another layer of sauce, tortillas, beans…

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Repeat:)

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After your second filling layer, top with tortillas and spread the top with more sauce. Add some nondairy cheese if you would like!

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My stepdad likes the cheese, I don’t care for it.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, broiling for a few minutes at the end if you would like. We were in a rush and didn’t have time

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Also, my mom added more cheese, as you can see. I dealt. These would also be delicious with a dollop of guacamole to serve, but I was all out of avocados (the horror!!!)

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These are, without a doubt, my favorite dinner recipe. Its something we’ve been making for ages, and I watched my mom make them so many times that I didn’t even ask her for the recipe before I made it myself. They are so easy and simple to make, and incredibly delicious.

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like a fine wine like soup ( 😉 ), these babies get better with age! I’ve always thought they taste even better the next day (Yay leftovers!!), and even cold! They are delicious any way you slice ’em!

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Enjoy!!

What did/do you want to do when you grow up?

What are some dinners that have evolved through the years?

Currently.

Soo…I’ve been seeing these ‘Currently’ posts up around blog land (I love that it’s called that.) and I thought I’d join in on the fun! Also, I want to post about something other than food today 😉

Current Book

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A Thousand Sisters by Lisa Shannon. This book is remarkable, its a true story chronicling 5 months that Shannon spent in Congo, listening to the stories that the women, children, and other victims of violence during the war in Congo had endured. It is very powerful.

Current Music

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Disney Pandora. All day, every day 😀 And yes, I sing along. My neighbors love me 😉

Current Guilty Pleasure

Okay, I was going to say something slightly cheesy like lazy summer mornings, but lets be real. Lately my guilty pleasure has been attention see (girl talk time), now I’m up to a weight that I am starting to have a figure other than that of an 11 year old, and my neighborhood has plenty of young teenage (and older teenage) boys. So I’ve gotten a couple of cat calls and “nice butt”s whilst running or walking my doggies. I always act disgusted and avoid eye contact, but secretly, I don’t mind. Man, I feel like a woman (ish) 😉

Current Nail Color

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Kiki from Zoya. I literally just painted my nails, hence the messiness. I paint my whole finger to make sure the nail part is perfect, the rest comes off later 😉 please tell me I’m not the only one!

Current Drink

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I defy summer and drink tea even at 2:00 in the afternoon! Its a new to me flavor, and I have a feeling I’ll like it better cold. Fruity tea tastes like watered down juice to me. Iced fruity tea on the other hand is delicious! Especially sun tea.

Current Food

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This is basically my latest obsessions. Yes, I still eat my oats and my greens, but lately I’ve been lovin on the sweet potatoes (have you tried topping them with almond butter? Divine!), summer fruit by the (cereal or larger) bowlfulls, chocolate almonds and Cinnamon Crunch (the organic, ‘healthy’ cinnamon toast crunch from Cascadian Farms.)

Fun Fact! Rarely do I eat a bowl of cereal (i.e. with milk for breakfast). However, as a topping and as a munchy movie snack, its my favorite.

Current Favorite TV Show

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I decided to watch So You Think You Can Dance this season and I must say, I do enjoy it! Its like a more interesting, less receptive American Idol, and some of the dancers are just breathtaking.

Fun Fact!! I danced at the same studio that Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval (season 7) started at! He once helped ‘teach’ one of my ballet classes for the day, but mostly everyone was just cracking up. I also go to the same high school he went to 🙂

Current Wish list

All of the clothes!!! Every time I go to the mall, it’s like a reminder of what great fashion instinct I have, and how (comparatively and relatively) little I have to spend on those clothes. Either everything should be free, or I need to get a job. sigh…

Current Needs

More henna so I can re-dye my hair!! Its faaaadddiiinnggg!!!! I want my bright red haaiiiirrrrrr back!

Current Triumphs

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Check out that plank! Okay, so it wasn’t all a ‘normal’ plank, because I break it up by doing like, 1 or 2 minutes normal, then a minute per side and keep changing it up, but still. Thats awesome.

Current Bane of my Existence

Two blisters from my new running shoes. I love the shoes, but they aren’t broken in yet!!! Also, if you pop a blister, do it after you shower. Never has water been so painful. (sorry)

Current Celebrity Crush

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Need I say more??

Current Indulgence

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I baked a triple batch of brownies for a potluck today. Of course I licked the bowl! And maybe had a lot few chocolate chips on the side 😉 testing for poison, obvs. 

Current Blessing

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Beautiful Summer evenings and walks with my Sophie 🙂 Its been absolutely lovely lately. Only in the upper 80’s!!

Current Outfit

Sweat pant shorts and a production shirt for Bye Bye Birdie. No picture for this one, its my jammies haha!

Current Excitement

Can I have multiple??

I got new shooeeesss:D

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Also I am leaving in a few days for a COLLEGE ROADTRIP!!! Gonna go down to southern California to visit potential colleges! (and beaches, you know 😉 ). So excited!!

Current Mood

sleepy. This is the second time I’ve sat down to write this, and its 11:00 pm. I know, I know, I’m such a night owl 😉

Current Link

Hannah’s American snack food review.

Its just so hilarious, yet so true. Although I have to admit, sometimes I wonder what those things (cupcake pop tarts/goldfish) would taste like were I not vegan. And against food dye and chemicals. And the American Food industry. I’m too cynical. 😉

What are your ‘currentlys’? Answer any of the above!! 

Let it Begin:)

Hey everyone!!! Sorry I haven’t been posting for a few days, but I’m gonna make up for it I swear!! First of all, Lets hear it for the first Marvelous Monday of Summer!!!

So, What have I been doing in my spare time??

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Besides enjoying my lazy free time?

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I celebrated my first day of summer with a chocolate milkshake studded with brownie pieces, because I could 😉

And then I cleaned out my binder…

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Actually make that 6 pounds of papers I no longer need (I found another stash after this). No wonder my arms ached after the school day!!

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I’ve been doing some baking (a raw german chocolate cake from the Practically Raw cookbook)

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…and some cleaning 😉 Note to myself: Scoop, don’t pour.

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Drinking lots of smoothies

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And conquering fear foods !! Delicious might I add!

And most marvelous of all?!?! My birthday is one week from today!! I’ll be turning the big 1-7, and you can bet I’m using this as an excuse to blog more often! I am here by declaring this week to be

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(like my home made graphic from Paint? hahaha I’m such a noob!)

At first I thought, doesn’t it seem a little self centered to focus an entire week on the internet to my birthday? Then I thought, Nah!!! Its my blog and if I want sprinkle themed recipes everyday, by gosh I’ll have them!!

So, my friends, I am attempting something I have never attempted before. It is my goal to give you a brand new, birthday themed, sprinkle adorned recipe every day this week, finished off with a cake that (hopefully) will blow your glittery socks off. Are you ready?!?

The first recipe will go up tonight…

Happy Monday!!!!

How has your summer been? Or are you still waiting?

WIAW: 1000 Cupcakes!!!

Happy Wednesday guys!!!!


This week i’m doing something a little different:) No, I didn’t eat 1000 cupcakes (though it sure felt like it 😉 ) I’m talking about Sacramento Vegan Challenge‘s event this past weekend, 1000 Vegan Cupcakes for Charity! (for Facebook/more fun and pictures click here 🙂 )

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I’ll still show you what I ate though, because after the event we had a fancy 4 course vegan meal at the hotel that hosted the event:) Prepare for (cupcake) photo bombardment!!

1000 Vegan Cupcakes is a charity event where 12 bakers generously donated 50-100 vegan cupcakes in fun flavors (We had categories like Fun and Fruity, Eat your Veggies, Nuts and Nuggets, and Classic and Creative, with healthy (gluten free, low sugar/sugar free and oil free as subcategories-for every diet!). The cupcakes are sold to the public and the proceeds go to charities. We have guest judges to pick the winning cupcakes, and musical entertainment:)

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The theme this year was “Farm to Cupcake”, playing off the fact that Sacramento is the Farm to Table Capitol. Garden Tower generously donated a garden tower for our display, which was afterwards donated to the St John’s Women’s Shelter for their “Plates” program (a restaurant business that teaches homeless women the ins and outs of restaurant-ing to get them back on their feet).

We had 29 different flavors! I didn’t get a picture (or taste) of every single one, but I got quite a few!photo 3-34

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Almond Butter Cup 

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Molten Chocolate Raspberry and Lemon Avocado
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Chocolate with an avocado mint frosting (oil free)

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Chocolate Beet cupcake with a vanilla fennel ganache (gf, of, no added sugar)

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Carrot Walnut Cake (gf)

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Citrus Olive Oil

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Root Beer Float

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24K Karrot Cake with Sweet potato frosting

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Pancake Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Maple Tempeh Bacon

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Orange Creamsicle

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Sno-Ball

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One of the Judging platters (groups of four judged each category to pick a winner)

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The ones I came home with. The ones pictured that you didn’t see before are Pink Lemonade, Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter,Orange Carrot, Strawberry Rhubarb, Hummingbird, and Apple Cinnamon.

Do I have to pick a favorite??? These are all gone now, sad. In order to try them all, my family cuts them into 3 so we try 3 cupcakes at a time haha!!

The only problem with the event was that it was supposed to be 3 hours, but we sold out of cupcakes after only and hour and 15 minutes!! So we finished the judging, picked the winners, cleaned up and went downstairs for dinner!

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It was all very delicious! My mom and I decided to get one of everything and share so we could try everything! I loved both appetizers and soups, but the Lentil-Tomato entree was by far my favorite, and I had the carrot cupcake because I love carrot cake, and my mom loves chocolate. The frosting was to die for!!!

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Yum. Can you believe, after all of that, this was the first cupcake I ate??? It was a very long day! My mom organized the event, so I was helping out from 8 in the morning till almost 10 at night!! It was well worth it though, we made $2500 for charities!! Woop!!!

For more recaps visit Leslie and Maria 🙂

So, What did you do this weekend????

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups

I was never really a chocolate candy kid. Or marshmallows (Peeps are nasty, sorry). Or Jelly beans (except jelly bellys, sometimes). I liked the fruity stuff -skittles, starbursts, ya know. Only liked chocolate if it had nuts, but even then, a little went a long way. Heck, there was one Easter when I confidently started a Snickers chocolate egg, only to save 3/4 of it for later…Lets just say that almost a year later I still hadn’t touched it and now needed industrial cleaning equipment to get the melted chocolate/sticky caramel/bright foil mess off of my dresser 😉

So it surprised me when, the night before Easter, I was hit with a MASSIVE craving for chocolate easter candy. Especially a Reese Egg (The only chocolate candy I really liked). But alas, we had none in the house. I ate a few chocolate almonds, but nope. I searched for something to quell that craving, finally resorting to the second half of an old, refrigerated Vega 1 candy bar. It got the chewy candy craving quieted for the meantime, but my brain had already been turning motors…

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Easter afternoon, I set out to make some. But not just any normal vegan PB cup, I wanted these to be PB to the max. So I used peanut butter, peanut butter extract, peanut flour, and peanut butter cereal to create the ultimate filling. And I didn’t mess around with any ‘equal chocolate to PB’ ratios.

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Nope. A nice thin chocolate coating surrounding a thick Peanut buyer filling. Just the way it should be.

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FYI, Its a very messy process. I left much evidence 😉

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Super Peanut Butter Cups

  • 3/4 C. dark chocolate chips, melted 
  • scant 3/4 C Better n PB or regular PB (I used BTPB because it has an already carmelly sweet and salty thing join on, and we only had bland regular PB 🙂 )
  • 2 T. almond butter
  • 1/8 tsp butter extract
  • 1/8 tsp Peanut butter extract
  • 1 T. PB2 or Peanut flour
  • 1/4 C. xylitol
  • 3/4 C. crushed peanut butter cereal (PB Toast Crunch)

I used 3 mini cupcake trays with foil liners. Melt your chocolate in the microwave (Safe bowl, microwave for 2 minutes at 50%, stir, then at 50% in 20 second increments until all melty). Put a little chocolate in each liner and use your finger (its messy, but works best) to spread it all around the inside of the liners. Put the trays in the freezer to re-harden while you prepare PB mixture.

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In a small pot on the stove over medium heat, melt the PB and AB together. Add your flavors, sweetener, and PB2. Mix and taste, in case you need to make any changes. stir in the crushed cereal and turn off the heat. Put a small spoonful of PB mixture in each chocolate cup until full and put back in freezer for a few minutes.

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Re melt your chocolate, if needed, and then use your finger again to swirl a coating of chocolate onto of each PB cup. Garnish with a bit of cereal or nuts. keep in refrigerator

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Note, these are really sweet when you first make them, but they totally mellow out and meld together the second day after being kept in the fridge. And no, it doesn’t taste like an unsweetened, nasty, ‘peanut butter cup’ candy thing. It tastes like it should. Got it? Good.

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Craving = Satisfied 🙂

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What was your favorite candy growing up?

Chocolate or fruity? Nuts or no nuts?