Tag Archives: bar cookies

New Beginnings & Chockful Blondies

Thursday morning is playgroup morning in our house.  It typically goes like this,

  1. 7:00: Have Sweetpea go to the bathroom, change Tayers diaper, and try to allow Sweetpea the freedom a three year old needs in their independence of “I wanna do it.”
  2. 7:30: (takes that long because of the independence & finally asking for help) Go downstairs get milk for both girls, pick up Tayers because she needs her morning snuggles, start on breakfast.
  3. 7:45: Girls are at the table eating and I’m trying to make a cup of coffee.
  4. 8:15-8:30: We’re finally done with breakfast and clean up ensues.
  5. 8:45: change Tayers again and debate whether she will only have one nap that day, if two, hurry and put her to bed
  6. 9:00-9:15: clean up dishes, tell Sweetpea that I need a shower while she stays on the main floor dancing around imagining her life if she lived in Strawberryland.
  7. 9:45: I’m ready, but trying to get the girls ready (once again dependent upon Tayers nap).  Get snacks together
  8. 10:15: somehow between 9:30 and 10:15 I have no idea where 45 minutes went, so I give into any expectation of getting to playgroup at 10:00.
  9. 10:20ish: We finally make it to playgroup

That’s typical Thursday morning; however, Tayers slept much longer and I was very casual & laid back letting go of any expectation I had on myself or my girls.  And although we were an hour late upon arrival, I find that I am a better mama for it.  So as we were pulling out onto the main road around 11:00 I was reflecting upon my day yesterday.  If you were to have called me or unexpectedly dropped by for a visit around 1:00 yesterday, I would have met you in tears.  It was one of those afternoons where I was finding myself to be short with my girls, missing connection times with my oldest, and feeling altogether crummy.  The feeling which crept up was “these girls would be better off without me.”  Of course, I know that’s not true, but we have these days.

All I could see were my failures, my areas of weakness and everything I lacked.  It’s hard to get over these moments, because even though I know I’m forgiven when I ask for it–it still doesn’t erase guilt right away.  But this morning pulling out onto the main road I was thinking about what I had read about a particular mother.  She would normally overreact to her three and a half year old’s behavior or shenanigans, but she was implementing different behavior patterns for herself, choosing to act and not react and to live with the end in mind.  This made me realize that there are many times when I have overreacted as a mama and I can recall many instances I’m not proud of, but it doesn’t relegate me to being that person forever.  As it says in the Bible, “his mercies are new every morning.”  That’s relieving for me to not just know, but realize it and apply it.

Mothering is not for the faint of heart and it is probably the most self-realization journeys I will ever walk on.  If you’re in this parenting boat, your past doesn’t dictate your future, even if you feel like the mess is too huge.  If you’re marriage is weathering hard storms, your past doesn’t dictate your future, even if you feel like the mess is too huge.  If you’re old & gray and you don’t know if it’s even worth it, your past doesn’t dictate your future, even if you feel like the mess is too huge.  No matter where you are on life’s journey, your past doesn’t dictate your future, because there is always time for a new beginning.

If you’re new beginning is getting your health life back on track, then maybe stop reading right now and go to a different site.  Because this chock full blondie is a different beginning, but one that will remind you that life is sane (in that small window of devouring them).

Chock Full Blondies (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. You can add different nuts.  The original recipe said to bake it for 30-35 minutes, but it took a lot longer than 35 minutes.  It was more like 45 on my oven and I have an oven thermometer.  When using a toothpick, insert it in the middle and pull it out.  If there are a couple crumbs left–that’s perfect.  You basically don’t want to pull out a toothpick with wet batter on it.

Ingredients

3 cups dark brown sugar

1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter

4 eggs, room temperature

1 Tb vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 baking soda

1 1/2 cups almonds, toasted & coarsely chopped

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

4 Heath or Skor bars, broken into bite-sized pieces OR a 14-oz bag of mini-heath bars

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray.  Melt butter with brown sugar over medium heat in a heavy bottom pan.  Stirring occasionally until butter is melted.  Once it’s melted, let it gently bubble for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla & salt whisking them altogether and set aside.  In small bowl, combine flour & baking soda together.
  3. Once the sugar & butter mixture is cooled, add it to the egg mixture and combine.  Add the flour mixture to the wet and combine till all the flour has been thoroughly mixed in.  Add all the nuts & bolts (white chocolate chips, chocolate chips, almonds, broken toffee bars, & coconut).  Stir till combined.
  4. Pour into greased pan and cook for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.  Cool on a wire rack and cut into however big slices you would like.
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Oatmeal Caramelitas

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This past Saturday I sold food at a Craft Bazaar.  It’s a pretty amazing cause as 5% of the vendor’s profit helps families adopt children.  The Adoption Connection sponsors the event, which is a group of families within our church body who have either adopted or are looking to adopt children.  I got involved in this four years ago by selling homemade chili and my baked goods.  As the years have progressed, so have the Health Department’s operating procedures for permits and what you can and cannot sell at bazaars.

This dials out to me not selling any soup next year, because I could only sell soup from a can.  Unless of course, I wanted to pay an $85 dollar permit for a one day event, then I could make soup from scratch. But anyone who’s ever worked in selling food knows that the permit plus cost of food and packaging would not meet the overhead costs.  I have done baked goods every year though and my oatmeal carmelitas are a permanent fixture on the menu.  People can’t get enough of these and you truly cannot have just one bite.

It’s the gooey goodness of the caramel, the richness & texture of biting into the chocolate chips, and the buttery, salty, crumble of the compacted crust.  Yes, it’s seriously that good.  I’m salivating just thinking about them.  I have realized that food not only has to taste good, but have a wonderful texture to keep me wanting more…especially desserts.

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There’s a couple other reasons they’re so gosh darn good.

  1. One they’re not time consuming, but people will think you slaved in the kitchen.
  2. Two, they’re bar cookies (I’m totally a fan of the bar cookie if I know they can taste better than a drop cookie–time saver).
  3. Three, when people eat them, they’re one of those sweet treats that make people’s eyes pop and then the, “OHHH MY Goodness! (with a MMMM added in)”

I implore you to add these to your shopping list, holiday baking, or simply because you need to eat sweet oatmeal love with caramel & chocolate.

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Crust mixed together


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Bottom crust baked for 10 minutes

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The caramel and chocolate chip filling

IMG_1715Top crust and ready to bake for 18-22 minutes.

Oatmeal Carmelitas (printable recipe)

I have been making these for over many, many years now and they’re ALWAYS a hit.  The recipe came from a college housemate’s cookbook, but I don’t know the original source.  Whoever it was is genius.

Ingredients:

Crust

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:

12 ounce caramel ice cream topping

3 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.  Combine all of the crust ingredients into a large bowl and mix together on low speed until nice and crumbly.  It should resemble a fruit crisp topping.  Put about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of the mixture into the parchment lined pan.  Your pan should have a layer of packed in crust without making it too thick and not ultra thin.  Bake this for 10 minutes.

While the bottom crust is cooking, combine the caramel topping with the 3 tablespoons of flour, till no streaks are left.  Once the 10 minutes are up and you’ve removed the pan from the oven.  Sprinkle the 1 cup of chocolate chips over the half-baked crust.  Then, drizzle the caramel syrup as evenly as possible over the chocolate chips.  Take the remaining crust mixture, using your hands and crumble over the filling mixture.  You want to try and cover all of the caramel and chocolate chips as if you’re sealing them in.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes.  Cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.  Once cooled, cover and put in refrigerator for 2 hours.  Cut into bars as big or small as you’d like and relish the goodness.

**The original recipe uses walnuts or pecans as well in the filling, but I never put them in.  I think it’s about a 1/2 cup of chopped nuts if you’d like to add them.  You might want to toast them to make them even better.

**I have interchanged rolled oats with quick oats and I think the quick oats produces a better texture.  However, it’s not a big deal at all if you only have rolled on hand.

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Beyond the Reflection

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Do you ever feel like you’re at a loss for words?  You feel like you’re not really in existence, but just an observer in your world?  As a little girl I had this shirt of Ernie from Seasame Street where he was looking at himself in a mirror and there happened to be a mirror behind him, so it was series of reflections of him that bounced back and forth.  I would stare at a hand mirror, while standing with my back to the bathroom mirror.  Then, I would focus on the reflection beyond the reflection.  I would always wonder how far it could go, but I could never see that far and it gave me a glimpse of what infinity meant.

It’s like that in my life right now.  I keep looking at all the reflections beyond the reflections searching for some semblance, but feel like I won’t find it anytime soon.  Whether it’s the endless pile of laundry, constant trail of toys scattered about, never ceasing broom employment, and then I go beyond the household stuff and look at my girls feeling like I have nothing left to give.  My creative juices run short come 7:00 p.m. at night, which means I hardly have anytime to do anything of consequence.

I have all these thoughts and ideas stirring in my head, but as a result of being a mom of two younger children, I have little time to really convey them or turn them into reality.  Does this sound familiar for some of you?  Some of it could be due to the heat, or the fact that as I write this at 10:40 at night my oldest has woken up crying for me.  It would seem as though there is never a spare moment for myself.  The idea of having alone time sounds superb, but the reality is when I do have it, it is spent cleaning, prepping dinner, or some other domestic activity to keep a rein on.

However, there is one way for me to unwind.  Bake!  It allows me to relieve tension, be creative, and I get to bless someone with the end result.  It reminds me of my friends asking how I made raspberry sorbet.  Of course, I begin with, “Oh it’s not that hard…”( then realize it is a little more complicated for someone who doesn’t spend as much time in the kitchen).  I was telling them how to make a raspberry puree, which requires to constantly push the blended up raspberries through a sieve, and told them it’s actually quite therapeutic (especially after the umpteenth tantrum, whiny voice & all together sour puss attitude).  You should try it!  With that said, here are some great nummies that never fail me.

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Peanut Butter Scotcharoos (printable recipe)

I was making all the desserts for my friend Jessica’s Bachelorette party a couple years back, my oven completely shut down.  This was my back up peanut butter chocolate concoction made all by stovetop.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups rice krispies
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Lightly grease a 9×13 pan. Combine sugar & corn syrup in pot over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved remove from heat. Add peanut butter and mix into sugar syrup until smooth. Add your rice krispies and stir till completely coated. Pour into your greased 9×13 pan and smooth out.

In a small pan combine butterscotch & semi-sweet chips over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour over the rice krispies in pan. You can either let them cool at room temperature or in the fridge. The chocolate will set at room temperature. Cut & serve.