Knock You Naked Bars

knock you naked bars

 

These bars are SO delicious.  REALLY! Every time I make them, they don’t stick around long.  They are one of the most requested sweets at our house.  They’re called “Knock You Naked Bars”.  If you’re Baptist like me and that title makes you blush, you can settle for letting them knock your socks off. *giggle* Regardless of what you call them, they will change your life!! I found the picture online because my photography skills aren’t the greatest where this blog is concerned (for now)…my little photo is courtesy of bigoven.com

 

Now for the good stuff……

Knock You Naked Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Base:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups (12 oz pkg) semi-sweet or milk chocolate morsels.  (I like milk chocolate)

Caramel Peanut Butter:

1/2 cup evaporated milk

60 whole caramels, unwrapped

1/2 cup peanut butter, melted

1/3 cup semi sweet or milk chocolate morsels

Directions:

  1.  To make the cookie base, preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease 9 x 13 pan.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate morsels.
  2. Spread half of cookie dough into prepared pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove pan from oven and set aside.  Begin caramel.
  3. To make the caramel, in a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with 1/2 cup of evaporated milk.  When melted and combined, add 1/2 cup melted peanut butter and pour over the cookie base.  Sprinkle chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel.
  4. Drop remaining cookie dough by spoonfuls on top of the caramel mixture.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set.  Cool in the pan on wire rack.

Makes 2 dozen bars.

 

 

Carrot Poke Cake

For some reason, when I think of Easter desserts, I always think of carrot cake.  I love carrot cake.  Rich, delicious….and cream cheese icing? Stop it. This is definitely a lick the beater occasion!! This year, my assignment was to bring desserts to mom’s, so I am making a new version (to me) of an old classic.  Carrot Poke Cake – I saw that caramel Eagle Brand (y’all…..so good…just give me a spoon) and caramel ice cream topping in the ingredients list, I had to give it a try! And, naturally, I wanted to share with all of you!

 

Fun Fact:  What makes a poke cake a “poke” cake has nothing to do with anything related to the television mini series “Lonesome Dove” *giggle*, it’s the holes that you “poke” in the cake and then infuse with delicious filling! Now ya know……so, as my Mama would say, “Get your mind out of the gutter!” 😉

 

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Ingredients:

One Carrot Cake recipe of your choice, baked and cooled.  I used Duncan Hines Decadent box mix – easy, peasy and it has real carrots and raisins in it! I love all of the decadent box mixes!

14 oz sweetened condensed milk:  I used Eagle Brand Caramel, for an extra punch of rich deliciousness!

8 oz Cool Whip

10.6 oz of Cool Whip Cream Cheese Frosting, if your local grocer carries it.  I was unable to find it, so I just grabbed a regular container of Duncan Hines Cream Cheese frosting.

6 oz (half a tub) of whipped cream cheese (must be whipped)

Approximately 1/2 cup caramel sundae sauce (or, if you’re like me, you do what you want and pour on a bunch!) I used Ghirardelli Premium Caramel Sauce.  YUMMO.  That is all.

Approximately 1 cup chopped pecans (sprinkle on as  much or as little as you like…..one more place for rebellion in this recipe!)

Directions:

Leave the cake in the dish you baked it in.  This is not a free-standing cake.

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Poke approximately 20-25 holes, spread out evenly, over the top of the cake once it has cooled.  You can use the bottom of a wooden spoon to do this.  Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the top, making sure the holes are full as much as possible.

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In a large bowl, mix together the cool whip, frosting, and cream cheese until smooth.  Spread over the top of the cake.

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Pour the caramel sauce over the top of the cake and sprinkle with pecans.

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Refrigerate at least 4 hours, I prefer overnight.

Cut into squares to serve.

 

Enjoy!

 

Add a little ZING to your Spring!

It’s finally SPRING (as far as the calendar tells us in Arkansas, sometimes the weather begs to differ)! The days are longer, birds wake us and keep us company with their happy chirping throughout the day, flowers are in bloom and cute sandals are out in the stores! O Happy Day!!

I thought I’d put together a quick list of a few easy and fun things you can do at home to welcome Spring! I’m also adding some Easter dessert recipes to the Delicious Temptations section of the blog this afternoon.  Forgive me for not posting in so long, but my Huzz was off work with me for Spring Break this week and we have just spent our time enjoying each other’s company and taking it easy – a little fishing, a little grilling, some fun time with the kiddos, a little shopping and some road tripping.  It has been a really fun week and I am sad to see it end.

 

OK….back to our list! (Forgive my less than professional photography…..maybe I can work on honing those skills this summer!)

Ways to Add Some Zing to Your Spring!

1.  Set a Spring table: I love to keep my table set with place mats and pretty plates.  It just brightens up the kitchen and makes it seem more welcoming.  Fiesta Ware dishes are some of my favorites! You can mix and match lots of bright colors with place mats and cloth napkins, a pretty centerpiece or some fun flowers and VOILA! your kitchen is a more warm and friendly place to be! Keep it simple! You can find Fiesta Ware at most kitchen stores or retail establishments that carry dishes and for place mats and napkins, one of my favorites is Pier 1.  Although IMHO, Pier 1 can be a little pricey…..you can find great deals just about anywhere, just keep your eyes peeled.  Another local favorite of mine is The Kitchen Store in Conway.  My friend Tricia has a BEAUTIFUL business with an excellent inventory and super friendly staff.  Another store to watch for in the Northwest Arkansas area that is coming soon from my friend Melissa Turpin is in Rogers and is called Honeycomb Kitchen Shop.  If it is half as adorable as she is, you will DEFINITELY want to check it out! You can find them on Facebook at Honeycomb Kitchen Shop, and The Kitchen Store and More and conwaykitchen.com

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2.  Plant some pretty Spring flowers:  Whether you have a green thumb or not, a pretty spring planter can add an easy pop of color and pizzazz to your patio or front porch! By doing a little research, you can find low maintenance flowers and plants that are easy to mix and match for sun or shade and beautify your outdoor space, or any space! Getting my patio planters full of beautiful flowers is one of my very favorite things to do in the Spring.  It really isn’t hard to do, and you can find all sorts of online tutorials on Pinterest, or just by picking up a recent copy of Southern Living Magazine.

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3.  Get outdoors:  What better time to focus on your fitness, or maybe just your sanity, than when the weather is so incredible! Get outside and do something you love! Whether it be riding bikes, taking a walk or a jog, or even something more adventurous! They don’t call Arkansas  “The Natural State” for nothing! We are blessed with some of the most beautiful outdoor scenery and hiking trails around! Check out the scene at Petit Jean Mountain, Mt. Magazine State Park, The Big Dam Bridge and Pinnacle Mountain, just to name a few! If you’re not into that much activity, try Garvan Gardens and enjoy the Tulip Festival.  It truly is one of the most magnificent, beautiful places! The daffodils at Wye Mountain are also incredible.  Or……get yourself an ENO and find some trees! Take your favorite book and read in your hammock for awhile….or maybe just take a nap.  This is a favorite pastime of my kiddos!

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4.  New Patio Cushions:  If you love spending time grilling and enjoying your patio area, new patio cushions are a fun way to add a fresh touch of color to your favorite outdoor space.  Again, Pier 1 is an easy go to for me.  Their spring patio cushions are always fun and fashion forward! Some other places you might check out are Lowes, Home Depot, Wayfair, and Pottery Barn.  Even our dog Lilly likes getting in on the Patio cushion action!

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5.  SHOOZ:  Need I say more? If this seems like too much work, or maybe you’re just not the outdoorsy type, there isn’t a thing that can’t be solved with a new pair of spring shoes! Some of my favorite Spring sandal retailers include Wilkinson’s Mall in Conway, DSW, Dillard’s, and Belk.  But before you sport those adorable spring sandals, make sure you have adorable spring toes to match! Treat yourself to a spa pedicure to rid yourself of those dry, winter piggies! A Nail Spa and Salon in Conway is my favorite place to indulge.  They have excellent customer service, they call you by name when you walk in and they do a fantastic job! Check them out!

I hope these little suggestions help you Spring forward in a fun and fashionable way! Enjoy!

Words with Friends

Have you ever been around someone who seems to always be complaining or looking at life from a negative point of view? No matter how hard you might try to encourage or be there for that person, they refuse to see the positive side of anything or believe that their situation will get better? Maybe someone who refuses to give others the benefit of the doubt, always assuming the worst of others? Or perhaps you have been on the receiving end of some scathing words from someone else? Words that were spewed at you months, possibly even years ago, that still sting and hurt as deeply today as they did when you originally heard them?  These kinds of words can play over and over again like a broken record in our minds, reminding us of past failures or shortcomings and really affecting how we view ourselves and leaving deep scars on our hearts.  Perhaps you have just fallen – or maybe even been guilty of jumping –  into the trap of “harmless” banter with friends that always, for whatever reason, seems to head south in the way it berates others, or refuses to look for the good, redeeming qualities in a person or situation? It comes in a variety of forms: criticism, gossip, slander, negative talk, complaining, arguing, and the list goes on and on.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death,and those who love it will eat its fruit.” How can such a small organ in our body carry such power? If this is true, shouldn’t we be more careful and diligent with the words we speak?  We have all been guilty of this at one time or another.  Some of us struggle in this area more than others, but the truth is, we could all probably take inventory of our speech habits from time to time and give our mouths a tune up.  Sometimes we might find ourselves in the middle of one of these situations before we even realize what is happening.  What starts out as seemingly innocent “chatter”, “girl talk”, or “therapy sessions” with friends can end up turning into husband bashing or seedy gossip if we aren’t careful.

I have a close friend whom I love dearly. She really has no idea how much deep love and respect I have for her.  I need to fix that ;).  This friend has seen her share of marital challenges, as anyone who has ever been married for any length of time has.  Marriage can have some difficult seasons.  That’s just life.  It has been a joy, as her friend, to watch as she and her husband have stuck together in the face of huge obstacles at times and committed themselves to making their marriage work.  One thing I have always noticed about this friend is that she never, ever speaks ill of her husband.  Ever.  I really admire that.  Does that mean she doesn’t ever have negative feelings or that their marriage and life is perfect? Absolutely not.  We all know better.  It means that she has made a conscious decision to not give life to those feelings by speaking them out loud to any and everyone who will listen.  I’m sure that fosters a lot of mutual respect between them as a couple.  It really has been an inspiration to me, as I am recently remarried.  I am trying to be on purpose in this area and make that my mission as well.  I don’t ever want my husband to have to wonder if I am running him down or discussing him in negative ways with my friends.  Proverbs 31:10-12 describes the virtuous wife as one who brings her husband “good, not harm, all the days of her life.” I wonder how our relationships and our perceptions of our problems would change for the better if we took on this challenge in our speech about others?

Does this mean we cannot have friends in whom we can confide when things aren’t going so well and we need a little support, insight, understanding and encouragement? Of course not.  One of God’s biggest blessings in life are good, solid friendships.  I do think we should be careful who we confide in, though.  Will that person encourage us, or fuel the fire, causing us to only focus on what is negative? And as much as we need to be mindful of who we confide in, we also need to consider how what we are sharing and the manner in which we are sharing it will affect our listener?  What is the purpose? To commiserate, or to seek guidance with a goal of encouragement and restoration of relationships? We shouldn’t feel we have the liberty to vent every single piece of our “dirty laundry” and things that need fixing in our relationships (which usually ends up sounding like a laundry list of things the other person needs to do or change) with others.  It can have an impact on the way they view their own situations in life and it only exacerbates our own.  Have you ever heard the saying, “The more you talk about something, the bigger it gets.”? We should try to make it our habit to verbally feed those things we want to grow (positive qualities in others, etc) and starve that which is negative (everything that gets on our nerves or makes us feel wronged by someone else). I believe words affect our thoughts and attitudes more than we realize. I have learned this the hard way more than one time in my life.  If our words really do have the potential to become self-fulfilling prophesies, should we not seek to speak that which is edifying? Please know I am speaking not from a place of self-righteousness, but as someone who wishes she had done things differently in certain situations in her life.  I realize the life giving/destructive effect my own words have had in the lives of others.  Thank goodness for God’s forgiveness and for forgiveness of those I’ve hurt with my words.  There are a few times that my own words have caused irreparable damage.  That is something I have to live with.  It is a consequence of a choice I made, and if I had it to do over again, I would have spoken differently.

Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for BUILDING OTHERS UP ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS that it may benefit those who listen.” Maybe if we started to ask ourselves “is what I am about to say going to build this person up……according to THEIR needs (not my need to be right, to vent, complain, defend myself, etc)” we could save ourselves – and others –  a lot of heartache and trouble.   That is one way we can truly consider others more important than ourselves, when we consider their needs more important than our own.  How is what I am about to say going to benefit the listener? This is also good to think about when we consider what kind of advice we give to others who are seeking wisdom from us.  Is the advice I am giving to my friend, as she shares her heart with me, advice that is for her good, the good of her family, and does it honor God? What a blessing and an awesome feeling to be able to help and encourage the friends we hold so dear to our hearts with positive words! “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 Those are the kinds of words that I want to be known for speaking into the lives of others, whether it be my husband and children, my family, my friends, or my students.

     On those days (and they will come) when we can’t find anything good to say, may we not say anything at all. Let’s ask God to “Set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door to my lips.” Psalm 141:3.  We can always take our unedited thoughts, concerns, issues and feelings to God. Yes, even the negative ones.  He already knows it all anyway.  And guess what? He can handle it.  And in regard to our words with our friends, may we make our prayer that of Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.”