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New Beginnings and Sweet Saturdays

>> Saturday, December 01, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Squares
So it's not exactly artwork, but baking and cooking are a form of art for me anyway.  I love starting with an empty 'canvas' and creating something visually and tastefully appetizing.  I'm linking to Sweet Saturdays and will include the recipe at the end of this post.

New beginnings - some of you may already know that I lost my boyfriend of five years in February of 2011. It has been one heck of a year. I've gone through many transformations in that time, losing 75 lbs, moving, dating (ugh), luckily I have found a wonderful man and things have started to look up. I recently quit my job that I had been at for almost four years. While it was terrifying to quit without having a new job in place I just couldn't continue working at a company that had so little integrity and treated it's employees so poorly. With the help of my boyfriend, I have been able to take my time to find something that is perfect for me and although I have yet to find it, I'm still looking and optimistic that the right job will come along soon. In the mean time, I've had a lot of time to reflect, spend time with family and friends, and lots of cooking, baking and crafting!

My boyfriend comes from a large family, the youngest of nine.  Every Sunday they do family dinner and there can be anywhere from 14-18 people.  They welcomed me into their family with open arms and when they found out I could cook, they designated me as the official Sunday dinner chef.  I've even earned the nickname Betty Crocker.  A name I will gladly accept as cooking is one of my passions!

I have a lot to be thankful for and while losing someone so dear to me hurt, it has also made me a stronger person. I now cherish many things I took for granted.  Life is short, you should be able to have your cake and eat it too!!!!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9×13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.
In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
For the streusel topping:
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.
For the Caramel sauce:
Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan . Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel  to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer  until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. 
Sprinkle Streusel topping over apples. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy! Make 16 servings.

Happy Saturday!

2 Wonderfully Stated Opinions!:

Diana Evans December 1, 2012 at 1:34 PM  

oh how amazing does that look!!!! I am so going to try this out!!!! looks amazing!!! I will start up Sweet Saturdays again this coming week!!! You have inspired me!!!!

Kat Griffin December 5, 2012 at 8:57 AM  

looks yummy.Cooking is a good skill to have in a big family. glad you like the big family that has embraced you. I am one of a family of ten kids - it is and always has been so wonderful to be from a big loving family. I love your art work a lot I like the cityscape with the rectangle shape strokes. very nicely done. -KAT-

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All artwork contained in this blog are original works by Deanna Millard unless otherwise stated.

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