Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yummy, yummy, for my tummy!

First off, Nonna (my MIL) is taking the two older boys for two weeks!!! It's like a half-vacation for me. I'm really glad because Hubby will be taking the teens to camp during that time, and although I can handle all four by myself, he just got back from a four day business trip. I need more time to recover if I'm going to do it again.

Second off (I know that's not right, but deal with it), I wanted to share my sneaky recipe for breakfast bread. I love baking, but I have little patience or time to do it from scratch. So, I use the box mixes and fancy them up a bit. This is not Sandra Lee stuff here. My concoctions are normal. For example-

Peanut Butter Banana Bread- Vanilla cake mix, a cup of freeze dried bananas (Gerber makes them for toddlers or you can use banana chips, but soak them first), peanut butter instead of the butter or oil called for, and for good measure throw 1/2 cup of peanuts in there, too. If you really want to up the banana flavor put a teaspoon of banana flavoring in also.*

Apple Cinnamon Bread- Spice Cake Mix, applesauce instead of the oil called for (lower fat bonus!), a cup of freeze dried apples (once again Gerber or soaked apple chips), and sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on the top before baking. You can also substitute apple juice for the water, but sometimes (depending on the mix) it's too sweet. These are supposed to be for breakfast.*

Strawberry Banana Bread- Vanilla Cake Mix (see the trend yet?), a cup of freeze dried strawberries (Gerber or just soaked, dried strawberries), substitute banana baby food for the oil (or just mash up a couple of bananas), banana flavoring if you feel the need, and I always sprinkle red sugar crystals on top. I'll explain why later.*

Mocha Chip Bread- (You had to know this one was coming) Chocolate Cake Mix, a cup of mini chocolate chips, very strong coffee instead of the water called for, and if you feel you need to lower the fat, prune puree or applesauce instead of the oil.*

I have more that I may be posting later, but I had to share the best part. You can freeze them!!! I make them in muffin tins and throw them in freezer bags after they've cooled. You only have to bake once a month, and you'll be set for breakfast! I usually separate the flavors, but since we don't have a microwave (our microwave broke again and I refuse to buy another one- three in one month is ridiculous! I do miss my popcorn though... back on track now), they have to defrost in the refrigerator. I also like to mix the flavors together in the same bag so everyone gets their favorite flavor without having four gallon-sized bags hogging space in my refrigerator. This is why I put the sprinkles on top- red sprinkles means strawberry- hello! The batter for the other recipes are different colors, but the Peanut Butter Banana and Strawberry Breads are almost identical. Especially when you're half awake and rushing to get to school.

The kids love them. Mommy loves them too, because she is NOT a morning person. They're great to have on hand for improptu coffee or tea with friends, and if you have a microwave, you can just zap them from frozen.

I know, I know, they have a lot of sugar in the mixes, but fess up, you give your kids frosted sugar-coated cereal all the time. Mine have real fruit in them, too. Some mornings, they'll have orange juice and yogurt or a banana with one, but I won't lie, sometimes I just give them two muffins and milk. I'm an awful mother, I know, but I REALLY don't like mornings. Once someone comes out with whole wheat cake mixes I'll be better, I promise.

I do occasionally make muffins from scratch (with whole wheat flour even), but really, I'm just being honest here, it's hard to be perfect all the time.

*Unless I've specified to substitute a certain ingredient, follow all the directions on the box. I do not recommend substituting egg whites for the whole eggs if you are substituting out the oil. It just turns out weird, and we do want the children to eat them, right? Oh, and if you can't get freeze dried fruit (try your sporting goods store in the camping section, too), just soak your dried fruit or fruit chips in the liquid you're using in the recipe. Half an hour is fine. I'm not sure why, but the freeze dried fruit turns out fine after baking, but the dried fruit is always leathery unless you soak it first.


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