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.

The Joy in Giving: Simple Gift Ideas

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I love to do things for people.  It is something that I learned growing up, always watching my mom prepare meals for the sick or my dad build fence or mow lawns when neighbors needed a helping hand.  They always taught by example the simple truth that it is better to give than to receive.  And, I believe it.  There is so much joy in giving.

This week I had the opportunity to make some Brownie Muffins for a very special person in our life.  She was Gabriel’s 2nd grade teacher last year, and she forever has a place in our hearts.  We truly love her.  So, when I looked on the calendar and saw that it was her birthday on Sunday, I knew that I would be baking her something to take to her at school on Monday.

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I loved walking into her classroom and seeing the smile on her face when she realized that, even though Gabriel is not in her class this year, I still remembered her birthday.  It filled my heart with complete joy.

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We also put together a gift basket for another very special person on Monday.  Ethan’s speech therapist is having surgery next week.  Since I am not sure that she will be up for visitors, I wanted to do something for her before her surgery.  We put together a little post-surgery basket for her.

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We added some magazines,

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candy to eat or suck on because the medicine often causes nausea and/or dry mouth,

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some beauty items because it is nice to feel pretty when you are not feeling your best,

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and some homemade baking items from my mom – potholders and a tater baker.

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Summer added the final touches by making a paper flower to put in the basket.  It was my absolute favorite part because I love that she is learning by example, just as I did from my mother and daddy.  She and Ethan were so excited to give the basket to Ms. Brooke.

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When we gave her the basket yesterday, she smiled the most genuine, surprised smile.  It made me so happy.  She has done so much for Ethan, for our family, and the basket was just one small thing that I could do for her to make her feel special as she is headed into surgery next week.

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There is honestly nothing like the joy that comes from giving.  Acts of kindness make the world a happier place.

I linked up at the following:
Sugar and Dots for What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Creations by Kara for Look What I Made
Ginger Snap Crafts for Wow Me Wednesday
Someday Crafts for Whatever Goes Wednesday
Polkadots on Parade for Wow Me Wednesday

Weekend Things – Recipe: Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

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We had such a beautiful, fun, busy weekend.  I do not always like busy.  But, this weekend, it was a good thing.

1.  My mother came to town Friday afternoon, and she made it in time for pizza and movie night.  There was only one problem.  My pizza dough did not turn out, and I did not know it until I opened the bread maker.  So, we tossed the dough, refrigerated the pizza sauce and toppings, and placed an order to have pizza delivered.  It was not as good, but it salvaged pizza night for us.

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We watched The Adventures of Tintin.  It was very cute.  I am not sure what I liked more….watching the movie or watching Ethan act out the movie along the way.  When it comes to movies, he does not miss a thing.  Gabriel and Summer do not, either.  Ethan is just much, much more animated about it.

2.  We had early morning soccer on Saturday.  On days that start with an 8 am soccer game, my insomnia comes in handy.  I was able to have egg and goat cheese taquitos and cinnamon streusel muffins made by the times Sean and Gabriel left at 7:20.

My Mother, Summer, Ethan, and I quickly ate and then jumped in the van to get to the fields.  It was a bit chilly when we arrived, but it turned into a beautiful morning.  Ethan had fun sitting by Nonna and playing on the iPad,

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Summer had fun playing with her friends,

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and I had fun getting to watch the game with both eyes, for a change, since my mom was there to help keep extra eyes on the littles.

3.  After soccer, my mother and I went to watch my oldest niece play volleyball while Sean took over all parenting and uncle duties by entertaining the littles and my youngest niece.  My niece’s team made it to the championship game and came in 2nd overall in the tournament.  It was so much fun to watch her play a sport that she loves.

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4.  My daddy arrived after the volleyball tournament, and he and my mother kept the littles while Sean and I went shopping for more landscaping and gardening supplies.

When we returned, we mulched, planted flowers, and started our garden.  Gardening is new to me, so I am crossing my fingers that it actually produces.

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5.  Sunday arrived in the blink of an eye.  We did a little shopping – Skylanders for Gabriel, Easter treats for next weekend, craft supplies for Summer’s birthday, and a special surprise for me – a new camera.  I am so excited to start learning how to use it.

6. We finished off Sunday with a little game of H-O-R-S-E.  In the absence of a basketball hoop, Sean and Gabriel improvised using a big ball box and different balls.  Proof once again that having fun and making memories is all in what you make of it, and, most of the time, it is all about just pure, simple, fun family time.

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7.  And, I also did some fun cooking this weekend, too.

I made this delicious Taco Soup.

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This Angel Food Cake.

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These Caramel Fudge Brownies.

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And, as I mentioned earlier, I made some delicious Cinnamon Streusel Muffins Saturday morning.  I was craving these Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes by Two Peas & Their Pod, but I knew that we needed something that we could eat on the go.  So, I married my muffin recipe to her streusel recipe, and the two lived happily ever after.

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Ingredients

Muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon Streusel Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Instructions

    Preparing the Cinnamon Streusel
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter.
  2. Mix together with your hands until you have a crumbly mixture.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Preparing the Muffins
  5. Preheat oven to 375.
  6. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  7. Melt the butter in the microwave.
  8. Whisk in the egg, vanilla, and sour cream.
  9. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour.
  10. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture, and stir to combine.
  11. Using a cookie scoop, place a small scoop of muffin mix in each of the 12 liners.
  12. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon streusel mixture.
  13. Add another small scoop of the muffin mixture.
  14. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of the cinnamon streusel mixture.
  15. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  16. Remove from oven and cool in tins.
http://cookingformykids.com/2012/04/02/weekend-things-recipe-cinnamon-streusel-muffins/

Have a great week!

I linked up at the following:

Add a Pinch for Mingle Monday

Everyday Mom’s Meal for Sunday Supper

Talking Dollars and Cents for Muffin Monday

Delightfully Dowling for Mangia Mondays

Jam Hands for Recipe Sharing Monday