Caramel Apple Snickers Salad – HaliPawz

I received a text message from my niece this morning asking me for the recipe for my Caramel Apple Snickers Dessert.   I immediately came to my blog to pull it up and realized I had never typed it up!  I took all of the pictures the last time I made it, but forgot to write the recipe.  I needed to correct this oversight immediately! Now, yes, the title is misleading, it isn’t really a salad, it’s a dessert, but let’s face it, we all feel better calling it a salad.

Dessert, caramel apple
I will admit, I didn’t come up with the recipe, I found it a while ago, back before I was writing a blog, so I didn’t save the information of where I found it or who had authored it.  I have made some changes to it to suit my preferences and wanted to share it with everyone.  Because it is a nice cool dessert, it makes a nice Fourth of July celebration dish but can be enjoyed all year long.

For my dessert, I chose to use Ambrosia Apples.  You can use any type of apple you want, but I chose these because they are a low acid apple, so more people can enjoy them, they tend to be more sweet, than tart, and they blend well with the other ingredients. If you want a tarter apple, Granny Smith apples may be better for you.

As some of you may recall from my pasta salad recipe, I like to use the half size disposable aluminum steam pans.  I usually buy the pans and lids from Sam’s Club and use them throughout the year.  I never have to worry about remembering my pan after a party.  Depending on the size pan you are using, you can adjust the apples and the snickers to match.

Ingredients

6 Ambrosia Apples (Can use any type of apple you choose)

12-15 Fun Size Snickers Bars (I used the fun size because ounce for ounce,

they are cheaper than the full size ones at Wal-Mart and easier to cut up)

1 16oz tub Cool Whip

1/2 cup Milk

1 5oz package Vanilla Instant Pudding (If you want more pudding flavor,

use two small boxes and 3/4 cup Milk)

Caramel Topping

Chocolate Topping

Handful of chopped pecans (optional)

Before I begin to mix everything, I start by cutting up the apples and the Snicker’s bars.  To speed up the apples, I use my Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer.  It works amazingly well, and then I just have to cut them into a little bit smaller pieces.  I take the peeling off because it’s easier for my mom to eat that way, but if you don’t have anyone with those issues, feel free to leave the peelings on.

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Apple being peeled by Pampered Chef Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer

For the Snickers bars, I found it easiest to flip them over, cut down the middle, then cut along the bar in small, bite size pieces.  It is important to make sure you start with a sharp knife.  I’ve tried it before with a knife I didn’t sharpen, and it was a mess.  When I sharpen the knife right before starting, it cuts through the candy bar very nicely.

Flip Snickers bar over for easier cutting

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Chopped up Snickers Pieces

To start putting it all together, I make a small pattern of the caramel topping and chocolate topping on the bottom of the pan.  I know no one sees it, but I think it helps with the flavors being better mixed.

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In a mixing bowl, combine the milk and the pudding mix.  Slowly blend in the cool whip.  Once you have it at a nice consistency, fold in  the apples and the snickers pieces.

Once they are all mixed well together, spread the mixture out into the pan.  If you’re like me, I try to smooth it all out, so it’s flat and even, but since it’s a “salad” it doesn’t matter how it looks in the pan.  Well yeah, to me, it does!

Drizzle the caramel sauce and the chocolate sauce over the top.  You can sprinkle some pecans on the top if you want as well.  I know I know, with the Snicker’s having peanuts, why would you add pecans….to that I say….why WOULDN’T you add pecans?  Pecans ALWAYS go with chocolate, caramel, and apples!

Caramel Apple Snickers Salad

Chill for at least an hour before serving.  If you’re taking it to a party, you might want to consider taking another empty pan, put ice in the bottom, and let the salad sit on the ice to keep cold until it is served.

Enjoy!

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The trip to the Kansas City Zoo takes a frustrating turn – HaliPawz

I love zoos. It’s a great way to get outdoors, go walking, and enjoy seeing all of the animals.  Great zoos aren’t just about keeping animals in captivity but about learning about them and striving to find a way to help those in the wild stay wild.  Mom is down visiting right now so we are headed to the Kansas City Zoo.  With her electric scooter, it’s a nice day outing and I think she enjoys the zoo as much as I do.

Growing up, we didn’t get to the zoo very often, it wasn’t close to us.  The Detroit Zoo was about an hour away and when I was young, that seemed so far away. Both me and my sister now live close to a zoo, she is near the Comunbus Zoo in Ohio.  I think my mom made it to four zoos last summer between us; Kansas City, Omaha, and Detroit with me, Columbus with her.

The Weather Channel App for Kansas City

The Weather Channel App for Kansas City

We arrived around 10am, two hours after the zoo opened. I couldn’t believe how many cars were here. A lot of buses were also in the parking lot.  The handicapped spaces were full, there isn’t a lot of them, so we went in search of a parking space.  Even though there isn’t a lot of handicapped parking, there is a large area for loading and unloading, so it isn’t necessarily a problem.  Mom had her scooter, so we could park pretty much anywhere as long as I had room to get it out of the back of the van. We ended up parking by the buses.

Mom forgot her hat so the first 20 minutes were spent going back and forth between her and the gift shop as I looked for a hat for her.  She prefers the crush-able fabric bucket hats but it seemed like they only had those in child size.  She didn’t want to come in with her scooter because it is sometimes difficult to navigate in there with it, especially when there is a lot of people.  While most of the park is ADA friendly, I will say the main gift shop near the entrance is sometimes difficult.  It has enough room for a wheelchair, so they are compliant, but, like we often see in stores, they don’t take into account someone with an electric scooter.  There are quite a few sharp twists and turns from that perspective.  I finally convinced her to come in and look at them.  She didn’t want the adult hats because they didn’t say “Kansas City Zoo” on them, so I found the largest size child’s hat they had and she purchased that.  I’m sad to say I didn’t get a picture of it because of what happened as the day progressed.

Giraffes and Kansas City Zoo

Giraffes and Kansas City Zoo

As we were going through the back half of the zoo, after we crossed the swinging bridge, I noticed I smelled a burning wire / electronic smell.  I thought perhaps it was just being in that area and ignored it.  As we crossed back over the swinging bridge to finish our African Adventure and grab a bite to eat, I noticed my mom was getting further away from me.  She keeps the speed pretty slow in general, but this was slower than normal.
We had lunch at Rafiki Restaurant right at the beginning of Africa.  I had shut off the scooter and removed the key while we sat at a table inside.  After our day, I hate to say something negative about the zoo, but I really have to.  I know you can bring in your own food but when for me, between traveling with everything my mom needs and the scooter, the last thing I want to worry about it packing a lunch and keeping it cold.  The food at the zoo just seems so overpriced for what you get.  The fries were good.   They were the nice thick crinkle ones.  The double cheeseburgers are $8 and so dry! I understand having to cook them well done, they might even purchase them pre-made, pre-cooked, I’m not sure, but my cheese didn’t even begin to melt.  Is the cheese too cold?  The burgers not hot enough?  It’s a little disappointing.  One way to save some money though is to have a Friends of the Zoo Membership (FOTZ).  You save money on food, items in the gift shop, etc.  If you purchase a large, refillable, souvenir cup for $8, you can get it refilled for $1.50 or $1.35 with the FOTZ membership.   They will refill it with ice water for no charge.

Pepsi, Orangutan Canopy

Kansas City Zoo Souvenir Cup

The cups are nice and large and for us, they fit in the basket of her scooter quite well.

After we finished eating, mom started the scooter back up, ready to enjoy the remainder of the day and head over to the new Orangutan Canopy Exhibit.  She pushed the lever and nothing happened.  I looked over and the scooter wasn’t moving.  Uh Oh, what’s going on.  I thought perhaps I forgot to re-engage the brakes, but it usually gives us an alert when we do that.  I had her shut it off, I checked it all over, had her start it up again, and again, nothing happened.  What is going on?  I have her hop back off it so I can try to figure it all out.  I pull the battery out, check all of the connections, put it back in, and try it again.  Still nothing.  I turn it on and leave it on for about sixty seconds, and a series of beeps start to come from the scooter.  I know those beeps mean something, so I turn it off and back on again so I can count the beeps.  9 beeps.  Pull the battery back out to cross reference what 9 beeps means.  INTERNAL ERROR!!!  Contact an authorized dealer!  Ugh!!!! I leave a message with Chuck from Chuck’s Mobility over in Lenexa, KS.  He is the one we had purchased it from.  I guess I should be happy that this happened in Kansas City and not in Michigan.

So here we are, stuck in the back of the zoo with a scooter that isn’t working.  I can’t push her all the way to the front.  Even if I went to get a replacement scooter, I still had to get the other scooter back to the van.  What a dilemma.

The restaurant is pretty busy, so I push mom out of the restaurant and head over to the gift shop.  They weren’t quite as busy so I asked the associate if she could contact someone in guest relations to figure out if they had a solution.  She was so helpful.  She was able to reach someone and they were sending EMS out to help us out.  I didn’t really feel like we needed EMS because it wasn’t an emergency, mom was fine, maybe a little frustrated, but fine.  EMS arrived and after a few minutes discussing the problem, we came up with a solution.  He was going to take mom in his cart, we were going to lift the scooter into the back of his unit, and he called for another person with a golf cart to give me a ride.  They were extremely helpful.  I can not thank all the parties involved and the Kansas City Zoo for their quick and effective help in a very frustrating situation.

While we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to see, now we just have an excuse to go back sooner once the scooter is back in commission and a reason to compliment the zoo even more!

Additional Note about the Scooter

Chuck called me back and I ran the scooter over to him.  He called me back after talking to the manufacturer and they believe the mother board is damaged.  A new one is on it’s way and Chuck will replace it as soon as he gets it.  If anyone is in the Kansas City area and in need of a scooter rental, a scooter purchase, or any mobility needs, Chuck is a great resource.  I have rented two scooters from him before we purchased mom’s last year and we have had nothing but great service from him.  The mother board is just a fluke and not a common problem.  We will be happy to have it back and her rolling again!

Mom on Scooter at Omaha Zoo Summer 2014

Mom on Scooter at Omaha Zoo Summer 2014

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Grass cutting dilemma over a holiday weekend – HaliPawz

My grass got too high.  It’s no one’s fault but my own.  I can make a bunch of excuses, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are, excuses.  It is the end of May and I had only partially cut my lawn in Missouri….where the rain had been flowing down for months now!  This leads me to spending my holiday weekend attempting to cut the grass….I say attempting because, it still isn’t done.

Let’s go back a few weeks.

I realized my grass was getting embarrassingly high.  I thought about getting someone to come in and cut it the first time because of how high it was, but I just didn’t want to spend the money.  Let’s face it, I’m still not where I want to be financially from doing the freelance writing, so I try to save every penny I can.  I’m one of the fortunate ones who lives in the city but still has a nice size yard.  When it comes to the dogs, it’s great, when it comes to cutting, not so great.   I begin to cut it and it’s still a little too damp from the rain we had overnight so the cutting is taking forever.  I decide to pause on the cutting and get out the weed eater to go around the house.  I don’t know why, but I also thought I could go back and forth like a machete and trip some of the high grass down.  I’m sure my neighbors were having a nice laugh at me!

Sometimes I swear I have adult ADHD because I jump around a lot when it comes to projects like this.  I always say I can justify it with a thought, but at the end of the day, I just can’t do the monotony of doing the same thing for hours.  It seems like writing is the only thing I can do for long periods without a problem.  Anyway…..I go back to cutting.  All of a sudden, out of no where, I see something wet looking and small fly out of the grass and away from the mower!  I stop the mower instantly and look down, there are three baby bunnies!  One flew into the tall grass, one took off down the slope of my yard, and one walked about six inches from where it came out of and froze.  Of course, I was convinced I had killed one; the one that had taken off and looked a little damp!  Looking around, I found their nest and then wondered, now what do I do.  I can’t see the other two anywhere, the grass is way too high, and the little frozen one is just standing still, even when I get close!

I go and sit on my porch and just stare at the baby bunny.  I send out a tweet about finding them.  I text my two animal lover friends to get some advice.  I google “who to contact when you find a baby bunny” and discover we have a nature center here in Kansas City that will help with things like this.  I call them.  No answer so I leave a message.  I’m still sitting on the porch.  Of course, I resolve to never let my grass get this high again because I don’t want to be a baby bunny killer.

Yes, I have since learned the nests are usually far enough into the ground I can

still cut my grass and cause them no harm…..but at the time, I didn’t realize it.

I grab the weed trimmer again and decide to do some more areas well away from where any baby bunnies might be.  Then it goes through my head, what if there are more and I won’t be able to see them while I’m cutting the grass?  Maybe I shouldn’t cut my grass until they are all gone?  How long will that be?  I stop trimming and sit on the porch again, staring at the frozen baby bunny.

I get up to go look to see if I can find the missing two, which I can’t.  One of my neighbors must have had enough of wondering what I was doing because he ventured over to me to ask.  We discussed the baby bunnies but I had the distinct impression he wouldn’t be as concerned as I was, or he just thinks I’m a little crazy! Either way, he walked away again without much advice.

My phone rings, It was Lakeside Nature Center calling me back.  She told me the mother rabbit will return around sundown, if I could find the babies and try to put them back in the nest, the mother would take care of them.  She then explained the “frozen” one was showing a tactic “If I don’t move, you can’t see me” to protect itself.  I felt better.  I had no clue where the other two were, but I was going to do my best to help these little guys out.  Needless to say, no more grass cutting was to be done that day.

I went inside for a little while, I was going to grab a yardstick to help me move the grass around so I could look for the wandering babies.  I ended up taking a phone call and got side tracked.  By the time I came back outside, I was overjoyed to see momma rabbit right by the frozen baby bunny and another one scamper into the grass as soon as I started down the porch.

Momma rabbit returns for her babies

 As you can see from the picture, the grass is quite high and stayed high for a while because, what I didn’t mention, is I was heading out-of-town the next day!

I was gone for a week and when I returned, it was easy to see the rain had not helped my grass growing dilemma.  My mom came back with me from Michigan so I had to do something about this situation soon.  She walks with a walker, so the high grass would be a problem for her since she has to walk through the grass to get to my porch.  I had built her a nice ramp last year to get up my steps, but she still had to walk up a slight hill on the grass so she didn’t need the problem of the high grass to go with it. It is clear my yard is not ADA friendly!  LOL

I grabbed my mower and cut a few paths for my mom to walk easier.  I cut about half of my front yard and then I saw a momma rabbit in a whole new area of the front yard.  I thought I saw a baby running away.  I decided to not cut in that area.  Maybe it was an excuse, but I cut all around it.  Then it started to rain.  Time to put the mower away again.

Rain came and went over the next few days and the grass kept getting higher.  The back yard was scary at this point.  Poor Zipper, my Jack Russel, had areas where the grass what much higher than him.  Because the dogs play out there all the time, some of the grass was trampled down, but it was still thick and high.  I had cut about two or three strips off to the side when I had cut the front yard and even that was getting high again.

Enough was enough, the grass had to be cut!  Who knew what was lurking in the grass, insects, rodents, it was time to conquer it so Monday, Memorial Day, I was out there.  It had rained earlier in the morning, so I knew it was going to be rough, but it was climbing to 80 degrees for the day, so the grass had to be drying somewhat.  I started in the back yard and began to cut.  I started in the area I had already cut, figured it would be easier and it was in the sun, so it would dryer.  As soon as I hit the higher grass, I knew I was in trouble.  The lawn mower would continually stop because of the high, thick grass.  I would have to back it up out of the high grass to restart it.  I would cut an area for a bit, then see a really high area and just cut across the yard to break it up.  My thinking was, if I broke it up into little pieces, it would be easier on the mower to go from high, then low, then high again.  In reality, I’m sure it was some more of my ADHD.  I’m so jealous of those who can go back and forth on their lawn in nice, neat rows, back and forth, so their yard looks great.  My dad would do that.  He would cut it one way one week, then another way the other.  Sometimes back and forth, sometimes on an angle.  My yard is cut in every direction, no rhyme or reason.

There were times I had to raise the mowers front wheels off the ground, go over a patch, then let the blades come down on it.  I had enough sense to lock the dogs in the house, so I wouldn’t have to be worried about them getting in the way or getting hurt.  Sadly, there were some loss of toys though.  I couldn’t see them, one was a stuffed animal, all of a sudden I saw the stuffing some flying out from around the mower!  Made me happy the dogs were inside, I felt it was safer.

I was dripping in sweat, the mower was stopping about ever 90 – 120 seconds.  I reached one part of my lawn where the grass was so thick and so wet at the bottom that I could only get about a foot or two and it would stall.  I was exhausted and my back was killing me from constantly pulling the cord on the mower.  I can usually cut my back yard with one full tank of gas.  I had filled it twice already.  About 4:30 pm, I had been at it over two and a half hours, not counting two fifteen minute water / rest breaks and my mower was now stalling every foot of grass until it was out of gas yet again.  I stopped.  I was out of gas in my gas can and decided I had enough.  Looking around at the patchy cutting I saw I still had about 1/4 of my back yard to cut and still tackle my front yard.  I was done for the day.

So, as I type this, I realize I have to run to the gas station to get more gas and get out there to finish my yard at some point today.  The grass WILL NOT WIN!  I guess the one good thing is, I had a nice workout!

Moral of the story, don’t let your grass get too high.  Just like so many things, if you ignore it, it will end up costing you more in the long run….in this case, more time, more energy, and more backache!

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Hertz Rental Car Review: Toyota Corolla 2013 – HaliPawz

It was time again to hit the road to Michigan.  I had decided the dogs would go with me so I knew I was going to drive.  Traveling with them has its own challenges, but since I was going to be gone for a week and I would be staying at homes that are dog friendly, it was an easy decision.

I went online to Hertz.com to rent my car.  I almost always rent from a Hertz Local Edition location because it always seems to be the cheapest way to rent a car for a week.  Unless you are traveling in by plane or train, I highly recommend using the local edition option from car rentals.   I have found the best discount so far seems to be the Delta Airlines / Hertz partnership agreement discounts.  Every now and then, the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards discount wins, but it is very rare.  You can access the codes for the Delta / Hertz agreement here, but then it only lets you search for the Hertz airline locations.  I take the codes and input them into the Hertz.com site instead.  To make it easier for the readers, I will just put the codes here:

Hertz Rent a Car Delta Airline Discount Codes

Discount/CDP/Club Code: 165385      

Promotional Coupon (PC): 197536

I don’t know if these codes change periodically or not, so if they don’t work, you may want to click the above link and see if they are different.

This trip was a little different because I was renting one way.  Hertz has a good one way program because they don’t charge you any more to drop off at another location and they have unlimited miles.  I was going to be switching to driving my mom’s van when I arrived in Michigan because she was going to be returning to Missouri with me for a few weeks.  Since she walks with a walker and has a motorized scooter, driving her van makes more sense.  It is a thirteen hour drive and I was only keeping the rental car for 24 hours.

I rented a Toyota Corolla (or similar).  I HATE spending unnecessary money for a big car when a medium size car works just as well.  I have learned the hard way NOT to go smaller than mid size, because you may end up cramped, uncomfortable, and possible without cruise control.  Can you imagine a thirteen hour drive without cruise control round trip?!?  Never again, so I always go mid size or larger!

I won’t go into too much detail about picking up the car because there were a few complications which aren’t typical of a local edition, but needless to say, I had my car and was headed back to the house to load it up after 30 minutes.

I ended up with a  2013 Gray Toyota Corolla with manual seats, power windows, and Bluetooth Hands-free system

I placed a full size seat protector across the back to minimize the dog hair and got started loading the car.

The first thing I want to point out is the large trunk space.  I was so please with how much space I had to load everything.  I am not the best packer when it comes to road trips, I tend to take too much stuff and I’m not very organized about it.  I had a large suitcase, a small suitcase, a bag with the dog’s stuff, two baby gates, a box of shoes, my laptop bag, and about two or three other miscellaneous bags with stuff in it. I also picked up a 28 pound bag of Earthborn Wellness Dog food, I figured Zipper could eat the same food as Bella for a week so I didn’t have to travel with two types of food.

I laid a dry cleaners bag of clothes over everything in the trunk and still could have placed a couple more small items if it was needed.

We hit the road.

Bella was not happy with the back seat.  I knew it was a little smaller back there than she was used to, especially with Zipper being back there as well.  I also had a cooler of water on the floor for them to drink out of.   Judging from the size of the cooler, it appeared there wasn’t  a lot of leg room, but in fairness, I didn’t sit in the back, so I don’t want to comment as a definite.

Zipper asleep on the floor. He is 18 pounds. Gives you an idea of leg room with seats all the way back

Bella stretched out in the backseat of the rental

My Road Warrior Bella in the Backseat

As a larger woman myself, I have to say the Toyota Corolla was comfortable for the most part throughout the trip.  I hated how low the seat was to the ground, but since I’m used to an Escape. I think any car is lower to the ground than I would prefer.  I am 5’10” and felt I hit my head too many times getting in and out of the car.  Once seated, I had enough leg room to be OK, I wouldn’t say it was comfortable.  For a long drive, I wish the center armrest was just a little higher.  There really was no place to rest my arm while I was driving.  Both the door and the center armrest was low.  I couldn’t imagine having power seats and raising the seat a little, I wouldn’t be able to even touch the armrest.

The head rest was just the opposite.  It was designed GREAT!  It was comfortable.  So rare in most vehicles, but I actually used it off and on throughout the drive.

Overall, the car handled nicely.  The cruise control maintained speeds even going up and down hills without feeling like it was dragging or playing catch up.  The car didn’t swerve too much, even with windier conditions, with the exception of going over a large, high bridge.  I was surprised by how much it moved.  With the size of the vehicle, as loaded down as we were, and with the weight of me and the dogs, I didn’t expect that much movement.  I would not want to drive over a high bridge during stronger winds with it!

As the sun began to set and I turned the lights on, I liked how comfortable on the eyes the interior lighting was.  It was the light red / orange you see in some vehicles, but it was laid out nicely.  I could still see everything without any strain or blurring  on the eyes.

I was very impressed with the gas mileage.  I could go about 350 miles on a tank of gas (it would say 362 miles when I filled it) and when I stopped to fill it, it only took about 10 gallons.  I averaged about 30-31 mpg.  When cost is a factor, it is nice to spend less for gas for the trip.

Some other nice features on the car are:

The cup-holders were spaced out nicely so two large cups could fit in them without hitting one when taking the other out.

There is a key holder on a wire so you can place a key chain there without  losing it.

There is a USB power unit within close proximity to the driver / the steering wheel so you can plug your phone in to charge really easily in addition to the usual power source located further down.

Everything was set up to be very driver friendly and within a comfortable reach.  There were audio controls on the steering wheel so you didn’t have to take your eyes off the road to make an adjustment.

All of these are great, but the feature I have to give the highest rating to is the hands free Bluetooth audio system!  I normally dislike these because I feel like they are garbled and a pain for the person you are talking to.  I normally hate talking to someone who is on one.  I decided to set it up to my phone anyway and give it a chance.  Am I glad I did! The sound quality was wonderful!  I talked to my mom for about twenty minutes and she had no problem hearing me.  Since she uses hearing aids, sometimes she does but she heard me clearly.  I heard her clearly.  Everyone I talked to (and I talk on the phone a lot when driving that far) could hear me fine with one exception.  I talked to one friend and I kept getting horrible feedback but I think it was his hand-free system, not mine because the minute he canceled his, everything was fine.  The only problem I found I would have is it sometimes wouldn’t answer with the system when I hit answer on the phone but it could have been my phone or the way I was answering.  I didn’t really have any time to play with it to see if other ways worked better.  I have to say it was probably the nicest drive I have ever had as far are telephone communication goes and for me, it made every other complaint I had obsolete because talking on the phone helps pass the time and makes the 13 hour drive go by a lot faster!

Saving money, easy drive, great hands-free audio system…..the positives outweighed the negative with this rental car!

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