Last week my school held its annual Field Day and served bananas as part of the mid-morning snack to the students. Guess how many teachers and staff have leftover bananas at home? My family does not eat that many bananas, so it was time to bake. I made a batch of Ina Garten’s Banana Crunch Muffins and bagged them up as little sirsees for my children’s teachers. We are close to the end of the year; we have testing next week, and teachers need a little appreciation gift when it gets close to the final weeks of school. (Alert: Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8 this year.)
These muffins taste the best fresh out of the oven, but they are still mighty delicious the next day. Ina Garten’s Recipe includes whole milk, granola, coconut, and walnuts. I used buttermilk in place of the whole milk and replaced the walnuts with pecans because it saved me a trip to the grocery store.
The muffins are baked in cupcake liners, but after the muffins cooled, I placed each muffin inside a Specialty Wilton Cupcake Liner that has tall, scalloped sides. The large liner protects the muffin inside the clear bag. I tied the bags with curly ribbon and added gift enclosure cards with a handwritten label. We arrived at school early and put the treats on each teacher’s desk for a breakfast surprise.
Aunt B will be visiting with her two boys for Easter. I have my parents in town too. That means I need to prepare food for a group, which is actually something I like to do. I am not sure why cooking for a large group is so much more appealing to me than the daily cooking for my own small(er) family, but it is (see previous post). One idea I have for Easter brunch is Hash Brown Casserole. It is easy to assemble ahead, and it includes melted cheese, which automatically gives the recipe bonus points.
There are many variations of this casserole available, but I am sharing the recipe I use. I like to serve this casserole with ham or scrambled eggs. I also think it works well with steak or hamburgers later in the day.
1 2-lb package frozen, diced hash brown potatoes– thawed (the cubes)
1/2 c. melted butter
1 10-oz. can Campbell’s cream of celery soup (could replace with cream of chicken)
8-oz. sour cream
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (+ a little extra to sprinkle on the top before baking)
1 t. salt (or to taste)
1/4 t. pepper (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
Spread in a 9×11 casserole dish.
Sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese on top.
Cover in foil and bake for ~35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or so until the top is slightly golden and edges are bubbly.
My holiday houseguests arrived Thursday night (about 5 hours after school let out for Christmas break). I did not make it to the grocery store before they arrived, so I offered a few leftover rosemary nuts and some slices of cranberry bread that I received as a teacher gift for breakfast Friday morning. We did not even have milk for coffee– my husband had to run out to the gas station.
This morning, I actually had breakfast food for my guests after a major trip to the grocery store (courtesy of my husband– I almost considered that a Christmas gift). I served up some Breakfast Cups to the group, and people were not disappointed. I need another quick prep meal for tomorrow morning. Can anybody help a hostess?
1- 10 oz. Can Ro-Tel tomatoes (I use mild version)
½ c. mayo
1 c. grated cheddar and Monterey Jack (or just cheddar)
1 t. dried basil
8-10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ small onion chopped
1-2 cans 10 oz. refrigerated flaky layered biscuits (I use Pillsbury Grands Original Flaky Layer Biscuits)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, stir together tomatoes, mayo, cheese, basil, bacon, and onion.
Separate each biscuit into 3 layers.
Press each layer into a lightly greased mini muffin tin and fill with tomato mixture. Bake 10-12 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you are a Pinterest addict member, you may have seen one or two pins that show pancake batter baked in muffin tins. Here at theroommom’s house, we are all about breakfast that fits in your hand and can be eaten in the car on the way to school, so I thought this idea was worth a spin. I tested a variety of combinations and am reporting my findings below. To see the original pin, click here— and feel free to follow me on Pinterest at the same time.
The Basics: Mix up a batch of pancake batter and spoon into mini muffin tins. Sprinkle with any variety of toppings. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden at the edges. Eat immediately or let cool and freeze. If freezing, put puffins in Ziploc bags or tupperware. Can be removed one at a time and reheated in microwave or toaster oven.
The Pancake Batter: I used my Basic Pancake Recipe. I don’t think there is anything special about it, so if you have a great recipe for pancakes, use that one (and feel free to share!).
blueberries, fresh and dried
mini chocolate chips
bacon (cooked and crumbled)
bacon and brown sugar
sausage (cooked and crumbled)
sausage with a drizzle of syrup
The Verdict: Both children like the chocolate chip version (big surprise). My daughter also likes the fresh blueberries. My son likes plain sausage. I like the bacon and brown sugar combination the best. Overall, I felt they were a little bland, and the pictures look better than the real thing. They have been handy this week for breakfast. We reheated in the toaster oven, so they developed a little toasty crust. I think they may need to be dipped in syrup, or I need a better pancake batter recipe. They just don’t have enough flavor for me.
Since the puppy arrived at our house about a month ago, I have had a little extra time on my hands in the morning. After the 5:45 am wake up call, the puppy wants to play. By 6:15, the puppy wants to rest, and I am in the kitchen by myself. This morning I made these little Cinnamon Puffs for breakfast (recipe below). Unlike the pizza from a few nights ago, I baked these without the help of my children. Now, do not be fooled. Most mornings I sit at the kitchen table with an iced coffee and alternate looking at my US magazine and staring out of the window until someone else from my household arrives in the kitchen, and I can go lie down in my bed again. Anybody else gone above and beyond for a tasty breakfast treat lately?
1/3 c. shortening (Crisco)
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. milk
1 c. sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 c. butter, melted (I never use all of this– start with 1/2 c. melted butter)
Beat the shortening and 1/2 c. sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add egg, beating well.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spoon batter into lightly greased miniature muffin pan cups. The batter should yield ~24 mini puffs. I can’t ever spoon evenly into the muffin pans, so I get ~20 puffs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Combine 1 c. sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish.
Remove puffs from pans and dip in melted butter. Give the puff tops a good bath in the butter, so they soak up enough buttery goodness. Then, dredge in cinnamon mixture.
The puffs contain egg and milk (protein) and sugar (energy).