Monster Mash! Aka The Greatest Snack Ever



Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn. Yes, that is correct, I did say Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn. It’s a giant ball of sugar and I love it! Combining some of the iconic flavors of Fall all into one very sugary yet delicious treat. The perfect cure for the Monday Blues.

The recipe is super simple and easily makes a giant batch. But be warned, a sugar coma is likely to follow if you eat the whole thing yourself.

Monster Mash (Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn)

Recipe slightly adapted from Young Married Chic

Popcorn, popped (you can air pop, stove pop, or microwave – your choice!) (At least 3 oz, but the more the better in my opinion!)
1/2  butter, salted (1 stick)
1 cup yellow cake mix
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (I did 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and a dash of cloves and ginger)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of candy corn
1 cup of honey roasted peanuts
Halloween Sprinkles (optional – they definitely make this more festive but it’s still a little early in the season so I wasn’t able to find any yet)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside for later. Pop popcorn as you desire (at least 3 oz, if not more) – remove unopened kernels and pour into a large bowl.

In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the cake mix, spices, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a slow simmer, making sure not to boil or burn the sugar and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes. You should have a glob that is starting to amass together in a ball.

Pour mixture over popcorn in the bowl, stirring until all corn is coated. Stir stir stir and make sure you get every last kernel.

Spread the popcorn evenly over the baking sheet and place in the oven

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the caramel has turned light brown. Remove from oven and let cool. It will begin to harden at this point.

Break the popcorn up into smaller chunks and stir in the candy corn and peanuts. Store in an airtight container. Or if you’re feeling friendly, package individually to give away to people to prevent yourself from eating it all in one sitting like I may or may not have done.

I have decided that at least one day every weekend for the remainder of Autumn will consist of making my favorite Pumpkin Treats or testing out new ones, making&eating my favorite Autumn Dinners, & watching Halloween Disney Movies or Halloween episodes of old TGIF shows 🙂

Hope you’re all enjoying the start of the Autumn season as much as I am!






It’s that time of year again! The time for back to school, falling leaves, awesome patterned tights paired with boots, chilly weather for scarf wearing, sweaters, but most importantly…Halloween movies galore, and PUMPKIN EVERYTHING! Clearly it is time for my favorite time of year.

And why yes, I have had multiple Pumpkin Spice Lattes since they were released a week ago 🙂

1001442_10151821695313076_881963928_nDELICIOUS. Even more delicious because this one was a surprise from one of my 8th graders right before first period. I know it’s silly, but I’m loving the fact that my students actually like me, rather than just tolerate me as the kids did during my student teaching.

ANYWAY…pumpkin! So as most of you probably know, I love everything pumpkin related this time of year, that being said. Here is a roundup of some of my favorite pumpkin recipes, and some I am excited to try! I already picked up one can of pumpkin puree, but I can see I will definitely be needing more!

Pumpkin Bread – totally a classic and a must make for every year.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll – definitely a win for special occasions, when you’re trying to impress someone, or just because you feel like eating a fancy roll cake (I find any of these reasons to be valid for making this delicious dessert).

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes – if I had the time, I would make these fresh every morning and snack on them throughout the day because they are the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee/tea, the perfect small post-lunch dessert, the best afternoon pick-me-up (with coffee of course), and obviously a great dessert for ending the day. Hmm…this makes me wonder, is this worth getting up at 5:00am so I can have some to bring with me to work? Quite possibly yes. And yes, I know, I have a pumpkin problem.

Some other pumpkin recipes from around the blog world that I can’t wait to try…

Pumpkin Oat Loaf – from Young Married Chic. A breakfast bread that sounds like it would be awesome slathered in peanut butter (really, is there any other way to put peanut butter on things?) It sounds like it’s almost baked pumpkin spice oatmeal in loaf form. So basically an awesome on-the-go breakfast.

Pumpkin Gingerbread – also from Young Married Chic (it’s slightly possible that Kris actually loves pumpkin things more than I do!) But yes, this pumpkin gingerbread sounds like an amazing combo of all things autumn/winter so I can’t wait to try it – maybe for Thanksgiving as a transition to winter.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn (aka Monster Mash) – and one more from Young Married Chic! This caramel corn basically sounds like Halloween in a bag and therefore I think it’s awesome. Definitely will be contemplating bringing bags of this to school for my kiddos during Halloween. Or you know, just making for me to eat every day during the month of October. Don’t judge.

Pumpkin Cake Pops – from YumSugar. Pretty sure the title speaks for itself. Pumpkin + Cake Pops. Clearly no additional words are needed.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – from Smitten Kitchen. I’m not sure why I’ve never made these before. I pinned the recipe a while back and just found it but I can’t wait to make them! I mean come on, pumpkin. cinnamon. rolls. Yeasty, doughy, sweet deliciousness with the magic that is pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. PLUS A CREAM CHEESE GLAZE. Yes, these must be made asap this weekend.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes – from HealthyFoodforLiving. Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes? The question is not why, but rather why not?!

I can’t wait to get started making some of my go-to pumpkin favorites and trying out some of these other recipes!

What are your favorite pumpkin recipes?

Happy Start of Autumn!




An Update?

It has been, well, more than a good while since I’ve been back here. I’ve missed it! But like other hiatuses in the past, work/school/life/etc happens and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So here’s a little update on what’s been going on this summer…


I made eclairs for the first time ever using a recipe from Ladurée. And for once I actually liked the pastry cream I made!


We recently added pointe shoes to our repertoire at Benicia Dancewear and I can now say I have put pointe snaps no-sews on more pointe shoes than I can count.



Tropical Blondies are the epitome of an island summer. Coconut, Key Lime, White Chocolate, & Macadamia Nuts.


During a cool week, I made one of my Fall staples – Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread. It’s pretty much the best combo of yeasty, doughy, cinnamon-sugar-ness.


Mogget. And yes, she did put herself between the window and the window screen in order to hunt a bug.


Boursin Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Chicken (recipe from Chrissy Teigen of So Delushious)
MAKE IT. Your tastebuds will thank you
Also, I added cream cheese to supplement the boursin. GREAT IDEA. DO IT.


Serve with tomatoes (that were baked with the chicken) and sauteed spinach! Deliciousness.


Savory Summer Cobbler of Cherry Tomatoes, Sauteed Onions, & Cheesy Biscuit Topping


Bear #1 of Muir Woods


Jimmy with Bear #2 of Muir Woods


Bear #3 of Muir Woods (There was a squirrel hiding behind there)


& Bear #4 of Muir Woods


Muir Woods Hiking Trip with Jimmy!


Pinky caught tripping out on catnip. BUSTED.


Lovely flowers.


Maggie the black streak. The newest addition to my grandparents’ household. It was actually a fluke that I snapped this picture of her staying still.


Magnolia Bakery Style Peanut Butter Cookies (with milk chocolate chips & white chocolate chips – recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Adventures in Babysitting. AKA educating kiddos in the classics (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze).


Flowers because Jimmy is secretly an expert bouquet arranger 🙂


Pointe Shoe Dyeing Party!
Dyeing pointe shoes purple & red for different characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Some of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland principal cast! (Picture c/o Ligioso Ballet Studio)


Two Year Anniversary Trip – Margaritas in Capitola


Two Year Anniversary Trip – Jimmy being Jimmy


Homemade Sriracha Salmon!
(Basically glaze salmon in a sriracha & brown sugar mix and bake at 375 degrees F till done; broil for crispy edges)

IMAG0407Favorite Summer Outfit for the cool but also warm weather that is brunch in SF. (And yes, that is a tutu. Dance & dancewear are pretty much everywhere in my life.)

So that is the short story of things going on right now.
Lots of good food, good company, & the work that I love :]

OH ALSO. I will be starting a new teaching job soon – middle school math. Wish me luck!

OH OH OH AND! I GOT AN INSTAGRAM. lol. Not really big news I know, but I have finally pushed aside my dislike for Instagram and am embracing it wholeheartedly. And by wholeheartedly, you know that means I’m just posting pictures of food and my pets as per usual. Teehee.
Instagram: @klerebear or find me here.

Between my jobs & school (two more semesters then I’m done!), I know that posts will continue to be sporadic over the next 6 – 8 months. BUT I promise to try to post at least 2-3 new recipes per month. And hey, with the autumn weather rolling in, you know I’ll be all over those pumpkin recipes. (Sidenote: Has anyone else noticed that Halloween candy & paraphernalia are popping up everywhere already?? It’s only July!)

Thanks for sticking with me 🙂



A Cup of Tea & A Teatime Treat

I absolutely love tea and tea time treats. So with Mother’s Day right around the corner, which is clearly the perfect time for a tea party, this seems like a wonderful time to share one of my favorite tea time treats. Scottish Caramel Shortbread. It’s a buttery, melt in your mouth treat, with just a touch of sweetness from the gooey caramel which sits on top. I would pair this treat with a good cup of Scottish Breakfast or Irish Breakfast tea (with just a pinch of sugar and a splash of cream). This recipe actually comes directly from a Scottish Recipes cookbook my mom and I picked up whilst in Scotland a while back (super touristy factor – we bought it at some castle we were touring lol). It has all kinds of great recipes for traditional Scottish foods, like haggis. Yum. Okay not really, but there are a lot of other good recipes.

Anyway, I believe this Mother’s Day calls for a fancy tea time. Complete with delicious tea (see above), tea time treats such as the one below, & of course, a Downton Abbey marathon 🙂



Buttery, melt in your mouth, delicious goodness.



I adjusted the recipe a little bit and also eliminated the chocolate topping which is typically part of the standard for Scottish Caramel Shortbread (which is also called Millionaire’s Shortbread and can also be referred to as a Twix Bar – for that recipe, see here). I kind of feel like for this specific caramel recipe, the chocolate would have been overwhelming since the star here is really the butter flavor.

I should also note that this was probably the easiest shortbread/caramel concoction I’ve ever made.

Scottish Caramel Shortbread

Adapted from Traditional Scottish Recipes Cookbook


2 cups All Purpose Flour
1.5 sticks Butter, softened (I used salted)
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar (aka white sugar)


1 can Condensed Milk (standard can is 14oz)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (I prefer dark brown sugar)
1/2 stick Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 9×13 glass baking dish with parchment paper.

For the shortbread: In a bowl, combine the flour and butter until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the sugar. Mix until combined. Pour this mixture into your prepared pan. Press evenly and firmly throughout the pan. It will be very much like breadcrumbs that just have a little moisture to them. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

For the caramel: Pour the condensed milk into a medium sized pot, add the butter and brown sugar. Heat on the stove over medium high heat. Stirring constantly (so it does not stick) to dissolve the brown sugar and melt the butter. Stir until it begins to simmer. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens (about ten minutes or so). Pour the caramel over your cooled shortbread base.

Place the whole thing in the fridge or freezer to set the caramel. Once everything has cooled, you will have a gooey, buttery, delicious treat. Cut into squares to serve.

Optional: Sprinkle sea salt on top of the caramel.

More Mother’s Day recipes to follow! What are your Mother’s Day plans?




Lemon Garlic Chicken & Other Stuff


So the other day I was tweeting and posting on facebook (read: complaining publicly) about how I couldn’t think of a dinner plan. Being the good blogger I am, I started perusing my favorite food blogs for dinner inspiration. I ended up coming across a recipe I had previously bookmarked – Lemon Garlic Bacon Chicken from So Delushious (which is actually a modified version of Ina Garten’s Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken).

I realized though as I was searching for meals that I loved the fact that Chrissy of So Delushious posted about what she served with this main dish of chicken. Throughout my searching, I would come up with awesome ideas for main dishes and then be stumped on what to make for side dishes. Not that I don’t totally love oven roasted vegetables (I have no problem eating them every day), but sometimes the other people I feed would like to try other side dishes. Anyway, the point of this rant is that I like when people make suggestions of what to serve with whatever recipe is being shared (i.e. Chrissy’s chicken served with awesome green beans). So, I will now try to do that whenever I share recipes. Ok I’ll stop now. Food?


Crispy Oven Roasted PotatoesIMAG0291

Garlic Green Beans


And for the main course….CHICKEN. Crispy yet moist and delicious.IMAG0292

The dinner I served at 9:45pm because I decided to make this at 7:30pm. Sometimes my meal making decisions are not the most thought out. Luckily I feed people that easily forgive if the food is tasty.

Disclaimer: Okay so this recipe is a modification of a modification, and sadly does not involve bacon. I would have added bacon if I had any, but I was already starting dinner at 7:30pm so picking up bacon from the store just wasn’t going to happen. I’m sure it’s an awesome addition, but after tasting this version, it seemed unnecessary.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

Adapted from So Delushious & Ina Garten

8 – 10 bone-in chicken thighs (with skin, preferably)
Olive Oil
5 tablespoons butter
3 lemons
10 peeled cloves of garlic, roughly diced (garlic is awesome, so personally I think the more, the better)
Seasoning Salt (Lawry’s)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
One Yellow Onion, quartered
A handful of baby carrots, or 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups of chicken stock (I use Knorr powder, so two cups of cold water with 2 tablespoons of the powder)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange your chicken thighs in a roasting pan. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, cayenne, and seasoning salt. Just a quick sprinkle on both sides. Drizzle olive oil over all of the chicken thighs.

Chrissy recommends mincing your garlic until it is a paste-like consistency and then spreading it on the chicken thighs. I instead left them as decent size little chunks (that’s what those extra brown bits are on top of the chicken in the pictures above) – when they are broiled, I find it’s nice to run into those little pieces of burnt garlic. So this part is up to you. Either mince or dice your garlic, and place on top of the chicken thighs.

Arrange the carrots, onion, and lemon amongst the chicken in the roasting pan. Season with more salt, cayenne, pepper, and seasoning salt.

Pour the chicken broth into the roasting pan, taking extra care to not hit the tops of the chicken thighs, so that the garlic stays put. Place the pats of butter throughout the roasting pan. I broke up the 5 tablespoons into smaller pieces so I could place it all throughout the roasting pan.

Roast for 30 minutes on 400 degrees F. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and roast for another 30 – 35 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Sporadically baste the chicken with the juices from the pan (or if you’re me, spoon some of the juices onto the chicken – same thing. tamata tomato).

I like to cut into the piece that I will likely be eating as I don’t care about disfigured food. But I like to save the nice ones for everyone else. Check that the juices are running clear and the chicken is cooked.

Broil for 5 – 10 minutes, watching the whole time so that your chicken doesn’t burst into flames. (I have an irrational fear of causing things to burst into flames if I use the broiler…my mom swears it happens). Anyway, broil until the skin is nice and brown.

Serve on a platter with a few spoonfuls of the juices from the pan.

I like to also serve the carrots because I like carrots. Also, good luck getting this to the table without people coming over to pick off the crispy skin.

It’s scrumptious and reminds me of Thanksgiving flavors.

Crispy Oven Roasted Potatoes

Recipe by me

7 Russet Potatoes (or whatever you have on hand), washed, eyes removed, and chopped into chunks (skin on)
Olive Oil
Garlic Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

If you are making the chicken above, when you lower the heat to 375 degrees F, you’ll be all set for the potatoes. Or if you’re not, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange your potatoes so they are all flat and not overlapping at all. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until tender and slightly brown. I would recommend turning the baking sheet about halfway through cooking to ensure even baking.

Garlic Green Beans
Adapted from Kitchen Parade Veggie Venture

1 pound Green Beans, cleaned and with the ends removed
Olive Oil (about 2 tablespoons)
4-5 cloves Garlic, chopped into small chunks or slices
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is a medium golden brown color. Add the green beans (be careful and make sure that they are dry or else the water + oil will create lots of splattering). Sauté the green beans and garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking. Continue to sauté until the green beans begin to wilt, about 4 – 5 minutes. Dissolve the sugar in the water, then pour the water over the green beans. Place a lid on the skillet and allow to steam for 5 – 6 minutes or until most of the water is evaporated. The beans should still be bright green. Serve with the remaining syrupy liquid.

And there you have it, a complete meal! All that’s missing is dessert (or is it? Reese’s Blondies anyone?)

Okay, back to the hectic-ness that has been this week.



Holidays – The Aftermath

The short version of my 2012 holiday season.


Crafting with sparkly elastic for Christmas gifts. This was by far the best DIY thing I’ve ever done – homemade no-snag hair ties and headbands. (To order, check out Sunshine Shoppe – AMAZING prices! Will definitely be ordering more in the near future). 1 minute Instructions: Measure about 8.5″ or around your wrist + 1 inch for hair tie or measure around your head + 1 inch or about 20″. Wrap around finger into knot, roll the knot down to pull taut, but don’t touch the edges lest it fray, dab a bit of elmer’s glue on the edges to prevent fraying. Be satisfied with your work. For picture instructions, see here


Post-Christmas relaxing and watching of the Doctor Who Christmas Special.
Brain (top) & Pinky (bottom) were exhausted from opening presents and chasing toys around the house.


IMAG0220 IMAG0215

Hasselback Potatoes

Slice slits into the potato, leaving about 1/2 inch at the bottom of the potato to create an accordion look. Butter, Cheese, Garlic Salt, Pepper, repeat. Place on foil and bake for 30 minutes or until tender at 375 degrees F. Add more cheese. Place in oven again. Let the cheese melt. Enjoy.

IMAG0212Oh look, it’s Pinky. He likes to sit in the upside down stools while I vacuum.


Quick and delicious dinner in those post-Christmas/pre-New Year’s days.

Spicy Clam Sauce Pasta

Heat 2 cans of clam chowder as per can instructions. Add a healthy splash of some kind of dry white wine or cooking sherry, several heaping tablespoons of red pepper flakes, and a bunch of freshly grated parmesan. Pour over your favorite cooked pasta. Quick, easy, and delicious.

Happy Start of 2013! & Happy Birthday J!
Celebrating the New Year at San Francisco City Hall.


Exploring Japantown and partaking in our favorite pastime – eating all types of Asian noodle soup.
Suzu Noodle House


More San Francisco explorations during the first few days of 2013. Standing on top of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.


Tea blends!

And finally, enjoying a lovely tea time at DarTealing Lounge with my mother and sisters.
Our new monthly tradition.
I highly recommend the Creme de Coconut and Her Majesty’s Secret Service as tea choices.

So that about sums up my holiday season. There was lots of quality time spent with family and J, as well as lots of time spent drinking tea and coffee and of course, eating delicious food.

I hope your holidays were just as enjoyable as mine!

I know I’m a bit late, but…

Cheers to a fabulous 2013!




I absolutely love Thanksgiving, in fact, my favorite holidays are Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, & St. Patrick’s Day (I love corned beef…just wait until March), in that order. Okay, maybe not really in that order because Thanksgiving and Halloween are really more tied…and Halloween might pull ahead a slight bit. But anyway, I do love Thanksgiving. All the food, all the thankfulness, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!, & you know I guess I like seeing relatives and all that. Maybe. Kind of. Sort of.

Anyway…Thanksgiving food! This year’s planning has been put to the very last minute, because, one, finals week is spilling into Thanksgiving week, and two, work prep for Black Friday/Christmas season is in full effect. So to keep up with everything, I’ve probably consumed about 10x the normal amount of caffeine I consume. Oh well. DRINK COFFEE AND CARRY ON.

So yea, if you’re last minute prepping like me, here’s a handy dandy list of links and food ideas that will hopefully all be incorporated into Thanksgiving 2012. Oh and for decor ideas, see my Pinterest board, Thanksgiving.

The Menu

Pumpkin Bread – Libby’s/my great-grandmother (don’t forget to serve it warm with cream cheese!)

Truffled Popcorn – Ina Garten (what? I’m buying truffle butter for the turkey anyway, why not put it to good use for an appetizer as well!)

Clam Dip + pita chips – my mother will be making this because her recipe is TOP SECRET.

Artichoke & Jalapeño Dip (because J is obsessed) – from Costco. It’s awesome and worth not having to search out good jalapeños and artichoke hearts. Directions: Go to Costco, find the large tub of Artichoke-Jalapeño Dip, go home, place in a microwave safe dish or oven-safe dish, microwave or bake until bubbly and cheesy and delicious. Dip everything into it. Enjoy!

Green Bean Casserole (of course you have to have the classic) but no soy sauce, putting all the french fried onions on top for the whole baking process, and instead of 3/4 cup milk, I will be doing 3/4 cup dry cooking sherry. The results are amazing. TRY IT.  – Campbell’s Kitchen

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (but with cream cheese instead of sour cream, and red potatoes with the skin on) – Paula Deen

Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter – Ina Garten

My Mom’s Gravy – which is also apparently a secret, BUT one I might get to learn this year. I said might. So no guarantees this recipe  will make an appearance post-Thanksgiving. All I know is it involves heavy cream, turkey drippings, and good scotch.

Stuffing – Pepperidge Farms Stuffing Mix, sausage, celery, & onions. Don’t judge, it’s delicious. (Be on the lookout for my mom’s sticky rice stuffing at Christmastime – that will hopefully redeem me for my use of pre-made stuffing mix).

Cranberry Sauce (this is about as close to my mom’s recipe as I can get; though no sugar/salt/pepper at the end, and a quick splash of grand marnier about halfway through cooking) – Food Network Kitchens

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts – Same as always. A bunch of cut up brussel sprouts, a giant dousing of extra virgin olive oil, and a ton of garlic salt & freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 – 40 minutes or until all the brussel sprouts are nicely roasted with a lovely brown on the outer layers. This is seriously my new favorite way to eat brussel sprouts (and really all veggies lately) – oven roasted. They taste like salt and pepper chips. See picture below.

Caramel Pecan Tart – I actually plan to make a hybrid recipe out of this one from Martha Stewart and this one from Not Without Salt (and yes, of course I will add a chocolate ganache topping. Because, really, why not?)

Pumpkin Cheesecake – Krusteaz Pumpkin Bar Mix (this is all my mom, she saw the box, saw the recipe on the box, and decided that was it, this needed to be apart of Thanksgiving)

So, I think that’s it…unless last minute I decide to make some Cheddar-Mustard-Beer Pull-Apart Bread or something else like that. Which could totally happen. I also thought about throwing in a habanero mac & cheese, but there’s only 5 of us eating, and I don’t think I’ll have time to go find the awesome habanero jack that I used last time, so I guess it will have to wait for another day.

Any other suggestions though? Anything I’m missing?

Hope you are all having a fun time planning for Thanksgiving & not scrounging about searching for time to go buy a turkey, like I am. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to find one tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving Planning!



PS: Delicious example of oven-roasted brussel sprouts. They’re crispy and salty on the outside, slightly soft and sweet on the inside. Mmm…