Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?

I’m so hooked.

I honestly skipped watching the opening ceremony since I was so exhausted, that I crashed and went to bed. Seriously, I was in bed before 9pm on a Friday. So lame, but I was so tired!

Plus, I was kinda tipsy from a super strong mojito that I whipped up after a long week. I just had to make it! I had to make up for the fact that the one I was enjoying while we were in Key West 2 weeks ago was kicked over by my little miss Autumn. Kids really do make you drink!

Anyway, I have been watching the Winter Olympics when ever possible since then. They are so awesome. The half pipe runs, the luge, the group figure skating. OMG! It’s all so perfect.

Also, perfect, is this candy bark!

You know you wanna make a batch for your special someone for Valentine’s Day. It’s also great for sharing. Or eating in your PJ’s while you watch fit, trim athletes hurl themselves down an icy hill in freezing temps. Yeah…

 

My 2 tips for making awesome bark…

Do not make the base chocolate layer too thin. Keep it pretty thick, at least 1/4″. It does a better job of holding it’s shape and not getting bendy. It’s weird if you make it too thin. Learn from my mistakes!

And, if you share this with others, be sure to let them know of any potential allergens. I am really cautious about that, and so should you!

Other than that, super simple.

Valentine's Day Candy Bark_03

I dare ya that you can’t just have 1 piece of this candy bark. It’s so addicting.

Valentine's Day Candy Bark_04

Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 10 ounces candy bars/pieces
  • sprinkles
  • 3 oz of white chocolate, use a high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)
 Process
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  2. Chop all candy pieces into irregular pieces, this is easiest with a serrated knife.
  3. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate over low heat. Once the chocolate starts to melt, continuously stir until just melted through.
  4. Pour the chocolate onto lined pan. Spread the chocolate evenly with a 1/4-inch thickness (about 12×10-inch rectangle). Sprinkle with the chopped candy pieces and sprinkles.
  5. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over bark creating zig zag lines.
  6. Chill bark until firm, about 30 minutes. Remove foil from pan, peel off foil, and break/cut bark into irregular pieces.

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Dear Hunter @ 8 months

Dear Hunter 8 months
Dear Hunter,

This past month has really been wonderful with you.

So far transitioning to be a stay at home mom with you has really easy and enjoyable. Spending days with you, and your sister, is so fun. There are tough times when I want to hide in the pantry to take a break from the noise, but it’s so great.

We just need to have Autumn listen to us the first time that she can’t keep siting behind you. We understand she is trying to be helpful, but from siting behind you so she can catch you if you fall, quickly turns into her holding you, which makes you yell and squirm and then there is the constant “AUTUMN!” It’s hard to scold it when she means well, but things would be so much easier if she just listened. At least she means well.

Your appetite is constantly growing. It’s awesome to give you something like quinoa, steak, broccoli, blueberries, yogurt, melon, and so much more

I swear you are looking older and older every day with your hair growing in and your features becoming more and more defined. It’s amazing to see. I see so much of your daddy when I look at you and old pictures of him. You even have that pout down.

I can’t imagine our house ever being quite again since you can be so loud when you are happily babbling. Angry or tired babbling is just as loud, but the happy, silly, giggly babbles are much more fun.

You have mastered standing while holding on to something like a pro. From there you sometimes give us a wave. But you are really good at waving when we are holding you and you then are prompted to wave at someone.

You went on your first cruise this past month! You were so fantastic on board. I can’t wait to take you on more and more as you grow. Our first family vacation went so well.

I love you so much.

Love,

Mommy

Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

Valentine’s Day is just 1 week away!!

Are you celebrating with someone you love?

Or are you single and ready to mingle?

Or do you fall in between like me and my husband… certainly not single but not really doing anything? Hello… it’s a Wednesday night and we have 2 kids. Too much to juggle.

But, no juggling required when it comes to these cake pops.

Baking a box mix cake is pretty dang easy, so it mixing in the frosting, and then forming the balls. The most complicated part is dipping them into the Candiquick, which is a confectionery coating, or melted chocolate that sets pretty quickly. And, even then, the only hard part about that is the messy drips. That’s a silly complication. Like a #firstworldproblem issue. ha!

 

 

 

While they have cake pop molds for you to bake the cake in, then coat. We decided to get our hands messy and dive right into rolling the cake with the frosting to create the cake balls for the pops.

Autumn loved helping out. She scooped out the cake and rolled the balls, proudly placing them on the tray as she went. We then brought some over to a friend’s party and she told EVERYONE that she made them. So cute.

They are very easy to make- even a 4 year old can make them!

Be sure to enjoy these with someone that you love. Or eat them all. Whatever works for ya. ha!!

Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

Makes 30 Cake Pops

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Cake Mix and required cake mix ingredients
  • 1/2 – 2/3 Can of Red or Pink Frosting
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 pound of Candiquick or chocolate
  • 30 treat sticks, 4″ long
  • sprinkles

Process

  • Bake the cake according to directions in a 9×13 pan. Let cool completely.
  • Trim away the edges of the cake. Discard (into your mouth!)
  • Cut the cake into small pieces, put into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat until crumbly.
  • Add HALF the can of frosting to the crumbly cake. Beat again. Add a tiny bit more to get a moist, dough like texture that will form a ball. Do not make it too wet and tacky.
  • Dust your hands with powdered sugar. Form 30 equally sized balls.  Suggestion: Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 3 equally sized portions. From each portion, create 5 balls.
  • Insert a lollipop stick into each ball.
  • Freeze all of the cake pops for at lest 30 minutes.
  • Melt the Candiquick or chocolate. Pour into a tall cup. Quickly dip each cake pop into the candiquick/chocolate, let excess chocolate drip off. Then set onto a non-stick silicon lined baking sheet. Immediately drop sprinkles on to the coating before it sets.
  • Store at room temperature.

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Instant Pot Crack Chicken

We are going on our cruise tomorrow!!!!!!!

I am ridiculously excited. I’ve researched the ship and ports we are going to, I’ve joined FB groups to get get tips, and I’ve made lists, and I’ve packed and packed again. And I know I will still forget something! ha!

I think that is just the way it is when you are traveling, especially when you are traveling with kids. You can never pack enough when you have kids.

 

In order to help clear out our fridge before being gone for almost a week, I made Crack Chicken in our Instant Pot yesterday.

It lives up to it’s name. I’m addicted to to this dang chicken. I’ve made it far too often since getting the Instant Pot. I only “complain” about that as it’s not the lightest of dishes… hello cream cheese, cheddar cheese,  and bacon.

But it’s worth it. I swear.

You can easily double this recipe, which is great for when you need to feed a crowd. It’s great for a pot luck or for a party… think Super Bowl!!! (Fly Eagles Fly!!!)

Talk to ya when we’re back from the cruise. In the mean time, enjoy some addicting chicken!

Instant Pot Crack Chicken

Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into 1/4″ wide pieces
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning
  • 8 oz cream cheese, can use light cream cheese too
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper

Process

  1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate, set aside.
  2. In the pot of a pressure cooker, add the chicken, then cream cheese, and then  the packet of ranch seasoning over the top.
  3. Add the water.
  4. Place your Instant Pot on Manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Do a quick release. Turn to the keep warm setting.
  5. Shred the chicken in the pot using forks.
  6. Add the cheese and bacon, stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve as a sandwich, dip, over rice or noodles.

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Sweet and Sour Marmalade Glazed Oven Baked Chicken

Did you know that Florida produces more than 70 percent of the United States’ supply of citrus?  And, that it’s only 2nd in production to Brazil? That’s a lot of OJ!!!

So, obviously, I needed to get my hands on Orange Appeal by Jamie Schler. I am super excited about the fresh citrus that is in season now here. I can’t wait to go orange picking! So fun!!!!

I actually found Jamie’s blog Life’s a Feast years and years ago. Besides her incredible photography featuring food and flowers and life in France, I followed her Instagram because she had a Boston Terrier. Boston Terrier people are my kind of people. RIP Marty.

As well, I really enjoyed following along as she shares her life running a hotel in France. How fun is all of that. I always wanted a bed and breakfast, so following along her life allowed me to day cream about serving homemade scones and coffee to people while telling them about the area and the fun things they could do during the day.

Of course, nothing is all that easy or glamorous, but one can daydream of making jam for toast and filling vases of flowers.

Besides the hotel, Jamie has been busy with creating the wonderful Orange Appeal cookbook. It has everything that you can think of from salads, sauces, cakes, brownies, and cookies. You are covered for orange recipes from breakfast to dessert!

I zeroed in on the Sweet and Sour Marmalade Glazed Oven Baked Chicken because it sounded glorious with the different flavor profiles in the marinade- the sweet from the orange marmalade, the salty flavor from the sour, and the touch of sour from the vinegar.

The only thing that I changed for this recipe was the chicken that I used. The recipe calls for a whole chicken that is broken down into the various pieces or use chicken thighs. I would have used the whole chicken, as I don’t love chicken thighs, but when I was making this, bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts were on sale. So I just used them.

Besides the chicken, this would be great with pork or lamb. The flavors in the marinade pair wonderfully with those perfectly as well. Follow the recipe as directed, subbing in the different meats, just cook until appropriate temperatures.

Also, cook the marinade in a sauce pan… A POT! I honestly wasn’t paying attention when I started (#IHave2KidsAndNoBrain) and put it in the skillet and then had a doh! moment. I kept on going, but it would have been a whole hell of a lot easier in a pot, so do that!!

This Sweet and Sour Marmalade Glazed Oven Baked Chicken recipe was a winner in my family.

We were far from civilized once we dug in; picking up the chicken, and taking big bites, and then licking all that delicious sweet and sour glaze off our fingers. It was messy and glorious. But you just need to dive in like that when you have amazing food right in front of you.

Sweet and Sour Marmalade Glazed Oven Baked Chicken

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 Cup white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 Cup light soy sauce
  • 1 Cup (12 1/2 ounces/350 g) orange marmalade
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or thighs  or 1 whole chicken

Process

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook the shallots in the oil over medium heat. Cook until sofa and golden, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the ginger and stir until dissolved. Then add the vinegar and oil vigorously until reduced by half 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the soy sauce, marmalade, salt, and pepper. Stir until smooth and the marmalade is dissolved. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Trim excess skin and fat, as needed.
  5. Place chicken in a large bowl or resealable bags, then pour 1/2 the marinade over the chicken. Rotate the chicken in the marinade to completely coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or seal the plastic bags. Let marinade for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  7. Line a pan with parchment or foil, the oil well. Arrange the chicken in 1 layer. Spoon marinade over the chicken.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees F. Keep an eye on the chicken at the end as the marinade can go from beautifully golden to burned quickly.
  9. While the chicken is cooking, place the rest of the marinade in a sauce pan and simmer until it is reduced to 1/2 to 2/3 Cup and thickened.
  10. Prior to serving, slather with the reduced marinade. Enjoy!

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