Tag Archives: after school snack

Monday Musings: It’s not always about winning

30 Apr

This recipe took at least five tries and a lot of perseverance to perfect.

Early this winter, I saw a cooking contest pass by in my newsfeed on social media. A local New England applesauce brand, Simply Wholesome–recently re-branded with a new name: Our Family Garden– was sponsoring a cooking contest. The participants would receive a six jars of their applesauce (two each of three different varieties) and they could submit as many recipes as they wished, as long as they utilized the applesauce in their recipes, which had to be previously unpublished, original recipes.

We love cooking contests here, we have won several of them between us, and I decided to enter the contest. The winter months are a little bit slower for me work-wise than the spring and there was enough time allotted for some trial and error as I went about figuring out how to create an original-never-been-published-before recipe.

My box of applesauce arrived within a few days of letting them know I’d be entering the contest. I was shocked to find six, full-sized samples of applesauce in the box, along with a jar of their blueberry jam as a gift for entering.

I had already decided that I wanted to try to create an apple pie type of muffin with a streusel topping. I just had to come up with a recipe and incorporate the applesauce. I began researching basic muffin recipes so that I could see what ingredients I needed and approximately how much of each  it takes to make a muffin, a muffin. Then, I added in their cinnamon applesauce, at first adding it in just to the actual muffin mix, to give them the apple pie flavor I was hoping for. As I created my streusel topping, my youngest daughter, who was home and doing a lot of cooking at the time, suggested that I add the applesauce to the topping as well. I thought that was a brilliant idea. I was creating a topping that included brown sugar, butter, quick oats, and now the applesauce too. My entire recipe was gluten free, using gluten free flour and gluten free oatmeal as well.

I made the muffins, following the recipe I’d come up with. We waited with great anticipation for them to come out of the oven. It was very exciting as we watched them cook through the window of the oven.

This wasn’t quite the result I’d been anticipating.

As we looked inside though, we saw a big mess. The muffin topping was oozing all over the place. They tasted delicious, but they were a mess. The topping was oozing and the centers were sinking.

Hmmm…not really contest-worthy.

I hadn’t thought about the fact that this really might take more than one try.

My family said the muffins were good enough to try again, so I did.

Again, and again, and again, and again.

Now I’d gone too far in the other direction.

I was determined to get this recipe right. Although the first time I made them they were too wet, by the fourth time I’d added in flour to the topping and now they were too dry, and my kids were beginning to dread coming home to the latest “after school snack” or waking up to a Saturday breakfast “surprise”  of apple pie muffins—again.

“What did you do to them,” one of the kids asked in distress this particular time. “Go back to the way they were, at least they tasted good.”

I was starting to run out of time and out of willing tasters.

I talked with my mom multiple times to get her opinion, and I thought and thought about my recipe ingredients and what seemed to be working and what didn’t.

What was I doing wrong??

Over and over in my mind I thought about all of the times I’d learned about scientists and how their hypotheses weren’t always right and how their experiments didn’t always work the first time around and how the learning takes place in the trial and error process, not necessarily in getting it right the first time around.

I was feeling like a kitchen scientist, albeit a weary one. How long did these scientists take to perfect their experiments??

The contest deadline was coming up. I’d had about two months to get this recipe right and I was not going to give up. I wasn’t even in it for the win any longer, I was in it for the personal satisfaction of accomplishing this task of creating my own recipe for the first (and possibly only) time ever. I wanted it to be good, I wanted my husband and kids to like it and be proud of me, and I wanted to get it right. I like to get things right. I like to give 110 percent all the time.

I gave it one final try. I adjusted my ingredients one last time. I begged my family to give them one last taste.

“I hope you get them right this time, they’re good, but I don’t think I can eat another one any time soon,” my oldest daughter said.

If I didn’t get the topping right this time, I really thought I might give up.

I put what I hoped would be the final batch in the oven, and I held my breath, literally. I’d added in raisins to one of the trays on the advice of my mother and two of my kids who like them, and left one without, for the one who doesn’t.

I watched them cooking in the oven. The topping seemed to be doing what it was supposed to be doing, spreading out without oozing over, and didn’t seem overly dry.

Could it be that I’d finally gotten the right balance of every ingredient down??

It seems that it could. I’d figured it out. I think I cheered out loud.

I pulled them out of the oven, and everyone took a bite. Again, I held my breath and waited for their responses.

Five thumbs up from my family.

Perfection.

Apple Pie Muffins with a Sweet Streusel topping for the win.

Except I didn’t win.

Not exactly.

I didn’t win one of the top three cash prizes that seemed attractive at the time I started out in this process.

But, I won a lot more than that. I can proudly say that I have created a recipe, my very own recipe, that was delicious, and most importantly I did not give up. I never anticipated this would take this long. I generally don’t have the patience to stick with something this long and see it through, but I could not let this one go, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Additionally, I have to say, we fell in love with this applesauce. I submitted a second recipe to the contest for Zesty BBQ pork chops which also utilized one of the varieties of applesauce, and my kids were going through the six jars like crazy, each variety was just as good as the last. I always have been a homemade applesauce kind of girl, and I have never purchased an applesauce my family has loved this much. I’m glad that we don’t live far from the Big Y markets in Massachusetts where it is going to be on the shelves under the new branding. It’ll be worth the ride just over the state line to get more. Not to mention, I recently ordered a case of their jams, as my youngest daughter finished the entire jar of blueberry jam on her own. When I heard that there were two other varieties, I decided to place an order for them.

In the end, I gained much more from this experience than I ever imagined I would have, and I have no regrets about entering, or about not winning.

Sometimes it just not about the win, it’s about the journey.

Apple Pie Muffins with Sweet Streusel Topping
by Jennifer L. Cowart

Apple pie muffins
*to make gluten free, use 1:1 gluten free all-purpose baking flour

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup Touch of Honey Applesauce With Cinnamon

2 apples peeled, cored and diced
Optional: use only one apple and add in 2/3 cups raisins.

Sweet Streusel Topping
*to make gluten free, use gluten free oats and gluten free flour.

¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup quick oats (not instant) uncooked
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup Touch of Honey Applesauce with Cinnamon

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 24 muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3) Add in eggs, milk and applesauce. Mix until well combined.

4) Add diced apples (and raisins, if desired) and mix well.

5) Put approximately two tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin, until ¾ of the way full. Set aside. **If there are empty muffin tins, fill with water, ¾ of the way full.**

6) In a separate bowl, mix together streusel ingredients.

7) Add one teaspoon of topping to the top of each portion of batter, spreading across top of batter.

8) Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.

Best served warm.
Makes 18-24 muffins.

Finally!

 

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

3 Feb
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.

ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL 24, 2015

*Since originally posting this, I have made the recipe several times. Recently however, I decided to make them even though we did not have any granola on hand. Instead, I substituted a combination of gluten free oats, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries for the granola and they turned out great. Additionally, since we now have a member of our family who eats gluten free, so our all-purpose flour was Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour.*

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.)

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Muffins from Family Food on the Table

18 Nov
The combination of ingredients was what piqued my interest in this recipe.

The combination of ingredients was what piqued my interest in this recipe.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get off my pumpkin kick until after Thanksgiving. I’m still all about pumpkin for a few more weeks, at least.

I’m finding that this school year, due to our scattered after school schedules, I’m doing a great deal more driving than I am baking in the afternoons and evenings. Whereas I used to be able to do a quick after school baked snack at the end of my work day, this year I can only do that a couple of times a week, if I’m lucky. This means that I haven’t had a lot of new and exciting recipes to try out and to share, and for that, I apologize!

On Monday however, a recipe came across my virtual desk and it definitely piqued my interest. I actually had to read the title a couple of times to make sure I was reading it correctly, as I wasn’t sure I’d seen this combination of ingredients in the past. It’s not that it was anything crazy, it’s just that it wasn’t something I think I’d paired together in the past.

It meant that I just had to try it, just to see how it was.

 

Batter looked good, that's always a good sign!

Batter looked good, that’s always a good sign!

The recipe was for Peanut Butter Pumpkin Muffins, and it was from Family Food on the Table and it said chocolate chips were optional. To me, chocolate chips are almost never optional, but I liked all of the ingredients that were listed and I had them all, except for the white-wheat flour. I had white, I had wheat. I did not have white-wheat, so I decided to try using half white and half wheat instead. Otherwise, the recipe seemed perfect for an after school snack/late night snack/breakfast for our whole family; well at least for almost all of them. I forgot that one of them doesn’t like very much with peanut butter. She ended up having something else for her snack instead.

These came together quickly and easily. The prep time was estimated to be about ten minutes, and that was pretty on-target. The cook time was 18-22 minutes. A few of mine were a little soft on top, and probably could’ve cooked a little longer than the 18 that I did, but everyone was starving by the time I finished working and started baking, and everyone gets home so early now that I rushed them out, not checking each one as thoroughly as I should have.

However, despite my feeling a bit rushed, these muffins were delicious! They were hearty and healthy and deemed a keeper by all but my one non-peanut butter lover. I also noticed that there were several options listed at the end, including the option to substitute various types of nut butters such as almond butter to keep them peanut free. It also said that they were tasty with a little extra spread of peanut butter on them when eaten. One of my daughters did that, and she did say they were delicious that way too!

So if you’re as curious as I am as to the combination of peanut better and pumpkin and chocolate chips, I suggest you give these tasty muffins a try! Head on over to Family Food on the Table and check out this recipe and all their others too! Or maybe, you eat pumpkin, peanut butter and chocolate chips together all the time, and in that case, you most definitely want to head on over and check this recipe out!

Enjoy and have a great rest of your week!

Fun Friday: Cook once, eat twice. After school snacks and breakfast

26 Sep
These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.

These were healthy and a huge hit. Definitely a keeper.

ORIGINALLY POSTED SEPTEMBER 13, 2013

Cook once, eat twice.

I love that old adage. You cook once, and live on the leftovers. Or, you make double, since you’re cooking anyway, and have twice as much.

Either way, I like it.

I’ve been living on that theme all week long.

I’ve been a cooking machine this week, in between my own work hours, trying to deal with our crazy school year schedules, and making sure that we maintain a healthy eating lifestyle at the same time.

Really, just making sure everyone’s got something to eat when it’s time to eat.

However, one thing I really enjoy doing is making great after school snacks for my kids whenever I can. Everyone has something that makes them happy, and I think I’ve inherited my grandparents’ genes. My dad always said that my grandmother was happiest when everyone was eating.

If everyone is eating, they’re happy, and that makes me happy.

To me, as a mom, there is nothing more special than the moment the kids walk in the door from school. They’re tired, they’re hungry, they’ve got more work to do or places to go, but the look on their faces when they smell a snack fresh out of the oven or see it on the table is priceless to me.

I feel like I have the ability to make their day, every day. Or almost every day. I do the best I can. Later on in life, I want their memories of their school years to include coming in from school, and finding me there with something tasty for them to snack on. Some days I’m not even there, my schedule is not always consistent, but I’ve left them a tasty snack and a note on my way out the door.

To me, it’s things like that which make all the difference.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Everyone loves these whether for breakfast or after school or a meal on the run.

Additionally, I try to think smarter these days. If I’m going to make an after school snack, I might as well make enough of it to last for more than just one afternoon. I have tried to make things that can be used either as lunchbox snacks or as breakfast the next day.

These little mini quiches, or however you’d describe them, make a great after school snack. They’re healthy and you can make all different varieties to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. This time I did tomato/egg/cheese, spinach/egg/cheese and just plain egg/cheese. Fifteen eggs made 16 good-sized cups.

They were a snack and they’ve been breakfast or lunch throughout the week as well.

The pumpkin muffins, pictured above, I doubled the recipe to make twice as many. They served as an after school snack, breakfast the next day and a lunchbox snack the day after that.

If I’m going to work hard, I might as well get the mileage out of my efforts.

On that same afternoon this week as the pumpkin muffins, I also made a big batch of homemade applesauce. If I’m going to stand there and peel three pounds of apples, I might as well peel six pounds (although I have to stop there or my hand aches from all the peeling and slicing).

I used one batch in a recipe that night, froze two batches in my freezer for future use, and had some leftover to serve on the side with dinner as well. There’s nothing like homemade applesauce, especially in the fall in New England.

Today, I’m going to share with you the recipe I found for these delicious pumpkin muffins. Note that the recipe calls for mini chocolate chips. I don’t *do* mini chocolate chips. If I’m going, I’m going all the way so mine had regular-sized chips. Otherwise, the recipe I made was the same, just doubled.

This recipe is not my own. Thanks to Skinnytaste.com for posting such a wonderful snack and breakfast! It got all thumbs up at our house and we’d definitely make these again!

If I'm going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

If I’m going to spend the time, might as well make it worth my while.

Skinny Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 14  • Size: 2 mini muffins  • Old Points: 3 pts • Weight Watcher Points+: 4 pt
Calories: 160 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 27 g • Fiber: 2 g • Protein: 2 g • Sugar: 18 g
Sodium: 118 mg • Cholest: 0 mg

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or canola)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • baking spray
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners and lightly spray liners with oil for easy removal.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, oil, egg whites and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
Add flour mixture to the wet mixture, then blend at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake on the center rack for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let them cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 28 mini muffins or 14 regular sized muffins.

Fun Friday: Baked Oatmeal: It’s not just for breakfast

6 Jun
100_3245

I’d eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

ORIGINALLY POSTED MAY 10, 2013: The other day I came across a great new recipe for baked oatmeal. It was on Skinnytaste.com, a blog I follow on Facebook. I love all kinds of oatmeal from steel cut to overnight to baked.

This recipe also had a fruity combination that I love: strawberry and rhubarb. I didn’t have rhubarb, but I noticed that it had bananas in it, and strawberry and banana is another top favorite combination of mine so I decided to make it without the rhubarb.

Besides the fact that I skipped the rhubarb, the other thing about this recipe is that I made it as an after school snack, not for breakfast! It was so good, and everyone had seconds, everyone loved it and there was very little left over.

I would definitely make this recipe again and if I had rhubarb, I’d throw it in there, but it was also fine without!

Without further ado, here, from the Skinnytaste Blog
For the fruit filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3/4 cup rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium ripe banana, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup honey
This snack was quick to put together with simple ingredients.

This snack was quick to put together with simple ingredients.

For the Oats:

  • 1 cup uncooked quick oats (use GF oats if Gluten Free)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk (or any milk you desire)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Lightly spray a 9 x 9″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; place banana slices on the bottom of the baking dish and set aside.

Combine the strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl. Add honey, sprinkle with cornstarch and toss until fruit is well coated and place in prepared baking dish over the bananas.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; stir together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining honey, milk, egg, and vanilla extract, then add to the oats.

Pour the oat mixture over the strawberries and rhubarb, making sure to distribute the mixture evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the the top.

Bake the oatmeal for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

Fun Friday: Betty Crocker’s Banana-Cinnamon Muffins

18 Oct
These muffins were fabulous as an after school snack one fall afternoon!

These muffins were fabulous as an after school snack one fall afternoon!

If you’re a regular reader of The Whole Bag of Chips, you know I love muffins. I also love after school snacks.

Many times my snacks are muffins and if there’s enough leftover they are breakfast the next day too.

I can tell you…today’s recipe: none leftover.

These were so good.

I have tons of muffin recipes but I still love trying new ones. On this particular day I was looking to try a new recipe for banana muffins. When I saw one by Betty Crocker that incorporated bananas and cinnamon and sugar; well that had my name all over it.

These were so great, the kids all loved them.

I only made a minor modification: Instead of melting the butter at the end and dipping the muffins into it and then into cinnamon-sugar, I opted to just sprinkle some cinnamon-sugar on the tops prior to baking them.

Normally I also substitute plain nonfat yogurt instead of oil, but on this day I actually forgot and I used canola oil. It wasn’t until I dumped it in, that I realized I’d forgotten. So that’d be another substitute you might want to make if you’re trying to healthify the recipe a little bit more.

Here, from the Betty Crocker website is the recipe as they have it. I also linked to their site above.

Give these a try this weekend, they’re fantastic!

BANANA CINNAMON MUFFINS by Betty Crocker

INGREDIENTS

MUFFINS

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 small)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
TOPPING
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
DIRECTIONS
  • Heat oven to 375°F. Grease bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with shortening or spray, or line with paper baking cups.
  •  In medium bowl, beat 2/3 cup sugar, the oil and eggs with wire whisk. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir in remaining muffin ingredients just until moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  •  Bake 17 to 21 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pan to cooling rack.
  •  In small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Dip muffin tops into melted butter, then into cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm.

Fun Friday: Bread and Jam

11 Oct
"Mom, you *have* to share these recipes on your blog!"

“Mom, you *have* to share these recipes on your blog!”

As a reporter and writer, I have a wacky work schedule, I’ll be the first to admit it.

Flexible, but wacky.

It’s different every single day, night and weekend, and I’m often working when a lot of people are off, but at the same time I also have a lot of flexibility to plan around the needs of my family, and that allows me to keep my focus of “family first” a top priority.

This week, after what seemed to be a crazier block of work days and nights than usual, I finally had a day off. I had a whole Wednesday day and night, where I didn’t have to work at all. I had nothing to cover, nothing to type for the newspaper, no place to be while my children were at school. Although my afternoon and evening would be busy bringing the kids to their Wednesday activities, my day was free.

Wide open.

You might think to yourself, “Oh…shopping, lunch, manis and pedis!!”  But no, I didn’t go that route. Instead, I decided that I’d use that day to the best of my ability, to cook ahead as much as I could, in order to be better prepared for the coming days when things were back to normal.

I’m so glad I did.

Focus, focus, focus! Once I got on a roll, I got a lot done!

Focus, focus, focus! Once I got on a roll, I got a lot done!

I got so much accomplished.

In one day, I cooked two banana breads, three batches of strawberry jam, 16 crustless baby quiches, six peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches to freeze ahead for lunches, and a dinner for that evening that was NOT cooked in the crock pot, of Shepherd’s Pie, which I made into seven individual pie tins just for the fun of it.

I rocked it.

I ate one of the sandwiches before it went into the freezer, but it’s okay. I earned it.

When my kids were eating their breakfast the next morning, enjoying their jam, Elizabeth said to me, “Mom you definitely have to share this recipe on your blog, it’s so good!”

And so I will share it with you today.

I can’t lie though: A big part of the secret to my success on Wednesday involved the crock pot…again!

Just when my kids thought I couldn't cook another new thing in the crock pot, I pull out the triple crock, and go to town!

Just when my kids thought I couldn’t cook another new thing in the crock pot, I pull out the triple crock, and go to town!

However, I used something different: our triple crock pot that we normally use for big gatherings–holidays, birthday parties, and big events like that. An anniversary gift from my mother-in-law years back, I never thought to use it “just” to cook in.

I don’t think I even realized that you could cook in it, since we’d always used it as a warmer to keep the food we’d pre-cooked for the parties, warm.

When a friend passed along two recipes to me, one for banana bread in the crock pot and one for strawberry jam in the crock pot, I decided to give it a try, and do it all at once in the triple crock. This would allow me to use my oven and stove top for other things at the same time so that I could get more than one thing going at a time.

I must say, I loved that option! I also have to say my house smelled AMAZING the entire day. I was hungry all day long!!

The recipes were both super-easy and super-fast to prep. My triple crock has two small wells on the sides and a larger well in the middle. For that reason, I opted to make two smaller breads using the sides and do the strawberries in the middle. I could’ve gone either way I suppose. I could also, in the future, make a double batch of breads: one larger one in the middle and two small ones on the sides.

Lots of options.

Using my crock pot freed up my oven and stove so I could cook a non-crock pot meal for dinner that night!

Using my crock pot freed up my oven and stove so I could cook a non-crock pot meal for dinner that night! Individual shepherd’s pies were fun to eat!

And, now that my bread and jam in the crock pot experiment was successful, I know that I could do this as an after school snack in the future, baking all day long while I’m gone, making the house smell warm and welcoming when we return.

The link to the bread recipe is here, from the Crockpot Ladies.com.

The link to the jam recipe is here, from The Lady Wolf.com.

I encourage you to try them both and see what you think!