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

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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

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

The Ghostess with the Mostess

My unfortunate run of cooking this week has been hit AND miss today. Dinner was a just okay. I made chicken. Nothing special. What is wrong with me?! If only I had the same passion about cooking as I do baking!

I gotta get back on track with cooking dinners that are both complete AND edible, so my family doesn’t starve.

I did make something really yummy earlier today, that I served with tonight’s chicken. I also was hoping to put it in my Bigs’ lunchbox tomorrow, but alas, he did not care for them.

Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese Muffins:

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http://www.produceforkids.com/meal-planning/mac-n-cheese-muffins

My Bigs can sniff out a green vegetable like a hound dog. These “muffins” had broccoli, carrots, and onions in them. A trifecta of deliciousness, if you ask me. I was really hoping Bigs would love them and want to enjoy one for lunch tomorrow. Oh well. My Smalls enjoyed them. He doesn’t love noodles, but he’s crazy about savory food…broccoli in particular. He ate about a pound of broccoli today. And enjoyed the noodles because of the broccoli. I even convinced him (no convincing needed, actually) to eat broccoli as his prize for going twosies in the potty. Funny kid.

Anywho, because Bigs did not like these, I had to come up with another lunch.

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I made a turkey, cheddar, and mayo sandwich. I shaped it like a ghost and added candy eyes. I also packed seasoned corn, plum slices, a honey zucchini muffin, two TJ’s ginger cookies, and some dried blueberries.

I made the muffins on Monday. They are delicious – whole wheat, honey, zucchini. What’s not to love?

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Another great recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. Although I think I didn’t grate my zucchini small enough, my Bigs doesn’t seem to mind these. Maybe because I call them “Army Men Muffins”. I never thought I’d be the parent to HIDE vegetables.

Here’s the recipe:

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/06/25/recipe-zucchini-bread/

My Smalls has school tomorrow too (and his “school” pictures, so cute!!). I made him a special lunch:

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I turned a PB&J into a pumpkin shape and used my Food Writers to add some details. I also packed banana chips, two ginger cookies, and some dried blueberries. I hope he knows what his sandwich is!

Blessings,

Kristin

It’s a Lunchbox Party!

So yesterday, I got busy in the kitchen. I made three things, that when put together, would make quite a party in the lunchbox!

I started with homemade fruit snacks.

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I’ve made these many, many times before. They are easy and healthy. MUCH more healthy than store-bought fruit snacks (which I won’t judge if you eat them – we do sometimes too!).

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They only have a few ingredients – frozen (or fresh fruit), honey, orange juice (I use concentrate with water), and gelatin.

Here is the recipe (feel free to use the fruits you love!):

http://www.thankyourbody.com/homemade-healthy-fruit-snacks/

My Bigs loves these. My Smalls doesn’t adore the squishy feeling. The taste is so much cleaner than the over-processed ones.

I also made pizza rolls. I didn’t follow any recipe, but made it up as I went along. These were also very easy, only using four ingredients, as well.

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Crescent rolls, pizza sauce, Italian cheese blend, and mini pepperoni. That’s it!

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I rolled out the crescent rolls and used a rolling pin to flatten them. I spread around a few tablespoons of pizza sauce, sprinkled some cheese, and scattered some mini pepperoni. I then rolled up the dough, like I would cinnamon rolls.

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I placed the rolls in the fridge for a while, so they wouldn’t be too gooey when slicing them.

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Once chilled, I sliced them and put them in a greased cake tin and baked for about 20 minutes.

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My house smelled like a pizzeria! They came out golden brown, ooey, gooey, melty, cheesy, saucy, and pizza-y.

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I think they’ll be a hit.

And lastly, I made mini chocolate chip cookies. I love any size chocolate chip cookie. These were fun to make. I didn’t even mind rolling up a thousand little cookies.

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These are the perfect size for small hands and lunchbox treats!

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I can’t wait for my Bigs to be able to have these in his lunchbox (good behavior is the key to getting these).

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They are DELICIOUS – slightly chewy, soft, a bit underdone…and best of all, adorably little.

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Get in my belly, a thousand of you!!!

Here is the recipe, if you are interested (and why wouldn’t you be?):

http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/07/chocolate-chip-cookie-bites/

Blessings,

Kristin

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Love a cookie jar full of homemade goodness!