Sunday, May 24, 2009

In The Kitchen

I've talked a lot about food, but I have yet to actually show you anything that I've made. I have been semi obsessed with several food blogs lately, but one in particular. Cookie Madness... This chick is a trooper, she bakes something basically every day! Sometimes several things. She mainly bakes cookies, but she also has baked up some pretty tasty looking treats! I have been looking for an excuse to make a few of her items and finally got to try my hand this weekend. Last week sometime she posted her "Favorite 5." This includes her 5 favorite chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, brownies, etc. One of her favorite brownies caught my eye so I decided to put it to the test. They were a huge hit, and fun to make. Messy to cut, but mainly because of all of the toppings on top. Here's a picture of how they turned out, along with her recipe.

Caramel Filled Brownies

1 cup whole pecans (more or less, RR uses 1 ½ cups)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14 oz) bag of caramels
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more if you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pecans on a cookie sheet and toast for 7-9 minutes or until aromatic. Let cool. When cool, chop.

Meanwhile, line a 13×9 inch pan with Release foil or parchment paper. You could also just line with foil and spray the foil. Make sure to spray the sides so the caramel won’t stick to the sides.

Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and repeat until smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes. While chocolate cools, in a separate bowl beat sugar and eggs on high speed of an electric mixer for 3 entire minutes. Beat in vanilla. Stir chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Using a mixing spoon or wire whisk, stir in flour and salt. Pour about half of this batter into the lined pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes. While first layer cools, prepare filling.

Unwrap caramels (ack! Why don’t they make unwrapped caramels!) and put them in a saucepan with the 1/3 cup of cream. Heat on medium low, stirring often, until caramels are melted. Stir about half of the chopped pecans into the caramel. Pour the caramel mixture over the brownie layer.

Spread the remaining brownie mix over the caramel filling. It is kind of tricky, so do your best, but don’t worry about covering all the caramel. Scatter chocolate chips and remaining pecans over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for another 20 minutes or until the top batter appears set but not dry. Allow brownies to cool completely (this should take a few hours). I like to cool them and then chill them because it makes slicing easier.

I also made another recipe she has introduced me too. It's delicious, but a new concept. It is kind of a candy, like a toffee, but filled with trail mix like items. One of those items being Frito chips. Yikes! I know.. Fritos! But it's a sweet and salty candy, and the Fritos are more of an accent than a main ingredient. I left it in the fridge until we left today, and it got kind of gooey in the car even though it wasn't that hot. I think if I know it's going to be sitting out I would freeze it to make sure it really sets up nicely. Here's a picture, and read the recipe so you get the concept and don't just think I'm a total nut.

Frito Candy
2 cups of pretzels
1 cup Frito chips
12ish mini peanut butter cups (I used 6 big ones, they are a little gooey. Either way, you might want to toss these in the freezer ahead of time to make the chopping cleaner)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 cups semi sweet/dark chocolate chips

Break pretzels and Fritos. Don't crush them, but break them. This will make breaking the candy easier. Chop peanut butter cups. Toss mix, and lie flat on a foil lined pan. You want it to be spread pretty thin. Melt butter, and add brown sugar. Bring to a boil for one minute. Pour evenly over mixture. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter chocolate chips on top. Put back in oven for a minute or two, until chocolate chips are soft enough to spread. Spread evenly over the top. Cool, then refridgerate to set. Break into pieces.

Now that you're hungry, I'll talk a little bit about today. Today the girls from Salon Foushee drove to La Jara (outside of Alamosa) to bless Neva's headstone. I have been dreading this day.. but knew that it was something I needed to do. Everything about it was making me nervous. I bake when I'm emotional, which explains my over the top treats. I stood in front of my closet for what felt like hours this morning. What do you wear to something like this? Peri and I left my apartment, and I told her that I didn't want to go. She didn't want to either, I don't think any of us did. Because I wasn't able to be there when the burried her (they also had a closed casket funeral), it still has seemed a little unreal. Seeing her burial plot, and her headstone would make it feel a little permanent.

We met up with the girls in Castle Rock and left from there. As we were getting into Colorado Springs we were routed off the freeway because of an accident. As we went over the overpass we could see the remnants of a terrible accident and the car grew quiet. The images I have engrained in my mind of Neva's car hit me like a brick.

We got into La Jara after about 4 hours and met at the cemetary. What a green, beautiful place. Her headstone was beautiful. They put her picture on it, and there was a sweet poem on the back. A Catholic Priest gave a sermon, and read from the Bible. How lucky I am to have such strong faith that I will be able to see my dear friend again. It was a comfort to be surrounded with her family, and to visit the home she grew up in. We are lucky to have each other at work. I think of her every day. She left an incredible impression on me, and everyone that knew her. I am so lucky to have known someone worth missing so much.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Happy Mother's Day! I hope everyone is able to appreciate their own mom today, and will continue to do so for the next year. I am going to snag Jacque's fabulous idea and tell you 25 things about my mom.

1. She is an amazing cook. She makes delicious homemade bread, lasagna, chicken spaghetti, cakes, Christmas treats, and THE best peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.

2. She likes to camp and fish.

3. She loves limeades.

4. In Texas when people would call and talk to her on the phone forever, she would have us ring the doorbell so she could pretend she had to go. The door we used to enter/exit the house didn't have a doorbell, but whoever was on the phone never seemed to make that connection.

5. She works as a Special Education teacher, and is very passionate about giving those kids a great education, and great environment to learn.

6. She isn't afraid of PDA, "No making out in the kitchen Mom!"

7. She tries hard not to hurt your feelings
me: Mom, how do you like my new hair cut?
mom: Ummm... well.. what look are you going for?

8. She is afraid of heights, and I have inherited that same quality.

9. She loves babies and kids. And they love her too.

10. She is good at planning stuff. Everything has to have a plan, and she's great at delegating it.

11. In highschool she didn't care if I skipped classes as long as I had A's.

12. She is sensitive to all of her kids different needs and wants.

13. She has style. She tries hard to do her hair like I do it, and doesn't use cheap make-up.

14. She is madly, hopelessly, in love with her husband.

15. She loves playing games. Canasta, Mad Gab, The Fruit Game, Poker.. Even is some of them make her look silly.

16. She likes everyone to be included, and goes out of her way to make sure no one is left out.

17. When I was little she would pay me money to rub her feet and play with her hair. She had this red round brush that would always get tangled in her hair.

18. She went to BYU (twice) but is a huge U of U football fan.

19. She doesn't really like cereal, but when I was little she would eat this cereal called Raisin Squares. I loved it too, and still put raisins in my shredded wheat cereal.

20. When we lived in Texas she loved garage sales, and had several of them at our house.

21. She always wanted a house that had a wrap around porch, and a cocker spaniel. No porch yet, but when she and Eric got married he had a cocker spaniel named Dennis.

22. She used to take us to Longview shopping ALL day long on Saturdays. We got to go to the mall, Target, and Sam's club. Such a treat.

23. She stayed up late checking my math homework for me all during elementary school.

and for my 2 favorite things about my mom...

24. She LOVES getting good deals. If you tell her you like her shirt, she tells you where she got it and how much it costs. She loved coupons when I wad little. She loves the clearance racks. I make fun of her for this, but have inherited that same quality from her.

25. She is the most giving person I know. As busy as she was when I was little, she volunteered in my classroom. She helped out people in our ward that didn't have money. She bought me stuff when I complained that I always got me hand me downs, even when we didn't have the money. She is always happy to give to someone else, because she knows that there are always people that are worse off.

I love you Mom! Thanks for all that you do for me, you are the best mom ever!!