Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

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I have a very tumultuous relationship with banana bread. I either LOVE it or it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know what it is. I love a dense cake, but dense banana bread is sort of meh.

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But, I just came across a new recipe…

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And it changed me…

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…FOREVER.

This Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread recipe yields the perfect balance between dense and fluffy, chewy and crusty.

You simply MUST try it, especially if you are broken up with banana bread, as I was. Now we’re back on. Here’s to a long and successful future!

Cinnamon Swirled Banana Bread

** I didn’t use the banana on the top, and I also made two smaller loaves**

Kristin

Quinoa Granola Bars with Dried Fruit & Chocolate

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Well, oopsie. It’s almost been a month since I blogged. What can I say? Summer really took over. Now, it’s coming to a close. My boys go back to school next week ( 😦 ). I’ve so enjoyed my extra time with them, where the days started and ended later, we ate our weight in ice cream, and we did what we wanted. Times are a-changin’! It’s back to the grind. It’s going to be a rude awakening next week, when I’ll be forced to wake them up. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. That “my baby is now going to Kindergarten” bridge will also have to be dealt with. I’m not emotionally prepared to deal with that at this time.

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Moving on to what makes me comfortable – food. 😀

I found a recipe for Quinoa Granola Bars and tweaked them a little.

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These were so good! The oats made them chewy and the quinoa made them crunchy. The dried fruit made them subtly sweet and the chocolate coating just made them. Chocolate coating makes almost everything. Ask anybody.

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You can leave the chocolate coating off, if needed. I can barely come up with a situation where a chocolate coating would not be needed. But, know that option exists.

Quinoa Granola Bars with Dried Fruit & Chocolate

Recipe adapted from: Superhealthykids.com

1 C uncooked quinoa

1 C oats

1/2 C coconut

1 1/2 C combination of nuts and dried fruit (I used a 1/2 each of cranberries, golden raisins, and sliced almonds)

1/4 t salt

1/2 C peanut butter

3/4 C honey

1 T  oil (I used coconut)

3 T brown sugar

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 C chocolate chips

1 t oil (I used coconut)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9X13 inch baking dish.  Spread the oats and quinoa on a cookie sheet and toast in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Pour the quinoa and oats mixture into a large bowl and add coconut, nuts, and dried fruit. Mix together. In a medium saucepan, combine salt, peanut butter, honey, oil, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and immediately remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Pour over oats mixture and combine until dry ingredients are evenly coated. Pour into baking dish. Press mixture down into pan. Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes.

To make the chocolate, mix the chocolate chips and oil together in a bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring until melted. Spread over the top of the bars and let them cool/dry.

Cut and serve.

These are a teeny bit crumbly, but are delicious for snacks (after school, maybe? mid-morning? you decide). You could also individually wrap the slices and freeze and pop into a lunchbox.

Enjoy!

Kristin

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Watermelon & Lime Popsicles

It is hot. Like, bad hot. While it’s still technically “Spring”, it’s been Summer weather here in Sunny Florida for a while. We are constantly trying to beat the heat. I made a fun, healthy treat this week that was both delicious and heat-beating (yes, that’s a thing). Watermelon Lime Popsicles! You need only a few ingredients, and one special tool (maybe two).

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Watermelon Lime Popsicles

Watermelon juice

1 lime

microplane

Popsicle bags (I found mine at World Market)

Cut up a watermelon (you can use whatever size you want) and puree it. Strain it. I kept the pulp and ate it, as a snack, with Tajín (a Mexican spice mix of chile, salt, and lime). Wash the lime. Zest it into your watermelon juice container. Cut the lime open and squeeze the juice from both halves into the same container. Stir the liquid and zest. Use a funnel or a measuring cup to fill popsicle bags. Once sealed, place in the freezer for several hours.

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These were insanely good. You could see the beautiful lime zest in the gorgeous watermelon juice. The taste was out of this world.

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I had only made four (using the leftover watermelon juice from my Watermelon Cupcakes) and my boys keep asking me to make them.

Enjoy!

Kristin

Circus Week – “Magic Bunny” VPK School Lunch

I feel like circuses have magic shows. Do they? Like, with a magician in a tux, pulling a rabbit out of a top hat?

I might be stretching it a little. I only have so many circus-themed cutters.

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I made a magical bunny shaped PB&J and added details for his ears (very instrumental to his magic show), eye, ad nose. I also packed a few banana chips, a few TJ’s organic PB sandwich crackers, two dried dates, an aprium, colby jack cheese, a Tim Tam (thank you Australia!!!), and a homemade granola bar.

And for my Smalls:

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I packed half a PB&J, trail mix, an aprium, TJ’s PB crackers, colby jack cheese, and a cotton candy Oreo. He’s got a granola bar for snack.

I made the granola bars for Teacher Appreciation Week a few weeks back. They were delicious!! I thought I’d make them again for my own family.

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They were super easy to put together…

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…and had ingredients I both had on hand and could pronounce.

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AND they are easy to individually package and freeze!

http://happymoneysaver.com/no-bake-homemade-chewy-granola-bars/

A hint – if you are out of honey, as this recipe requires a LOT, you can use corn syrup as a sub. I don’t love using that, but I do keep it on hand for some recipes.

Do it!

Kristin

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Have you ever heard of something that is half whole wheat? And that is both cake and a muffin at the same time? Me neither. Until now. These are so good, they’ll knock your socks off! I was inspired to make these for two reasons – 1) I had two completely brown, sad, and huge bananas on my counter (they were so pitiful and self-loathing, that they wouldn’t even hang on my banana hanger anymore), and 2) my oldest son had a craving for banana cake after a classmate brought some in his school lunchbox and who am I to mess with his cake-filled dreams.

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These came out so moist and soft, and with a tender crumb, just like cake should be (unless it’s wedding cake. I adore and crave a dense wedding cake.). I used both whole wheat flour and cake flour. I love when healthy and delicious collide.

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They are full of cozy, homey banana flavor and spiced with warm cinnamon.

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If given the opportunity, I would have eaten the whole pan.

Fortunately enough for me and my waistline, I was not afforded that opportunity.

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I also made a few mini muffins, perfect for little hands.

I hope you make these sweet little things and find them to be as easy and delicious as I did.

Half Whole Wheat Banana Cake Muffins

Recipe makes 12 standard muffins, 12 mini muffins, and a little extra for a tasting (I used a mini spring form)

Recipe adapted from: “Banana Upside Down Mini Muffins”, Weelicious Lunches

2 large ripe bananas (or about 3 medium)

3/4 C buttermilk (I made mine with cashew milk and vinegar)

1 large egg

3 T oil (I used peanut, you can use canola, vegetable, or coconut)

1 t vanilla

1 C whole wheat flour

1 C cake flour

1/3 C packed brown sugar

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place cupcake wrappers in a cupcake tin.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla, and whisk together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.

Pour into the cupcake wrappers, about 3/4 full.

Bake for 12 minutes. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tins.

These are truly bananas! Try them.

Kristin

Ice Cream Cone Cornucopias

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Boy, have I got a fun thing for you to try! If you’re looking for a sweet Thanksgiving treat for kids or even for place settings at the kid table (although I don’t know any adults who would turn this down), then you’ve come to the right place.

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I’m here to show you Ice Cream Cone Cornucopias! Filled! With popcorn! And M&M’s!!! I came across this idea on Pinterest when looking for Thanksgiving feast desserts for my Bigs’ VPK class. They looked super easy and I have a friend who has made them and she also said they were easy.

As oft happens in my kitchen adventures…

…(to me) easy they were not. The directions call for soaking the bottoms of sugar cones in warm water for 20 seconds, microwaving the cones for 20 seconds, and bending the bottoms around a pencil (or the like) for 20 seconds. Sounds easy enough, right? I was glad I purchased two packs (of 12 cones) even though I only needed 12. I ended up using every last one (I destroyed ate mucked up about 12). So. My recommendation to you, is to A) buy more than you need just in case and B) soak the cones for longer than 20 seconds (I’d say upwards of 45).

Or, maybe it will all work perfectly for you, as it’s supposed to. 🙂 I tend to muck things up a bit.

I had to let mine dry for a few hours, due to the massive bath they took during the earlier process. Once they were dried, they looked so cute. I wanted to fill them with popcorn, M&M’s, AND pretzels (a la Charlie Brown Thanksgiving), but I only had room for the popcorn and M&M’s. And I think it came out perfectly and the pretzels weren’t even needed. I hope the kids love them.

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Here is the original post, detailing the process:

http://thecraftpatch.blogspot.com/2011/11/thanksgiving-cornucopia-treats.html#.VG6ZjY-OOrA

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Blessings!

Kristin

Thanksgiving Countdown (a “turkey lunch” and a link to Thanksgivings Past)!

I can’t wait for Thanksgiving. To me, it is equal with the joy and excitement of Christmas. I love the food, the fellowship, and the thankfulness of it all. I have been so nostalgic about my Thanksgivings growing up. I wrote a post about it last year and it captured my memories exactly. Also in that post, I shared some of my most favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

https://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/thanksgiving-food-roundup/

Tomorrow starts the school Thanksgiving countdown for my Bigs (and Smalls). For the next two weeks, these sweet children will learn about the first Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving as a whole, and giving thanks. I love it. I can’t wait to hear what they have learned. To start the countdown, I made a turkey lunch for my big boy.

Not THAT kind of turkey. That would be sort of sad and weird – a turkey-shaped turkey sandwich. Sort of rubbing it in that poor turkey’s face that he’s being eaten.

You know?

No?

Just me?

Oh well.

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I made a PB&J and used my turkey-shaped cutter. I used my Food Writers to add details. I love that every time I make these (here and here and a few other times), they come out differently. Like real turkeys (or snowflakes if you want to get technical), they are all different. I kept the crusts and used them as sort of a hay bale (I might be the only one “getting” that). I packed seasoned corn, an orange, three little Trader Joe’s ginger cookies, and a few dried cranberries.

Have a BLESSED Tuesday!

Kristin