Sunday, March 2

Hammond's Candy Factory

We are always looking for fun, free things to do on cold days in Denver and I started looking at free tours you could take.  I love candy, chocolate, caramel, you name it.  So I was super excited to find that Hammond's Candy Factory in Denver gives free tours for the public.  They mostly make hard candies, but they also do chocolate, marshmallows, and caramels, etc.  All made by hand.  Pretty cool and also kind of crazy.  

My grandma and aunt were in town so we decided to go check it out.  


I enjoyed seeing the candy making on such a large scale by hand.  Those are the huge copper pots that they cook the sugar in.  They have a round bottom and they use lots of corn syrup to prevent crystallization.  When the sugar is the right temperature they pour it onto cooling tables and then add color.


Once it is cool enough to handle, they pull it on a machine.  Then roll it into a log.  This picture shows it being wrapped in a candy striped jacket.  They were making candy canes.  Completely by hand.


Arlo can't believe it either.  Crazy hot and hard work.  While I enjoyed seeing it all done by hand, I had to wonder if some of the boxing and packaging couldn't be done by machine...  What a boring job!


These are their marshmallow eggs.  Some have caramel.  All wrapped by hand.  This lady wraps eggs in foil all day long.  Meditative?  Or a little mind numbing.  They are all wrapped individually and they make a ton!


At the end of the tour they have their retail shop.  We had fun picking out a few goodies.  I got a few chocolate bars and some fun pink ribbon candy for my nieces.  Their ribbon candy is really pretty and I remember loving it as a kid.  If you are in Denver and are looking for a fun tour for kids or candy lovers: this is it.  It is located off I-25 and 58th st.  Easy to get to, plenty of parking, and free for everyone.  

Thursday, February 20

Life in the Rockies


Mid December we moved from wicked hot Tucson to the beautiful Colorado Rockies.  Life has been a bit of a whirlwind the past few months.  We are finally getting into a routine and feeling like we live here.  Here is a little recap of our past few months in our new city.


We visited the Botanic Gardens over the holidays.


Celebrated our babe's 1st Christmas.


Went to a Mammoth Lacrosse game.


We have seen lots of snow!


Experimented with baking at high altitudes...


Drove two full 7 hour days from Tucson to Denver with THIS guy.


Found a few new favorite dishes to cook at home (recipes to come!)


Went to the crazy Casa Bonita.


And learned how to bundle up! Looking forward to discovering more fun things to do in our new city in the mountains.











Thursday, November 7

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

It's officially cold out in Tucson.  Let me be clear, that means it is below 70.  Something about the wickedly hot summers makes anything below 70 seem like freezing.  I'm not complaining.  This cold weather has inspired me to do some cold weather baking.  Hence, chocolate chip pumpkin bread.


My mom got this recipe from a friend in 1985.  I have been eating this for as long as I can remember and I used to love eating it from the freezer.  When I make it now, I like to pop it in the freezer and eat it the next day.  Weird, I know, but food habits are the hardest to break.  


This recipe makes about 8 small loaves or 2 large ones.  I like to make a few mini loaves with my mini loaf pan and a few medium ones.  That way I can freeze them and pull a small one out in the morning for breakfast without deciding to eat 10 servings at once.


You will probably enjoy eating it fresh out of the oven.  The chocolate chips are still gooey and extra chocolaty when warm.


This recipe is really quick and you only need a few basic ingredients.  It would be a great holiday gift or treat for your co-workers.


If you have a few hours, this bread can be mixed up in less than 10 minutes, baked in 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, and eaten in less than 2 hours.  Not bad for a loaf of YUM.


INGREDIENTS: 
yield: 8 small loaves or 2 large loaves

3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
16 oz. can of pumpkin
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 pkg. mini chocolate chips

1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl

2. Mix all wet ingredients together in a different bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined, fold in chocolate chips.

4. Bake at 325 F for 30-40 min. for small loaves and 45 min. to 1 1/2 hours for large loaves, depending on the size of the pan.

5. Bake until toothpick comes out clean.  

ENJOY!

Thursday, October 24

S'mores Cookie Recipe

Holy Moly.  These cookies are good.  Chewy, sweet, decadent marshmallowy : YUM.


I have been jonesing for s'mores for a few months, pinterest is full of s'mores cookies, s'mores cupcakes, s'mores fudge, s'mores s'mores s'mores!  Every time I see a recipe, I am like, I am making that tomorrow.  Then I forget.


Last night I wanted to make some cookies for my husband, so I searched for a new chocolate chip cookie to try.  I found a recipe and in the middle of making them, THIS wonderful cookie came to life.


I give you, delicious wonderful S'MORES cookies.  Easy, peasy, YUM!  Plus, you can make half the batch chocolate chip cookies and the other half s'mores.


Do those 3 cookies touching count as one because they are oozing together??  I say YES.  I love how the marshmallows get scorched in the oven and pull apart stringy and gooey.  These are best enjoyed right out of the oven.  Although they are extra soft the next day from the gooey marshmallows too.


A few bites for breakfast, a few bites for lunch.


Here is the recipe I used.  I found this chocolate chip cookie recipe and just altered it a bit for a slight twist.

INGREDIENTS:
yield: about 30 cookies
{adapted from savorysweetlife recipe}

 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 - 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

1. Cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  

2. Add eggs one at a time with vanilla and mix to combine, beat 2 minutes until fluffy again.

3. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix until combined.

4. Add chocolate chips and marshmallows and mix until combined.

5. Bake 11-12 minutes at 360 F or until edges are browned and cookies look done.  They will continue to brown a little while they cool on the cookie sheet.

Tuesday, October 22

Soft Pretzel Bites

I am obsessed with snacks.  Sweet snacks, savory snacks, other people's snacks.  I can't keep my hands off snacks.  It is a compulsion that leads to early morning baking.  Behold: soft pretzel bites.


These babies are quick and easy.  Mix the dough at 6 am, take a shower, get dressed, roll them and bake them by 7:15, and you have pretzels for breakfast snack at 7:30 am.  Not too bad.  I like them plain with mustard or hummus.  Feeling indulgent?  Roll them in butter and cinnamon sugar.


I made a batch big enough to save some for later.  I freeze these in single serving bags for a quick fix for my snacking habit.


All you need is yeast, flour, a little vegetable oil, water, salt, baking soda, sugar, and a hungry belly.


I had this little pile for my first snack of the day.  All buttery and rolled in cinnamon and sugar.


You could roll them in garlic butter, dip them in your favorite party dip, or whip up some queso.


On the sweet side: scoop up some nutella, peanut butter, or honey.  


Want the recipe?  Of course you do.


INGREDIENTS:
yield: makes about 10 servings 

4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water

butter for brushing on top

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1 tsp. sugar, and warm water and allow to bloom about 10 minutes while you measure the other ingredients.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.  Make a well in the center, and the oil and yeast mixture.  Mix and form into a dough.  If the mixture is dry, add a tsp or two of water, if it is too wet, add a little flour.  Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 or 8 minutes.  Lightly oil or spray bowl, place dough in it, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl dissolve baking soda in hot water.  

4. When risen, take dough and divide into about 10 pieces.  Keep the pieces you aren't working with covered.  Roll each ball into a log and cut into bite sized pieces.  Dip them into the bowl of water and baking soda and line up on a sheet pan.

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.  

6. Brush with melted butter when they come out and top with salt or cinnamon sugar.  (or leave them plain, freeze them, and top them later.)  

These pretzel bites microwave well after being frozen and are the perfect snack for any time of day.

Saturday, October 19

Omaha Zoo

A few weeks ago we visited my in-laws in Omaha and went to the fantastic zoo there.  I wasn't sure if a 5 month old baby would really enjoy it, but he loved it.  I think his favorite part was the aquarium.  All the bright contrasting colors and lights held his attention.


These jellyfish were so pretty and really caught his eye.


We had a great time together checking out the huge aquarium.


My husband held him in front of a tank with sharks in it and this one kept coming by.  YIKES! 


Here my husband and babe are in front of the penguins. 


Totally worn out after a fun day of zoo animals!  Now we are back to Arizona and warmer weather again.  

Wednesday, September 25

Baby Play Date and Cupcakes

Before the baby was born, we took a class on birth and babies.  We met a few other couples in the class that were all having boys, the biggest gap between babies being a month.  Last weekend we all got together to have a baby play date.  FUN!


Here is a shot of all the babies lined up on the couch.  The one on the far left is 4 months, the next one is 5 months, our babe is 4 months 2 weeks, and the one on the far right is 4 months 3 weeks.  They are all pretty big kids.  Loving this shot of the four of them.

It was fun to see them all checking each other out.  Plus it made me feel a little better about the constant drool and shoving things in his mouth.  Totally normal.


I made some cupcakes for the occasion.  The frosting was a last minute choice of colors.  For some reason I was digging lime green.  Huh.  Probably could have gone with something a little more appetizing, but when you have a baby yelling for you to hurry up, this is what you get.  They were vanilla cupcakes filled with a coconut pineapple cream cheese filling and topped with cream cheese icing and coconut flakes. 

It was a good day for babies and food.  Fun fun fun.

Monday, September 23

New Recipe Page!

I have been posting a lot of recipes lately and decided it was time for a new recipe page.  I love it.  It is so much more organized and easy to navigate.  Check it out!


Isn't it pretty? Click here or on the recipes tab at the top of the blog to go there and see for yourself!
I used InLinkz to get it all together.  It was really easy and quick, plus it automatically updates when I add recipes on the InLinkz site.  SWEET!

What do you think?  Does it make it easier to look up your favorite recipes?


Saturday, September 21

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I thought I was done with the whole chocolate chip peanut butter pairing, but then I got to thinking.  What about oatmeal?  Oats make a chewy cookie with a flavor only oats can bring, and paired with chocolate and peanut butter ... well that sounds good!


I started searching for a recipe, and I found one here on the Brown Eyed Baker blog.  Looking at the simple list of ingredients, I decided to give it a try.  Boy, am I glad I did!


These cookies were raved about in my house.  I ate 5 yesterday and my husband told me, "These are the best cookies I have ever had."  WIN.


They are chewy and creamy from the peanut butter, have an awesome flavor from the oats which almost go unnoticed, and are delightfully "chocolaty".  These are going in the ol' recipe book, which is saying a lot.


If you have 30 minutes and a sweet tooth, I just solved your problem.  Just make sure you share.  These are quick to disappear and suddenly you realize you just ate 3 cookies in the blink of an eye.  No joke.


These would be great to make with kids or to share with a friend.  They are quick and easy & are sure to please.  Plus, you probably have most of the ingredients on hand.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: preheat oven to 350 
Yield: 16 cookies 

1. Cream butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, & brown sugar.

2. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine.

3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined.

4. Fold in oats and chocolate chips.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown.  

6. ENJOY!  These will last a few days in an airtight container, but you will probably eat them all in a day.  

Sunday, September 15

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Huge fan of peanut butter.  Huge fan of chocolate.  It's nothing new that they go great together, so why not make some chocolate chip peanut butter cookies?


It all started at 8 am this morning when I was lounging around after my morning walk with baby boy.  I was craving something sweet.  Not just the usual twix and chocolate sweet, but like yummy homemade sweets!  (I am kind of an addict.)


My husband loves peanut butter cookies, so I decided I could kill two birds with one stone.  Peanut butter cookies for him and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for me.  All in less than half an hour.  Seriously, I got a craving and an hour later I had: chosen a recipe, decided to add chocolate chips to my half, and mixed, baked, and ate 'em.


The peanut butter cookies were so good.  A little bit chewy with a crunch.  I liked them, really.


Enough to eat one or two.  Although I saved the bulk of them for the intended recipient, my husband.  This totally counts as a Cooking for a Carnivore challenge success.  He loved these cookies.


These are so quick and easy and use ingredients that most of us have on hand so get up and make yourself something good.  Bonus= you can make them chocolaty or not.  Totally up to you.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cream the butter, sugar and peanut butter.  

2. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.

3. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until a smooth dough is formed.

4. Scoop the cookies now for plain peanut butter or add the chocolate chips for the peanut butter chocolate version.

5. Make a criss cross with a fork on top of each cookie and flatten as you go.

Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes until edges are browned.

Eat a dozen and give a dozen to a friend.  
This batch makes between 15-24 cookies depending on your scoop.

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