Magic Cookie Bars

I can remember being a little kid in middle school and eating my very first Magic Cookie Bar in Home Ec. At that moment, there was no doubt in my mind that me and these cookies were meant to be. Flash forward a million years later, and I am still very much aware that if it came down to just me and these cookies in the world I would make it out okay.

When Hurricane Sandy started threatening our power last week, Dean and I went to the grocery store to pick up some of the basics (read: water, poptarts, and chips) and I whipped up a batch of the magic to keep us through.

If you’ve never made them before, they are super easy. What I love about them is the fact that you can throw almost anything in the pan and have it turn out wonderful. Really, the only things you need are some butter, graham cracker crumbs, condensed milk, and a cabinet filled with miscellaneous baking supplies. Anything goes! Here’s what I used this time:

Ingredients:
1 stick of Butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 can of Condensed Milk
1 cup White Chocolate Chips
1 cup Chocolate Melts (I usually prefer the chips)
1 cup of Chopped Walnuts
1 cup of Peanut Butter Chips

Tip: I usually really like to add in 1 cup of flaked coconut.
As someone who isn’t a very big coconut person, I promise this is a good decision.

Steps:

1-Set oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is warming, place a stick of butter in an 13×9 inch pan and let it melt in the oven.
Keep an eye on the butter. Once it is mostly melted on the bottom of the pan, be sure to take it out of the oven.

2-In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of your dry ingredients. I change up what I use all of the time! Eagle Brand suggests using 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips, 1 cup of chopped nuts and 1 1/3 cups of flaked coconut. I prefer to trade out some of the semi-sweet chocolate for white chocolate and peanut butter chips.  Choose to use ingredients that you enjoy!

3-By this time your butter should be melted. I know that you kept a good eye on it, so it’s probably already sitting on your counter cooling down. Once the butter has cooled a bit (but is still in liquid form), evenly pour your 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs directly on top of your butter, straight into the pan. Evenly mix your butter and graham cracker crumbs and press this crust combination evenly to the bottom of the pan.
Careful! The pan will still be hot!!
4-Evenly pour your full can of condensed milk right on top of the crust.
5-Evenly pour your dry ingredients over the condensed milk. Press down firmly.
6-Wonderful! Now pop that baby into the oven for 25-30 minutes (or until golden brown).  I swear to you, the smell that will fill your household is better than that of  the classic Chocolate Chip Cookie. You can thank me later.
The hardest part of this whole project is waiting for them to cool.
Hot Tip: Wait to cut your cookies until the tray is fully cooled.  Unlike cookies, these guys taste better when they are fully cooled and can hold themselves together. 

Eat and enjoy!
What are some of your favorite go-to recipes? What ingredients will you put into your cookie bars?

[Friday] Friends in Need

As you guys may know, I’m originally from Long Island, NY and I spend quite a bit of time traveling back and forth from my old hometown to my new one. Unfortunately, Sandy is preventing this from happening for a little while.

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Luckily, all of my family and friends were graced with good fortune and still have a home, but many around us cannot say the same.  I don’t want to grace your readers with a bunch of sad pictures of the devastation,  you can find that anywhere right now. But as my Facebook newsfeed quietly fills with stories of sadness and frustration, I feel like I should make a quick mention towards how you can help for today’s post.



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The American Red Cross is currently accepting donations! Items aren’t as helpful at the moment so they are looking for money or blood donations.

  • Visit this page to find out where you can donate blood.
  • Visit this page to make a donation online.
  • You can text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 via your next wireless bill. Couldn’t be easier!
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The Human Society’s Animal Rescue Team is currently in NY and NJ helping to find animals in need of rescue. Unfortunately, not all families were able to take their pets with them to their shelters. If you are looking to donate to the cause they are looking for money donations.
  • Visit this page to donate money online.
  • You can also text the word HUMANE to 80888 to donate $10.

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If you’re in the area and looking to lend a hand, New York Cares is currently looking for volunteers to work on some of their relief projects. They are “the city’s largest volunteer organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools.”
  • Visit this page to find out how to volunteer
  • You can also text iCARE to 85944 to donate $10.
Edit: Sandy was especially nasty to Rockaway.  Locals are hoping for donations through Graybeards, a trusted local organization in the Rockaway area.
Visit graybeards.com/ for more information on their organization and to donate.


Looking for more ways to help? NBC put together a great list of different groups who are active in the relief effort with direct links for how YOU can help.  From the bottom of my heart, my friends and I can’t thank you enough.



Hope you all have a safe and wonderful weekend!

Knitting with Sandy

My Great Aunt Kay used to make me all of my winter scarves when I was growing up. Now that I live so much further from her, I haven’t had any of her lovingly knitted scarves in a long time. Last year I decided to take matters into my own hands and I made my first scarf all by myself!

It was time consuming, but it was easy to do. I always loved doing things with my hands like making friendship bracelets and lanyard keychains as a kid. My aunt even taught me to crochet but I never made anything past a few potholders. (What, nobody else learned how to crochet as a child? Weird.)  So spending my days knitting and watching TV seemed like a pretty good option for me. It gets kind of addictive so when I bought a new hunter green winter jacket last year, I moved on to a green and salmon striped scarf.

I really love these colors but I wanted something a little more subdued as an option as well.  Since this fall I’ve been all about staying comfy, I just purchased some nice and soft beige yarn to start on a new scarf for the year.  Don’t you just want to wrap yourself in it?
This is what I will be doing this week as Hurricane Sandy makes her way over to NEPA. Ideally I’ll be doing this with electricity and some TV show on in the background, but I’m prepared to continue with my scarf if this plan fails. Dean and I have a million candles ready to hold us over if the power goes out and I have books on hand in case I need an activity change. I actually got a call from our electric company yesterday saying that if the power goes out it could stay that way for a week or more! Yikes!  Please keep this in mind if you notice that I’m not blogging much this week. It isn’t because I don’t love you, it’s because Sandy decided I should give myself a little vacation.
If anyone else is getting hit with the storm, I feel for you. Stay safe! I hope she is much more easy going than predicted, but please take these last few hours to prepare for the worst (if you haven’t already).
 If you’re looking for something to do while you’re stuck in the house, try out knitting and make a scarf with me! There are tons and tons of YouTube videos that will teach you the basics.
(Tip: Search for videos teaching you to “cast on” first. This will give you your first row to start. You use this row to build upon with whatever stich you want. Your YouTube find should lead you right into the next step. ) 

I only know one simple stich myself, but it’s been serving me well. Good luck! I’ll check back in next month to see how it’s going!
What do you guys like to do when the electricity goes out?