Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars

Handmade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Father’s Day is not so far away, so here’s an easy gift idea that can be made in advance or (literally) the night before.

Homemade chocolate bars can be customized to meet any combination of favorite flavors and thus makes for a pretty awesome and tasty gift. Milk chocolate + hazelnuts, white chocolate/dark chocolate swirl + colorful sprinkles, dark chocolate + dried apricots… endless possibilities. The dessert can be broken haphazardly into bark or sliced into rectangles (or any shape) to fit favorite store bought or homemade packaging.

Homemade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

I came upon this idea when trying to use up a HUGE bag of chocolate chips and some homemade caramel late one night after a big event. I started experimenting with the double boiler and it eventually led to a pan of melted chocolate, swirled caramel and sprinkled sea salt + pistachio pieces. When I let the mixture harden (and encouraged it a bit in the fridge), I was left with a completely customized treat that I could package up.

Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt Chocolate Bars

Step 1: Melt chocolate in small batches above a double boiler (I use a 1.5 quart sauce pan filled with 1-2″ of boiling water plus a small glass bowl that site just a few inches into the saucepan and above the water), use ~1 tsp of butter per cup of chocolate chips to help keep the consistency of the chocolate smooth and to move along melting process. Watch carefully, once chocolate burns it’s unrecoverable.

Step 2: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and cover with a non-stick spray such as Pam. I used a pan from my toaster oven so that I could refrigerate my bars in case they didn’t set quickly enough, but that’s not necessary.

Step 3: Pour melted chocolate onto prepped cookie sheet and swirl in toppings of choice (for me, drizzled caramel that I swirled into the chocolate with a knife, plus pistachio bits and whole grains of sea salt).

Homemade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Step 4: Allow to harden overnight (though it should only take a couple of hours). Refrigeration for hardening not necessary, though you can store the cut bars in the fridge or freezer to help preserve. PS I found my little chevron wax paper envelopes for packaging at Michael’s.

Homemade Pistachio, Caramel & Sea Salt | Father's Day | PepperDesignBlog.com

Easy, right? It was almost too simple for adorable little chocolate bars! They’d be great for shower favors, too. I love that you can add almost anything to the bars – dried cranberries, candies, bits of pretzel, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, peanut butter, mint extract! The list goes on.

Father’s Day ideas (including some sweet gift guides) over here, more handmade gift ideas shared here.

Nine Summer Dresses

9 Summer Dress Favorites | PepperDesignBlog.com

indigo floral cotton dress | hoodie dress | tassel scarf dress
cream crochet shift dress | tie-dye cotton dress | denim shirtdress
embroidered shift dressembroidered stitchtake dress | | leaf print dress

At the end of March, I shared nine spring dresses that are ideal for the nursing mom (I bought this one and while it’s a little thick for summer, it’s been great for work meetings). Nursing access aside, since most are not in my predicament :), here are a few favorite dresses that have caught my eye this season. It’s a curated board of loose fits and plenty of blues, creams and greys (which all have my heart this summer!).

More style boards, delicate earrings and bold necklaces (a diy version, kid’s diy version). I think #6 could work for me! I think I might try it out.

Date Nights in San Diego and #MixInMonday

Date nights don’t happen all that often over here because usually we’d rather plan a family outing if we have a free night/day all together. When we do get out and about solo, we dig trying out new restaurants and new venues in San Diego. We also have our tried and true favorites – quarterly we see a play at our Old Globe Theater (buying tickets in advance as members of the Globe keeps us accountable) and when we can, happy hour at our local wine bar is an easy way to break up the day. It’s within walking distance which is a motivator.

Favorite San Diego Date Nights| PepperDesignBlog.com

Today I thought I’d share our favorite date nights here in San Diego. Locals may enjoy checking these spots out (if you haven’t already) and visitors should definitely take advantage if you get a chance. I had to pull the above pictures from last year! (can you see the baby belly in that first one?), it’s been ages since we’ve taken a photo on an actual date but mental note that it’s nice to remember to do that.

This is a sponsored post. Annie’s reached out to me recently about sharing how we enjoy their mac& cheese and our date nights came to mind. When I share about brands being an organic fit this is the sort of relationship that I’m referring to because we’ve been Annie’s lovers naturally for years (it’s our brand for comfort food). We have a little tradition in this house that when mom and dad go out on a date night, Annie’s is for dinner. I love that it’s easy for our favorite sitter to serve and that it’s a meal that the girls really look forward to.

Back to date night. I’ve been thinking about where we love to visit and have come up with this list of our favorite spots in San Diego:

  • The Old Globe at Balboa Park (for theater in the round, musicals and outdoor Shakespeare)**
  • Panama 66 (our restaurant of choice before visiting The Old Globe in Balboa Park)*
  • Del Mar Racetracks (during racing season)*
  • Humphrey’s by the Bay (concerts by the bay)**
  • East Village Tavern & Bowl (grownup bowling in East Village Downtown)*
  • Petco Park for a Padre’s Game (we’ve even made it up to the Coliseum to watch my Trojans solo, which was a treat)*
  • Juniper & Ivy (Little Italy)**
  • Kettner Exchange (Kevin hosted my birthday here, Little Italy)**
  • Buena Forchetta (South Park)*
  • Bruno’s (adding ricotta to your pizza is a must, University Heights)*
  • Blind Lady (Normal Heights)*
  • Waypoint Public (North Park)*
  • Prepkitchen (Little Italy)**
  • Bleu Boheme (Kensington)**
  • Ironside (Kevin’s favorite – must like oysters, Little Italy)*
  • Stone Brewery (Escondido or Liberty Station)*
  • Whisk’n’Ladle (La Jolla)**
  • George’s at the Cove (La Jolla)**
  • Cafe Chloe (Downtown)*
  • Searsucker (Downtown)**
  • Sycamore Den (for late night cocktails, Normal Heights)*
  • Noble Experiment (prohibition-style, hidden door and all – and must make reservations, Downtown)**

Some of these are fancy, some are quiet casual (* = more casual, ** = fancy, but fancy in SD is really sort of casual). The two at the bottom are great spots for a well-mixed drink, I didn’t include our favorite dive bars because those really aren’t ‘date’ nights. Brunch locations need a category all to themselves.

Annie's #mixinmonday Pasta, Tomatoes & Chard| PepperDesignBlog.com

Making Annie’s organic macaroni and cheese into a complete meal for us involves mixing in vegetables (including greens) and fresh mozzarella cheese. When the veggies come from our garden box it’s a huge plus. Annie’s hosts a regular #mixinmonday for inspiration, here’s my favorite way:

Annie's #mixinmonday Pasta, Tomatoes & Chard| PepperDesignBlog.com

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