Chocolate Chunk Banana Baked Oatmeal Bites

Healthy? Check. Delicious? Check. Portable? Check.

All the makings for an awesome breakfast-on-the-go that keeps the waistline slim and trim. 🙂 And OF COURSE! It’s food storage! 🙂

Okay. Honestly you guys… you have GOT to try these. These little gals are so tasty and so good for you, that it would almost be a crime NOT to try them. I eat these as a breakfast, a snack, and even as a dessert (if I’ve been naughty the rest of the day). 🙂 It’s baked oatmeal, yes, but don’t let that deter you. I am actually not a fan of traditional baked oatmeal. And neither is Hubby. But when he tried these, he LOVED them. Now he even requests them!

They’re gluten free (in case that’s an issue for you), chock full of good-for-you ingredients, and have just enough sweetness to keep you coming back for more… and more… and more. 🙂

So give ’em a try! I promise you’ll be happy that you did!

Chocolate Chunk Banana Baked Oatmeal Bites

Download Printable Version
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick oats)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (or reconstituted egg powder)
  • 1¼ cups milk (or reconstituted powdered milk)
  • 1 cup mashed bananas* (about 3 medium)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chips)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ºF. Lightly grease roughly 18 muffin cups with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine the oats (note: if using old-fashioned oats, I like to lightly grind mine in a food processor for a bit), brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir together.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, eggs, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and give it a good stir until fully combined. Add the chocolate chunks and stir again. {Note: Use 1 cup of chocolate chunks for a regular amount of chocolate, or up to 1½ cups if you like it really chocolatey.} 🙂
  5. Spoon the oatmeal mixture into the prepared muffin tins. (Note: These will not rise a lot–if at all–so go ahead and fill each cup at least ¾ full.)
  6. Bake uncovered for about 18-20 minutes, or until oatmeal is lightly browned and starting to turn dark at the edges (and/or a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean).
  7. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days, or these are great to throw in the freezer (in a freezer baggie) and have on hand for a quick breakfast/snack/dessert. Just toss one in the microwave (on the defrost setting) for about 1 minute (or about 20 seconds on HIGH) and it’s ready to go! 🙂

Yields 16 – 18 oatmeal bites.

*Store bananas in the freezer for food storage. See tips HERE.

Skinny Jean Cookies

So uh… yes. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new here due to the precious new little guy that has entered into our family’s life. Valid excuse? I think so. 🙂 It’s been a real joy having a new baby in the home again. What hasn’t been a real joy is trying to lose all the baby weight–again. Especially when I love treats and had developed a habit of indulging in them regularly towards the end of the pregnancy. (You can do that when you’re pregnant.) 🙂 But now I’m just supposed to kick that habit cold turkey?? Help!

Well, thankfully I know a recipe or two for some healthier treats (i.e. the Bean Cookies) and have been able to work on shedding some pounds while still satisfying my sweet tooth. *whew!* I’ve even tweaked the Bean Cookie recipe to make it even more healthy, and now I seriously don’t have an issue with eating these cookies as a snack or just whenever I please. (And the weight still comes off!) 🙂 So here is my new recipe for what I like to call my Skinny Jean Cookies (not that you will EVER see me in skinny jeans) 🙂 …and yes! It’s Food Storage!

Skinny Jean Cookies

Download Printable Version
Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans (I like to use Great Northern or Navy), drained and rinsed
  • 1½ cups sugar (white or brown… your preference)
  • 5 eggs (or 10 Tbsp egg powder and 15-20 Tbsp water)
  • ¼-½ cup applesauce (I just scoop in two big spoonfuls… probably close to 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4½ cups whole wheat flour (can use half all-purpose if you’re not used to whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1¼ cups dried cranberries (i.e. Craisins)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Place your drained and rinsed beans in a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer), and using a fork, mash them down till they’re creamy and non-recognizable as a bean. 🙂 Add the sugar and cream them together (you can use your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment now), then add the eggs, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix.
  3. Add the flour (a little at a time to prevent flour flying everywhere), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well blended.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  5. Drop the dough by small, rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. (Note: These cookies do not spread when baked, so you can pack them pretty close together on the cookie sheet.)
  6. Bake 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of the cookie), but DO NOT over bake these. They will not turn golden when done, so try testing them with a light touch on the top of the cookie. They should be barely firm to the touch and will set up more as they cool. (My optimal cooking time for me was 11 minutes.)
  7. Remove baked cookies from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. (Or you can freeze them for later.)
  8. Enjoy your healthy cookies! 😀

Yields 4-5 dozen cookies.


What’s For Dessert? Gorilla Poops!

I’ll bet I lost half of you right there at the title. 😀 Well, for those of you with a strong enough stomach to have made it past that… these little delights are also known as Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies. Sounds a little more appetizing that way, but not nearly as entertaining… especially for little kids (which is when I happened to learn how to make these). 😀 The first time I made these was in a church girls activity group (called Valiant Miss– does anyone besides me remember when it used to be called that??) Anyway, our leaders taught us how to make them and told us they were called Gorilla Poops (clearly a result of the way they look) so I went home and told my mom that’s what they were. She thought that was absolutely disgusting and has hated that I call them that ever since. But it’s just so much fun! 😀

Well, regardless of what you call them, these cookies are so delicious, SO easy, and SOOO addicting! (Sounds like a perfect little cookie if you ask me!) 🙂 The recipe I currently use to make these has been slightly adapted over the years as I’ve found other things to add and enhance the cookie, but it’s mostly true to what I started out loving as a youth. However, I’ll go ahead and give you both versions, since the original recipe is super basic, as well as shelf stable. But the second version is my preferred version. 🙂 So go ahead and whip up a fresh batch (haha… doesn’t ‘fresh’ take on a whole new meaning when you think of the title?? Sorry. Overly gross. My bad.) and I dare you to eat just one!

{Side note: I’m having computer issues these days and can’t save any PDF files in Word or edit and save my pictures in Photoshop, hence I don’t have any nicely arranged pictures to show you nor a printable version of the recipe for you to download. However I was tired of just waiting to figure out what’s going on and decided to go ahead and post this anyway. But I promise to add the nicer photos and files when my computer is back up to full working status. :)}

Gorilla Poops – a.k.a. Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies {Original Recipe}

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup shortening
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup milk (reconstituted powdered milk)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats (quick oats is best, but old fashioned will work fine)

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat and melt together the shortening and cocoa.
  2. Add the sugar, milk, and salt to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture has come to a rolling boil, start timing for about 1 minute (and continue to stir).
  3. At the end of 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat and add the oats. Mix everything together thoroughly.
  4. Drop large spoonfuls of the mixture onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and allow to cool and set up for approximately 30 minutes. Eat and enjoy.

Gorilla Poops {Modified/Preferred Recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups white sugar
  • ½ cup milk (reconstituted powdered milk)
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick oats

Directions:

  1. Measure and prepare all of your ingredients in advance. Prepare 1-2 cookie sheets lined with wax paper. (This makes the process go so much more smoothly since things will start happening quickly!)
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. As soon as it reaches a full boil (i.e. the top is all foaming up with bubbles), start timing for 90 seconds while constantly stirring. (Do not overboil the mixture or your cookies will be dry and crumbly. Do not underboil or your cookies may not set.)
  3. Immediately remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the peanut butter until melted. Then add the salt, vanilla, and oats. Mix until fully combined.
  4. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared lined cookie sheets. (I like to use two spoons for this, since the mixture is really hot. Use one spoon to scoop the mixture from the pot, and the other spoon to scoop the mixture off the first spoon and onto the wax paper.)
  5. Let cool until set/hardened (30-40 minutes). Eat and enjoy!

Well, I hope you enjoy your tasty jungle treat! 😀 (I know, I know, Mom… that’s disgusting.)

From The Garden: Home-Squeezed Lemonade!

Let me just start out by saying… if you have never had homemade lemonade (and we’re talking from fresh squeezed lemons) you are missing out my friend! If all you’ve ever known of lemonade is CountryTime, you have my sympathies. I grew up with a lemon tree in our backyard and have fond (or perhaps only partially fond) memories of picking and juicing bag after bag of lemons for a Saturday work project. And, okay, although the labor may not be anyone’s favorite part, the reward is so worth it. So for those who have never had the experience, it’s time to be edumacated (uh… that’s Texan for ‘educated’) in the deliciousness of homemade lemonade.

To make fresh-squeezed lemonade, clearly you’re going to need some fresh lemons. We currently have two lemon trees in our yard, but both are pretty young and still in the ‘not really producing much yet’ phase (although we were actually able to use two lemons from our trees that had actually turned yellow and were ready for the pickin’! I cannot wait until these trees produce in large quantities!). Fortunately, however, we have some good friends with a mature lemon tree that produces lemons like crazy and they were kind enough to share some with us. (Thanks Browns!) 🙂

So the process starts with picking the lemons, but since that was already done for us, we moved right on to the juicing phase. Cut the lemons in half and then juice, juice, juice those babies until they have no more juice left in them. (Note: an electric juicer is TONS of help when doing any substantial amount of juicing, although not necessary as you can read about below.)

Add child labor whenever possible.

Pour the collected juice into a jar…

and ta-da! You’ve got freshly squeezed lemon juice that is just BEGGING to be made into lemonade. 😀 (P.S. Just refrigerate or freeze any lemon juice that will not be used right away.)

Fresh Homemade Lemonade

Download Printable Version
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • approximately 2 quarts of water

Directions:

  1. In a 2-quart pitcher, add your lemon juice and sugar.
  2. Add enough water and ice to make 2 quarts. Stir. Enjoy.

{Note: These amounts are based on personal preference. If you like your lemonade a bit more tangy, use more lemon juice. If you like it more diluted, use less. More sweet, more sugar… you get the idea. This is just a starting point. Also note that different types of lemons (or different levels of maturity) will produce different flavors. So depending on the type/maturity of lemon you’re using, you may end up varying your amounts as well.}

So here’s my funny lemon juicing story… just to keep life real: We have an electric juicer (as you can see from the pictures above), and I put it together to go ahead and use to juice all these lemons. I tried to juice the first lemon and it wouldn’t work. No motor noise, nothing. I’d only used it a few times before and couldn’t believe it was already broken! ‘Piece of junk’ I’m thinking to myself. So my girls and I juice all our lemons by hand. I disassemble the juicer, and then I remember we’ve got two lemons on our tree, so I run out to grab those to add to our spoils. I come back in and put the juicer back together, and this time I notice a little notch in the top that looks like it’s maybe supposed to line up with the seed catcher part. Hmmm… so I line them up, and badda-boom badda-bing, it works! I couldn’t believe we juiced all those lemons by hand due to my user error. (I seem to be pretty good at making extra work for myself based on user error.) DOH! Well, it was a good arm workout anyway. 😀

Christmas Treat: Rocky Road Candy

Yum yum yum! This delicious (and addicting!) recipe is one that I grew up with. My mom makes it every year at Christmas time… several times, in fact… since we all seem to gobble it up quite quickly. 🙂 This is my first year making it on my own and I am so excited to put it in little goodie bags to give to some of our friends and neighbors. It is just so good! We’ve already been through one batch with just our little family, so my girls and I just made up a few more batches today to give away. 🙂 (Oh… and this is an EXCELLENT recipe for letting little kids help with.) It’s super easy and super delicious, so I hope you enjoy it!

Rocky Road Candy

Download Printable Version
Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 oz) package milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips (half a 12 oz bag)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • salted peanuts (roughly ¼ cup)
  • miniature marshmallows (roughly ¼ cup)

Directions:

  1. Line a 7″ x 11″ pan (or you could also use a 8×8 or 9×9 square pan) with wax paper (or just grease it REALLY well).
  2. Sprinkle a layer of peanuts on the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of mini marshmallows. (There should be enough between the two that it basically covers the bottom of the pan. Don’t overdo it, though, or the candy will have a hard time adhering together.)
  3. In a microwave proof bowl, combine the chocolate and butterscotch chips. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then continue to microwave for another minute. Remove and stir.
  4. Add the peanut butter and mix it in a bit. Then microwave again for another minute. At this point, your mixture should be mostly melted (although you may find that the butterscotch chips have a harder time melting… but that’s okay). If you need another 30 seconds or so, go ahead and microwave again, otherwise stir your mixture to fully combine and then pour it evenly over the nuts and marshmallows. Spread it out with a spoon or spatula, then give the pan a little jiggle, a little shake, and a little tap-tap-tap on the countertop 🙂 to work out any air bubbles. Set it in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
  5. When it’s firmed up, remove the candy from the pan by pulling up on the sides of the wax paper (or if you just greased it, hopefully you can just turn the pan over and have it dump out onto a cutting board), and cut your candy into approximately 1″ squares. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Okay, and here’s a helpful/important tip: Do not try to microwave your ingredients for just three minutes (or even two minutes!) without stopping to stir. You are bound to find yourself with a kitchen that smells like burnt gym socks. Yes… you will burn your chocolate that way. (Experience talking, perhaps?? :)) Be sure to only microwave in no more than 1-minute increments. Also, if you cook it too long, the chocolate will start getting crumbly instead of melty, so try not cook for more than a combined total of 4 minutes. Even if your butterscotch chips haven’t melted all the way, you can still pour it over your mixture and they’ll still continue to mix and meld as the candy sets up.

And on that note, we’re heading out on our Christmas vacation so I will be signing off for the holidays. We wish you all a very safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

What’s For Breakfast? Puffy Egg Pancake Casserole

Hey y’all! I tried a new breakfast recipe this weekend for Hubby’s and my anniversary and found it thoroughly enjoyable. And since breakfast meals tend to be one that I get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again (cold cereal anyone??), I thought I’d pass along this recipe to anyone else in my same rut who would like to venture out a bit. 🙂

These are originally called The Hotel Magnolia Puffy Pancakes and the recipe comes from (any guesses?) The Hotel Magnolia. (You’re so smart.) But calling them ‘puffy pancakes’ seems a little deceptive because, to me, they’re nothing like a puffy pancake. 🙂 These are more like a combination of a french toast/pancake/egg casserole type deal. So I call them Puffy Egg Pancake Casserole to be a little more true to the dish. 😀 But regardless of what you call them, they’re yummy, and tasty, and the next time I make them I definitely think I want to try some fresh fruit on top! Mm-Mmm! That would be de-lish!

And one last note from me before I give you the recipe. This recipe would definitely need to fall under the ‘with electricity’ category of food storage recipes, because not only do you need to use freezer storage for the orange juice concentrate and butter, but this recipe also calls for 6 eggs. And while I am a big proponent of using powdered eggs in your food storage meals, this is one recipe where I would hesitate to do so. For this recipe I would suggest using the freezer style of eggs storage (assuming that fresh eggs aren’t available, of course) to maintain the integrity of the recipe. {Note: For tips on how to freeze eggs, check the first comment in the comments section of THIS post.}

Okay, and now onto the goodness. Hope you enjoy!

Puffy Egg Pancake Casserole

Download Printable Version
Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk (reconstituted powdered milk)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice concentrate (undiluted)
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450º F.
  2. Spray an 8×8 pan, or a 9×9, 11×7, pie pan, quiche dish… you know… something about that size. 🙂 (Or see the note at the end.)
  3. Combine the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and oj concentrate in a blender. Blend well. Add the butter and blend again.
  4. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. (Mine needed at least 25 minutes and probably should have gone a little longer.) Oh, and this would be the perfect time to cook up some bacon or sausage as a delicious side. 🙂
  5. Scoop the pancake casserole out onto plates and serve with syrup, powdered sugar, fresh berries, etc. Serves approximately 4-6 people.

And on a side note, I believe the original recipe calls for baking these in 4 (1 cup) ramekin style dishes (with a Tbsp of butter melted into each dish prior to adding the mixture into the dish). I think I might have preferred doing that (as opposed to baking it all in one big dish) so that the center area would not be quite so soft set, but either way works. Enjoy!

What’s For Dessert? Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies!

Did everyone have a Happy Halloween??! Are you fully filled with your share of sugar for the year??! Wondering what you’re going to do with that bucket load of candy sitting in your kids room??! I know I sure am! Honestly, it’s so much fun to get the kiddos dressed up and to take them around trick-or-treating, but then I stare at their buckets of candy and think, “There is no way I want them consuming all of this!” So what can we do? Turn that candy into cookies and give them away for someone else to consume! 😀 (Aren’t we so thoughtful?!)

Here’s a recipe to use up all those Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (which, honestly, are one of my favorite treats and therefore one of the hardest to give away… but a waistline has to do what a waistline has to do!). 😉 These cookies are SO SO yummy! Soft, chewy, chocolate, and peanut butter cups. It doesn’t get much better. You’ll definitely want to give these a try!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Download Printable Version
Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (I think I used a devil’s food mix, but just pick your favorite)
  • 1 large egg (2 Tbsp egg powder + 4 Tbsp water)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • Peanut Butter Cups, crumbled or cut into chunks (as much as you want!) 🙂

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease 1-2 cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix, egg, oil, and water. Mix until well blended. (Note in the picture below that this will make a really stiff dough. So when your dough gets really hard to stir, don’t worry… you’re doing it right. :))
  3. Add your peanut butter cup chunks and mix till combined.
  4. Drop by small spoonfuls onto your cookie sheets, approximately 1-2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes. If you are baking two cookie sheets at a time, be sure to rotate them half way through. (Note: I found 11-12 minutes to be plenty of time, but my oven tends to run a little hot. Just keep an eye on them and don’t overbake or you’ll lose the softness of the cookie! *tragic!*)
  6. Remove from oven, allow to cool a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Enjoy!!

And, of course, there’s no need to stop at just peanut butter cups! Try some Butterfinger or Snickers cut up into chunks instead. They would be awesome! The sky’s the limit. 🙂 Hope you enjoy!!