Healthy Double Chocolate Chip Banana muffins

This recipe is one I have made so many times for my kids. They LOVE banana muffins, especially when they are mini versions. The original recipe is from here. I have made this so many times and modified it to what I think is the best banana muffins. It can’t get much healthier than this. There is so much protein in these little buggers, you won’t feel bad about grabbing two (or four). My kids love them with breakfast, lunch, or as a snack. I make a double batch and freeze most of them, pulling out a dozen or so when we need them. Baby Girl even loves them frozen (feels great on teething gums). 
We had a rainy day on Friday and certain wild children needed to do something (besides jump off of couches). We decided to make some of these banana muffins, with a few extras added in. They LOVE to help me in the kitchen.  
They love to scoop, stir, spill… 

I added flax seed, wheat germ, and a scoop of protein powder to make these double chocolate muffins. We were out of chocolate chips but I found some Hershey kisses and chopped them up into big chunks.

 I usually use apple sauce instead of oil, but was out of apple sauce. I looked through the fridge and found yogurt. That works! Plain Greek yogurt would be even better.  What else do these muffins need?

Peanut Butter!

Healthy Double Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
4 Ripe bananas
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce (or plain Greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp light butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
12 chopped Hershey kisses
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter with sugar and peanut better. Add egg and beat lightly. Add mashed bananas, vanilla, and yogurt. Then add all dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon into lined mini muffin tins. Bake 10 minutes. Enjoy!
~Posted by Colleen

Baby Bath Ice Play

Tonight we filled the tub with warm water, added children, and ice???!!!
We threw in a few ice cubes and added some cups to catch the ice cubes for a fun change to the typical bath time. This is such a great game to work on baby’s eye-hand coordination. She watched the ice slip around and chased after it with her hands. She was able to catch it most of the time. Crossing midline (reaching the right hand over to the left side of the body and vice versa) is crucial for so many functional skills of a child. Crossing midline builds neural pathways of the brain and is needed for learning. 

(that’s a lot of ice…we didn’t use it all…only a handful of ice cubes!)

The big kids used cups to catch the ice cubes, transfer them cup-to-cup, and kid-to-kid! 
We warmed up the water once, but a few ice cubes didn’t make the bath too cool. Keep a close eye on baby to make sure any caught ice cubes don’t become choking hazards. 
Baby Girl loves her bath time and ice only made it better today!

Water Beads!

I’ve seen Water Bead play all over Pinterest and the web. We had to try them! They are the beads you see in vases with flower arrangements and you can find them in the floral aisle of Walmart. I’ve even heard that  Dollar Tree carries them. They are non-toxic and supposedly stay squishy for years once they are hydrated.

So easy to do (and fun for little hands). Add water…


Drain the water in a colander and PLAY!
We left them over night but they hydrate in about 6 hours.

Baby Girl LOOOOOVED playing with these things! We had them sitting in this bin on the counter the other day and every time she caught a glimpse, she got all excited and wanted to play.
We kept the binky in the mouth when Baby Girl played.
Use a flashlight and make them shine.

Dinosaurs MAY have been caught stomping, kicking, eating, and fighting the water beads…

So squishy on bare toes! Our neighbor came over with her little guy to get in on the fun.

This was so fun and water beads are so cool to play with. The imagination really emerged  when dinosaurs came onto the table. We have the water beads in a bin with a lid now. What to do with them next….hmmmm… 🙂

Rainy Day Fun- “Beach Day”

Rainy Day Fun  “Beach Day”!
Last week I was working at home on Tuesday and it was raining.  I was trying to think of a fun activity to keep both the kids busy.  I got to thinking about what I remember doing as a little girl with my sisters.  We would wake up early, all go downstairs get out the umbrellas and towels, lay out on the couch like we were at the beach. 

 
So, when my daughter woke up on Tuesday, I had already gathered up the umbrellas and towels and had them ready for her in the living room.  I told her it was going to be a special fun day today while mommy worked at home.  She was a little confused at first (haha) but quickly became so excited! 
       This guy wasn’t too sure about the whole thing 🙁     
Gwen on the other hand was ready to jump right in before breakfast!
 We had a fun time making a huge mess out of a mixture of paint, water, glue, and glitter. She decided that she needed a telescope to look for treasure! We took an empty paper towel tube and glittered it up and accessorized with stickers.

While I was working I didn’t notice that she had gone into the kitchen and helped herself to some kitchen tools…a turkey baster???? Really???  Made quite the mess but kept her busy for quite some time.

We made seashell shaped pancakes. These didn’t turn out exactly like I thought it would but my daughter didn’t care, she thought it was pretty cool and that is all that matters 🙂

We decorated the lid of a pizza box. I found the pole to an old mop that I was able to poke through the holes in the pizza box. The kids painted this like a palm tree and put a little sunshine on it. 

 

 What an imagination a 4 year old has! 
The umbrellas were a little dangerous for the little guy but my daughter made sure to keep him safe.  She is such a good big sister 🙂
I think her favorite part was wearing her bathing suit all.day.long…  She picked out her rainy day ducky bathing suit, very appropriate! 
My 16 month old was not too sure what was going on, but he was having fun too! He liked to just roll around on the blankets/towels (hehe).  I later found him sitting on the train table just playing by himself.  I am not sure where that battery came from laying on the blanket next to him…he tends to carry around the oddest things.

Even the stuffed animals need a little shade!

“Phew, I am so sweaty!”  Where does she come up with these???

What does everyone else like to do on rainy days?
~Posted by Leanne

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
 If you like mint chocolate chip ice cream, you need to try these! 

I signed up to bake something at a bake sale at work and I wanted to try something different.  I usually make chocolate chip cookies but others had already signed up to make those. I had an idea…what about mint chocolate chip cupcake?  I used a box mix for the chocolate cake and added some chocolate chips to them before baking.  The icing was super simple…mint flavored butter cream icing with chopped up chocolate chips. 
I made the cake according to the directions on the box.  I usually like to make chocolate cake from scratch with the recipe on the back of Hershey’s Cocoa power (sooo good and so easy) but I just used the box to make it easier.
I sprinkled chocolate chips on top.
Once these were cool, I worked on the icing.  I found a package of mint flavor that you just mix into any frosting you want to make (I made a butter cream). 
This tasted good, but I wanted to add a little something…chopped up chocolate chips (YUM)!

I piped the icing onto the cooled cupcake.  I didn’t have a pastry bag so I scooped the icing into a Ziploc bag and cut off a corner.  Once they were decorated with the icing, I added a few chocolate chips on the top just to make them look pretty!
Here is the butter cream icing I made.  So simple yet so good.
Buttercream Icing:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to decorate.               
Now onto my next creation….Lemon Raspberry Mini Cupcakes!
~Posted by Leanne

No-Mess sensory play

This was sitting out this morning when the kids woke up. Big Sister and Little Guy were so excited to see what we would be doing!

This aloe vera had been sitting in a cupboard for years. YEARS!
 Put some Aloe into a baggie…maybe 10-15 squirts from the container. Put the aloe back into the cupboard for a few more years.
Add food coloring.
Add extra stuff. We put in red sequins and beads.
Check out that Neat Pincer Grasp!

Invite Spider Man to play…

We taped it to the window to draw letters and move the little items around.
Wrist extension, index finger isolation, separating sides of the hand…we’re working those fine motor skills!
Baby Girl loved checking it out!

Homemade Noodles for Haluski + Sausage

My oldest sister, and fellow blogger Colleen, has three little kiddos of her own.  But on top of that, she babysits my Baby Boy two days a week while I’m at work.  


Taking care of four kids at once?  Corralling two, walking, get-into-everything 11 month olds?  Toting all four to play-dates and libraries and everything in between?  How does she find the energy???  

Word on the street is she’s Super Mom.  But even Super Moms deserve a break and a big THANK YOU every once in a while.  That was my thought when I decided to make a dinner for her and her family. 

I needed a yummy recipe.  Something that would be easy for her to reheat – something in one pot would be great.  Haluski and Sausage hit the mark, and I knew just what to do to make it extra delish – make the noodles from scratch!

Noodle Ingredients: (This will make more than enough noodles for your dish. If you’d like, you can save some and use them in soups or other pasta dishes for the week.)
  • 2 cups flour (and some extra for rolling out the dough)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
Haluski Ingredients:
  • One large onion
  • One head cabbage
  • One stick butter (more/less depending on how buttery you like your haluski)
  • Sausage or Kielbasa (I used Turkey Sausage)

Directions for Noodles:

First put the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.  Create a well in the center of the flour.  Crack the eggs into the well. Add the oil and water to the well.


Break each egg, and gently mix the wet ingredients together.  Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.  Mix until well incorporated.  If your dough is sticking to the bowl, add more flour until it can form a ball.  


Let your dough sit in the bowl, covered with a paper towel, for 10 minutes.


Generously flour the table. Dust the dough with flour also.  Kneed the dough until it is still soft but no longer sticks to the table.  (You can add more flour during this process if it’s too sticky.)

Flour the table and dough again so that it doesn’t stick while rolling it out.  Roll the dough to your desired thickness.  These noodles plump up a little when you boil them, so roll it a bit thinner than desired.



Roll the dough, jelly-roll style.  Make sure you do not roll it too tightly – you don’t want it to stick together.



Cut the rolled dough into 1/4 pieces.  Unwrap the noodles as you go so that the dough doesn’t stick to itself.  Lay the noodles out on your floured table.

You can cook your noodles right away, or you can let them sit until dried.  Cut your noodles to desired length before cooking.  If you dried them, you can break them by hand.

Cook them in boiling water, just like you would egg noodles.  You know they are done when they start floating to the top of the water.


Directions for Haluski:



While the noodles were boiling, I chopped the onion and melted the butter.  Saute the onions in the butter until they are tender.


Chop the cabbage into 1/4 inch slices. If the slices are long, feel free to chop them in half.


Add the cabbage to the butter/onion mixture.  I had so much cabbage that I ended up transferring it all to a large pot.  Cover the pot and cook the cabbage until it is tender; about 15 minutes, stirring often.


Slice up the sausage or kielbasa and cook it in a skillet until browned.  

When noodles are floating, cabbage is tender, and sausage is browned, mix all together into one delicious dish.


Eat it for dinner tonight or deliver it to a Super Mom!

-Posted by Erin




DIY wrapping paper

Kids can make their own DIY wrapping paper! 

Remember this tree from the Licorice Lagoon?
We used the kraft paper from the tree trunk for lots of painting fun! Cars and trucks drove tracks through paint mud puddles…
Dinosaurs left little foot print tracks…

And we painted some piggy toes!

We used this paper to wrap some presents for friends with birthdays.
Happy Monday!
~Posted by Colleen