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Monday, March 23, 2015

Recipe Revamp: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins

As many of you know, Hannah has a food sensitivity to gluten.  Sadly for her, that meant for awhile that she didn't get to enjoy baked goods.  As I've grown more comfortable experimenting in the kitchen, I've been able to find recipes or adapt them so that they are gluten free.  I'm so happy, because a life without muffins is just not quite complete.  I love baked goods. Tell me I'm not alone there!
Before Hannah's gluten issues, this Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffin recipe was one of our favorites.  Way back when this Zucchini Apple Carrot Bread/Muffin recipe was posted, I attempted to make them with all oat flour.  It worked!  Since then I've tried the all-oat-flour method with a few other recipes as well, with mixed results.  This Chocolate Banana one was the latest, and I think it was amazing! Definitely my new favorite.  But I digress...

For now, here's the Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffin recipe revamp, using all oat flour.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups oat flour, made by grinding oats in a blender
  • 1-1/4 cups unground oats*
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 bananas, broken into small pieces or mashed
  • 6 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk
*Grinding 1 cup of oats yields slightly less than 1 cup of oat flour.  To make up for that, and to help hold everything together, I add an additional 3-4 Tbsp. of unground oats for each cup of oat flour. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of oats, so I added an additional 1/4 cup in this case.  

Directions:
Add all ingredients to mixer.  If you are opposed to banana chunks and want the bananas to disappear into the batter, mash those up first.  Otherwise, mixing them with the rest of the batter is fine. 

 Mix on medium until all ingredients are combined and bananas are mostly mashed.
Scoop into greased muffin pan.  Since these don't have the gluten to help them rise, fill them nearly to the top.  They won't expand too much.
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.  You may need an additional 2-5 minutes depending on your oven.  Mine heats a bit hot for the temperature it says, but my previous oven was a bit cooler.
Cool completely before removing from baking pan. This is the other key thing I've found when making all-oat muffins.  If you try to take them out while they're warm, they get really crumbly.  Once they cool off, it's a lot better.
For ease of recipe making, here's the recipe again:

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups oat flour, made by grinding oats in a blender
  • 1-1/4 cups unground oats
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 bananas, broken into small pieces or mashed
  • 6 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:
Add all ingredients to mixer, mashing bananas ahead of time if you prefer.   Mix on medium until all ingredients are combined and bananas are mostly mashed. Scoop into greased muffin pan, filling nearly to the top. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.  You may need an additional 2-5 minutes depending on your oven.  Cool completely before removing from baking pan.

This recipe makes 12-16 muffins, depending on the size of your pan.  I usually get 15 in mine.  I also usually double the recipe, because my family is to the point that we can finish off 12 muffins in one breakfast.  These freeze well and are great for snacks also!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekly Goals: March 22-28

I think every pastor's wife has a "thing" that she does for her church family.  My thing is to make a cross cake for baptisms.  I like baking, and while I'll never professionally decorate cakes by any means, it gives me a chance to do something creative and special with yummy food.  We had a baptism this morning, which meant I spent part of yesterday decorating this cake.

Last Week's Goals:

  • Figure out April content for the church newsletter.  It's figured out in my head, but I need to actually go find it and put it in the newsletter.
  • Find answers to my composting questions.  Not yet.
  • Finish reading This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? and start another book.  Nope.  But I will this week, if only so I don't have to keep typing that long title...
  • Finish the Lego sorting.  Done! We're going with a less-is-more philosophy with the Legos, keeping only 15 specific packs (plus all of the mixels and a bunch of free play pieces).  I won't tell you how many packs we're getting rid of. It's a lot.
This Week's Goals:
  • Put together the April church newsletter.
  • Pick a few activities for our family trip this summer and throw out a tentative schedule for everyone to react to. 
  • Finish that book!
  • Successfully make it through Easter for Kids on Saturday, Matthew's birthday on Saturday, playing organ for Palm Sunday, and whatever else comes up this week.  I'm really excited for the next two weeks to be over.  I love Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, but it's such a busy, hard time.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekly Goals: March 15-21

Don't let the happy face in this picture fool you. Elizabeth quickly learned that when she goes in this chair, it's because Mom needs to set her down to get something done in the kitchen. She is not pleased by that.

So this was another week that I didn't end up making much progress on my goals list.  But I did create a church newsletter template completely from scratch, find good content for it for March, and put together a version for both of our churches.  I'm pretty sure that counts for something...I really like having a project that's not kids or home related to work on, but I'm realizing that my computer skills are about 7 years out of date, which makes things a little challenging sometimes.

Last Week's Goals:

  • Work on Iron Craft Challenge #5 (Green). I don't even have ideas for this, and it's not even a hard one. So either I'll do something easy at the last minute, or I'll miss another one.  Lent is just a hard time to get extra stuff done.
  • Figure out a fun St. Patrick's Day thing to do with the kids. I don't have ideas for this either, although I'm sure I have things saved on Pinterest that I can figure out.
  • Research compost options for our yard/garden.  I came up with a list of questions but didn't find the answers yet.
  • Finish reading This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? and start another book. Nope.
This Week's Goals:
  • Figure out my April content for the church newsletter. I just did the March one mid-month, but the plan is to have them ready for the beginning of the month normally, which means I actually only have a couple weeks until the next one.
  • Find answers to my composting questions.
  • Finish reading This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? and start another book.
  • Finish the Lego sorting. We're in the midst of finding all of the pieces to some of our less-loved packs to sell at our garage sale this summer, and it's a pain in the butt.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Jonah's Soup

A couple weeks ago, we had Matthew's Soup for dinner.  Jonah wanted a turn to pick as well, so this week we had Jonah's Soup.  He looks happy eating it, but this one actually didn't go over as well with the kids, although they all enjoyed the cheese on top.  Part of that may have been the texture of the shredded chicken, which they've sometimes had issues with.  I thought it was pretty tasty though!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry brown rice 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions:
Add all ingredients except cheese to large stockpot.  Heat to boiling, then lower to simmer for 30-40 minutes, until veggies are soft and rice is cooked.  Dish out into bowls, then top each with shredded mozzarella.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What's In The Garbage? Food For The Compost

Way back in January, I told you what's typically in our garbage.  Since then, we've been working on ways to lessen the amount we throw away each week.

One way to have less garbage is to compost some of the food scraps.  This would be pretty big for us, since probably a third of our garbage is made up of food scraps.  I know not all of that would be compost-able, but certainly some of it is!  The problem is that I don't know much about composting.  Things I don't know about are intimidating to me, so I put them off for as long as I can.  Anyone else have that problem?

Here's what I need to know to start composting:

  • What can I compost?  What's not allowed?
  • What are the different types of composting?  Big pile in the backyard, in a container, with worms, etc.
  • How do I start my compost?  Do I need dirt or leaves or something to start, or can I just take my veggie broth scraps and put them in the backyard to start my pile?  I think that would attract critters, but I honestly don't know.
  • Where am I going to put my compost bin/pile? We're still figuring out the logistics of our yard for gardening and flowers and kid play areas, so we need to figure out a spot for this too.
  • What is the maintenance like? How often do I have to go scoop it around with a shovel? Do I have to do anything else?
  • How do I use it (and how do I know when it's "ready" to use)? Is there a time frame? Do I just mix it in when I'm planting in the garden?
See? I told you I know nothing.  Stay tuned for answers to these questions, and where I find them...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How I Got My Big Kids To Actually Be Quiet During Rest Time

It was a sad day when I realized that, more often than not, Jonah and Matthew don't sleep during nap time any more.  And so we changed the name to "rest time".  In my head for some reason I thought that simple shift would be enough to make them want to lie down quietly in their beds for a specified period of time while the younger kids napped and I got a break.

You'd think after this many kids I'd have a better sense of reality.

We fought.  I yelled.  They made noise.  They woke up their sisters.  They went into time outs.  I got frustrated.  There had to be a better way.

Finally one day I was so fed up I told them to "just stay in your room for thirty minutes so Mommy can breathe!"

"But Mommy, how long is that?"
Enter the timer.  I set the timer and told them they could get up when it beeped.  That first day, they were still sort of loud, but they stayed in their beds and I got a break.

So the next day, we tried it again.  I set the timer for 45 minutes and told them they had to lie down in their beds until it beeped, and then they could get up.  And then I put it where they could see it.  Sure, they've spent most of their rest times watching the numbers instead of actually lying down.  Sure, they still get in trouble sometimes for being loud.  But this little trick actually works really well.

We have rules now.  They get to pick the time, but the first number has to at least be 6.  That means I get at least an hour.  Sometimes they want the number to start with 8.  I don't argue.  If they're loud, they know that I'll come upstairs and "start the timer over".  Sometimes I actually start it over, and sometimes I just add 15 minutes.  Depends on the day.

And they're quiet.  I can put them all upstairs, and breathe.  Have a cup of coffee.  Watch a tv show.  Sometimes I have Elizabeth for company, but otherwise, I get blessed time alone.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekly Goals: March 8-14

We made green eggs and ham for Dr. Seuss' birthday on March 2nd.  The boys actually requested to have the green eggs again the next morning too!  Yay for extra veggies!

You ever have one of those weeks you feel like you accomplished next to nothing? This was definitely one of those for me.  Blog posts? Still in draft form and needing pictures.  Working out?  Does putting on yoga pants count for anything?  I managed to get everyone fed and clothed, but there was not much progress on anything else. But it's a new week, so I'm hoping to get something accomplished this time around!

Last Week's Goals:

  • Do yoga at least three times.  Nope.
  • Research compost options for our yard/garden. Nope.
  • Find out seed planting guidelines for our garden. We're planning to plant inside the end of this month.
  • Finish reading This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? I have about 30 pages left.

This Week's Goals:

  • Work on Iron Craft Challenge #5 (Green). I didn't get challenge #4 done after all.  Sad face. I don't have anything specific in mind for this one, but the deadline is St. Patrick's Day so hopefully I can come up with something.
  • Figure out a fun St. Patrick's Day thing to do with the kids. Probably food related.
  • Research compost options for our yard/garden.
  • Finish reading This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? and start another book.