Banana Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins

I think I need to just bow out while I'm ahead with this one - I will never try another muffin recipe again.  My children have declared these to be the best muffins they've ever had.  And if you knew my kids, you'd know that they are pretty tough little food critics (my fault, I'm sure). 

I've made a couple batches of these over the last week, and they are inhaling them as fast as I can bake them. But it's totally ok, because these are super easy to make, and relatively healthy, as far as things containing chocolate chips go. We're talking from starting to in the oven in like 5 minutes. 

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Quick and Easy Homemade Peanut Butter

Quick and Easy Homemade Peanut Butter

I really had no intention to make peanut butter.  Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of homemade nut butters.  I've done sunbutter before, and it was great.  But I try to prioritize my time and making all my nut butters at home has never really made it to the top of my list of things I should be doing.

But I love peanuts.  I mean, I love roasted, salted peanuts.  A quick handful or two is an awesome snack - it satisfies my need for crunchy and salty, and gives me a little protein.  I bought some peanuts a couple weeks ago, thinking I was buying roasted and salted peanuts. Only to get home and realize that what I had grabbed was roasted and NOT salted. (That's what happens when you're trying to squeeze in a quick grocery trip in between pickups and dropoffs.) As far as I'm concerned, there is no place in my life for snacking on nuts that aren't salted.  I know you raw nut lovers can disagree, but I love my salt. 

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Chicken nugget meatballs

A few weeks ago I had an idea to make some simple chicken meatballs. Most of my kids will eat meatballs, so it's usually a good easy weeknight meal for us. With some pasta and a salad, we've got a good dinner and it isn't much work. But I wanted to lighted them up a bit this time, so I thought I'd make them with chicken instead of my usual combination of beef & pork (or frozen!). 

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And in doing so, something magical happened...

I mixed these up and started browning them, and tasted one. I realized that it tasted an awful lot like a chicken nugget (in a good way!). I have one super picky child who eats nothing, but chicken nuggets are on her very short list.

So I asked her if she would be willing to taste this thing I just made that tastes just like a chicken nugget. 

She agreed. And she liked it! I was giddy!

If you have an extreme picky eater, then you understand the joy you feel when you discover something they will eat that is homemade and relatively healthy.

I've made homemade chicken nuggets before, but it seemed so labor intensive that I didn't do it again. They had to be shaped like nuggets, and rolled in breading - a lot of work for nuggets. But for these I just used a cookie scoop to get the rough balls, and then finished rolling and dropped in a pan with some oil. I think because they had bread crumbs in the mix then they had a feeling of a crust, without having to actually crust them. It was easy and quick!

My original plan had been to plop all of these in a pot of sauce to finish cooking, but since she liked them I decided to not do that. I instead cooked them through and then put in a couple of oven proof dishes. I kept one dish of them plain, and the other I topped with sauce & cheese - so it had a bit of a chicken parmesan taste to it. 

This is definitely one of those guideline type of recipes. This is the approximate ingredients that I used, but these quantities are not mandatory and really it's more of an eyeball type thing. 

Ingredients:

  • ground white meat chicken - around 2 pounds
  • Italian style seasoned bread crumbs - a cup or so
  • eggs - 2 or 3
  • garlic powder - a teaspoon or so
  • onion powder - a teaspoon or so
  • fresh ground pepper
  • oil for cooking

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together except the oil. The consistency should be bit like dough - you should be able to form it into shape without it falling apart or seeming too wet. It's the combination of bread crumbs + eggs that help hold this together. If your mixture seems too wet, add a bit more bread crumbs. Too dry, add another egg.

Generally for this kind of thing it's a good idea to cook a little bit to taste and check for seasoning before you cook the whole lot. Seasoned bread crumbs can often have a lot of salt in them, so I wouldn't salt this much if at all until you've tasted. Pinch off a bit and put it in a hot pan to cook, and then taste. Then add salt as needed. Then when you are happy with the seasoning you can shape into meatballs. I use a small cookie scoop, drop the scooped bit into my hands, finish shaping into a ball, and then put in my pan.

Brown on all sides in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat. They likely won't be cooked all the way through, so you'll need to either turn down your heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or you can put them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes. 

You could also cook these from star to finish in the oven - I'd do a foil lined baking sheet, at 350 for probably 20-30 minutes.

We had ours with sauce & pasta. They'd be great just dipped in ketchup too. 

Enjoy!

Homemade "instant" oatmeal

Homemade "instant" oatmeal

It totally kills me that my kids prefer those instant oatmeal packets over real cooked oats.  But lately I'm really trying to focus on choosing my battles, and trying to force people to learn to like oatmeal with some texture over the creamy, mushy stuff, just seems like a fight that's not worth fighting at this stage, especially on an already manic school day morning.  But instant oatmeal packets have all kinds of strikes against them, and I just can't bring myself to buy them any more.  The artificial flavorings in so many of the mainstream brands, the amount of sugar, and the cost - with 4 kids eating two packets each, we would use whole box at one meal.  I have bought some organic ones before, which are a little better, but they still have so much sugar and are even more expensive. I had seen several mentions on various food blogs and pinterest boards about making your own, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

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Basic recipe: pancakes and waffles

Basic recipe: pancakes and waffles

Add to the list of things that I can't for the life of me figure out why I ever bought in a box: pancakes. 

Pancakes and waffles are so easy to make from scratch. Call me lazy, but I love a recipe that's versatile and adaptable to a number of uses. I like to think about it once and use it a lot - and this one definitely fits that bill.

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