Salted Caramel Brownies from Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine, January/February 2014



I keep looking out the window this morning. It’s white. Blindingly white. And other than my husband’s tire tracks leading down the driveway and off towards the city, there aren’t any others breaking the smooth blanket of snow.

Birds are flitting about but nothing else is moving. Of course, there isn’t school today. In addition to the fact that most of the smaller streets haven’t been plowed yet, it’s really cold. Beautiful, pristine, frigid.

But today I’m just grateful. I’m grateful for the the little voice at my shoulder that asks me questions every five minutes. I’m grateful for the huge electric bill that we’ll get at the end of the month because receiving a bill means that our heat is actually working.

I’m grateful for Ms. Tammy, Dudette’s bus driver. We decided that we wouldn’t add to the mayhem on the roads yesterday. Instead of picking her up when schools closed two hours early, we waited for the bus to make its way to us, watching it creep down the hill on the other side of our lake, grateful for Ms. Tammy’s care and concern for her charges.

There will be sledding today. Rosy cheeks, frozen fingers and runny noses will bring mugs of hot chocolate, grilled cheese sandwiches, soup.

And brownies.

The Process

This recipe is all Paula. Three sticks of butter. Yes, you heard me right. One and a half cups. Three quarters of a pound.

And six eggs, two cups of sugar, lots of chocolate and a bunch of caramel. Speaking of caramel, I cut mine in half, opting to forego the super-huge globs that whole pieces would cause. Stir, mix, blend, pour, bake.

Other than my cooking time edging a few minutes beyond the 25 called for, there were no surprises.

The Verdict

Ah, I felt the love when I served these.

Dudette asks for them for breakfast, lunch and supper. Hubby’s been seen to snag one with this coffee on occasion. Even I’ve sneaked a bit or two when I see a good-sized chunk of caramel peeking out from between all that chocolate.

The brownies have the most odd consistency though. They look more cakey than brownie, until they’re handled. Then their true gooeyness comes through and they virtually melt in the mouth, leaving behind a stick-to-the-teeth wad of caramel. Thank goodness I made my pieces smaller.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d chop the caramels into quarters, not halves.

Salted Caramel Brownies from Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine, January/February 2014
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 4-ounce bars semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon caramel extract
  • 40 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
  • Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray with flour. Line pan with parchment paper, allowing excess to extend over the sides of the pan. Spray parchment paper with baking spray.
  2. Combine butter and chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave on high for about 1½ minutes, inc 30-second increments. Stir the mixture between each increment until it is all melted and smooth.
  3. Beat the eggs, sugar and salt with a mixer, at high speed, in a large bowl for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the flour, cocoa powder, extracts and chocolate mixture, beating until combined. Fold in the caramels. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the brownies for 20-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Sprinkle the brownies with sea salt and let cool completely in the pan on a wire racks. Left the brownies out of the pan, using the excess parchment as handles. Cut into squares.
  6. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.
Notes
I'd chop the caramels into quarters, not halves.

 

How about you? Did the recent winter storm affect you? We got a bit of snow. Others to the east of us (including my in-laws) received sleet, freezing rain and then snow. A friend who lives in Atlanta spent hours on the highway, stuck in his car. I hope you and your loved ones are safe at home, surrounded by warmth.

Open-Faced Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches from Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine, January/February 2014


Do you grill in the winter?

Every time I make a dish indoors that ‘should’ have been made outside, I think about my grill, cold and lonely under it’s cover for the last few months. And I’m a little sad.

When I was younger, I grilled year round. In fact, when I first moved south, I was still so cold-hardened from Chicago winters that I didn’t even bother putting on a coat when I would go out to check on the burgers, brats or barbecue.

The truth is, I kind of hate that phrase, ‘when I was younger.’ These days I’m using it an awful lot. I guess that’s because the gap from when I was actually young to what I am today is more chasm-sized than the small little span it used to be.

For instance, when I was younger, I sunbathed, laying my towel out on the beach or dock, slathering lotion on myself and letting the sun bake me to a delicious golden brown. I didn’t stop lying out because of a fear of cancer.

Nah. I stopped laying out because gravity began working against me. At some point, when I laid down everything just started spreading out instead of staying put. I became afraid that ‘the girls’ would plop out of my swimsuit or that I’d be mistaken for a beached whale.

So it is with grilling in winter. It takes me longer to warm up after being outside in the cold than it did when I was younger. Knowing that I’ll have to clean the grill before I start the fire, then clean it again after cooking’s done, then remember to put the cover back on after the thing’s cooled down is all it takes to discourage me from heading out there. I never gave that a thought when I was younger.

Hello slow cooker. The perfect thing for those who are no longer younger.

The Process

While I don’t mind searing meat before adding it to the cooker, I’m always happy when I make a dish that doesn’t need the extra flavor boost. This is one of those dishes.

It begins with a rub that’s, well, rubbed on the pork shoulder. While the pork and rub say hello to each other, sliced onion, chicken broth and garlic  are added to the bottom of the slow cooker. In goes the pork and on  goes the cover.

Ten hours later (more time is much better than less for this dish), the pork is carefully removed, shredded and slathered in barbecue sauce.

The Verdict

I’m a huge fan of barbecue sauce so even though I prefer a recipe make things from scratch, I don’t mind being able to have my choice of sauce either. I used Bull’s Eye and was very happy. I loved, loved, loved this. Sure, I missed the crispy bits that smoking gives pulled pork, but for something that was pulled out of a slow cooker and I didn’t have to go outside or fuss over, it is delicious.

Hubby and Dudette enjoyed the pork, but since neither of them are huge barbecue sauce fans, I think they weren’t as enthusiastic about the meal as I was. That’s okay though; it just means more for me.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Nothing.

Open-Faced Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches from Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine, January/February 2014
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
from Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine, January/February 2014
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 4- to 5-pound boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 32-ounce carton chicken broth
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce
  • 6 slices Texas toast, baked according to package instructions
Instructions
  1. Combine the brown sugar, salt, chili powder, ground cumin and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat pork dry with paper towels and rub sugar mixture over pork.
  2. Combine broth, onion and garlic in a 6-quart slow cooker. Place meat in broth, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until pork is fork-tender.
  3. Remove pork from the slow cooker. Discard the cooking liquid. Using two forks, shred the meat into bite sized pieces, discarding the fat as you go.
  4. Combine the shredded pork and barbecue sauce. Serve over Texas toast.

 

So? C’mon now, I shared a few of my ‘when I was younger’ stories. It’s your turn now. It doesn’t matter how young you actually are right now because at some point you were younger. That’s how life works.

Cucumber Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette from Home Cooking with Paula Deen, Winter 2013

 

I learned something yesterday. The epiphany came while I was chatting with my doctor in her office. She asked me what Hubby and I had done for Valentine’s Day and without thinking, I told her we went out for wings.

You’d think I had told the woman that I was guzzling buckets of antifreeze or shoving paperclips in my ears. At that moment, I would have given a lot to have the ability to reverse time a few minutes so I could rephrase my answer.

Instead, I discovered that I can learn very, very fast,  because I chose not to mention to the good doc that mid-way through our wing meal I ordered a beer. The Jamaican Jerk wing sauce was frying the inside of my mouth and my water was just fuel on the fire.

And that story leads us to cucumber salad. When I made the Spicy Pork Stew and added a healthy dose of chipotles in adobo to the pot, I realized that I’d need to include a side dish that gave the guys eating it some relief from the heat.  Celery with blue cheese dressing didn’t seem real appropriate.

So I opted for another fresh, cooling vegetable; my beloved cucumber.

The Process

Preparation doesn’t get much easier than whisking the vinaigrette in a bowl and then dumping in sliced cucumbers and onion.

The Verdict

In addition to quelling the fires caused by hot peppers, this salad tasted really good. I’m a big fan of cucumber salad anyhow, but I did enjoy the addition of  the mustard and celery salt, which I’ve never used before.

While I’m not usually a fan of sugar in my salad, there was just enough so it wasn’t really noticeable but offset the mustard well. The guys thought it was delicious also.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d halve the amount of dressing I make. the cucumbers and onions were swimming in it and I ended up pouring out an awful lot. A cup and a half of liquid for two cucumbers and one big onion? Way too much.

Cucumber Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette from Home Cooking with Paula Deen, Winter 2013
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • 1½ cups sliced sweet onion
  • 2 seedless cucumbers, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and next 3 ingredients. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking to thoroughly combine. Add onion, cucumber, and parsley, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or for up to 2 days.
Notes
I'd halve the amount of dressing I make. the cucumbers and onions were swimming in it and I ended up pouring out an awful lot. A cup and a half of liquid for two cucumbers and one big onion? Way too much.