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Mornings in our house seem to be relaxed but rushed all at the same time.
My husband is usually sitting at the table, drinking coffee, leisurely eating his breakfast of eggs or yogurt and reading one of the 3 newspapers we subscribe to, while the rest of us are madly making breakfast (me) eating breakfast (kids), issuing reminders to brush teeth, wash faces, pick up rooms and discussing after school activities. Usually it’s a busy, purposeful time, but not too harried.
However – on a recent morning, the kids were arguing, I was frustrated, and after numerous mornings of almost being late to school (we live 5 minutes down the road), I told the kids the car was leaving at 7:45am and if they wanted a ride to school to be sitting in the back seat with their seat belts fastened. The boys were dropped off in front of the school, but my daughter, who with casual and deliberate slowness, took her time to complete her morning routine, was left at home.
I arrived back to a sobbing girl (because she had GT class first thing, loves it and didn’t want to miss it) and a supportive husband (I thought I might pass him driving her to school while I was on my way home from dropping off the boys, but he stood strong and firm).
After our morning walk (with a slight detour past the school), meeting a friend for coffee, and cleaning the house, I made these Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars, as I thought we all could use a little sweetness in our day.
Driving away that morning was one of the hardest things I have ever done as a mother, but the next morning, and each morning since, has been smooth and the kids have been timely.


Heat oven to 350F.
Whisk together 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Beat 1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar and 3/4 cup butter, softened, at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, beating until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until just blended. Stir in 1 cup of milk chocolate morsels just until combined. Spread batter in a lightly greased 7 by 11 pan. Microwave 1/2 cup caramel bits and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream for 2 minutes, or until melted, stirring at 30 second intervals. Pour caramel mixture over batter and gently swirl with a knife. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, October 2013