The Best Bars Ever

Photos cannot do this scrumptious bar justice.  
It’s like a Snickers candy bar meets oatmeal cookie bar, with the goodness of sweet and salty flavors, and the combination of chewy and crunchy textures.  The best part is that this is one of the easiest to make and easiest to please bars one can make.  I got the recipe from my former 4H leader, Nancy years ago.
Here’s what you need:
Chocolate Caramel Bars
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, divided
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. cold butter or margarine
2 c. (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped peanuts (or preferred nut)
1 jar (12 oz) caramel ice cream topping
In a bowl, mix 2 c. flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  
Cut in butter until crumbly (or melt the butter and mix in, if time is of the essence).  Set half aside for the topping.  
Press the remaining into a greased 13-inch x 9-inch x 2-inch baking pan.  
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  
Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.  
Whisk caramel topping and remaining flour until smooth. 
Drizzle caramel over top.  Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting (they aren’t kidding on this step!)  Yield about 4 1/2 dozen.  
The golden brown, finished product. 
This was the perfect end to a perfect meal of homemade veggie pizza.  And what made it even better….
was loading all the dirty dishes into my brand new dishwasher!  
The recap:
Chocolate Caramel Bars
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, divided
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. cold butter or margarine
2 c. (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped peanuts (or preferred nut)
1 jar (12 oz) caramel ice cream topping

In a bowl, mix 2 c. flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Cut in butter until crumbly (or melt the butter and mix in, if time is of the essence).  Set half aside for the topping.  Press the remaining into a greased 13-inch x 9-inch x 2-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.  Whisk caramel topping and remaining flour until smooth.  Drizzle caramel over top.  Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting.  Yield about 4 1/2 dozen.  

Happy Cat Bed

The problem:

We were tired of our constantly cold kitty sleeping on our (usually) clean wool clothing in an effort to warm up.

Solution:
Here’s how I made a quick cat bed from an old felted wool sweater.
I started with a 100% wool sweater.  Washed in hot water and then dried on hot.
Next, I cut out a rectangle on the fold so that I would only have three seams to sew.
I cut along the sleeve area, and as a result had a tiny hole to patch.  I decided to work this into my design by turning it into a mouse hole. I pinned a small piece of wool from another sweater, and sewed it on.
Then I added a little mouse design for fun.  I used a piece of ribbon for the tail.
After sewing on the mouse, I flipped the entire piece right sides (design side) in.  I then lined up the seams and pinned them.  This is important to do when sewing felted sweaters, as they can stretch and change shape.  I always pin only one side at a time in case I need to make adjustments.
The pinned edges.  Next, I sewed the seams, using about 3/8″ seams.  My new machine handles the wool pretty well, but takes a little feeding to get started.  After sewing the two seams along the cut edges, I flipped it inside out and checked to make sure I had no blow-outs.  The seams looked good.  At this point, I placed a large square of felted wool inside as cushioning.
Next, I pinned and sewed the last seam.  Since this last seam incorporated the hem of the sweater, I did not fold the edges under.  I did however, have to stretch the wool slightly as I sewed to accommodate the puckering made by the ribbing on the hem.
Here is the (little crooked) finished cat bed.  All in all this took me 10 minutes total.  Hence the crooked seams.  This was a hurry-baby-is-napping project.
The happy cat slept on her new bed all afternoon.

 

A New Take on Lasagna

I had read somewhere, that I can no longer recall, about a recipe for rolled lasagna noodles stuffed with salmon.  This recipe has been rolling around in the back of my head for a couple weeks now.  So, tonight I decided to finally try it out.  I thought about using salmon, but opted instead to go the use-up-what’s-in-the-fridge-and-cupboards route and use sliced tempeh.  Warning: this is made up by a hungry Mommy, no recipe was followed, so some proportions or ratios and times could be a tad off.  Here’s the recipe I put together.

Ingredients:
1 box of lasagna noodles.
1 can of cream soup, such as butternut squash + some milk if soup is very thick or condensed.
1 bag, more or less, of shredded cheese (I love the vegan shredded cheese!).
Filling that will fit the width of a lasagna noodle, such as sliced tempeh or canned salmon.
Sliced yellow or white onion.
Spices of your choice.

Step 1: Boil the lasagna noodles as stated on package.  I boiled them a little longer to ensure they were not too firm to roll.  Preheat oven to 375.


Step 2: Remove lasagna noodles with tongs, I boiled mine in batches.  Put noodles into a colander and rinse with cold water.  
Step 3: Pour or spray olive oil in the bottom of a casserole dish.  I used two small dishes so I would have one untouched as leftovers.  Next, assemble fillings.  
Step 4: Place meat or meat-like filling at one end, as shown below.  Evenly spread out cheese and spices along length of noodle.  I used the veggie cheese, freshly ground pepper, & dried garlic. 

Step 5: Carefully place rolled lasagna into oiled casserole dish.  Open can of soup and dilute with a little milk if soup is too thick.  I always use almond milk.   

Step 6: Pour soup over noodles, ensuring that all noodles are evenly covered.  Spread sliced onions over the noodles.  You may roast or saute onions first, for a more subtle onion flavor.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese over top.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and salt.
Step 7: Bake for 25 minutes.  Cover with foil if needed, to prevent drying out.  
Pair with a nice steamed veggie for a perfect winter meal.  
I’m scheming of all the different variations of this meal:
  • Salmon, butternut squash soup & rosemary
  • Turkey, cream of potato soup, & sage
  • Tuna, cream of mushroom soup, & wasabi sauce
  • Black beans, queso sauce, & salsa
How would you vary this recipe?