Friday, December 28, 2012

Crockpot Mexican Lasagna

Before I begin, I must let you know that this recipe was made in the car. Well, if we are being technical here, it was made in the captain's truck. How is this possible you may ask? Back in September during our road trip adventures to Washington, Wyoming, and Montana, the captain bought me a travel crockpot in Oregon. I had never seen anything like it in my life and he was sweet enough to buy this for me. This crockpot is designed for truckers to use so they can cook themselves a warm meal while on the road - if they can use it, so can I! It's 1.5 quarts, which is small, but its perfect for just the captain and I or any travelers we may have joining us. The best part is that it just plugs right into the cigarette lighter! How cool is that? Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Now this isn't the first time we've used this crockpot. We've used this two other times - the first time was a peach cobbler that turned into more like peach bread pudding soup. Not what we were really going for. I cooked it too long and then the condensation made it into the soup. Lesson one learned. The second road dish the captain and I made were five layer brownies. They smelled up the truck (in a good way of course) almost immediately and turned out pretty good. Don't worry, I'll show you the recipe soon. Since this crockpot only has one setting, it's hard to know when it's exactly done. The brownies were cooked, but a little dry. Not bad for our rest stop brownie break. You should have seen all the people eyeballing our snack. They were just jealous they did cook brownies while they were driving.

Now on to the third try - Mexican lasagna. I had spent what seemed like hours trying to find a good recipe for us to cook on our trip to Oregon. For the longest time, my plan was to do macaroni and cheese. It sounded perfect until I read that you needed to stir it every half an hour and it may curdle. That did not sound good to me at all. Plus, I tend to fall asleep when the captain is driving and I did not want to be blamed for burnt lunch. So, I decided to go the Mexican lasagna route at the last minute. It just sounded more homey and comforting (and filling), especially being on the road for 8+ hours. What if we got stuck? At least we'd have a warm meal!

This recipe is super easy to make and you can of course make it in a regular sized crockpot too. I typically use regular crockpot recipes and then just cut them down to the size of my crockpot. That's what I did for this one and we finally had a winner! We started cooking our lunch at about 9am and we pulled over a little bit into Oregon to enjoy our meal around 1pm. It was hot, gooey and best of all delicious. With a little guacamole and chips, our bellies were full and satisfied!

Crockpot Mexican Lasagna (slightly adapted from Crockin Girls)

This recipe is for a 1.5 quart crock pot (increase ingredients for your size crockpot)

1/2 to 3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated plus extra for topping
1 can black beans, drained
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1 Teaspoon Garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 packet taco seasoning
8 corn tortillas, cut into strips
10 oz Can Cream of chicken soup
10 oz Can Diced tomatoes with green chilies

Brown beef, onions and garlic together until fully cooked. Drain on paper towel. Add the beef back to the pan, add in the taco seasoning according to the package and stir in the black beans. In a separate bowl, combine the soup and diced tomatoes.

Spray your crockpot with non-stick spray and add half of the torn tortillas to the bottom. Then add half of the meat, 1/3 of the cheese and then about 1/4 of the soup mixture over the cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients ending with 1/4 cup soup leftover for another use. Turn on crockpot to low and let heat for 4 hours. Once the cheese is melted and bubbly, turn off crockpot and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Serve with crumbled tortilla chips, sliced tomatoes, avocado or whatever you like. Enjoy!

I bet you wish you had a travel crockpot now don't you.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas + Holiday Cheer

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to you all.!I hope Santa brought you everything you wanted (and more!) and that you are spending this holiday with your family, friends and loved ones. This holiday is about spending time with the ones you love and making memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it be trying our new recipes, sharing stories from long long ago, or laughing until you almost cry over silly board games, I am sure this will be a holiday you will remember.

Although Santa brought me everything I wanted and more, there is one additional thing I wanted this holiday season, that I was just not able to get - to travel down to San Luis Obispo to be with the captain, his brothers family and his mom. We planned for me to go down the weekend before Christmas, spend Christmas Eve with them and then drive the five hours back home at the crack of dawn, but a silly cold stopped me. There has been this nasty cold going around my family that I tired everything in my power not to get sicky (I lysoled the whole house!), but I ended up getting it. Darn it! I am glad I stayed home to rest because in all honesty, I would have been a cranky crab and no one likes to be around a crab. The good news is that I am finally starting to feel better, but am still sad I am not down there celebrating with them tonight. They even watch the California Raisins claymation - that's my favorite! Not to worry, there is always next year and all the years to come to celebrate together. I can't wait!

Enough of the sappiness. Then again, it is the holidays so a little sappiness is allowed, right? Nevertheless, it's time for a recipe with a little holiday cheer! Because I was unable to spend the holidays with the captain, I decided to make something that reminded me of him. Well, of us. Homemade amaretto! Did you know you could make it at home in just about 30 minutes? I didn't - until today. I have always loved amaretto. It's sweet. It's nutty. It's just pure deliciousness. I'll never forget the time I ordered this at a bar and the bartender asked me if I was 80 years old? Do only grandmas drink amaretto? I think not. Classy ladies drink amaretto, thank you very much. I sure told him! I don't remember when or how it even started (do you dear?), but the captain and I began drinking amaretto with desserts. Not always, just sometimes - usually when we go out. It's the perfect dessert drink and that something extra special and sweet. When I saw the recipe for homemade, I knew I had to make it. I bet you even have everything in your pantry to make this right now. Wanna bet? Wanna? Wanna?

This amaretto is just perfect and tastes just like amaretto. I guess that is what I was going for, right? If it tasted like something else, that would be bad. And probably gross.  If you've never had it, perhaps you've eaten an amaretto cookie? Please tell me you have. They come in a red tin and are wrapped in colorful wax paper. Boy are they delicious and I can never eat just one. Well, if you haven't had the cookies or the real, deal this is a must make. Not only is it perfect for the holidays as a little something extra special, but it is also just a nice little treat to make for someone. No one would ever expect homemade amaretto and it's just so different. It's just perfect. Happy holidays everyone!

five ingredients

make a simple syrup with the brown sugar, white sugar and water

the vodka is waiting for the sugar

fully dissolved and cooling

adding the almond extract to the sugar and vodka solution

adding in the vanilla

ta da! ps. don't drink this all from the bowl

holiday cheer in a jar!

Homemade Amaretto (

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups vodka
2 tablespoons almond extract (use pure over imitation, if you can!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine water and sugars in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the mixture is boiling, and all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 30 minutes.
Stir vodka, almond extract and vanilla extract into the mixture. Store in jar(s). The Amaretto should last for a long while, that is if you don't drink it all. Makes about three cups, give or take.

(You can drink the Amaretto immediately, but you’ll find it gets better with age)

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Coon Balls

Before I even begin, I must let you know that this recipe is from my dear coworker, Stephanie. The first time she made these coon balls (aka sausage balls), I fell in love. And by in love, I mean I ate a ton of these. I just couldn't stop. They were that addicting. I'm pretty sure she put crack in these little balls. These delicious morsels have popped up in the office for the past couple years around the holidays and this year, I decided to surprise her and the office with a batch right out of the oven. I thought it would be nice change from the sweet treats I normally bring. Plus, who can say no to a sausage ball?

These coon balls could not be easier. Four ingredients. Well, I really say three because I don't think water counts, but if you think it's four, that okay too. I don't judge. Okay, are you ready for the ingredient list? Here we go. Bisquick, breakfast sausage and sharp cheddar cheese. Oh, and water too. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. Just mix everything together, add some water until it comes together and is moist and you are good to go. Roll into balls and bake. That's it. These are the perfect little bite. You can't really see the sausage, but it's totally there. These coon balls have just the perfect amount of sausage, cheese and biscuit. So delicious! I can't explain it, you just have to try them. One batch may seem like enough, but trust me, it won't be. These babies will go fast and I promise you, you won't be able to just eat one. 

see, I told you there were only three ingredients

log o meat

whip it good

up close of the meat mixture

roll into balls

bake and enjoy!
Coon Balls

3 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 pound sausage (Jimmy Dean)
8oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese (must use sharp!)
enough water to moisten (about 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix Bisquick, sausage and cheese together until combined. Then, add water until the mixture is moist and has come together. Roll into bite size balls (about 1 to 1 1/2 inch wide) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, non-stick foil or a silpat. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Depending on size, they may need longer or a little shorter.  Just keep an eye on them. If they are lightly golden brown, they are done.

These coon balls can be cooked and then frozen to be ready for anytime! Just defrost, warm and enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chocolate Gingerbread Granola

I love love granola. It's crunchy. It's sweet. It goes perfect with a splash of milk or sprinkled on top of delicious yogurt. Or, my favorite way to eat it - straight from the container. Why not, right? I just have to be careful to not leave crumbies in the bed when I do. The captain does not like that. Especially when they are on his side of the bed. Did I tell you about the time a craisin was stuck to his leg? Ya, that was bad. I'll spare you the details though.

Okay, back to granola. This granola just screamed "the holidays" to me. Gingerbread is just so spicy delicious and the chocolate just gives it this extra depth of flavor that totally works together. I didn't think that chocolate and gingerbread would go together, but it does. I can't explain it, but just trust me here.  The sticky and gooey molasses plus the chunks of candied ginger and coconut just make it all come together with that extra gingery goodness that we all want during the holidays. At least I do. The best part of this granola is that there is not one drop of oil in it. Most granola recipes call for some kind of oil and lots of it. Not that that's a bad thing, - I just love to find recipes that don't have oil, but taste just as fabulous. This is one of those recipes. I promise that this granola will come out crunchy and delicious and you will never know that there is no oil. Oh and I totally forgot to mention that this gingery goodness has the healthy bonus of ground flax seeds, wheat germ and I even threw in chia seeds as well. Why not, right? Don't worry, you won't turn out like a chia pet. Or will you? I kid. I kid.

This granola is super easy to throw together, but it does take a little bit of monitoring during the baking process - you must mix the granola every 3-5 minutes. I know it seems like a pain, but if you don't, it may burn and burnt granola is bad granola. The constant turning is so worth it though. Of course you can keep the granola for yourself, but I decided to give this away as a little gift of holiday cheer to my sisters two other bridesmaids, Rachel and Julia. Hi ladies! Everyone deserves a little holiday love, especially the form of super yummy granola. It's different from all the goodies and treats that everyone makes this time of the year and it's a little healthier too. Well, not if you eat it all in one sitting, but you know what I mean. Now, who wants some granola?!

granola goodness

gingerbread gooey gooey

oats, flax, germ and coconut

don't forget the spices

or the chocolate and candied ginger

pour in the molasses lava

the best way to mix is to get down and dirty with your hands

oh so messy, but now you can lick your fingers!

Chocolate Gingerbread Granola (

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2-3 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup candied ginger chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chopped

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flax, wheat germ, coconut, ginger, chocolate and sea salt. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, and combine. Pour spices into bowl of oats and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix honey, molasses and vanilla.  Add honey mixture to oat mixture and stir until moistened. If you need more moisture, add honey 1 teaspoon at a time. Lay on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping every 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown and toasty. Watch closely so granola doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

It's not to late to make this for you or your holidays guests! Dress it up in little bags or mason jars with a bow and you are good to go. Cute and delicious!

Egg Nog Cupcakes

What says the holidays more than egg nog? Well, family, friends and loved ones are the most important of course, but egg nog only comes around once a year and when it does, I have to make something with it. Last year, I made egg nog breakfast bread and this year I decided to do egg nog cupcakes. This has been a flavor on my must try list for awhile now and this seemed to be the perfect time to make it. I must admit, I did make an egg nog cupcake last year, but they just didn't seem right. The flavor was there but the frosting was off for some reason. Nevertheless, I am back this year and trying them again. A new recipe and a little twist and I now have a great cupcake!

This cupcake is perfect for the holidays. It has just the perfect amount of holiday cheer and a little Christmas spirit - aka booze. There is spiced rum in this cupcake! Of course you can choose to leave it out or substitute the rum for rum extract (especially for the kiddos), but if you can use it, do. It just gives the cupcake a little something something. You know what I mean? Since I was serving these to a large group and knowing that kids may potentially eat them, I put rum in the cupcakes since the booze would cook out, but added rum extract to the frosting. You would have never known there was no rum in the frosting. It was delicious! Are you drooling yet? I am. I now wish I had saved one in the freezer. What was I thinking?

This cupcake originally had no eggs. I was a little concerned that the cupcake would come out flat (not that flat is bad, I just like a little dome on my cupcakes), so I decided to add one egg. Let me tell you - those cupcakes had the perfect little dome for topping with that delicious rum and eggnog butter cream. If you want to keep the cupcake vegan, of course you can leave the egg out and use soy egg nog. Soy nog is my nog of choice. I personally think it tastes the same, but those lactose lovers out there may tell you differently. When making these cupcakes, I went all out and used the real nog, but soy, coconut or any kind of nog will work here. I bet no one would know. Just don't tell them when they try it!

This recipe makes 24 cupcakes exactly (I was shocked, because no other recipe I have tired ever makes the amount they say it will!), but I did an additional batch to have a few extra cupcakes (for samples of course- I don't feed people icky cupcake!) and then I also needed extra for a thin cake to make the snowflake cutouts for the top. I decided to get fancy with that, so it's totally optional for you.  A simple dusting of nutmeg will be just as delicious and just as pretty, I promise! Now, who's ready for egg noggy deliciousness?

the most important decision - what type of rum to use. I went with spiced!

egg noggy ingredients

rum, eggs, sugar and nog all sloshing around.

the nutmeg just gives it that holiday zing

cupcakes before...

...cupcakes after! look at those little domes!

here is the extra thin cakes I was telling you about.

frosting ingredients. I didn't use rum here. I don't know how that ended up in the picture.

yum yum egg noggy cupcakes!

Egg Nog Cupcakes (slightly adapted from

For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup dark rum or bourbon (optional) or rum extract (to taste, about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup eggnog
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar

For the frosting:
20 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
2½ tbsp. eggnog
1 tbsp. dark rum (0ptional) or 1-2 teaspsoon rum extract (to taste)

Now who's ready to have these on their holiday desert table?


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Skinny Brown Rice Fried Rice

Skinny brown rice fried rice. Now try to say that five times fast.

I enjoy Chinese take out just as much as the next person, but tend to not eat it too much because I never know what oil they use cook the food in and most everything that is delicious is fried in one way or another. This is not to say that I don't eat it, I just try to limit my intake of Chinese take out - because it's sooo delicious and it's always hard to control myself. But, I have some good news for you. You can take some of your favorite Chinese dishes and make them at home.  No need to go out and you can enjoy them in your pajamas. These homemade dishes are lighter, healthier and taste just as fabulous. I promise!

One of my favorite dishes and a must when I order Chinese is fried rice. I mean, you have to have the rice to sop up all the delicious sauces from the other dishes. Am I right? I know I am. I just wish I could figure out how to get most of the rice on my chopsticks and not have to use a fork. Those pesky grains of rice are slippery! But I digress. This recipe was inspired by the captain's dad, Dean. He mentioned to me awhile back that he began making his own fried rice at home. Why had I never thought of this before? For some reason, I thought it would be hard, but it's super easy. Too easy. And even better, so fast to put together. It's really the perfect anytime meal.

First and foremost, you will need cooked brown rice. If you have leftover rice sitting in your fridge, this is a recipe you must make this week! You can use whatever rice you have on hand and if you need the perfect way to make brown rice, check out this link. It's seriously fool proof. Well, not as fool proof as a rice cooker, but not everyone has one of those. Once your rice is ready, heat up your pan (if you have a wok - bonus!) and then cook up your veggies and garlic for just about a minute. Don't step away from the pan at this point or you will burn the garlic and have to start all over! Add in the sauce, rice, cooked egg and a handful or two of frozen peas and you are done! To give yourself an added protein boost, if you like chicken, throw it in. If you don't like chicken, you can add tofu, beef, pork or even shrimp. Or a combination of whatever you like. If any kind of additional protein doesn't appeal to you, well, you can leave it out all together. If I were to give you my two cents, I would add the protein of your choice. It's really good. I've made this with both chicken, pork and even salmon. Yes, I said salmon. It was really yummy!

Dinner cooked in a jiffy and just under 250 calories for one cup (without protein) - winning! It really is the perfect meal in a bowl. Another way I love to enjoy this and get that full Chinese meal feel is to cook up a few of Trader Joes' chicken or veggie pot stickers. They are totally delicious and are only 230 calories for seven (that's right, you heard me, SEVEN!) pot stickers. With a little sweet and spicy dipping sauce on the side, you have a totally filling and comforting meal for under 500 calories. If that doesn't make your tummy jump with joy, I don't know what will.


I cut up the veggies ahead of time. You don't have to do this.

egg whites!

cooking the egg whites

 cook those veggies quick

add in the peas and soy

ready to eat!

Skinny Brown Rice Fried Rice (slightly adapted from

3 cups cooked brown rice
2 egg whites, scrambled
1 whole egg, scrambled
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
5 green onions, chopped, whites and greens separated
1/2 cup shredded carrots
cooking spray, such as PAM
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, tamari for gluten free (or more to taste)
salt and fresh pepper to taste


Whisk eggs and egg whites, season with salt and pepper. In a hot wok, spray a little oil and cook the eggs. When cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Let the wok get really hot. Add oil and cook onions, scallion whites, carrots and garlic for about 30-60 seconds, careful not to burn. Add brown rice and stir well a few minutes to heat through. Add cooked egg along with soy sauce, scallion greens and peas, mixing well for about 3-4 minutes. 

This crock pot honey sesame chicken would make a great addition to this fried rice! Next up on the Chinese remake menu - egg drop soup. I always have to order it and it's one of the main reasons I love Chinese food. There is just something about it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Moment of Silence

It's hard to know what to say and it's hard to know what to do. Even more so, it's hard to even know how to feel. Especially today - reading an article that described all of those lost in last weeks horrific events. It all brought tears to my eyes just thinking about all those families that have to endure such pain, especially during the holidays. We still don't understand and keep asking why. We may never have the answers to many of the questions we are all asking, but the one thing we can hope for is some kind of peace for the families during this time of grief and sadness.  

For all those affected by the tragedy in Connecticut, let's take a moment of silence to remember all those that were lost last week - children, teachers, friends, sisters, brothers, wives, friends and family. 


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Great Food Blogger 2012 Cookie Swap Cookies!

See, I told you I would tell you about all of the cookies I received this year. You didn't think I would, now did you? This year I received cookies from three fabulous food bloggers - Meagan from A Zesty Bite, Lisa from Snappy Gourmet and Suzanne from Koko Cooks!

The first cookies that arrived were chocolate M&M cookies from Meagan at A Zesty Bite. She just had a baby, so I am not sure how she even had time to bake these and send them out. Congrats on your new bundle of joy, Meagan! These cookies arrived with no damage and were fully intact. Apparently this is an issue with a lot of cookies that take part in this swap. Luckily, not mine. These M&M cookies were totally yummy, but they had a flavor I just couldn't pin down. A good flavor that is. Maybe it was the type of chocolate used (cocoa powder v. melted chocolate)? One of my coworkers even said sour cream since they tasted a bit tangy. I didn't detect that, but maybe my taste buds were off that day. Nevertheless, they were totally yummy and perfect for dunking in afternoon coffee! Thank you Meagan!

M&M's make everything better

The second batch of cookies arrived the same day as the first (lucky me!) and they were from Lisa at Snappy Gourmet. These cookies were dark chocolate hazelnut bars. They were rich, dense, slightly gooey (which I like!) and the perfect afternoon pick me up. The title and flavor reminded me of
Ferrero Rocher candies. Have you ever had those? They are a crunchy, chocolatey hazelnutty - is this even a word- truffle. Mmm, so delicious! She also threw in a few bonus peanut butter toffee cookies that were just as amazing. I don't know which ones I liked better. If I had to choose (which is super tough!), I think the peanut butter toffee ones have a slight advantage. There is just something about toffee! Don't forget to check out Lisa's site here! Thanks Lisa! 

bonus cookies to my cookie shipment? heck yes!

The third and last batch arrived about a week after the first two. I'm not gonna lie, I totally though the third batch was never going to come! I knew it would, but the first two boxes teased me by coming early and on the same day. This third batch of cookies were totally worth the wait though - raspberry pillows from Suzanne at Koko Cooks! Check out her website here. How can you say no to a cookie called a raspberry pillow? These were light, fluffy and filled with delicious raspberry filling. The cookie kind of reminded me a soft sugar cookie, but better. So yummy! Thank you Suzanne!

pillowy goodness
I don't know if I can even pick a favorite this year. All the cookies were so different and so delicious. I think my coworkers would say the same. Thank you Meagan, Lisa and Suzanne for taking the time to make and send such yummy treats. I can't wait to do this all again next year!

Happy Holidays Everyone!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars - The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

As many of you may or may not know, this year I decided to participate in the second great food blogger cookie swap! Last year was so much fun that I knew I had to do it again. I know you all might be thinking this sounds a little strange, especially the whole getting cookies from strangers thing, but I promise it's not scary. Food bloggers are friendly! Here is how it works. First and foremost, you must have a blog to participate in the cookie fun. Then, you sign up and get the names and address of three other bloggers. You then make and bake your cookies, package up one dozen for each blogger, send them off and hope they don't arrive as cookie crumbs. In return, you will receive one dozen cookies from three other bloggers. So many cookies and so much fun! I decided to have my cookies shipped to my office so I would not be tempted to woof three dozen cookies at home by myself (not that I am sure I could do that anyways) and so I could share them with my co-workers. Good idea, right? 

Last year I decided to put the cookies I received and the cookies I made all in one post. Bad idea. Well, maybe not that bad of an idea, but it was cluttered and this year I've decided to do two different posts. This one will be all about the cookies I sent out, the next post will be all about the cookies I received and my fellow bloggers (plus links to check them out too - which you should!). Now, let's get to the cookies! This year I decided that I wanted to do a cookie bar. It was something different, but I also thought this would hold up better during shipment. Especially since all my cookies were going to the East Coast this year! I must have spent hours researching recipes, but nothing really stood out to me. I was starting to lose hope of my cookie bar idea (well, at least a new and fun cookie bar), and then all of a sudden this salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar appeared on my screen. My mouth suddenly filled with saliva and I knew it was the one. Does this happen to anyone else? I think it was the combination of the salt, gooey caramel and chocolate chip cookie dough that sold me.

Let me just say - boy, am I SO glad I made these. First, they are a cinch to put together and second, they are one of the best cookies I've ever made. I am not kidding. Seriously. I've made these several times since the cookie swap (a few co-workers even put an order for these for the holidays!) and everyone that has tried them is in love. Caramel love. There is just something about that salty sweet combination that is just killer and just so super addictive. Okay, back to caramel goodness. The only downside to these cookies is that you have to wait for what seems like foooorever (Sandlot reference here) for them to cool and set up. But trust me, it's totally worth it. If you cut them up right away, you will have a big pile of caramely chocolatey gooey mush. Which doesn't sound bad, but you know what I mean. Just promise me you will wait for these to cool before you cut them, okay? I know it's hard to wait, but I know you can do it. Be strong for the cookies!

Now for cookies! It's what you've been waiting for right? I had to keep the suspense building! The dough is a totally piece of cake to make and pretty much just like any other chocolate chip cookie dough you make. Although, this recipe calls for melted butter. Hooray - no trying to soften butter in the microwave only to find out you've totally melted it or that it exploded all over the microwave. I know that it's happened to you too. Don't deny it. Other than the melted butter, it's pretty much just sugar, eggs, flour and chocolate chips. Lots of chocolate chips. They make everything better. At least I think so.Once the batter is ready (try not to eat it all straight from the bowl), put half of it into the pan and make an even layer. Wait, before we go any further, make sure to line your pan with non-stick foil. I used regular foil the first time and although it works, the non-stick is way better. Like, totally way better. Literally, non-stick and it peels right off. That's just my two cents though. 

Once the first layer of cookie dough is in the pan, pour the caramel sauce over the top, sprinkle a little fleur de sel (or sea salt) over the top and then cover with the remaining cookie dough. I like to evenly plop the dough all over and then use my fingertips to spread it out. This prevents a huge mess and doesn't compromise any of that delicious caramel. Don't worry about the dough not fully covering the caramel. The cookie dough will do it's thing and spread out evenly. Just trust me here. I was worried too, but it was just fine. After about half an hour of baking, you will have the most delicious tray of cookies EVER. After these babies have fully cooled, you can cut them, but I find it easier to place them in the fridge for several hours or overnight. This will make sure the caramel won't ooze out. You wouldn't want to waste all that delicious caramel, now would you?

These delicious bars are now one of my top three favorite cookies, if not my favorite. I can't believe I just said that. I don't just let any cookie take the #1 spot. I am pretty confident in saying that thse may become your favorite too. One of my coworkers who tried this told me I need to quit my job and make these for a living. That should tell you all you need to know right there. What are you waiting for? Go makes these bars right now!

*Warning - lots of photos!


if you don't have fleur de sel you can just use sea salt.

mmm, melted butter

melting the caramels. want to guess how long it takes to unwrap all of those bad boys?

adding in the chocolate chips

one of the seven wonders of the world - chocolate chip cookie dough!

add half of the dough to the pan in an even layer

then add the caramel!

add plops of cookie dough all over

then spread out with fingers (gently!) and then top with more fleur de sel

hot out of the oven

cut up and ready to enjoy. please don't lick the screen.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Fleur de sel (or other sea salt), for sprinkling over caramel and bars

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, mix together the melted butter and sugars on medium speed until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave on high until the caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes.

Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Pour the hot caramel over the dough cookie dough and spread into an even layer, leaving some empty space around the edges. Sprinkle the caramel with the sea salt. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread the dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.

Bake the cookie bars for 30 minutes, or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 2 hours to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

This recipe doubles very easily. Just use a 9x13 pan and increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes (keep an eye on them - when they are lightly golden brown, they are done!)!