Friday, January 31, 2014

Mini Chocolate Chip Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

I've had a version of something chocolatey / peanut buttery / and banana-ey on my radar for awhile now and finally had the chance to bake something up that fit the bill this week. I saw this recipe on Mom's Test Kitchen and knew this was the one for me! These disappeared in less than 24 hours - and my son ate 90 percent of them. He LOVED them! I thought the flavors blended really nicely as the day went on and they tasted better by the end of the day then they did at the beginning (the one I tried straight from the oven had a really strong peanut butter flavor, but by the afternoon / evening the peanut butter flavor mellowed and you could taste the banana more which was a better balance).

Little bite sized treats are perfect for weekend snacking or lunch box goodies - and I know with how fast these disappeared they will be making another appearance in our home again soon!

Mini Chocolate Chip Banana Peanut Butter Muffins from Mom's Test Kitchen
Yield: about 3 dozen mini muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Generous pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
2 ripe bananas, mashed or cut into small slices
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray your mini muffin tin(s) with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and the salt. Set to the side.
  3. In another bowl, add the butter and sugar and blend thoroughly until light and fluffy. One at a time, add in the eggs and blend to combine well. Next add in the applesauce, bananas, and peanut butter one at a time, blending well between each item.
  4. Slowly add in the flour mixture, a little at a time, making sure to blend well after each addition. 
  5. Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
  6. Fill the muffin tins to about 3/4 full and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned on the bottom and top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for a couple minutes in the tins and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apple Coffee Cake

This is a delicious breakfast cake recipe that we all really enjoyed over the weekend. The topping comes out nice and crunchy, while the interior is soft, moist, and full of tender bites of apple. I used whatever type of apple it is I currently have in my refrigerator, one large one, and it worked perfectly so feel free to use whatever apple you have on hand (I think the one I used is something similar to a fuji).

My husband and son both went back for second helpings, which is always a good sign (and to be honest I am thinking about going back now and having one of the leftover slices for a snack... mmm...)

The only thing I did differently was to use margarine in place of butter and the original recipe calls for 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt, and 1/4 cup sour cream - I used 1/2 cup sour cream and omitted the yogurt since I didn't have any on hand.

I could see this being a really tasty desert too - served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Apple Coffee Cake by mysamba on All Recipes

cooking spray
1 tablespoon flour, or as needed

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups diced Granny Smith apple

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray; dust lightly with flour (about 1 tablespoon, or enough to coat).
  2. Beat 1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar together with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat egg, sour cream, and vanilla extract to the mixture until well blended
  3. In a separate bowl, stir 1 cup flour, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together; add to the butter mixture and combine just until blended. Fold apples into the batter and then pour batter into prepared baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together using a fork to achieve a crumbly consistency; sprinkle over the top of the batter.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before serving.
Weekend Potluck

Monday, January 27, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Candy Popcorn

It's post number two for me for Secret Recipe Club's reveal day! I am really glad I saw the post saying there were some orphans from last week's Group C reveal, because I wouldn't have had the chance to visit Amy's blog A Couple In the Kitchen "the couple that saut├ęs together, stays together" otherwise! I had such a great time browsing through all the delicious and fantastic recipes at this blog - SO many to choose from! Take a peak at this Brie Stuffed French Toast, or this Early Apple Crumbly Pie - yummy!! You will certainly find something for your taste buds to enjoy at A Couple In the Kitchen.

Although from the pictures above it probably looks like I made a big batch of cheesy popcorn, what I actually made was orange flavored candied popcorn! It was strangely addictive! My son and I kept "taste testing" trying to figure out what it really tasted like, and then trying to figure out why we couldn't stop taste testing (I think I really liked the crunchy, candied texture)! The orange flavor was a little weird, and yet really good. You can use whatever flavor of Jello gelatin you want - I used orange because it's what sounded best of the gelatin packets I had in the pantry - but I think cherry, strawberry, lime, or grape would be pretty fantastic next time! This orange popcorn would be great for Halloween, and lime would be awesome for St. Patrick's Day - anything red would be fun for Valentine's Day coming up! :) This is very versatile, fun for a special occasion, easy to make, fun to do with your kiddos, and super tasty too! What more can you ask for in a recipe?!

Candy Popcorn slightly adapted from A Couple In The Kitchen

1/3 cup margarine
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 3-ounce package flavored gelatin mix
9 cups popped popcorn

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Place popped popcorn in a large bowl.
  3. Combine honey and margarine in a microwave safe bowl and cook for about 1 minute on high, or until it's melted completely. 
  4. Immediately stir in the sugar and flavored gelatin powder. Return to the microwave, and cook on high until the mixture begins to boil, gets foamy and approximately doubles in size, (or about 2 minutes). 
  5. Pour gelatin mixture over popcorn and quickly stir to coat. 
  6. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and pour the coated popcorn onto the sheet, spreading as evenly as possible. 
  7. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes (it will be very sticky during the baking process). Allow to cool and harden, and then store in an airtight container.

Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day: Quick & Easy Chicken & Rice Soup

Welcome back to another edition of Secret Recipe Club - Reveal Day! I am happy that we're back in action after taking the month of December off for the Holidays! December passed by WAY too quickly, in my opinion, and I felt so behind the whole month. I did get my shopping done (99% of it thanks to online shopping), I did get some baking done too, but I just felt rushed and tired the whole time. I had a good (3 month old) reason, but still it was a bummer to me because I really like to savor the month of December, soak up all the lights, the green and red, the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking and baking, celebrating with friends and family. I love everything about the Christmas season and being exhausted, working full time, and caring for a little one pushed Christmas to the back burner this time. Hopefully next year I'll be able to enjoy it a little more again - Lindsey will be 15 months by then and fingers and toes crossed she'll be sleeping better than she does now! Our little stinker is a total sweetheart, and a very good natured baby, but Lord Almighty she does not like to sleep through the night. We're working on getting into a better, consistent, evening routine and trying to put her down whether she's actually asleep or not to help settle her down. We'll figure it out eventually!

So, for this month's assignment I was lucky enough to get to visit and peruse Jaime's blog Mom's Test Kitchen - just reading her "About Mom" page had me smiling over and over. She writes so that you imagine you can hear her standing next to you and talking to you about whatever it is that particular post is about. Funny, engaging, down to earth, and easy to relate to and connect with!

There are TONS of fantastic recipes to choose from - here are a few I opened up and drooled over before tucking away to try soon! Cream Cheese Swirled Red Velvet Cookies,  Quick and Easy Chicken and Rice Soup, Simple Chicken Tortilla Casserole, Cinnamon Crisp Chips, and Smurf Bars!!

After much deliberation, I went ahead and settled on the chicken soup - it looked like good, easy comfort food I would enjoy in this cool weather and it would be perfect for taking to work for lunch!

This is a terrific recipe - a great way to use up some leftover rice and/or chicken if you have some in your refrigerator and it comes together quickly and easily. I modified the original recipe to use what I had on hand.

I used a bag of stew vegetables and some frozen peas as well, and omitted the tomatoes called for in the original recipe. I also cooked my rice with some bouillon for a little extra flavor. Delicious!!

Quick and Easy Chicken and Rice Soup modified from Mom's Test Kitchen


2 cups cooked chicken shredded or diced
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup cooked rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 bag (12 ounces) mixed vegetables (onion, celery, carrots, etc.)
1 cup frozen peas
salt to taste 

  1. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients; simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fluffy Pancakes

This is a fantastic pancake recipe!! I decided to find a new pancake recipe for our breakfast and searched and chose this one for the great ratings. And it definitely received those ratings for a really good reason!

I had to make this dairy free for my current diet (baby girl has a milk protein allergy), so I swapped milk for almond milk, and butter for margarine but otherwise followed the recipe exactly and we were all thrilled with how this recipe came out!! It only made 8 smallish pancakes, and my hubby was disappointed there weren't any more after the three of us ate our breakfast so I would definitely double it next time.

There's nothing I would change - these are soft, tender, and have a wonderful flavor to them. Perfect with some maple syrup! I had to do one up the way we used to when I was little - I spread a little margarine on the top, sprinkled on some sugar, and then rolled it up - finger food!! Yummy!!

Fluffy Pancakes by kris on

3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray


  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to sour.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into soured milk until well blended. Blend the flour mixture into the wet ingredients; whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until edges are dry and bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side (a couple minutes per side).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy 4 months to our baby girl!

4 month fun facts:
She has learned how to rotate around in her Baby Einstein's activity gym.
She only rolls to the left, but she can now roll from back to tummy and from tummy to back!...
She loves to giggle now - it's very high pitched and loud and she really breaks it out during bath time.
She is very, very smiley when she wakes up first thing in the morning.
She's discovered her toes and thinks she needs to find ways to chew on them as often as possible.
She loves her big brother.
She thinks daddies beard and hair are fun to pet and pull.
She likes to "pet" the basset hound's face and get ahold of his mouth, nose, and ears when he'll let her.
Bath time is still one of her favorites - lots of splashing and giggling!
She's working hard at sitting up - doing baby crunches and balancing in a seated position for short periods of time.
She is a drool factory - we go through about 4-5 bibs a day.
She is not a very good sleeper still - something we need to work more with her on. She generally wakes up at 1, 4, and 5:30 every morning.
She has her 4 month visit coming up to get "official" stats - but as of this past Tuesday she weighed 15lbs 10 oz and was 25 1/2 inches long. Big girl is growing, growing, growing!!! I love coming home to her every night and miss her all day. I'm glad she gets to spend her days at home with her daddy, but apparently she tends to be a little fussy with him and isn't a very good napper either. I hope they figure a routine out soon that works for both of them. I hate that she's not getting good rest and is cranky with him a lot of the time! We need to figure out what works best for her for sleeping and help her get into a better routine. She has a set bedtime routine every night and goes to sleep pretty well, she just doesn't stay asleep very well!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bison Sirloin Steaks

We had two leftover bison sirloin steaks from an AllRecipes assignment I did a little while back and my my husband has been asking to have them for awhile now. We did a very simple marinade for them overnight, grilled them on our Cuisinart Griddler and really enjoyed this meal! These steaks are hearty, tangy with the red wine vinegar flavor, and made a great meal! We really enjoyed the opportunity to cook with bison on a couple occasions and I look forward to finding bison at my local market so we can enjoy this fantastic protein again!

Bison Sirloin Steaks

2 bison sirloin steaks
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 TBS minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place steaks in a container for marinading. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper then add the red wine vinegar and garlic. Cover, shake to combine, and allow to marinate overnight.
  2. Grill to desired doneness.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bacon, Egg, and Potato Breakfast Tacos

I love having breakfast tacos / burritos for breakfast - they are quick and easy and this recipe is no different. Easy to tweak to your personal tastes and preferences - change up the toppings however you like! We served ours with just a splash of salsa, but I would have liked some fresh tomatoes on there as well.

This is a super easy, filling, and tasty way to start the day! Kent and I enjoyed these over the weekend and I really liked the addition of the hash browns to the filling to make it just that much more "stick to your ribs". Enjoy!

Bacon, Egg, and Potato Breakfast Tacos adapted from Cookin' Mimi

2 large slices bacon
1/2 cups southern style hash browns
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1 TBS water
2 large whole wheat tortillas
2 TBS shredded cheddar cheese
Desired toppings: salsa, sour cream, diced avocado, diced tomatoes, etc.
Cooking spray


  1. Cook bacon to desired crispiness, lay on paper towels and set aside.
  2. Cook hash browns according to package directions. Season lightly with salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until well blended.
  4. Heat a large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray. When heated, pour in the eggs and scramble until just done.
  5. Lay a tortilla on a plate and sprinkle a tablespoon of cheese over the top. Microwave for about 20 seconds until warm and the cheese is partially melted. 
  6. Divide the eggs, bacon and potatoes between the tortillas.
  7. Add desired toppings, fold and serve.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Easy Black Beans and Rice

We had tacos a couple weeks ago and made a package of Ortega black beans and rice which went SO well with the meal! It had such great flavor and we loved the beans and rice mixed in with all the other taco fillings. When we couldn't find it at the store my husband went on the hunt for a recipe that would come close that we could enjoy. We found this one at The Weary Chef and modified it to use what we had on hand - it came out delicious! It was a great addition to tacos, or would go really well on the side!

Easy Black Beans and Rice adapted from The Weary Chef

1 TBS olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
1/4 cup chicken broth
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
15-oz can seasoned black beans, drained and rinsed


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and saute for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender and starting to brown. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and dish is heated through evenly. 
  3. Taste test, and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

No Fry Sweet & Sour Chicken

This is a recipe I have adapted over the years from one of my very first cook books. It is one of my favorites, although the boys don't love this one as much as I do. It has a mild sweet and sour sauce and is chock full of yummy crisp tender vegetables. Sometimes I throw some mushrooms, water chestnuts, or bamboo shoots in as well if I have them and feel like it - you can tweak the veggies to you and your families preference pretty easily. Serve this over some brown rice with an egg roll on the side and it's filling and delicious meal!

No Fry Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 - 1.5 lbs chicken, diced
1 20-oz can pineapple chunks
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsps chicken bouillon
1-2 TBS cooking oil
3-4 medium carrots, peeled and bias sliced
2-3 large stalks celery, bias sliced
2 green peppers, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
4 cups hot cooked rice


  1. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a wok or large nonstick pan heated over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the carrots and the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and stir-fry until they are crisp tender (5 minutes or so).
  2. Add in the chicken, cook and stir for about 5-10 more minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and vegetables are tender (if you prefer the vegetables to stay crunchier, cook the chicken separately and add it in with the sauce).
  3. While meat and vegetables are cooking, prepare sauce by pouring all the pineapple juice from the can into a measuring cup. Add enough water to equal 3 cups. Set the pineapple aside.
  4. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and chicken bouillon to the pineapple juice. Stir to combine.
  5. When meat and vegetables are cooked, push them from the center of the skillet and pour in the sauce. Cook and stir until bubbly and thickened. 
  6. Add in about half of the reserved pineapple chunks (more or less to taste).
  7. Serve over rice.