Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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Saltine Cracker Toffee

I love sweet and salty. One thing I have always remembered my grandmama making was saltine cracker toffee. It’s like a faux toffee or brittle. And it’s super easy. Recently, I ate something that had the same flavor so I made a mental note to find the recipe and make it, especially after learning that my husband’s family had never had this incredible concoction before. Then, like a mind reader, my mom made some for our family Christmas get-together, except she made hers with graham crackers instead of saltines.

My memory is not always the best, but I know I remember grandmama making this with saltines. And luckily my cousin remembered the same. So I got the recipe from my mom (which did use graham crackers), found something similar online to compare that used saltines, and kind of combined and tweaked the two to make a delicious Saltine Cracker Toffee.

None of the measurements have to be exact and there are a lot of ways to modify this recipe. Apparently a lot of people add chocolate too. I love chocolate but there are SO many chocolate treats that I prefer this one without. You can also use different kinds of nuts or no nuts at all! That is the beauty of this recipe.

Try it out and let me know (a) how you like it and (b) how you modify it! Individual steps/tips and pictures are next or see the recipe below.

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The recipe requires a simple 3 ingredients. Yes, that’s right – only 3. Saltines, butter, and brown sugar. Oh and some cooking spray and aluminum if you want to count those.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet (one that has sides and is not completely flat) with aluminum foil then spray with cooking spray. Line up saltine crackers to fill the cookie sheet. If you are using nuts and need to chop them, go ahead and do that.

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In a medium sized saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. I cut the sticks into smaller pieces just to help it melt quicker. Once it’s about halfway melted, add the brown sugar. Once butter is completely melted, bring to boil over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until it thickens and the sugar has dissolved. Stir constantly during this part. You want the butter and sugar to be completely combined and be the color of caramel.

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Once that is done, pour it evenly over the saltine crackers and spread with a knife or spoon or spatula. It does not have to be perfect and it will spread out more in the oven, but try to cover all cracker with sauce as best you can.

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Sprinkle nuts on top. You can use and much or as little as you like and again – perfection is not a thing. Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes. You want it to be golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool. It will cool faster if you take the foil (with the toffee) off the cookie sheet. I also let it cool about 10 minutes on the counter then put it in the refrigerator to finish cooling. After it cools, break into pieces and enjoy! These were a HUGE hit at my office holiday party and it’s super easy to make.

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Saltine Cracker Toffee

Ingredients

  • 40-50 saltine crackers
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 C light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 C chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray
  3. Place saltine crackers in single layer covering cookie sheet
  4. Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until butter is about halfway melted then add brown sugar.
  5. Once butter is melted, bring to a boil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Stir constantly. The goal is for the sugar to be dissolved and combined with butter, the mixture to be thickened, and to be a caramel color.
  6. Pour butter-sugar mixture evenly over saltines. Spread out with a utensil (knife, spoon, spatula, etc.).
  7. Sprinkle pecans on top.
  8. Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Remove pan from oven and take foil & toffee off of the pan. Let cool then break into pieces. Can also place in refrigerator to cool.

Notes

You can use whatever nuts you want or no nuts at all. Print the recipe here: Saltine Cracker Toffee


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The One That Got Away

My 2019 reading challenge is officially underway. My Goodreads challenge is to read 34 books (two more than I read in 2018) and book number one for the year was The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes. This is a sort of freaky Friday scenario, except instead of trading places with someone, main character Abbey Lahey finds herself living in a world where she did not turn down a date with Alex van Holt. A world where she is no longer working full time, shuttling kids around, and trying to make ends meet while her husband’s business declines. In this world she is the wife of a millionaire running for Congress.

The book was a pretty quick read and was entertaining. There were times when I began to dislike Abbey’s character but she always seemed to bounce back into good graces. Also as a reader, I just kept waiting and waiting for her to wake up. The freak accident that caused this alternate universe – falling off the escalator at Nordstrom – obviously put Abbey in a coma and she would wake up any moment. But the author keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for this outcome.

Does Abbey wake up? Is she really still Abbey Lahey and not Abbey van Holt? How can one small decision change the entire trajectory of your life? You will have to read to find out. 5 stars from me!

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Swimming Pigs

Since my previous post about our honeymoon was getting long, I promised to write one specifically about the excursion. As I said, there were plenty of free activities at Sandals Emerald Bay, but there were also optional excursions and we decided to not be completely lazy every single day.

Now I may have been – at first – a little underwhelmed going to the Bahamas (a feeling that was completely unfounded and wrong), but when my husband told me what excursion we would be doing I almost cried. Ever since I was little I have loved pigs. Don’t ask me why and I don’t know where that love came from (mom? dad? anyone know?), but I love pigs. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out we would be SWIMMING WITH PIGS. Even now, almost 9 months later, I am reliving the excitement. I had also seen this excursion on The Bachelor so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

The tour was done by Great Exuma Water Sports. They had 2 time options – a morning and afternoon. We decided we could suck it up and set an alarm one morning, knowing that the weather would be more mild than the middle of the afternoon on a boat. I want to say there were about 25 of us on the tour but that could be way off. There was a short bus ride to the other end of the island where we boarded the boat and took a nice little ride through the Exuma islands. The guide was great – telling us stories and history about the area and specific islands. And just riding around in a boat was fun enough!

But of course we were there for more. The first stop was Pig Island and it is definitely something you need to experience. As the boat nears the island, pigs literally begin running into the water. They swim to the boat, amidst sting rays swirling around below the surface. (You can see some of it in the video on my last post). We jumped out of the boat, into the water, and began feeding the pigs chicken hot dogs. Only the big ones really swim out into the water but there are little ones too that hang out at the edge of the water on the island. I guess eventually they learn to swim because that’s where the treats are. They also bring a bucket of leftovers to feed to both the big pigs and little pigs to make sure everyone gets some grub. We hung out with the swimming pigs in the water for a bit then made our way up onto the island where I immediately found a cute little friend. I held him like a baby and he fell asleep in my arms. Once again, I was almost in tears.

I could talk about the pigs for days. I was in love and would have brought that little piggy home if I could. But there was more to the tour! Our next stop was a little island that bordered both the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay where there is a cool blow hole. It also had beautiful views. I think you would typically do some reef snorkeling there as well but the Atlantic was very choppy that day and it would not have been a pleasant snorkeling experience.

Our guide found a live starfish along the ride, which we passed around the boat (then returned to the water). We stopped at another island to see and feed Bahamian Rock iguanas (who eat grapes). And our last stop was by the little island to do a little snorkeling since we couldn’t do it at the reef.

I would definitely recommend this tour if you visit Great Exuma. It was nice to get out of the resort for half a day and we still got some good nap time by the pool after we returned. I cannot imagine a better honeymoon – my husband did a FANTASTIC job planning – and Sandals definitely set the bar high for all-inclusive resorts.

 


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White Sandy Beaches

Since I took a hiatus from the blog, I want to go back and cover some things that happened during that hiatus. Our wedding was a major part of the time which could cover many, many posts. Those posts are TBD. But the honeymoon was definitely the best part of my hiatus (besides the vows of course, honey) and I definitely want to share that.

My husband planned the honeymoon with a little help from Jennifer at Epperly Travel. Regardless, it was one thing I did not have to think about at all and yes, I completely trusted him with this planning. And he actually succeeded in keeping it a surprise! Jennifer was very helpful with the details and it was nice to know there was someone there to handle any last minute details or unforeseen disasters. He had some parameters we discussed together – beach, all-inclusive, and not somewhere that took a lot of travel time (have to maximize that vacation time). I definitely recommend going the travel agent route for your honeymoon and Epperly Travel was fantastic.

We ended up at Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in Great Exuma, Bahamas. I won’t lie – when I heard we were going to the Bahamas, I was a little underwhelmed. When I think Bahamas, the only thing I picture is Atlantis and super water slides and tourists. But that image could not have been further from the truth. Great Exuma is further south than Grand Bahama, Nassau, and the better-known parts of the Bahamas. It was a 2 hour non-stop flight from Atlanta (perfect) to the quaint little airport in Georgetown then we were shuttled the mere 20 minutes to the resort.

My next recommendation for an all-inclusive trip is to splurge at least once for the butler service. It just makes your trip feel that more special and personal. Our butlers made our dinner and spa reservations, claimed beach chairs for us every day, brought drinks and snacks to the beach, brought dinner to the room if we wanted to dine in, and just made sure we had everything we needed at all times.

So how was it?! The beach was beautiful and about a mile long, private just to the resort guest. The weather was perfect – not too hot and I think I wore a sweater one evening while we were there. April is a great time to go. Two pools – the party pool and the quiet pool gave good options depending on your mood. The food was delicious. There are 11 restaurants and we ate at 10 of them. One is just coffee and desserts and some are just for lunch. Our favorite was definitely La Parisienne, the French restaurant. It was so nice to not have to worry  about paying for anything.

There are also plenty of activities included if you are not the lay and do nothing on the beach type. We do enjoy laying doing nothing (at the beach at least), especially after the wedding, but we made sure to try out a couple activities. There is a cruise-ship type schedule of activities every day (corn hole tournament, karaoke, etc.) if that’s your thing. There are water sports included. We went out on a hobie cat (like a sailboat) and took a kayak out one day. There are also swings and hammocks along the beach which was a nice change of pace from the lounge chairs. This resort also has golf if that’s your thing!

I realize this post is getting long so I am going to save our excursion for a separate post because there is plenty to say about that as well. It really is like a cruise on land! We also hit up the spa for a couples massage and it was wonderful and relaxing. You have to treat yo’self on your honeymoon!

This was my first all-inclusive and my first Sandals experience and I really have nothing but good things to say about it. Sandals Emerald Bay was perfect for us. We have a list of others we would like to visit because we will definitely be repeat Sandals customers.

I leave you with a little video I made. It was fun to have a Go Pro on the trip to get some extra memories and water pictures and video. Look for the excursion post to come – it was definitely the icing on the cake.


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New Year – Renew Blog

I took a little break from my blog but I’ve been wanting to start again. And what better time to start than the first day of a new year?! 2018 was a fabulous one. I got married to the man of my dreams. We traveled. We cook and try new restaurants. And I read a lot of books. 32 to be exact. Which is where I’ll restart my blog for the year. My blog will still be mostly what it was – books, food, travels, and random thoughts.

2018 was a good year in books for me. I plowed though my Goodreads challenge of 25 books with a whopping 32 books. I love stats so thank you, Goodreads, for providing me some for my reading – my rankings of books, longest book read, etc.

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I had a decent mix of fiction and nonfiction. Though most of my nonfiction was Bachelor related – apparently I got on a kick and some of the fiction was based on true events. I also had a number of stories that took place during different wars. I still need to watch The Zookeeper’s Wife movie. And let’s not forget the marriage books – The Most Important Year, written by my previous boss and his wife, my husband and I read together (half the book is for women and the other half for men) and the other recently read with our first married couples small group through church.

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Fiction is still my favorite and I definitely have reading patterns. Jojo Moyes is still one of my favorite authors and I still have a lot of her books to read. My other favorite is mystery/thriller – especially in the vein of Criminal Minds/behavioral analysis.

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I do not absolutely love every book I read. Some are harder to get through than others. Arcadia was very slow and The Handmaid’s Tale was actually very disappointing after watching the tv show. That might be the second time I’ve ever said a show/movie was better than a book.

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I reread my favorite book of all time – Redeeming Love. I found a great new author – Tana French. Dark Matter was a surprisingly good science fiction novel.

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I’m excited for another great year in books. I’ve set my Goodreads Challenge to read 34 books so send all the recommendations. I’ll be writing actual reviews for individual books again but I thought this overview was a good way to kick off the new year. Happy reading and happy blogging again!


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The Girls

The Girls by Emma Cline was a nice diversion from the types of books I’ve been reading lately. The main character is a woman who is reflecting back on when she was a girl and the group she became involved with the summer before high school. A group that ended up doing a very horrible thing. It’s interesting and captivating. My only complaint is that there are not really any details about how this has affected her as an adult and that she seems completely fine and normal, which is possible, but not likely considering the memories she is living with and seemingly reliving on a regular basis. It’s also hard to believe that she was never, at all, brought into the aftermath of this horrible event.

The book was still a good read and was hard to put down at the end. Enjoy!

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The Nest

Goodreads is telling me I am 10 books behind schedule to win my 2017 reading challenge. I was maybe a little ambitious this year. But I’m not going to let it bother me. I’m also trying to intersperse some podcasts in between books, so I’m not going to feel bad when I don’t read 35 books this year.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was a quick read but was a great narrative on family relations and dealing with hardships. Although the Plumb family is not what I would call a typical representation of the American family, what they deal with is the same as what many families deal with. The difference, to me, is how they deal with it. Or at least try to deal with it at first by trying to solve every problem with money. But in the end they learn some lessons.

I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads – ‘really liked it’ – so grab it from your local bookstore or library and enjoy!

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