For hot summer days like these, a Sublime soundtrack can’t be beat. Anything off of the album 40 oz. To Freedom will set the patio tone and, of course, their most recognizable single “What I Got” is a summer playlist must.
“Well, life is too short, so love the one you got. ‘Cause you might get run over or you might get shot…
Love is… what I got.” – From the album SUBLIME, released in 1996, MCA Records
Everyone knows the lyrics and everyone sings along, but is anyone actually listening to the message of the song?? With all of the stressed out people I’ve been exposed to lately, I’m going to guess not.
Even with the sun shining and the music cranked, I, too, allow myself to become overwhelmed by responsibilities and everyday stress. On the best of days I am frantically trying to get kids out the door to daycare so I can make a meeting and spend the rest of a beautiful day on the computer working on my clients’ goals and putting aside my own. Not any more. I am putting a stake in the ground and declaring this a Sublime Summer. For the next two months I am going to do my best to chill out, not stress out and enjoy myself while I pitch articles, gain sponsors and develop a TV production demo for myself / Hot Pink Apron. Love IS what I got, a love for having fun with food and inspiring others to do the same.
For the first time in my life, I actually want to enjoy the ride that comes with chasing your dreams. I want to have fun with my kids while developing these projects and I want to teach them that passionate, hard work can pay off. If I can find the balance to do all of this, well, life will be blissful.
My journey begins with some good friends and a can of condensed milk. When Brett and I realized we were going to be parents, our no-kid, naive-nature actually had us believing that our no-kid friends would always be around. It just doesn’t happen this way. It’s no one’s fault, but when you have kids you’re not available, you cancel often and you’re distracted/exhausted throughout 90% of the conversation. In the first few years of parenthood I stressed a lot about maintaining relationships with everyone we knew from the avant-diaper days. What I now appreciate to be completely wasted stress.
People come and go and when lifestyles differ, relationships fade. The good news is that the ones that get it stick around and some of the important ones that drift away will be back. After nearly 5 years of living in momdom, I’ve learned to give up the stress from those with expectations of your time and to invest the effort into the good friends that invest the effort into you and your family’s objectives. Good friends like Aleka and Derek (you may recognize from previous posts, like last summer’s 300 wedding cupcake challenge). Last Friday we had the two stay with us for a full evening of euchre, barbequed meat and attack on anything alcoholic under our roof. Saturday morning we all needed coffee, the dilemma was that both Brett and I drink our coffee black and I had nothing dairy to offer these two double-double drinkers. My creative / stress-free solution: Sweetened Condensed Milk.
So, with Aleka and Derek’s coffees prepared to their liking and that near catastrophe (I take my morning coffee very seriously) managed, I now had a nearly full can of opened sweetened condensed milk to create a home for. My favourite use for this ingredient is my Banoffi Pie, where I boil the can unopened and turn the sweet cream into the most incredible toffee you’ve ever tasted. Trust me – try my Banoffi Pie recipe this summer. Since my can was open and coffee was fresh on my mind, I thought of the Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks and my kitchen table’s snacking bowl of dried apricots and nuts caught my eye. From here came my simple, stress-free solution to using a can of opened sweetened condensed milk. I’m on a blissful roll, can you tell?
Chasing Bliss Bars
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) All-Purpose Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour instead, 1:1. It’s an easy way to make these treats gluten-free and those without a food intolerance won’t taste the difference with all of the great flavours happening on top of the crust.)
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 tbsp (90 mL) icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
- 1 can (300 mL) Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 cup (250 mL) dried sweetened cranberries
- 1 cup (250 mL) white chocolate chips (I used these fantastic new lemon flavoured baking chips found at Bulk Barn.)
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) very finely chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced or chopped almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
- To make the crust, sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour and stir to mix. Add the butter and beat on low speed just until a smooth dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. To help even out the crust, line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. (I don’t have pie weighs so I simply used a few cook books to weigh it down and flatten.)
- Bake the crust until it colors evenly to a deep golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Rotate the pan 18o degrees if the crust appears to be baking unevenly.
- For Topping, pour two thirds of sweetened condensed milk evenly over hot shortbread base. Sprinkle with remaining topping ingredients. Pour remaining sweetened condensed milk over top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars and enjoy bliss!
This may just be a dessert bar to you, but for me this is personal reassurance that I don’t need to stress out so much. A little bit of creative thought can find the simple solutions in life. Oh yes, I think it’s going to be a great summer. Somebody ring me up a margarita, turn up the tunes and let’s get this party started. Enjoy! xoAdd to favorites