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Today is a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup. Yesterday was a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup. Friday was a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup.

Are you seeing a trend? The thing I like about sweatpants is the anonymity they give me. And the anonymity they give my ass. There is something comforting about not giving a flip how I look. And comfy/not form fitting makes me feel better about the beer weight from A’dam that won’t.go.away. The black sweats I’m wearing today are kind of dancer-esce, so I feel somewhat stylish, despite the grunge. (I see you laughing at me. Silence….Mortal) and these pants are warm, a comfort given the fact that we got three feet of snow yesterday.

But why is she wearing sweatpants? you ask. This is Chantalle, the girl who has successfully survived 7.5 semesters of university with only 1 – I repeat – ONE sweatshirt-to-class day in the entirety of said schooling. Chantalle doesn’t wear sweats. Say, screw makeup? Yeah, she does that. Often. But she does. not. wear. sweats.

You would think there would be a good explanation – having the sniffles, no clean clothes, woke up late, massive hangover – but no, I’m tired of being alive-ish. Not in an “I want to curl up and die” sense, heavens no no no. More like, I’m tired of getting up early, tired of running at the gym, tired of doing my homework, tired of eyeliner, tired of counting calories.

Talk about a productivity cramp, right? The logical thing would be to go on a vacation, snap out of it. But who am I to be logical? That’s just crazy talk. I make crackerjack popcorn instead, overdose on the caramel part, and then take a four hour nap to escape the sugar-induced nausea. At least, that was my approach on Friday. And Saturday. Today, there are two pieces of caramel choco popcorn in the tin and I’m feeling a tad bit guilty. My recourse? I’ll leave them there and blame my dad for eating all of the popcorn.

Crackerjack Popcorn

Medium sauce pan
cookie sheet, lined with wax paper (butter/grease this)
double boiler
candy thermometer or a bowl of cool water

A couple words of note:

  • This recipe is great for parties, Christmas presents, or general snacking needs.
  • If you like peanuts, crush some up and add it to the caramel before pouring it over the popcorn.
  • Be sure to grease the waxed paper, unless you like a little extra roughage with your crackerjacks.
  • Read the Science of Cooking: Candy-making Stages before you start. It’s a great reference for this and other candies and will help clear up any potential temp and candy-stage issues.

1/2 C popcorn kernels
1 T walnut/canola/avocado/coconut oil
1 T butter
1 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan until bubbling.
  2. Pour in popcorn, cover with lid, and move pan briskly over burner (you will hear the kernels start to pop after a few minutes) until popcorn has stopped popping.
  3. Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt. Spread popcorn over waxed paper.
  4. Wash your sauce pan out for….

1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C milk or cream
5 Tbs. butter
3(ish) Tbs. agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Pour sugar, milk, and agave into sauce pan and heat on medium until just boiling.
  2. Add butter and whisk briskly.
  3. Use the candy thermometer to monitor how hot the caramel gets (you are aiming for 245-250 F, this is somewhere between firm- and hard-ball stage). This part is crucial – DO NOT touch the caramel because it is EXTREMELY hot and will do more than just burn you.
  4. If you are not using a candy thermometer, use your spoon to drop a bit of caramel into the cool water. Fish it out and check its consistency – you are looking for the caramel to be hard but malleable.
  5. Once the right temperature is reached, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  6. Spoon the caramel over the popcorn. You will most likely end up with clumps of caramel popcorn (you could try mixing it all in a greased bowl, but personally, I like the clumps).

1/4 C. milk chocolate pieces

  1. Heat the chocolate in the double boiler until liquid.
  2. Spoon over the caramel and popcorn.
  3. Let the whole thing cool.

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Well.  Here begins yet another week.  And, I’m soooo not ready for it.  Although, I do have something very fun to look forward to in the middle of it.  Yup, its my BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can say, I’m pretty disappointed that SOMEONE isn’t going to be joining me for it on this side of the pond, but since I can’t make it to hers a few days later, I won’t be too upset about it.

Anyways, because life is stressful with the end of the semester no longer creeping, but instead sprinting full speed, towards me, I’ve been baking like a fiend.  These are delicious, beautiful, and super-crazy simple.  Although, don’t make them too big, or your Pakistani friends won’t be able to eat them because they’re too rich. This is super fun, with a ba-gillion different ways to make it. I’ve already done a spicy chocolate chip, as well as an oatmeal butterscotch and milk chocolate chip cookie.  These….weren’t my favorite.  I (sort of) liked them, but there are a few things I wanted to change about them.  Like the dough.  And the filling.  Maybe I should try a whole new recipe?  I’ve done some other, naughtier, things, but I’ll give you a whole post for that.

But here has been my favorite sweet treat from the last few weeks.  It’s crazy simple (provided you have the caramels) and I could see it being doubly delicious (but a little more time consuming) if you wanted to make your own caramel.  But, of course, I have a couple things to change.  1) Don’t use as much chocolate (I know, blaspheme).  It overwhelmed the taste of the rest of the ingredients. 2) I would increase the size of the oatmeal cookie portion by half (so a total of 1 1/2 batches) because there wasn’t quite enough in my opinion. 3) Increase the caramel.  Mine oozed to sides, so there was only a little in the center, but a lovely amount on the edges.  By how much? Oh, maybe 18-20 oz. of caramels instead of just 14 oz. You’re call, really.

Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars

from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

*Notes: These are the measurements from the original recipe.  I’ll make these again with my suggestions and post an update.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup melted butter

14 ounce bag of caramels
1/2 cup whipping cream or milk
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Mix the first six ingredients together and sprinkle half on the bottom of a 9X13-inch baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and whipping cream or milk in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave at 50% power, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth.
  3. When the bars have been removed from the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust and pour the melted caramel over the top.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the crust over the top and bake in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the caramel is bubbling and edges are lightly browned. Cool the bars completely before serving so they can set up properly.