Going Stir Crazy? Stir Some Batter.

The kiddos are definitely already ready for spring. It’s just sooooooo cold. I can’t blame them. I’ve been ready for spring since December 26th. But, the girls are now old enough that when they get bored, they start arguing. I told Ryan that I’m looking forward to a time in the future (far future) when we have a two story house and I can tell the girls to “go downstairs!” Or, “go upstairs!” *sigh* That’ll be awesome.

Since we have a one-story ranch house, my solution to the bickering came in the shape of a box of bread mix. (And, the fact that our bananas were ripe…..very ripe…..very very ripe.) So, the girls and I made two loaves of pumpkin bread (with three bananas mixed in). Bread and muffin mixes are some of my favorite pantry staples. Many times, I want to bake something but I just don’t have the time to mix and mix and mix. And many mixes are actually delicious or can be made delicious by throwing in a few ingredients (chopped nuts, dried fruit, bananas that are very, very, very ripe).

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And yes, they stopped fighting the entire time that we were preparing the bread. Ten minutes later they were arguing again but that short time was peaceful……

Baking Cookies (the easy way)

One of the last things on the summer checklist is to bake cookies. Now, when we’re not so close to the beginning of the school year, I love flipping through cookbooks and planning and shopping for ingredients and all that. However, when we are close to the beginning of the school year, I basically have no desire to take the time to do anything. I always feel like there is no time to get anything done……so, I knew that we were going to make cookies but I wanted to make it as easy a possible.

So…..I present to you…..super easy cookies!!!!

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Yep. I bought the kind where you just grab the cookie dough cubes and toss them on the cookie sheet. But, actually, the kiddos had a lot of fun with these. Big girl liked to position her cookies in a certain pattern. Little girl liked to lick her hands after placing her cookies. (Ew.)

The chocolate chip ones turned out better than the Reese’s pieces ones but I’m kind of blaming my cookie sheet on that one. The newish cookie sheet had the chocolate chip cookies on it. The much older one had the Reese’s pieces ones…..the older cookie sheet might be close to being removed from the cabinet for good. 😦

One of the strangest things that happened for me was the strong desire to have a glass of milk with the cookies when they came out of the oven. Now, for most people, wanting a glass of milk with cookies is just a given. It is simply assumed that you are going to have a glass of milk with cookies. For me, however, that is something that hasn’t happened in a long time. When I was pregnant with big girl, most dairy foods tasted….well….off….for me and it took awhile for me to like eating them again. But milk, well, milk still tastes kinda off for me.

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But, let me just say, that glass of milk was sooooooooooo delicious with the cookies!

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So, I may have found a way to talk myself into having a glass of milk every day.

I’m just going to have to bake more cookies.

 

Summer checklist thus far:

  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the pool.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the playground.
  • Make cookies.
  • Go downtown.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Eat at Flat Top Grill.
  • Read books.
  • Eat at Noodles & Company.
  • Get ice cream.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Go to the water park.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Go to the movie theater.
  • Play on the McDonalds playground after lunch.
  • Go to family fun festival downtown.
  • Go to the Art Museum and go to the kids area after looking at paintings.
  • Go to the dinosaur museum (Field Museum).
  • Go to the space museum (Adler Planetarium).
  • Have a pajama day. (Although big girl has now requested that we have 100 pajama days.)

 

Blueberries, blueberries, and more blueberries!

I love summer. I love summer temperatures. I love summer vacation. I love summer food. Sometimes, however, in my joyful summer food purchasing, we end up with way (!!!!!!!!) too much of something. Right now, that something is blueberries. We have so many blueberries! So tonight, I made cobbler.

I did a quick search for a cobbler that 1) looked easy and 2) did not need any ingredients that differed from what we already had. This one came up at the time of my search and I decided to give it a try.

It came together really easily and quickly. There’s hardly any mixing involved!

Blueberries!!!!

Blueberries!!!!

It’s a good thing that there is a new container of ice cream that’s just waiting to sit on some cobbler……

Blueberry, blueberry muffins

We bought a huge container of blueberries from Costco. Yay! But, they quickly got to the point of use-them-or-throw-them-away. So, the search for a muffin recipe began.

I wanted to find a super easy recipe. Super, super easy recipe.

I found this one. I don’t often make Paula Deen’s recipes. But, this sounded so yummy. 1 stick of butter? Oh yea. A pile of sugar on top? Yep. Good idea.

I got ready to make the muffins and realized that we were out of baking powder. Ok. The next day, with a brand new package of baking powder, I got ready to make the muffins…..and we don’t have any eggs. Ok. Finally, day three, I made the muffins. Finally.

They came together fairly quickly. Since we had so many blueberries that needed to be used, I added an extra half of a cup of blueberries to the recipe.  Would that throw everything off? Only one way to find out….

Finished muffins.  And my in-need-of-a-manicure nails.

Finished muffins. And my in-need-of-a-manicure nails.

They taste pretty good and are full (!!!!!!!) of blueberries. I don’t quite understand the sugar on top.  I kept them in the oven a bit longer than needed to bake the muffins but the sugar didn’t do anything. It just sort of sat on top. I thought that the sugar would caramelize a little or something but that didn’t happen. The texture is a bit off.  The muffins fall apart very easily.  Perhaps that is because I added so many blueberries?  Maybe the added blueberries made the muffins structurally unsound.

But, the important thing is that the finished muffins do taste good and very blueberry-y.  And bonus: baby girl loves them! She loves picking out the blueberries and then eating the rest of the muffin.

Bargain Baking

One of my favorite things about shopping after the holidays are over is that you can frequently get a great deal on mixes for baked goods simply because they are holiday flavors.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I love pumpkin bread any time of the year.  And, I am always willing to try a new fun flavor of waffle mix.

I do enjoy trying new mixes but I do have an important rule that I make myself follow when shopping after holiday (any holiday) sales for baking mixes.  The price of the mix needs to be less than what the price would be if I bought the ingredients separately.  That pumpkin bread mix makes two full loaves and is really heavy because of the can of pumpkin in the box.  This was a good deal.  The scone and waffles mixes were purchased for just a couple bucks each.  Also, great deals.

Mmmmmm…..holiday food after the holiday…..

Mmmmmm…..holiday food after the holiday…..

Do you buy holiday mixes? What are your favorites?

Chocolate and Bananas

Mmmmmm....cake.....

Mmmmmm….cake…..

Bananas are a hot commodity in our house. I almost always take one to work for my breakfast. Big girl likes to also have one for her breakfast. So, I tend to buy a large amount of bananas. If I only buy one bunch of bananas then we tend to be out of bananas by the mid-week. However, if I buy a lot, there are usually 4 or 5 that get way too ripe before we can eat them. So, I am always on the lookout for a recipe that will use up those overripe ones. If you follow this blog, you know that I’ve found a favorite banana bread recipe that is super easy to make. I recently found a recipe for a cake that uses bananas, chocolate, and applesauce. You can find it here.  The pictures made the cake look delicious (and we eat with our eyes first!) so I thought that I would give it a try.

Don’t assume that just because there are bananas and applesauce in this cake that it’s a, um, healthy cake. There are a lot of chocolate chips in this cake in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. But, I wasn’t looking for a healthy cake. In fact, I don’t think that one should eat “healthy” cakes. The point of eating a cake is that it is a treat and it should taste like a treat.

Yay! Cake!

Yay! Cake!

This is a much more banana-y cake than what I was expecting and it isn’t nearly as chocolate-y as I would’ve thought since it smelled so strongly of chocolate as it was baking.  But, it was a nice and super moist cake.  Will definitely be making this one again.

 

 

Zucchini Muffins

After making the zucchini bread and having great success, I started to look for a good recipe for zucchini muffins. I found this one on the same site that had the bread recipe. It looks promising. Then, I realized that it was exactly the same recipe as the one for bread – just in muffin form. Oh well. The bread was yummy so I figured it would be good as a muffin as well.

The only thing that I changed up this time was that I used golden raisins instead of the cranberries. I wanted to add more raisins than I did but these are special raisins so I couldn’t use too many. We are working on potty training in our house and golden raisins are the “potty treat” so they are a hot commodity in our household.

Zucchini Muffin

Zucchini Muffin

I am a big fan of this recipe.  I already knew that it made a good bread and now I know that it also makes a good muffin.  Next time, the only thing that I would change is trying to make sure that each muffin is close to the same size.  Some of them came out really, really big.  So, I had to bake them a little longer than I would have liked to.  But, other than that, this is definitely one that I’ll make again.