Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars

The sweet Kami from No Diets Allowed is always coming up with the BEST recipes.
Today she’s sharing a crowd-pleaser for us just in time for Thanksgiving!
Take it away Kami…

How lucky am I to be contributing for the very talented Michelle? I LOVE everything she shares (obviously, we have lots in common) and wanted to cook up something special for 4Men1Lady. Insert these chewy, crumbly Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars. They have quickly become my favorite go-to dessert.

caramel oatmeal bars - Everything Food Conference

So… I have a couple secrets to share. You might want to sit down. Ready for the first? I’m actually not a huge sugar and chocolate fan! This is where most people gasp and give me sympathetic pats on the arm. However, I do have a sweet tooth. Since sugar now gives me an instant headache, I enjoy using healthy, tasty, and sweet substitutes for recipes resulting in satisfying desserts like my Honey Peanut Butter Cookies and Chewy Ooey Gooey Brownies. Now both my mouth and stomach are both happy!

Ready for secret #2? These crumbly Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars make me a hypocrite! These are my favorite go-to holiday treat. I make them for holiday parties, family get togethers, neighbor gifts, and just to indulge on. This is the only time of year I make them and look forward to sharing their chewy goodness with you.

Chocolate Caramel Bars - Everything Food Conference

Caramel Chocolate Bars - Everything Food Conference

I’ve been cooking up lots of things recently including the most engaging, rewarding, fun, and delicious food blogger conference ever! We’re dedicated to stuffing your minds and stomachs, helping build brand/blogger relationships, and making sure you leave pumped and ready to succeed. With this amazing lineup of popular bloggers, it’s going to be nonstop engagement, fun, and partying.

We have several ticket options including live streaming of the full conference. Our tickets are selling quickly and if you’re unable to actually attend, you can still watch the conference from your own home! We wouldn’t want you to miss out entirely. Register now to come!

register2Back to these addicting treats. I’ve become a huge fan of whole wheat pastry flour. It keeps baked goods light and fluffy while keeping the nutritional benefits of whole wheat flour. You can use either whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour in this recipe, but I definitely recommend at some point trying whole wheat pastry flour.

oatmeal chocolate chip bars - Everything Food Conference

One final tip for my fellow moms. It can be tricky baking with young kids. I try to be creative and find ways for my 3 year old to be involved whenever I’m cooking. I gave her the job of unwrapping the Kraft caramels and she was in heaven. It kept her little hands and mind occupied while I worked on the more messy part.

Happy baking, everyone! Enjoy the holidays and every single moment with your families.

chocolate chip cookie bars - Everything Food Conference

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 package (11 oz) Krafts Caramels, individually unwrapped
1/2 cup milk (I used coconut milk)

  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set half aside for topping.
  2. Press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and pecans.
  3. In a small microwave-safe bowl, add caramels and milk. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted.
  4. Drizzle melted caramel over top. Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before cutting.
  5. Yield: about 4-1/2 dozen.


Cooking dinner with Blue Apron.

Sponsored post by Blue Apron.  All thoughts are my own.

One of the most important, if not most important, things we do as a family each day is sit down together for dinner.  I love that time around the table to recount the days events, share a meal and spend quality time as a family.  However, making dinner has become one of my least favorite things to do.  It didn’t always used to be that way.   Trying to find a meal that 5 different palettes enjoy is next to impossible.  Inevitably there is always at least one person who complains about the dinner I’ve just labored over and begs for cereal.  Maddening! Then I go in to the whole, “DO YOU KNOW THERE ARE STARVING PEOPLE…” lecture which never goes over well.

When Blue Apron reached out to see if we’d like to try their meal service I was totally on board.  Anything to help me try and fall in love with cooking again as well as see if could find something my little men would enjoy would be a welcomed challenge.


 2 dinners for 4 people were delivered in a box right to my doorstep.  Just the ingredients was a change to my old stand-by dinners I’ve gotten used to making to suite palette’s under 10 years old.  There were no boxed meals with artificial powders…everything was farm-fresh.

Night 1 I made Cantonese-Style Beef & Vegie Stir Fry.  The recipe was printed on a color page with pictured instructions.  It was like Cooking for Dummies and super helpful.

Blue Apron

Okay, so a carrot is a carrot, right?  No lie, I swear this carrot must have been grown in Heaven’s garden.  That sounds ludicrous, I know.  These ingredients were fancy, high quality ingredients that I wasn’t expecting.  I could have eaten everything raw they were so good.



It took about 45 minutes start to table which was a little longer than I normally like to spend on a meal but I was very careful to follow the instructions.  Last thing I wanted was to show off a slop of a meal for the camera.


Wouldn’t ya know they all ate it (except my youngest who I still have to force vegetables upon).

Night 2, I was swamped with work and the crew was hungry.  I had a deadline so I told the Mr. where the ingredients were, gave him the recipe card and let him loose to make Chicken Mole with Sweet Potatoes.


People, the Mr. doesn’t ask for much at all.  The one thing he would love every night is to know what the plan is for dinner…even if he has to cook it himself.


When he called everyone in for dinner I was shocked. Like fall off my seat shocked.


HE MADE THIS ALL BY HIMSELF!  Tell me this doesn’t look like a restaurant made it!
A+ on presentation.


Obviously he made no attempt at hiding any pride in his “cookery-ship” (word he invented).

The verdict: The Mr. and I loved it…the little men…we’re working on it.

So here’s how it works:
Blue Apron is a meal delivery service where you are the chef.  You can pick from a 2-person or family plan which serves 4.  The price for this plan is $8.74 per meal, or $69.92 per eight serving delivery. Free shipping.  No commitment, cancel anytime. Each meal is between 500-700 calories per person.

Would we do it again?
  Price. How do I say this without sounding like a poor cheapskate? Our allotted food budget is a lot less than $8.74 per person, per meal.  I totally think the price of the meal is on point but for our young family it’s a bit high to eat like that every night.  Having said that, I was so busy with work on night 2 that if we didn’t have the meal for the Mr. to prepare I would have sent him to get take-out which would have been the same price as the Blue Apron price and our take-out would have been less healthy.

Taste.  My little men weren’t as dazzled by the meals as the Mr. and I were.  Probably because they were a lot of vegetables (which most kids think are poison).  But listen, your kids get used to eating what you prepare most.  These Blue Apron recipes are the ideal way I’d like to feed my family all the time.

Convenience.  This is the biggest seller for me.  For as many excuses for price and complaining kids I have, you just can’t put a price tag on convenience in this day and age.  We’re just so busy that anything that helps us put a healthy meal with fresh ingredients on the table without having to plan or shop is priceless in my book.

We always ending up eating out at least once a week when schedules are just too hectic.  I would much prefer to have a healthy meal in the fridge on stand-by to prepare than running out for something which would take the same amount of time and be less healthy.  Having one meal delivered a week would be completely doable.

So here’s an exciting offer I get to extend.  If you’d like to try Blue Apron the first 50 readers will get two meals off their first Blue Apron order free!  Click here.

To explore some of Blue Apron’s dishes go here to their recipe page.

So tell me, with dinner time becoming some-what of a novelty these days how do you make dinner work at your house?

Boys loft space.

I have a friend.
She has 4 boys.
They are the kind of boys that are sweet, well- behaved and liked by everyone.
In their spare time they go around the state winning chess championships.  When they aren’t doing that, they’re out winning tennis, baseball and basketball trophies.
I have no doubt they’ll probably run the country in a few short years.
They’re like the modern day version of the Kennedy’s…living right down the street.
She’ll laugh, but it’s true.

They live in this house that was made for a family with boys.
Two of the bedrooms have tall ladders that go straight up to their own private loft.
Can you imagine? It’s like Narnia except the closet is a loft.
For Christmas she was thinking of surprising them by giving the lofts a mini-makeover.

The space is going to be used for the boys and their friends who will coming in to their teenage years shortly.  Video games, Kendama-ing, talking about girls (?).  Of course the first thought was to deck it out like a man cave and do sports memorabilia everywhere.  While that’s fun, I’ve found that kids outgrow that look rather quickly even though they may still love sports.   I’m envisioning the space to be centered around things they’re interested in yet still be able to grow with them.

loft collage1

1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

All furniture that will go in the loft needs to be carried up a ladder.  A plumbing pipe bookcase is perfect because it can be carried up in several pieces then put together on site.  In addition, it’s also perfectly customizable to the space.  You can make space for the the tv, video games and the hundreds of trophies they have.  The ceilings are really tall.  These chord pendants are great because they can give light off at any height plus they are a fun pop of color.

loft collage 26, 7, 8, 9.

When it comes to seating, bean bags are perfect for tweens.  They’re great for lounging and they can be easily transported up that huge ladder.  $200.  might be a bit pricey for 3 or 4 bags so I’ve offered a DIY version as well.

When it comes to kids (especially boys) carpet tiles are a no-brainer.  They offer the cushion for wrestling boys and they can also be removed and cleaned right in the sink if there’s a spill.  Flor offers fantastic options.  For an inexpensive option, I was at Dollar Tree the other day and found a whole box of gray striped ones for $1.00!  They say sold out on their site but I’ve seen tons of them in store.  Mix them up and you can make an awesome pattern.

loft collage 310, 11, 12, 13.

Huge prints of the boys is a great way to personalize a space.  Staples will do Engineered Prints for less than $10.00 and they are BIG!  Magnetic boards are also a great solution for tweens as well because they can arrange whatever they want on the wall and it’s not permanent.

So “A”…are you ready to get to work?