Caramel + Coconut Nanaimo Bars

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Hello from beautiful Oregon!  I’m here for the next few days road tripping through the state, and I have big plans of drinking lots of beer + coffee and buying all the cheese at Face Rock Creamery!  Yesterday, we went fishing on the Umpqua River, and I caught 20 fish!  I even stuck my thumb into a few of their mouths, because apparently this stiffens them up and keeps them from flopping everywhere.  I wasn’t totally down with this method of fish-holding, or any method for that matter, but I did it for the ‘gram.  The Umpqua River might be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, so for most of the journey, I sat back on the boat and admired the view.  I saw at least a dozen giant birds, including some bald eagles which you can recognize because they have white butts.

Today, I head over to the coast, and apparently there will be wine tasting involved!  I’m also in desperate search for some good coffee, because being in the middle of nowhere Oregon = little to no coffee options, and I’m dying of caffeine headaches.  On the other hand, I found a legit drive-up ice cream spot today, which I honestly didn’t even know existed anymore, and they had cherry-dipped cones (a.k.a. the way to my heart).  I vote that Reno gets an ice cream drive-up that specializes purely in cherry-dipped cones.  I will invest actual money into this enterprise. Continue reading “Caramel + Coconut Nanaimo Bars”

12 Days of Christmas

I’ve decided to start off the official twelve days of Christmas by posting a holiday recipe every day until the 25th!  Cookies, candies, and other foods that are bad for you (but it’s okay because it’s the holidays).  The recipes will be some old, some new, but all worthy of your holiday baking list.

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First Day of Christmas:  German Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

This is an old recipe, dating back to 3 years ago (didn’t really think I had a blog that long ago tbh).  These cookies remain one of my favorites, and I also like how they look snowy!

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Second Day of Christmas: Soft Sugar Cookies with Sour Cream Frosting

These cookies are perfect for the holidays, because the recipe makes a lot, everyone likes them, and you can decorate them with holiday sprinkles.  They take a little extra time than most cookies, but it’s worth it, I promise!

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Third Day of Christmas: Orange Drop Cookies

This is my grandma’s recipe that I bake entirely too much (although, I don’t really see anyone complaining about it).  It’s been one of my favorite desserts since I was really little.  If you’re indecisive about holiday baking, just trust me on this: make these cookies.

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Fourth Day of Christmas: Cheesecake Crumb Bars

Taking a break from the cookies to present cheesecake crumb bars!  A mix between cheesecake, crumb cake, and shortbread.  Customize with different flavors, or go simple with a little vanilla.

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Fifth Day of Christmas: The Best Nut Caramel Ever

This is one of my family’s favorite holiday recipes!  The caramel is super easy to make, and it’s customizable, because you can just add in whatever nuts you have on hand (although I highly recommend walnuts and hazelnuts).  Wrap them in mini Christmas cupcake liners, because it’s cute.

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Sixth Day of Christmas: Pineapple Zucchini Bread

This bread is a nice break from all the super sweet that comes with cookies and candy during the holidays.  Filled with zucchini, walnuts, and pineapple, it’s perfect with a little butter and some coffee for breakfast!

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Seventh Day of Christmas: Cinnamon Butter Candy

Unique, spicy, and the hardest part of the recipe is boiling the water.  Wrap as a gift, and give your friends a break from peppermint chocolate bark.  Or just keep it for yourself (trust me, you’ll want to)!

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Eighth Day of Christmas: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

These are time consuming, but if you make these, you will pretty much win Christmas baking altogether.  P.S. They’re not hard.  They just have to rise for a few hours!

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Ninth Day of Christmas: Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are really easy to make, and I love how festive they are!  Sweet from white chocolate, tart from the cranberries, and chewy from the oatmeal.  Santa will be happy 🙂

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Tenth Day of Christmas: Butter Cookies with Walnuts

Effortless, buttery icebox cookies filled with walnuts that melt when you eat them.  Keep them simple with vanilla, or add extra flavors to get more creative with your holiday baking.  This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so you have plenty to wrap up and gift!

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Eleventh Day of Christmas: Espresso Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Whipped Cream

This is by far my favorite hot chocolate I’ve ever had.  Only 5 ingredients and perfect for Christmas brunch!

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Twelfth Day of Christmas: Norwegian Lefse

My family’s Christmas tradition every year!  Lefse is a cross between a tortilla and a crepe, made out of potatoes.  I look forward to making lefse every year, because it’s fun and of course, it tastes amazing!  If you’ve ever wanted to make Nordic food, this is the best place to start.

Merry Christmas, my friends ♥

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Healthy Granola Bars

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Aside from crying at IAMS dog commercials and avoiding all conversations involving politics or football, my most common past time of late has included attempting to make the best chocolate chip cookies e v e r.

I know this is a hefty task.  Everybody has their favorite version of the best chocolate chip cookie, and somebody else’s favorite may not match mine.  But if I’m going to own a bakery and coffee shop in the future, I just have to have the best chocolate chip cookies ever.  It’s become an obsession of sorts.

I’m not going to lie, my favorite chocolate chip cookie has always been the Nestle Tollhouse recipe.  They have magic within them.  I don’t even know what they’re doing over at Tollhouse, but I want in on it.  It’s the recipe I grew up with, so I will always love them.  But what if I can make Nestle’s recipe even better?

Yeah, that’s what I’m going for.

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Unfortunately, my cookie labs are only done on the weekends when I feel like my friends can stand trying another batch of chocolate chip cookies (about once or twice a month).  This is also because 1. I don’t have time to bake cookies constantly and 2. Even if I did, I’m sure humans actually cannot function long term on a complete cookie diet.  It’s a sad, but true, fact.

Therefore, I preoccupy myself with other kinds of projects.

Enter healthy granola bars.

I really love granola bars as a quick snack or breakfast.  Sometimes I spend entirely too much time looking at myself sullenly in the mirror because I don’t want to put on makeup and I haven’t had breakfast or coffee yet.  That’s a granola bar in the car morning.  They happen more than one would expect.

Unfortunately, the nutrition facts on the back of granola bars terrify me.  Oh my god.  The mere amount of added sugars alone.  And I don’t want to get into sodium, fat, and chemical additives.

It makes me realize why American food is banned in multiple countries around the world.

Additionally, I cannot justify spending $10 on a box of somewhat “healthy” granola bars that mostly taste like cardboard.  Why is it so hard to get some quick, healthy food for a reasonable price?!  Am I really asking for too much?!

Luckily for us all, healthy granola bars are super easy to make at home!  They’re also way cheaper and freeze-able, and don’t have a bunch of sugars and icky gunk in them!!!

People who care about their bodies, rejoice!

Ingredients:

2 c. quick oats

1 c. raw almonds

1 c. dried cranberries

1/4 c. pumpkin seeds

1/4 c. sunflower seeds

2 Tbs. flax seeds

1/3 c. almond butter or peanut butter

1/2 c. honey

1/4 c. agave

1/4 c. coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pinch salt

*Optional step*: Toast oats, nuts, and seeds in an oven at 350* until you can smell nuts and everything is a nice golden brown.  I left out this step, but you can totally do this if you want less of a “raw” taste.

In a large bowl, mix together the almond butter, honey, agave, coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt until smooth.  Add oats, almonds, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.  Stir mixture until combined thoroughly.

Press mixture into a greased 9×13 pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the granola bars are golden brown on the edges.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Cut into bars.  You can do larger or thinner bars depending on your preference.

*You can do any mixture of nuts and seeds, dried fruits, etc.  You can also do more agave, less honey, etc.  Everything in this recipe is super easy to replace and adjust.  You can make these however you want!*

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Also, I’m just going to throw out there that a small amount of mini chocolate chips would be good in place of cranberries.

Chocolate chip cookie granola bars?!

I’m going to go ahead and stop now.

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Song of the Day: Let Her Go–Mac DeMarco

The Best Nut Caramel E-V-E-R

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THIS IS MY 100TH POST EVER AND IT’S ON CHRISTMAS EVE!

And my 100th post is one of the best candy recipes ever!

We make this every Christmas.  Actually my mom made it.  I’ve been eating it…

These caramels are buttery, have three types of nuts in them, and need to be cut super small, because otherwise you will just have a huge wad of caramel in your mouth.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little hard to chew.

I promise, they only take a few minutes to put together and they’re always everyone’s favorite.  Recipes that are super easy and that everyone loves=something you should make rn.

rn rn rn

*Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home*

Ingredients:

1 c. walnut halves

1 c. pecan halves

1 c. hazelnuts

1 tsp. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 c. light corn syrup

Place walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350*F until you smell the nuts, and they are toasty brown.  Cool.  Line an 8 in. square pan with foil, and grease with butter.  Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cream, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in toasted nuts.  Cook, without stirring until candy thermometer reads 238* (soft-ball stage).  Remove from heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon until creamy and thickened.  Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool.  Cover, refrigerate for 8 hours or more.  Lift candy out using the foil.  Discard foil.  Cut into little squares.  Place in mini cupcake liners to keep from sticking.  Keep in an airtight container.

Makes about 2 lbs.

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Thanks for reading my 100th post ♥

XO Sara

(2nd) Song of the Day: Little Drummer Boy–Josh Groban