Monday, January 23, 2012

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

At Christmas time, I made cutting boards for some of the teachers and tucked in a loaf of banana bread with it. I thought "I don't need to make the glaze for this. It's just banana bread, what's the big deal?" Well, I'm here to tell you, the glaze makes amazing banana bread AHHHH-MAZING! Seriously yummy stuff.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Orange Glaze

3/4 cup softened butter
8 oz pkg softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 4 medium...I don't measure, I just add 4)
3 cups ap flour
1/2 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder and salt
OPTIONAL: 2 cups pecans (I skip these)

Orange Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp orange juice (Use the juice of the orange you zest or use OJ concentrate)

Cream the butter and cream cheese with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well after each one. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Add dry ingredients all at once and stir until combined. Fold in 1 cup pecans if you are using them.

Pour batter into 2 loaf pans (8x4x2) or 5 mini loaf pans that you've lightly coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (about 45 minutes for minis) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Move to cooling rack, prick with a fork a few times before drizzling with the glaze. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before you remove from the loaf pans to cool completely.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Potato Soup

At the end of summer, when I have cleared the garden of all vegetables, Rugby loves to go back over it and search for more. It's a treasure hunt to him. And usually he finds things I missed...mostly carrots and potatoes. I must get lazy when I'm digging. A couple years ago, he brought in his bounty and asked if he could make potato soup for supper. I helped him put together a very basic recipe and then tweak it with all the veggies he had. That soup had carrots, corn, and green beans in addition to the potatoes. I'll share the basic recipe with you and you can add any other veggies that you like. Enjoy!

Potato Soup

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
7 cups milk (we use 1%)
4 large baking potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed (I have already peeled, cubed and boiled before adding to the soup and that works fine, too!)
4 green onions, sliced (I use them if I have them)
12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled (The kids like more, but really...who doesn't like more bacon?!)
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2-3/4 tsp celery seed (we like it, but ok to skip if you don't)

Melt butter in your stock pot. Stir in flour; heat and stir until smooth. GRADUALLY add the milk, stirring constantly until thickened. (It won't thicken very well if you add the milk too fast.) Add potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Packing Lunch

I don't have time to pack lunch for four kids everyday. My boys like to pack them in the morning so they're fresh, so if that's going to happen on top of all four of them getting ready for school, they are going to have to pack it themselves. I can help, but don't have time to do them all. It's a lot of work to decifer what each of them wants or likes.

When school started, I made a "menu" for the boys and called it "The Brother's Lunch". It's hung on the fridge everyday since then and the kids use it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to pack their lunches. I help the littles and I check them before the kids leave just to make sure they're not sneaking something they shouldn't or to make sure that they've got enough to eat.

This menu thing works great....most of the time. But, the way it was set up, they could take a yogurt stick and a cheese stick and their main dish item and that would be the extent of their lunch. Then, I'd get reports of still being hungry after lunch.

Today, I redid the menu and I'm hoping the boys love the changes. I separated the side dish column into two sections. They can choose one from each. Group A is fruit and veggies and group B is the dairy stuff and granola bars. I also listed a couple of optional tradeouts that they could do with approval....I don't always have jello or pudding made up for them to take, so they're on the tradeout list. I also added a snack section. This week, we started basketball practice immediately after school until 5pm and then wrestling practice follows at 6pm. Hopefully, when #2 has practice after school, we'll remember to send a snack so he's not starving when he gets home and before his next practice starts since we'll only have time for a quick meal before running out the door again. I see more later evening snacks/mini meals in our future!

So, since I found having this menu handy, I thought I'd share it with you. If you'd like me to e-mail you a copy that you can tweek for your own use, just let me know! I'd be happy to share. Enjoy!