I have fond childhood memories of “Magic Shell” ice cream topping. I loved pouring it on thick and crunching down into it with a spoon . . . mmmmm. As sweet as those memories are, though, I prefer to feed my family healthier options now. I’ve been making the Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge from Creating Naturally for quite some time. We love it! I skip the cupcake liners and just spread the liquid onto a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet, freeze it and break it into pieces. It’s amazing straight from the freezer on a hot summer day . . . or really even on a cold winter night . . . it’s chocolate and peanut butter, and it’s good for you! Could you possibly ask for more?As I was sliding the cookie sheet into the freezer one day, I thought, “You know, this stuff is a whole lot like Magic Shell. I wonder if it would work the same way?” With a few little adjustments to make it a pourable sauce, it worked absolutely perfectly! And, with chocolate “ice cream” made from nothing but frozen bananas and a little leftover chocolate sauce, this is a treat that you’ll feel great about serving to your little ones again and again. I promise they won’t complain!Start a few hours early by peeling and slicing ripe bananas and freezing them. I’ve found they process easily if they’re sliced about 1/2″ thick. One to 1 1/2 bananas makes a good serving size.
The “Shell” Ingredients
1/3 cup coconut oil, warm enough to be liquid (It only needs to be about 76 degrees to melt, so don’t heat it too much.)
1/3 cup dark cocoa or cacao powder
1/3 cup natural smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons raw honey or real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
plus frozen sliced bananas for the “ice cream”
(If your maple syrup is stored in the refrigerator, warm it slightly to room temperature in a saucepan with the coconut oil. Otherwise, it will solidify your coconut oil too soon. I have used peanut butter straight from the refrigerator without a problem, however.)
The instructions for this are really, really simple. Just grab your food processor, dump in all of the ingredients (except for the frozen bananas, of course), and process it until it’s smooth.Pour the sauce into a container, but don’t wash the food processor bowl.Grab your frozen bananas from the freezer and dump them into the food processor.Process until you’ve reached the consistency of soft serve ice cream and dish it out. (It will turn to pea size crumbles first. Just keep processing!)Pour on the sauce.Let it harden.And enjoy that delicious and healthy snack!Crack!Yum!
I have plans for a series on family travel to start soon, but I promised that I’d share this sweet little bento box this week! Isn’t it perfect for a family full of Lego-loving little boys?! I found it at Modes4U! It came in the same package as the fabric that I used for my little guys’ travel bags.
When you’re on the road or even just spending the day out at the park, it’s hard to take real foods with you. I had considered bento boxes before, but I hadn’t actually tried one until this trip, and now I think I need one for each member of the family. In case you’ve never heard of bento before, Lunch in a Box defines “bento” as a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box. Historically, it’s a Japanese box lunch. And, a quick Pinterest search for “bento lunch” will make you gasp at the artistic talent that many people put into bento lunches! My bento lunch is very simple in comparison!The very top layer of this box has a freezer pack to keep the food in the top storage compartment cold. On this particular day, I packed a boiled egg, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes and cheese — a great real food lunch, and it’s gluten-free to boot!The divider between the top and bottom storage compartments holds a little set of chopsticks, in case you need utensils.The bottom storage compartment is just as roomy as the first. I really like that this bento box is BPA free and painted with food-safe lacquer. It’s really easy to keep clean and ready to go, and I trust that it’s safe storage for our foods. Because it was warm out the day I took these pictures, I didn’t have food packed in the bottom. Instead, I threw in a ziploc bag of ice and left out the middle divider to be sure that the eggs stayed cold! That was a great bonus to using a double-layer bento box!On other days, we packed the bottom layer with pretzels and crackers.We packed a lot of picnic lunches while we were traveling this time, and having this handy little box made at least one of our lunches a lot of fun. We’ll have to make sure that we have bento boxes for everyone next time! I love anything that keeps our kids excited about eating real food, especially when the vendors surrounding us are selling stuff that looks and smells good, but isn’t really at all what we want to put in our bodies!
These cookies are addicting . . . so use caution! I spent some time experimenting with granola bar recipes and breakfast cookie recipes a couple of months ago in an attempt to come up with a recipe for a healthy-ish snack that I could take along to Allen’s track meets. It had to be something that uses real ingredients, it had to have chocolate and it needed to be gluten-free. What I ended up with is a recipe that is shaped like a cookie, but has the texture and taste of a granola bar. (My kids actually call these Granola Circles.) Everyone who has tried these has enjoyed them so much, I couldn’t resist baking up a batch and entering it into our county fair. And, it won a first place ribbon!
Ready to get started?
3 cups gluten-free rolled oats (If you don’t need these to be gluten-free, traditional rolled oats work perfectly, too!)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans
3 large or 4 small ripe bananas (The riper your bananas the more banana flavor your finished cookies will have.)
1/2 cup coconut oil, warm enough to be liquid (It only needs to be about 76 degrees to melt, so don’t heat it too much.)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
Puree your bananas. ( I use the blender. If you mash them by hand, be sure that you don’t have any chunks left.) Add pureed bananas and coconut oil to the dry ingredients. If your maple syrup is coming straight from the refrigerator, mix these ingredients in before adding the maple syrup and the vanilla. If your maple syrup is room temperature, you can mix all the liquid ingredients in at the same time. (If you pour the cold maple syrup onto the melted coconut oil before mixing it in, it will harden, and you won’t be able to mix it in. I speak from experience. )
Grab a cookie cutter and place it on your baking stone or on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. I use a 2 1/2″ circle cookie cutter, but any cookie cutter in a similar size and shape will work. (Maybe hearts for Valentines Day or Christmas trees in December? How fun would that be?) Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the cookie batter and press it into the cookie cutter really well. It should end up being about 1/2″ thick.
I would love to hear your feedback if you give this recipe a try! I’m thinking that it would be just as yummy if you substituted dried fruit for the chocolate chips and any other chopped nut for the pecans. I’ll be making a big batch for our family trip next month!
The final Project Run & Play theme is Your Signature Style. As the weeks have come and gone, I’ve pondered what my “signature style” is and wondered what I could sew that would show it. The whole series flew by, though, and as usual, it was the last minute. There was no time left to think, only time to sew! Yesterday was Charlie’s third birthday, and since he was the recipient of this week’s sewing, I let him make the major design decisions.
Is that a superhero hiding behind that palm tree?Could it possibly be Captain America?! Charlie loves superheroes, especially The Avengers, or “The Avengers Assemble” as he calls them. His current favorite happens to be Cap’n ‘Merica!As I mentioned, time was short, so I grabbed two patterns that I know are quick and trustworthy — for the top, my Charlie Tee & Hoodie and for the bottom, my soon-to-be-re-released Mud Puddle Splashers. I wondered aloud as I was tracing Captain America’s shirt design onto my Charlie Tee pattern, how I was going to spin this as my signature style. Suddenly, I realized, though, that this is my signature style! In creating this outfit, I followed my normal routine: grab a pattern that you know and love, evaluate the needs and desires of the wearer, choose a few little extras, use what you have available (fabric, time, equipment) and create something practical and fun.The shirt was pieced together using the colorblocking method that I mentioned in Week 2. It just took a few more pieces than usual. I cut the red and white stripes at the bottom longer than I needed them to be, pieced them together, then cut the curve at the top before cutting the matching top piece. I used the ringer sleeves and the hood from the Charlie pattern, partially to add some character to the top, but also because I broke my walking foot last week. (I managed the hems on the shirt and the shorts without a walking foot, but there was no way I was going to try topstitching a neckline without one!)
It was nearing 10:15 on Monday evening, and I’d promised myself that I’d be in bed by midnight, so the shorts got the Naptime Knit Mud Puddle Splashers treatment. I did add back pockets, but rather than turn and topstitch them, I trimmed off the seam allowance and just folded them wrong sides together. It’s interlock knit, so the edges aren’t going to fray, and that raw-edge look works great for little boys. (Why, yes! Yes, I did make TWO pairs of red shorts for Charlie during this PR&P series! I wondered for about half a second if I should, but red works well for him, so they’ll get plenty of wear.)Happy Birthday, Charlie! Oh, those eyes. Of course I’m biased, but aren’t they amazing? (I considered virtually cleaning up the bruise between his eyes and removing the grass from his hair, but this is so very Charlie! He’s not quite ready to save the world, but he works hard at conquering his own backyard.)
Before I wrap up this post, I have to share one more little thing. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had to clean up a cake disaster, and I’m a little bit impressed with how it turned out. You won’t find me posting pictures of cakes here very often. I can sew really well, but cake decorating is not my thing. HOWEVER . . . I think this one might be encouraging to other harried moms like me.
I tried out a new cake recipe yesterday, and it was incredibly yummy: Paleo Chocolate Birthday Cake. The problem arose when I realized that I’d failed to remember to put parchment paper in the pans before pouring the cake batter into them. This is what I found myself faced with:
Not pretty, huh? Well, what’s a creative mother of a little boy who loves Captain America to do when she’s faced with a bowl full of broken cake? Why, build a cake mountain, of course! And, let everyone think that’s what she meant to do from the start!
Oh, the blueberries? Charlie not only loves Captain America, but he also loves blueberries. He’s been insisting for weeks that his cake had to be chocolate with chocolate frosting and blueberries. So there you go!
It’s Pancake Tuesday! I grew up in a United Methodist Church, and Pancake Tuesday was an annual tradition. The men of the church would gather together and make pancakes for everyone for dinner on that night once a year. Now that I’m a grown-up I know that Pancake Tuesday is really Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Historically, Christians chose to give up rich and fatty foods for the period of Lent, and serving the family a pancake feast was a way of getting things like milk, eggs and butter out of the house rather than letting them go to waste.
We love having pancakes for dinner. In fact, we probably have them at least twice a month because no advance preparation is required, and I always have the ingredients on hand. The recipe that we use is an adaptation of this one: Mom’s Buttermilk Pancakes.
The Ingredients (for about 1 1/2 dozen 3 1/2″ pancakes):
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup of real butter (not margarine)
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup of water
2 tbs. of apple cider vinegar
Measure 1 1/2 cups of whole milk into a measuring cup. Add 1/2 cup of water. Mix in 2 tbs. of apple cider vinegar. Set aside. (You can use 2 cups of buttermilk instead, but I never have buttermilk, and I always have milk and AC vinegar on hand.)
Melt butter.Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk them well. In a large mixing bowl, pour flour, salt and baking soda. Mix these together with a fork or a metal whisk and break up any lumps.Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.Pour the batter into your preheated skillet. (Dripping batter on the side of the stove and the skillet handle is totally optional.) I usually make pancakes about 3 1/2″ to 4″ wide. They cook evenly at that size, and I can fit three in the pan at one time!Pancakes are ready to flip when they are bubbly on top and slightly dry on the edges.Serve them to your hungry crew with real maple syrup and real butter!Enjoy! (I’m off to see what I can do to recover a minor birthday cake disaster. Today happens to not only be Pancake Tuesday, but it’s also my Charlie’s third birthday! Be sure to check back tomorrow to see how much he loves Cap’n ‘Merica.)