Fun Friday: Breakfast cookies with peanut butter, banana and granola

24 Apr
I ended up making these two weeks in a row, and the second week I doubled the recipe.

I ended up making these two weeks in a row, and the second week I doubled the recipe.

One afternoon I was scoping the internet, looking for a good after school snack to leave for my kids when I went to work that day. I found a recipe for “Breakfast Cookies with Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Granola” from the Taste and Tell blog. I had everything for it except the chocolate granola, but I had plain granola and chocolate chips. I decided to modify the recipe to work for the ingredients I had.

These are hearty cookies, perfect for an after school snack, and definitely perfect for breakfast on the run. My oldest daughter gets on the school bus by 7:00 am and can’t stomach a whole lot that early in the morning, but she’d take two of these in a bag with her each morning for when she did start to get hungry later on. Our school system has been inundated with hours and hours of PARCC standardized testing, and it often takes place first thing in the morning, so the last thing I wanted was a kid taking two or three hours of testing on an empty stomach every day. These cookies were definitely the right answer  to that problem.

My husband takes breakfast to go every day also, and these were a nice change of pace from a bagel, yogurt, oatmeal or cereal, which he usually eats, and if he wanted, he could save them for a snack later in the day when he’s working after school gets out.

These were such a hit, I made them again the following week, and I doubled the recipe to make twice as many. This time, when I opened the box of granola, it was a cinnamon raisin variety rather than just plain granola, but I gave it a try. Even my daughter who doesn’t like raisins, ate them without even noticing they were in there. I think it was the chocolate chips that saved the day that time.

As we’re finishing up our spring break now, we’re heading back into several more weeks of testing when we go back to school, for both NECAP and PARCC, so I’ll be whipping up a couple more batches of these cookies. I’ve been tempted to make enough to freeze, but so far there’s never been any extras left to freeze!

I hope you’ll give them a try and pay a visit to the Taste and Tell blog! Here is her recipe, along with my ingredient modification instructions.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Reduced Fat creamy peanut butter.)

1/2 cup mashed overripe banana (about one medium banana)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups Cascadian Farms Chocolate Lover’s Granola (I used 1 cup plain granola and one cup chocolate chips)

DIRECTIONS

1) Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the peanut butter, banana and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

3) In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the granola.

4) Form balls of dough, about 3 tablespoons each. Place at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to slightly flatten each ball of dough.

5) Bake until the cookies are just set, about ten minutes. (Do not over bake or the cookies will dry out.)

Book Giveaway: One Gorilla

20 Apr
A beautifully written and illustrated story, with an excellent message for children

A beautifully written and illustrated story, with an excellent message for children.

Exciting news on this Monday afternoon!

Joy Dey, author of “One Gorilla,” which I reviewed on my blog just last week, has offered a book to give away to one lucky Whole Bag of Chips reader!!

How great is that? So great!

Thanks to Joy, one lucky reader’s name will be drawn from all of those who post a comment here on this post telling me why they’d like to win their very own copy of the book.

I will run this giveaway from today until Sunday, April 26 and announce the winner next Monday, April 27.

Be sure to leave your comment in the comments section below in order to be eligible for the giveaway!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: 30 Minute Meatloaf Burgers

15 Apr
Liz's 30 minute meal was just what we needed on a busy night. Having her make it for us was even better.

Liz’s 30 minute meal was just what we needed on a busy night. Having her make it for us was even better.

A year or so ago, my mom passed along to us a stack of Cook’s Country cooking magazines that my aunt had passed along to her first. I looked through them all, and saw some great recipes throughout, but overall, I did not do much with them at the time.

Our daughter Elizabeth however, was totally obsessed with them. She loved the recipes, the product reviews and the section of 30 Minute Meal recipe cards. She poured through them often, and was always coming out to show us what she was reading or finding at the time, and what recipes she thought we’d like and ought to try.

This past weekend, she was at it again with the 30 Minute Meals recipes.

“Can we make this one? Do we have the stuff for that one? Do you think we’d like this one,” she’d ask.

I hate to say no when they’re enthused about something, especially when it means I’m off the hook for cooking and planning a meal, but each recipe seemed to call for something we didn’t have. Finally, I spotted one for Meatloaf Burgers. I quickly scanned it and realized we had everything it called for.

“We can make that one tomorrow night. We have all the ingredients,” I told her.

Her eyes lit up. She was thrilled. She continued to pour through the magazines and began pulling out all the sections of recipe cards so she’d have all the 30 minute meals together in a pile.

A new binder of recipes all ready to go. I even gave her a shopping list pad to stick inside the front pocket so she could choose her meals and tell us the ingredients needed, insuring that we'd have them on hand.

A new binder of recipes all ready to go. I even gave her a shopping list pad to stick inside the front pocket so she could choose her meals and tell us the ingredients needed, insuring that we’d have them on hand.

I’m a huge fan of binders. If it’s important, I binderize it. I create a cute cover and spine for it. I take a picture of it. I love binders. I inherited a huge box of binders from my brother and sister in law from all her grad school classes, so I have my own supply at my fingertips whenever I need one. I saw a binderizing opportunity here, and when Liz went to bed, I brought up a binder, printed out a cover sheet and she now had a place to store all her recipe card pages for her 30 minute meals. The next morning we punched the holes and she set up her cookbook for the evening.

At 4:30 I told her to be ready for 5:00 to start her meal, and she was ready! The recipe was meant to be quick and easy, and it was. She could do the whole thing herself for the most part, other than cooking the burgers. I had her form them and place them on a baking sheet so they could be cooked.

When they were done, she had one smaller one that she’d made with the final portion of meatloaf mixture, and she cut it into five sample pieces, put them on little cocktail forks and let everyone try a bite before we ate, to make sure everyone liked them.

Cute little tasting samples were a great way to determine if anyone didn't like the burgers without wasting one.

Cute little tasting samples were a great way to determine if anyone didn’t like the burgers without wasting one.

Everyone did! That’s so rare. We almost never have a meal that all five people like. She was thrilled. We dug in.

There were just two burgers leftover at the end of the night. They both made delicious lunches the next day.

This recipe was deemed “a keeper” and Liz will definitely be making it again. This weekend we do our “big shopping,” and she’ll be handing us her shopping list, I’m sure, with some 30 minute meals on the menu for the next two weeks.

Liz was so proud of herself for choosing and making such a great, meal and I’m glad I was able to say yes this time around. It’s a great life skill for kids to be able to research a meal, plan it and make it, but it’s even better when everyone loves it.

Here is the recipe Liz used from the Cook’s Country magazine 30 Minute Meals.

 

Grilled Meatloaf Burgers from Cook’s Country

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (we used 2 one-pound packages of ground turkey)

1 large egg

(we sprinkled in some bread crumbs as an extra ingredient)

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (we used 1/4 tsp. dry thyme)

salt and pepper

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

hamburger buns

DIRECTIONS

1) Combine  meatloaf mix, egg, Worcestershire Sauce, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Shape mixture into four 3/4 inch thick patties. Whisk ketchup, sugar, and vinegar together until combined. Reserve 5 tablespoons glaze for serving.

2) Grill burgers of medium-hot fire until well-browned on first side, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip burgers and brush with remaining glaze. Cook until meat registers 160 degrees, about 7 minutes. Transfer burgers to plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil; let rest for 5 minutes. Serve burgers on buns with reserved glaze.

A very, very tasty dinner, thanks to Liz!

A very, very tasty dinner, thanks to Liz!

Book Review: One Gorilla

14 Apr
A beautifully written and illustrated story, with an excellent message for children

A beautifully written and illustrated story, with an excellent message for children.

As a blogger and someone who loves to read, I am lucky to have many opportunities to review books. This week I am focusing on several of the books that have been sent to me over the past few months for review.

The first book I’ve chosen to review is “One Gorilla,” written by Joy Dey and illustrated by artist Nikki Johnson.

This is a beautiful story with amazing artwork to accompany it. When my daughters first saw the artwork on the cover, they commented that it reminded them of author and artist Eric Carle’s work, and I agreed with them. It’s stunning.

Each page inside is just as beautifully done as the cover with the art spanning across two pages at times, and it is evident by the flow and design of the book, that the Dey/Johnson team have a close-working relationship. This is their third collaboration. Their other books are, “Nightlight,” and “Agate.” Both are award-winning publications. Dey and Johnson are notable individually as well, having received awards for their past works, and their talents shine through in “One Gorilla.”

However, it’s not just the artwork that makes this book. It is the storyline and the message for children that is embedded throughout.

My kids were intrigued by the fact that the colorful letters on each page spelled out a word each time.

My kids were intrigued by the fact that the colorful letters on each page spelled out a word each time.

I know as a parent, that oftentimes the drama of social interactions at school and in other similar arenas can be stressful as kids try to work things out and get along, and mediate the interactions of their peers as well. There are many times when our kids need to make good choices, and they need to know what those choices should be. This book provides a perfect jump start for kicking off some of those conversations.

We often try to encourage our children to be that one person who can make the difference, and “One Gorilla” drives that message home as the gorilla has an opportunity to make a better choice and make a big difference for the jungle.

You can find out more about “One Gorilla” and SWAK (Sit With A Kid) Publishing at SitWithAKid.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and the Sitwithakid.com blog. SWAK Publishing can be reached at 877-370-6102.

The book is available for purchase for $17.95. To purchase the book, contact Partners Book Distributing, Ingram and Baker & Taylor. For more information contact Partners Publishers Group 800-336-3137.

 

It’s Reading Week!

13 Apr
A great book for adults and kids alike, about the love of reading.

A great book for adults and kids alike, about the love of reading.

Hooray! It’s Reading Week!
Actually, it’s Reading Month!! There are so many schools here that spread their Reading Weeks over the month of April, that we celebrate reading all month long.

As an education reporter, I am blessed because I get to hear authors speak, storytellers perform, guest readers read, and my favorite of all: I get to BE a guest reader and read to classrooms all around our city and neighboring cities.

I have the best job ever.

Last I saw Katie Latimer, one of my all-time favorite storytellers, and today, I get to see Len Cabral, a storyteller that Latimer has said inspired her as well. I remember hearing him perform even when I was a child. Additionally, I also got to hear one of my daughter’s favorite authors speak to students last Thursday, Marc Tyler Nobleman, about two non-fiction children’s books he wrote about the true stories behind the creators of Batman and Superman, “The Creators of Superman” and “Bill the Boy Wonder.” Amazing, amazing stuff.

Today I share with you a great book for readers young and old that was given to me last year at a Scholastic celebration of reading by one of the northeast reps for Scholastic, Jacqueline Dodge. The book is called “Open a World of Possible” and it’s essays written by people who are well-known, or not so well-known and they all tell their stories of reading: why they love it, how they learned to read, who inspired their love of reading, and more. It’s a book you can open to almost any page, read a bit, and close it, returning later on to open up to a different page and read some more.

It’s fascinating to read accounts that are similar to your own story, or vastly different. And yet, we all share one thing in common: a love of reading.

As a parent who loves reading, I’ve encouraged the habit in my children as well, taking them to story time at our library from when they were just toddlers. We could get lost in a library or a bookstore. We participate in summer reading challenges, reading week challenges and we have tracked our summer reading just within our own family in the past. It’s a wonderful passion to have and to foster in our kids. As the book above says, reading does in fact open up a whole world of possibilities for our children.

This week I will be sharing with you some books that I’ve been reading for review. I love to read and I don’t post book reviews often enough, but it’s something I’m working hard at this year. This week is the perfect opportunity to share some great books with you, starting right now.

Enjoy your day and pick up a book, even if you only read a page or two!

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Creamy Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole

8 Apr
This was a nice change from traditional casseroles, thanks to Pinch of Yum!

This was a nice change from traditional casseroles, thanks to Pinch of Yum!

We have been loving the addition of quinoa to our menu planning ever since Caroline and I had it at the Kids’ State Dinner in 2012 as one of the menu items at our White House luncheon. We’ve used it in all kinds of dishes, and we’ve made the White House menu item the most.

However, recently I tried it in a casserole, thanks to the website PinchofYum.com. Her Creamy Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole came across my virtual desk at one point and I decided to give it a try.

I’m so glad I did!

The recipe was delicious and it was a great deviation from some of our regular casserole dishes.

We had all of the ingredients, including the bacon. She said in her recipe that any type of cheese would work, so we used shredded cheddar.

I hope you’ll give Pinch of Yum’s recipe a try! I have it below, and I’ve linked to her site above also. I encourage you to check out the nutrition information and cooking notes that she’s included in her recipe write up. It will give you some tips on how to cook quinoa as well as some cook time information.

PINCH OF YUM
CREAMY CHICKEN QUINOA AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

Ingredients
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • ¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon (optional… sort of)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning (like Emeril’s Essence or any basic blend you like)
  • ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese (any kind will work)
    Instructions
    1. Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a 9×13 baking dish (seriously, be generous because it really really sticks to the sides). Bring the chicken broth and ½ cup milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other ½ cup milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms.
    2. Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, quinoa, and bacon and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and lay the chicken breasts strips over the top of the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
    3. Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under cold water. Set aside.
    4. Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes to get the right consistency. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked and the sauce is thickened, add the broccoli and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir it up easily in the pan. Top with the cheese and bake for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese.

Easter Sweet Bread

3 Apr

This recipe makes three “small” loaves of sweet bread for Easter. It’s wonderful when you grill it!

Originally posted April 4, 2012

This recipe is one that takes a while from start to finish- nine hours to be exact- but if you’re game, it’s SO worth it! It is, of course, from my mom. She received it from a woman she worked with. It’s dated April 1992.

My mom makes it every year and I have made it once or twice myself. Don’t let the number of steps scare you off. If you go step-by-step it’s not hard.

Colleen DeMoranville’s Sweet Bread

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 and 1/4 cups hot milk

1 pkg. dry yeast (Fleishman’s Active Dry or Rapid Rise or Red Star)

1 egg- well beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract (can also use almond if desired)

7 cups flour (start with between five and six and add more if needed)

one 15 ounce can sliced peaches, drained and sliced thinner

DIRECTIONS

1) Mix butter, sugar, salt an d hot milk in a large bowl.

2) Let cool to lukewarm.

3) Stir yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let stand 5 minutes. (If using a thermometer it’s 110-115 degrees. Add 1/4 tsp sugar or whatever the package of yeast says to add.

4) Add dissolved yeast, egg, the extract and three cups of flour to the butter, sugar, salt and milk. Mix vigorously with flat wooden spoon.

5) Add three more cups of flour and then mix well.

6) If too sticky, add more flour. It almost always needs more, but not more than 7 cups. Too much flour will make the bread tough.

7) Turn out onto floured surface and knead it for one or two minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes. Add remaining flour only if sticky.

8) Knead more until elastic.

9) Put into large buttered bowl . Turn over once so it doesn’t dry out. Cover with a dishtowel or two and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. (Takes a few hours.)

10) Punch down and knead for another minute or two. Cut in half for two long loaves or in thirds for smaller loaves and divide each of those portions into three pieces (for a total of six or nine pieces.)

11) Stretch and roll each piece until long and uniform, about 12-18 inches if divided into two portions. Shorter if divided into three.

12) Use the three pieces to make a braid with each portion.

13) Pinch ends together.

14) Insert peach slices between braids.

15) Place each loaf on a buttered cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk. (Takes about 2 hours.)

16) Brush each with one egg yolk that is mixed with 1 tsp. cold water.

17) Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (check at about 20 minutes) if making 2 large loaves or less if making three smaller loaves (usually between 17 and 18 minutes)

18) Remove loaves to cooling racks.

19) Cool and then glaze with mixture of:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla

5-6 tablespoons milk

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles or non-pareils.

This photo was taken a couple of years back when Elizabeth helped me make the bread. She was probably in first grade at the time. My point is: there’s lots of opportunity for kids to help out here. There’s measuring, kneading, braiding and more, that they can help out with.

NOTE: The whole process takes about nine hours. Start in the morning, end in the evening. Mixing and kneading takes about one hour. First rising takes about two hours. Braiding takes about a half hour. Second rising takes about two hours. Baking takes about a half for each loaf, then cool and glaze.

My mom stores hers in gift boxes (like from a department store) on waxed paper.

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