48/52: Phew! I survived fall semester! {And Peppermint Bark}

Oh my goodness. I haven’t posted since… November?! I have been on somewhat of a hiatus, but for good reason. Life has been absolutely, undeniably nuts! Between lesson planning, interning/teaching, classes and finals… throw some life in there… mix well… needless to say I haven’t had much time to post. I really haven’t had a ton of time to cook or bake either. But, not to worry I will be finished my last final today and then I have lots of goodies planned.

I can’t even remember the last time I baked, it was probably for Thanksgiving! Well, even though I had a final due today {yay! I’m free!} I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to get into the kitchen last night. So I whipped up some… peppermint bark of course! It is such a simple recipe, but so yummy and screams Christmas! I just love the crushed candy cane on top.

It is so easy I honestly feel silly posting a recipe for this, but sometimes it is nice to have something to go off of. My peppermint bark became somewhat of an experiment because all I had in the cupboard was unsweetened chocolate, and I only had 4 oz. while most recipes call for at least 6 oz. So when melting my unsweetened chocolate on the double boiler, I added 1 TB of sugar for each ounce of chocolate. And 4 oz made plenty of bark when put into a 9X9 pan!

I plan on sharing this with people who are coming over for Christmas now that I’ve made my first batch. But this would be very cute wrapped up in goodie bags and given away as gifts. See my Halloween bark post for ideas!

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped {you can use unsweetened – add 1 TB of sugar for each oz of chocolate you are using}
4oz. white chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil {adds shine to bark}
crushed candy cane {I used about 4 crushed candy canes to top a 9X9 pan}

Directions:
1. Line a 9X9 pan with foil, make sure you have a bit of overhang so you can pull the foil and bark out of the pan later. Set aside.
2.  Melt chocolate and vegetable oil in a heat proof bowl of a pot of simmering water {or in a double boiler}, continue melting until it is fully melted and appears thin. If you are using unsweetened chocolate make sure the sugar gets a chance to melt into the chocolate before removing from heat.
2. Pour chocolate into the foil lined pan, rotate pan to spread chocolate into each corner of pan. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, crush your candy cane. The size is a matter of preference, some prefer large pieces, some small.
4. Melt your white chocolate using the same method as the chocolate.
5. Pour on top of chilled chocolate, rotate pan to spread white chocolate over every inch of chocolate.
6. Sprinkle crushed candy cane over top of the bark.
7. Refrigerate over night if possible.
8. Once fully chilled, pull foil out of pan and break bark into pieces of desired size.
9. ENJOY!

I hope everyone is set to have an awesome weekend. I am seriously looking forward to catchin up on a few things so when Christmas break hits {the elementary school I intern at still has 2 more school days until they are on break — gee, thanks strike!} I can dive into Christmas, and then afterward… lesson planning! Full time student teaching hits in February and I want to get ahead of the game as much as possible. For now, off to make up my Christmas cookie baking list. Can’t wait to share some pictures with you!

Ciao!

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Halloween Candy Bark

Tra-la-la… I can’t even begin to express how excited I am that we are just reaching Halloween, and making the turn toward Thanksgiving and Christmas! I like Halloween okay, but love the rest of the holidays. I generally don’t get too into “Halloween” baking, but this month have way too many ideas in my head. With the craziness of school and my internship, I hardly have time for the weeknight baking I used to do so I am always looking for quickie recipes. This is definitely one of those!

I am sure most people who live in large trick-or-treating communities purchase large quantities of candy, and generally have some left over. Are you looking for a way to use leftover trick-or-treat/Halloween candy? Well, look no further! I have had my eye on this recipe all year but haven’t been able to convince myself it was necessary to make until now. And to my surprise, this recipe is so yummy – not overly sweet as you would assume, but most of all – simple. Now that I know how simple it is to make candy bark I am going to try different combinations. I think this would be really yummy with candy corn added as well!

The recipe makes quite a bit – so we decided to share some with our friends. It makes a super cute gift, just wrap up in treat bags, tie with cute ribbon and keep refrigerated until gifting time!

Cute, right?

Halloween Candy Bark

Ingredients:
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun size bars), roughly chopped
3 toffee candy bars (or 6 fun size bars), roughly chopped
8 Reese cups, cut into wedges
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz. yellow and orange peanut M&Ms, coarsely chopped
3 oz. good quality white chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula.

2. Evenly sprinkle the chopped candy bars, Reese cups, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut M&Ms over the melted chocolate.  Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Melt the white chocolate, again using the double boiler method, until smooth. Drizzle over the chilled candy bark.  Return to the refrigerator and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 3o minutes more.

4. Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Source & Recipe: Annies-Eats, originally from Bon Appetite, October 2010

Enjoy! And, I hope all you little Halloweenies have fun tomorrow! And please pray that my first graders aren’t too crazy in the morning…ahh, wish me luck.

33/52: Killin’ time & Butterscotch and White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookies

So the past few days have been… interesting. A learning experience if you will. I have worked since I was 16. I worked all the way through my college degree and most of the time even worked 2 jobs. Needless to say, I am used to working. I tend to be a workhorse and certainly take pride in all of my work. When I transitioned out of my job with NEP and into school I had about 2 weeks off but it felt like no time because we had so much to catch up on and Winston had his eye surgery. Right after that time off I jumped into school and it pretty much occupied all of my time so although I wasn’t bringing home a paycheck I still felt like I was working. Well… I have a few weeks off. It’s our “summer break”, meaning we are off from August 10-September-ish {whenever we start going into our prospective schools — PLU classes start September 6}.

The first few days, even the first week of this break I was smitten… time to catch my breath and re-organize/complete projects around the house. Awesome! Now? I am seriously starting to get bored. I am seriously learning how to not being doing something. Its hard! It also doesn’t help that my lower back issues from May have started up again and my knees are acting up right along with it. I honestly feel like my body is that of a 40-year-old! Because I am not feeling the best and really have nothing to do as far as errands until tomorrow, I opted to stay in, ice my back and relax. Come 11am I was bored out of my mind… so naturally I thought, “I’LL BAKE!” Yeah… except our air conditioner went out 2 days ago and we’re waiting for the repair man to come out. After realizing that turning on the oven would make the temperature in my condo rise to ohh say about 85-90 degrees {inside!}, I decided to forgo that project. So I walked Winston a little… fiddled around and was still bored out of my mind. I checked the clock, surely it is close to 2:30 and then that means Johnny should be home in 30 minutes! Right?! Wrong. Soo wrong. I had only killed about 45 minutes.

Are you kidding me?! I bit the bullet. I have a serious problem with baking, it is always my ‘go to’ hobby when I’m bored. So, I quickly found a recipe to use up some of the chips in my baking cupboards and got to work. I have never really made chocolate cookies before. They honestly intimidate me a little. Regular cookies are so easy to see when they’re done, they get a little golden and then you just keep an eye on them. Chocolate cookies are a little tricky since they’re… already… brown. But, I think I gauged these just about right! I waited until they started to crack just slightly on the top. They seemed perfectly baked in the middle.

Side note: These cookies actually call for peanut butter chips which I think would be to-die-for in this recipe. But, I had butterscotch and white chips so that’s what I used! And I think these are pretty yummy. They aren’t chocolatey enough for my tastes personally but I think they are definitely a nice change from a traditional cookie. I am excited to send these off with my hubby to work tomorrow so his crew can have some Friday treats!

I love the texture on these cookies. They make me smile!

Butterscotch and White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c butter-flavored shortening
1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c butterscotch chips
1 c white chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cream together butter, shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, espresso powder and cocoa powder. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time {so as to not tighten the dough} to combine and then mix in the chips.

4. Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, drop onto an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source & Recipe: Slightly adapted from Our Best Bites cookbook

I am glad I sacrificed a few degrees in the condo to make these guys. Because baking makes me  t——h—— i——s happy! See?!

Hehe. So now, I have just a little time until my hubby gets home and hopefully I won’t chat his ear off when he walks in the door. You would think that I was living a completely secluded life the way I start rambling when he gets home. Poor guy. 😉 Off to ice my achin’ back and stretch out before the hubby gets home. I hope everyone has an awesome end of their week! I am ready for it to be Saturday, my bestie from age 13 will be driving into town {she lives out of state and is visiting right now} and we get to spend some time together. Her hubby is going out with my John’s {Senior & Junior} and fishing on the sound and Kindle and I get a girls day! It is sure to be fabulous! What do you guys have planned for the weekend?