Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Milk & Soy free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

It has been awhile since I have done a recipe and since I make this one frequently I thought it would be a good one to throw in the mix.  So as many of you know, my sister has been nursing twins with food allergies for about 18 months now.  Well Holden has grown out of his allergies but Garrett is still reacting to certain foods.  Anyway, during the time after she had the twins and continuing I like to try to provide food when I can for them and it has been a challenge to find recipes that are both YUMMY and milk and soy free, but this has been a fan favorite over there--especially with Corbin and now with the twins!

First you start by mashing bananas (I always make this when we have overbought on bananas and they are turning brown because I really only like slightly yellow bananas--fun tidbit about me!)  Well I use a pastry blender to mash my bananas but a fork will do just fine (though you should probably invest in a pastry blender cause its AH-MAZING--think guacamole, mashed potatoes, pie crust, the possibilities are endless...).  

You want it to be mashed with few chunks in it, unless you really like chunks--then keep more chunks in there. 

Next I mix in the sugar and egg.  I just add it right to the bananas (well actually I always crack an egg separately just in case it is bad then it wont spoil everything else).

Next add the oil.  You can use vegetable oil, but it does have a certain type of soy in it, so if you want to be sure to not add soy then use canola oil.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda.  You can sift it if you really want to, but I NEVER do--I think it takes too much time and I do not think it changes the taste at all! You may want to lightly mix with a fork though, just to incorporate the ingredients.

Then bit by bit (in maybe three sections), add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and continue mixing until it is all combined, it should look something like this

At this point you can mix in chocolate chips or walnuts if you so desire.  If you are trying to make it milk free, make sure to use chocolate chips that contain semisweet chocolate and are milk free (look at the ingredients to see).  Next portion out into greased (make sure to use soy-free cooking spray) muffin tins, pouring it about 2/3rd the way full.  Then bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until golden brown.  

Ta-dah!  Now you have about 18 muffins for friends or family to devour!  Full recipe below:

Banana Bread Muffins
* 3 bananas, mashed
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 1/2 canola oil
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions: Preheat over to 350 degrees F, grease pan using soy-free cooking spray.  Mash bananas, mix in sugar oil and egg until creamy and light yellow.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking soda then gradually add to banana mixture into all is incorporated.  Mix in chocolate chips and/or walnuts (if you want, though they are good without either too).  Pour into greased muffin tins about 2/3rds full and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center of the muffin.  Should make about 16-18 muffins.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cruise Port 3: St. Martin/ St. Maarten

Back to the cruise recap posts...

Our third and final port was St. Martin's (also known as Sint Maarten).  This Island has both French and Dutch influence.  We stayed in the capital city of Philipsburg, which is located in the French side of the island.  We stuck to mostly exploring and shopping some, but got to see the beautiful beaches there and I would love to take a future trip and spend a day at Maho Beach (also called airplane beach). 

We ported later than some of the other places and did not leave until after sunset, then we got back on ship to do some more exploring, enjoy sail away and dinner!  Below is a picture of our home away from home for the week, small but worked just perfectly for the week!

Sail Away from St. Martin

Monday, February 9, 2015

Quick Recap

Since I have gotten a little behind in the blogs, I thought I would do a quick recap on what has been happening recently.  

We finished off the Christmas season with a celebration with Kristi and Bethany!  CJ and I went over for dinner and to exchange Christmas gifts!  Who can resist this cutie:

Then I rang in the new year with some fabulous friends at Patrick & Lila's house:

Spend some time catching up with family and friends in January and sticking close to home, but I did get to help out with Stop Hunger Now at my church with CJ, my mom, and my Aunt and Uncle:

Then the very next day, CJ, me and Aunt Gloria took a concealed carry class, check out our shooting:

Well that about wraps up the month of January!  How did you celebrate the new year?  What have you been doing to stay busy?  Are you ready for spring and summer like I am?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Christmas Revisited

Yes, I realize that Christmas was OVER a month ago, but as promised we are back to the regularly scheduled blog posts.  If you know me at all, you know I love Christmas.  I love all the festivities, the time with family, the lights, the smells, and the general attitude of most people--the "hey it's Christmas, let's let that slid because I am all amped up on Christmas spirit!"   I am big into traditions around Christmas time, my mom's family always gets together for Christmas breakfast, we always go to Christmas eve service (generally right after my mom's birthday dinner), and I always dress in my favorite Christmas-y attire (no matter if it may seem tacky to some).  These are traditions 31 + years in the making and who am I to argue?  So let's check out my Christmas below...

Me, Andy, and Mom having an Outback dinner to celebrate Mom's birthday before Christmas Eve service.

This year we hosted Christmas breakfast as our house, since we had just had my mom's 65th Birthday party a few weeks earlier, I still had a number of tables set up to accommodate the family breakfast.  I was just barely able to capture this gem before everyone had to rush off to other Christmas day celebrations.

Another constant at all my Christmas is this beauty, my Nannie!  At 97 years old, she is keeping tradition alive and I am thankful to have had her there to celebrate with us again this year!

Check out this cute family photo, this is definitely a framer:

After breakfast, Andy always sticks around for a bit so we can do Christmas presents.  This year, my creative brother made me these cute characters, which have found a home on my dresser!

Since I like to used up vacation time on actual vacation, I rarely ever take time off for the holidays, so on Friday, December 26th, I was back at work, but knowing that that evening I would be able to see my adorable nephews!  We got in close to bedtime on Friday night, so we kept Christmas presents in the car until after the little boys were asleep, so they were quite surprised to wake up Saturday morning with more gifts under the tree!

the face of sheer joy!
While browsing through Target one day, they had these M&M machines for like 75% off, making them about $2, add to that a bag of $1 king size M&Ms and this makes for the best $3 present photo ever:

As mentioned before, Garrett has taken to sitting on and getting into everything (whether or not it is a toy or not), here he is sitting on his brand new toy lawn mower!

Not sure what this cutie was pointing at here, but just look at how tall and independent these babies are getting to be!

Twining at its finest:

Sunday morning, I was able to steal away time with little Corbin for an Auntie Lala/Corbin Zoo date!  We saw EVERYTHING and had a pretty great time (with the exception of the time I tried to open his string cheese--he did not like that!)...
Can you spot the human?

Of course, he wanted to bring a toy with him, and he just happened to pick his toy saw that his Aunt Cakey had given him.  This totally makes for a great photo op of him basically sawing off his chin!


After a few hours, we ventured back home just in time for naptime!  Afterware we got a little more outdoor time with these cuties...

And to end off this wonderful weekend, a picture of my two favorite ladies (since apparently the last picture they got together was pre-kids):

How did you spend your Christmas?  What traditions do you hold near and dear?