mrs.b and her boys

embrace the chaos

Category: Such A Treat

POWER POPPERS

Now that we have been back to school for a couple weeks now and in the new groove, we can start thinking of throwing new recipes into the mix. I have been trying new dinner recipes and school snack recipes lately. I love my core recipes, but I always feel like I want to throw something new in to keep things fun and interesting.

This is another idea for school snacks or after-school snacks. They will give kids a burst of energy but are packed full of healthy ingredients: oats, honey, flaxseed. They are all the rage right now and I can understand why. They are just so enjoyable!

Honestly, in our house we think they taste like dessert! So, go ahead, play these off as dessert if you wish to. {I won’t tell}

In the recipe, I note an option to add in mini M&M’s. I do this only on special occasions. Normally, I make them without. Times I would add them in would be a camping trip, the holidays when you have company, a road trip, etc.

I was all excited to throw these in my boys’ backpacks for snacks. Then, find out the new middle-schooler doesn’t have snack time anymore and the third grader has a severe nut allergy in his class. So, I will have to save them for the lunchbox or after school snack. But, I have given Power Poppers to them for breakfast before too. Alongside a banana and bowl of yogurt.

 

POWER POPPERS

 

4 cups quick oats

2 cups peanut butter or almond butter

1 ¼ cup honey

1 cup ground flaxseed

2 cups mini chocolate chips

OR 1 cup mini chocolate chips & 1 cup mini M&M’s

 

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until well blended. Roll into 1-inch balls until you have used all the mixture; placing on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

 

Freeze flat for 2 hours. Transfer to container with airtight lid. Store in freezer up to two weeks. {But trust me, they will never last that long}

SNACK MIX

Whether you are celebrating or sobbing, it is back-to-school time, friends. It is time for piles of school supplies to start taking over the family room floor, for that dreaded homework we all know is coming and for packing cold lunches. {Enter cry of agony here} Every year I look for ways to change up the same ‘ol lunches and snacks I pack the kids. But…without getting all fancy bento box crazy over here! {Who has time for that?}

I have come up with a few ideas and I cannot wait to share them with you. This first one is my Auntie CoCo’s Snack Mix recipe. It is da bomb! Other snack mixes people make are okay, but this one tops them all. I don’t know how she perfected it, but she did. It is simple to make and you can have it for the whole week for school snacks or even after school snacks. Pair it with an apple or a banana and it is a perfect snack for the kiddos. Or you.

I change up the snack ingredients a bit from my auntie’s recipe but keep the sauce exactly as is. We like more cereal and crackers in ours, and my uncle likes more cashews in his. I say balance your preferences of cereal, crackers, nuts and pretzels as you wish as long as the cup measurements stay about the same.

You don’t have to keep this recipe for just school time either. It is also great for family gatherings to put out with the appetizers or for Sundays sitting around watching football or to throw in the car for those long road trips.

Here we go…the next nine months of bliss and chaos all in one! We can do it. We will do it. Let’s embrace it!

 

SNACK MIX

 

6 cups Crispix cereal

1 box Cheez-Its crackers

1 cup cashews

1 cup pretzels

1 cup butter

3 Tb. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. celery salt

 

Preheat oven to 250˚.

 

In a large mixing bowl, gently mix cereal, crackers, cashews and pretzels together; set aside.

 

In a small microwavable bowl, melt butter in 30 second increments until fully melted; stirring each time. Add Worcestershire, garlic salt and celery salt; whisk to combine.

 

Pour half of butter mixture over the cereal mixture and stir gently until well coated. Pour rest of butter mixture in; again stirring gently until well coated.

 

Spread out on a large cookie sheet. Bake in oven for total of about 1 hour. Stirring every 20 minutes. You want the Cheez-Its to be slightly golden brown on edges and the butter mixture to have mostly dried. It will be slightly wet yet, but that will soak in as it cools. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

You have been asked to bring a dessert to your next get-together. You are looking for a healthy, but tasty dessert for the BBQ you are hosting for Labor Day weekend. You just want something sweet in the house, but do not want to turn on the oven to bake on these hot summer days. I have the answer for you for all of these situations. Chocolate Covered Strawberries! These sweet gems almost seem fancy, but they are so simple to make.

I had brought these over to a friends house for a get-together and everyone devoured them. They satisfied the little kids and the teenagers, the ones watching what they ate and the ones that didn’t care, the meat eaters and the gluten-free/dairy-free eaters.

 

What if you have the ingredients but not the time to make them in time to set up? Just melt your chocolate without the wax and let every one dig in with their strawberries! They do not need to “set” to be delicious. It would almost be like a fondue. {I almost like them better this way!} You just won’t have the presentation portion of it.

 

You don’t even really need a recipe for this one, but here it is.

 

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES

 

1 lb. clamshell strawberries, rinsed & dried

10-12 oz. bakers semi-sweet dark chocolate

Paraffin Wax, chunk about the size of the tip of your thumb

 

Melt the chocolate and wax together. In microwave, melt in 45 second intervals; stirring each time. Or in double boiler, melt over low simmer; stirring occasionally to combine into a smooth consistency.

Let chocolate cool for about 5 minutes. Take a strawberry by the green top, and dip in chocolate; covering most of red part. Set on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat for all berries. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.

Refrigerate any leftovers. If there are any {Just keeping it real!}

PUMPKIN BARS

Nothing screams autumn quite like the shades of the changing leaves…Oh! and a magnificent pumpkin bar.

I have made a few batches of these in my life, but never found the recipes quite right. After adding the right amount of my favorite fall spices, I have made the perfect pumpkin bars people. Just the right amount of spice and sweet. You will dive into autumnal heaven and never want to get out.

Warning: This makes a huge batch, so be ready to share with loved ones {or keep them for yourself, I won’t judge you}

 

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PUMPKIN BARS

 

Bars:

4 eggs

1 2/3 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

15 oz. can pumpkin puree

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. (heaping) cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of allspice

 

Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

2-4 Tb. milk, divided

2 lb. bag powdered sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350˚.

 

In large mixing bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until smooth and well blended.

 

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice into medium bowl.

 

Slowly add dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture at low speed until flour is blended in. Then, turn to medium speed and blend well.

 

Spread batter in ungreased jelly roll pan. (mine is about 11×17) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until edges are slightly brown and toothpick comes out clean.

 

Cool fully.

 

In large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 2 Tb. milk until smooth. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until smooth. If it is dry, add 1 Tb. of milk at a time. Spread on fully cooled bars.

 

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BANANA BREAD

In our house, banana bread can be breakfast, or a snack, or even lunch instead of that PB&J in the lunch box.

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Does this look familiar?

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It happens in my freezer all the time. Before I know it there are 47 overripe bananas in my freezer. So, when I get around to baking banana bread, I generally make big batches. I make a double batch TWICE! That way I have it in my freezer for when we want a sweet bread, but I don’t have time to make it. And I love having it ready to give to someone as a thank you or during a hard or busy time in their life.

I usually add chocolate chips to mine because we love the banana-chocolate combination in our house – and I never {I said never!} add nuts. But please add or don’t add whatever you prefer. Walnuts, chocolate chips, etc. Or keep it simple and pure and add nothing.

I have had this recipe around for years. It is so moist and has a lot of banana flavor to it. The key to the moistness is the buttermilk. I’m telling you it makes all the difference in the world. If you have to eliminate the dairy from the recipe, I would think coconut milk would have the same effect on it.  I have not tried it – but let me know if you do! I am sure it would add another level of amazing flavor to it as well.

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*Tip: If you use bananas from the freezer, leave time for them to thaw. And, you do not have to mash them!

 

BANANA BREAD

 

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

¾ cup salted butter, softened

1 ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

7-8 medium overripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup buttermilk

½ bag of chocolate chips (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 325˚. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans.

 

In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk; set aside.

 

In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, bananas, vanilla and buttermilk, and beat at medium speed until thick and blended. Be sure to scrape down sides of bowl.

 

Add flour mixture to banana mixture, blend at low speed until just combined. With a spoon, stir in chocolate chips.

 

Pour batter into greased pans. Bake on center rack for 60-70 minutes. At this time, check center of loaf with toothpick. If it does not come out clean, cook in 5-10 minute increments until done and the sides of bread should be pulling away from the pan. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on cooling rack.

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