You know – the U-shaped neck pillows everyone has on airplanes? Since I’ve been traveling more, and typically to the East Coast, I’ve been experiencing more and more the discomfort of reading/sleeping/eating on the plane for extended periods of time. I would see other passengers resting comfortably, their heads placed purposefully within the confines of a plush, microfiber neck pillow while they slept or read their iPads. Meanwhile, I was over in 14B craning my neck to read my Glamour article and experiencing neck cramps from my futile, pathetic attempts to nap on the plane and rest my head against the cabin walls.
I figured all of these flying woes would be solved with my very own neck pillow. So after experiencing numerous miserable-neck pain-inducing flights and bypassing all the neck pillows in the stores, I finally caved and bought myself my very own neck pillow.
And for some reason, I bought it at the airport where it cost me my left leg. So while I was a new amputee, dammit if my neck wasn’t comfortable.
I snuggled into my seat, wrapped the neck pillow around my head and instantly felt the discomfort everyone else probably feels when there’s a giant inflatable microfiber pillow surrounding their head like some kind of cast. What the hell? I thought neck pillows were supposed to ooze comfort and induce sound napping? I thought I would look like someone in a neck pillow commercial, a blissful smile upon my face as I read a newspaper. I thought neck pillows would make me read newspapers. WHAT WAS THE DEAL?!
I figured perhaps I was new to this neck pillow business and as such, there was some kind of science to it. Like maybe you had to use your neck pillow a couple of times before you broke it in, like after you buy a new pair of shoes. But after spending six hours on a flight to Charlotte taking nothing away from my neck pillow bliss except for a throbbing neck cramp, I figured I just wasn’t meant to enjoy neck pillow pleasures like most people.
Not to mention, when I got off the plane and was walking around the airport, I didn’t want to be that person with the neck pillow around my head as if it were some kind of stylish accessory, so I simply snapped it (it had a snap closure) onto the handle of my roller bag and went along my way. WELL, neck pillow apparently didn’t like me as much as I disliked neck pillow, because homeboy kept trying to escape every chance he got. I cannot tell you how many people stopped me in the terminals, on the moving walkways, and at the airport Popeye’s telling me that my neck pillow had fallen off. So I’d begrudgingly clomp back to where my neck pillow lay, lifeless on the airport floor, and pick it up with great disdain in my eyes.
After my East Coast rendezvous of traveling from Charlotte to New York City, the entire time picking up my fallen, suicidal neck pillow off of the ground, I’d finally had enough. As I tip-toed down the CREAKIEST STAIRS EVER in the NYC apartment I stayed at (all three floors of them) at 5 in the morning carrying a carry-on bag the weight of a small Sumo wrestler, my neck pillow dropped off again. As I attempted to lug this gargantuan piece of luggage down these creaky-ass stairs while trying not to wake the entire island of Manhattan, I noticed my neck pillow at the top of the staircase, lying lifeless. And it was in that moment of defiance that I just flipped. I had spent most of my vacation picking up the fallen neck pillow off of the ground, a pillow that wasn’t even comfortable and a pillow that I’d lusted after like it was some kind of Ryan Gosling voodoo magic pillow. And now, I’d had enough. I abandoned that $20 neck pillow, leaving it lifeless in my dust as I sped off into the New York City sunrise toward my California home. Who knows. The neck pillow may have found a new owner, a new life with a foreign visitor also staying in my apartment. Maybe it was tossed into the garbage, a careless reminder that sometimes, things aren’t what they seem. Or perhaps it went on to cushion another person’s neck with the comfort and bliss I so craved.
Whatever happened, all I knew was my neck never felt better and neck pillows are so overrated. And next time I travel, I’m just going to solve my cramped-neck problem by bringing along a personal masseuse. That’s worth the money, am I right?
Anywho. To continue #NuttyDessertsWeek, I had to bring along a classic: pecan pie! Especially with the holidays creepin’ up on us, pecan pie is a staple for any Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table and for good reason: everyone loves the gooey, brown sugary filling swimming with crunchy, salty pecans layered within a flaky, buttery crust. But to switch things up (because change is good!) I decided I’d transform that classic pie into something portable, unique and ultra sinful: Salted Caramel Pecan Pie Bars is the answer to that!
These bars are loaded with sweet and salty pecans, that gooey, rich brown sugar/caramel filling and topped with a decadent drizzle of buttery salted caramel, all contained on a sugar cookie crust. Yeah, I didn’t skimp on this recipe 🙂 and within one bite, I know you’ll be hooked!
…And I promise they’ll be much better than a neck pillow!
- 1 pkg (24-count) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup corn syrup (light or dark)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- ½-2/3 cup salted caramel sundae sauce (I love the Smucker's Salted Caramel Sauce or Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel Sauce, but any brand will do. If you cannot find salted caramel sauce, use regular caramel sundae sauce and sprinkle sea salt on top to finish)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Mist the foil lightly with cooking spray. Unwrap the sugar cookie dough and gently press it in an even layer along the bottom of the prepared pan, forming a crust. Bake the crust layer for about 10-13 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and slightly puffy. Remove the crust from the oven but leave the oven on.
- While crust bakes, make your filling: in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the pecans to coat. Once crust has browned, evenly spread the pecan filling mixture over top of the crust.
- Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and just about set. If there's a slight jiggle, that's okay - but do not over-bake it as the mixture will continue to set as it cools. Cool the bars completely, then refrigerate the bars for a couple hours to set. Once the bars are set, cut into bars, drizzle with the salted caramel sauce and serve! These are gooey and messy, so I suggest serving them with a fork on a plate!
I meeeeannn.. just LOOK at the caramel! Insanity, people. Salted caramel and pecan pie are a match made in dessert heaven! I use Diamond of California Chopped Pecans because it comes conveniently chopped which is an awesome timesaver! And I cannot get enough of the sweet crunch from the sugar cookie base — it’s such a genius and easy base that’s far less fuss than a traditional pecan pie crust. If you’re a chocolate lover, feel free to use chocolate chip cookie dough in its place for a fun twist!
Stay tuned for more Nutty Desserts!!
Have a fantastical day!!