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Summer bucket list

Story and photos by Angie Sutton


I admit. I’m a make-a-list kinda gal. Make a plan if you plan to make it. Well, something like that anyway. It’s not that I’m a singular task-oriented person and check one off and move on; it’s more likely that I’m a multi-multi-tasker who needs the list for sanity. Sometimes the list even has sub-lists attached such as “go downtown” is the task and “dry cleaner, bank, drugstore, office supply” is the sub-list. I’m rarely without a list guiding my day.

Back in May, I was trolling my favorite blog sites and spending “a few minutes” on Pinterest. Apparently the trendy thing to do this summer is to make a bucket list of fantastic memory-making experiences for your family. Certainly this appealed to my Type A, list-oriented self. So with pen in hand, I began to craft my list.

Only a few minutes into my frenzied documentation of all of the things we were to accomplish this summer so upon returning to school in August my children would have great things to share, I started to panic. What if I missed an idea that was super cool? What if we couldn’t accomplish everything? Maybe I should rewrite the list based on priority and put the must-do items on the top. The Internet is chock-full of suggested experiences that you should be coordinating for your family this summer. Oh, and your list can’t just be a list, it must also have sketches of a campsite, a sailboat and an ice cream cone on each corner.

Phew! After crafting the list I was exhausted but excited. This would be the best summer ever. I hung the list on the refrigerator. Somewhere over the ensuing few weeks the ol’ fridge became the landing place for permission forms, registrations, work schedules and the like. The oh-so-important list got buried until I discovered it this week.

So with pen in hand, again, I peruse the list to make that mighty check mark by the things we’ve accomplished. It’s not that the things on my list were beyond reach. I didn’t add go to the beach or build a tree house. They were, however, things that I (emphasis on “I”) thought we should do. So I did what any good mom would do. I made dessert (see Milk and Cookies Brownie recipe) and called a family meeting. Each family member was given five wooden clothes pins and a marker. Each person was asked to write one thing they wanted to do during the last half of the summer on a clothes pin. I wasn’t allowed to write “shampoo carpet” or “weed garden” on my clips by family vote. We took turns reading our ideas and clipping them to the bucket. When we do the idea, that person gets to toss the clothes pin into the bucket. No lists to check off or cross out!

It amazed me what ideas were added to the rim of the bucket. We are all excited about what the last half of the summer holds for our family, and if they become a lasting memory, that’s even better. There is no guideline for making it the best summer ever. The rule is a one we learned when we were youngsters... everyone gets a turn to pick what you do next. And often the magic is simply in those spontaneous moments.

Milk and Cookies Brownies

Adapted from Mr. Food Test Kitchen

1 box family-size fudge brownie mix
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped chocolate sandwich cookies, divided
2 sticks butter, softened, divided
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. milk
1 c. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 9- by 13-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Stir 1 cup chopped cookies into brownie batter. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake according to package directions. Allow to cool completely. In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 stick butter; stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and cook until mixture thickens; remove from heat and let cool. In a medium bowl, beat remaining butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat the milk mixture into the sugar mixture until smooth. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until spreadable. Frost brownies, then sprinkle with remaining chopped cookies. Cut and serve with milk. Refrigerate leftovers.

Tin Roof Ice Cream Pie

Adapted from Mr. Food Test Kitchen

2 c. finely crushed corn flakes
1 c. coarsely crushed corn flakes
1/2 c. chunky peanut butter
1/2 c. light corn syrup
4 c. vanilla ice cream, softened
1/2 c. hot fudge, divided
1/4 c. coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Coat a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine finely and coarsely crushed corn flakes, peanut butter and corn syrup. Press firmly onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. In a large bowl, gently stir ice cream and 1/4 cup hot fudge so fudge creates ribbons in ice cream. Spread evenly into crust forming small mounds on top. Drizzle remaining hot fudge over mounds and sprinkle peanuts on top. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Glazed Hermit Bars

Source: Mr. Food Test Kitchen

2 sticks butter, softened
2 c. firmly-packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. cold tap water
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 10- by 15-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar. Blend in eggs. On low speed, beat in water, then baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. Gradually mix in flour, about a third at a time. Stir in raisins, cranberries and chocolate chips. Spread batter on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until firm. Remove pan to wire rack to cool. When cool, cut into 2-inch bars. In a small bowl, whisk confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Spoon glaze on each square and let sit until glaze firms up.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Pie

Source: Mr. Food Test Kitchen

1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 (8 oz.) packet cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (12 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
1 c. coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, divided
1 (9-inch) chocolate pie crust

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat peanut butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold in 3 cups whipped topping and 3/4 cup peanut butter cups. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Garnish top with remaining whipped topping and remaining peanut butter cups. Chill overnight or at least 8 hours, until firm.

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