10 Healthy Movie Theater Snack Options

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I fell off the wagon last weekend when I went to the movies and reverted back to my teenager self who just had to have popcorn and candy and soda. UGH! I mean, really, what is it about movie theater popcorn that is just so appealing? I’m not an at-home popcorn eater, but when I step into a movie theater, it’s like I turn into a popcorn savage beast.

Despite trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I failed big time. I know one of the major reasons I turned to unhealthy snacking options is because I did not have a plan. I decided after feeling so guilty that I would come up with healthier alternatives to my movie snacking. Here are some some snack options that I will be bringing along with me in the event a snack attack sneeks up on me at the movie theater again. Perhaps, in the future, I can be more evolved and not even feel the need to snack at the movies (HA!). Do you like to eat at the movies? What are your go-to snack options?

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Grapes and Babybel cheese – I love the combination of grapes and cheese. These Babybel mini cheese rounds are easy to pack and unwrap. They are a great snack to have around. cinalmonds

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds – I have a huge bag of almonds that need to be used. One of my plans is to roast some of them to have as snacks. This recipe looks easy and seems like they would keep for awhile. Almonds satiate easily and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time without having to consume too much.

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Low Carb Popcorn – I just came across this recipe, but I am willing to try it out. Hopefully it is a good substitute for my movie popcorn obsession. Paleo-Nut-Butter-Cups-Reeses-Peanut-Butter-Cup-Substitute

Paleo Peanut Butter Cups – I cannot wait to try this recipe out. I love to freeze my peanut butter cups. I think they are so much tastier that way.

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Low Carb Gummy Bears – I’ve been having a love affair with gummy bears since forever, so you can guess how excited I was to come across this recipe. I cannot wait to try these out!

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Spiced Paleo Raisinets – Raisinets are another of my go-to candy choices at movie theaters. This recipe looks really yummy and will probably taste good frozen.

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Low Carb + Gluten-Free Maple Walnut Candy – Candied nuts usually remind me of holidays (though I like to eat them year-round). This recipe looks like something that I can eat year-round without feeling guilty.

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Brussels Sprouts Chips – I inadvertently made these before as one tends to do when roasting brussels sprouts. You can’t help from having some pesky leaves from falling apart. It was a happy accident. Here’s a great recipe if you want to make them on purpose.

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Baked Kale Chips – When it comes to veggie chips, it can’t hurt to have more than one kind. For variety, here’s a recipe for kale chips. I can only imagine it will do more good than harm to eat one too many of these.

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Tangerines – I love having these around because they taste good, but they also freshen up a space. I can’t imagine anyone complaining if you peel one of these open and the nice citrus smell wafts across the room.

Stan’s Donuts

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When I lived in LA, one of the things I noticed and thought was so odd was that there were no Dunkin’ Donuts shops around. While I enjoyed going to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (wish we had one in Chicago) and the local bakery, Porto’s (Oh.Em.Gee! Soooooo delicious!), I was perplexed as to why there were no Dunkin’ Donuts anywhere.

But then, I noticed all of the local donut shops around. I tried a few, but wasn’t too impressed (not that Dunkin’ Donuts is impressive at all, nor was I comparing them to DD). I guess because Porto’s was so extraordinary that it really beat out any other place (they are not really known for their donuts, but they are a local bakery and serve bakery goods as well as other food). Of course, I probably should have sought locals’ advice, but did not. And, not to name any names, but I’ve been burned one too many times by a certain website with “real people reviews” to trust anything on there. I haven’t been back to LA since moving from there in 2011, but next time I go, I have a list of donut shops to hit up.

So, that brings us to Stan’s Donuts. My hubby told me about Stan’s as he was working nearby. It’s in our neighborhood, so we decided to give it a try. (Disclosure: We had not gone before because there is an amazing donut shop near us and because I’m trying to be more healthy and donuts and health really don’t go hand-in-hand. LolSob.). Here are a few pics from our visit and some of my thoughts on Stan’s, which, btw, is from Westwood, California. Circle complete.

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I was really excited to try it because look at how cute this place is. I was impressed with the color palette and the retro, yet mid-century modern decor. It was nice and clean and very welcoming.

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I loved the subway tiles and their curated collection of KitchenAid mixers as decor.

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The pink and white stripes packaging is adorable, as you can see. The coffee was nothing extraordinary. Let’s just say, I would not stop in just for coffee.

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We ordered the Nutella (left) and glazed (right) donuts. I really love nutella, but wasn’t too impressed with the donut. The glazed was tasty, light and fluffy.

Overall, I think my other beloved donut shop is more superior in comparison, but it wouldn’t stop me from trying a different kind of donut if I were within close proximity to Stan’s again.

Are you a donut person? Are you a doughnut or donut person? What’s your favorite type of donut? Where is the best donut you’ve ever had?

Now back to that healthy thing…

7 Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

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{My parents and their grandbabies (who are all part Irish) – St. Patrick’s Day weekend 2015}

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends! This is a big holiday in our city with several parades all over the place (including the big one downtown) and many celebrations. Everyone celebrated this past weekend, so there were lots of green, leprechaun hats and four-leaf clovers in wardrobes and interior decorations.

I can’t remember when the tradition started, but my mom started making corned beef and cabbage every year for St. Patrick’s Day. I had an Irish boss once and he informed me that it is not a traditional Irish meal, but one that was born out of necessity due to the potato famine in Ireland. But, we won’t tell my mom that;)

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Do you make/eat corned beef and cabbage? My mom’s recipe is pretty amazing, however, she’s not very good about writing down recipes. I’ll try it out one day and write about it on the blog. For now, I’ve decided to round up some recipes if you’d like to try any or all of them.

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Recipe by Melissa D’Arabian via The Food Network

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Recipe by Alton Brown via The Food Network

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Recipe by Megan O. Steintrager via Epicurios

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Recipe by Laria Tabul via Allrecipes

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Recipe by Len via Food.com

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Recipe by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

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Recipe by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen

8 Delicious Green Foods to Make for Your St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

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{My parents and their grand-babies taken on St. Patrick’s Day 2014}

As I was walking around downtown over the weekend, I saw several people already dressed in their St. Patrick’s Day outfits. While the main celebrations are not occurring until this weekend, I guess it’s always good to be in a celebratory mood. Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, I wanted to put together some “green” foods. These are recipes I’ve tried or have been meaning to try. They all look incredibly delicious and easy to make! My mom makes corned beef and cabbage every year. This year we are having a celebration at my sister’s house. I am going to try to make one or a couple of these to bring. By the way, none of us are Irish (except my brother-in-law and two nieces, who are part Irish). Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Argentine Chimichurri Sauce by Chow – I used to go to this awesome Colombian restaurant (which has since gone down in service and quality) where I first discovered chimichurri sauce. It is amazing with grilled meats and probably would taste great with fish and maybe even in a salad. This recipe looks pretty easy.

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Basil Pesto by Food Network – There used to be this little Italian restaurant by my home, which served the best Caesar’s salad and once in while they would have this really amazing special, which was a salmon dish topped with a basil pesto sauce. The restaurant’s been long gone, but I still reminisce about it. This recipe looks delicious enough to try to replicate the dish. I’m sure it would probably taste awesome on pastas as well.

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Cucumber and Avocado Nori Roll by Chocolate and Zucchini – This recipe is egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly, raw, vegan and vegetarian. To some people, that may be off-putting, but it looks delicious and easy to make.

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Broccoli Slaw by Smitten Kitchen – This is a pretty amazing recipe for a side dish and not too complicated. It tastes much better than the store-bought versions.

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All Dressed Kale Chips by Oh She Glows – I have to admit, I’ve never tried making my own kale chips despite their growing popularity in the last few years. This looks like a great recipe to start with.

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Green Smoothie Detox Pops by Top With Cinnamon – When I was little, my mom used to make these incredibly delicious avocado pops. (This was way before avocado became so trendy. LOL. I think it was just a Filipino thing or maybe an Asian thing?) I have yet to try to recreate a healthier version of it (let’s just say sugar was involved), but this recipe looks pretty tasty and reminds me of it in a “familiar” kind of way as opposed to an “exact replica” one.

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Roasted Okra by C. Steichen of AllRecipes – There is an Indian restaurant that serves the most amazing roasted okra you’ve ever tasted in your life. I am not sure what they do with it, but I could eat it non-stop. I’m sure there are some Indian spices that are added to it, which is not included in this recipe, but this looks like a good place to start. I could just experiment with different spices.

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Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Sriracha – To say my husband loves Sriracha would be the biggest understatement of the year. How can I resist this recipe when it includes his favorite sauce? I can’t wait to try it out.

7 Low-Carb Substitutes for My Favorite Side Dishes

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{We like to start them young – they are rolling pastil dough (a Filipino version of empanadas)}

Growing up in an Asian household, rice was a major side dish staple for breakfast and dinner (sometimes lunch). We would eat rice with mostly everything and I can’t say I hated it. Of course, when I got into eating sushi, I couldn’t get enough of it. I don’t want to say that carbs are the enemy, but I feel better when I don’t intake too much, especially refined carbs. I’m not ready to completely give it up all-together, but I am ready to keep the count low and find alternatives to my favorite carb-laden side dishes. I’m looking forward to including these recipes into my cooking repertoire and hopefully find some or all as regulars.

How about you? Do you have issues eating certain foods? Do you have a certain diet that you follow or are you one of the lucky ones?

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Tortillas – I cannot wait to try this low carb tortilla recipe to make tortillas with so many recipes I would use “real” tortillas for such as enchiladas, tacos, fajitas and burritos.

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Mashed Potatoes – Mashed potatoes is not something I grew up eating and did not do so until I was older, but once I started it was really hard to resist. I’ve tried cauliflower mashed “potatoes” on several occasions and it was mostly done right. While I’ve never tried making my own, I look forward to doing so by using this recipe for “mock” garlic mashed potatoes. It would go great with those oh-so-comforting foods like roasted chicken, steak and, of course, turkey.

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Rice – I’m not quite ready to give up rice completely (I don’t know if I’ll ever be), but I’m ready to consume it on a limited basis. However, it’s not to say I don’t always look for substitutes. This cauliflower rice recipe looks really good. I look forward to trying it out with main dishes that I typically eat rice with, like fish and shrimp.

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Naan – I don’t typically make it at home, but I love Indian food. A big staple of Indian food is naan, which I absolutely love. That’s why I was so excited to come across this 3 ingredient paleo naan recipe by myheartbeets. I cannot wait to try it out and use it with both Indian and non-Indian dishes.

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Cheesy Garlic Bread – I cannot say enough how much I love bread. This grain-free, gluten-free, low-carb cheesy garlic bread recipe looks like the real thing and I am excited to test it out.

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Corn Bread – Here is another bread recipe I am drooling over. This baby corn bread looks delicious. I think I will add some jalapeno to take it to another level.

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Bread – How much do I love thee? I cannot count enough the ways. Bread is just one of those foods that I can eat mindlessly and never get tired of. It’s great alone, with sandwiches, dipped in olive oil and parmesan cheese, as french toast and on and on and on. I’ve tried a few different low-carb options, but none that have really blown my hair back. However, this almond flour bread recipe looks very promising.

10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate

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{My favorite meal combo: sweet and savory. This was delicious, btw. The finishing touches to our lovely meal at Girl and the Goat.}

I started the year with some big goals in mind. As the first quarter of the year comes to a close (I know, right??), I started to look at my metrics. I’m not doing so well in the healthy eating department. I’m not going to beat myself up over it because, as I’ve said before, I’ve learned that I work best when I focus on 2 to 3 big things at one time. I’ve accomplished a lot in other areas, which I am proud and grateful for, but I have to keep in mind that being healthy has to be my top priority. After all, if we don’t have our health, what is the point of everything else?

So, guess what time it is? Yup! It’s list time! I thought I would share my list of “10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate” with you in case you are having a hard time in this area or just because. Oh, BTW, I was reading the darling DorkChops‘s blog and found it refreshing, yet surprising, that her favorite drink was water and favorite food was salad. Ahhh, to have such great habits at such a young age! But, like I’ve said before, it is never too late to begin anything.

Here is my list. Let me know if you already practice any of these things or what motivates you to stay healthy (besides the obvious — LOL).

10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate

1. Meditate on it – Every morning and evening, I will hold a vision of my healthy self and concentrate on it for a few minutes.

2. Meal plan – Every Sunday, I will take a few minutes to plan my meals for the week.

3. Drink 3 liters of water daily – The Mayo Clinic advises women should drink at least 2.2 liters of water daily.

4. Keep a recipe book of rotating favorites – I pin tons of recipes, but I think that an old-fashioned binder will be more helpful for me and will prove useful when meal-planning.

5. Keep a daily schedule of cooking/take-out/eating-out – Right now, my husband does 99.9% of the cooking, but it’s a skill I want to master, so I’ll have to make time in my schedule. And, like everything else, it’s best that I make a schedule for our meals so we have something (in writing) to stick to.

6. Try one new meal recipe every week – Like I said before, I’ve pinned tons of recipes, but I’ve hardly tried any of them. I’m going to make a list of meals to make and attempt a new one every week.

7. Eat all meals before 6PM – This can be quite difficult due to work schedules and such, but I’ve read time and time again the importance of not eating after a certain time to keep the weight down and other health benefits. I will make an earnest attempt at this at least 5 times a week.

8. Make a list of other ways to reward myself – I don’t know when the habit was formed, but somehow, I find that I reward myself with food: *Insert any accomplishment here*? “Let’s go out to eat!” Or, “Treat yourself to ice cream/cake/chocolate/etc.” While I believe that treating yourself in moderation is not bad, I tend to usually have a mindset of ALL or NOTHING, and in the case of food, it’s usually ALL. There are other ways I can reward myself though, like getting a massage, buying a new accessory I’ve had my eye on, going on a new experience, and the like.

9. Practice moderation and portion control – It’s funny, but in the US, it seems the portions get bigger and bigger. When I’ve traveled to other countries, I always make note of portion sizes compared to the US. I mean, you order a dish here and it can feed 4 people! I have to make a conscious effort to know what portions are right for me and stick to them.

10. Incorporate a green smoothie daily – Remember when I talked about my Vitamix? Yeah, the revolution has not begun yet, but it’s about to. I’m going to make an effort to have one green smoothie a day.

So, there you have it. I hope you found this useful and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.

10 Tasty Paleo Treats to Make for Your Oscars Party

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{“Awards Night” cookies via Bakerella – her recipe is not paleo, but you can make paleo friendly versions. I just adore Bakerella and her creations.}

Hollywood’s biggest night is coming up. I love the Oscars, or excuse me, the Academy Awards. It’s my Superbowl. From the announcement of the nominees to the red carpet events leading up to the awards show.

{Confession: I do not always watch all the nominated films beforehand. }

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I plan to sit on my sofa this coming Sunday and watch with excitement as the newcomers and veterans march down the red carpet, anticipating what designers they chose. Oh, yeah, and, of course, see who the “Oscar goes to…”

{Another confession: I may or may not have pretended to be a winner and made a speech using a hairbrush as my mic during my childhood.}

Do you watch the Oscars? How do you celebrate it? Whether you plan to have a gathering or not, here are some fun treats you can make to sustain you throughout the event.

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These paleo and gluten-free “Meringues” by Elana’s Pantry look so divine. I love the way meringue just melts in your mouth.

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Another recipe from Elana’s Pantry are these “Star Cookies”. So fitting for the occasion, don’t you think? They are gluten-free and vegan!

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I scream and you will too for these “Sugar Detox Cinnamon Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Toasted Walnuts” made by PaleOMG.

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I cannot wait to try these “Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple” treats from Nom Nom Paleo. Sweet and savory is the way to my heart!

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How about some “Cheesy Egg Muffins” by Nom Nom Paleo? They would be a great addition, just put them in gold muffin tin cups.

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I could sure go for one or ten of these “Mexican Chocolate Pots de Créme” by Nom Nom Paleo right about now.

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These “Paleo Snickerdoodle Cupcakes” by My Natural Family look so sweet and tasty.

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Bingo! I think I hit the jackpot with these “‘Fried’ Honey Bananas” by Rachel Schultz. My mom makes an amazing fried banana, so I’ve been on the lookout for a paleo-friendly recipe and this one fits the bill.

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This “Paleo Sex in a Pan” by Grok Grub looks sexy and scrumptious.

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Cupcakes are always a good idea and these “Paleo Cardamom Cupcakes with Lemon Mousse Frosting” by Empowered Sustenance look like one of the best cupcake ideas I’ve seen recently.

10 Delicious Valentine’s Day Treats to Make for Your Sweethearts

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{These girls take their Valentine’s Day baking very, very seriously.}

My sister sent me a picture of my nieces baking Valentine’s Day treats, which prompted me to set out to find some recipes that I could make that would be paleo and/or gluten-free friendly. These treats look easy enough to make and package to give away to those special people in your life, or treat yourself. Enjoy and let me know if you make any of these! I’d love to know how they turned out.

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1. Strawberry Raspberry Milkshape Fudge Hearts via PaleOMG – Dying over these cute heart-shaped treats! How adorable would they look in a cellophane bag with punched out mini heart tags?

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2. Paleo Pancakes via Mark’s Daily Apple – Why not make heart-shaped ones?

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3. Dark Chocolate and Citrus Macadamia Balls via Mark’s Daily Apple – These would look wonderful wrapped in a cellophane bag with a ribbon and tag attached.

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4. Chunky Monkey “Ice Cream” Bon Bons via Nom Nom Paleo – How cute would these be packaged in ice cream cartons with your own labels?

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5. Nom Nom Chocolate Truffles via Nom Nom Paleo – Sensing a theme with chocolate and round things here? You can take wrapping paper and wrap these individually.

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6. Tropical Paleo Granola via Nom Nom Paleo – Tropical anything sounds delicious. These would look great packaged in cellophane bags with personalized tags.

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7. Butter Cookies via Elana’s Pantry – These would be great to make with heart-shaped cookie cutters and packaged in Chinese cartons with Valentine’s stickers.

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8. Gluten-free Coconut Macaroons via Elana’s Pantry – I love macaroons and better yet, these are gluten-free!

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9. Chocolate Chip Espresso Banana Bread Muffins via PaleOMG – How adorable are these mini muffins made in silicone muffin cups? I would hug you if I received these treats. Banana + chocolate = winning combo.

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10. Easy Chocolate Almond Butter Cups via PaleOMG –  I love a good Reese’s’ peanut butter cup recipe (but, who doesn’t?) and these look tempting. So easy to wrap up in a pretty package.