Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

and a Cookie Swap!!!!

A few weeks back a dear friend of mine challenged me to get back into blogging.  She writes over at Frankly Entertaining.  A true foody she makes the yummiest food!  She was right I had missed the whole experience!  Along with the encouragement she is the most informed person I know.  If you need to know the new styles ask Sarah, what is the best new product for baking? Ask Sarah!  So she kindly passed on the information on this awesome Cookie Swap!    It was a great experience and how cool to do something fun like this and donate money to such a good cause.  What a wonderful way to kick off the holidays.  I personally received the most delicious cookies from my swap partners.  

I wanted to make something yummy but not too fussy.  I  love the taste of salted caramel and this recipe is a perfect combination of chocolate and salted caramel!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Milky Way Simply Caramel fun size bars

4 1/2  Cups Flour
1tsp Baking Soda
1tsp salt, sea salt is better
1 1/2 Cup Butter, melted, (yes melted)
2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbl Vanilla
2 Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
3 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Mix the flour, slat and baking soda in a large bowl.  In a mixer cream together melted butter, brown and white sugar. Add eggs then vanilla.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Add the chocolate chips.

Cut the Milky Way bars in half dipping the exposed caramel into sea salt.  Roll a ball of dough around the candy bar section. Sprinkle a bit more sea salt on top. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 17-17 minutes.  

They are so super yummy!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

If you have to work you may as well LOVE it!

I have been working from home just shy of 2 years.  This job has been a huge blessing in the lives of our family.  Because I work from home I can still see my kids off to school and pack their lunches and all.  As well as be here when they get home.  All while helping to supplement our families income.  

I work for an incredible company that is so overly generous with it's employees.  There are many perks but I have to say one of my favorites is the incentives that we have the opportunity to earn. Most every week there is some type of cool prize to earn!  I am not joking when I say cool.  Toms, Oakley Sunglasses, gift certificates, my gorgeous watch and my favorite so far....le creuset cookware! 

I have always wanted to own some of their products. I think anyone who cooks dreams of owning one of their roaster pans!

I love this beautiful yellow color!

I had to try them out and made a simple but yummy casserole that night in the large dish above.
I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the small 8oz pots.  All I could think of was french onion soup perhaps? Then my clever little Morgan pointed out that they would be so cute with different dips in them for a party!  Now that would be darling.  

Do you think if I use these often enough and make some really yummy food that Santa might bring me my dreamed of roaster pan?  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A taste of Autumn

This past week I made some muffins for a brunch we had for some ladies at church.  Technically we were doing our Visiting Teaching, if you don't know what that is go look HERE.  I went with an old tried and true one and a new one. Now making a new one for an event is always a gamble. I found some pumpkin muffins with a streusel topping.  I was so happy when they were as yummy as they looked on pinterest.  I made these muffins and they turned out great!

These muffins really are so easy that you can easily make them on a school morning. Then when the kids leave for school you make a nice mug of hot cocoa with a small candy cane in it of course and butter up a muffin.  

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup pecans
2 tbl butter
1/4 cinnamon

Cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender, or a couple forks, or pulse in a blender or use your hands to smoosh it together (don't really do that you will melt the butter).  It should resemble course crumbs when done. 

Pumpkin Muffins 

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup pecan pieces, coarsley chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line with paper and set aside. 

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients.  Add them together just until combined. Spoon into muffin pans and top with streusel.

To be completely honest the  directions above are great...but I never do that. I just add all the dry ingredients and give a quick stir. Make a whole in the middle and add the wet then I stir it to combine. I always make my muffins this way and they turn out great. So there is a time saver for ya! Once less bowl to wash is always a good thing!

 Then bake for 15-17 minutes.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Comfort Food

One of my fall back recipes is homemade mac n cheese.  My mom made it growing up and although I use a microwave and she baked hers it is still that same yummy meal.  The recipe is beyond simple and is always a crowd pleaser.  Do not under any circumstances count the calories or fat content in this one! Do not make it with low fat substitutes.  Instead only make is occasionally and enjoy the treat with your family.  I promise on a rainy day or the first snow of the season this recipe will soothe the soul!  

Mac N Cheese

1 box elbow macaroni
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
5-6 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese (DO NOT USE PRE SHREDDED CHEESE, they add flour of cornstarch to keep the cheese from sticking to each other. That makes for a gross consistency in this dish)

Boil the noodles until tender.  Drain and pour them in a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with pam. Add the cans of soup and stir it a little bit.  Add about half the freshly grated cheese and stir a little bit more.  Layer the rest of the cheese on top.  Microwave for 5 minutes, stir until all the melted cheese is combined.  Microwave for about 3 more minutes just until it is warm and bubbly.  Serve immediately. 

This dish is great the next day warmed up! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Treats

Today was the first time I have baked since being in our new house.  We all needed a little comfort food.  Our house does not become a home until I start baking.  The kids and hubby tend to gravitate to the kitchen to visit or sneak a taste of whatever I am making. I actually love that! It is one of my favorite things.  The kids will pull up a bar stool and visit with me about their school day or what plans they have all while I am making a batch of cookies or bread or whatever yummy treat strikes our fancy.  

I have been making these banana muffins since before Morgan was born. Chad loved them and then Morgan did too!  They beg for chocolate chips in theirs. Charlie and I prefer walnuts in ours.  It is a simple recipe and can be made easily on a school morning.

Banana Muffins

3 large ripe bananas
3/4 Cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 Cup butter melted
1 1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Mash the bananas and add the sugar mixing well.  Add the next two ingredients mixing well.  Shift together the dry ingredients and add to wet mixture.  Mix until incorporated.  Try not to over mix at this point. That makes the dough tough.  At this point if you wanted to add a few choc chips of nuts you can.  I line my pans with cupcake wrappers so they are moist and not crusty.  That is how my family likes them.  But if your family likes them crusty then grease your muffin pans and make them like that! Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Honestly I over cooked these. Totally forgot to push start on the timer!  Although they are darker then I would have liked they are moist and yummy! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moving in...

We had to wait until our home sold in Utah before we could rent a home here in Tennessee. The house in Utah fell out of contract twice. SO frustrating! So when Charlie's mom (our Realtor! She is great Sandy Hoover called to tell us about this 3rd offer we were very skeptic.  This offer was a cash offer, that had a contingency.  Also they wanted to close in a week!  We honestly did not believe this offer had any chance of going through when the others fell apart also.  Well everything went just as planned and we immediately went house hunting.  We had some crazy requirements.  We wanted to be in certain school districts and we didn't want the kids to have to change wards especially after changing schools.  Basically we had a couple square miles to find a house in.  While looking at a house I expressed that I was really wishing we could find a house in this other section of town.  Frank, the rental agent, told us he had a couple who was trying to get out of their lease.   He sent us over to check in out. I loved it immediately.  It was in the area we desired, had a large yard, a great kitchen, across from a greenbelt, better master bedroom/bath overall just a nicer house. 

Houses in the south are different.  While we have had basements here we have attics. We also have a couple designated tornado safe rooms. Yikes! Didn't have to think about that in Utah.  The following pictures were taken the day after the mover left. Still in shambles. Hopefully soon I will have pictures with no boxes in them!

The view first view of the house.  Actually looking forward to decorating this area of the house!

The dining room is immediately to the left. By the way this is the first time we have had a formal dining room.

 Notice how I stocked this with only the requirements for one night?  We are thinking to add another shelf on the right to give us a little more storage. 

 Across from the pantry is a little butlers pantry.  I actually wish it was just floor to ceiling shelves.  But hey at least I somewhere to put the family china.  Now to use the family china!
 Double ovens. Most people thinks Thanksgiving dinner ease right? Me?  I can bake a batch of cookies in 14 minutes with these bad boys!
 We have a bit more storage in this kitchen but I am struggling to get it all sorted in the way that makes the most sense. I always have a baking cupboard right above my KitchenAid stand mixer so that baking said cookies above is that much easier.  
 The other side of the kitchen.  It has really pretty cupboards and really pretty floors. And is one huge mess!

 Laundry room. This room has one crazy fancy sink!  I cannot imagine what they were thinking.  
 Kitchen dining. See all those boxes! I hate moving. 

 The family room.  So because there is a formal dining room there is no formal living room. Snap! I am going to miss that. Somewhere to put all the little pretty things. 
 Our bedroom is so much bigger then our last house. We bought a king sized bed and it looks so small in our room. More boxes!

 The master bath has double vanities and that is pretty cool. That way I don't have to deal with all of Charlie's hair stuff!  Wait maybe that is the other way around. 

 The largest shower I have ever seen. But I have to admit it is kind of cool. At first all I saw was the water spots I was going to have to try to keep off this shower but you know there are really none.  I think because the water is soft in the south it is not so much of a problem. 

The view from the stairs. Kind of strange to me. AKA kids sit on the ledge to chat with parents. 
 A little homework nook for the kids. They are so excited  about that. NOT! I plan to just store all the school supplies there for the kids. 
One of the 3 attics. This one is right off the homework nook. I soooo wish it were finished into a big bonus room.  Jack likes to explore the area though.

Kids bathroom.  

Morgan is thrilled to have a room with a little personality. She has already been decorating and arranging her little area. 

 The closets in the south are much much larger.  Morgan loves that.  Somehow I didn't take pictures of Chad's room.  It looks the same as Morgan's only it has a larger closet and no lavender. 
This is a pet peeve of mine. This picture is shows the chandelier that is over the front door. Across is a cute little dormer window. I wished that they would have enclosed the ceiling and that way we could actually do something with this area. Oh well. At least it has some pretty light. 

 And my office. I have actually really been working to get this room put back together. We seem to be missing a box. The box with the top shelf of my bookshelf!

So many boxes unpacked. 

The last few boxes to be unpacked. Now to tidy up the house and try to make it into a home!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Moving to Memphis

After 21 years of working in the same division of FedEx my husband wanted to work for the other division…the one that is based out of Memphis.  You know all those packages you send over night? Well he works at the facility in Memphis that makes sure you get them the next day.

Me the kids and the dog started out to Memphis ahead of Charlie.  We drove to Colorado the first night and then to Kansas City, MO the next.  We had some adventures along the way that included getting lost in the scary section of town, witnessing a man using the tree as a bathroom in said scary section of town, my dog barking his protective bark in the middle of the night and waking us all up scared to death at the hotel and best of all about 150 bats in the tree outside out room.  Thankfully we arrived safely the next day in Memphis! 

We went out ahead of Charlie so that the kids could start school.  We were blessed to live with my brother’s family for almost 3 month while we waited for our Utah house to sell.  It has been so nice to have family here! Their youngest kids are near the same age as our kids. Hooray for instant friends!

We started the kids at a prep school for the first 8 weeks. After some time we decided that it was just not a good fit for us. So another change for our poor kids! They are now attending public school and are really enjoying it!
Chad got his driver’s license. Morgan made a club volleyball team. We bought a truck and a small SUV and rented a house. Phew!!!!


Now to make our house a home. Get settled into a work routine. We plan to go see the sights and experience as much of the area as we can! Just a teeny little teaser of some of the stuff we may be up too…

And of course I will be quickly setting my office to order! More house pictures to follow. Why is it so hard to find homes for all of your stuff?!