In need of a quick breakfast idea that did not include cold cereal or oatmeal a few days ago, I browsed through several recipes quickly before deciding on this one. They're simple, come together fast, bake fast, and are reasonably healthy, as far as muffins go anyways. The kids and I loved them and actually finished the whole batch of 12 muffins for breakfast. I guess that's not too impressive, considering I have a 7 year old boy who eats nearly as much as his dad and my kids are always ravenous at breakfast time.
But these really are yummy and a nice variation to our normal morning routine. Recipe: (from Heavenly Homemakers)
1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour 1/2 c. sucanat (or brown sugar) 1 t. baking powder 1/2 t. salt 1 egg 1 t. vanilla extract 1/4 c. melted butter or coconut oil 3/4 c. milk
Topping: 6 T. brown sugar or sucanat (I used brown sugar) 1 t. cinnamon 2 T. butter, softened chopped walnuts, optional
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine flour, sucanat, baking powder, and salt. Add egg, vanilla, oil, and milk. Stir until well moistened and just combined.
Divide into greased or paper-lined muffin tins (24 miniature or 12 regular).
Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the muffins. Add chopped nuts if desired.
Bake for 10-13 minutes for miniature or 12-15 minutes for regular muffins, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
If you will indulge me a little more, here are some more photos of our trip to see my family in April.
Corban got to race go-carts with his two cousins closest to his age. Corban and Katie were due on the same day but born 19 days apart in October 2003, and Jonathan was born in May 2004.
Like I said, it rained a lot. My parents' back yard got a nice little river running through it, affectionately termed "Nonny's River" after what the grandkids call my mom.
There were LOTS of books read - especially since we were inside so much. Here, my sister Sarah is reading to Annika, her daughter Sabrina, and Marissa.
We got to spend a few hours visiting my high school best friend, Kim and a couple of her kids. She has been such a special friend to me since I was 12 years old and we always go to see her when we're in Arkansas.
There's nothing like a sheet to keep a group of kids entertained!
Annika getting a shoulder ride on Granddaddy - pretty high up since he's nearly 6'5" tall!
We discovered Ellia has a passion for bead necklaces - she usually was found with 5 or 6 of them around her neck. My mom ended up giving them to her - and she still loves to wear her beads at home.
Our last day there the weather was finally beautiful and we got to take a short hike to a nearby waterfall. Just lovely.
Me and my little sister, Anna (can't believe she's 22 - that must make me.....oh never mind.)
View from the top of the hill near a dam.
Marissa and cousin Eva (9).
Our Ergo comes in awfully handy for such outings.
My brother and 5 of his 6 kids, my sister Anna, my parents, and my family on a bridge after the waterfall viewing.
We made so many great memories and miss the family every day. Hopefully it won't be another 2.5 years until our next visit.
I'm determined to gain less than the typical 35-40 lbs that I normally gain during pregnancy because I'm not 25 anymore and can't lose the weight in 12 weeks by eating everything I want and doing nothing but breastfeeding. Yeah, that's how it was with my firstborn. Not anymore. Not even close.
It's all because we were invited to some friends' house for dinner. Do you know how often a family with four kids gets invited to someone's house? (even when there's not food involved?) Not so often. These are some of our dearest friends and they've had us over numerous times, God bless 'em. So of course, we accepted. And since they're familiar with my affection for baking, I was asked to bring dessert.
I had favorited this recipe on foodgawker months ago and it caught my eye when I was browsing through my eye candy. This was my chance! I could make them to share!
Oh my goodness. These have to be one of my favorite bar/cookie desserts ever. Ever. A chewy cookie-like oatmeal peanut butter layer is topped with crunchy peanuts and a thick layer of peanut butter flavored chocolate that tastes just like a Mr. Goodbar, which is then topped with more peanuts and chocolate and peanut butter chips. Good grief.
I can't keep out of them.
They keep wonderfully in the fridge, although they cut much better if you let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so. If you leave them out for hours, the chocolate layer will get soft and be extremely messy, while still delicious.
As much as I love them, I will not allow myself to make them again unless I am assured that most of them will be eaten by other people and not stuck on my hips.
3-1/2 cups rolled oats (quick cooking or regular - I used regular)
Candy Bar Layer:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz)
1 cup peanut butter chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 13x9" pan with foil; spray foil with nonstick spray.
In a medium saucepan, stir brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup over medium heat until combined. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla; stir until smooth.
Place oats in a large bowl. Pour brown sugar mixture over oats; stir to combine. Press oat mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan.
Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden. Don't overbake (you don't want it to brown) or it will be on the crunchy side. Let the cookie layer cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.
In the same saucepan, stir chips and peanut butter over low heat until melted and smooth.
Sprinkle 1/2 c. chopped peanuts over the baked cookie layer. Pour chocolate over the peanuts; spread to make an even layer. Sprinkle chocolate and peanut butter chips and peanuts over the top; press lightly into the chocolate layer.
I made this a few nights ago, wondering how my family would respond. Sometimes things I think will be a big hit - aren't - and you just never know. This was a definite hit. Grant thought it was absolutely awesome and couldn't wait to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. He compliments me on my cooking nearly all of the time, but I was shocked at how much he loved this. The kids...well, one thought it was a bit too spicy and didn't like the veggies in it....but that's just the stage she's in. She complains about almost every dinner dish in one way or another. The rest of the kids liked it a lot, especially the sausage part.
I like that it's a stove top dinner, not requiring me to heat up the oven on warm days. It really goes together pretty fast, about an hour or so including cooking the brown rice. It's a little spicy, very flavorful, and generally healthy. I know it will be one Grant requests often now. I love that although he sometimes complains about my insisting on trying new recipes all the time, we end up with new family favorites that way.
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I used turkey sausage)
1 pound chicken(about 2 average-sized boneless skinless chicken breasts or the equivalent of another kind of cut, like thighs), cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium bell pepper (red or green), chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning(use a light hand with this if you don't want it overly spicy)
1 can (10-ounces) Rotel tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups hot, steamed rice (I cooked 1 cup brown rice, which turned out to be about 3 cups)
Just a tip: start cooking the rice while you prepare the rest of the jambalaya so it is ready to add in during the last step.
In a 4-6 quart pot, cook sausage and poultry over medium heat. Drain the grease (you may only need to do this if you aren't using a lean sausage), scrape the meat onto a plate and set aside.
Melt the butter in the same pot. Stir in the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add the vegetables, basil and Creole (or Cajun) seasoning, and the Rotel tomatoes and sugar. Stir well. Simmer the mixture over low or medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are mostly tender (they'll continue to cook a few minutes longer in the next step).
Add the sausage and chicken back to the pot, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in the hot, steamed rice until you achieve your desired consistency.
When we had a bunch of fresh strawberries last week, I was looking around for different sorts of recipes and found this one in a Taste of Home cookbook. It sounded really good, so Corban and I made it.
It's very much like a coffee cake, just in a loaf form. It was awesome warm from the oven, although it would cut better if you let it cool completely. Soft and moist, with chunks of strawberries imparting flavor in every bite....it is one I'd love to make again. I'm sure it would be delicious with raspberries or blueberries also. We'll have to give that a try later in the summer.
1/2 c. butter, softened 3/4 c. sugar 2 eggs 1/2 c. sour cream 1 t. vanilla extract 1-3/4 c. all purpose flour 1/2 t. baking powder 1/2 t. baking soda 1/2 t. salt 1/4 t. ground cinnamon 3/4 c. chopped fresh strawberries 3/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted, divided(optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after addition. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in the strawberries and 1/2 cup walnuts if desired.
Pour in to a greased 8x4x2" loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf
After making our Strawberry Freezer Jam last week, I knew I had to try it first on homemade bread. I hadn't made bread in quite awhile but knew that this was one of our favorite recipes. Annika and I baked it in the morning, taking it out of the oven just in time for lunch.
Now, I don't claim to be an expert bread maker, especially since I don't bake it for our everyday life (although one day when I get the wheat grinder I'm dreaming of, hopefully that will become a reality) and it's just an occasional treat. But this recipe has never failed me and it is just wonderful. The kids would have polished off the whole loaf if I hadn't insisted we save some for Grant.
Corban even asked me, "Mom, is it really expensive to make bread?"
I replied, "No, it's actually cheaper than the store-bought bread we get."
He queried, "Then why don't you make this bread every day?"
Well, I wish I had the time to do that, or the planning ahead ability to make several loaves and freeze them until we need them (not sure how they taste after that, I'm guessing still good), but for now it's just not happening.
This is just a great all-purpose bread, wonderful to serve with dinner with butter or for breakfast with jam. Or fresh from the oven just plain. Just sayin'.
Update: I have made this with 100% whole wheat that I ground fresh with my Nutrimill - and it was amazing! I added the dough conditioners that Tammy recommended on her site to make the bread softer, and I really couldn't believe how it turned out. Soft, no crumbles, perfect for sandwiches. The difference was remarkable. If you want a good sandwich bread, add the following to the recipe:
3 T. vital wheat gluten (replace 3 T. of the flour called for in the recipe with this)
1/2 t. soy lecithin (granules - add to the water at the beginning)
pinch of citric acid (use sparingly!)
sprinkling of ginger
I think I prefer the normal recipe for just eating plain, like as a dinner bread, but with the conditioners added, you can't beat it for sandwiches.
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F) 1 tablespoon milk 2 tablespoons oil 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir.
2. Add flours and yeast, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
3. Punch dough down; knead for a few minutes until smooth and then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil over the top.
5. Remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm! Leftover bread can be stored in an airtight bag or frozen until needed.
The kids and I went strawberry picking at a local farm a few days ago and had so much success picking luscious huge berries that we had a hard time stopping! Our visit to the farm hadn't really been planned beforehand, so I wasn't sure what exactly to do with all the berries while they were still fresh. We ended up making a quick stop by the grocery store for ice cream for strawberry shortcake and later made it to Wal-Mart to snatch up the last two packs of Ball (8 oz) plastic freezer jars (the ones with the purple lids - aren't they cute?). They come in packs of 5, which was perfect, because each pack of pectin I had on hand made about 5 half-pints.
I ended up following the recipe on the pectin package and we could not be happier with the end result. It's not super jelly-ish, more like a strawberry spread really, but it is so delicious I'm sure we could eat both batches we made within a few weeks. We're hoping to get back to the strawberry patch before the season is over so we can make some more jam.
Spread it on some homemade wheat bread (recipe coming soon) and it's like dessert. Seriously good.
So like I said, we made two batches and got 11 pint jars plus some left over.
Recipe: (from Ball Instant Pectin box)
1 packet Ball instant freezer jam pectin
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 cups crushed strawberries
In a large bowl, stir together pectin and sugar. Combine well.
In a separate bowl, crush strawberries with a pastry cutter and/or potato masher until thoroughly mashed.
Add berries to sugar mixture and stir for 3 minutes.
Ladle into pint jars and put lids on.
Let set for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or frozen for a year.
The kids had so much fun they were begging to go back practically as soon as we left the place.
This will definitely be a yearly tradition for us.
Continuing our family trip, we left the Creation Museum and northern Kentucky and took a 5-1/2 hour drive down to the Nashville area of Tennessee. I lived in that area for two years after college (it's where Grant and I met at a swing dance over 10 years ago!) and so driving into Nashville felt like coming home in a way. We made it to my sister Sarah's home and stayed with her family for a couple of nights. We hadn't seen each other in nearly 2-1/2 years, so the younger children didn't even remember each other, except from pictures.
They got along like best friends from the very beginning. It was so much fun to see.
Cousin Sabrina (4) and Annika (3) playing in the sand.
Sabrina taking Annika for a ride in her jeep.
So funny to watch!
Grant bought Corban (7) his first skateboard while we were there. He has thoroughly enjoyed learning to ride it, despite the bumps and bruises he's accumulated.
Then we loaded up our van, Sarah packed up her two girls (hubby John had to stay home to work), and we all headed to NW Arkansas to my parents' home. Poor Ellia (17 months) thought we were never going to stop torturing her with the car.
The first day at my parents', the weather was pretty nice, although some rain blew in later in the day. The rain and thunderstorms pretty much never went away for eight days, unfortunately for us. We were thankful for the nice times we had, though.
A neighbor's puppy, Pluto, kept running over to see us whenever we were outside. The kids, especially Marissa (5) were enamored with him. She would have snuck him home with us if she could have, and Grant would have been her accomplice without a blink of an eye, I'm sure.
Little puppy nibbles. So cute!
Sabrina and Marissa, enjoying Pluto.
Annika on the trampoline with cousins Katie (7) and Eva (9).
The next day we got to go see my sister Anna teach one of her ballet classes. She is so amazing to watch, an inspiring and gorgeous dancer and lovely teacher.
After her class was over, she gave us a little performance of a dance she's working on to perform for her students' recital this month.
I love watching her dance. I wish I could see her more.....and I wish my girls could take classes from her.
Ahhh....the difficulties of living far from family. Boo.
I'm back! Finally the sickness is gone, I have a never-ending appetite, and life is resuming some sort of normalcy. We also just took a 16 day vacation to visit my family in Tennessee and Arkansas, so I'm gonna be posting some photos of our experiences.
We started off our trip by driving through Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky to visit the Creation Museum, which is just south of Cincinnati. Grant and I had heard the founder of the museum, Ken Ham, speak at our state home school convention last year and were thoroughly impressed by him, his vision and ministry and devotion to the Word of God.
The museum was really fantastic.
Corban loved this skeleton the most - part of which was excavated from Montana just a few years ago.
Ellia was suffering from a cold and was not the happiest camper in the museum. Poor baby.
Marissa and Annika
Grant and the kids in the Dinosaur Exhibit.
They had a fun petting zoo and beautiful botanical gardens outside the museum. That was Marissa's favorite part. Our little animal lover.
These are Zonkeys - a mix of Zebras and Donkeys. I don't know if there are any others of these in the world. At least they're pretty rare.
A really cool Chameleon.
Something must be interesting over there.....
Walking through part of the Creation Exhibit.
We all really liked the camel. His name was Gomer. He was super friendly and loved being petted.
View of part of the garden area - taken from a gorgeous gazebo on one side of the lake.
A suspension bridge in the garden kept the kids happy for awhile.
We booked a hotel (Homewood Suites by Hilton, AWESOME hotel for families) that had an indoor pool that we enjoyed on Sunday morning.....the kids thought they were in heaven.
That's all I have time for today.....more installments of our family vacation and even a couple of new recipes (gasp!) are on the horizon! Thanks for staying tuned!