Favorite Biddy Magic Bars

Dear Millie,
Guess what?!  My favorite biddy came by yesterday with a whole box of stuff for us.  She brought little gifts for each of the kids (including a whoopee cushion.  She knows my kids!) and a whole tray of treats.  I just counted up nine different home-baked ones and then a few truffles.  One reason she’s my favorite.  Included on the tray were the Magic Bars I was talking about yesterday!  I told her that both batches I’d made had been subpar, and of course she laughed and asked what I was doing wrong.  I had the recipe right on the counter and she took a look.  AND THEN SHE TOLD ME HOW SHE DOES IT!  So here you go!
Favorite Biddy Magic Bars
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare a 9 x 13-in. baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter, then press into an even layer in the pan.

3. Spread the coconut over the crust, then add the chips (she uses whatever she has–this last batch she brought had mini butterscotch chips, some semisweet, and some white chocolate chips).  Sprinkle nuts over the top (she also uses whatever kind of nuts she has–walnuts, peanuts, etc. work well).  Lastly (and this is what was different from the other recipes!), drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top of all the other layers.

4. Bake for 25 minutes (other recipes say longer, but I ended up with burnt or hard edges even when going for the lesser bake times.  I’m going with her recommended time).

5. Let the bars sit for just a bit, then cut before cooled.  Pop them in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to set.

6. Call me and tell me how they turn out!  🙂

Love,

Grace

PS  Boots are 50% off at Target today only!  I heard there was a boy in our ward who needed boots and so I was looking for good deals online all day yesterday.  I got a text about Target’s deal from a good friend this morning and drove right down there and got a great pair!  I’m so excited to ditch them on his doorstep!  Awesome of Target to run that today…perfect for today’s #LIGHTtheWORLD project.  🙂

Birthdays, Magic Bars, and Good Deeds

Dear Millie,
Happy our maternal grandmother’s birthday!  Wasn’t she just the most delightful person?  She was quite possibly the most saintly person I’ve ever known.  I miss her.  It’s also Pops’s brother’s birthday.  I miss him also.  I knew when he died that he was young, but now that Gordon is close to the age Uncle was when he passed away, I just can’t believe how very young he was.  It’s a beautiful day to remember and celebrate them both!
Yesterday, I was looking for a parking spot at Walmart and I happened to see a friend close to the entrance where there were lots of people coming and going.  A car in front of me was stopped for pedestrians, so I got to see my friend drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket and then stoop to pick up an apple someone had dropped.  She was smiling and laughing with the people she was interacting with for just that quick moment.  She wouldn’t have known anyone had seen that, but it warmed my heart.  I love that there are such wonderful people in the world and that such small acts put smiles on so many faces!
At cub scouts last week, the boys were instructed to make cards for their parents/grandparents/caregivers.  My friend laughed when her son handed her the card he’d made.  It said, “Dear Mom, I hope you have a very happy Christmas.  Of course you will.  You’re with me!”  HA!
I need a favor!  About a month ago, my favorite biddy stopped by.  She was delivering several things, and among them were treats for some other friends.  She let me try one and it was amazing!  I asked for the recipe and she shrugged and said they were just run of the mill Magic Bars.  I had never heard of them, and she said, “You know, 7 Layer Bars?”  Blank.  It was so, so good and I found several recipes online.  I made a batch while Gordon was in Texas, but they turned out like this:
It doesn’t look very appetizing, but most of the layers were great and only sometimes did I end up with a wad of tinfoil in a delectable bite.  Really, it was a mess and I ended up throwing the rest of that pan away (!!).  I made another recipe for it last night and this time was sure to include actual butterscotch chips instead of subbing out for white chips, and I used pecans instead of peanuts (the children prefer peanuts and since Gordon wasn’t there to help me eat them all, well.).  They were just okay also.  I had to cut the edges and corners off, which was also terribly wasteful.
Magic indeed!  These bars are causing the disappearance of lots of money and my sanity!  Have you ever had one or even heard of them?  Do you happen to have a recipe for them?  Would you maybe like to try some out and tell me which ones turn out?
I asked my favorite biddy for the recipe and she just laughed and won’t give it to me!  She just said you put your graham cracker crumbs down (mixed with butter, I assume, as all the recipes seem to agree), pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over that, add chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, nuts, and coconut, and there you go.  She wouldn’t tell me amounts of anything, but most of the recipes are in general agreement on those as well.  Obviously, that isn’t all you do…there is some baking that happens, and that seems to be where things fall apart for me.
Help?
Love,
Grace

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Dear Millie,

A few things:

Saturday evening was our Ward Christmas party.  They showed the video for the Light the World campaign and Bishop talked about the little things that make a big difference.  They had hors d’oeuvres and everyone brought cookies to share.  The activity portion was a family dance!  I’ve missed Hometown’s family dances and was delighted they decided to do this one!  I never did get to dance with Gordon, but they had a daddy-daughter dance and he held both girls for it.  So sweet.  My boys went nuts for “Happy” and they learned “YMCA” and a couple of line dances.  I wanted someone to swing dance with me but the boys were busy eating treats.  Truman said, “I will!  After I drink my punch though,” and I figured he’d take his time.  He downed the cupful and hopped right up!  I think we may have to YouTube some help.  It’s been too long, but it was a great time!

During the dance, they were teaching us the Shim Sham.  I was holding Lucy and trying to get Paul and Kyle to do it with me.  I didn’t catch on very quickly and probably looked silly out there.  When I sat back down, I mentioned that to Gordon, and Vanessa, surprised, put down her punch and said, “Mom, you looked like a shooting star!”

Paul was sitting next to me in church yesterday and we were singing Christmas hymns.  I was startled to hear his voice so loud and clear–a beautiful soprano voice!  I had never heard him really sing, and usually he follows my alto lead.  He sang the melody and I was nearly brought to tears.  Who knew?

Last night, the older kids were all tucked in bed and Gordon and I were up with Lucy, tying up loose ends before bed.  I think Wall-E was playing on the tv, and at one point, someone whistled.  Gordon and I both assumed the other of us had done it, until we put it together.  It was Lucy!  I thought she had a few weeks ago but dismissed it as a fluke.  Lucy whistles!

Hope you have a great week!  I checked your district calendar and realized that this week is finals.  That makes more sense, but sheesh!  I hope it goes well!  Hang in there.

Love,

Grace

 

Community Supper

Dear Millie,
I took the boys to help with a community supper this evening.  It’s a little late for our “feeding the hungry” part of the #LIGHTtheWorld project, but it was so, so good.  Several churches in our area rotate Sundays preparing and serving dinner to the homeless, needy, and/or hungry in our community.  Such a beautiful thing!
Two of my dear friends had planned to help, but both fell ill this weekend.  It was a bit stressful trying to get all the food the three of us had planned together and downtown to the hosting church (thank goodness there were lots of other people contributing too!), but it all came together.  The food didn’t matter, really.  I mean, it did, obviously, because that was the whole point, but the feeling was just magnificent.
I ended up being the official jello server and it was so fun to talk to everyone who came in.  We laughed so hard and I left feeling like I’d made so many new friends.  My friend put it perfectly: The kind of thing you somehow get more from than the hungry people you’re helping.  It was wonderful and meaningful and I was so grateful I got to be a part of it and that my boys got to be there, too.  My efforts to light someone else’s world in some small way ended up illuminating mine.
Love you,
Grace

Focaccia

Dear Millie,

I made Herb Focaccia Bread last night!  As far as savory breads go, it was delicious!  Paul, Vanessa, and Lucy couldn’t get enough of it and they each ate the bare minimum soup requirements for another slice, and another, and another. I was a big fan of having lovely bread on the table in about an hour’s time (maybe less?) and had hoped to make panini with it today, but it was gone by the end of the evening.

It was really easy to make, and I’d recommend you try it!  I imagine you can also halve it for you and Abe, or just invite people over and wow them with your culinary skills.  You’d wow me if you pronounce ‘focaccia’ correctly, which I discovered I didn’t. That’s not true…I just avoided pronouncing it altogether in case the pronunciation I imagined was wrong.  It was.  But!  I can now say it with gusto when I present it to my adoring foodie fans (okay, just my family, but whatever, they love me.  Paul told me this morning when he took a bite of his breakfast that “it was so good, it nearly brought tears to my eyes.”).

At any rate, I hope you are doing well and that I hear from you soon!

Love,

Grace

Thank Goodness It’s FRIDAY!

Dear Millie,
How is the semester wrapping up for you?  Mumsie and Pops said they got to stay with you recently.  I wish they could stay with me!  I was talking to a friend yesterday who recently got a job at the airport.  She said it’s going okay.  She works six hours.  Per WEEK.  I should work there!  Free flights!  It wouldn’t help you much except that you could then ferry me to and from Metrocity’s airport.  😉
I am off to help someone get their home ready for a CPS inspection.  This woman is one of the most caring I’ve ever known.  She can’t be burned by anyone (even when it seems like they are really, really trying.  Like, going out of their way to be awful people), and will take anyone and everyone in.  I should be more like her.  Instead, yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that a friend had invited me and the two girls to come over for a playdate with their darling friend (the nerve!).  I am so special when it comes to social situations.  The girls had a blast and I managed to not say anything offensive or weird (I hope!).  I sometimes remind myself of someone who lives in their parents’ basement. Probably a good thing Mumsie and Pops don’t have one.
Happy weekend!
Love,
Grace

Ladle Love

Dear Millie,

Last night, Gordon had to stay home from Cub Scout Pack Meeting because he had loads of homework.  Naturally, I left Lucy home with him.  Nothing helps a project along like a toddler!  Ha!  The plan was for me to take the older children and come right home before his class started.  We got home just as he settled in for class, and while there was a Lucy-friendly movie playing upstairs, she was downstairs on the couch with a cup of water, drinking it out of a play-size pasta ladle.  Obviously, most of it wasn’t making it into her mouth.  I sent her into the kitchen sans cup so I could clean up.  What I didn’t know was that some hungry soul had poured themselves a cup of milk and left it on the table to go get some leftover pizza.  By the time I turned around, Lucy was hurriedly ladling the milk all over the table and herself.  I’m sure my, “Nooooo!” startled her, and the cup dumped over.  Sometimes it’s so nice to have a dog.  And a good case on the iPad.

Love,

Grace

 

I Lied

Dear Millie,

I know I said I was going to send those raspberry rolls to Gordon’s work, but I lied.  Probably.  His department is hosting breakfast this morning and while I’d planned to make those, I ended up making cinnamon rolls instead.  I just couldn’t make those raspberry rolls differently than I had before and hope that they turned out; I’ll have to make them and try them first.  Quality control!

Yesterday was so busy!  All good things, but good gravy, I thought I’d lose my mind sometime in the middle of it.  And I’m not even in the middle of finals!  I was late to everything, including the potluck (unbelievable!  I was late to FOOD!).  I’m not admitting that the children ate leftover potluck cake while waiting for dinner (which wasn’t ready until 9pm).  And dinner’s recipe was filed in someone’s 30-minute meals, so I was kind of counting on it not taking as long as it did.  It was basically a pan of roast veggies and meat.  The children all had their favorite parts.  It was funny that those favorites were all different.  I usually insist on them eating a small portion of the full meal and then having more of what they liked, but it was so late, I was happy to let them trade their meat for Brussels sprouts (!), etc. with each other.  I had to press Gordon for his opinion since he has the most discerning taste buds, and he finally said, “Well, it tastes a little bit like hairspray smells.”  Ha!  I won’t be sharing that recipe.

We’re having an unscheduled snow at the moment.  It’s simply lovely.  I love sitting in my cozy home that smells like baking (even though I sent all the baked goods with Gordon) and just watching the snow fall.  It’s so peaceful.  Also peaceful at the moment are my girls, so I’d better capitalize on that!  Best wishes on the remainder of your week…you’re halfway through!  🙂

Love,

Grace

LIGHT the WORLD

A video and details here.  Advent activity calendar here.                                     December 7- Jesus Fed the Hungry and So Can You.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls

Dear Millie,

We had a potluck luncheon today with the Relief Society sisters to celebrate National Comfort Food Day that is this week.  It was great!  Two different kinds of funeral potatoes, homemade mac and cheese, a couple kinds of pizza, broccoli and cheese soup…lots of cheese!  I brought one of the types of funeral potatoes and I also made Raspberry Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls.  This was my second time making them because they were so good!  The recipe calls for fresh raspberries, but I had raspberry pie filling.  It turned out great!  You know what, I did a couple of things differently:

  • I used raspberry pie filling in place of fresh raspberries, and did not need the cornstarch or sugar for them.  I didn’t have lemons to zest, either.
  • I used maybe 1 1/2-2 Tbsp sugar in the cream cheese mixture, because I was worried it would be too sweet with the pie filling.
  • I used about a half a can of the pie filling for each batch.

REALLY, really good!  They were a hit both times.  The first time was just with our family and Gordon didn’t have one the night I made them, just a bite of mine.  He commented that maybe it was a little too sweet and that fresh raspberries would be better and would add a little tartness to balance it out.  The next day was a Sunday and I made sure there were enough for us to have after church, which the kids were sad about the night before, but happy about after church!  Gordon had meetings, so the children had theirs and I saved three for us to enjoy later and I took a nap.  When I got up, I discovered he’d eaten all three!  For someone who isn’t big on sweets and thought they were really good but not great, HUH.

Today’s luncheon proved again that they are amazing.  I think they’re best the day of (and still warm!), but I love, love, love them any way.  I also have fresh raspberries and lemons sitting in the fridge this very minute so I can make them again as the original recipe says (for Gordon’s work!  I promise!).

Are you convinced??

I know you don’t have a lot of time to be baking right now, but you will, and you should make these!  They take about an hour and a half from start to finish (and that includes rising time!).  Here’s a picture to further entice you:

Love you lots,

Grace

PS  The counting down is still happening!  We’re on Day 6 of Light the World.

A video and details here.  Advent activity calendar here.                                     December 6- Jesus Read the Scriptures and So Can You.

Day 5

Dear Millie,

I hope you had a lovely and restful weekend!  Saturday, I went to the temple with a van full of hilarious women.  I’m such a socially awkward duck that the whole evening before was spent thinking of all the reasons I couldn’t possibly go and all the what-ifs I could concoct.  I hate when I do that.  I knew it would be a good time and that it would be good for me to be social.  It was a great time!

I had early meetings at the church on Sunday morning.  The boys were just getting up when I left, so I instructed them to get dressed and be ready so Gordon wouldn’t have to do much for them and could focus on the girls.  I got a text from Gordon about 10 minutes before church began that they were running late and the girls were just starting to stir in their beds.  After the meeting, the ward clerk and I were chatting and he asked whether my family was sick since none of them were there.  I laughed and said that no, Gordon had been on his own and that they were probably out in the foyer, hair undone, dresses on backwards.

I looked out in the foyer and there was Gordon with the girls. It was apparent Vanessa had dressed herself (her dress and tights and shoes all clashed) and when I got close enough to Lucy to tell, I saw that her blouse was indeed on backwards.  I later found out that Vanessa had dressed herself and Lucy and had brushed their hair.  We also put together that Truman had fed himself, but when Gordon offered to make him breakfast, he didn’t say so and enjoyed a second breakfast!  I can’t say that I blame him.

Have a happy Monday!

Love,

Grace

Light the World

A video and details here.  Advent activity calendar here.                                     December 5- Jesus Healed the Sick and So Can You.