cheap and easy photo canvas

i've always loved the look of these, but i just couldn't cough up the $100+
that everyone seems to want for them. 

first of all, i ordered the 16X20 poster online from walmart for about $12.  (they are cheaper if you wait for the sales.)  i had this canvas already, but you can buy 2 16X20 canvases at hobby lobby for under $5.  (use the 40% off coupon if they aren't already half off.)  i painted the sides of the canvas black and just tacked the photo on the front with spray adhesive.  the entire process took under 10 minutes and the total cost was under $15.  i am going to mod podge over the front to give it that professional, finished look, but i can't decide if i want to use the glossy or the matte...

i would like to find some thicker, square canvases and do this again.  this wall also needs at least one more of this size, but i just wanted to share a work in progress.


dark chocolate cookies

first of all, i'd like to admit that i'm not a big fan of chocolate.  give me nerds, peeps or candy corn, and i'm a happy girl.  i could actually live without chocolate...until i found these little flourless/butterless gems.  i've been making them for all the "chocoholics" in my life and receiving rave reviews so i thought i'd share:

dark chocolate cookies

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
3 large eggs whites
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.  Using electric mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks.  gradually add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and continue mixing on high until mixtures resembles marshmallow creme.

Whisk 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend.  On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. 

Stir in melted chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar on small plate.  shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar, coating generously.  *i will say here that this is the messiest, stickiest cookie dough that i have ever worked with.  you might have to chill slightly before shaping.*  place on cookie sheet (sprayed or parchment-lined) and bake for 10 minutes until top cracks.  let cool slightly on sheets before transferring to wire rack to cool.  

makes about 24 cookies.  i adapted this recipe from epicurious.  the original called for more sugar, but these are so intense, sweet, and well, just perfect. 



la madeleine's tomato basil soup

i adapted the original recipe to make it healthier and much easier:

4 cups canned crushed tomatoes (i like hunt's brand)
12 fresh basil leaves (by the mushrooms in the refrigerated produce section)
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
3-4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. pepper
salt to taste

puree the tomatoes and basil in the blender then simmer on the stove for 10-15 minutes.  add butter, cream, salt and pepper and stir until heated through. 

the original recipe calls for one stick of butter and 1 cup heavy cream and is more complicated to make.  i tried to make it healthier by substituting half and half, but it didn't taste like the original.  this taste EXACTLY the same and is a current favorite at our house served with cheddar grilled cheeses.