Monkey Muffins

Last week I was on vacation with Cody’s family, and man do I need a vacation from that vacation!

It was so relaxing, and I ate everything, and drank…everything.  Driving home on Sunday was hell because we were stuck in traffic for HOURS! And when we finally got home all I wanted to do was make a home cooked meal and hit the hay. After a much needed 12 hour sleep, I woke on Monday refreshed and antsy. I wanted to do something, I needed to do something.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a to do list – like any one when they come back from vacation, with the unpacking, and the laundry and the mentally preparing for returning to work.  To be honest I was looking forward to getting back to our regular routine. In order to assist with getting back into the rhythm of things, I decided I was going to make muffins for my muffin (aww ?.. no? ew?) to have for breakfast for the next week. I took a traditional recipe and made it my own. They are peanut butter and banana muffins!

Ingredient list: 

2 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 table spoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

Before you start getting messy pre-heat the oven for 375 degrees F, then go over to your mixer and talk sweet to it. Let it know you are going to use it, but its going to like it. Whoa – did it just get a little spicy in here?

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Look at that bad ass bitch!

In a large bowl add all your dry ingredients starting with the 2 cups flour.

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Then the baking powder (note I used magic baking powder, you can only get this from going to your local witch or wizard, and trade them your magic beans for this! Don’t tell them I told you!)

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Then the brown sugar. I used dark brown sugar, because Julia bought it for me and it was in my pantry. Also she told me that it has better flavor than the light kind.. who knew? Now you do!

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And finally the salt! (for all those wondering, my nail polish colour is called pool party, I highly recommend this sassy splash of summer)

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Mix the dry ingredients together until blended, and combined. I didn’t take a picture of this because I am only one person, and give me a break. If you need a visual then you don’t belong in the kitchen!

Next add all your wet ingredients into your mixer bowl in order to prepare them to make a delicious baby with the dry ingredients!

First comes your chunky peanut butter. I used chunky because I like a little bit of a surprise when it comes to my PB&J, but please use smooth, regular or which ever kind you would like.

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mmmmm chunky!

Next comes the oil, vegetable oil. Nothing fancy.

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Dos eggs (dos means two, I learned this from my grade 10 Spanish class where I was named Eva – but according to  my niece, Dora is a great Espanol tutor)

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Add your milk. Fun fact: Cody is lactose in tolerant, so we never have milk in the house. We do however have cream, so I used 1/2 a cup of milk and then the rest of the required amount I used water. Which you could totally use cream for the whole amount if you are not worried about calories. (Also how about we agree on not telling him that I used milk in this recipe…K? K!)

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Then your ripe banana’s.  I got mine out of the freezer so they look especially delicious. Why did I get them out of the freezer you ask? Well because when I buy Banana’s I always buy enough that some will go ripe, and then I freeze them so when Cody or I have a craving for Banana bread I can bust out these bad boys and be a freaking super hero!

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Once all your wet ingredients are combined, then slowly add your dry! I did get a picture of this, because I became a photographer for a moment, and then pulled a muscle, and cut that shit out!

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Once everything is combined, add your liners to your muffin/cupcake pan. I like to tell my muffin mixture it is about to get thrust into adulthood so its not a surprise when they are put into the fiery inferno that is your oven, but hey – to each their own! Just don’t blame me when your muffins are all dry and not delicious because you decided not to give them a little warning.

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Pay no attention to the messy oven…

Now set your timer for 25 mins and relax… I like to crochet or annoy my dog with my love and affection. Or you could clean up the mess you made, but cleaning is for chumps!

After your lovely timer rings and sings the songs of peanut butter choir – run, don’t walk to your oven. GET AN OVEN MIT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and take out your Monkey Muffins!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….. 

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Now… the secret to ANY good muffin is…Nutella! Mmmmmmm and enjoy!

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~ Jacqui

Instructions:

In a large bow, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking power and salt.

In a separate bowl beat together the peanut butter, oil, eggs, milk and bananas.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just moistened.

spoon the batter into 12 large muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 mins, use a tooth pic in order to confirm that they are cooked all the way through.

Date night, Mills-style

When you get married, people tell you that you should never stop dating each other – make plans, go out, talk, ensure you never lose that connection.

When you add kids to the mix, the advice gets louder – don’t just focus on babies all the time, make sure you take time for yourselves, remember to nurture the couple relationship you had before you became parents.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Now, you have to organize child care, steal time where there are no appointments or responsibilities, ensure no one is sick, and, the big one, rally the energy so you are able to not only stay up past 8 p.m., but be interesting past 8 p.m.

It’s a tall order for any parent.

Ben and I have been all right at keeping the romance alive while we are elbow deep in poop and potty training and tantrum taming and crazy wrangling. Not perfect (most months go without any date at all), but we’re doing okay. We make sure to go out on our dating and wedding anniversaries, spend time together on the 21st of each month (both of our anniversaries are a 21), and remember to look up every once in a while and say, “Hi! I know you!”

For Father’s Day, I thought that maybe I’d give both of us a present – a night out! I purchased tickets for us to go see Les Misérables at our local theatre, The Dunfield Theatre. I had seen the movie in theatre with Kim, sister-in-law extraordinaire, and Andrea, cousin-in-law extraordinaire, and LOVED it. I knew Ben would love it too, because he’s a band guy, so he’d appreciate the music, and the French revolution backdrop was action-packed enough to override the fact that the actors sing. The. Whole. Time. After buying the movie and having our own private viewing of it, Ben did indeed love it. So much so that he downloaded the soundtrack to listen to at work. The tickets to the local production were a slam-dunk gift – a night out AND a fun activity. Woohoo!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Date night, of course, means the usual getting rid of children. Now that there are three, the number of people willing to sit on all of them at once has gone down…considerably. Note to child-wanting couples everywhere: this is something to consider when figuring out how many kids you want. Thankfully, the grandmas are still both game, so the babies had a sleepover at Nana’s house with Grammie and Grandpa Mike pitching in. It was the first night that we had no children since Isaac had been born…11 months…normally we wouldn’t wait so long, but the three kid thing made it tricky. And at that point, only having Isaac at home and getting rid of the older two IS a vacation, so we had done that lots of times already.

Next on the agenda is the prettification of the parents. Also known as having uninterrupted showers. Or putting on clean clothes that have a good shot at still being clean after a few hours. I think we did an okay job.

We're so pretty! And clean!

We’re so pretty! And clean!

Next is the decision – have a rushed dinner first, then the play OR go to the play hungry and come home to a late, yet leisurely dinner. We ultimately decided on late dinner, easygoing to the theatre.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

We literally drove for two minutes and were at the theatre. If it hadn’t taken us so long to ditch the kids and get gorgeous (taking layers of stickiness off of one’s person takes time!), we would have walked. Next time! We parked and found the Les Misérables van! Totally had to take a picture. And totally got dirty, incredulous looks from the couple that was waiting to park in the spot beside it. Whatever. We took the picture. They waited. The end.

Our seats were AWESOME. We were in the middle of the row, third row from the stage. We could see everything, even the spit from the mouths of the actors. (No, seriously.)

Reading over the program...no kids touching us...noting the "No Babes In Arms" rule...loving the grown-up time.

Reading over the program…no kids touching us…noting the “No Babes In Arms” rule…loving the grown-up time.

The production was INCREDIBLE. The music was amazing, the singing was perfect, and the story was well-told. It was beyond cool to see something so polished and familiar in our little local theatre.

For me, the stand-out player was Thom Allison who played Javert. He was awesome. I loved his voice and presence. He was far and away my favourite.

Thom Allison as Javert - my absolute favourite player

Thom Allison as Javert was excellent.

Runners up were the kids – I don’t know how they performed in front of such a big crowd…and the parent in me couldn’t believe how awake and alert they were since the show began at 8 p.m. and didn’t end until 11! Wonder children.

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

After we gave our standing ovation, it was time to go home. It was after 11, so we were considering not eating the meal that I had prepared and picking something up…but we chose wisely. We went home, Ben barbecued, and we ate a little-people-free dinner together. It was divine. And probably tasted even more incredible because of how hungry we were.

Steak and shish kabobs - YUM

Steak and shish kabobs – YUM

We went to bed late, woke up late, and had a decadent breakfast of banana bread toasted with butter and coffee, while watching some House (Yay for Netflix!). It’s the little things.

Holy yum.

Holy yum.

We had a super fun, adult night. It was exactly what we needed and the entertainment, food and company didn’t disappoint (Hello?! See how handsome my date was???). It was perfect.

And when we picked up the babies they were happy to see us and had suitably tuckered out both grandmas and a grandpa.

All in all, a date night success! Seriously can’t wait for the next one.

Seriously.

~ Julia

Banana bread baking bonanza!

There are certain foods, desserts, breads, dishes that invoke memories. Some of childhood, others of your fiance and one of his friends making banana bread in your oven and almost starting a fire because the two of them have never baked before and therefore were not aware that banana BREAD rises (Needless to say, the mix ran over the side, and all over the bottom of my oven. Thank GOODNESS for self-cleaning ovens! That being said it was some pretty amazing banana bread). I couldn’t tell you what provoked them to bake, but now whenever I have bananas left over from the bunch, I remember the smoke…the horrible smell…my smoking oven… and how good that banana bread was.  If you ask Cody, bananas should only be bought to turn old and to then be put in the freezer to await the great baking of banana bread. So I thought I would share with you the adventure that our latest batch of bananas took.

There are some key components to making anything… first, it’s always more fun if you have people to bake with – I enlisted my sisters (duh) except Dee, as that trip would be ridiculous to just make banana bread and then have her go home…so we thought of her in spirit!

Toni arrived late…shockingly enough…but she came with about 20 bananas, and there is this thing called unconditional love!

Better late then never ...

Better late then never …

You can’t stay mad at that face – she was in charge of taking pictures for this extravaganza

First we peeled our bananas – we doubled our recipe, this way one pan would have chocolate chips…dark chocolate chips…and the other plain Jane for Cody who is lactose intolerant.

They look gross... but it will taste GREAT!

They look gross… but it will taste GREAT!

They look more slimy than normal because they were still slightly frozen.

We added our eggs, our oil, and the sugar

Banana, Eggs, Oil, Sugar ...

Banana, eggs, oil, sugar…

Combine your ingredients so they are still lumpy.  When I combined them, I used a fork and mushed the banana chunks a bit because they were still a little frozen.

Mushy and chunky!

Mushy and chunky!

In a separate bowl, add your dry ingredients, other than the sugar which was previously added with your banana and oil mixture – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and nutmeg – and combine them together.

"No honey's no jam's .... just  dry" Ingredients that is

“No honeys, no jams, just dry”…ingredients that is!

I should tell you that at this point you should ensure that your “photographer” isn’t taking selfies…and that they are PAYING ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

You are going to pour the wet ingredients into the dry! Normally it’s the other way around – banana bread can be a sneaky bitch!

Look at that action shot!

Look at that action shot!

Stir your wet and dry together just to combine them – you want this mixture to still be lumpy like pancake batter.

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Toni and Julia at this point were delusional with giddiness – and constantly taking pictures of themselves, instead of the master pieces we were making!

Our resident baker and resident picture taker!

Our resident baker and resident picture-taker!

Back to business – grease two (because we doubled the recipe)  bread pans so your delicious-ness will sliddddeee right out!

We used butter ... mmmmm butter!

We used butter…mmmmm butter!

Pour your mixture into both pans about halfway. If you fill them to the brim then they will over flow, and make the biggest smokiest mess EVER! So half way… (Editor’s note: if you just make a single batch, put all of the batter in one pan. It’ll be fine. I promise. And if it’s not, just offer the firemen some banana bread. They’ll LOVE it.)

Half way! Take heed!  Half  Way

Half way! Take heed!
Half
Way

 

They looked SO Yummy!!!

They are going to be so yummy!

We added a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips to one of our pans, and mixed it without disturbing the mojo of the mixture!

Adding our sweetness!

Adding our sweetness!

Pop those bad boys into the oven and let them cook to delicious perfection!

Two buns in the oven!

Two buns in the oven!

Let them bake for 55-60 minutes, which is just enough time to plan a little something something! Which you should stay tuned for a little later on this year!

Shhhh it's an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Shhhh it’s an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Okay, so 60 minutes have passed, the secret has been planned and now it’s time to take out those delicious treats we made!

Yum yum yum!

Yum yum yum!

I would suggest eating it warm – the chocolate chips are ooey and gooey, the top is crispy and there is nothing like a fresh out of the oven treat! YUM. Pair it with a cup of coffee and you have yourself pure morning bliss!

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And enjoy!

~ Jacqui

Yummy Banana Bread

  • Servings: 16/1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips or walnuts (optional)

Directions

Grease loaf pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips or walnuts, in a medium bowl and mix until blended. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chocolate chips or walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Enjoy!

Adapted from Better Home and Gardens Best Banana Bread Recipe