When I first started dating Binks, around the holiday season six years ago, I made him a care package filled with goodies. As I had just met him there was no meaning for the packaged goods, other than being delicious and wanting to impress him with deliciousness. It worked. Six years and a baby later, I can tell you that he still remembers that package.
The one treat that impressed me the most was toffee. Considering that working with melting and browning sugar perfectly can be temperamental, this recipe was really forgiving and workable.
Toffee is a staple during the holidays, but considering the history of this simple candy, it means that much more. Without question, Binks always brings up his first bite of the toffee after opening the package.
Now, to save myself from eating the whole batch, I package it away as edible gifts for friends.
Chocolate Almond Toffee
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Before beginning, line a cookie sheet with foil. Cover everything. I’m ultra-paranoid about candy sticking to the pan so I double wrapped the pan.
- Over medium-high heat, in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and salt. Mix constantly. (Keep the vanilla extract handy.)
- Once melted, reduce the heat to medium and stir the mixture continuously until you get it to a boil. It should be a smooth boil – not a rolling boil. If it’s a rolling boil, then reduce the heat more.
- If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you want to stir until you get the mixture to look like the color of a raw almond, a deep amber. It’s completely normal in this process for the mixture to become gelatinous and mesh together. Just remember to keep stirring. It will get to the amber/almond stage. Be patient. Another way to test if the mixture is done is to take a bit of the sugar mixture and drop into ice-cold water. It should be brittle when it hits the water.
- If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should be 290-300 degrees.
- Once the mixture reaches the temperature, remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into the pan and it should naturally spread to a good thickness. I like for it to be 1/4 inch thick. If not, use a spatula to spread more. Don’t worry about it being perfect.
- Once you are done with the sugar mixture, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. The chocolate will melt so take a spatula and spread the chocolate across the toffee mixture.
- Sprinkle the almonds over the chocolate, and press the looser almonds slightly into the chocolate to make sure it sticks.
- Cool the toffee in the fridge until completely cooled.
- Once cooled, break apart into shards. Store in an airtight container.
Now that I’ve proclaimed myself a baker (I can do that right?), I insist that we do not buy cakes for special events. Why have a beautifully decorated cake, when I can provide an amateur-ly decorated cake for all special occasions?!
Somehow or another, I have convinced my family that it’s a great idea. Either that or they will do anything to shut me up.
So, when my mom’s birthday comes around, I jumped at the chance to host a pizza party at my house. A pizza party for my mom? Her heart wants what it wants.
You know the pizza. Meet the cake – The Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake (another Kitchen List-er).
I’m still working on the decorating. Hmmm-kay?!
I’ve had my eye on this cake for a while and was waiting for the best opportunity to bake it. What better occasion than my mom’s birthday?
The process was easy. The cakes were cooperative.
And I used what I had to create something fun and festive for my mommy.
Because a party cannot live by cake alone – that is when there is pizza involved!
I think she liked it.
The cake was delicious. I have never made yellow cake before and this will forever be my go-to recipe. The sour cream frosting was not necessarily my favorite but it was delicious. I think I prefer a chocolate butter cream above all when it comes to yellow cake.
So, to my mom – who will let me be me, put up with me being me, forgive me for when me-being-me is not very nice, and eat whatever concoction I make (in lieu of a nice restaurant with a fancy cake) just to support me on her day – Happy Happy Happy Birthday to the best Mom ever!
Do you bake your own cakes? Does someone in your family? How do you celebrate birthdays? Have you tried the Smitten Kitchen Best Birthday Cake?
Oatmeal, if nothing else, should be adored for its versatility. While oatmeal typically hits our subconscious “healthy” nerve, there are ways that you can make this ‘everyday’ grain not so ‘everyday’.
For instance, imagine adding a scoop of ice cream (which I need to try!) or placing a slice of birthday cake on top. The idea of combining a wholesome bowl of oatmeal with a decadent addition is the feeling you get when you watch/are the good girl falling for the bad boy (i.e. Grease, Dirty Dancing, etc).
And, it feels good.
And, I have fallen………………….hard.
As the movie progresses, you realize that the bad boy, despite his rough (chocolate-y) exterior and sexy dancing skills, really is a genuine person who is quite heart-healthy.
So, when you crave something sinful for breakfast, don’t let anyone stop you from having and enjoying what your heart desires. After all, nobody puts Olie in a corner.
Double Chocolate Overnight Oats
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup Silk Pure Almond Dark Chocolate milk
- 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 ripe banana
- 1 small pinch of salt
- Mash banana in a bowl.
- Add oats, flax seeds, chia seeds and salt. Mix until combined.
- Add almond milk and stir to combine.
- Cover bowl and store overnight.
- The next morning, the liquid will completely soak into the oats.
- Pour another 1/2 cup of Silk Pure Almond Dark Chocolate milk into your bowl.
What’s your favorite good girl/bad boy movie? What’s your favorite movie? How do you jazz up your oatmeal?
Obviously, I love bread. I bake it and have eaten more than my fair share. But, nothing – and I mean nothing, makes bread so satisfying as using it for a sandwich. Did I mention I’m a fan of sandwiches?
My favorite sandwich breads are sourdough, rye, potato (being one of my absolute favorites), and wheat. When the Atkins fad came, I saw a proliferation of wraps to replace breads. I tried to jump on the wrap wagon, but I missed the bus. Something about it doesn’t cut it for me. I missed the soft and pillowy texture of bread. Moreover, wraps necessarily are not more healthy than bread. (Check your labels!)
Then, I noticed these little suckers popping up everywhere:
Seemingly harmless. Surprisingly DELICIOUS. Surprisingly because I was expecting to hate it. Delicious because it really is soft and filling (5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein).
It went perfectly with my PB&J breakfast.
It even withstood the hard-to-spread PB that Binks likes to use.
Lunch was a Boca burger, light on the sides (unlike here) – just spinach, cheese, mustard and some dollops of hot sauce – I’ve been in a mood.
This bread really proves that you do not need a thick piece of bread to make your sandwich satisfying. Nor do you need a thin wrap to make the sandwich any more healthy.
*Just like the milk, my reviews are my own. Nature’s Own has no idea who I am. I’m just happy with the product and wanted to share!
Are you a sandwich fan? What’s your favorite sandwich? Are you a bread fiend? Have you tried sandwich thins? Do you like it?