5 Ingredient Graham Cracker Toffee Bars #virtualcookieexchange @stacitroilo

Hey, readers! For many years, I would set aside a Saturday or Sunday before Christmas to bake. I always made my family favorites – chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sand tarts, and sugar cookies to name a few. I’d even make fudge and microwave peanut brittle. It’s been a while since I did that. Honestly, I don’t cook a lot these days. After he retired, my husband took over the kitchen. (I love it!)

Last year my friend Staci Troilo hosted her first annual virtual cookie exchange. I was a working woman then and didn’t participate, but both she and her sister, Michele, were very persuasive in getting me to join in this time.

I had planned to try a new recipe, but time got away, and I needed to come up with something quick. These are both easy and delicious, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not baking “real” made-from-scratch cookies. 🙂

Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking. Toffee is a candy, not a cookie. And using graham crackers? That’s not really made from scratch. But since these are “bars,” I’m calling them cookies!

5 Ingredient Graham Cracker Toffee Bars


  • 14-16 sheets graham crackers
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (two sticks) salted butter (use real butter, not margarine!)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line an 11 x 15-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (If using foil, lightly mist with cooking spray.) Arrange graham crackers touching side by side in a single layer. If necessary, break some crackers in half in order to fit. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil for two minutes, then remove from heat and pour over graham crackers. Use a spatula or spoon to spread evenly. Bake for 6-7 minutes until the butter mixture is bubbly.
  4. Remove from oven, then immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the crackers. Let sit for a few minutes until the chocolate is melted, then use a spoon to spread the chocolate evenly.
  5. Let sit for about two hours to cool, then break apart to serve. Makes about 25 pieces.

That’s it! Easy and oh-so-good!

Be sure to check out the other bakers and grab some fabulous recipes. Click this link to visit Staci’s blog and see a list of the participants.

New Release: Mountain Laurel Christmas by @JanSikes3

I am delighted to welcome back author, friend, and fellow Story Empire contributor Jan Sikes to my blog today. Jan has written a brand new novelette and it’s just in time for the holidays.

Jan is a master at writing short stories, and I think this one is her best to date! (Read my five-star review here.)

Now, I’ll let her tell you all about this delightful story.

There are many famous quotes about music, but this one from Leo Tolstoy grabbed me. Mr. Tolstoy was an accomplished musician and composer and had a deep abiding love for music. He said, “Music is the shorthand of emotion.”

To my character in Mountain Laurel Christmas, music is everything. It gave him a reason to keep living, a dream to follow, and a way to vent his feelings.

I’ll share a couple of short excerpts to show that:

My one solace was, is, and always will be, music. I’d often disappear for hours at a time, taking my guitar with me. A stream runs a few hundred yards from our miner’s shack on the side of the Cumberland Mountains. That’s where I’d go to find solitude. I’d play my guitar and sing to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log, and frogs that leaped from stone to stone.

And the second one:

Anger crashed through me. I tore up the porch steps and into the house. Brushing past April, I charged straight to Mama, but nothing I said would make her look at me. She was gone.

The worst thing a boy can do is cry in front of his older sister. Once I said my piece, I grabbed my guitar and headed for the creek as I’d done a hundred times since Papa died. Oh, how I pounded on the guitar that day. The more I cried, the harder I hit the strings. But, by the time I dragged myself back to the house, mentally and physically exhausted, I’d written my first song about tragedy in a Cumberland Mountain coal mine.

Do you play a musical instrument or have a deep appreciation for music? I’d love to hear from you!


Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain.

Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.

It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father.

It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family? 










Merry Christmas

It’s been a rough year with unprecedented happenings. Maybe this Christmas season will be different for you. (I know it is for me.) Many of us won’t be celebrating with family. Some have had to cancel travel plans. Others haven’t seen members of your extended family in months.

But as we pause to reflect on this season, let’s look to the good things. Glad tidings of great joy. Special memories. Our everyday blessings. And let’s focus on better times ahead.

Except for being up at Story Empire tomorrow, I’ll be offline for a few days. Therefore I’m closing comments.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! I’ll be back next week.

Oh, Baubles #TuesdayBookShare @harmony_kent

Happy Tuesday, Readers! It’s the Christmas Season, and I’m delighted to welcme back friend and fellow author Harmony Kent here today talking about her brand-new release, Oh Baubles. I love a good Christmas story as well as romance, and this book contains both elements. Let’s welcome Harmony!

Hi everyone, Harmony here. I’m so thrilled to be visiting with Joan today to tell you about my latest book, a Christmas Romance Novella. It’s a fun, quick read at around 80 pages, and I had fun crafting this one. Below is a ‘sneek peek’ from Chapter 3 of ‘Oh Baubles.’

From the corner of her eye, she noticed John Andrews come onto the ward, and her cheeks immediately flamed crimson. His good-god good-looks overwhelmed her and ignited feelings she’d rather not have, not with her husband dead because of her.

Her sister noticed. Of course she did. Emily raised her eyebrows and waggled them at Charlene. ‘So, who’s the hottie, then?’ She winked at her sister. ‘Ooh, I remember him. He’s the physio that worked with you back along.’

Charlene rolled her eyes. ‘I’m his patient,’ she hissed from the side of her mouth.

Emily giggled. ‘I’ll bet he knows how to make a woman feel all better.’

Despite herself, Charlene laughed and slapped her sister’s wrist. ‘Shut up.’

John walked down the ward, studying his clipboard with intent. Emily grew nervous when he neared her bed. She would be his first patient of the morning. So far, he hadn’t looked at them. Then he did. His mouth fell open. God, but she must look a mess. Then he recovered himself and extended a hand to Emily, who took it and shook it.

‘Hi, I’m John Andrews, Charlene’s physio.’

Huh, talk about ignoring her. And what had that look been on his face? She wanted to slide beneath the covers and hide until he’d gone away again.

Her sister giggled. ‘Isn’t Charlie the lucky one?’

Charlene blurted out, ‘I don’t know about that.’

The three of them froze. Then John cleared his throat and smiled at her. It appeared forced. ‘Right then, Miss Matthers, let’s get you mobile shall we?’ He glanced around.

I hope you enjoyed this little excerpt. Below is the book description and then a bit about ‘the author’ for those of you who don’t yet know me.

Book Description

After a tragic accident one Christmas, Charlene loses her husband and her leg.

Scarred and damaged, the losses leave her lost and reeling, and a long recovery lies ahead of her.

When John, a hot young physiotherapist, comes into her life with his ripped abs and good-god good-looks, she can’t imagine he’d give somebody like her a second glance.

Then she falls for him.

Can Charlene overcome all obstacles to gain back her life and find true love once more?

Find out in this fun-filled, clean Christmas romance novella from award-winning author Harmony Kent.

Oh Baubles is available on Amazon for just 99c/99p, and the link is: http://mybook.to/OhBaubles

About the Author:

After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours. Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.