Wednesday

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

Oh dear heavens....these bars. 

Really. 

They are amazing. 

8 sticks of butter AMAZING
(so let's say they are only for special occasions to make ourselves feel better about that)



    R E C I P E

  • 8 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 325°. 
Generously spray a large rimmed cookie sheet (jelly roll pan) with cooking spray
In your mixer, combine butter and sugars & mix on medium speed until creamy. 
Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated 
Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture on low speed 
Mix until soft dough forms
Press 1/3 of the dough into the prepared baking pan
Bake 20 minutes or until the edges are a pale golden brown
Refrigerate the remaining 2/3 of the dough as you prepare your caramel.

{you can do the Caramel part a few different ways- 
to each their own, no bad choices here friends}
  • 2 cups of your favorite salted caramel sauce 
  • Pour onto baked crust and continue on with the recipe
  • {or}
  • 2 (14 oz) bag caramel candies
  • 2/3 cup half and half or cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • Unwrap caramels, place in microwavable bowl with half and half/cream and microwave one minute (more in 30 second intervals if needed)
  • Stir in vanilla. Pour over baked crust.
  • Sprinkle with Sea Salt
  • {or} 
  • -this is what I like best-
  • about 1/4 a loaf of Peter's caramel
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • and 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt flakes
  • Pretty much, I kind of eyeball the whole thing
  • microwave caramel and cream for one minute 
  • Microwave longer in 30 second intervals if needed
  • Stir
  • Pour over baked crust
  • Sprinkle salt flakes until your little heart is content
After your crust is baked, your caramel is poured and your salt is sprinkled, crumble the remaining dough on top, sprinkling little pieces here and there until the pan is covered.

Continue baking 25-30 minutes
Caramel should be bubbling &
 the topping lightly golden in color

Cool bars before cutting 
if you'd like them to hold together nicely
or 
slap some vanilla ice-cream on that warm goodness 
& call it a day

{there really isn't a wrong way to eat a butter bar}





Sunday

Sugar Cookies



 Sugar Cookies
A favorite among many & always fun for holidays, parties & showers...
they especially hold their value and purpose around Valentine's Day.



Call me crazy, but there are a few (or most) other cookies I'd rather have than a sugar cookie. This lack of excitement sent me on a quest to perfect my favorite recipe. The two key ingredients for these sugar cookies are Sour Cream & Lemon Zest. The sour cream contributes to a thick, soft cookie, while the lemon zest works perfectly to add depth to all of that sugar.
My next tip is to make sure you "flour" your rolling surface generously. Also, don't roll your dough too thin, but keep it uniform all the way across. Refrigerating your dough between making and rolling is ALWAYS a good idea for rolling success.
 A cookie sidekick never hurts either.
After cutting your cookies, bake for 5-8 minutes being careful not to over-bake. These are not meant to be crunchy in any way. Cool the cookies on the pan if you feel like they need to bake a few minutes longer, if not, be sure to cool them on a wire rack to stop the baking in it's tracks. Remember-NO CRUNCHY COOKIES.
THE RECIPE

1 Cup Softened Butter
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 Cups Flour (more or less for consistency)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of half a lemon (or whole…be crazy like that)

Cream together your butter and sugar. 
Add sour cream. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
Slowly mix in remaining ingredients.

REFRIGERATE DOUGH 1 HOUR 
(do this after you taste it)
Roll out on floured surface. Cut into shapes. 
Bake 375 5-10 minutes (my oven likes 6). 
Cool on cookie rack. Make them pretty.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1lb powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla & 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup soft butter
food coloring

In your stand mixer, combine the butter, salt, and vanilla. Add half and half. Slowly add powdered sugar: scraping the  sides as you mix. Mix until fluffy. Spread onto cookie and add sprinkles OR plop your frosting in a piping bag with the "rose" tip and start in the middle of your cooking spiraling outward. Easy peasy and beautiful.  

ADDITIONAL FROSTING TIPS
For a smooth texture, refrigerate or freeze your cookies before you frost: also slightly microwave your frosting.  This hot/cold combo makes a pretty, smooth, frosting. You can add a bit of marshmallow cream to your frosting for an added sheen. 

Monday

Peanut Butter Cookies

As much as I love spending time with my kiddos without a schedule or care in the world, I have found myself craving that schedule again. Christmas Break has come to and end and the kids are back in school. Zach (11yr old) mentioned last night that he doesn't want to go back, he'd rather play board games with the family some more, Caden (9) couldn't wait to see friends, and Hadley (6) was so worried that her gal pal Ruby wouldn't even remember who she was because it had been too long- funny girl! None the less, they are off and I am here. I do feel as though I finally have a minute or two to do some blogging (...while my Christmas decor sits in piles waiting to be put away...yes, I'm stalling).  To celebrate the new semester and ring in the first day of school in 2016, we made some peanut butter cookies last night...a little something to look forward to for after school snack if you will. A good after school snack usually brings out all sorts of info about how the day went- grades, friends, the latest..bake and gather and learn the scoop. It's the secret for success in this department.
Enough of my babbling, here's the recipe, it comes from the Lion House Classics cook book.

5 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup butter

3/4 cup shortening

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup peanut butter




Pre-heat oven to 350

Line your cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper

Cream together butter, shortening, sugars & vanilla 

Add eggs and mix well

Stir in peanut butter

Add all other ingredients and mix until incorporated

Scoop dough to cookie sheet

Using a fork dipped in flour, flatten each cookie slightly making a crisscross pattern.

Bake 8-9 minutes (whatever you do, don't over bake)

Makes about 5 dozen or so.