Sunday, November 28, 2010


Caramel. Peanuts. Nougat. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. It's the HOLIDAY season, guys! What's a holiday without a bit (or a bunch) of indulgence! We can all make a heartfelt New Years resolution in January to cut down on sugar, carbs, eat more veggies, blahblahblah. For now, I would suggest you indulge in a batch of homemade snickers. Ok, these will seriously test your self control, which is why I ended up giving most of them away... cause I apparently don't have such good self-control. Therefore, when I know something as DELISH as these bars is lurking in my freezer, I find every excuse possible to take a trip to the kitchen to partake in the candy goodness. I had them in the house for a total of two days and and probably ate a third of the batch myself. So I decided, in the interest of my health and impending sugar coma, I had better wrap these beauties up and bestow the goodness on some well deserving friends (I became quite popular by the way). I recommend making them in stages. They really aren't difficult, they just require freezing between each layer. You can dip each bar individually in chocolate, but in the interest of time and laziness, I skipped this step. The end result? Chewy, peanutty, carmelly, chocolaty.... fabulous.
My kitchen helper.... Too bad dogs can't eat chocolate...
Ok, now the recipe!

Homemade Snickers
2 cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bar (I used a mix of milk chocolate Hershey's bar and chocolate chips), divided in half
1/2 cup butterscotch chips, divided in half
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, divided into 3 parts (1/4 cup)
5.5 tablespoons butter (divided: 4 Tbsp and 1.5 Tbsp)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk, divided in half
1.5 cups marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 cups salted peanuts, chopped (or substitute nuts of your choice)
1 pound chewy caramels

Optional: (if coating the sides of your bars)
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped bar
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 creamy peanut butter

Line your pan with waxed paper or plastic wrap making sure there's plenty of extra draped over the sides and ends of the pan.. I used plastic wrap but next time I'm using waxed paper as some of the caramel stuck to the plastic wrap.
Bottom chocolate layer
Combine 1 cup chocolate, 1/4 cup butterscotch, and 1/4 cup peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 20-second increments, stirring each time, until all ingredients melt together smoothly. Pour into your pan, and spread in an even layer. Stick the pan in the fridge or freezer to set, at least one hour, I recommend overnight.
Nougat Layer
Combine 4 Tbsp butter, 1 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup evaporated milk in small heavy-bottomed pot. Heat on low until the mixture melts, mixes, and starts to bubble. Stir as necessary. Remove from heat, and add 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and 1.5 cups marshmallow fluff. Stir until all ingredients are melted and smoothly combined, then let it cool slightly. Pour into your pan on top of the chocolate, and spread in an even layer. Stick the pan back into the freezer to set.
Caramel and Peanut Layer
Combine 1/4 cup evaporated milk, 1.5 Tablespoons butter, and pound of caramels in the (cleaned) small pot, or melt in increments in the microwave. Stir frequently until the caramels melt into the milk and butter. Allow to cool until it's not going to burn you. Coarsely chop the 1.5 cup peanuts, and stir into the caramel. Pour caramel/peanut mixture into your pan, and spread in an even layer. Stick the pan back in the freezer to set.
Top chocolate layer
- Melt 1 cup chocolate, 1/4 cup butterscotch chips, and 1/4 cup peanut butter, just like you did for the bottom layer. Pour into your pan, and spread in an even layer on top of the caramel.
Stick the pan back in the freezer to set.
When completely set, remove pan from the freezer, and lift up the waxed paper or plastic to remove the frozen snickers. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Use a sharp, heavy kitchen knife to cut the rough edges off your block, making the edges nice and square and tidy (You can eat the not so pretty ones). Cut into bars. This can be a bit tricky if the bars have not softened enough or have softened too much. Return the block to the freezer as needed to solidify, as it cuts much more tidily when firm.
Dip edges (optional)
Melt 1/2 cup chocolate, 1/4 cup butterscotch chips, and 1/4 cup peanut butter, as you did for the top and bottom layers. Take each individual bar and dip each edge in the melted chocolate mixture. Set on waxed paper and stick in freezer or fridge to dry and set.
Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Makin Cranberry Pancakes

Pancakes, cranberry syrup, well HELLO Thanksgiving morning, How ARE you? Seriously, Thanksgiving day for most people is like a cooking marathon with a very, very satisfying ending. Well, I propose we take a moment to focus on the beginning of the day. You better start it off right, how else will you have the energy needed to get through one of the most epic cooking days of the year? Why not whip up a batch of fluffy pancakes with homemade cranberry syrup to get everyone in the cooking/festive mood? Sounds like a plan to me, AND these pancakes don't use eggs SO you don't have to worry about running out to the store for more when it comes time to make your famous *insert egg based holiday dish here* A few words about the cranberry syrup. It. Is. Awesome. You don't have to chop, puree, crush anything! Just throw the berries in a pan with some sweet sticky stuff, whisk a few times, and VOILA homemade (mostly) syrup! Cranberries deliciously bursting with every bite of sweet fluffy pancake.... Thanksgiving breakfast reclaimed.
Fluffy Eggless Pancakes
from contributed by Dawn Linke
Makes 8 medium pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk (or soy milk)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter

Combine dry ingredients and mix. Add milk, oil, water, and vanilla. Mix until just combined, be careful not to overmix, it should be a bit lumpy (and you don't wanna strain a muscle!). Set aside to rest for a few minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. While pan is heating throw in the two tablespoons of butter. As soon as the butter is nice and melted, add it to the pancake batter. Return pan to the stove and stir in that butter. When pan is hot (a drop of water should sizzle when dropped on pan), ladle on some batter. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, then flip em over and cook until goldeny brown.


Cranberry Syrup
from Cooking Light
1 cup cranberries (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for about eight minutes or until berries begin to pop. Stir occasionally so it doesn't burn/stick to pan. Remove from heat and pour over pancakes.
*Leftovers are awesome stirred into oatmeal or yogurt, OR over ice cream.
Yes. Please.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010


Tea and crumpets... just saying it makes me feel all sophisticated and ladylike. This month for Taste and Create I was paired with Val a very talented blogger and chef from our neighbor to the north, Canada. When I saw she had quite a few recipe's for crumpets on her
blog, I decided that this was something I had to try! The crumpet recipe I chose was one she had adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum's, The Bread Bible. The process of making crumpets, while not difficult, does take a while as they first need time to rise and then to cook at a very low temperature. Don't be deterred though, they are worth the wait! The final product reminded me of these: Oroweat's Australian Toaster Biscuits! Does anyone else remember those? I used to LOVE them when I was younger, and the crumpets turned out deliciously similar. Soft and lightly sweet. Denser and fluffier than a pancake, and not as dry as a traditional English muffin. I topped mine with butter (highly recommended as the crumpets have lots of nooks and crannys just begging to be filled with rich melty butter). They were also lovely sandwiched together with a generous shmear of jam.


Per Val from

(originally from Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Bread Bible)


1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons dry milk

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, divided

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp butter

In a large bowl mix together the flour, dry milk, yeast, sugar, and salt.

Add the 3/4 cup of water and, gradually beat on medium for about 5 minutes until completely smooth (I used a hand mixer, which worked great!).

With a piece of tape, mark on the side of the bowl where doubled the height would be. Cover and let batter rise until doubled, about an hour. Once the batter has doubled in size, in a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Stir into the batter and allow to rise again until almost doubled, about 30 min. The batter will be filled with bubbles.

Preheat the griddle or frying pan. If using an electric griddle, preheat to 275 degrees. If using a skillet, heat over low until a drop of water sizzles when added. When heated, brush the pan, and the insides of the crumpet rings (I used circular cookie cutters, which worked fine) with melted butter. Set the rings/cookie cutters in the pan and use a ladle to spoon, or pour the batter into the rings, filling 2/3 full. The batter will rise to the top during cooking. Cook the crumpets for 10 minutes on one side, or until they are nicely browned underneath and have lost their dull shine on top. Turn the crumpets and continue to cook until the bottoms are browned.

When cooked, remove the crumpets and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Suggestion: While crumpets cool, make your tea (or coffee) and grab the paper. Top your crumpet with butter, honey, jam, whatever you fancy. Sit back, relax, and revel in your sophistication!

*Note: Crumpets can be stored over night in a paper bag, or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months. Thaw before toasting. I got a little carried away on the jam...
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A little randomness for your week... more recipes soon!

Hi friends! First of all, isn't Lola cute (random picture, I realize, but adorable none the less). Second of all, I am sorry I am failing at posting this week! My sister and nephew are here visiting so every second I am not at work I spend with them, so cooking/baking etc. has been at a minimum! In an effort to make up for it I thought I would share a little bit about myself with all of you lovely readers. I would LOVE to know more about you too so if you copy and answer these questions too, let me know in the comments section and I will be sure to read em! And I PROMISE next week, LOTS of yummy recipes! Have fun!
What time do you normally wake up?
5:45 on a work day, weekends I usually wake up at 6:30 on my own but I don't get out of bed till 7 or 7:30. I'm a morning person, I love getting up early and getting stuff done!

Do you have a go-to song for karaoke?
Never done it! It basically SCARES THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS out of me!

If you could only see black & white, except for one color, which color would you choose?
I think.... green because then I could still the color of leaves and grass and Christmas trees!

What color best matches your personality?
I think probably blue with yellow spots cause I'm pretty calm but I have LOTS of energy (blue=calm, yellow=energy)

If you could choose one meal to cook better than anyone else, what would it be?
PIZZA! There are so many amazing pizza cooks so if I could cook it better than ALL of them... that would be one knock your socks off pizza! THINK of the restaurant I could open all focused on my AMAZING, BEST pizza in the world!

How many keys do you have on your key ring?
I actually had to grab it and count for this question. The grand total is three, ya I had to count three keys... been a looong day! One is to my apartment, one to my mailbox and one for my car.

Do you give your pets Christmas/Birthday gifts?
No, but growing up my mom always set out a special stocking for the pets, a family tradition that we carry on to this day! I think of pets as part of the family, so why not?

When your plate has different foods on it, do you mix or not?
Well, definitely depends on the food. Peas and mashed potatoes, the more mixing the better, applesauce and spaghetti, not so much

If you could hire someone to do one thing for you, all the time, what would it be?
Clean my car! I love cleaning my apartment, but for some reason, I HATE vacuuming and cleaning my car the vacuum is just so darn hard to maneuver in there!

When flying, do you prefer the window or aisle seat?
Aisle for sure, I get leg cramps if I sit still for too long so if I sit in the aisle I can get up and move around easier. I hate having to either jump over everyone to get out of my seat or make everyone stand up so I can get out... stresses me out BIG time!
Have a great week!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan Pumpkin White Chocolate Bars

ANOTHER vegan recipe... I am really starting to like this whole vegan thing. It gives me a bit of a challenge, adapting recipes so that they are completely vegan, and I LOVE a good challenge! This one turned out scrumptiously! I was trying to adapt a blondie recipe, but I wouldn't call these blondies, they have a moister, fudgy consistency (thanks to the pumpkin), but they retain that delightful chewiness with caramel undertones that blondies are so famous for. They don't have to be made vegan, so I included tips for making a regular version as well. The pumpkin flavor is just perfect for this time of year and who can say no to a little white chocolate? Not me!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Bars
Adapted from Coconut Blondie recipe by Brown Eyed Baker
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces vegan "butter" (I used Earth Balance), softened to room temperature (or for non-vegan, use 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups vegan white chocolate chips (can buy them here, or use regular)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and mist with non-stick spray (or butter, or grease).
Mix together butter, sugar, pumpkin puree, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
Mix until combined.
Fold in white chocolate chips.
Smooth batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until set but still a bit soft in the middle.
Happy Monday!

Keeping It Simple

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blackberry Pinwheel Cobbler

It's the weekend! I had Thursday off work, which was amazing! I spent the day at the GRAND OPENING of H&M with my friends Lauren and Jamie (you can read more about the amazingness on Lauren's blog). After that exciting shopping trip, I had worked up an appetite! I have been looking for a great recipe to use up the last of the blackberries I picked this summer, and when I found this one on, I knew this was it! It's kind of a cross between the most amazing cobbler ever and really delightful cinnamon rolls. I had to adjust it a bit as it was a little lacking in the directions, I also wish I would've used a smaller pan! The recipe says to use a 13x9 inch pan, which turned out to be WAY too big! Too large pan not withstanding, this is easily the best cobbler I have ever had. I almost wrote it off as a failure when I pulled it out of the oven, the rolls had not expanded as much as I thought they would, but I am SO glad I took a bite before making that decision! The cobbler rolls are crunchy and sugary, almost like a soft sugar cookie. The blackberries had released juice during baking which mixed with the sugar sauce to create a jam like sauce that when spooned over the rolls was absolutely fabulous! Be sure to let it sit for at least 15 minutes after removing from the oven to let the sauce thicken up a bit. The recipe says you can make it with any fresh or frozen fruit, so time to break out those frozen summer berries, peaches, nectarines, and I really wanna try it with mangoes! Now the recipe... cause unless you hate delicious food, you should probably go ahead and make this, right. about. now!

Adapted from


2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1/2 cup butter (I used vegan)

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening or butter spread (used vegan)

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon milk (used Soy)

3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (I used about 2 1/2 cups defrosted and drained of excess juice)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan; stir well.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Set aside. Place the 1/2 cup butter in an 8x8 inch baking dish in a 350 degree oven for 3 minutes or until butter melts. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cut shortening or butter spread into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal; add milk, mixing with your hands just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 4 or 5 times.

Roll dough into a 12x9 inch rectangle.

Spread blackberries over dough. Roll up, jelly roll style, beginning with long side. Cut dough into 12 (1 inch) slices.

The easiest way to cut the dough without smooshing it is this: grab your box of dental floss (go with me here, I promise, it works). Tear off a piece of floss (about 10 or so inches). Slide floss under roll, cross ends and pull until floss slices through roll.

Place slices, cut side down, in butter. Pour sugar syrup around slices. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until golden.

I sprinkled on some granola, that counts as breakfast, right??
Kinda like a big berry filled cinnamon roll
Sit back, relax, eat up!

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