Recipe #40: Caramel Chocolate Cookies

Sheesh guys, maybe I would be done if I didn’t have over 40 recipes. No, really I love it. i just have had some… years.

This recipe come from Joni from my library and who took me in when I was starting to really experience the WHAT HAVE I DONE part of winter. Because she has been there. She’s been a big help to the fam as well as at work when I realize I needed to do something and then left for the weekend. Everyone should have a Saturday librarian friend for those emergencies. She’s been really good to me and these cookies were really good to me.

Ingredients: 1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup margarine

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs0193376795724c9a6bbc09cedf1bd0f87a626d29e3

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped pecans

48 chocolate covered caramel candies

1 tablespoon white sugar

4 ounces vanilla flavored confectioners’ coating.


In large bowl, combine one cup sugar, brown sugar an margarine; beat until light, add vanilla and eggs, blend well.

In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda, mix well. Add sugar mixtures, blend well. Stir in 1/2 pecans. Refrigerate 3001352dc61e2442e2c373eb3bca5bc16be30f6efa31 minutes.

01d8858364eeb4ef15da4e5e6ad802c02235db5386Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape one tablespoon of dough around one caramel candy, covering completely. In small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup and 1 tbsp sugar. Press one side of each ball into pecan mixture.

01e2018be839a92ffca11e17f426356a437918bffbPlace nut side up on cookie sheets. Bake 7-10 minutes. Cool. Melt candy coating and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Joni’s notes: (Which I followed) You don’t have to make the chocolate drizzle- they’re sweet enough without.

Never cool on a wire rack- the surprise falls right out. Set up on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before moving to paper towel or plate.

Always use a soft caramel (like Rolos); hard caramel will be unchewable.

My note- I would totally make the sugar mixture on top salt and nuts instead. MMMMMMM.

They were awesome.



My life is a country song

I try not to complain. But I also spent 27 years trying not to cry. It gave me a headache and took too much time out of my day. I always had better things to do then to cry. But my gosh I want to lament a little on my last threeish years. I won’t even go in to the whole blah boyfriend, break up, and the following sadness or bad decisions (like renting my own house when hello I was totally in school debt and had no extra money). But let’s just look at what I can’t get a break from. And when I finally got a break, it was an ACTUAL break forcing me home for weeks and taking my vacation time that would have been used to see Beth Messer.  But here’s the thing, I am going to do the whole sad, woe is me (x10000000000), but I am going to try and pull something positive out of everything. That’s what he said.

My complaints will be brief but if you want me to tell you more, buy me a margarita and some chips and salsa. That’s how Caprice and I used to get everything just out there every week.

Bad thing: My pitiful life started with a horrible change at my second home. Not the orphanage. My workplace. After 12 years, I had to quit my job because I had a full on rash. I was being harassed and very much obviously picked on by a new manager and all the sudden I didn’t feel the love anymore. I thought I had super good friends and coworkers and some stuck with me, but most feared for their association with me and my direct boss and just simply did not support me. That was a huge let down. I mean, serious tears over this whole thing. And finally, I quit. After two years of hell, and being written up for watching Netflix on the desk plus a dozen other things that weren’t true, I walked in at my scheduled time, got an evil look from the manager and then my entire department started whispering to me about my tardiness. Well no. It seems like a dumb thing, but that was it for me. I came in twenty minutes early even that day so it gave me extra time and I sat down and wrote my letter of resignation right there. Better to leave then be fired and I knew it would come. Sure enough, she had an email out to fill my position within ten minutes. So that must have been right on her desktop.

Good thing: I had to look for jobs I actually wanted and needed! Before I applied every now and then for a job I probably wouldn’t get or want but this made me fill out over 100 applications all over. So I had a few interviews and then took the first one offered. It made me really look for a job when before I would have stayed where I was comfortable. The rash actually made me uncomfortable where I planned on staying forever.

Bad thing: These will get shorter probably because the first one still makes me so ANGRY. Okay. Moving where you know no one and there is SNOWWWWWW. Oh my gosh, the anxiety. I made fun of people with anxiety. I mean not like point at people and say ha ha you have panic attacks, but I never understood it. I understand now. I was lonely and sad and poor and missed everything about home. Except the rash.

Good thing: I had to go do stuff. I had to force myself to make friends. At work, outside of work, and at church. I had to make plans, I had to plan plans, and I had to really try not to stay in even though that would have been easier. Even for someone who loves new people, it was super frustrating to just not have your regularly scheduled trivia, movies, dinners, drop by for Parks and Rec. I mean, really weird. and no family to fall back on. Movies by myself still will be my favorite thing ever.

Bad thing: Okay so, this is short because I mean really I can’t say much. My dad died. He left us. Our family of four was so close. Probably more than normal. But it worked for us. And we were all such good friends. My dad and I were alike in a lot of ways and it was not cool how it happened or that I wasn’t there for Seth or that my mom didn’t get to say good bye. So many things that are wrong about this. And not what I ever thought would happen. I never, ever thought my kids would never meet their grandpa. I don’t like it at all.

Good thing: Let me think. A year later and I still try and see “the plan” or what was good. He didn’t suffer. My family had to move to Utah. My mom brought my dog. We have had to stay strongish for each other. I became more honest with my friends about what was happening in my life. I tell everyone I love them now.

Bad thing: Skip a few months of adjusting and panic searching for a house, and moving Seth then moving mom, and trying to make a new life and trying to pay bills on a bigger home. Mom falls and has to have surgery. This wasn’t good for her. She was scared without dad, I was a horrible nurse, and I had a conference in another state planned two weeks later. I really could have done better at helping her out. Seriously, I was not a good daughter.

Good thing: My aunt and uncle came out and we got to hang for a bit. I hadn’t seen them since I went home when dad died, so it was nice to show them our new home and that we ARE TOTALLY OKAY. YEAH. We aren’t but whatever. And then my cousin and her baby came out. And that was a for sure good thing. There really isn’t much good to the whole scenario.

Bad thing: I jumped off a diving board and did not cannonball correctly and will probably forever have pain. Surgery sucked, being off my foot for months sucked, the fact I can’t handle walking from the reference desk to the office without fighting tears sucks and the lack of sleep I am getting when I just started sleeping after a year and a half SUCKS. IT SUCKS SO MUCH.

Good thing: I don’t even know. I know everyone is super generous. I know I will forever be grateful for people helping out and work helping out. But since this one is still occurring I can’t get much further than that. My mom is a great nurse and pretty much made me stay in bed for two weeks straight which really helped. She wasn’t even very much like the Misery Kathy Bates.

Bad thing: My dog died. Yeah, she was older, yeah she had health problems. BUT REALLY. REALLY. She was my baby. She was legitimately me in dog form and everyone loved her and she loved everyone. Except the post man. She never liked the postman.

Good thing: I can do this. Um. Well. She didn’t suffer. She is with her grandpa. She stuck around a year to make sure we were okay. Maybe mom and I will win a trip to Hawaii and now we don’t need a dog sitter.

Okay. That feels better. 2015 has got to be a little better. There were of course bright spots in the last three years, there were always good people, and really good food. But it just is starting to make me tired. All the tireds you can be. And I just feel like maybe one long post means I can stop hating myself and everything on Twitter. Maybe one post means it’s out there now. All this crap is out there. My mom and brother and I had a really good, almost normal weekend even though it was weird with no dog and no dad. I hope it means we will have more.

Recipe # 39: Baked Sweet Tator Fries

This is another recipe from my darling Aunt Janet who spent a year writing out about a million. I BBQ’d for my friend Joni and these went perfectly with goat cheese burgers with an apricot glaze, grilled green beans and grilled corn. Perfect weather, perfect meal. And these were delicious.


2 sweet potatoes or yams

1 T cinnamon

1/2 tsp chipotle chili (not too hot or increase for hotter)

salt and pepper to season

3 T olive oil



Directions: Peel tators, rinse, slice in rounds ir lengths no thicker than 1/4 “. 0199135a7af1a30f214f73882700ddb6677107510f

Place in large bowl or gallon ziplock.




Add seasonings and shake or stir to blend well.

Spray foil with Pam r veg spray.

Check and turn every ten minutes until done to your liking.



Recipe #38: Eli’s Chocolate Chip Cookies- Gluten Free and Could be Vegan

Beth has a kid named after me, Eli. He is super awesome and he cooks a lot with Beth. He also loves trains and building train tracks at 6 am. I am a first hand witness to the excitement of 6 am train building. Beth is amazing. She is a hard working mom and married to that fried Cheerios guy. So basically she’s a saint. There are so many stories about her, when we only met less than ten years ago. We randomly met in Arkansas at an elephant farm and we can discuss that more over tacos if you want. Beth is hysterical, can dance, and smells really good.

These cookies were hysterical, could dance, and smelled amazing. They tasted delicious too. Even with the gluten free stuff they were amazing. I was not sure if it would be a cookie. But they are!


019cf9a0df42cbed1702f7cab91073e3c5be3a1be6Ingredients: 1/2 c softened butter (Earth Balance)

1/2 c shortening/vegetable oil

1 c packed brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 room temperature eggs or egg replacement (Ener-G)*

1 tsp gluten free vanilla ( I totally just used what I had I am so sorry but I didn’t want to buy more vanilla)

3/4 c each of sweet sorghum flour and brown rice flours

1 c cornstarch

3/4 T xantham gum

5-10 oz chocolate chips (Enjoy Life)



Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

In large bowl cream butter and shortening. Then add the sugars, baking soda, and salt. Mix until batter is smooth, scraping sides occasionally. 01edaac193f61783f3aa946285538ff516f2ce83e2

Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flours, cornstarch, and xantham gum. 01099bcabb5a9abdebc92c7d254a0730224c11efbe

Beat in the flour mixture, 1/2 at a time, to the wet. Stir in the chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons on to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just light brown. cool on cookie sheet for two minutes and then cool on wire racks.


*You could also experiment with flax seed as the egg replacer. Beth said she uses one of each in a two egg recipe. Just make sure you mix the egg replacer first so it can set before you need it.                                    01c2449ef3cd169e0b04bb87e96d3516f6c85aee4f

Recipe #37: Grilled Chicken with Watermelon Salsa

Recipe number thirty seven comes from Miss Melissa. I was supposed to make it when she could eat it to judge accurately, but I had a beautiful watermelon that needed to be used, so went for it. Melissa was actually the first person to invite me anywhere when I moved to Utah and she invited me to Thanksgiving dinner of all things! She is so nice all the time and extremely generous as well as a great karaoke singer. She has made me feel welcome to my new home from the start and this recipe was incredible. I thinking about the leftovers in the fridge right now in fact. And will definitely make sure I make it for her again because it is just delicious.

01d302a4c74d26dd9d40e5f690566545be5d2e9d65Ingredients: 1 t chpd fresh oregano
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T chili powder
3/4 t ground cumin
1/2 t salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 chicken breasts
2 c 1/2″ cubed watermelon
1 c 1/2″ cubed mango
1/4 c chopped red onion
2 T chopped fresh cilnatro
1 sm chopped jalapeno
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 T sugar

Make it: 017600af488dee5d1ba33a94eabc0cbc019c239f41
combine first six ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken o bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator up to four hours, turning bag occasionally.

016414a885b6b1defe9f8883ae6edc23d30eb5d69bPrepare grill. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray.


Grill five minutes on each side or until done. Combine watermelon and remaining ingredients.


Serve watermelon mixture with chicken. 01c446a5a8db0a16797faf1e4584e89b0e9509d4a2

Recipe #36: Marinated Pasta Salad

This is my second recipe from wonderful Melissa on twitter! Well, she is other places too. But I know her from Twitter. This pasta salad was incredible. I am serious it was amazing. I want some now. But we ate it all already.

01f6d365f4f71048884e17a8db63691b259edf1fbbIngredients: 1 lb shell pasta

1/3 c olive oil

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

4-5 fresh basil leaves, minced

1 large bell pepper, any color, minced

1 small red onion, minced

1 c. drained minced pimiento

1/2 c. packed fresh parsley

1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained

1 c. mozzarella, chopped

1/4 c. toasted pine nuts. 01b7cac39c0e0bfcdd4e13c461df321e7e5d7c9289


Directions: Cook shells al dente, drain and rinse. Toss with olive oil and chill 30 minutes. Add all ingredients, mix and serve cold. 01cc6d0dbb28d0a9d4bcd96b09c8d6cab9e62cd296

Melissa says that this is the best pasta salad in the universe. And that it is officially summer once made. I conveniently made it on the first day of summer!!

Recipe #35: Ricotta Cheese Cookies

This recipe is one of about 1000 that my aunt decided to send two weeks before my 31st birthday. She said she would get them to me and she did! Aunt Janet just recently visited even and we spent quality time in America’s oldest yarn shop. She is a crafty, clever, and pig loving person that I can get laughing just looking at her funny. Aunt Janet also shares the same amazing ability to cook and bake that my mom does so I am glad I take after that side of the family. These cookies were so delicious.

01dfc4ab6211d39e564ff7b5d92db687e5b103a8e5Ingredients: 1 stick butter, softened

1 c sugar

7 1/2 oz ricotta

1 1/2 t vanilla

1/2 t salt

1/2 t baking soda

2 cups flour


Mix all ingredients well. Dough will stick together in a big ball.    01ca355dc75fc9f5bbc845a780c9d6f88fb29ac68a

Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or golden brown. Cool one minute then move to rack.

For variations: lemon- add 1 t lemon juice to mix

Or sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Or chocolate- 1/4 c cocoa to the mix. Drop flour to 1 and 3/4 c.

Pumpkin- 1/4 c pumpkin, 1 t cinnamon, 1 3/4 flour, 1 t at a time.