Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Salty Caramel Brownies from Scratch

 I kinda fell off the face of the earth the last few weeks. I needed a little time after the new year to organize myself and clean out my house. I'm excited to be back!

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 Today we are talking about brownies. There's no better way to make a blog comeback than with a Salty Caramel Brownie recipe, right? :)

In the last month, I have made 4 different brownie recipes, tweaking 'this' and adding 'that.' Umm.... yes, that's a lot of brownies, I really don't know what came over me. But now I have a great great recipe. I can't wait to make it again. Haha! I should probably restrain myself for at least a week or two.

Can you see that layer of caramel sandwiched inside the brownie? You're gonna want to make these too, once I tell you all about them!

Ok, so I call this the Great Brownie Experiment.
My recipe is adapted from 3 different recipes- each of which on their own are amazing. But there was one or two elements that I wanted to try differently for my "perfect" Salty Caramel Brownies. I incorporated Pioneer Woman's "Knock You Naked Brownies," which are amazing, but instead of using a cake mix like she does, I wanted mine to be completely from scratch.... which is why my second recipe comes from my mom. The brownie portion of this recipe is her own recipe, which she has coined, "Mom's Own Brownies." I grew up with this recipe, and a brownie would definitely not be perfect without memories of my mom. I was also inspired by the salty aspect from Food Beast's "Salty Caramel Brownies," which are truly to die for, except that once my husband found out there was sour cream in the caramel, he wouldn't eat them anymore (he's always had a thing against white sauces, silly boy). I had to find a quick remedy for that, because heaven knows I would eat the whole batch myself if he didn't help me.

I thought I would do one more little experiment with the caramel...
Candy caramels vs. caramel sauce

The verdict? Use candy caramels, they are way better! I couldn't even taste the caramel sauce in the baked brownies, so don't bother with it, in my opinion!

Plus... my kids loved helping unwrap the whole caramels from the entire package!

Here's a picture of the batter being spread over the caramel/pecan/chocolate chip layer. Mmmm.

So now with the perfect caramel sauce, (no sour cream), with just the right amount of texture, choclolate and crunch, I have found my perfect Salty Caramel Brownie from Scratch. Here's the full recipe!

Salty Caramel Brownies from Scratch
1 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 bag wrapped candy caramels (appx. 75)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp sea salt
powdered sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Find some kids and convince them to unwrap all your caramels while you begin the brownie batter. Or in the unfortunate event you are unable to locate any children, unwrap the caramels yourself.
3. Melt butter in microwave safe bowl.
4. Add cocoa, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix.
5. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to mixture.
6. Grease a 9x13 dish.
7. Pour half the brownie batter into the dish.
8. Bake for 8 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, melt your caramel. I prefer to do this in the microwave with a glass bowl. Put the caramels in the bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 30 seconds.
10. Stir the evaporated milk into the caramels.
11. Remove brownies from oven, and pour the caramel on top.
12. Evenly sprinkle the pecans, chocolate chips, and sea salt on top.
13. Place the remainder of the brownie batter over everything, carefully.
14. Bake 25 additional minutes, or until finished.
15. Let cool to room temperature. You also might want to refrigerate to let the caramel set up. These are super messy to eat when warm.
16. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. (To make the hearts, I just cut a heart out of parchment paper, placed it on top a brownie, and then sprinkled the sugar).

Oh yeah.

Monday, January 14, 2013

1st Place Sweet and Sassy Chili

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A few months ago, I got word that my church would be having a chili cook-off. I have entered several chili cook-offs, but my chili always ends up tasting like everyone else's, (and for some reason, I can't ever bring myself to add the secret chocolate bar that everyone talks about). The most memorable chili I ever tasted was from my friend Kelli, who smoked pork for 3 days to incorporate into her recipe. Yum.

Anyway, this year, I put my thinking cap on. I wanted to make something that was a far cry from normal chili, specifically, non tomato based. One of my favorite foods in the whole world is BBQ. So I decided to start with my favorite BBQ sauce in the world- Famous Daves- and go from there.  I added a bit of this and that (peppers, pineapple, molasses, brown sugar, bbq sauce, lime), and ended up with what I call, "Sweet and Sassy Chili." Apparently the judges liked my non-traditional chili, because it won 1st place! (I'm being really dramatic about my big win... it actually wasn't a big deal at all, lol).

I've been waiting for just the right time to share my recipe here on my blog. With the Superbowl just a couple of weeks away, I thought some of you might be looking for a good chili recipe. Look no further, I don't think you'll be disappointed! If you make this (and especially if you win a chili cook-off with this recipe), please tell me about it! I would just love to hear! Oh, aaand if I know you in real life and we happen to be attending a chili cook-off together... well, you get my drift, right? hehe.

Sweet and Sassy Chili
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound bacon
1 onion
2 peppers (any color)
1 can (15 oz) chick peas
1 can (15 oz) chili beans
1 can (15 oz) baked beans
1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks or fresh pineapple
1 lime
1 bottle BBQ sauce (Famous Daves Sweet and Zesty)
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar, optional

Serve with Tortilla Lime Chips and Mango Salsa.

1. Cook bacon (I bake mine in the oven at 375 for 10-20 minutes). Crumble.
2. Brown the beef.
3. Put the bacon and beef into a crock pot.
3. Meanwhile, chop the onions and peppers.
4. Saute the onions and then add the peppers (I use the same pan).
5. Add the onions and peppers to the crock pot.
6. Drain and rinse the beans.
7. Cut the pineapple into small pieces.
8. Add to the crock pot the beans, pineapple, lime juice, BBQ sauce, molasses, and brown sugar. Stir well.
9. Cook on low for 3 hours.

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linked at Today'sCreativeBlog and more!

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Favorite Posts from 2012 + a Blogging Update

Well, Happy New Year my friends! I hope you've had a wonderful and fulfilling year. I love reflecting back on a year's worth of accomplishments, life changes, the ups and the downs, pictures taken, and lessons learned. 2012 was so good to me and my little family. Looking back, I am so grateful for the many good things that came our way, and for all the ways we worked hard to earn a living and shape ourselves and our children. Everything I do and have is a blessing from God, who gives me daily strength... to cook and clean, teach and play with my kids, serve in my church, exercise, be a wife, and when I'm lucky, to create things and blog.

This blog has mostly been an outlet for the "creative" things that happen in my life. I try to post things that will be helpful or interesting for others to see.  I don't post a whole lot about my daily life, or my family, but I want you to know that they are my life. I'm beyond grateful that I have the opportunity to be a mother and a wife, something I hold so very dear to my heart. That is my most important job I will ever have. I feel extra lucky to be able to use the skills I learned in college as a Family and Consumer Science Ed major, to make things and showcase them on a blog. My blog has blessed and enriched my family's life in so many ways, and has pushed me to learn and do new things. I love it because it gives me hobbies, and I am never bored! Of course there have been times when I've piled too much on my plate, and I constantly assess my priorities. My house isn't always clean and life is not perfect, but I do strive to put my family first above blogging, sewing, etc (which is why many times I'm not able to post as much as I'd like to). My husband Troy, well he is pretty much amazing. He loves my blog, and won't ever let me quit! haha. Well, at least he hopes I will keep it going, because he sees its value in my life. He knows that it motivates me, and excites me. So I don't plan on quitting any time soon.

But as my life changes and evolves, this blog will too. One example of that is my weekly "Once Upon a Weekend" link party. I didn't plan on quitting it, and I've never made an official announcement saying its over, but all of a sudden I got busy and it naturally just stopped happening. I'm trying to re-work my blogging "schedule" once again, and I'll probably announce it when I have it all figured out! (On a side note- I've tried blogging with and without a schedule- and much prefer a schedule)!

Are there things that I would like to change about my blog? Definitely! I'd love to switch to Wordpress, I wish my pictures were flawless, I wish I had the time to sew more. But at the end of the day, I am a mom first. Any creative production that happens at my home is a bonus. This blog is run by me- I don't strive to turn it into a glossy professional website. It will always be me- a real girl, with real dreams and goals, a realistic approach to mothering + creating, who enjoys sharing through an informal weekly (sometimes daily), written blog.

And with that, here are some of my favorite things that happened during 2012....

Six Sewing Printables
-click on the image to be taken to the download link-

Free BYU Printables
-click on picture for the link-


Idea + Printables

-available in my etsy shop soon!-




French Dinner & Dessert Crepes for Valentine's Day

In case you're wondering about this Ruffle Quilt... it is still unfinished. Yep, sometimes I make a commitment, and I absolutely fail. I feel awful that I ditched out on my own quilt-along. But it will definitely be finished up sometime during 2013!!! I promise!!!

And if you're wondering about Sew-vivor, yes it is happening! Planning is currently in the works, and will be announced later this month!

I'm so excited for a New Year. I have a lot of goals written down already. My main blogging projects will consist of getting organized, room reveals, kid crafts, printables, recipes, sewing, and getting my Etsy shop ready. I can't wait!

Thank you so much for checking out my blog. It wouldn't be as much fun without YOU! I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, if we haven't already!
Have a very blessed New Year!

ps- Just for fun, here's a look at my Favorite 2011 posts!