Peanut Butter Toffee Bark

OK — I have to say that the said ‘secret ingredient’ in this is a tad weird but I assure you, I tested and tried this recipe and it is so yummy!! See if people can guess what that ingredient might be. My youngest guessed cause he said he saw the bottom. Intrigued?? Read on ;)

Photo Source

Peanut Butter Toffee With Saltines – Grin & Bake It

1/4 lb (one sleeve) saltines (the salted ones)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter

2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chips

1/3 cup peanut butter

Chopped M&M’s

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper (the pan needs to have a lip to it or these things will leak all over your oven.) Place saltines in pan, salted side up. Leave just a bit of space between crackers so the toffee with encase the entire cracker when done.

Bring sugar and butter to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes (time the boiling after the whole thing starts boiling, not just the edges). And, resist the urge to stir it.

Pour boiling mixture over crackers. Place in oven for 5 minutes.

Put dollops of peanut butter on top and return to the oven for 1 minute.

Spread melted peanut butter over mixture with spatula and top with chocolate chips. Then, put back into the oven for 1 minute.

Use spatula to spread the chocolate chips (which have melted). Top with M&M pieces (or whatever you come up with). Place in freezer for at least 1 hour. Once these are set, crack them into individual pieces.

Christmas Crafting and Gift Giving Ideas

Tis the season ~ and my how fast it is going! Insert sigh. I get so sad at how fast this time of year is. How about you? Are you all about the season or ready to see the craziness end? I never seem to do all that I want to do. Thanks to Pinterest I am reminded of the million and one ideas that I’d LIKE to do. It’s OK, I seem to do plenty and it is all so much fun! The kids are officially on Winter Break as of 12:35pm yesterday. After two days of parties and some very cute renditions of Christmas songs and The Night Before Christmas, I am ready for things to slow down. No schedules and time with my kids to be Merry & Bright. Of course on the list is some holiday crafting! Some of the below we will do and others are on the future holiday to do list. Enjoy!

Whole Living Magazine shared this idea for herbal firestarters. A warm, cozy fire that smells good? Sign me up!

Oh Martha — she just has some of the best ideas! You can find so many ideas on her site but I will share some of my faves with you.

Pipecleaner candy canes. Too cute {and easy!}

Seed packet ornaments. My in-laws would get a kick out of this idea! What a fun way to decorate for an avid gardener.

 A great way to use old buttons.

I have wanted to do this idea for a couple of years. I even bought the cookie cutters but that is as far as I have gotten ;)

Homemade lip gloss? Yes really. This cute idea came from Cheeky Kitchen.

I heart wood blocks and all of the things you can do with them. I really love this idea for wooden photo holders over at Under the Table and Dreaming.

I also found these fab no sew wine bags on Under the Table and Dreaming. I have the felt but I have not made them … yet!

Every year we make plates of treats for the neighbors. As part of our gift, we also prepare a bag of reindeer food for the little ones in the house. The boys help me assemble these bags. The Idea Room had a little blog post and a printable for this sweet idea today.

Once again Pinterest strikes ~ this time I saw these glizty cardboard stars on a site called Make Something. They are so fun! Apparantly they were used in a store front window display but hmmmm, they sure would add to my decor. Perhaps strung loosely across the ceiling? They are fun and simple.

Do you have any holiday crafting or easy gift ideas? I’d love to hear them. Happy Holidays. May they be full of all things happy for you and yours.

Avalanche Bars

All that I can say about this recipe is yum. So delish and perfect for a cookie exchange. Which I happen to be going to in an hour. Also, I should mention that Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory makes a version of this which is what pulled me in when I found it on Pinterest courtesy of Cookies and Cups.

{my camera has gone all crazy lately so I am sharing one of her pics — they do look this perfect ;)}

Avalanche Bars

1.  In microwave-safe bowl dump in white chips and heat on med power for 1 minute.  Stir and continue in 30 second increments until chips are melted.
2.  Combine the peanut butter with the melted chips
3.  Add the krispies.
4.  Let cool approx 15 – 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so to help cool.
5.  Add the marshmallows and the mini chocolate chips and stir to combine.
6.  Dump mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly, pressing lightly with the back of your spoon, but do not compact too much, otherwise they will get hard.
7.  Press the remaining chocolate chips into the top for garnish.

Holiday Mantel 2011

I adore the change of seasons but mostly I love September – December when my mantel changes nearly monthly. It is so fun to be expressive and creative with holiday decor, candles and whatever else I can dig up.  Every year I seem to recreate my decor. Partly because I forget exactly what I did the year before. I always say that I will take, print and file photos to remind myself of what I did — but I always forget. This year will be the year .. maybe ;) My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia is featuring a fun mantel linky party. This is a blog that I love to follow. Her home is beautiful and her ideas inspiring. Head on over to check out my holiday mantel and others. Bee inspired!

My sources? I created the M {for our last name of course} using a cardboard M from Joann’s and covering it in red burlap. The wreath was a Target find a few years back. The cranberry garland is a Michaels find. The bronze candle decor is from Pier One. I found the sweet little frame at HomeGoods. My holiday candle is from Bath & Body. I always pick them up when they are 2 for $20. I found the little red mercury tea-lite holders at Target just this year for 99 cents. Most of the stuff has been around for a couple years but every year I find something new to add to my collection.

 

 

Getting Crafty with Advent Calendars

I see so many ideas of crafts I’d like to do. Especially now that Pinterest has become a part of my world. I do {heart} Pinterest!! I recently hosted a little Holiday Open House to showcase some of my crafts. It was first attempt at hosting such a thing and I think it went well. I sold some, had requests for other things and learned a lot! I had some other fabulous vendors here as well. Curious? Here are the Etsy links:

Buffalo Hill Designs {hey, that’s me!! My shop doesn’t have a lot at the moment due to holiday events and keeping my home stocked to sell.}

K Andez It’s a Bow Thing {who happens to be my cousin as well — craftiness runs in the family :)}

Love Your Body Essentials

Lumen Candles

The Local Honey Market

Now aside from all the fun I had at my Open House, I wanted to share one of my creations with you. Maybe it will inspire you to get crafty or at least do an Advent Calendar with your kids. Or maybe you will contact me and say, “Hey, I’d love to buy one of those nifty advent boards you made.” Which by the way, I have not listed them on Etsy but they are $35 {shameless plug over here!!} Regardless, I wanted to share them because I think they came out so cute! Instead of goodies, I put little notes in each day that gave something to do. These are special things to do as a family. Won’t you remember the moments instead of candy? I found this idea on Pinterest, click here to see the original.

 

 

 

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

I love pumpkin. And Fall. And food. There, I’ve said it — I am a food lovin’, pumpkin eatin’, Fall junkie ;) I made this for my lil’ fam this morning and it was delish.

Photo Source

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 loaf Texas toast thick-sliced bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •  1 tablespoon butter, softened

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons of  cinnamon, the cloves, nutmeg, and white sugar together in a bowl; beat in the pumpkin until fully incorporated.  Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer in the prepared baking dish; pour the pumpkin mixture over the bread cubes, and gently toss to coat.  Stir 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, flour, and butter together with a fork in a small bowl until the mixture is crumbly; sprinkle over the bread cubes. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown on top, 30 to 40 minutes.

* The only change I would make is to add a little more crumble for the top and maybe add some pecans as well.

 

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Ho ho ho! Tis the season and I am sharing some local Santa hot spots with you!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSgEDKjmT5o[/youtube]

El Dorado Hills

El Dorado Hills will also have it’s annual tree lighting at Town Center on Saturday,  the 26th. Santa will also be available for photos in the California Visitors Center from NOvember 26th – December 24th. Click here for times.

You can have breakfast with Santa in El Dorado Hills on December 10th. There are two times for this event, 8am or 10am. Please click here to register.

The Annual El Dorado Hills Santa Run put on by the local fire department runs from December 14th – 17th with the finale happening on December 18th at Town Center. Please click here for details, maps and times.

Calling all kids! Santa is busy getting ready for the holiday season and his elves will be delivering your Christmas wish lists to the North Pole from December 1st-15th. Santa would love to hear from all his friends in El Dorado Hills and promises to return letters. Letters can be mailed or deposited in the holiday mailbox at the El Dorado Hills CSD Gym.
Send a self addressed stamped envelope to:
SANTA, North Pole
c/o El Dorado Hills CSD
1021 Harvard Way
El Dorado Hills, CA. 95762

Folsom

Wild Nights & Holiday Lights at the Folsom City Zoo
Sanctuary
, 5 – 8 p.m. Dec. 3,
8-10, 15-23.  Celebrate the magic of the season and help support the Zoo Sanctuary animals — forest of
lighted and decorated trees, carolers and seasonal refreshments, animal presentations and visits from
Santa Claus and the Zoo’s own Santa Paws.

Folsom Police and Fire staff and volunteers will guide Santa’s sleigh on the
annual parade through Folsom neighborhoods Dec. 11 through 16 beginning at 5
p.m.   Rain dates are Dec. 17 through 20. Click here for details.

Historic Sutter Street Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 2 and at the Annual Arts
& Craft Fair on Dec. 3. I am having a hard time with the Folsom Parks & Rec site. Please
view this contact information for a list of numbers for more details.

Local Malls

You can visit Santa at the following malls, please click on the name of the mall to be redirected to their site for hours.

Roseville Galleria

Sunrise Mall

Arden Mall

Downtown Plaza

I am sure that Santa will be making appearances at many local venues. If you have a favorite Santa location, please share it with me. Ho ho ho and Happy Holidays.

 

Best Appetizers for the Holiday Season

I love asking my readers for post ideas. Because my blog is a lil’ bit of everything, I can usually accomadate all types of requests from recipes to crafts to organizing to local happenings. Recently a reader said that she’d love some easy holiday appetizer ideas. Well here ya go :) Hope I have given you so easy and yummy goodness to share.

Gorgonzola Toasts with Toasted Hazelnuts and Honey

  • 1 cup chopped and toasted hazelnuts
  • honey
  • 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Gorgonzola

To assemble, place the baguette slices on a large platter. Spread the Gorgonzola on top, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve.

Crockpot Meatballs

I have done this using both a homemade sauce and my favorite bottled BBQ sauce or marinade. Pick up some frozen meatballs {the goal here is easy, remember?}. I would defrost them as the goal is to keep them warm as an appetizer using the crock pot. You aren’t trying to make dinner so no need to let them cook all day. They will end up too mushy to serve if you do that! I’d say about an hour before the party, stick them in the crock pot on high with your sauce. Be sure to have appetizer plates, napkins and toothpicks on hand. They can get a little messy.

Piatti’s Bruschetta

A friend shared this recipe with me years ago and I have shared it many times since.

  • 12 slices Tuscan bread {I just used a baguette}
  • 5 very ripe, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced basil

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

Marinate tomatoes and other marinade ingredients for 30 minutes. Brush bread lightly with oil and grill or broil until toasty. Top with marinated tomatoes and basil.

Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 large bosh pears—halved lengthwise, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • One 12-inch baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick and toasted
  • 6 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, toss the walnuts with 1 teaspoon honey. Toss with the brown sugar to coat. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast, stirring once, until slightly candied, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Discard the parchment.
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Arrange the pears in a single layer on the baking sheet. Top with the butter and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon honey. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden, about 25 minutes.
  3. Spread one side of the toasts with the goat cheese and top with the arugula. Drizzle with olive oil and top with the pear slices. Sprinkle with the candied nuts and sea salt.

Baked Brie with Carmelized Onions

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 8 cups sliced onions (about 4 large)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 8-inch-diameter 32- to 36-ounce French Brie, packed in
    wooden box (reserve box)
  • 2 French bread baguettes, sliced

Melt butter in heavy very large skillet over medium-high
heat. Add onions; sauté until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add minced thyme,
reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25
minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine; stir until almost all
liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onions and sauté until
soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine; stir just until
liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool.
(Can be prepare 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Unwrap Brie, reserving bottom of
wooden box. Cut away only top rind of cheese, leaving rind on sides and bottom
intact. Return Brie to box, rind side down. Place box on baking sheet. Top Brie
evenly with onion mixture. Bake until cheese just melts, about 30 minutes.
Transfer Brie in box to platter. Surround with baguette slices.

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Bacon

  • 2 (8-ounce) French bread baguettes, each cut into 32 (1/4-inch) slices
  • Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  •  1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese,
  •  2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese,
  •  5 center-cut bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  •  1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  •  1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry

Preheat oven to 350°.

Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets, and coat bread with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned.

Place mayonnaise, garlic, 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, and fat-free cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended and creamy. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, bacon, artichoke hearts, and spinach. Spread mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Corn Salsa Recipe {this is fast and super easy – It’s always a hit at parties}

Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp Tabasco
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 15 oz can black eyed peas
  • 11 oz can mexacali or southwest corn
  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • Chopped cilantro
  • One bunch green onion, chopped
  • 1 avacado, diced

Mix all ingrediants and serve with tortilla chips.

Mouth Watering Stuffed Mushrooms

If you know me at all, you will think this is an odd recipe for me to share as mushrooms are one of my food “no no’s”.  I don’t like them at all BUT I realize that others do. Isn’t that so nice of me?? ;) Your welcome and enjoy.

Ingredients

  •                     12 whole fresh mushrooms
  •                     1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  •                     1 tablespoon minced garlic
  •                     1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  •                     1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  •                     1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •                     1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  •                     1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Directions

  1.                     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel.  Carefully break off stems.  Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems.
  2.                     Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic.  Set aside to cool.
  3.                     When garlic and mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper.  Mixture should be very thick. Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
  4.                     Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps.

 

Another super easy and great appetizer is a salami, cheese and crackers platter. Add a few black olives for finger decorations for the kids and you have one easy and popular appetizer.

I hope you will find something yummy in this post. Happy Thanksgiving  Week ~ what are you thankful for today?

 

 

The Grace Foundation, for the love of all animals

There is something so special about this time of year. The ”holiday season” seems to kick off on October 1st. Well, in my life it does! I feel like there are festivals, events, gatherings, holidays and all of the in-between for the last three months of the year. I love it. All of it and I feel that it is so fleeting {hence why I have been so MIA — so much busyness happening, more on that in another post}. October feels like a month of just enjoying Fall. The harvest festivals, picking out Halloween costumes, pumpkin patches, carving pumpkins, decorating for both fall and perhaps turning our front yards into a scary sight for all to see come October 31st. Then there is November. November is a bit of calm before the madness of December catches starts. November is a month of blessings. A month of sharing what you are thankful for. A month of “giving thanks”. That being said, I wanted to share something that has made me thankful this month. It is a wonderful organization that I have recently had the honor of coming into contact with.

The Grace Foundation is a place I had heard of. I knew the basics, that they rescued horses and other animals from dier situations in hopes of loving them, healing them and hopefully finding them a forever home. Of course knowing that this type of business is run mostly on love, community support, lots of generous donors and wonderful people that volunteer their time makes it all the more amazing. Recently my sister started volunteering at The Grace Foundation and with that came more information and an invite to a fundraising event that happened a few weeks ago. Upon my tour I realized how much work goes into the foundation. There were countless horses, sheep, a pig and lots of goats as well as some dogs needing a new home. If you have been following along with the local media, you may have heard of the Susanville 70. This is where 56 horses {18 of which are expecting foals} were rescued from a gruesome scene. This video shows the resilience of 3 of these horses. Grab a Kleenex!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ0jZbkVgdM&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

The woman telling the story is Beth De Caprio,  the founder of Grace. I was blessed enough to meet her on November 1st. There is something amazing that happens when animals are near her. They feel safe, happy and connected. I saw this in the short amount of time I spent with her.  Not only does Beth take the time to help animals in need, she also runs a variety of other programs utilizing the love and compassion that animals possess. There are summer vet programs, equine therapy programs, riding lessons, birthday parties, volunteer programs and so much more.

As the holiday season approaches, many of us think of charity. What and where can we give to enrich others. The Grace Foundation is always in need of supplies, gift cards and money to help take care of the animals. My husband and I host an annual holiday party and we always choose an organization to donate too. This year we chose Grace.  We provide a wish list and ask our guests to donate. It is always a well received idea and makes us feel like we are helping those in need. Think about how the smallest amunt of money can make a difference.  If you donate just $10, it will but one bale of hay which will feed 14 horses one meal. What a small amount that can make such a big difference. In the words of Mother Theresa, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one”. I love this quote and it has been in my head since November 1st.

November 1st — why is this date popping up in this blog post? Well on November 1st, I went to Grace Foundation to meet Oreo. This was after my sister posted a sad photo of this sweet boy and asking for someone to love him cause he was so sad. Well that was all it took. I Wanted him to be happy. Actually I am pretty practical when it comes to animals as I know they take a lot of work. I love them but I want to be 100% ready to give what an animal needs for life. So this being said, I grabbed the boys and we hopped in the car and headed on over to Grace. After meeting Oreo, I just felt that he HAD TOcome home with us. My hubby was at work and was he very apprehensive about adding someone new to our house. We have a 10 year old lab mix that we have had since she was 8 weeks old. She is very well trained and easy. We are ‘fostering’ Oreo {who we have renamed Ollie} until the hubs gives me the green light. I think he is warming up to the idea. This 10 month old boy found his way to us. He is sweet, funny and awfully cute. Wanna see?

I was touched so much by this organization and how it helps so many sweet animals who don’t have a voice that I had to share it with you. Can you make a difference in the life of  others? For more information on The Grace Foundation, please click here.

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

I made this meal for some sweet house-guests over the weekend {a big thank you for being my guinea pigs :)} It turned out to be a great meal. So many flavors come together to create a mix of savory and sweet. I will say that I used boneless pork chops so my presentation is not quite that of Emeril’s BUT the flavors were great. Read on for a comfort dish to serve your house-guests in the upcoming holiday season.

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

  • 2 cups root beer
  • 2 cups reduced veal stock
  • 4 (16-ounce) double-cut bone-in pork chops
  • 4 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 recipe Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes, recipe follows
  • 1 recipe Caramelized Onions, recipe follows
  • Parsley leaves, for garnish
  • Directions

    To make the glaze, combine the root beer and stock in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to a thick syrup, about 1 cup, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the heat.

    Preheat a grill to medium-high. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    Season each chop on both sides with 1 teaspoon of the Essence. Grill for 3 minutes. Turn each chop 1/4 turn to make grill marks and cook an additional 2 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side for 5 minutes.

    Transfer to a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over each chop. Roast until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reaches 150 degrees F, 12 to 15 minutes.

    Place the chops on 4 serving plates and drizzle with the glaze. Spoon the Bourbon-Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions onto the plates, garnish with parsley leaves, and serve.