Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Crunch Bars

Today is a special day - my step-dad's birthday!  Steve is a wonderful guy and I am very lucky to be able to call him my dad.  It's a complicated story to explain how he came into my life, but - although we share no blood relation, he has and always will be my dad.  He has been there for me through thick and thin and stood by me in the tough times when others didn't.  My life has forever been changed because of him and Carl, Henry & I (little baby H too) love him dearly.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that some of my fondest memories growing up with Steve involve food.  He has a sweet tooth like no other and I know I can always count on him for a taste of anything I make.  We have a lot of the same food similarities but one that I was never 100% sold on was butterscotch.  While I do enjoy a little bit every now and then, it's never been my top choice.  Steve, on the other hand, LOVES butterscotch.

Since his special birthday is today and I wanted to send him something that he loves - I decided to create a new recipe just for him.  As I was cutting these bars up and melting my caramel for the drizzle, the rebel inside of me snatched up some crumbs and I was blown away! These bars are delicious and so decadent.  The butterscotch just throws them over the top. I am seriously questioning why the heck my taste buds have fooled me for so long.

Even though these bars probably won't make it to Steve-o until tomorrow (darn snail mail) - I couldn't hold back sharing this recipe any longer.  Also, I'm pretty sure if I pushed this post off one more day - I wouldn't have anything left to photograph!  yes, trust me - that are that. good.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Crunch Bars

Makes 15-20 good sized cookie bars

2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 heaping cups of quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1 and 1/2 cups caramel bits (1 cup for caramel drizzle and 1/2 cup to stir into cookie mixture)
1 cup of rice cereal
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Spray a 9 x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together with mixer.  Add vanilla and eggs; beat well.  In a separate bowl - combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Add dry mixture into wet mixture and stir until combined.  Add oats, butterscotch chips  and caramel bits.  Once combined, gently add in rice cereal - stir and press into pan.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  When completely cool, cut into bars and place evenly spaced on a wire rack.  Place wax paper under wire rack to catch caramel drizzle.

Heat the remaining cup of caramel bits with the tablespoon of heavy cream over medium-high heat.  Continuously stir until mixture is thin and runny.  Using a spoon, gently drizzle the caramel over cookie bars.  Let sit to set.  Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.  

Happy Birthday, Steve-o - I hope you enjoy your birthday treats. We love you and can't wait to see you soon!! xoxo

Thank you to all of you who have submitted your comments/votes on the gender for little baby H.  I am loving hearing everyone's guesses - so keep them coming!  I have decided that the prize will be a gift card to either Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts - winners choice.

PS:  For those of you who have commented as unknown or anonymous, I have not published those comments.  If you'd like to be entered into this little contest - please make sure your name is either in the name field or the comment field.  I just want to make sure I know who to contact in case you are the big winner!

If you haven't voted - what are you waiting for!?  Click HERE to vote. 


Lastly,  Today I am blogging over at CafeMom about my quest to find a good work/life balance.  Click HERE to go check it out!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Family Pictures 2012

A little over a month ago, Carl and I got some family pictures done with Henry in the Boston Public Garden.  It's hard to believe that we have not had any formal family photos done with Henry for the past four+ years that he has been on this earth.  Now that our little family is soon to expand to four - we wanted the capture a few photos with our fur baby.

Morgan - the genius behind the blog xoxome - just formally started her own photography business and she generously offered to do these pictures free of charge during the month of September.  Not only is she a beautiful person on the outside - she is just as gorgeous on the inside.  She was a DELIGHT to work with and really made us feel at ease [we both hate getting photos taken].  I was absolutely smitten when I got these pictures and saw her work come to life.  She really is ONE. TALENTED. GAL. 

I cannot express in words how wonderful these pictures came out, so I'm just going to let you see for yourself!  All I can say is that she captured EXACTLY what I wanted her too - the love that Carl and I have for Henry.  Add the fact that little baby H was four months growing in my belly for these shots and my heart just might explode.  I have been blessed by the good Lord and I know I am definitely a lucky lady.  I am so grateful to Morgan for allowing me to have these gorgeous photos to look back on for years to come.

and because I just couldn't help myself...

This last one will MOST DEFINITELY be featured in little baby H's nursery.  My heart be still. xoxo.

If you live in the Boston area (or even outside the Boston area) - go check out Morgan Lee Photography.  She specializes in a variety of photography and is also available for travel.  You can check out her website here, her blog here and her Facebook page here.

Thank you so so much again to Morgan - you are the best! I can't wait for my maternity shoot in December!
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Baby He or Baby She (and a weekend re-cap too!)

Today is a BIG day my friends!  We just found out that our sweet little baby is a ________ !!!

Cruel to keep that exciting news from you, I know - I'm sorry.  We are having a cute little gender reveal party in a little less than a month for our friends and family and just have to keep our lips sealed until then.  You know I will be back here in November sharing lots of pictures and... of course the BIG news!  We are so so so happy!

This past weekend was busy but very productive.  I had my last dress fitting for one of my best friend's wedding this coming weekend and we got to get a little tour of my father-in-law's place of employment.  He works in a paper mill as a head engineer and has been working countless hours and 7 day work weeks for the past few months and his hard work (on his latest project) is finally starting to pay off.  He is one of the smartest people I know and it was great to see him get to show off all of his hard work.  In true Hartford fashion - the one picture I got of Carl and his dad, their eyes were closed. I decided to spare you guys that picture (it is goofy though!) - gotta love those sensitive blue eyes! (I secretly hope our baby has my dark hair and Carl's gorgeous blue eyes!)  

Since we were home on Sunday, I was able to cook a delicious meal.  It was a chilly day outside and therefore perfect to turn on the oven and cook up some comfort food.  I have been craving meatloaf - so that is what I made. We also had some homemade Paula Deen mac+cheese (one of my favorite recipes) and delicious apple crisp.  It was delightful and I was happy.

Speaking of delightful and happy.... this is how Henry spent 95% of his long weekend. 

I also gave my closest an overhaul and started getting the upstairs ready to transition our office/2nd spare bedroom into our little babe's nursery.  I can't wait to shop and get moving on my baby registry!  And speaking of moving - late last week I started to feel little baby moving around... it is THE. BEST. FEELING.  I am in love.  Here is a picture taken this morning.  Yesterday, I hit 19 weeks. 

Do you think little baby Hartford will bee (hint hint at our little party "theme") a baby HE or a baby SHE?  Leave your guess in the comment section below and you'll be entered to win a little gift if you are correct.  That's right - I'll pick a name from those who have guessed correctly and that person will win a prize.  If you are having trouble commenting, e-mail me at bakingitonmyown@gmail.com and I'll help you.  NOTE: those entries that come through without a name or anonymous will not be entered into this drawing.  Drawing ends on November 10th - Good luck!

...and last but definitely not least - Don't forget to check out my post over at CafeMom .  Today I'm talking about deciding to find out the gender of our little one!
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Birthday, Breakfast, Baby and a Bump!

Happy Tuesday!!

I hope your week if off to a great start.  We had a wonderful weekend in New Hampshire where the foliage was absolutely breathtaking.  It is definitely peak season up there and it was so gorgeous. Ahhh New England in the fall - LOVE!

It was wonderful spending time with some friends and really special spending time with Carl's Grandmother.  She is just the sweetest lady.  She turned 89 in June and she rarely has an opportunity to get out anymore so we took her out for breakfast and we all had a blast.  Lots of laughter and great conversation - it was a special treat in more ways than one.

Last night we had dinner with my sister and her husband for my brother-in-law's 31st birthday! We got to feast on some delicious Italian cuisine and our tummy's were all very happy.  I'm really blessed to have such a great brother-in-law.  Henry loves him and I know our sweet little baby is going to be SO lucky to have a great uncle like him.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TIM!

Speaking of yesterday - Baby and I hit the 18 week mark!  Carl is just finishing up the last minute touches on our refurbished bump magnetic chalkboard so stay tuned for a 19 week picture alongside the board next week.  In the meantime, I snapped a not so great picture of the bump for you all this morning.  Pardon my sleepy face.  My tummy sure is growing!

 And last but not least: Today I am blogging over at CafeMom about baby advice and incorporating the below little munchkin into the mix.  Please stop over and check it out.  I'd love to hear any advice you are all willing to share!

Have a great day!
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