Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tapping My Inner Julia

Life has been a bit stressful around these parts as of late and yesterday it all came to a head.  I was thisclose to completely losing it.  I went for a run which helped tremendously but I wasn't yet back to my normal self.

Only one thing left to do. 

For me, feeling like that means I need to head to the kitchen and get to work. 

There is something about being in my kitchen that calms me.  I love looking through recipe books, or more recently, searching my Foodie Girl board. I love having a well stocked pantry (something that took me years of marriage to figure out how to do well) and finding everything I need.  I love the smells that come and the literal excitement I feel as I watch something come together.

The Rizz says that serving others is my love language or more specifically, that cooking is.  If I adore you, I will go to any lengths to show you with a well crafted meal.  He likes to joke that I do this for family and friends and that my own family is left eating cereal every night for dinner.  Sadly, this has been a titch true around here as I've struggled to keep up with everything on my plate. 

Last night I changed all that.

On the menu:

Four Cheese Mac & Cheese

I've talked about the sliders before and really encourage you to try them.  My whole house loves them and they are easy and delicious.  I whipped up some mac & cheese to pair with the sliders and it turned out mighty tasty if I do say so myself.  I'm usually a recipe-follower but as I've gotten more experienced in the kitchen, I've branched out a bit and like creating my own recipes.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Last night it worked.  Once I figure out exactly what I did, I'll post it for you to try.  

Dessert is what I want to talk about today.  Kids, these suckers were amazing.  Like  melt in your mouth, curl your toes with joy, slammin' good.  

It may have been the full pound of butter.

It may have been the entire package of carmels.  

It may have been the sea salt that gave it just the right flavor.  

Whatever it is, add this to your holiday baking list.  Your peeps will love them.  

For the Crust:
1 lb salted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 T vanilla 
4 cups all purpose flour
For the Filling:
1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped
1/3 cup milk or cream
½ t vanilla
1 T coarse sea salt
Preheat to 325F
Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray

To make the crust:
-In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars
-Using mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy
-Add the vanilla and beat until combined
-Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms
-Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust
-Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown approx 20 minutes
-Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes
While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.
Pour the caramel filling over the crust.  If you are going to salt the caramel sprinkle it on caramel layer now.
 Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25 – 30 minutes.
Let cool before cutting into squares.
Seriously kidss, you have to try these guys.  You will love them, your family will love them, and they'll make that cereal you plan on serving tonight seem so much better!



Tiffany Fackrell said...

whoa that picture looks divine! but i just had to say I am a blog lurker and i tried out your ham and cheese sliders and holy cow they were YUMMY! My hubby said they needed in on the rotation. they were even the perfect warm up lunch for after church on sunday! so thank you thank you for the recipe!

Mimi said...

dude...those salted caramel butter bars have been waiting at the top of my gotta-try-next board but l haven't had the chance to do it. I need to take a page out of your book and just make it a priority! I am sure your family felt your love :)

Lover of salted caramel- aka Kelly said...

Wow, if they really are "curl your toes with joy, slammin good" then I have GOT to try them! I made salted caramel brownies a few weeks ago--- YUM! Thanks pal!

Amy said...

EVERYTHING you make is good. I seriously don't know how you stay lookin so good with the amazing things you make. I'm drooling now, thanks to you!

Cajsa said...

I have to say that those were delicious!! So glad you thought of the food/piano lesson trade!