Chocolate Caramel Bars

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These are so wonderful, you’ll have to bring them to your Book Club, PTA, library, Father-in-law, neighbors, just to get them out of your reach!

Let the sweet adventure begin!

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Start with 2 cups all-purpose flour in a large bowl,

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and then add 2 cups old-fashioned oats,

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1 cup packed brown sugar,

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1 teaspoon baking soda,

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and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

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Mix to combine.

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Add 2 sticks melted butter and stir until all the ingredients are moistened.

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Reserve 1 cup of the crumb mixture;

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press remaining mixture onto the bottom of a greased 9 x 13-inch pan.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, till lightly browned.  Remove from oven.

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In a small bowl combine about 1 cup (12 ounce jar) caramel ice cream topping

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with 1/3 cup all-purpose flour.

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Sprinkle the crumb mixture in the pan with a 12-ounce package of Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels.

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Drizzle caramel topping over the chocolate.

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Sprinkle with reserved 1 cup of crumb mixture.

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Bake in the 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, till lightly brown.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes about 24-30 bars.

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Amazing!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

 

Tarragon Dressing

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So perfect for your green salads.  A little sweet, a little tangy, and a whole lot of delicious!

Let the savory adventure begin!

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Start by pouring 2 1/2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar in a jar.

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Then add 1/3 cup vegetable oil,

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1/2 tablespoon of sugar,

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3/4 teaspoon of tarragon leaves,

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1 teaspoon salt,

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1/4 teaspoon dry mustard,

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and 1/4 of a clove of garlic, grated.

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Put the lid on the jar and shake well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Serve on some beautiful delicate greens such as watercress, shown above, or butter lettuce, green or red leaf, etc.

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

Corned Beef Grilled Cheese

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This is the way to celebrate St. Patty’s Day and “frenchify” that corned beef!

Let the savory adventure begin!

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Sauté about 1/4 cup of thinly sliced sweet vidalia onion in 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat.  The goal is to caramelize them, so let them cook up for about 10 minutes.

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Spread Dijon mustard on 2 slices of Rye bread, all the way to the edges of the crust.

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Add your corned beef.  I made corned beef and cabbage a few days ago and so had this left over, but using it sliced from the deli counter is just as scrumptious!

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Top with thinly sliced Fontina cheese (so perfect for melting!).  Hopefully you’ll do a more beautiful job than I did slicing…looks like I hacked at the block of cheese.

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Then add some of your caramelized onions.  However many of them you’d enjoy on your sandwich!

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Cover the onions with a couple of thinly sliced roasted red peppers.

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Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan you used to sauté the onions.

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Place the sandwich in the butter.  “Grill” for about 3 minutes per side, but be vigilant and keep checking underneath it!

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Serve warm, when all the cheese is melty.   Mmmmmmm!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

Do Robins Fly South For The Winter?

What do crickets eat?

What month should I plant my lettuces, kale, peas and beans in the Northeast?

What started WWI?

How do you get eczema?

What do deer ticks look like?

What’s the difference between a sugar maple & a “regular” maple tree?

These are just a few of the myriad of questions that I am bombarded with on a daily basis, living with an inquisitive 4 year old.  “But, why?”

It’s humbling to have a young child constantly asking you questions to which you have to reply, “I don’t know the answer to that, my love.”  You don’t realize just how dumb you are until you’ve said that 50 times in a day!

But, I do always follow up that statement that I have no idea with “let’s look it up together”.

And that’s exactly what we do.  We go sit down and ask google whatever question she stumped me with.  And we get the answer.  Many answers. And pictures. And it’s superb to have that knowledge at our fingertips!

No more skimming through a multitude of reference books trying to find your answers; the dictionary, the thesaurus, the medical encyclopedia, all encyclopedia, the cultural reference guides, etc.  No more frustration when you cannot find the answer because the resources are outdated or not available.

Virtually all of your questions can be answered with a couple keystrokes!

Take full advantage of this, no matter your age.

Frustrated with a math problem?  How do I get the derivative of a number?  Look it up.

Somebody use a big word that you’d never heard of before?  Ask google.

Your history teacher reference the Spanish-American war, which is not covered in your textbook?  Don’t let the day go by without at least skimming an article which details it.

It is so incredibly easy to expand your knowledge since the birth of the search engine.  Don’t take it for granted and do take full advantage of it!

When was the birth of the search engine?

 

 

Public Library

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As soon as you move to town, get pregnant, have a baby, go visit your local library!

I cannot say enough about how wonderful the public libraries are in New England, and I’m sure across the country.

There are welcome packages when you come in and get your first library card, usually with a library bag, and lots of paperwork about the town, maps, resource directories, town office locations and contact information, etc.

Then there’s the myriad of resources, books, magazines, cd’s, dvd’s, computers, classes, etc at your fingertips for FREE!

Oh, and the children’s section…how beautiful and precious and rich with learning for you and your young ones!

When you’re first pregnant, there are sections upon sections of books, magazines, etc about the subject and any that may relate.  Also, when you become new parents and are in awe and overwhelmed.

And then the children’s programs…oh, so lovely.  Don’t miss out on a moment of these.  At our library they have a program from birth to 2 yrs old where there’s a lot of rhyming and stories with sounds and songs and puppet shows, and babies love it and I’ll tell you, even 4 yr olds still love it!

After 2, kids graduate to the story hour and craft time, which is so sweet.  The stories and crafts usually relate to the seasons and holidays.

These are such wonderful ways to get to know the staff at the libraries, the moms in the area, the kids that your child will eventually be in school with and to get your child into reading and books from an early age.

Support your library and enrich yours and your kids’ lives!

Find your local one today…

The Little Paris Bookshop

As with all of my book reviews, I will warn you…SPOILER ALERT!

Not worth the read…

Let’s just quickly address the title of this book.  Why in the world it’s called The Little Paris Bookshop is beyond me!  The book should be called A Second Chance at Life, or something sappy like that.  Sure the protagonist owns a bookshop but he abandons it halfway through the book and the story is barely about it anyways.

The story is about a love lost.  And pining for it.  And pining for it.  And being dead to the world because of the loss.  For twenty years.  And finally, finally, finally dealing with it and moving on.

Sound long and drawn out?  Oh, it is.

This book is really one long pity party.

And it is also very far-fetched in terms of presenting from the male point of view.

I believe that it is a book about women and celebrating women & women’s lib.

  • this book is written by a female author
  • the protagonist, Jean, is a man who has been very emotionally handicapped for an extraordinary amount of time because of a woman
  • the woman who breaks his heart, Manon, is in a marriage where her husband not only knows about her infidelities, but approves of and encourages them
  • Jean’s father draws the parallel between women & horses: listen to what they want, takes 1 word to hurt one & winning back trust could take a lifetime, & when they love a man the man doesn’t deserve it
  • the inferior way that men love women vs the way women love men:  women love for character, strength, intelligence & men love stupidly for looks
  • eroticism & sexual freedom, described in book titles & the secret tango milongas
  • Cuneo, the Italian shipmate was also scouring the rivers for 20 years searching for a lost love
  • The author of a book about love that “saves” Jean’s soul was written by a female author
  • etc, etc

It was no surprise that a female author would write about the 22 year grieving period that a man endures for a married woman who is his lover for 150 days over a 5 year period, whom he thinks leaves him.  Not highly likely!

Headache Prevention

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OK.  Quick disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  I do not have all the answers to your headache needs.  I do not know what causes all headaches. 

I am only sharing what I have found to be a pattern in my life and what has worked, tremendously well to, if not prevent entirely, significantly reduce the amount and magnitude of my headaches!

I started getting headaches my first year of college.  Thinking back on that time, there were so many reasons I could have become prone to them.  Stress was an enormous part of my day-to-day life as a freshman in college. Can you imagine?!

  • I was away from home for the first time in  my life, and had extreme homesickness.
  • I was away from my high school boyfriend & therefore thought the world was ending.
  • I was slow at making new friends.
  • I hated the major my parents & I had decided I should sign up for, and thus hated my classes.
  • Etc, etc, etc

And my diet changed completely.  When Mom is watching over what you put into your body, your body is usually the healthiest it’ll ever be.  When you’re left to your own devices, for the first time in your life, your choices are not always optimal.

I went from drinking a glass of milk with breakfast and water all day long, as well as healthy meals with veggies and fruits, to surviving on Slim Jims, pretzels, Fluffer-Nutters and the occasional salad.  The cafeteria food was so gross.  And because I was staying up super-late to catch up on homework and studying, I was going through Mountain Dew and French vanilla instant coffee like it was water.

I don’t think that the parties I attended, where I may have indulged in a few alcoholic beverages helped with the headaches either.

Since then, I have awoken on plenty of occasion with cotton-mouth and a screaming headache, worked outside all day while enjoying a couple of cold cokes & had a throbbing headache by day’s end, and taken dose upon dose of Tylenol on the day of my period trying to survive the intense jack-hammering in my temples.

All of these scenarios have the same thing in common.  They are prime examples of situations that potentially leave you dehydrated.  And dehydration is the number one culprit of headaches.

Start your day, every day, with a tall drink of water.  And have one going, by your side, all day.  Drink whatever you want in between, but be sure that you drink 2 times the amount of water than any other beverage and watch the amount of headaches you endure diminish, significantly.

Have it at the ready, at all times.  Have a thermos to go.  Bring some to hide in the shade of a tree while you work outside.  Have some on a long car ride.  In an airplane.  And teach your kids, young, to keep hydrated.

And the great thing about water is that not only does it ward off headaches, but it keeps your skin hydrated and youthful, helps ward off pimples, fills you up so that you don’t reach for that second piece of pie and is free of any calories!

Olive Parmesan Crisps

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These little crisps are extra delicious, easy to make and can be frozen to serve to company whenever the need arises.

Bite-size and irresistible…

Let the savory adventure begin!

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Grate 1 1/2 cups of fresh parmesan cheese into a large bowl.

Add 1/2 cup chopped green onions,

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1 cup chopped black olives,

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and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise.

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Mix together.

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Spread on 6 English Muffins, split.

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Cut halves into 4-6 wedges.

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Place under broiler until bubbly and serve warm!

or….

place on baking sheet and put in the freezer for 4 hours, until frozen.  Separate into freezer baggies.  When you’re ready to use them, thaw and place under broiler!

Makes 48-72 wedges

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

Rhubarb Cake (shhh…no one will know!)

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The robins are hopping on the wet ground, buds are appearing on the fruit trees, daffodils buds are peeking through, and I caught sight of my rhubarb plant sprouting this morning!

Spring is coming and I am inspired to prepare one of my all-time favorite rhubarb recipes in anticipation of harvesting fresh rhubarb from my garden in another month or so…

I froze 2 bags of rhubarb late last summer, when the good Farmer Ron at the nearby berry farm told me how to do it.  Mmmmmmm…..rhubarb cake all winter!

Let me tell you how it’s done:  easy, fast, and so moist and delicious.  You’d never guess there’s rhubarb in it.  Most people guess that it’s apple!

Let the sweet adventure begin!

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Cream 1/2 cup shortening and

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1 1/2 cups sugar in a mixer, on medium, for about 4 minutes.

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In a separate small bowl, beat one egg.

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Add beaten egg to mixer bowl.

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Beat well.

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Sift together in a large bowl, 2 cups flour,

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1 teaspoon baking soda,

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and 1 scant teaspoon salt.

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Add flour mixture to mixer,

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alternating with 1 cup of buttermilk.

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Scrape down sides in between additions.

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Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and

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2 cups chopped rhubarb.  Mix well with rubber spatula.

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Pour into well greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

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In a medium bowl, prepare topping.  Combine 1/2 cup white sugar,

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with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

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and 1/4 cup cold butter, cut up into chunks.

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Use your fingers to mix ingredients together until crumbly.

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Sprinkle evenly over the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, until golden brown and set.

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Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or by itself for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Soooo delicious!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

Caramel Chocolate Bark

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These taste like chocolate covered heath bar, but, if you can believe it, better!

So easy and fast to make, impressive and makes a great gift.

Let the sweet adventure begin!

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Line an 11 x 7 inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.

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Spray very liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

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Arrange about 15 saltine crackers in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.

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Melt 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a large bowl, in the microwave.

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Add 1/4 cup white sugar,

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1/4 cup brown sugar,

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1 teaspoon vanilla,

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and the secret ingredient to making this spectacular, 1 Tablespoon white vinegar.

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Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.

Microwave on high, uncovered, for 4 minutes and 30 seconds in 1 minute and 30 second intervals (3 times).  Whisk thoroughly after each interval before returning to microwave.  Microwave for 30 second intervals, whisking in between, until you reach about 7 minutes and 30 seconds. (The caramel will be darker in color and the candy thermometer will register at 250 degree F.)

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Carefully remove caramel from microwave and pour over the crackers in the pan.  It may look a little chunky or separated, as above, but it doesn’t matter…it’s perfect!

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Next, microwave 1/2 bag of milk chocolate chips for 1 minute in a glass bowl.  Stir until all is melted (may need an extra 30 seconds).

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Add 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips to the melted chocolate in the bowl.  Stir until they melt.

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Pour over caramel coated crackers.

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Spread evenly.  Let sit in fridge (covered in foil, so that the chocolate doesn’t absorb the odors from the refrigerator) until it sets.

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Break apart into bite-size pieces and serve.  Or keep wrapped in foil in your fridge for quite a long time!

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Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!