October 16, 2017

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars


It's finally feeling like a crisp, fall day; let the baking season commence!  These salted caramel apple pie bars are to. die. for.  Imagine with me.  Buttery, shortbread crust topped with a sweet layer of apples, cinnamon streusel, and a delectable salted caramel drizzled on top.  Perfection.

Note:  Don't let the list of ingredients intimidate you.  Most of them are repeated.  There really are only 10 total ingredients (including the salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg).

Ingredients:
Yields 8 to 16 bars, depending on desired size
Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 c butter, melted 
  • 1/4 c sugar 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 c all-purpose flour 
Apple Filling
  • 2 large apples, cored and sliced (1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tbsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg 
Streusel 
  • 1/2 c quick cooking oats 
  • 1/3 c brown sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 c butter, cold and cubed 
Salted Caramel Sauce 
  • 1 c sugar 
  • 6 tbsp butter, room temperature, cut into cubes 
  • 1/2 c heavy cream 
  • 1 tsp salt 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line an 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper.  Set aside. 

Prepare the shortbread crust.  Combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and flour in a medium bowl.  Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  

Prepare the apple filling.  In a large bowl, combine the apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside. 

Prepare the streusel.  In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour.  Cut in the cold butter until you have a crumbly mixture about the size of peas.  

Remove the shortbread crust from the oven.  Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees. 

Spread the apples evenly on top of the shortbread.  Sprinkle the streusel evenly over all.  Bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden.  

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce.  Place the sugar in a medium pan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently.  (The sugar will turn into hard clumps and then melt down)  Continue to stir frequently until the sugar is melted and smooth.  Carefully whisk in the butter, being careful to not allow the mixture to bubble over or splatter.  Continue to whisk for about 2 minutes, until the butter is well incorporated.  Gradually whisk in the cream, again being careful to not allow the mixture to bubble over or splatter.  Allow the sauce to boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in the salt.  Set aside and allow the sauce to cool.  (Caramel sauce can be stored in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator)

Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  

When ready to serve, cut into bars.  I make 16 bars, but you can slice yours larger or smaller.  Drizzle the salted caramel sauce over all.  You may need to warm the caramel sauce up before drizzling.  

Enjoy! 

September 20, 2017

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Granola Bars


These are our favorite granola bars.  They're amazingly good, super easy to make, perfectly chewy, and they won't crumble on you!  The only problem you'll have with these is suppressing your urge to eat them all!  

Note:  You can substitute the honey with additional maple syrup, if desired.  

September 3, 2017

Harvest Salsa


Well, we're heading into our third week of homeschooling already!  I love spending the extra time with my little sous chef and also the freedom that we have in our schedule.  Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons, but I have a feeling that homeschooling is going to top my list this year!  Speaking of fall, it's not quite here yet, but it sure has felt like it for some time now.  This has got to be the mildest (and wettest) summer that I can remember!  I've only had to water my garden three or four times this year because of how much rain we've had!  Not that I'm complaining.  My garden is bursting at the seams, and I've been trying my best to not waste anything and use the things that I have in excess in creative ways.  Last week, I made some Cinnamon White Chocolate and Zucchini Cookies, and they were ahhhmazing!  Unfortunately, they didn't last long enough for me to blog about them.

This week, I found myself with a lot of extra corn and tomatoes, so I decided to make a salsa to go along with blackened chicken and rice for dinner.  This salsa is bright, refreshing, and uses ingredients straight from the garden.  While the avocado is optional, it really adds a lovely creamy contrast to the crunchy texture of the salsa.  Serve it with tortilla chips, chicken, beef, or seafood!


August 24, 2017

Key Lime Pie... and a little update


There have been lots of life changes happening over our way.  All good things!  For one, we officially began homeschooling this week.  I can't believe that I have a 7th grader; she's growing like a weed!  It's been a lot of fun so far learning and working together.  In history, we're talking about the Rise and Fall of the Western Roman Empire.  Today, we're going to be cooking a meal that the Romans would have eaten over a pit of fire.  I love the flexibility we have and ability to use our creativity to learn.

On the first day of school, we did something that we probably won't make a habit of doing... I think.  We had key lime pie for breakfast!  It was seriously a heavenly start to the first day!  I think pie should totally be an acceptable form of breakfast, don't you?  Oh, and it washes down so well with a hot cup of coffee, too.  This was my very first attempt at making a key lime pie, and it turned out delicious!  It was light and refreshing, and it wasn't overly sweet.  There's a reason this recipe was so highly rated!  The only thing I think I would change next time is halving the sugar in the graham cracker crust. 


May 7, 2017

Easy Homemade Ramen


Well, it's official:  After a lot of prayer, we've decided to start homeschooling my little sous chef starting the next school year!  I'm both excited and nervous for this new adventure we're about to embark upon.  Seventh grade is no joke, and I've been spending countless hours researching curriculum, obsessing over state laws, etc.  One of my plans is to get her cooking more with me in the kitchen during the week, and hopefully I'll be able to incorporate more of her into my blog posts!  As anyone else, I know we'll have good days and bad days, and I am preparing myself for the laughter, tears, victory, and frustration.  Bring it!  

Now on to the recipe.  I had some leftover pulled pork that I had to use up for dinner this weekend, and I decided to use it in Ramen.  This homemade version is so easy and much healthier than the stuff we used to live off of in college!  The broth is so flavorful and delicious, and I know you'll  love the addition of the soft-boiled egg.  


March 12, 2017

Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownies




We were invited to a friend's house for dinner and games over the weekend, and she served this fantastic ziti dish that I hope to eventually get the recipe for!  When I was trying to decide on what to bring for dessert, I stumbled across this Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownie recipe over at Sally's Baking Addiction.  After reading the reviews and recipe, I knew I had to try them right away.  I was a little nervous how they would turn out, but, honestly, how can you go wrong with these ingredients?!  They have a fudgy brownie base with a center layer of peanut butter cups and peanuts, and then they are topped off with a crunchy layer of melted chocolate and peanut butter with Rice Krispies cereal.  Chewy and crunchy all in one bite!  Serve them with some vanilla bean ice cream on the side, and they will be sure to please!

Note:  These are really rich, so I would suggest cutting them into smaller serving squares.    


February 26, 2017

Breakfast Skillet Pie with Insanely Fast & Easy Hollandaise




Have you ever seen that Weight Watchers commercial, where Oprah Winfrey says, "I love bread," with such passion and conviction in her voice that it makes you want to run into the kitchen and gobble any and every crumb that you can find?  My little sous chef and I giggle every time we see it, and it's come to a point where we'll even quote it when something makes us really happy.  That is exactly how I feel about Hollandaise Sauce.  I could pour a vat of that velvety goodness over almost anything!  Hollandaise sauce is considered one of the hardest sauces to make because it takes patience, requires careful attention, and can be temperamental.  Too much heat, and you have a lumpy, yucky mess.  The results are well worth it in the end, but sometimes I just want to be able to enjoy it without all of that effort.  Cue this Insanely Fast & Easy Hollandaise Sauce recipe.  It takes less than 1 minute to make from start (including gathering the ingredients) to finish!  Promise not to tell anyone this, but it's made... in the microwave.  Gasp!  Yes, really!  With this recipe, you can wait until the very last minute, after everything else is cooked and ready to go, to make the sauce!  That's exactly what I did with my Breakfast Skillet Pie!  

This Breakfast Skillet Pie is made in just one skillet.  Seasoned potatoes are the base, and then you add a layer of onions and ham, top it with cheddar cheese, and then crack eggs on top, which are then finished off in the broiler.  Pour that amazing sauce on top of it all, and I promise you'll be licking the plate, wishing you made more!  

January 12, 2017

Roasted Pork Tenderloin in Balsamic-Rosemary Marinade



It took me a while, but I finally figured it out.  I now have a specific spot in my house set up that is intended solely for food blogging!  Since we've moved, I've been taking photos in my bay window, which makes it extremely difficult to get a good picture when the sun goes down before dinner.  Now I have my lighting and everything set up to where I don't have to rely on the time/position of the sun!  Even though artificial lighting isn't as desirable as natural, I'll take whatever I can get during the months of winter!  Happy days!

One of my favorite meals to make is pork tenderloin.  It's easy enough to make for a weeknight meal but good enough to serve to company.  Searing the pork gives it a lovely crust that locks in flavor, and roasting it to an internal temperature of 140 degrees and then allowing it to rest will result in fork-tender deliciousness!  I served mine with a side of quinoa and peas.


May 5, 2016

Skinny Chicken & Shrimp with Quinoa and Vegetables


No interesting story behind this dish -- just another weeknight meal that I'd like to share.  It earned an "excellent" rating from my family.  It's healthy, delicious, and you'll find yourself coming back for more... and more!  


February 28, 2016

Spicy Honey-Glazed Salmon... and a New Member of the Family!


I'm a little late.  Tomorrow is March, and I'm just now sharing my first post of the New Year.  While 2015 was very eventful for us, 2016 seems to be giving it a run for its money.  I was laid off from my job of nearly ten years, which was sad in itself and wasn't the best timing in the world considering we had just bought our new house.  Thankfully, I was blessed to be able to quickly find a new job that I love, and I'm still able to work out of my home!  We also just recently decided to adopt a puppy.  "Duggy" is a Jack Chi (Jack Russell Terrier/Chihuahua mix).  He's happy, full of energy, and extremely smart.  We've had him for one month, and he can already sit, stay, fetch, bang-bang (play dead), and shake!  Potty training is another story, however.  Serves us right for getting a puppy in mid-winter!


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