An Artful Mind – Recipe: Caramel Banana Muffins

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My nieces have a beautiful playscape in their backyard.  For Mother’s Day, they decided to paint it, and they invited my littles to help.

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It was an exercise in patience because they started out with a plan, about 10 different colors, and very small paint brushes.  Grand things, however, always start off very small.

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After an hour or two of painting and not being able to see much progress, we took a lunch break.

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Aunt Darla returned with more paint, larger brushes, and a bigger plan.  Artwork does not just happen. It starts with an image, and that image is redesigned in our minds until it is just right.

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My oldest niece is more artistic than she realizes.  She painted the birds on the playscape. She did not sketch them first or copy them from a picture.  It was a design in her mind that she transferred to the playscape.

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Watching it all unfold out my backdoor was beautiful.

I will admit, there were moments when I wondered if my sister had lost her mind.  When I saw all of the colors, I certainly did not have the vision in my head that she had in hers.  Being artistic is a gift. My sister and my nieces have that gift.

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Their vision turned out perfectly perfect.

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I love it when food turns out equally as perfect.  When I saw Robyn’s recipe for Salted Caramel Banana Nut Muffins, I totally understood what she meant when she talked about waking up wanting something and heading into the kitchen to make it.   She had a vision and made it into a reality.  That reality jumped into my world when I saw the pictures one morning and knew that I needed those muffins in my life immediately.  When I realized that I did not have caramels, I panicked for a second, but then I decided that I could make my favorite Caramel Sauce and substitute it.  The result was an amazingly delicious, moist muffin that totally hit the spot.  Yes, all visions start off small before they turn into something grand.

Caramel Banana Muffins

Caramel Banana Muffins

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce

1 pound dark brown sugar (about 2 cups packed brown sugar)

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2/3 cup dark corn syrup

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon molasses

1/4 teaspoon salt

Banana Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 overly ripened bananas

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup walnuts, optional

Instructions

    Preparing the Caramel Sauce
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in heavy 2 1/2-quart nonstick saucepan.
  2. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high; cook caramel at rolling boil, stirring constantly but slowly with clean spatula and occasionally brushing/scraping down sides of pan, about 12 minutes.
  4. Pour caramel into a bowl.
  5. Preparing the Muffins
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Place cupcake liners into 12 muffin tins.
  8. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  9. In a mixing bowl, cream together bananas and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  10. Add eggs one at a time until creamy. Then, add melted butter and vanilla, incorporating completely.
  11. Slowly add in dry ingredients just until combined, being careful not to over mix.
  12. Fill each muffin tin three-fourths full. With the back of a spoon, make a small indention into the center of the batter.
  13. Spoon one teaspoon of salted caramel into the indention of the muffin batter.
  14. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  15. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 3 minutes before removing from muffin tins. Break open the first muffin to taste test it before biting into it in order to prevent any burns with the hot caramel sauce.
http://cookingformykids.com/2012/05/17/an-artful-mind-recipe-caramel-banana-muffins/

Recipe barely adapted from Add a Pinch’s Salted Caramel Banana Nut Muffins, using Our Best Bites’ Caramel Apple Sauce recipe.

Happiness Is…Recipe: Pioneer Woman’s Knock You Naked Brownies

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Happiness is 4 days weekends.

Happiness is this sweet dog, who we love so much.

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Happiness is watching the littles play in the sandbox.

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Happiness is report card celebration night.

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Happiness is doing crafts with my girl in preparation for a special birthday a week from today.

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Happiness is a field trip with my youngest boy.

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Happiness is ice cream after school.

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Happiness is chocolate and caramel and ooey gooey goodness that comes in the form of chocolate caramel brownies.  When I saw these brownies that are in Food from My Frontier, Pioneer Woman’s newest cookbook, I knew that we must have them.  They are dangerously good.  So good that you need to make sure that there are plenty of people around to share them with so that you will not eat the whole pan.  Yes, that good.  One bite, and you will be very happy.

Pioneer Woman's Knock You Naked Brownies

Pioneer Woman's Knock You Naked Brownies

Ingredients

1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake mix

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk (additional)

1/2 cup butter, melted

30 whole caramels, unwrapped

1/3 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan by spraying generously with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter.
  4. Stir together until totally combined. The mixture will be thick.
  5. Spread half the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
  7. In a double boiler add the caramels and the additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk, and cook over medium high heat.
  8. When melted and smooth, pour the caramel mixture over the brownie base.
  9. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the caramel.
  10. Pour the remaining brownie dough onto a large cutting board, and use your hands to press it into a square. With a spatula, move the square brownie mixture to the top of the caramel and chocolate chip layer.
  11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  12. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature. The original recipe states to refrigerate at this point, but I skipped that step. I allowed it to cool for a few hours on the counter.
  13. Once cooled completely, sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies.
  14. Cut and serve.
http://cookingformykids.com/2012/04/06/happiness-is-recipe-pioneer-womans-knock-you-naked-brownies/

Have a happy Easter weekend!

I linked up at the following:

Alli ‘n Sons for Sweet Tooth Friday

Tidy Mom for I’m Lovin’ It

30 Days for Pity Party

Sweet As Sugar Cookies for Sweets for Saturday

Dwell on Friday on Dwell on Joy

 

 

Learning New Things – Recipe: Caramel Apple Pancakes

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I often have people ask me if I ever have a bad day.  Of course, I do.  I just choose to focus on the positive as much as possible.  Well, yesterday was one of those days that I was stretching really hard to find the unicorns and rainbows, which makes me happy for today.

Dakota, our dog, had a rough day.  We really thought that we might lose her, and it was more than any of us could handle.  Thankfully, she is much better today.  Thank you all so much for asking about her and sending me kind emails and comments.  I truly, truly appreciate it.

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Additionally, I was changing my blog.  I wanted to be able to control more things, specifically with my recipes.  I have added ZipList so that you can now print recipes.  Even though my blog is little and definitely in its infancy, I still want it to be user-friendly and helpful to my readers.   I do this blog of our journey to keep a journal for my family.  I know that the littles will love reading it one day, and I so wish that I had started it sooner.  I honestly never thought that I would have any readers, outside of family.  But, since I do, I want to make sure that it is easy to navigate.  I know that you enjoy the stories as much as the recipes.  However, when there is a recipe that catches your eye, you can now easily print it.

As I have mentioned before, I am way behind the times in social media, and I have lost some technical skills over the years.  However, I am learning by teaching myself, and I truly appreciate your support and encouragement along the way.  I will continue to make some changes over the next few days.  As I am changing things, I am sure that I will make mistakes along the way.  So, I thank you in advance for your patience with this newbie blogger momma.

The biggest lesson in all of this is one that I really already knew.  I am always a momma first.  As I was trying to learn some new things this morning, Summer wanted to have a picnic.  I was just about to say the dreaded words of, “I don’t have time”, when I caught myself.  I always have time for my littles.  And, you know what?  I was so glad that I stopped what I was doing and had a picnic with my little girl.

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Another lesson, one that I am always learning, is that I will not know unless I try.  When I am experimenting with new recipes, I have to be willing to try new things.  Such was the case with these pancakes.  I knew that we all loved pancakes and caramel apples, so I was hoping that these pancakes would be a hit.  And, they were.  In cooking, and in life, learning new things can be fun, which is exactly the example that I want to set for my children.

 

Caramel Apple Pancakes

 Caramel Apple Pancakes

Ingredients

For the Pancakes:

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Apples:

3 apples, diced

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Caramel Sauce:

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Whipped cream (I made my own)

Instructions

    Pancakes:
  1. Add the butter to a large mixing bowl, and melt it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Remove it from the microwave, and add the egg and vanilla. Slowly whisk in the buttermilk. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture, and stir to combine.
  2. Apples:
  3. Add diced apples and water to a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat. Add the sugar. Cook on medium for about 10-15 minutes, until the apples are starting to soften. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  4. Caramel Sauce:
  5. Add the sugar to a 3-5 quart sauce pan, and heat over medium high heat. Whisk the sugar while it melts, and then add the butter. Bring the mixture to a boil while it darkens (about 3-5 minutes), making sure that the sugar does not burn. Remove from heat, and add the vanilla. Be careful. The vanilla will make it pop a little. Then, slowly pour in the heavy cream. The cream will also make it pop. Continue to whisk together. After it is mixed and smooth, cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Cooking the Pancakes:
  7. Preheat the griddle to 375. Using a small ladle, add about 1/4 cup of the pancake mixture to the griddle, one scoop at a time. I usually cook about 6 at a time on my griddle. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to bubble a little, and then flip. Cook on that side for about 2-3 minutes, and then move from the griddle to a plate. Continue until all of the mixture has been used. This recipe makes about 12 medium-sized pancakes.
  8. To Serve:
  9. Stack 2-4 pancakes on a plate. Spread the apples over the top (or you could even put them between layers). Add the whipped cream on top of the apples, and then drizzle with the caramel sauce.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/10/12/learning-new-things-recipe-caramel-apple-pancakes/

I have shared this recipe at Tidy MomIt’s a Keeper, A Little Nosh, Recipes for My Boys, Designs by Gollum, Mrs. Happy Homemaker, A Southern Fairytale, and Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.