Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars

Just in time for the holidays, I’m excited to share with you a recipe that is delicious and perfect for peanut butter and chocolate lovers.

This is not realllllly a holiday recipe, but you can dress it up with red and green and then it’s the perfect for the holidays! It’s not difficult to make but it IS somewhat time consuming because it’s a few layers. But I promise it’s worth it because it really is that good.*

*if you don’t like peanut butter or chocolate you WON’T like these. I can’t be held responsible for your taste buds.

Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars - icrashedtheweb

Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars

Here’s what you need:

For the cookie layer

  • 1/2 c butter (1 stick)
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c flour

For the peanut butter caramel layer

  • 30 caramels, unwrapped
  • 3 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

For the peanut butter fudge layer

  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips (I ended up using about half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate)
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. candy topping – I used peanut butter M&Ms that were red and green

Here’s what you do:

  1. For the cookie layer: Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 in. pan with foil and/or spray with cooking spray. Creaming the butter and sugar with a stand mixer until fluffy. Slowly stir in flour. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes until it starts to slightly brown. Cool for at least 20-30 minutes before continuing.
  2. For the peanut butter caramel layer: Mix caramels, peanut butter, and heavy cream in a pot over medium to medium low heat. Stir until smooth and melted. Carefully pour on top of cookie layer. I used a spatula to evenly spread on top of cookie. Chill at least 15 minutes before adding chocolate peanut butter layer.
  3. For the chocolate peanut butter layer: Melting chocolate chips and peanut butter together in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir until smooth and peanut butter is incorporated and pour over caramel layer. Again, I used a spatula to spread evenly and carefully. Top with candy of your choice – I use red and green M&Ms and sprinkles to fit within my holiday theme.
  4. Chill bars until completely firm; I chilled mine in the fridge for a few hours and then let sit at room temperature before cutting.

Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Bars (1)

Celebrating the Season

Warning- this post was written after a run, while listening to some holiday music, so it may be a little too cheery and full of holiday spirit.

What a great weekend! I really love this time of year and I definitely got my fill of holiday cheer this weekend.

Friday night I finally got to check out the lights in my neighborhood downtown. It was slightly warm and drizzly, but don’t they look great?

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Then B and I went out for a late dinner at Cowell & Hubbard. We enjoyed a few appetizers (including a cheese plate and clams with chorizo!), a great meal (I love skatewing …) and festive drinks (I had a spiced mulled cider with rum). I have leftovers too to enjoy thank goodness. My meal was amazing.

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Saturday, B and I went out for a 5 miler together. I hadn’t run with B outside of a race in forever – so I was so grateful to have him with me. He paced me the entire time so we were able to finish with a sub-9 minute mile pace.

After our run, we hit up the West Side Market. Again, it had been so long since we’d ben there – and the place was all decked out in holiday lights and even a live band playing holiday songs!

Then it was time for my monthly Ladies Craft Beer Society meeting. This week we were making holiday cards! Finally, a craft I could somewhat excel in. Earlier in the week I had seen this story on the Today show about a 6-year-old girl whose dying wish is to receive hundreds – or more – holiday cards. So sad – I couldn’t get it out of my mind. So LCBS made our cards in honor of Addie – I can’t wait to send her and her sisters all the cards next week!

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When I got home that evening, it was time for an Italian feast! Well sort of. B had bought all the goods to make sauce and homemade pizza and I finished making homemade limoncello while we decorated our apartment for the holidays and listened to Christmas tunes.  I told you – it was a festive weekend!

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homemade limoncello – almost done!

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We finished the night watching my favorite holiday movie – can you guess which one?

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Sunday, B had tickets to the Browns game with a friend, so I was able to spend the afternoon being somewhat productive – I did some laundry, cleaned up a little, listened to more holiday music and even caught up on some work. And since the sun was out, I had to get out for another 5 miler. Without B to pace me, I wasn’t sure if I could keep up the same pace we had done yesterday, but I decided to put on Serial (if you’re not listening to this podcast you MUST) and was able to get in the groove and get it done.

This used to be easy ... i've gotten slower this year!

This used to be easy … i’ve gotten slower this year!

Sunday afternoon we met up with B’s family for another Italian meal-this time in Little Italy.

After dinner, we all caught the Christmas performance by the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus. What a great show – I always love to hear them perform Christmas music and it really gets me in the holiday spirit. As if I needed any help, right?

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, lit up for the holidays

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, lit up for the holidays

How was your weekend? Did you do anything to get into the holiday spirit? Yes, see above :)

What’s your favorite holiday movie? It’s a tie between Love Actually and Christmas Vacation and Muppet Christmas Carole :)

If you could eat only one genre of food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Oooh a tough one (not sure why I am asking this – I don’t like difficult questions!). I’d choose Italian.

Friday 5: 5 Gift Ideas for Runners

The holiday season is officially upon us! Meaning I can finally listen to holiday music (who am I kidding – I’ve already started) and start decorating and baking!

That means it’s also time for holiday shopping. As someone who likes to run, I consider myself easy to shop for this holiday season. When in doubt- just get me something running related! (or baking or cooking related … but that’s another list for another time:) ) Here are some thoughts on some gifts for every runner in your life.

Their Favorite Pair of Shoes

Runners go through a lot of shoes – and we often aren’t that great about replacing them. So why not get him (or her) a pair of her favorite shoes before she needs them? I personality swap out Nike shoes with Saucony Rides. I’m currently wearing Saucony Ride 6s but the 7s are super cute as well aren’t they?

The newest Saucony Rides

b and i at packet pickup rnr savannah half marathon

Current Saucony Rides (yes, that’s a pic from our Savannah race and there’s a beer between my shoes)


PRO Compression Socks

I was lucky enough to be given a pair of PRO Compression socks to try out and I’m hooked. Seriously hooked. I wear these socks anytime my shin is bothering me even if I’m not working out (yes, even to work! I hide them underneath boots).

PRO Compression socks sticking out of my boots - see, I wear them to work too :)

PRO Compression socks sticking out of my boots – see, I wear them to work too :)

 

I’ve been known to wear my marathon socks on long carrides, on long runs, over my spandex in the winter to keep warm (sometimes my leggings reveal my ankles and if I wear these knee high socks I don’t get cold ankles!), and more.

Winter-ready with PRO Compression socks (and Yaktraks!)

Winter-ready with PRO Compression socks (and Yaktraks! See # 5 on this list)

Not familiar with compression socks? They’re a runners’ best friend (well one of her bffs). According to PRO Compression, “True graduated compression promotes circulation by pushing fluid up from your feet and ankles to toward your knees. This design also helps reduce swelling and inflamation while providing critical support to muscles and tendons.” All I know is that when I’m feeling sore or tired, I really believe these socks help.

Wearing my new black PRO Compression socks during my recent Turkey Trot

Wearing my new black PRO Compression socks during my recent Turkey Trot

Buying some PRO Compression socks? Enter the code PINK2 at checkout for a 40% discount through December 15! If you’re running any holiday races be sure to check out the fun holiday-themed socks they have too!

Rocking my neon PRO Compression socks with shorts at a race this summer

Rocking my neon PRO Compression socks with shorts at a race this summer

 

Some Reading Material (like a subscription to a running magazine or a few running books)

It took me years to finally “splurge” and buy a subscription to Runners World magazine – and only after my niece was selling magazines for a school fundraiser. But I love the magazine and would’ve gladly taken it as a gift! Same with running books – I love What I Talk About When I Talk About Running but have heard great things about Born to RunRunning Like A Girl, Marathon Man and so many more books.

     

 

 

Arm Candy – an Activity Monitor and/or GPS watch

Runners like stats. We like to know how many miles we’ve run, how many minutes we’ve been active, average pace, steps taken, and so on – during and outside our workouts. I personally have been wanting a Fitbit and a Garmin for more than a year now but saw that the new Fitbit Surge is coming out next year which looks like a great solution for a runner who wants a Fitbit plus a GPS watch in one. Now the hard part – do I wait for the Surge to come out to wait for reviews and see what it looks like? OR just get the traditional Fitbit I’ve been wanting that’s stylish but doesn’t provide my mileage/GPS needs?

Which fitbit should I get?

Winter Running Gear

If you’re in my part of the country (midwest and northeast, depending on when you read this post), it’s starting to get cold, snowy and well, sometimes it’s tough to get out for a run. Do you want to know a secret? Cute and comfortable winter running gear! When I know I have warm (and fun) clothing to put on it’s so much better! Some of my favorites?

A running vest. B got me a running vest a few years ago for Christmas and it’s been one of my favorite pieces of my running wardrobe ever since. It has zip away sleeves (so it’s also a jacket!), three zipper pockets and is waterproof. I will wear this thing until it wears itself thin.

A bright running jacket/pullover. If you’re running outside in the winter and you have a day job, chances are you’re running in the dark. It’s dark in the morning and dark at night. One way to combat this? A bright colored running jacket. See the above photo for my obnoxiously bright yellow warm running pullover. Bonus points if it has thumb hole sleeves and a zipper pocket for keys!

Running gloves. I’ve actually found that those $5 gloves found at every single drug store/dollar store/convenience store does the trick unless it’s reallly cold. Plus, I don’t feel bad if I lose one or need to throw them away during a race.

For $4/pair, you can wear these only a few times and still feel good about the purchase! Plus you can text – or check your nike+ app on your phone – with them on!

YakTraks or other winter running shoe gear. Snow can’t keep you indoors all winter; that’s why I’m so glad I purchased YakTraks last year. I just pull them over my shoes and poof – they’re good to go in the snow and ice! I found the Yaktrax Pro work really well and I don’t feel nervous that I’m going to slip and fall during a run. Plus they look kinda cool – don’t they? Oh hey, this photo shows you my Yaktraks, PRO Compression socks AND a bright colored pullover:

Wearing my PRO Compression socks over my spandex

Wearing my PRO Compression socks over my spandex

Okay, I know I added more than 5 because of all the sub-gift ideas in the last category. But come on – there are just so many ways to make the runner in your life have a happy holiday season!

Some questions for you (answer in the comments):

  • Runners, what did I miss? What would you add?
  • Have you done any holiday shopping yet? Not yet … yikes, but I guess it’s time to get started!
  • Tell me the truth – when did you start listening to holiday music? Do you wait until after Thanksgiving?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links AND I received a complimentary pair of PRO Compression socks to review. Still, all thoughts are my own in the post. I loved PRO Compression even before they sent me a pair of socks :) I don’t have relationships with any of the other brands in this post, I just love them all!

Another Carnoski Thanksgiving in NY and Cleveland

I really love this time of year. I love the food, the holiday music, the traditions, etc. But really, I just love seeing my family. B and I swap Thanksgivings, spending pretty much every other holiday with my family, and this was one of the years we spent in New York so I got to see my family and friends.

A few highlights from my Thanksgiving:

A few homemade meals (I still love my mom’s cooking):

Chicken with mozzarella and spinach

Chicken with mozzarella and spinach

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans - i crashed the web

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans – recipe here!

A scenic train ride into New York City:

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Walking around the city with B and then dinner with one of my bffs, Jane:

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Sorry, no food pics (it didn't come out) but we enjoyed an awesome Mediterranean meal!

Sorry, no food pics (it didn’t come out) but we enjoyed an awesome Mediterranean meal!

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with B:

halfway up the bridge!

halfway across the bridge!

Our approach from Brooklyn

Our approach from Brooklyn

Sushi with my parents:

Does anyone know what the raw egg on top of the fish on the top left is ? It was amazing...

Does anyone know what the raw egg on top of the fish on the top left is? It was amazing…

A surprise day-before-Thanksgiving Noreaster – so pretty! (it had been 70 in the city the day before!)

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A Thanksgiving morning 5k and a too brief reunion with my other bff, Melgar:

<3 the two Melissas

<3 the two Melissas before the Turkey Trot (with matching headbands of course)

Melgar's husband, B and me post-run

Melgar’s husband, Jon, B and me post-run

Me and Melgar and her sister with our medals!

Me and Melgar and her sister with our medals!

Thanksgiving dinner with family

so many appetizers!

so many appetizers!

Family picture <3

Family picture <3

Post-Thanksgiving Chinese (What does this fortune even mean?!)

I have no idea ...

I have no idea …

B’s family’s post-Thanksgiving celebration – annual bowling tournament

B - the bowling all star (he made it into the finals this year!)

B – the bowling all star (he made it into the finals this year!)

Cousins-in-law!

Cousins-in-law!

Final score of my best round - 81!

Final score of my best round – 81!

And made it back to Cleveland just in time to catch the end of Winterfest and the lighting of downtown!

Love the Christmas music, the tree and chandelier lighting and all the people!

Love the Christmas music, the tree and chandelier lighting and all the people!

fireworks and a tree lighting

fireworks and a tree lighting

Okay, off to listen to some Christmas tunes (finally!!!!!) and get into the holiday spirit. Only a few weeks until Christmas!

 

Some questions for you:

  • Did you do a Turkey Trot?
  • How do you spend Thanksgiving? What’s a fun tradition you have?
  • Do you wait until after Thanksgiving to listen to holiday tunes?

Meatless Monday: Quinoa with Apples and Pecans

Happy Monday! How was your Thanksgiving holiday? Did you overdose on stuffing, turkey, pie, and so much more good stuff?

I certainly did. I mean, it’s only natural, right? Thanksgiving for me means food, family and friends – and a lot of all three, if possible. So now that I’m back to work and back from a Carnoski celebration (my family AND B’s), I’m ready to get back in the groove. Back into relatively healthy eating (with room for plenty of dessert added in as well :) ), including plenty of veggies and a few meatless meals. So in honor of the first Monday after Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you a meal my mom and I made when I was in New York last week. She had copied this recipe out of a recipe book and we made a few tweaks and I really liked it. So today, I bring you Quinoa with Apples and Pecans!

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans - i crashed the web

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 green apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 c toasted, chopped pecans
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

Here’s what you do:

  1. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter over a pot (you can use the same pot throughout –  use this for quinoa later so make sure it’s big enough) on medium to medium-high heat. Add in diced apple and sugar and cook until apple is lightly browned. Make sure heat is high enough so apple starts to brown and doesn’t just get mushy. Remove apple from bowl and set aside – or even better, add it to your bowl of toasted pecans.
  2. Reduce the heat somewhat and add remaining butter. Once butter melts, add in the chopped onion  and cook until onion is translucent and just starts to brown.
  3. Add the quinoa and toast for several minutes until starts to smell somewhat nutty (about 3ish minutes). Add in vegetable broth and bring quinoa and onion to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is softened and broth has reduced, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover and increase heat to medium and continue to cook quinoa until the broth has pretty much evaporated, about another 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in apples and pecans. Add in thyme and parsley and serve!

Some suggested variations:

  • Add chickpeas, cannelloni beans or another bean for additional protein
  • Like more fruit in your quinoa? Add in dried cranberries, blueberries or dried cherries as well at the end
  • Serve quinoa over a salad, such as kale or spinach greens.
  • Add in some cheese! I think it would be great with a soft cheese like goat, or even a gouda. Yum!

 

Quinoa with Apples and Pecans - i crashed the web

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like fruit in your salads?
  • How do you get “back in the groove” after the holidays?
  • What would you add to this dish? Or serve it with?

Cleveland Marathon Ambassador!

You guys. I am SO excited to share with you that I’ve been chosen as one of the 2015 Cleveland Marathon ambassadors! There’s a pretty cool group of people chosen  – and some awesome bloggers whose blogs I already follow, which just makes it even better.

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Looks, it’s me – koskim! So, what does that mean?

Next year I’ll have to decide what race I run. I’m likely going for the half marathon and going to see if I can beat last year’s time. Then, I’ll share with you my training schedule, tips, news and other fun running facts for any of you running the race. OR any of you just running in general! The race will be in May so even if you’re not running CLE (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be), the weather should be nice enough for some outdoor miles and training for whatever your heart so desires.

Stay tuned for more info. In the meantime, some running humor and inspiration. Because I’m in a giddy running mood!

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you know you're a runner you know you're a runner if you know you're a runner if

Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers

I somehow missed most of the pumpkin baking season this year. Between work, traveling and who knows what happened, I barely baked with pumpkin this year. Which means that I still have one large jar of pumpkin puree in my pantry just begging to be used. Seriously, its TALKING to me, guys. Yes, I have a problem.

So, I used half of the giant can to make this amazing pumpkin bread. But I still have some left. Instead of immediately baking with it – I decided to try something not-so-sweet based on what I had in my pantry. I didn’t tell B these had pumpkin in them until after he tried (and enjoyed) them – so that should tell you something. Success? Yes!

pumpkin black bean burgers i crashed the web

Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. cooked grain of your choice – e.g. rice, quinoa, freekeh, etc. I used freekeh which has a similar texture to rice but more whole grain, protein and fiber
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 c. black beans)
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1 diced carrot
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin

Here’s what you do:

  1. Saute the diced carrot and green onion in olive oil until softened.
  2. Divide the rinsed and drained canned beans in half. Mash half of them with a fork – not so they become a paste but enough so that they become mushy.
  3. Put it all together! Mix together pumpkin, cooked freekeh (or quinoa or rice), whole beans and mushy beans, cooked veggies and flax seed. Combine until everything is evenly distributed.
  4. Add spices (cumin, garlic powder and chili powder) and continue to mix well.
  5. Create 4-5 patties, about 1/3 – 1/2 cup in size and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. This will help the patties harden somewhat so they keep their shape while cooking.
  6. When hardened, cook the patties! I put them on a pan sprayed with Pam and cooked on medium until each side was somewhat browned.
  7. Enjoy! I like mine with avocado on top of a salad.

pumpkin black bean burgers i crashed the web

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? Do you have any savory recipes to share? Please? :)
  • Do you like veggie burgers?
  • Have you tried freekeh yet? If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a few recipes to share here and here.