Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oatmeal Bars

These bars have four layers...an oatmeal shortbread crust, chocolate, caramel, and topped off with another layer of oatmeal shortbread mix that results in a crumbly topping. These are melt-in-your-mouth divine. So divine in fact that I was tempted to eat one for breakfast one morning. After all, it did have oats in it but I refrained. Only until lunch.

Korey and I recently attended a gathering of his friends that was potluck-style.  I brought lasagna.  Well, really Korey did because he made it from start to finish.  It's his specialty.

The true food winner, in my mind...er mouth, was the dessert made by our hostess.  It was a bar layered with oats, caramel and chocolate.  I love bar desserts.  I knew I had to make these soon! 

The next weekend I dug through my recipe box and found a similar recipe I had stashed away and had been wanting to try.  It just so happened that it resembled what I had tasted the previous weekend.

I'm so glad that I split half of the pan with my parents because who knows how many we would have eaten in just a short time.

Oatmeal Bars
(click for printable)
1 pkg caramel bits (in baking aisle)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter, cut into pieces
1 pkg chocolate chips

Melt caramels and milk in pan over low heat for 5 min stirring until the caramels are melted and the milk mixed in.  Let cool.  Stir oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt together.  Using a pastry cutter or fork, blend in the butter pieces until the mixture is crumbly.  Press half of mixture into lined 9x13 pan.  I used parchment paper.  Foil would also work.  Bake at 350 for 20 min.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and then pour the caramel mixture over the chocolate.  Top with the remaining oat crumble mixture and bake in the oven for another 20-25 min.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Lift out from the pan and cut into squares.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Carrot Cake in a Jar

My Pinterest obsession has led me to the discovery of using jars as serving dishes.  For Hunter's half birthday, I decided to make him a cake in a jar.  I thought this might be difficult and I fretted over putting a glass jar in the oven, but after all, I needn't worry because you bake pies in a glass pan all the time.

I found this method to be quite simple because you just pour the batter in the jar, bake it, and then when it's cooled enough to be frosted there is no neatness required for icing the cake.  (I confess to not being the world's best cake decorator.)  I just spooned some icing on top and voila I was done!

Carrot Cake in a Jar


4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and sugar.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly mix in with the wet ingredients.  With the mixer on low, add in the carrots until blended.

Pour batter into glass canning jars** (without the lids), filling halfway since it will rise, and bake for 40 min.  Mix ingredients for icing together on medium speed until creamy.

Remove jars from the oven and attach the lids.  This will seal in the moisture as they cool.  Once jars are cooled, remove the lids and spoon icing over the top.  Serve and enjoy!

**I used 16oz canning jars which I purchased at Target.  I have also seen these at Albertson's.

Cake recipe adapted from Allrecipes

Friday, January 27, 2012

Banana Crumb Muffins

Another recipe with a brown sugar and cinnamon mixture included!  I've decided that the topping on these reminds me yet again of a donut.  I'm addicted to this flavor, I tell you.

I had intended to make Banana Bread for a friend but as I flipped through my recipe box I found this recipe.  Banana muffins with a crumb topping.  Yes, please!

While all sorts of sickness has hit our house this week, I did not get to deliver these but have selfishly enjoyed them for breakfast every day.  I added oats to these to make these more healthy and I increased the amount of cinnamon because I'm a huge fan of the spice.

Banana Crumb Muffins
(click for printable)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oats (optional)
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 T ground cinnamon (you can reduce the amount)
1 tablespoon butter

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salts and oats together in a bowl.  Then in a separate bowl mix bananas, sugars, egg, and butter until creamy.  Combine the wet with the dry ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are moistened.  Pour into greased muffin pan or a muffin pan lined with cupcake papers. 

Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the batter.  Bake at 375 for 18 minutes.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Thursday, January 26, 2012

18 Month Party

This past weekend we celebrated Hunter's half birthday.  Why?  Because he's our first child and I'm allowed to spoil him!  And to me, 18 months is a big milestone. 

The guests included my parents and my sister and her husband.  These pics are in random order.

This is the birthday boy with his Carrot Cake in a jar.  I'll do a separate post on this.
In order not to go overboard with decorations, I hung up some of Hunter's art work he had done at preschool so that my family could see it.  I used mini clothes clips I had to hang them on the blinds.

Chocolate or vanilla cake to celebrate?  I went with Carrot Cake!  I made it in a jelly roll pan, iced it, and then used the back of a spoon to make the scallops.
I made chili and served it with toppings, cornbread, and fritos.  Little man decided he needed to taste test the fritos.
This is the cornbread I baked up.  I used a baking pan that had square muffin shapes in it that Korey had bought me one year.  I used a box of Jiffy cornbread mix and added in cheese and diced green onions.
I served me and my sister's famous Cranberry/Sprite drink in glass bottles.  Although, Sprite wasn't on sale so I used 7Up.  Next time I'll add ice.
This was Hunter' Carrot Cake in a jar.  I'm on a let's-buy-glass-jars-because-everything-will-look-prettier-in-them kick.  Just ask Korey.

My feeble attempt at a chain thingy.  I took an old gift bag and cut it into strips and linked the strips into a chain using tape.
Fabulous!  These were leftover candles from Hunter's first birthday I had purchased at the dollar store.
And these were the chili toppings.  Cheese, sour cream, and green onions...all served in jars!  These made for super-easy cleanup because we just had to put the lid back on and put them in the fridge.
A little bit of a fuzzy photo, but here is our birthday boy with his grandparents.

Thanks to my family for helping us celebrate and for indulging my "he-needs-a-half-birthday-party" whim!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Caught in the Act

I did a lot of cooking this weekend.  So did Korey.  We spent most of our weekend in the kitchen when we weren't home.  We had a potluck social on Saturday night and then on Sunday we celebrated Hunter's half birthday.  In a matter of two days our kitchen produced lasagna, cookies, a big pot of chili, and carrot cake.  All homemade.  Korey gets credit for the lasagna because it's his specialty.  Besides I'm messier than he is when I cook so I'm sure he was glad to be the one in the kitchen.

We ate chili to celebrate his half birthday.  I set out a big bowl of Fritos as a topping and accidentally put it too close to the edge of the table.  I guess this is proof that Hunter has grown an inch in such a short time.

Because we were cooking so much food this weekend, I needed to free up space in our fridge so I baked up some leftover cookie dough I had just made.  This was about ten o'clock in the morning and I guess Hunter spied the cookies and decided he needed a mid-morning snack.  Or maybe he had seen his daddy sneaking cookies.  Like father, like son.

Friday, January 20, 2012

18 Months

Maybe because Hunter is my first child, I've decided that I want to make a BIG DEAL out of the fact that he turned 18 months.  As with all festivities in my family they tend to stretch out over several days.  This is part one.

Before I leave the house in the morning I make sure Hunter eats breakfast.  Korey never eats breakfast on weekdays so it's usually just the two of us.  On this particular morning he was so fussy that he had to have his milk before he ate.  I usually wait until after just to ensure he eats.

He is reaching for his monkey that is sitting on the kitchen table.  Hunter doesn't like to leave him in the crib when he gets up.  He also has been letting us know that he's a true toddler.  Many times he will scream out loud and we've realized he's just trying to get our attention.  Or he'll do a fake whiny cry and of course we call him out on it.  "Faker!"  And I'm so surprised, but time outs actually do work with him.  He understands what it means that he needs to sit down without toys and be still.  He sits there quietly!  We try not to leave him for more than a minute or two.  One time Korey asked him if he need a "time out" and Hunter sat himself down without being made.  Haha!  It will be this easy when he's a teenager right?
After I got home from work I took more photos of him.  He's such a poser!  Not sure why I never used this chalkboard before to record his months.
I tricked him into looking up.
He's wearing a fireman hat his Nana brought him.  Then he took it off and put it on my head.
This is true Hunter.  He loves his "Bibles" as he calls them.  He is saying "Bible."  I'm not sure what other 18 month olds are like, but this kid asks us every day, a million times a day, what stuff is.  He points to everything in the room and asks, "Dat."  A bajillion times a day.  Ask us how many times we've told him what the light is called.  He is super curious and wants to know what everything is, everywhere.  All the time. 
I sat in the rocking chair with the book, "Goodnight Moon" and he pointed to things on the page and asked me what they were.
This book is called "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and has a story about the letters of the alphabet.
A shoot from the hip photo.  I think.
I finished the night by making chocolate chip cookies.  Here he is enjoying his late night snack.  Yes, he got to eat chocolate!  (My family gives me a hard time about being overly cautious about what he eats.)

To top it off, this kid grew an inch in 3 months!  He's set to tower over me.  Sigh.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Apple Crisp Pie

I took advantage of the fact that ice cream and apples were on sale and I decided to make Apple Crisp.  But then I realized I had pie crust in my freezer, so Apple Crisp Pie was born.

I made this very rustic...no skinned apples and no gooey pie filling.  Just simple baked apples with an oatmeal crumble topping.  Yum!


(click for printable)

1 frozen pie crust
4-5 sliced apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup sugar
1 T flour
1 T cinnamon
1/4 cup water

Topping: (Next time I will double this!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup oats

Preheat oven to 350.  After pie crust has thawed, unroll and press into pie pan.  Combine sliced apples with sugar, flour, cinnamon, and water.  Pour into pie crust.  Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the top of the pie.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm topped with ice cream!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I'm so excited to announce that I am part of the first-ever "Mamarazzi" class hosted by TinStar Photography.  The purpose of the class is to improve your picture-taking skills complete with encouragement, critiquing, and fellowship with other mom photographers.  I'm in the first week and so far this is the easiest class I've ever taken.  It's not meant to be stressful at all...just fun!  Here are some photos from our first assignment....capturing a picture of your child doing everyday things.  I had to choose one to print out to take with me and so far I can't decide on just one!

Every night we read a Bible story to Hunter before he goes to bed.  We all pile into our bed and usually a ticklefest ensues before we get settled down.  On this night Hunter happened to have a toy with him.

Saturday mornings at our house are typically lazy.  If I don't have anywhere to be I like to just have some playtime with Hunter.  We worked puzzles together and he asked me a million times what each animal was.
This boy can't get enough of our remote controls.  This one controls our fan and lights.  He loves pushing the buttons and watching what happens.
Sometimes when I'm getting ready and Hunter is in our room I shut the door all the way so he can't escape and I can keep an eye on him.  He decided he wanted out.  A little fit followed.

My sweet boy playing on his toy cellphone.  The nasty cut is from a run-in with our fireplace.  He pulled the padding off and fell against it all in the same instant.  We got to avoid stitches but the dr did put some skin glue on it and squeezed it together.

Stay tuned because hopefully we'll see my pictures improve over the next few weeks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Honeybun Cake

This is one of my absolute favorite cakes made with a cake mix.  While I try to keep my cakes made from scratch, I make the exception with this recipe.  This is so moist, and best of all, it tastes just like a donut to me because of the glaze.  The cinnamon and brown sugar filling will remind you of a cinnamon roll.

You can have it for breakfast or dessert!

This is also a simple stir and bake recipe.  I didn't even use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this.

Honeybun Cake by kSk

(click for printable)

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 container (8 oz) sour cream
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

 In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients by hand or using an electric mixer on low.  Once everything is well combined, pour HALF of the batter in a greased, 9x13 glass pan.  Combine brown sugar and cinnamon together in a separate bowl and then sprinkle over the bottom layer of batter.  Pour remaining batter over the top and spread it out with a knife.  Bake for 45 min at 350.  Mix one cup of powdered sugar with the milk and pour over the cake once it's done cooking, while still warm.
**I only had 3 eggs at the time so I increased the amount of vegetable oil to compensate for the missing egg.  The original recipe calls for four eggs and less oil.
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Recent Study...

A recent study suggested that children's obesity was linked to boring playgrounds.  We would like to dispute that study.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Banana Bread

Ever since Hunter discovered his love for bananas, we have a multitude of bananas that reside at our house every week.  We try to eat them all before they go bad, but as soon as they start to turn brown I toss them in the freezer so I can use them to make banana bread.

This is my favorite banana bread recipe...no adaptations needed.  Although you can add nuts if you like, cinnamon, or even a cup of chocolate chips.  I face much protest if I try to alter the recipe so here it is in it's classic form.

This is a simple stir and bake recipe.  Your whole house will smell delicious as it bakes!

If you decide to freeze your brown bananas, set them out to thaw before you use them in this recipe.

Banana Bread
(click for printable)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (or 2 - 3 bananas)
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2.In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

3.Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Source:  Allrecipes

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spicy Pepperoni-Jack Chicken Panini

A four ingredient meal!  Six, if you count the condiments.  We've been eating "pantry"meals lately before we make our next grocery shopping trip.  This is helping us to save some money plus eat what we have.  And who doesn't want to eat a chicken panini sandwich?

We absolutely love our panini pan and use it all the time.  Every time we make a sandwich we comment on the fact that we're eating an $8 sandwich, just like you would find in a gourmet cafe.  This is homemade gourmet on a budget.

The chicken is first grilled and then layered between the bread, cheese and pepperoni and then the whole sandwich is grilled on the panini pan or press.  What results is a delicious, melted-cheese chicken sandwich.

I recommend not using a regular sandwich bread as the bread, once grilled, will become very thin.  If you use a bakery bread such as Sourdough or French, the bread will maintain it's thickness.

Spicy Pepperoni-Jack Chicken Panini

Makes two sandwiches

Olive oil
4 slices of Sourdough bread
1 Chicken breast
Pepperoni slices
Pepperjack cheese

Lightly spray panini pan with olive oil and grill chicken breast until it's thoroughly cooked on medium heat.  Cut open with a knife to make sure it's not still pink inside.  Cut chicken breast in half to use for each sandwich.  Spread the bread slices with mayo (or your condiment of choice) and layer the chicken breast half, pepperoni slices, and pepperjack cheese.  Brush both sides of the outside layer of the bread slices with olive oil.  You can use a knife or a basting brush.  Put your sandwiches on the panini press and top with the lid.  Grill until both sides are lightly browned, flipping it once during cooking to ensure both sides get browned.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Slow Cooker Pork with Mushroom Wine Sauce

Now before you run away because you saw the words mushroom wine sauce, know that this recipe is a simple stir-the-sauce-ingredients-together and pour it in.  I did sear the meat before I put it in the crockpot as this adds more flavor.  If you want to skip this step, go for it.

I didn't even measure, but for you I'll provide measurements!  This was really a pantry recipe and I had made something similar before in the oven but I wanted to try it in the crockpot.  And the pork came out so tender that my husband told me he snuck some out of the crockpot before we ate dinner.

I do realize that there should probably be rice on this plate but we don't do a lot of extra sides as we like to keep it simple in our house.  So serve this with whatever you like.

(click for printable)

1 pkg bone-in pork chops
Olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions (you can increase if you like onions)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup white cooking wine

Pour 1-2 Tbs of olive oil in a pan and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  Lay the pork chops on top and sprinkle the top side with salt and pepper.  Let it brown on both sides for about five minutes each.  Sprinkle your chopped onions and mushrooms in the bottom of the crockpot.  Lay the browned pork chops on top.  Mix 1 can of cream of mushroom soup with the wine and pour on top of the pork chops.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Serve with your favorite sides.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Spicy Citrus Dressing

While I wanted to wow you by recreating the awesome citrus dressing I had recently, it didn't turn out like I had wanted it.  But I am eating it atop the salad you see in this picture while I type. 

I will attempt this again at some point because I still have memories of the awesome salad I ate at Texas Spice.  In the meantime, I'll just let you enjoy my practice photos.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: Getting Organized

Hunter loves to color.  Or really just take the crayons out of the box and put them back in.  We bought him some toddler-size markers for Christmas and all of these items were starting to get scattered around the kitchen.  I bought this plastic tote at Walmart and used foam letter stickers to label it.  The foam stickers I had previously purchased at Walmart.  Simple, easy and contained!

 Our pantry is scary.  It's not even a real pantry but a cabinet.  I'll never do that again.  It's very deep and it's so hard to find things in that dark cavern.  After getting inspiration from a picture I saw in Better Homes and Gardens, I invested in these Oxo containers (with a coupon) and I absolutely love them!  I don't need to label them because I can easily identify what's in them AND I can actually see through them to what else is lurking behind.  Best of all they are air tight so Hunter's Cheerios will never go to waste.
Last, but not least, I am always yelling, "Save the bows" whenever anyone unwraps a gift.  I decided that all of these stray ribbons and bows needed a place.  I purchased a Snapware ornament storage container and used the cardboard dividers to divide it up into the spaces I needed.  Now all of my bows and ribbon are in one place.

How are you getting organized in 2012?