Jun 262013

It was a typical Monday that I had off from work and I was going through my mental checklist of things that I wanted to accomplish.

As I walked through the kitchen I glanced at the cookie jar and immediately stopped.  Were there any cookies left?  If so, was it enough to make it through the week?

In our house, there always has to be something sweet around.  Sure, there was ice cream in the freezer that hasn’t been touched but that didn’t count.

Thinking that Rick needs some variety in his life besides me and chocolate chip cookies, I headed to the computer and started going through some of my “saved sites” looking for something different to make.

After 15 minutes of browsing and drooling, I abandoned the web and picked up a stack of Mom’s recipes that were sitting next to the computer.

More drooling ensued as I leafed through them, and finally stopped on one that I wasn’t sure I’d had before.  It looked nummy, and the few ingredients that it consisted of I surprisingly had all of them.

Magic Cookie Bars



  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (6 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (3 1/2 ounce) can flaked coconut (1 1/2 cups)*
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass dish).

In 13 x 9 inch baking pan, melt margarine (or butter) in oven.  Sprinkle crumbs over margarine/butter;  mix together and press into pan.


Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs.


Top evenly with remaining ingredients;  press down firmly.


Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cook thoroughly before cutting.

Store loosely covered at room temperature.

How simple is that?  This is a one-pan recipe which you do not have to dirty 14 bowls and 8 measuring cups to pull together.  Bonus points for only have 6 ingredients!!

The hardest part about these bars will be getting them to last a week.


*Naturally I didn’t have canned coconut, so I just used the bagged stuff and put on the amount I wanted.


Jun 242013

Holy cats have things been going fast and furious on the studio building.  With Rick’s talents and my imagination that building is really looking special.

Weekend before last was dedicated to getting some stairs put in.  Since there is limited space as to where to put them and what type to have, I had to get on the interwebs and find ideas that would suit our needs.

I showed Rick a fairly simple design that I had total faith that he could create, and of course he came through like the Knight in Shining Armor that he is.


Using materials that were just hanging around the garage doing nothing worth bragging about Rick quickly had the risers cut (I think that’s what they’re called) and started routering out the notches for the steps.


I had no idea of how this was going to come together and I didn’t for one minute doubt that the man knew what he was doing, so I left him alone to putz on other mindless weekend stuff so I wouldn’t interrupt him.


No thumbs were beaten with hammers during this process.


Many hours later we had… stairs!

I think people 6 miles away heard me scream with delight!

Are they fancy?  No.

Are they functional?  Yes.


Are they exactly what I wanted?  Hell yes!!

Thinking that since he’s spent most of the day on that one project, he’d put everything away and call it a day.

Ummm… notsomuch.


Apparently the man was on a mission, because before I knew it he had the railing all cut and put together for the loft.

We hauled that bad boy into the building, trudged up our respectable stairs/ladder and secured it in place.


I took a step back and grinned ear to ear.  If you though I was excited when the framing went up last fall, that was nothing compared to what I was feeling at that moment.


Have I mentioned how much I love this man?


Jun 102013

We’re gonna pull another one out of the pile of favorite-recipes-that-my-momma-used-to-make.

And what is not surprising about this recipe is that is was clipped out of some newspaper.  I think she found all of her best recipes that way.

This time I had the luxury of taking some step-by-step photos because it’s such a fun recipe that even little ones would have fun helping you put it together.

Let’s start with the cast of characters:

  • 4 large hamburger buns
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup fine cracker meal
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • Mozzarella cheese


Combine the evaporated milk (I know, weird ingredient), ground beef, cracker meal (in this century I think it’s called cracker crumbs), onion, garlic salt, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.

See, kids could have fun doing that!  It’s messy and stuff!!


Split the hamburger buns in half and toast them.  A couple of mine went a tad long… oopsie!


While those are toasting, combine the tomato sauce and oregano in a small bowl.


Equally divide the meat mixture on top of the buns.  Make a well in the middle of the mixture.

It’s gonna look like a lot of meat (and it is) but don’t worry, it will all turn out just fine in the end.


Take the tomato sauce/oregano mixture and spoon into the wells.

Pop them in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.


As you can see, my oven ran a little hot and the buns suffered the consequences.


Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese over the tops and bake again until melted (3 – 5 minutes).




In a perfect world the buns won’t turn out so crispy on the outside, but I actually like the “crunch” of them when I take a big bite.

Also in a perfect world I would be able to take better photos, but whatcha gonna do, eh?

Seriously though, this is one of those great last-minute what-am-I-gonna-make-for-supper-tonight dishes that takes less than 40 minutes from start to finish.

Unless, of course you have little ones helping you.  I’d give some extra time for that but it would be so worth it!


Jun 052013

A couple weeks ago I introduced a recipe that Nichole shared with me for some oh-so-scrumptious-and-simple-cookies, which I later found out that my MIL has been making for years.

Seems I’m always late to the party.

Anywho, in that post I mentioned that I had a box of pistachio pudding laying around and had the harebrained idea that I was gonna pair it with Andes mint pieces and see what fantastic new taste sensation (or blunder) I would get.


Let me just say, why can’t there be more options like this in the world?  Sure, it cost a little more for the unwrapped, broken up version of those little mints that I could eat a whole box of if given the chance, but I was on a mission for this culinary breakthrough and dished out the extra dough.

Since I was using pistachio pudding, the dough had a green tint to it so I expected the cookies to have the same green when they were done baking (which I was totally cool with and already thinking ahead to next St. Patrick’s Day when I could “ooh” and “aah” people with my culinary skills).

Well, they didn’t.  They also didn’t stay in nice lumpy cookie form like their predecessors.


I pulled the first sheet out of the oven and wondered where I had gone wrong.

At first I thought that maybe I forget the extra 1/4 cup of flour (I was kinda excited when I made these so it was totally possible).

Then I got to thinking that maybe it was the mint that was the culprit.  Perhaps when it was baking it all just melted and made the cookie dough thinner.

I was completely heart broken until I took a bite.  And then another.  And after downing 2 cookies my heart wasn’t nearly as broken.  This, I thought, was pretty good.

But it wasn’t my judgement that was important here.  Rick is the cookie aficionado so they had to pass his refined palate to be deemed worthy of ever being made again.

The verdict:  he liked them!  He said that they tasted like chocolate mint ice cream, which I hadn’t even thought of (and is actually my favorite).

So it looks like the combination was a winner, and the next time I make them I’ll have to really pay close attention to the amount of flour I use to see if that is what caused them to flatten out so much.

And if it happens again, I can always throw some ice cream in between 2 of them and make ice cream sandwiches.

Chocolate Mint, of course.


Jun 032013

It’s June, right?

I mean, my calendar is turned to the month of June but knowing my scatterbrain lately, I could be jumping the gun.

My reason for looking for confirmation is that last night we had frost warnings in the Northwoods.

Frost?  June?

No, it’s not unheard of but it’s still a punch in the gut to all of us up here who have endured the looooong Winter and have been dreaming of sunny, warm days where we can pack away our long johns, pull on T-shirts and giggle as we run through the grass in bare feet.

Or maybe that’s just me.

So as the sun dropped behind the trees last night I pulled out some sheets and headed out to the garden to cover up as much of my plants as I could.  I also prayed for a little cloud cover, a slight breeze and no frost.


I’m not sure if any of those prayers got answered but my plants made it through the night unscathed.


I was even tickled pink to discover some of the larger plants have developed tendrils to hold onto the cages and help the plants grow “up” since there isn’t enough room for them to spread out on the ground.

The week ahead is going to be another cool one, so I’ll have to keep those sheets handy just in case another threat presents itself.