Momma Told Me

Blog Archive

No Bake Caramel Apple Cracker Bites Seasonal Recipe

No Bake Caramel Apple Cracker Bites for holiday celebrations; Caramel Sauce, Butter Crackers, Pretzel Rods, and Chocolate.
Momma Told Me: It came from the microwave.

Momma didn't care much for the decorating aspect of the holidays, when I was a child- She was much more content whipping up some seasonal treat in the kitchen while my father silently cursed over the assembly of our artificial tree to the background tune of Mannheim Steamroller. Yes, they're the things my childhood holiday memories are made of. One year, Momma found herself low on energy and time, and decided to bring back a simple snack her own family had enjoyed, growing up. Most commonly known ad 'holiday bark,' or 'Christmas Crack,' a plate full of Saltine crackers covered in caramel chunks and chocolate chip cookies, melted, made for the perfect tradition. It was something so simple and delicious, Momma made it on demand every year after.
No Bake Caramel Apple Cracker Bites for holiday celebrations; Caramel Sauce, Butter Crackers, Pretzel Rods, and Chocolate.
The crispy crunch of the cracker covered in gooey caramel, topped with smooth melted chocolate has stuck with me my entire adult life. I'm a sucker for the contrast of salty and sweet- and who doesn't love simple holiday snacking solutions? So, in homage, I devised these similar Caramel Apple Cracker Bites with just a touch of modern styling and food sophistication. While some of my guests call them 'cookies' they really rely on ready-made ingredients, so I have a hard time taking credit for their amazing texture and flavor.
No Bake Caramel Apple Cracker Bites for holiday celebrations; Caramel Sauce, Butter Crackers, Pretzel Rods, and Chocolate.
Start with some round butter crackers and your favorite caramel sauce. I typically use a salted caramel jarred sundae sauce- just make sure you've either chilled your sauce, or are beginning with a thick/slow flow sauce that will not just run off your cracker. Drizzle or scoop a heaping teaspoon of caramel onto one side of your cracker 'sandwich,' place a pretzel stick in the caramel, sticking out, as your 'stem' and top with the other cracker half.
You'll want to chill your cracker apple creations a bit before dipping them, as the hot, or even warm, dipping chocolate will make the caramel want to run. I place my tray in the freezer for about 40 minutes, prior to dipping. Choose a chocolate dipping base that is sufficiently cut/thinned with coconut oil or shortening, but not too thin, to allow for quick and even coating. If possible remove your meting chocolate from the heat source before dipping.
No Bake Caramel Apple Cracker Bites for holiday celebrations; Caramel Sauce, Butter Crackers, Pretzel Rods, and Chocolate.
No Bake Caramel Apple Cracker Bites for holiday celebrations; Caramel Sauce, Butter Crackers, Pretzel Rods, and Chocolate.
Dip chilled cracker 'apples' with a quick 'flip' style roll in the melting chocolate. Here I've used Caramel Apple flavored Wilton chocolate baking melts, but you can also use any white chocolate tinted green. Once they are dipped, place them on a piece of parchment, on a cookie sheet, and immediately return them to the fridge or freezer. Be careful not to freeze the caramel, you simply want it chilled in a solid state for consumption!
No Bake Caramel Apple Cracker Bites for holiday celebrations; Caramel Sauce, Butter Crackers, Pretzel Rods, and Chocolate.
When I first served these my guests were expecting dipped OREO cookies- since I'd made seasonal bats and pumpkins from OREOs a few weeks prior. They were certainly surprised to pick up this lighter treat with an addictive, crispy crunch. They were an instant hit with the perfect balance of salt, caramel, and chocolate. We specially love that they aren't overly sweet, and won't 'weigh' one down when grazing through a holiday spread! Have you ever served crackers in a sweet recipe such as this?

What Daughter Says:  There's no doubt, home cooked is best-not everything can take hours to make, though!

Inside-Out S'mores Bars Recipe

Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
Momma Told Me: Think outside the box.

This isn't a particularly pretty post- in fact, it was never really intended to be it's own blog post. I'd quite intended to mess around with a GIF or PIN strip some day- thus the lack of gooey-messy foodie shots, or excessive styling. The lighting isn't even great- it was an overcast day and half of my condo was moved into the new house, so I was really just 'working with what I had'. But, to be honest, these were actually requested by someone in my league to be posted, so here I am sitting down to type up one of the most basic, simple, recipes that has ever crossed my little space on the web.
Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
Growing up Momma loved 'boxed' recipe hacks- if there was any way she could save time while adding her own touch or twist to make something magical, she'd find it. Making 'boxed' recipe hacks are often not only time saving, but also quite affordable. Which makes them my go-to when I have to feed a large number of people (say, an entire bowling league) with only a few hours notice. After all, I am the 'dessert' lady, and blood sugar levels drop to dangerous numbers when I don't bring in the weekly fix for my bowlers!
This Inside-Out S'mores Bars recipe is so simple it doesn't require a narrated post- but the photos are still pretty to look at, right? I used to agonize over what brand or variety of boxed this or that I would choose when shopping for boxed recipes I'd found on Pinterest. The truth is most are pretty forgiving and you should always go with your personal tastes when picking 'the box.' For example, I love the triple fudge brownie variation of brownie mix from a certain big name baker brand- so that's what I use here. However, you may prefer a more malty milk chocolate flavor to compliment the s'mores theme, or perhaps something even more wild, such as a blondie mix. You really can't go wrong.
There are a few variations of this concept, and I completely endorse the variation where you layer chocolate bars atop your marshmallow layer before smothering it with the second half of your brownie batter- but, on this day, I needed a slightly less messy concept considering people would be putting their chocolatey hands in heavy balls at high velocities just after consumption. My personal 'twist' to this idea is double graham crackers- but that's always been my favorite part of the s'mores experience!
Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
You may be tempted to pull these out of the pan and start devouring them on the spot- Take my advice, let them cool thoroughly, especially if going the chocolate bar route. Not only will pretty much any cutting utensil instinctively want to stick to every inch of marshmallow, but the entire bar itself will crumble at the graham layer if you dive right in too soon. Don't worry, they're still be gooey and indulgent when cooled.
Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
So just a little further down you'll find the 'official' recipe- if the photos aren't instruction enough. Pretty much anyone can make these, and they go from box to belly in less than an hour (cool time included). Give them a try the next time you need to be a potluck/classroom mom/unexpected dinner guests hero. Now tell me a little bit about how you like to 'dress up' or incorporate boxed mixes into your cooking routine!

What Daughter Says: Sometimes delicious doesn't have to be fancy- boxed mix hacks make it as easy as 1-2-3.



Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
Inside-Out S'mores Bars 
***Click here for printable Inside-Out Smores Bars Recipe

5 Ways To Spoil Your Pet On A Budget- D.I.Y Foldable Raised Feeding Station

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #dothe99 #99obsessed #CollectiveBias
5 Ways To Spoil Your Pet On A Budget- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
There's no arguing that pets are family.

And every pet parent agonizes over how to give their pet the very best while still managing a budget. It's not uncommon to struggle with the desire to treat and spoil alongside the practicality of everyday needs and necessities. It's the main reason I find myself spending more and more money on my pets each year than on new clothing or accessories for me.

Which is why you won't be surprised to hear me say I enjoy shopping for my pets at my local 99 Cents Only Store. In fact, my local 99 not only has an entire aisle dedicated for pet supplies covering rodents and birds to cats and dogs, but a brand new exclusive dog food, too!
Choosing the right food for your pet can be an overwhelming task.

Modern pet food ranges from $.56 per serving all the way up to $8.20 per serving for an average 35lb dog. Many pet parents with healthy dogs find advertising and labels overwhelming. The want to feed one's dog a premium, high quality, food is evident but how to tackle this with label shaming and budgets is not always apparent.

For those hoping to feed their dogs something better than just 'ordinary,' the 99 has teamed up to offer an exclusive dog food comparable to "super premium" formulas sold across the county. Available in 2 varieties, Pet Inc. dry dog food features U.S. Farm Raised Beef or Chicken as the #1 Ingredient and is made with wholesome grains and veggies, and absolutely no artificial flavors or preservatives. Both of Pet Inc's formulas meet nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages, including growth of large sized dogs (70lbs or more as an adult.)
We immediately spotted this new find at the end of the pet supply aisle at our local 99 and was surprised to see these bags priced at half the price of major competitor national brands! We also learned these formulas removed extra fillers (meat-by-products) and simplified the recipes with peas, carrots,  beet pulp, brown rice and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help promote a shiny coat. Pet Inc. Super Premium Dog food is currently available exclusively at your local 99 in both Beef and Brown Rice and Chicken and Vegetable recipes. You don't have to compromise quality for price when you choose quality dog food based on labels and facts, rather than brand names and store loyalty. (That's TIP #1 folks!)
Disney Dog Toys at 99 Cents Only Stores #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
Of course one of the main reasons we love shopping at the 99 so much is for the everyday treasure hunt that is guaranteed when we walk through the doors. The pet aisle at our local 99 has been growing all year and I never know what I'll find when I take a stroll down it. On my way to stock up on some fresh fruit and produce for the week's meal plan I spotted these Disney dog toys in the most adorable characters from Finding Nemo and Big Hero 6. You know I grabbed a few extras to leave behind as gifts for my dog walking clients!
Just look at our haul from this week's trip to the 99! We scored tough nylon super chewer rope toys, doggy waste bags, a travel water system, Super Premium Pet Inc. dry dog food, Disney licensed dog toys, dog sweaters and tutus, and more at a fraction of the cost we would've paid at other stores! We even nabbed a few extra items in the everyday household departments we planned on converting into some cool pet gear!
How to best store one's dog food is a never ending quest.

When you have small or medium sized dogs it isn't always practical to serve straight from the bag as food will go stale long before it is all consumed. And if you have curious felines underfoot a rolled up bag is never proper security for anything edible.

We found this extra large cereal storage snap container near the disposable party and tableware at our local 99. A quick trip down the office and craft supplies aisle for some colored duct tape and stickers and we were well on our way to some fancy dog gear.
I wrapped two strips of colored duct tape around the middle of the food storage container then used some pre-cut alphabet stickers to decorate the front with Nora's name. Next I added a little sparkle and class with some crystal stickers I also nabbed for just a dollar near all of the school and art supplies. In less than 5 minutes, and less than $5 I had a securely sealing dog food container perfect for the kitchen counter (or our dog food station.)
Custom Dog Food Canister- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
I was even able to score some strips of velcro in the electronics and auto aisle at the 99- I used this to fasten the food scoop to the side, out of the way and off the ground. Nora didn't seem too impressed, but that might be because she was confused why her new giant food bowl had a securely snapping lid on top!
For my 3rd tip- a D.I.Y. raised feeding station, I was immediately inspired by a treasure hunt find in the housewares section of my local 99. There were half a dozen different prints of the most adorable, and heavy duty, acrylic serving trays. Right below them on the shelf were rows of folding step stools. It didn't take a genius to see what needed to happen, and at under $10 this project was sure to be a real money saver compared to department store feeding stations retailing at triple and quadruple the price!
Using a power drill, over a piece of scrap wood on a sturdy work bench, we drilled two even holes straight through the acrylic tray AND step stool. Drilling the holes at the same time ensured they would later line up. As both items were made from a heavy duty plastic we made sure to support the back side with a scrap wood board to prevent any splitting or cracking.
We drilled our holes to match 2 pre-determined bolts. Like many we have a junk drawer with odd bits and ends, and simply chose the hardware we had on hand for this project. You can, however, often find starter tool kits and supplies in the auto/electronics aisle at your local 99. The key to this particular project is being able to screw a fastener on the underside to secure your tray to your foot stool base- the size of the bolts is not really crucial, so long as the nuts thread tightly onto them.
Because we used a folding foot stool, and wanted the tray to be able to function in this 'folding' manner for cleaning and storage we only put our bolts on one half of the stool/tray. We didn't feel any extra hardware was needed and felt confident that these two bolts were more than enough to keep the tray functioning and in tact through extended use.
D.I.Y Foldable, Raised, Pet Feeding Station- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
All this being said- our local 99 had 2 sizes (heights) for these strong foldable foot stools and we went with the shortest. The short stool would be best suited for a Small or Medium breed dog, where as the large/tall stool would be perfect for a Labrador or other large breed dog. We made ours as a gift for a friend in an upcoming holiday gift exchange- but I was a bit curious to see if this sort of feeding solution would keep little 2lb Gidget from 'surfing' her sister Nora's food. You'll have to keep reading to scroll on and see how that experiment went...
D.I.Y Foldable, Raised, Pet Feeding Station- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
All in all having a comfortable feeding experience is key to top notch spoiling. Many pet parents don't realize that dogs often strain to eat food placed directly on the floor. This straining can lead to poor digestion and even mild choking events, or speed-eating. Having a raised feeding station can not only improve your dog's digestive health, posture, and overall contentment at feeding time, but also serve to help contain messes and keep small hands and other animals our of their food.
D.I.Y Slow Feeder Solution For Pets- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
Speaking of speed-eating.....TIP #4 involves creating your own Slow Feeder solution.

If you have a dog that tends to gulp down their food before you can put the food canister away then you probably have noticed an upset tummy, or even choking events, from time to time. Watching a dog wolf down their food as though they live on the street can be alarming for pet owners. It not only often indicates food is not being properly chewed but also means your dog is at risk for intake of increased air into the digestive system leading to discomfort and other unpleasantries. D.I.Y Foldable, Raised, Pet Feeding Station- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
You can invest in several specially designed bowls and feeders intended to help slow your dog's consumption down. Many of these are merely bowls with divets and valleys cut into the bowl itself to make it harder for your dog to fit it's snout into the bowl and gulp large quantities of food at once.

We tried many when we first brought Nora home and none really seemed to work.

One day I was at the 99 and spotted some spikey chew toys of various shapes and sizes and decided to give making my own slow feeder a go. I bought a bowl about twice the size of her typical bowl and placed 3 toys of varying sizes inside, then poured her scoop of food in and gave it a good jostle. Sure enough the toys proved just enough of an obstacle to slow down Nora's consumption without preventing her from ultimately finishing her entire meal. Best of all the dog toys could be soaked in warm water and easily cleaned regularly without any fancy cleaning tools.
D.I.Y Foldable, Raised, Pet Feeding Station- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
Of course in a multi-dog home not all feeding obstacles can be tackled.

Some dogs are just too darn smart for their own good. Remember that feeding station we made for a medium sized dog as a gift? Nora rests at eye level when standing, and Gidget can walk entirely underneath it. Guess who figured out there was 'easy access' Pet Inc Super Premium food in the bowl during our photo shoot?

Yup, with a little bit of whining, and walking in circles, Gidget figured out how to tippy toe her way into a free meal. You just can't keep her out of anything!
My last tip to spoil your pup is with a new bed.

After all of that healthy, and yummy, digestion your pup will be ready for a nice long nap.

99 Cents Only Stores are full of great everyday pet supplies just like this comfy plush dog beg, with an easily washable cover, and enough room to fit both our girls. They also have plenty of fleece blankets for your pup to snuggle under as the weather turns!

We paid half what would would've paid for the same quality pet bed anywhere else- and we had our pick of styles and colors, too!
Affordable Pet Beds at 99 Cents Only Stores- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
Pet beds seem to be one of those things we are always investing in. We can never have enough of them throughout the house- and I prefer not to invest too much money in them because they are prone to get dirty or even soiled during the life of your pet. We used to haul pet beds back and forth to 'grandpaw's' house, but now can afford to buy a few especially for him to keep there, thanks to the deals at our local 99.
Spoil Your Pets On A Budget At 99 Cents Only Stores- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD
Keeping your pet happy and healthy is a never-ending struggle.

For me, I'd probably sooner feed my dogs than myself if it ever came down to it. Thankfully, the 99 has many options to not only keep pets fed and comfy, but properly spoiled every day of the year too! Keep an eye out for the exclusive Super Premium Pet Inc. dog food the next time you shop the 99 and give the label a good review. You just might be surprised what you'll find at the 99! Find a 99 Cents Only Store near you with this store finder.

Tell me, aisde from vet expenses, what do you find yourself spending the most money on for your pets?
D.I.Y Foldable, Raised, Pet Feeding Station- #DoThe99 #99Obsessed #AD

Spiced Rum Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
Momma Told Me: Temptation takes many forms.

As colorful and crazy as I get, my closest friends will tell you I'm also the square peg at a party. I simply find it more entertaining to watch others 'indulge' than to partake in the libations. I'll have A drink at maybe 4 or 5 social events throughout the year, and even then I find myself thinking the calories would have been more enjoyed as an extra round of appetizers or a second dessert. So, rounding out this week's 'Day of' celebration is National Hot Buttered Rum Day, yet another national fun day that seems slightly late and off season.
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
For those who have never heard of hot buttered rum before, this delightful beverage dates back to early colonial days when the export of molasses from Jamaica became increasingly popular. In the 1650's New England residents began adding distilled rum to hot beverages such as toddies and nogs, resulting in the creation of festive libations like eggnog and hot buttered rum. Hot Buttered Rum, in particular, was especially popular in the Winter months for it's warming 'kick' the rich and hearty blend of buttered rum batter, nutmeg, cinnamon, and dark rum provides. You can make a poor man's version of drink at home by combining 2 cups water, 1/4 C unsalted butter, 1/4 C dark brown sugar, 1 TSP ground cinnamon, 1/2 TSP ground nutmeg, 1/4 TSP ground cloves, a pinch of salt and 3/4 C dark rum over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Today's Hot Buttered Rum recipe features many of the same ingredients in both the dough and filling, though it can be made without the rum, substituting rum flavoring or extract, if desired. Confession time- I've only tried a Hot Buttered Rum drink once- but it was a flavor, and textural experience that has stuck with me. It reminded me of fresh cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning- so these Spiced Rum Cinnamon Rolls are truly the perfect work around to enjoying this national holiday without the guilt this Sunday.
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
I'd never made cinnamon rolls from scratch before- It's usually something I do on a whim by popping open a blue Pillsbury can and peeling pre-made rolls apart before tossing them on a baking sheet. But let me tell you- there is no comparison for homemade, flaky, all the frosting you desire, gooey, sticky, cinnamon rolls. And these rolls have just the right 'extra' kick of rich nutmeg and clove flavor with a generous rum essence to delight everyone from the lightweights to boozy friends. Just keep in mind, if you choose to go the rum route for flavoring (and the spiced rum route IS a delicious route) the icing has rum in it too, which will not be baked off, as it is added after the baking process.
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
Of course it was ever so hard not to sing 'hot cross buns' or 'A pirate's life for me' as I was whipping these bad boys up. Maybe it was the Kraken Black Spiced Rum watching over me, or the delicious aromas wafting up from the work bench. Cinnamon rolls are really one of the baking skill staples- and this no rise dough is easy to make and bake. Just pack your rolls loosely so they can expand into each other and you will avoid any doughy spots near the center of your batch. Of course, if you like your rolls extra sticky and a little doughy you can certainly bake them just a touch less- there's no egg, and they will reheat perfectly in the microwave!
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
The spiced icing for these cinnamon rolls reminded me of a peppered gravy, thick and sticky. I found the recipe yielded more than enough to pour over the bath in pan, and even offer as a dip when served individually. If you're making these in advance be sure to frost them before refrigerating as they will help maintain moisture and keep them fresh and fluffy when re-heating.
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
So I won't exactly be enjoying a Hot Buttered Rum drink for the holiday this Sunday- but I will be enjoying one of these delicious spiced rum rolls with a tall cup of my favorite coffee. I already brought a batch to the alley this past Thursday, served in quarters with serving toothpicks, and they disappeared so fast I actually had complaints for not bringing more! Not convinced Hot Buttered Rum Day warrants it's own celebration? Just argue you're celebrating our nation's history and toss out a few facts about the colonial spice trade. One bite in, anyone will forget why they were arguing. After all, who doesn't love a fresh cinnamon roll?

What Daughter Says: While some may be sipping this delicious beverage, I'll be quite content celebrating with a fork full of a different temptation- sugar!


Hot Buttered Rum Cinnamon Rolls- AKA Spiced Rum Rolls, Use a dark spiced rum or substitute with rum flavoring and extract. National #HotButteredRumDay is January 17
Spiced Rum Cinnamon Rolls
***Click here for printable Spiced Rum Cinnamon Rolls recipe.