Shelly’s Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

So it’s looking like I’m going to write an entry about every 2 months or so 😛  The plan going into this was to keep up with it so much better but, what is it they say, “best laid plans…”?  A lot of the problem is that I do things in such a hurry so I can beat the end of Tucker’s nap or squeeze in a workout that I don’t remember to take pictures of the process.  I could just write something up quickly for things but pictures make it so much more interesting and helpful!

This entry is inspired by a blog post that my friend, Beverly, over at Saucy Mommy, wrote recently.  She wrote up an entry (including nice step-by-step photos…see, interesting and helpful and made me wanna try) for Banana Oat Bran Chocolate Chip Muffins.  Perfect timing!  I had 4 VERY ripe bananas sitting on the counter that were about to find themselves in the garbage (or sliced and frozen for smoothies).  I didn’t want to slice up mushy bananas and the muffins looked so good so muffins it was!

For two months now, I have really been trying to eat healthy and exercise 5-6 days a week.  More recently, I’ve started “running”.  The last time I tried running I really hurt my knee and switched to other types of exercise.  So I’m starting out slow.  I’m up to running 5k but I walk and jog so it takes about 38 minutes.  I’m also about to invest in my first pair of good running shoes and I hope to sign up for a 5k at the end of October!  Now, it’s even more important to me to try and eat healthy.

I liked the bones of the Banana Oat Bran Chocolate Chip Muffins but I wanted to try some things.  The recipe called for sugar and 1) I didn’t have enough, 2) I didn’t want to use sugar (I consume enough as it is).  The recipe also called for eggs.  While I have nothing against eggs, and often include them in my breakfast, I wanted to try something…ground flax seed “eggs”.  Also, there were some things I didn’t have, like whole wheat flour.  I have a lot of different flours and thought I had some whole wheat but after already getting things started I discovered I didn’t have any.

After all is said and done, here is my recipe for Shelly’s Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins 🙂  My son enjoyed one and I later had one for a snack, lightly toasted with a smidge of cinnamon butter on top.  I enjoyed the muffin…moist, dense (but by no means hockey puck status), good texture and good flavor.  There was a bit of a bitter undertone which I couldn’t put my finger on.  I didn’t use whole wheat flour so it wasn’t that.  Maybe the flax?  Maybe using honey instead of sugar?

Shelly’s Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins (inspired by Saucy Mommy)

Makes 18 muffins (185 calories each)

  • 1 c. oats (the original called for rolled oats or oat bran – I only had quick oats…boooo)
  • 2/3 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of your choice)*
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. cinnamon (I like cinnamon so I added 3/4 instead of 1/2)
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 flax “eggs” (2 Tbsp. of ground flax mixed with 6 Tbsp. water, microwave for 30 sec. and let cool)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (I had 4 small bananas so that’s what I used…don’t know how much it actually was but looked to be about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Instructions

Combine oats and almond milk (or milk of choice) in medium bowl and set aside.

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Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. It is important to whisk dry ingredients when baking to break up any clumps and incorporate the ingredients well.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the melted butter, flax “eggs”, honey, vanilla and mashed bananas to the oat and milk mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to gently combine.

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The flax “eggs”

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I, obviously, did not start out with a big enough bowl when mashing my bananas 😉

Pour the wet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, and add the chocolate chips. Gently fold everything together until the flour is moistened – do not over mix.  My batter seemed a tad on the dry side.  I cut back on the almond milk because, when you replace sugar with honey in a recipe, you are supposed to reduce other liquids.  *I would recommend maybe doing 3/4 c. milk instead of the 2/3 c. I did.

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Grease or line your muffin tins, fill the tins and bake for 18-20 minutes.  Mine took 18 min.  Make sure you put a little water in any empty muffin cups to keep the muffins moist.

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Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for five minutes and then remove them from the tin and let them cool on a wire rack.

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Yummmmm 🙂

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Under the Sea 6th Birthday Party

After a little over two months, I’d say it’s high time for a blog entry!!!  I blame the sparseness of my entries on the “chaos”!  Let’s see if I even remember how to do this 😉

My daughter just celebrated her 6th birthday and I was hoping she’d pick a fun theme.  She’s been into ocean life lately so it was easy to persuade her to do an Under the Sea theme…nice and summery!  I found and bought her party supplies through Birthday Express, a site I use often for the kids’ birthdays.  I also ordered her cake pan through Amazon.  Then, I proceeded to order favors from Birthday Express and Oriental Trading Co.  I was very excited because I hadn’t really had the opportunity to go all out for one of Hannah’s parties.  Either I was pregnant or had an infant or I just wasn’t into cake-making yet…so this was gonna be the one to do it!

As I was planning her party, I decided I wanted some fun decorations but I had already ordered all of her stuff and there wasn’t enough time to order more decorations (I had just ordered some balloons and a small centerpiece).  The idea was born to turn our morning room into the ocean and I made the decorations.

I took as many pictures as possible but the ones of the decorations didn’t really do them justice.  The cake was the most difficult I’ve done.  Not as many colors as others but it wasn’t a Wilton pan so I didn’t really have pictures of sample cakes to guide me, which Wilton has on the label of the cake pan.  The cake pan was also small so I made cupcakes and Sand…we’ll get to that 🙂

O.K., onto pictures, instructions and recipes!  I hope it inspires some creative party-throwing!

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I drew and colored in the sea animals to coordinate with her theme (except for the starfish because I’m horrible at drawing stars, the seahorses and the hermit crab…I traced those).  Then, I drew waves on oaktag and cut it out and drew a second set of waves below them and outlined in blue glitter glue.  I taped the waves to the windows, covered in blue iridescent cellophane (like you wrap gift baskets in), and then used double-sided sticky dots to attach the animals on top of the cellophane.  The cellophane gave the room a bit of a blue effect when the sun was shining through 🙂

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The sand dessert – complete with bucket and shovel to serve it with!  You wouldn’t believe how much this looks like sand!!!  I got the idea/recipe from here.  It was absolutely delicious and sinful and the only thing I would change next time is to omit the half stick of butter…I’m not quite sure what purpose it served and I think it would be just as sinful and delicious without.

1 pkg Vanilla Wafers
3 or 4 Oreos
8 oz Cream Cheese
1/4 C Butter
2/3 C powdered sugar
2 small pkgs French Vanilla pudding mix
2 3/4 C Milk
12 oz Cool Whip

Crush Oreos and Vanilla Wafers in a food processor.  In a separate bowl, cream together softened 8 oz cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. In another bowl, mix pudding with milk.  Add to cream cheese mixture.  Fold in cool whip.  Layer into buckets with sand, pudding, sand etc.

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For the cake and cupcakes, I used a recipe from here.  I always use this cake recipe now…it is sooooo good and I always get compliments on it!  I got the idea for the fish cupcakes on Pinterest.  You can find the instructions here.  I did not dye my frosting to match the M&Ms because, well, I was just sick of dying frosting after the cake!

My daughter had a great time and that made me so happy 🙂

English Muffin Bread

When you’re pregnant, there are all of these silly ways to try and determine what gender you’re having.  You can try to predict the gender using a Chinese gender chart and there are quizzes all over the internet with questions like, “do you prefer sweet or salty treats?”, “does your leg hair grow back more slowly or faster after shaving?”, “do you like the heel of bread?”  What any of these things have to do with whether you’re carrying a bouncing baby boy or a little princess is beyond me…but they’re fun to take 😉

Whether I’m pregnant or not, the answer to “do you like the heel of the bread?” is always a resounding, “no!”  I look at the heel of the bread as just a protective layer for the rest of the bread.  It’s job is solely to keep the rest of the bread from drying out.  I enjoy a thin layer of crust around my bread but I don’t always eat that, either.  Yes, I’m still a 5-year-old at heart that would rather not eat the crust of her sandwiches.  Until now…until this bread!

I have been on a real bread-making kick.  I do it all by hand…mix the ingredients with a spoon, knead it, and shape it into loaves.  I have the appliances that could do this stuff for me but, hey, it’s a good arm workout and I find it relaxing and the result most often rewarding and delicious.  I’m also too lazy to drag these things out but I didn’t know I’d be into bread-making this much so I think it’s high time I do so 🙂

I use King Arthur Flours and this is the third recipe from their site that I have made.  Recently, I made their Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread – that was delightful.  I have also made their Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread two ways; following the original recipe and then using their suggestion of substituting some orange juice for some of the water (I liked it the second way better).  Today, I made the English Muffin Toasting Bread…and I ate the heel…and it was wonderful!

Another plus to this bread, besides it’s wonderful taste, is that it is so easy!  Mixed the dough with a hand mixer (should have used my stand mixer with paddle attachment – gonna have to dig some dough out of my hand mixer), spooned it into the prepared pan and let it rise once.  My bread did not rise as much as the recipe said it would but this was not the recipe’s fault – I made changes.  Even with the changes and a not-so-tall loaf, this is still my favorite bread that I’ve made so far.  There will be others though!  I already have one in mind that I want to try next 🙂

English Muffin Toasting Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast**
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan

Directions

1) Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl.

2) Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F***. Be sure to stir the liquid well before measuring its temperature; you want an accurate reading. If you don’t have a thermometer, the liquid will feel quite hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable as bath water.

3) Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

4) Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very soft.

5) Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″**** loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

6) Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.

7) Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn’t be more than, say, 1/4″ over the rim*****. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn’t very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

8) Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 22 to 27 minutes, till it’s golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

9) Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

*I replaced 1/2 c. of the unbleached all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour.

**I only had active dry yeast (I really have to get some instant yeast, too).

***Since I was using active dry yeast, which calls for lukewarm water between 100-110 degrees, I heated the liquids to 115 degrees in hopes of not ruining the yeast but also making the liquid almost hot enough.

****Another thing I really need to get is a slightly smaller loaf pan because mine is 9″ x 5″.  This may not seem like a big difference but it can affect things during rising and baking.

*****Due to the changes I made, different yeast, liquid slightly too warm for the yeast and cooler than what the recipe called for, and a slightly larger pan size, my dough was probably about an inch or so below the rim of the pan.

 

Normally, I spoon my flour into the measuring cup and level it off. With this recipe, after reading some reviews, I decided to sift the flour before spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling off.

 

All dry ingredients whisked together.

 

Pan greased, coated in cornmeal and ready for dough.

 

The dough will be very sticky!


Before rising. I found that greasing my hands and spreading out the dough worked pretty well.

 

After rising.

 

I baked mine for 22 minutes.

 

Yum!

 

Toasted up with some of my homemade peanut butter spread on 🙂