Hello Dolly! Sweet Gooey Treat Bars….


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It’s so nice to have you back where you belong… in my kitchen and on my blog.

Hello Dolly Seven Layer Magic Cookie bar recipe. Easy sweet gooey chocolate coconut

Hello Dolly Bars are a favorite of mine and really any other rational person, given that they are gooey sweet with coconut and caramelized sweetened condensed milk (oooh, wee those corner pieces!). They go by other names such as Seven Layer Cookie bars, Magic Cookie bars, Jungle Bars, Double Delicious Bars and Whitney’s favorite Crack Cocaine Cookie Bars (ok, crack is whack and that isn’t super funny nor what I shall call them. Gah.)  You can add and subtract the ingredients as long as there is a graham cracker and butter basement and a layer of sweetened condensed milk on or near the top. I like mine straight forward with coconut, nuts and chocolate chips. But feel free to use butterscotch or peanut butter chips, mini marshmallows, raisins, broken pieces of chocolate bars, oatmeal or a variety of nuts. I use walnuts or pecans typically. Nuts can easily be omitted if allergies. Don’t get super hung up on quantities, if you have more or less of the toppings, I am sure it will turn out just fine.

Do you have a Hello Dolly memory? What is your family’s name for this chewy gooey goodness?


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup butter) melted in a 9×13 pan
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • At least 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coconut – i have used sweetened and unsweetened
  • 1 cup of nuts, walnuts, pecans coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 whole can of sweetened condensed milk (SCM)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour melted butter, or melt butter directly in glass pan, into a 13×9 in pan. Create the crust by sprinkling in the graham cracker crumbs and pressing them evenly and lightly. Add the coconut flakes, nuts, chocolate chips and top by drizzling on the sweetened condensed milk. Or try putting the coconut on top of the drizzled SCM.

Bake for 30 minutes or so until toasty brown on top.  Resist eating them while warm if you can. One of life’s true pleasures.

Hello Dolly Seven Layer Magic Cookie bar recipe. Easy sweet gooey chocolate coconut

Other lovely links about hello dolly bars.

Blueberry and Cointreau Cream Brunch Stack Cake – IKEA recipe hack


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Stack cakes – yum. Oft made with fresh crepes or grandma’s secret pancake recipe. Today I present my quick version featuring pannkakor (swedish pancakes) from IKEA with home-canned organic free range blueberry filing and cointreau whipped cream. Fruit and cream stack cakes are great for a special brunch or dessert at anytime of day (remember life is short).  You can amp up the sweetness by using a more jammy or compote-y filling or by whipping up the cream, folding in mascarpone or yogurt/creme fraiche and additional sugar. I didn’t really measure and you shouldn’t either, just have fun.

fruit stack cake pancake crepe hack tutorial IKEA hack DIY recipe brunch dessert topping cream cointreau


  • Ikea Pannkakaor (swedish pancakes) or make your own crepes
  • Whipping cream, about a pint (little less)
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plus or minus or not at all Cointreau, rum etc.
  • Fruit filling (jam, fruit packed in syrup, mash up fresh berries, syrup, nutella etc)
  • Extras: lemon or orange zest for the top, powder sugar, mint leaves for garnish etc

fruit stack cake pancake crepe hack tutorial DIY recipe brunch dessert


  • Defrost the pannkakor. The IKEA ones are folded into quarters. This makes them fragile and likely to tear along the seams but that is not a problem in this recipe.
  • Prep the fruit filling. As you can tell by the noncommittal ingredient list, there isn’t a wrong answer. You could use pie filling, mashed berries, make a compote quickly by heating mashed berries with a little water and sugar (here is a nice tutorial), use jam, syrup etc. Any combination and you can chose how sweet. I am trying to use up some items in the pantry in prep for this seasons canning so it was blueberries in simple syrup for me.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the liquor and sugar to the whipping cream. Stir and taste, add more sugar at this point if you want. Using your mixer (because doing by hand defeats the WHOLE point of using frozen crepes) on high speed whip up the whipping/heavy cream until steep peaks form.
  • Start stacking! place the first pancake down on a plate, spread with whipped cream add fruit and layer on the next pancake. Now, I tried to rotate so that the seams didn’t line up, especially the broken ones.
  • Just keep on spreading and repeating. A few layers just had cream in them.

fruit stack cake pancake crepe hack tutorial IKEA hack DIY recipe brunch dessert topping cream cointreau layersBe sure to leave enough whipped cream and fruit for the top show layer. Here is where you can add citrus zest, dusting of powder sugar or cocoa, mint or basil leaves (strawberry basil?) etc.

  • It is best to serve relatively soon after you make it but if you need to make ahead, do all the layers except the top. Save that for right before serving. Slice with a big knife and soak up the oohs and aahs.

fruit stack cake pancake crepe hack tutorial IKEA hack DIY recipe brunch dessert topping cream cointreau layers fruit stack cake pancake crepe hack tutorial IKEA hacks DIY recipe brunch dessert fruit stack cake pancake crepe hack tutorial IKEA hack DIY recipe brunch dessert topping cream cointreau layers

Filtered Final Foto for Effect ruit stack cake pancake crepe hack tutorial IKEA hack DIY recipe brunch dessert topping cream cointreau layers

Next time I will be making a strawberry version with my favorite strawberry balsamic jam! And then maybe a pear, cinnamon, rum and orange version (fall brunch anyone?)

I would love to hear your Ikea food hacks – please share.

Other blueberry recipes:

Mexican Wedding Cakes – Powdered Sugar and Spice – Always Nice


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Rescued from the depths of a past blog post and recreated today in my kitchen with a TWIST – cardamom and pistachio…  Inspiration – a dear friends 20th Anniversary Party!


[insert ethnicity] Wedding Cakes – a favorite of my theater buddy ASB, from the tried and true Joy of Cooking, among many classic cookbooks.

About forty – sixty 1 ¼ inch cookies, easy to halve or double or any other fraction you can manage. I am always closer to forty….


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar (aka powdered)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (unless your nuts are salted, then omit)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped nuts – I love pistachios, walnuts and/or pecans (recommend toasting, below)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten free flour works fine too)
  • ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, for rolling
  • Spice like cardamon, cinnamon or nutmeg if you like, about 1-2 tsp, mixed in with powder sugar for coating


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease or line cookies sheets if you like although not necessary
  • Beat first 4 ingredients (butter, sugar, salt, vanilla) in a large bowl until well blended
  • Stir in chopped nuts
  • Stir in flour until blended
  • Once mixed, shape in 1 inch balls and arrange about 1 ¼ inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake, one sheet at a time, until cookies are lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes. Let stand to cool briefly. Then remove to a rack and cool more. Roll the cookies in powder sugar and spice.

These just melt in your mouth!  I am not sure why they are called Mexican, since nothing in the original recipe screams Ye Old Mexico, other than maybe vanilla. These cookies are sometimes called Russian Tea cakes but this name seems less common (based on unscientific survey of all my cookbooks, none referred to Russians. Sign of political times?). The main difference is traditionally the Russian version is made with walnuts. This cookie is also found in reference to many other countries under the names Swedish Tea Cakes, Italian Butter Nut, Southern Pecan Butterball, Snowdrop, Viennese Sugar Ball, Sand Tarts, and Snowballs. Basically, pick your favorite country or match to a party theme, use the nuts you have (don’t fret, even mixed party nuts) and enjoy. A last word of caution, neither inhale deeply or nor sneeze directly when eating these cookies due to the generous dusting of sugar.


Toasted Nuts – easy and really brings out flavor and adds some new dimensions too

  • Heat oven to 325 F.
  • Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil
  • Add nuts in a single layer
  • Toast for 5-7 minutes. Don’t burn!

how to toast walnuts pecans nuts

original post – http://oddsandhens.com/2013/05/19/eat-the-cake-you-have/

DIY Sensory Mat Tutorial – Bits Baubles Glittery Goop


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Plenty of tutorials out on the inter webs for sensory mats, so nothing too revolutionary here BUT what makes this one different is I used my food saver to seal in the gloopy glittery beautiful mess. Nothing wrong with just sealing and taping a zip locking bag or ironing to seal but using the food saver allows you to make custom sizes and ensures a good seal. I still sealed two separate strips because oh lordy lordy imagine if this leaked.

Ideas for fillers

  • beads
  • glitter
  • packing peanuts
  • foam ear plugs
  • pompoms
  • google eyes (or one giant eye!)
  • rubberbands
  • partial string of fake pearls
  • marbles
  • wine cork (but i ended up pulling out because too big)
  • string, yarn
  • buttons
  • sky’s the limit, repurpose away!

Liquid – no magic ratio (buy a big cheap bottle), mixing water or paint with oil makes for fun blobby separation

  • scored green glitter poster paint for a song on clearance) plus baby oil
  • baby oil and water with glitter (another clearance steal)

Mix together, with liquid taking up about 1/3 of the space, fold out most of the air and seal shut (two rows of seal)! I didn’t use the vacuum function just flattened/folded out most of air. Enjoy! We have to put ours up when out of the house because our dog has a tendency to be ‘offended’ by things in packages and might just rip it open. That would surpass any mess made by a leaking ziplock bag.

If your kiddos are old enough let them help find and make the contents of the play sensory mats. I have a little stash of plastic animals for the next go around.

Share your photos!

contents green glitter sensory mat pompoms rubber bands beads foodsaver sealer contents green glitter sensory mat pompoms rubber bands beads foodsaver seale blue baby oil glitter sensory mat pompoms rubber bands beads foodsaver sealed giant google eyes contents blue baby oil glitter sensory mat pompoms rubber bands beads foodsaver sealed giant google eyes contents green glitter sensory mat pompoms rubber bands beads foodsaver seale

Nut Butters – Almond, Pecan and Walnut! Oh My!


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I love nut butter – peanuts? yes please! almond? Over here! But I recently tried making a batch of pecan and a batch of walnut. Now the big decision, is which nut butter to spread on my toast?

Nut butters are very easy to make at home and are a sure fire way for you to know EXACTLY was is in (or not) your spread. Nuts and a pinch of salt (if you like). Get a bit crazy and whirl in some honey.

What you need

  • Raw or roasted nuts
  • Sea salt
  • Food processor, spatula
  • about 10 – 15 minutes
  • Maybe ear plugs if your food processor sounds like a jet engine (as does mine – since upgraded)

How to

  • Put the nuts, whole is fine, into the food processor.
  • Turn on the food processor and let it whirl, swirl and pulverize away.
  • You likely need to stop it every few minutes to scrape down the sides.
  • Keep processing until it is the consistency you desire. Plan on about 10 minutes but watch as each nut and batch size will vary.
  • Add a pinch of salt, mix it in. Taste and add more if you like.
  • Scoop into containers, maybe enjoy a spoonful.
  • Nut butters keep just fine in a jar at room temperature. I made sure when filling the container to push out air bubbles.
  • Enjoy!

DIY nut butter

Almond butter is a staple, the walnut was good but I think next time i will roast the walnuts first as there was a slight bitterness. Pecan butter was the big surprise – it becomes spreadable really quickly (compared to almonds) and the taste has a lot more depth. After it sat for a few days some of the oil separated, which i poured off (you don’t have too), but it was still perfectly spreadable.

Starting my day off with a banana and pecan butter  toast!

Starting my day off with a banana and pecan butter toast!

Here is a great almond butter treat recipe! No Bake Almond Apricot Chocolate Cookies  Do you have a favorite nut butter recipe or variation?  Those pistachios in my pantry better watch out….

Dried Mango – Simple Snacking


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This isn’t rocket science but just a method that worked really well and made short work of a case of Kent Mangos. I scored the ripe box at Ranch 99 Market for a song – you could smell the mango-y-ness wafting from the box (after of course you left the questionable seafood herbal Pinesol legit asian grocery smell).

For slicing and serving I really like this method using a glass, although the mangos in this purchase were almost too big, I could only do this AFTER slicing half but still helpful.


Dried Mango

  • Dehydrator (or can use the oven either on dry function or low low heat)
  • Ripe Mangos
  • Metal box cheese grater (slicing side)
  • Vegetable peeler

Peel the skin off only half the mango so that you can hold onto the fruit without it all over the place. Run your mango across the slicing side of the cheese grater to get strips that are a good thickness for drying. I used primarily the top two slicers. Of note, I tried to using the peeler to create the mango slices but they ended up very very paper thin when dehydtrated- actually sustained a mango paper cut. Don’t ask. Keep slicing and peeling until about half is gone, then use the glass method if you like to remove the giant pit and repeat, but do just peel away a part at the time so you have the skin to help hold it together. There was still a pile mushy indeterminate shaped mango, just put in a storage container and add to yogurt, ice cream or just spoon it right into your mouth.

In the dehydrator at about 130 F it took my batch about 4 hours to dry. I like to fill up each layer and put some sliced banana in at the end.



From Scrootches to Spinach to Saturday! First Seven days of Give It 100!


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That is 7% for those of you that showed up for the math portion of my blog…. Bee and I are having a great time reading poems together and are 7 days into our 100 day challenge. A few days we have read more than one – once you get started it can be hard to spot, especially when he starts to squawk along.  We read mostly poems but also included the book Little Pea in honor of National Spinach Day this past week.  We have also read some poems that I am not so sure about the message (day 4 alternate – Tiger who wore white gloves; tiger is shamed out of wearing them….) but filed away for later when it is time to talk about such topics. For now we like the fun sounds and Bee has joined in. Have you joined Give It 100 yet?  Feel free to share poem ideas with us!

Day 7: 

Day 6: Scritchy Scratchy Scrootches – a tongue yoga detox class

Day 5: 

Day 4: Knitted Things – this is s fun crafty one!

Day 3: Big Red Barn

Day 2: The Fish are in the Treetops

Day 1! – I Lost My Hippopotamus

Getting ready to read – also joining the #nomakeupselfie movement (aka last day of maternity leave!)  I post almost daily on istragram with 10 second teaser (and other randomness) or join me over at giveit100.com.


Day 1 of #Giveit100 Project: aka Rhymes with Bee


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A few of our favorite reads right now.

There is no shortage or reading, singing or talking in our house with Baby Bee around but I came across the Give it 100 project and thought this would be a fun way to capture Bee McQT over the course of time and work our way through the tomes of books, especially fun poetry collections he has been generously gifted. So far I enjoy reading the rhymes as they move along, and Bee seems to like the rolling sounds/inflections and isn’t yet searching for that ‘hidden mouse’ or naming off all the colors he sees. Some baby books have such great pictures but are a tad boring to read right now without the reciprocal interaction. It has also been a while since I have posted a Reach & Read book review, and think that this just might replace that space in the blog. Stay tuned.

In short: 10 second videos of my ‘project’ for a 100 days and you can follow it on giveit100.com or my instagram feed #giveit100 #rhymeswithbee but I will link the full video of each poem or book. I am working on beefing up my instagram so be patient and do not fret that it doesn’t look like the website just yet.

I’ve Lost my Hippopotamous by Jack Prelutsky – Read by Mother Megan March 22, 2015

A few Favorite books (but there are so many: Llama Llama, Big Red Barn, Mother for Choco …..)

  • I’ve Lost my Hippopotamus
  • Little Blue Truck
  • Father Fox’s Penny Rhymes
  • Good Night Montana
  • Follow the Moon
  • Little Pea (and oink and hoot)

Creme Brûlée in Jars : Perfect, simple, deceptively easy


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creme brûlée recipe in jars


Previously, I was not a big creme brûlée fan. No good reason, just meh or I will have the seasonal sorbets please. I also had no idea how simple it is to make. Fancy French dessert? Must be complicated, require stilettos, twelve hours, culinary degree and secret ingredients grown in the shade of the Eiffel Tower. Well, it is not. It is the perfect combination of quality ingredients, topped off with flames! I looked at quite a few recipes as there are many variations and approaches – my version is a mishmash of Joy of Cooking, Ina Gartner, Alton Brown, Martha and Julia. You could certainly make a batch and bake in a single larger dishes (for a little longer) but I love jars and desserts in jars.  The 4 ounce Ball canning jars make the perfect personal sized dessert. My recipe makes about eight or nine of the 4 ounce jars, little ramekins work too but will hold a little more volume.  I easily tripled this recipe to make two dozen for our recent Lunar New Year Celebration. Dessert and a Show!


  • 3 egg yolks; save the whites and make a quick batch of my coconut macaroons or freeze for future use.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 (generous) teaspoon vanilla bean paste (I like the kind in the jar, but you could scrape out a bean too)
  • 2 (generous) teaspoons Cointreau (optional)
  • Another 1/2 cup or so sugar for topping and burning after baking
  • Raspberry, mint leaves and other garnishes: I also used coconut chips, sky is the limit
  1. Heat the oven to 325 F. In a backing pan, e.g. 13×9, place the jars and then fill pan with water until it reaches about 60% of the way up the jar.IMG_0116_2
  2. Whisk/beak with a fork the egg yolks, whole egg and sugar, vanilla paste and Cointreau in a large mixing bowl using a fork or whisk. I love my large glass measuring bowl with pour spout. IMG_0114_2IMG_0115_2
  3. Scald the cream in a sauce pan. Stirring most of the time. I scald by heating and stirring until tiny bubbles just start forming on the edge.
  4. Pour very slowly the scaled cream into the eggs/sugar stirring constantly until all combined. You don’t want to dump and scramble the eggs.IMG_0118_2
  5. Stir until well combined and then pour into prepped glass jars. Some people strain to remove any lumps, i did not and it turned out just fine and had Great Texture.
  6. Put the jars in the pan with water into the oven and back until creme  ‘trembles’ but is set in the middle. This was about 35 minutes when using the 4 ounce jars.
  7. When done cooking, remove jars for water bath/pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to finish setting. IMG_4331
  8. About 30 minutes before ready to serve, let the jars sit at room temperature. Then cover with a layer of sugar and use a torch quickly melt/burn the sugar. You can do this under a broiler preheated to high. This is a little trickier.  Yes, that is me RS babywearing and putting finishing touches on desert. For safety reasons (and because my guy loves the torch) – I let him put the “brûlée” in Creme Brûlée.

  9. Add your toppings and serve! IMG_4350_oh

Remember the coconut macaroon recipe!



Simple single ingredient dog treats – Happy Cow Heart Chews


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Happy Cow? Yes, I asked the rancher. Also grass fed and local.  A friend and I purchased a quarter cow from a local farm near Seattle (Hallet Family) this summer. When picking up at the butcher they asked if I wanted an offal. Yes! Liver (made pate), kidney, tongue (can you say TACOS!) and heart. The intestines weren’t suitable this time, no loss – not a tripe fan.  The kidney and heart are saved for Mr. Mason, the family fur baby.

Making a wholesome, natural dog treat and not wasting part of the animal makes this tutorial a win-win. I am sure you could also add spices, flavoring, much like a jerky and the dogs would love but this is allergen free and no extra sodium etc. A cow’s heat weights about 3-5 pounds depending on age, so expect at least half that in treat weight.



  • Animal parts – can do this with really any piece of meat or animal part. I have seen esophagus et al turned into dog treats out on the inter webs.
  • Dehydrator
  • Zip locking bags
  • Sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • large rimmed baking sheet (options)
  • Disposable gloves, if you prefer
  • Biology book if you want to geek out and look for things like aorta, mitral valve etc.
  • Paper towel, lots.

Place your cutting board in a rimmed baking sheet covered with paper towels. if no baking sheet, put paper towels under your cutting board to help catch blood.
Slice the cow heart into thin uniform slices, less than a 1/4 inch if you can. The meat should be mostly defrosted if frozen – does make a little easier to cut. I did need to drain the blood from mine and give a quick rinse in the sink. From bigger pieces maybe cut into strips or make bite size nuggets for training treats if you like. Remove as much fat as possible. I didn’t do as good of a job with this and my treats have more fat than they should, so I am storing them int he freezer so they do not become rancid. But you can certainly store these at room temperature – plenty of beef jerky recipes out there; I recommend however fridge or freezer. Remember – the nose knows…. Note – I did not preheat the cook/heat the meat.

Lay on dehydrator trays and turn on and let it work its magic. I used the higher heat setting on mine – but you should follow your specific dehydrator’s recommendations. You could also dehydrate in the oven or other methods, especially if you have experience dehydrating meat/making jerky.

Expert Tip – move the dehydrator to the garage as the meat smell is not appetizing after a while and it will take at least four to five hours to dry out.  When done I placed dried bits of love on a paper towel to dab off any extra grease I could. Store in fridge or freezer.


Finished product



Treat Anticipation…… Check dramatic slow-mo of Mr. Mason trying out his treat for the first time.


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