The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Cooking Birthday Party

Back in January, I had basically talked the girls into doing a faux cooking class, with a hibachi family dinner after. I made the reservation, and then put it out of my mind until after Valentine’s Day.

three amigos

We did the cooking class at my brother’s house because he has the better kitchen for it. It also meant I didn’t have to clean my house in preparation for this which was a much needed break. What I didn’t think through was that this meant my brother and his wife *did* have to clean before we arrived. Oops! Thanks guys!

The girls are in a great stage with food right now, very open to trying new things, but also really loving certain favorites. I decided to make their very favorite thing – Starbucks Pumpkin Scones. Scones are easy to make, and I knew they would love the whole process. Found a copycat recipe online and we were set.

mixing

Everyone took part in this. They all measured ingredients, cut butter in, and when it came time to mix the wet with the dry, I told them to dig in and mix it up!

pumpmkin scones

Oh my god these are so good! We will absolutely make them again, but only when I know they’ll get eaten in one day. I cannot have these in the house, too tempting!

clean plates

I had two other recipes planned for the cousin cooking class. The first was peanut butter stuffed bananas dipped in chocolate. Sounds amazing right? The inspirational pin:

Source: celebrations.com via Erin on Pinterest

 

And our results. I have no idea where this woman found straight bananas. Also? She did not use melted chocolate chips, she either added something to the chocolate, or used melting chocolate. These tasted good, they just didn’t look very good.

pb bananas

The last recipe was Healthy Homemade Fruit Snacks. No pictures of these because they were a bit of a letdown. They taste okay, although I think there is too much gelatin. I’m the only one who liked them, and I would say they are just meh. Decent snack though.

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Cooking Dinner

cook

One of those pieces of advice you hear over and over is that if your kids are picky eaters, have them help you make dinner! They’ll totally eat anything they make! Not true. At least not for us. My kids have helped me in the kitchen since they’ve been able to stir, and it rarely meant that they ate whatever new concoction they helped cook.

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Until now. Soup. We’ve been making it every Sunday. It’s a nice winter meal, and there is generally enough that I have some for lunch the next day. Even better, there are usually vegetables in soup. Sometimes a lot of vegetables!

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Caden helped me with the soup this week. There were carrots in the soup, and she ate another as she stirred. She didn’t eat a ton at dinner, but she did try a few bites which is more than she’ll do with many things. Delaney loved this cream of broccoli soup so much she asked for seconds!

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Weekend Highlights

* First things first. On Friday I found a package from Amazon on our doorstep. Inside, a kids digital camera! It took me a solid 20 minutes of sleuthing to realize that maybe this wasn’t something I ordered by mistake, but perhaps a gift? But from whom?! Here’s the problem. I’m incredibly grateful for the thoughtfulness of this gift, but I gave the girls almost this exact camera for their 3rd birthday and it just doesn’t work well. The screen is tiny and the pictures are fuzzy. I’d like to return it, but I need to work with whomever sent it to make sure you get the credit. Again – thank you! That was an amazing surprise!

* We headed out to the suburbs on Friday night to watch my two oldest nieces dance at halftime of the local high school football game. So fun! It was the perfect night for football. The 4-year-olds had so much fun. Between the popcorn, the cheerleaders, the mascot, and the band playing when they scored, they loved it. It was beyond adorable to watch them clap along to the school fight song. Makes me a teeny bit excited for high school (10 years!). I was on the dance team in high school, so it’s fun to watch Liv out there. Both girls did an awesome job!

* I continue to be impressed with their dance class each week. They cover the basics, but they also are introducing new steps. This week they flip flopped and spent the majority of the time doing tap. The girls were selected first by the teacher to stand in the front row, on either side of her. I was proud of them!

* We had a neighborhood birthday party Saturday afternoon. I skipped nap because it would have been too much to try to fit in. The girls were fine while we were there. They bounced, they dressed up, and all of the kids played so well together. We were home by 7:15 so I thought we’d be fine, but then Caden melted down almost immediately. She dumped her bubbles out for no reason, so I suggested bath and bed and of course that was the wrong thing to say. Delaney melted down after she went to bed. She was overtired at that point and afraid of having nightmares. It took her a while to relax, but both got a solid nights sleep. Naps were a necessity on Sunday though.

* My batch cooking for the weekend was prepping six roast chickens. I roast a chicken every other month, so four would get me through the winter, plus I wanted to make two for my grandpa. The marinade is one of those where if you’re making one batch you might as well make two. Except I forgot you can really only double it, since it needs to go into my tiny food processor. Batches 1 & 2 were fine, but by the time I got to batch 3 I was over it. Next time I’ll make four at a time and call it good.

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A first

When I contemplated going gluten free, so many foods that I love passed through my mind. You think through your life and your go to foods and you think – but how? The first thing I tried was gluten free pancakes and honestly, I prefer them. Gluten free pasta? Easy peasy. Returning to the places I loved and ordering my ‘thing’ there gluten free, was also a big step. I remember ordering my first gluten free pizza at Pizza Luce and realizing hey, these don’t taste that bad! (They don’t taste that good either though, but if you pile on the toppings it’s decent.) Ordering an Unwich at Jimmy John’s, also a big step because seriously, I used to make fun of the people that ordered them.

Tuesdays at daycare they serve waffles for breakfast. Caden has refused to eat those waffles for two years now, so I bring her an alternate breakfast. Generally it’s either yogurt or a muffin. With the holidays, I haven’t had time to bake any muffins, so we were all out. Delaney had an awesome bedtime the night before so I asked her what she wanted to do. She wanted to bake muffins so that’s what we did. I contemplated using regular flour, but I hate it when they have a food that I can’t eat. So I made them with a gluten free flour mix. And you know what? They taste pretty damn good. You would never know the difference.

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Cooking Weekend

This summer we were gone nearly every weekend. The weekends we were home I dreaded it because the three of us drove each other crazy. I really, really wasn’t looking forward to winter because we’re home nearly every weekend. Except, it’s actually been nice. The girls are playing together really well and imaginatively, which takes them all over the house and keeps them entertained. I’m actually able to get stuff done which is nice so I’m not feeling constantly behind. And by Sunday night, we’re all still happy.

The thing with eating gluten free is that it’s a lot of prep work. In order for me to stick to the plan, I have to prep food on the weekend. Last weekend I roasted a bunch of vegetables and made some quinoa which was lunch all week. This week I’m off from work, so I could be a little more flexible with my lunches. I made homemade yogurt and granola. Between the three of us we go through a lot of yogurt, so I try to make mine to ease that pain a little. And seriously, is there anything better than granola fresh from the oven? I could eat the entire pan! I have a few different granola recipes bookmarked, but Alton Brown’s recipe is the best and most flexible.

I also roasted a chicken on Saturday. Roasting a chicken is one of those things I waited far too long in my adult life to do because I thought I didn’t have the right equipement. Turns out, a casserole dish will do just fine. Here’s the recipe I use and it’s fairly fool proof. I generally buy 2-4 birds at a time, make a big batch of the marinade and then throw all but one in the freezer. Thaw it Friday, roast it Saturday, make chicken stock on Sunday! It worked out really well, especially since everyone in our house likes roast chicken, and our house smelled fabulous.

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Banana Bread Recipe

I’m one of those people who need a snack every morning around 10am. If I don’t have anything at my desk I end up at Starbucks, and that becomes an expensive habit. I went through a scone making phase a few years back, but they don’t hold up well throughout the week, they’re messy to make, and I don’t always have the ingredients I need.

Most weeks I end up making banana bread. I’ve made it so often now I don’t even need the recipe. By the time the oven is heated, I’ve got the batter ready to go. I have it down to a science! Despite offering it to the girls regularly throughout the last two years, they’ve never really liked it. Until two weeks ago. I brought my loaf in to take it to work and they asked for a piece for breakfast instead of the waffles daycare was serving. I cut a slice off for them and they were in heaven! Now I send a slice along every Monday and Tuesday. It’s nice to finally have them eat and like something I make besides chicken nuggets.

I think this recipe originally came from Orangette, but I’ve tweaked it for my taste.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
3 ripe bananas
3 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

Cream sugar, butter and egg. In a separate bowl, mash bananas; then mix with milk and vanilla. In yet another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three parts, alternating with banana/milk mixture in two parts. Or if you’re me, you add some dry ingredients, then the banana, more dry, banana, then the last of the dry, mixing in between. Add chocolate chips and stir just until combined.

Turn batter into loaf pan and bake for one hour, five minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove from the pan. I find that if I use frozen bananas, it needs an extra 5-8 minutes of baking time.

I’ve played around with this recipe a bit. Some weeks I’m not so into the chocolate chips and I cut back on those, other weeks I have buttermilk in the fridge and use that. It’s a fairly forgiving recipe (I once mistakenly did 1T of baking powder instead of 1t. and it was fine) and the loaf of bread still tastes good at the end of the week which I love.

Possibly not the healthiest mid-morning snack ever, but likely better than the 500 calorie scone from Starbucks!

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Cookies with Kids

Cookies! We were out so it was time to make another batch. This time I went with my favorite, peanut butter cookies. These won’t last long!

Neither of them were much help once the spatulas got some peanut butter on them. I dirtied three, because they kept licking them! Please note Caden’s bloomers over her pants. She wore them all day on Sunday.

They’re good at dumping things in the mixer, and then I usually help them turn the mixer on a notch or two. This time, Delaney beat me to it right after I had added a cup of flour. We talked about the valuable lesson learned where you turn it on low when you add dry ingredients!

Number of peanut butter cookies you have to eat before you ruin your appetite for dinner? Four. Just in case you were wondering.

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Cooking Together

I love to cook. Most of the time I shoo the girls out of the kitchen when I cook, but lately they’ve been wanting to help more and more. Not every meal is conducive to them helping out, so I decided we would make the things they love to eat – cookies and ice cream.

Cookies are good because they can turn the mixer on and off and that makes them very happy. By the time we get to scooping the cookies, their attention span is done and I can do that in peace (with my trusty cookie scoop which man, I’m still totally in love with). The downside of cookies is that I love them and seem to be the one eating most of them.

Both girls love ice cream. LOVE ice cream. Our first batch was raspberry. I made it with whole milk and it was so rich and creamy. Next batch was chocolate malt. Very tasty, and since I made it with 1% milk, not as rich which was nice. Tonight we made strawberry banana ice cream. I’m excited for this one. It’s been fun because they pick the flavors they want to make. Not as fun because it’s much messier for them to help with. But, I’m working on stressing less about the mess.

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