Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Going to see Santa

I wasn't planning on taking the girls to see Santa this year, but after "nap"time today, Amelia asked when we were going to see him.  She was adamant that she had to see him to tell him what she wants for Christmas.  So, we trekked over to the mall, where they had a very nice setup for Santa.  Amelia watched as two different families of kids sat on Santa's lap, and we talked about what she should say to Santa.  When it was our turn, I lifted her up to Santa's lap, she told Santa what she wants for Christmas, and she even mostly smiled for a photo.  What a difference from last year!

Megan, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with Santa.  Ben got within 4 feet of Santa while carrying Megan, and she started screaming bloody murder.  Since we had to pay for the photo, we decided it wasn't worth trying to put her on Santa's lap (although I would have loved to get a screaming baby photo with Santa like Jen got last year.)

As we were driving home, Amelia started asking questions about Santa, like "Where are his reindeer?" and "Where will he sleep tonight?" and "Where are all the other Santas?"  At 3 and a half, if she starting to question the existence of Santa already?

Oh, and what does Amelia want for Christmas this year?  A magic wand.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rudolph Snack

At the last minute, we got asked to be snack helper at preschool today.  It worked out perfectly, because Ben was already taking a vacation day.  So Amelia decided that Daddy should go with her to preschool to be snack helper.  I had to scramble to come up with a healthy snack to take in, and this is what I came up with:

Amelia said her favorite part of preschool was having Daddy there.  Ben said that his favorite part of preschool was explaining to the kids that the round slices of cheese came from a great big log of string cheese (even though they were technically provolone.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Daddy Adventure Day - Olbrich Botanic Gardens Christmas Trains

On Ben's Wednesday morning off, we took the girls to see the train exhibit at the Olbrich Botanic Gardens.  We didn't realize it, but Wednesday mornings are free admission days, and so we had to wait in line a while before we could get in.  It's a lot smaller than the train exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, but they allow fewer people in at a time, so it wasn't crowded at all.  The trains run so close that you could reach out and touch them, except that you're not allowed.  But it was fun to be able to see them so close up.  There were two trains running and one stopped on the track:

Amelia's favorite train was the candy train.  It had a huge black steam engine and then "tanker" cars full of different kinds of Christmas candy.  She liked the M&M car the best.  It had a cowboose at the end, a black and white Holstein painted caboose.  Megan liked all the trains, of course!  The girls were both so excited to see the trains come around the corner:

Different bird houses were displayed in the trees around the trains.  I liked this Swiss chalet birdhouse the best:

They even had crafts for the kids to make.  Amelia and Ben made the snowman below.  Megan colored with marker all over her paper and all over the tablecloth.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gingerbread House

When Ben went to Ikea last week, he brought back a gingerbread house kit that he got for $1.  I had been planning on making a gingerbread house from scratch, but the premade kit was so nice and easy.  One of the side pieces was broken, but I glued it with some royal icing, and it has held up fine.  And even though it was prepackaged, it still smells delicious.  Ben helped Amelia do the decorating - he piped on the icing, and she put the candy in place.  She had a great time!

Amelia had the idea to put a smartie in each of the squares on the roof.  Good thing we had a lot of smarties leftover from Halloween.  :)  Here is the finished gingerbread house:

Here is the outfit that Amelia picked out to wear that day:


I asked her if she thought that outfit went together, and she looked at me like I was crazy and said "Of course it goes together - it's flowers and butterflies!"  What could I say?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Christmas Cookies - Peanut Butter Toffee Bars

Becky discovered this recipe in Disney's Family Fun magazine (which is a really fun magazine!) and we made a batch at our Christmas cookie extravaganza two weeks ago.  They were so delicious that I decided to make up a batch to take to the cookie walk (I started to realize that 12 dozen cookies is A LOT of cookie and I needed some easy ones after all the fiddly sugar cookie ones I tried)

Peanut Butter Toffee Bars

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups dark or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup toffee baking pieces

1. Heat the oven to 350°. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and egg yolk on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add the flour, oats, and salt and beat the mixture on low until the ingredients are just blended, about 30 seconds.

3. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust until it is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes (be very careful not to overbake - I baked my for 18 minutes and they were too done; the bottom layer was a little dry, and the chocolate didn't stick well to it).

4. Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan again and, using a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust.

5.  Sprinkle the toffee pieces over the chocolate, gently pressing them into place.

6.  Set the pan on a wire rack to cool until the chocolate has set, about 2 hours. Using the edges of the foil, lift the dessert from the pan, then cut it into rectangles.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Christmas Cookies - Lumps of Coal

I saw this idea on eighteen25 and I thought it would be a perfect funny cookie to take to the cookie walk.  So I had Ben pick up some black food gel at Joann's on his way home last week, and I made them at the last minute.  They were so easy because they're basically rice krispy treats!

I loved the label that they had created at eighteen25, but I wanted to package mine as cheap as possible in plastic bags.  So I modified their label to make it longer.  I'm sure Becky could have whipped it up in Photoshop in two minutes, but it took me an hour.  :(  But I think it was worth it.  I'm definitely making these again next year!

Lumps of Coal
makes about 70 small lumps

1 10.5oz bag of mini-marshmallows
4 tbsp butter or margarine
4 cups Rice Krispies
black food gel

Melt the butter and the marshmallows in a large microwave safe mixing bowl.  When completely melted, stir in black food gel until the mixture looks black and not purple.  I think I used half of the little jar.  Then stir in Rice Krispies.  Place on parchment paper in small, odd-shaped lumps.  It helps if you oil your finger, otherwise it will be very sticky.  Let harden for a few hours.  Package in snack-size ziploc bags, I put 5 lumps in each bag.  Then print out label, and staple to the bag on each side.  So easy!  So cute!  So funny!

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Christmas Cookies - Checkerboard Cookies

When I asked David what kind of fancy Christmas cookies I should make for the cookie walk, he immediately suggested checkerboard cookies.  I've never made them before, and I thought they looked cute, so I gave them a go.  They were a little fiddly, but not too bad.  Plus, one recipe makes a lot of cookies!  I would definitely make them again if I had the time.

I followed the recipe from Baking Obsession exactly, so I won't repost it here.  I was skeptical that mine would turn out as pretty as hers, but I think they did!  The white framed cookies spread a little, but the chocolate ones didn't.  I froze the dough, then thawed it on the counter for an hour to cut it.  Then I put the cookie sheets with the sliced cookies back in the freezer for 10 minutes before I baked them.  I baked them for 13 minutes at 350F.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Christmas Cookies - Mickey Mouse Cookies

My church had a cookie walk today, and they were asking each church family to donate 6 dozen of their fanciest Christmas cookies.  Since I love to bake, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to branch out and try some new Christmas cookies, I decided to take two trays home to fill with 12 dozen cookies.  It was a lot of fun!

I helped set up for the cookie walk last night, and discovered that this is a huge thing in Sun Prairie.  There were thousands and thousands of cookies, and the variety was amazing!  The ladies were telling me that you have to get to there early and wait in line outside the door in order to get the best cookies.  And last year they completely sold out in 45 minutes!  I didn't get there this morning to see if for myself, because my cold came back and I wasn't feeling great.  But I'm excited to hear at church tomorrow how much money was raised for the Sun Prairie Food Pantry.

Here's one of the new recipes that I tried.  They're decent tasting sugar cookies, but mostly they're just super cute.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Sugar Cookies

22 tbsp butter (2 sticks plus 6 tbsp), softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well until mixed.  Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt.

Divide dough into four equal sections.  Color one section green and one section red (Wilton gel food coloring gives the best vibrant color).  Leave the remaining two sections white.

Roll out each section of dough into a 9 inch square.  I did this by marking a 9 inch square on paper and taping it to the counter.  Then I taped a large piece of waxed paper over it, dusted it with a little flour, and rolled the dough out on the waxed paper.  I could see the marked square underneath.  The only word of warning is to use only the bare minimum of flour; I used too much flour on the green dough, and it didn't stick together as well as the red dough.

Once the squares are rolled out, place one white dough square on top of one red dough square.  Cut the dough into one 3" by 9" section and one 6" by 9" section.  Using the waxed paper to get started, roll the dough into two 9" long logs (so roll the dough starting on the long side).  Place in the refrigerator to cool for at least an hour or up to a day.  Repeat with the remaining white and green dough.

Take the dough out of the fridge and cut into slices.  I cut the larger (face) logs about 3/8" thick and the smaller (ear) logs a little less than 1/4" thick.  Place one face piece on a cookie sheet, and use a doughnut hole cutter to cut two little football shapes out of the dough where the ears will go.  Then place two ears in the holes, and press the dough together at the seams.  I didn't use any water to seal the dough, and the ears mostly stuck okay.  Because my face pieces were thicker, I used my hand to smush the face down a little, which I think helped the ears stick better.  As expected, I didn't have quite enough ear pieces, but the plain swirl cookies are pretty, too.

Bake at 350F for about 9 minutes.  Let cool on the pan for a minute before removing to a cooling rack.  Don't let them cool too long on the pan, or the ears will want to break off!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Liam's Quilt

I finally finished Liam's baby quilt that I have been working on for 8 months! 

I really like the bright dinosaur fabric, and the simple pattern that I made up was so quick and easy to put together.  (You may be asking yourself, if it's so quick to put together, why did it take me so long to finish?  And the answer is, I really don't know.  Probably because we moved.  And I don't like doing the binding, so I procrastinated for a looooong time.)

Now I can move on to the next baby quilt.  Hopefully I'll get it done a little more expeditiously.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Hands on Play Ideas - Large Scale Coloring

This was such a hit at our house!  I had a huge roll of wrapping paper that got a little water damaged, so I laid out two big sheets upside down on the floor and taped the edges down.  Then we put the marker and crayon bin down in the middle of the paper and went to town.

I did a lot of drawing, while Megan scribbled and Amelia colored in my drawings.  This is one of those times where I wish I could draw more than just stick people and houses.  I still draw like I'm six years old.  We did get creative, and I drew out the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and we told the story through pictures.  Oh, and this day, Amelia said she was being "favorite color girl" because she picked out a purple shirt, pink pants, and red socks.  Those are her favorite colors right now.

The next morning at breakfast, Molly started attacking the sheets of paper, and so we had to lay down a new piece and start again.  This time, Amelia asked if I would draw a street, so we ended up drawing our neighborhood with a fire station, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, ice cream store and park.  Then Amelia got out the cars, and the girls played with cars on the streets.  It was really cute.

Then Grandpa came and decided that the cars should go off-road!

And then Megan got sleepy:

Oh and Megan loves markers now.  By the end of the day, she had marker all over her face, neck, hands and clothes.  Good thing it's washable!  And Amelia had to wear her red shirt today, just for Grandpa, because she knows red is his favorite color!  And we picked out Megan's softy outfit especially for Grandpa, too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Cousins being Silly

During breakfast this morning, Amelia and Natalie were saying "Tickle Fried Mouse!" and laughing like hyenas.  It was so funny.

I don't remember exactly how we got to this point of silliness, but just before it, Noah was poking Brian saying "Chicken Fried Mouse."  Just after this, I got out a chunk of chicken from our leftover bean soup, and gave it to Noah telling him it was mouse.  He wouldn't eat it.  Neither would Natalie or Amelia.  So Uncle Brian had to step up and eat the "mouse".  All the kids thought that was hilarious!

More Hands on Play Ideas - Sensory Bins

Another idea in the Hands on Play challenge was to introduce sensory bins.  In case you have never heard of a sensory bin, it is basically a tub full of stuff (you may call it junk) for kids to play with.  I have used sensory bins with Amelia before, and she will generally play with them for a long time.  A year ago I made her a Halloween sensory bin with black beans, candy corn pumpkins, little plastic pumpkin pots and purple pompoms, and she would play with it for at least a half hour, which was a long time for a 2 year old.

This time I put together a gardening sensory bin with things I found around the house (clearly I have way too much crafty stuff around the house:

Both Amelia and Megan liked playing with this.  Amelia filled the pots up with rocks and then planted flowers in them.  Megan tried to line the bugs up on the side of the bin (which was great for practicing small motor skills!).  I didn't get many pictures because I was busy playing with them, but you can see that they are playing together.

I also had a shape sensory bin, which was just a bin full of foam shapes and buckets from Target's dollar section.  We made towers and knocked them over, and filled buckets up with different shapes, and tried patterning.

Megan's favorite part was sitting in the bin:

If you make a sensory bin, I recommend putting some kind of utensil in.  My girls both love the utensils for scooping - I usually just get out kitchen spoons or scoops or tongs or something like that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Hands on Play Ideas - Playdough

I love all the creative ideas at The Imagination Tree for playing with my kids.  We haven't been using their ideas every day, but we are all really enjoying the challenge to play with materials in unexpected ways.  Last week, Amelia and I made playdough using the following recipe:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt (buy salt at the Dollar Tree - 2 for $1, what a deal!)
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups boiling water
food color/flavor if desired

Mix with a sturdy spoon until combined (and not super hot) and then knead with your hands.  Once the dough is smooth, add the food coloring and/or flavor.

Amelia wanted to make red playdough, but try as we might, we couldn't get a good red color, even using the nice Wilton red food gel.  So we settled on pink playdough.  Then we added a splash of peppermint extract (and our playdough smells SO GOOD now!) and a generous shaking of glitter and we ended up with pink glittery delicious smelling playdough.  I keep it in the fridge, and it can last for months.  Becky says she has a tub that is 9 months old and still hasn't dried out; she wraps hers in plastic wrap and then puts it in a tub.  I will have to try that.

Anyway, to make our playdough experience a little different, Amelia and I collected different things throughout the house to add to our playdough.  I set out bins (ie cleaned out lunchmeat containers) and we filled them up with pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, googly eyes (Dollar Tree), little plastic dinosaurs, sea shells, rocks, some leafy plastic greenery, dried spaghetti, colored noodles, and some plastic ladybugs.

The first day, we made islands for dinosaurs:

The pipe cleaner arches are doorways for the dinosaurs to enter the beach, and the noodles on the pipecleaners are flags.  Once they are on the beach, they can eat the green leafy trees, or they can make footprints in the pink glittery sand, or they can swim over by the seashells.


 The next day, we made porcupines:

Amelia said that the porcupine makes her have a grumpy face because he is so prickly.  I think he is really cute.

Disclaimer: Amelia picks out her own clothes, which is why she is wearing a red and white headband with a pink and brown shirt the first day, and a completely non-matching outfit the second day.  I love to see the combinations she comes up with!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Snow Day!

The weatherman was predicting snow on Wednesday, but I figured there was no chance we'd end up with any, because it never snows the first day it's predicted.  Right? 

Wrong!  As David said, well, we're living in Madison now and snow in November is to be expected.  I like snow, but I'm still in the mood for fall.

Amelia's still getting used to the idea that it's fall (she thinks that fall doesn't start until the leaves have all fallen from the trees, which means in her mind it's only been fall for a week).  Here was our conversation yesterday:

Me: Oh the weather outside is frightful.... Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Amelia: You can't sing that song now, because it's not winter.
Me: Look outside, it's snowing!
Amelia:  But it's still fall!
Me:  Yes, sometimes it snows in the fall.
Amelia: When is spring?
Me: After winter.
Amelia: Is it going to be spring soon?
Me: No.  <sigh>

But then she got excited about the snow and wanted to go outside and play in it.  By the time Ben was home from work, and Amelia was up from her nap, we had an inch or two on the ground, and it had stopped snowing.  So I found all the snow gear, got her bundled up, and we headed outside to play.  Megan was still sleeping, so she'll have to wait for the next snow to play (but as we were walking back to the car after dropping Amelia at preschool today, I asked her if she wanted to play in the snow, and she looked at it and shook her head vigorously NO.)

Here's Amelia after throwing snowballs at me.  She had the funniest little giggly face:

And here's Daddy dropping a big snowball right on her head.  No fair, Daddy!

But she was most excited about getting to eat the snow.  We found a clean spot off the ground and gave her a little bit to taste, then told her she'd have to wait for a bigger snow to have more.  Everyone is talking about how this year the weather people are predicting even more snow than last year.  So I'm sure we'll have a lot more opportunities for snow play!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Messy Tea Party

Amelia and Megan had a tea party yesterday while I was talking on the phone and making pumpkin bread, and without me noticing, they somehow went through four teapots full of tea. 

"Wow", you must be thinking, "they must have been exceptionally thirsty!" 

No, no, the tea ended up on the plates, and on the tray, and on the tablecloth, and on their clothes, and on the floor.  I started wondering why Amelia kept coming over to refill the teapot, and I glanced over just in time to see Megan take the teapot, and deliberately pour it right onto the tray.  Not even aiming for the cup. 

But she's so cute, drinking her tea with her spoon!

And here you can see her four middle teeth.  She now has 9 teeth, so exciting!

Amelia helped me clean up the water.  Boy, she's a big help.

But they had fun!  I told them that we could have another tea party tomorrow, and that I would attend to make sure that Megan didn't make such a big mess.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

Yes, this is still Marcie's blog.  And yes, Marcie still does not like fish. 

BUT, this tilapia was delicious.

AND, it only has three ingredients.

AND, it only takes 10 minutes.

Becky picked tilapia for our next food challenge, and so I decided I needed to give it a try again.  I got the idea from this recipe at, but I didn't follow it at all because I don't like mayonnaise.  Instead, I picked up a tub of Philadelphia Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Creme, and used that as the sauce.  Plus, I have plenty of cooking creme left over to use for dinner tomorrow night.  Ben and I both liked this so much that we agreed we would eat it every week, if it didn't cost $9/lb.  Amelia did not want to try it, but then took a bite and said with a big smile on her face "This tastes just like chicken!" (no prompting!) and then ate three more bites.  Megan took one look at the tilapia on her plate, and pushed the plate onto the table saying she was done.  Oh well, all she ate yesterday anyway was french toast sticks, a banana and a string cheese.

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia
serves 2

2 large tilapia filets (about 0.8 lbs)
2 tbsp Philadelphia Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Creme
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler on high.  Line a pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place tilapia on the pan.  Broil for 4 minutes.  Flip tilapia over.  Broil another 4 minutes.  (My broiler maybe runs a little low, because most people on allrecipes said they only needed to cook their tilapia 2 or 3 minutes on each side.)

Meanwhile, mix cooking creme and parmesan cheese.  Add a little lemon juice if it is too thick.  Spread on tilapia once tilapia is cooked through.  Place under broiler for 1 minute, until cheese sauce is bubbly.  Do not overcook sauce or it will burn (but if you do overcook it, you can scrape the burned layer off very neatly, not that I know from personal experience.)  Serve.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hands on Play Challenge

Now that it's getting cold and we're stuck inside most of the time, I need to find new ideas for playing with what we have in the house.  That sounds silly, because obviously the girls know how to play very well themselves, but I'm the one who needs help.  I get a little bored playing "let's have a picnic" every day, and I also tend to get distracted by housework or cooking or a phonecall or a book or email or whatever.  So, one of the blogs I read has a challenge in November to spend 15 minutes a day actively playing with your kids, and they give you a different idea of a fun way to play each day.  I like that they focus on play-based learning and child-led activities, and that everything you need to play is something that we already have in our house.  Check it out at The Imagination Tree.

Oh, and I should add that I think it's also good for Ben, because I've noticed that he interacts best with the girls during playtime if he has a specific goal in mind.  If I say "Here's your challenge: let's see who can build the biggest block tower!" he and the girls all get into the spirit and end up having a lot of fun.

The first challenge was to build a fort.  Not a problem in our house!  That day I had brought home a parachute from Amelia's preschool so that I could reinforce the handles that were coming apart, and so we used the parachute to make a huge fort in our playroom.  Once we had the fort built, Amelia decided that she wanted to play with stickers, so she and Megan both put stickers on paper (thank goodness for Joanns which has 600 stickers for $1 because Amelia probably used 80 stickers on her page).  I helped Megan a lot because the stickers had a tendency to get stuck on her fingers, but I did pull out the camera to snap just a quick photo or two.  Here is Amelia telling me that she is too busy playing with stickers to get her picture taken:

The second challenge was to build block towers.  Amelia is a great tower builder but Megan just wanted to knock the towers over.  You would think that would make for a good team, but Amelia got upset when Megan would knock her towers over before she was done building them.

After we had made towers using all different kinds of blocks, I challenged Amelia to build a tower with the squishy plastic blocks using only her teeth!

 Then she challenged me to build a tower using books.  Challenge accepted!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Amelia's Artwork

Guess what Amelia has learned to do? 

She can write her name!  We've been practicing writing the letter A at home for a while now, but she surprised me yesterday by being able to write all the other letters by herself.  Her preschool teacher said they worked on writing names a little yesterday, but she was surprised Amelia could do it all by herself, too.

And as you can see, she is now adding stick bodies to her smiley faces.  The stick person on the right is Amelia and the person on the left is me.  Amelia told me that we are sitting with our legs spread out wide and we are shaking hands.  She also said the the dot on the top of her head is her forehead, the dot under it is her nose, the dot just under that is her philtrum (that's your word of the day - philtrum: the midline groove in the upper lip that runs from the top of the lip to the nose), and the dot under her mouth is her chin.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Almond Poppyseed Bread

I have always loved the almond poppyseed muffins from Costco, so when I saw this recipe from Our Best Bites, I immediately wanted to give it a try.  The texture of this bread is just perfect, more like a cupcake than a bread.  And while I love the light, sweet almond flavor, the orangey glaze gives it a little tang and makes it even more interesting.

Now, having said that, this is my least favorite of all the quick breads I've posted about.  And when I brought samples of all these breads to a mom's brunch, hardly anybody chose to eat this bread.  I think it's because this isn't a typical autumn bread, and also because it didn't present as well as the ones with the caramel frosting or the toasted coconut.  This just looks a little plain.  But it really is delicious!

Almond Poppyseed Bread
makes 2  9 x 5" loaf pans

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 cups canola oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond flavoring

1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp almond flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bottom of two 9 x 5" loaf pans with PAM baking spray.

Mix wet ingredients together.  Add dry ingredients and stir just until combined.  Pour into prepared loaf pans.

Bake at 350F for 1 hour (bake for only 40 minutes if using smaller pans).

When cooled, make glaze by stirring all ingredients together.  Pour over bread.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Banana Coconut Bread with Lime Glaze

I do not really like banana bread, probably because I do not really like bananas.  But, my girls love it and so I make it whenever I have a bunch of overripe bananas so that they can have something more interesting for breakfast than Cheerios.  Usually I make Jane's chocolate chip banana bread, but I saw this recipe from Our Best Bites and thought it sounded delicious.  I love coconut, and I love lime, and I really love glazes, so I was hoping that all those flavors would drown out the banana flavor.  I was right - they did!  Oh, to be fair, you could still taste the banana, but it blended so nicely with all the other tropical flavors that it wasn't objectionable in the least. 

I took this bread to a mom's group brunch, along with three other quick breads, and everybody raved about it.  I had to send the recipe to the hostess so she could distribute it to the other guests.  So, if you're looking to change up your standard banana bread, give this a try!

Banana Coconut Bread with Lime Glaze
makes 1 9x5" loaf pan (or 1 8x4" loaf pan and 1 soup can)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup real butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 large bananas
1/4 cup key lime flavored yogurt
3 tbsp apple cider (can use milk or apple juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Topping: 2 tbsp additional coconut
Glaze: 1/2 cup powdered sugar whisked with 1 1/2 tbsp key lime juice

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray bottom of pan with PAM baking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add bananas and mix on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add eggs, vanilla, yogurt, and cider; beat until blended.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stir in coconut.

Pour into pan.  Sprinkle additional shredded coconut over the top.  Bake at 350F for:
45 minutes (small loaf pan and soup can)
60 minutes (large loaf pan)
Check at 35 minutes to see if coconut is getting too brown; if so, cover with aluminum foil for remaining baking time.  Use a toothpick or skewer to test if bread is done; if skewer is removed cleanly, then bread is done.

Once done, let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and place on cooling rack.  Meanwhile, stir together lime juice and powdered sugar to make a glaze.  Pour over bread once the bread is cool.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caramel Apple Bread

This is the second apple bread recipe that I tried; I saw a photo of this bread on pinterest and was sold on the delicious looking glaze.  The recipe is originally from Pass the Sushi, but I did make a few changes (most noticeably, I decreased the nutmeg.)

I tasted this bread plain, and was not impressed.  You couldn't taste apples at all; I guess the shredded apples just provided moisture to the bread.  I surprised myself by preferring the apple chunks in the previous bread.  And the flavor was still overwhelmingly nutmeggy, so I'd pretty much determined that this was not a keeper recipe.  And then I tried the glaze.  OH. YUM.  It's this delicious caramelized brown sugary frosting, and it is delicious on apple bread. 

So, next time I make apple bread, I will make the bread from the previous recipe and the glaze from this recipe, and then I think it will be perfect.  (But I am posting the bread recipe here as a reminder to myself that this is not the best way to make apple bread.)

Caramel Glazed Apple Bread
makes 2 8x4" loaves

1 1/2 cups shredded peeled baking apples (2 large)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray the bottom of two 8 x 4" loaf pans with Pam baking spray. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, buttermilk, oil and eggs.  Add all dry ingredients and stir just until mixed.  Pour into loaf pans.

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack.  While bread is cooling, make the glaze.

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add brown sugar and cook on high for two minutes, stirring constantly.  Add milk, stir to combine, and remove from heat.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then stir in powdered sugar.  If the caramel has become too solid, heat gently and add an additional tbsp of milk until a nice smooth glaze can be made.  Drizzle over bread immediately.

Can also be baked in soup cans - will make 4 or 5 soup can loaves.  Baking time will still be 35 minutes.