Gluten Free Banana Nut Muffins

– johanna | March 16th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Snacks

I have a friend who’s son is allergic to practically everything from eggs, milk, nuts, wheat, and corn. It is quite overwhelming trying to find gluten, egg, and corn-free products much less shop on a limited budget.   I started my youngest on a gluten free regimen a little over a year ago. While he is not strictly gluten free and is able to consume small quantities of wheat, I understand her heartache. To a newcomer most gluten free recipes  resemble an advanced chemistry experiment.

The prices for whole grain flours are insanely high and hard to find in many areas. The few gluten free recipes I did know of contained corn starch and xanthan gum (an agent that acts like gluten that contains corn). I have yet to find a viable bread recipe because the xanthan gum is pretty much a crucial ingredient. However, muffins, pancakes, and cookies seem to do well without it. This recipe for banana nut muffins originally includes xanthan gum. The muffins came out so light and fluffy without the xanthan gum so I omitted it from the ingredients list below.

I love that the flour mixture consists of only three items: potato starch (not corn), tapioca starch, and brown rice flour. I think a little bit of almond flour subbed in for the flour mixture would give the muffins a nice flavor.

Now for the eggs. I subbed in two tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed with four tablespoons water. Set aside a few minutes to set. Then I added an additional heaping tablespoon of baking powder. I did a happy dance of joy and emailed a copy to my friend.

Source: adapted from Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts

Yield: 12 muffins

2 cups GF Flour Mix*
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 packed cup very ripe chopped banana (about 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Position rack in center of oven. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. Add bananas and walnuts; stir to coat evenly.

Combine milk and oil in small bowl; remove 1 tablespoon of combined liquid and discard it. Beat in eggs. Add liquids to banana mixture and stir until just blended.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake 18-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan and serve immediately or cool on a rack.

*GF Flour Mix
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch

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Cheesy Toast with Egg

– johanna | March 9th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Snacks

Cheesy toast is a flashback to my summer camp days when I was a youth. Each summer I spent two weeks hiking, swatting bugs, sleeping under a mosquito net, and taking cold showers at the Girl Scout camp near my home. I learned first aid, how to respect the American flag, that people actually drink pineapple juice and where all the unsold boxes of Girl Scout cookies go- in the cafeteria closets of camps throughout the country to be served during Girl Scout camps as a special treat (yum). At each meal there was a spread of silver pitchers filled with juices, milk, and water. We ate a real smorgasbord.

Sometimes I serve cheesy toast at dinner with a salad. I will add a sprinkling of garlic powder with the butter for a garlic version. The kids have converted me to eating non classified breakfast foods for breakfast, mainly leftovers. Cheesy toast is a warm and comforting choice on those mornings we are running late and need to grab something to take with us.

Slices of bread
Shredded Italian cheese blend

Spread the top of each slice of bread with butter. Sprinkle with cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is lightly browned and melted.

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Greek Salad

– johanna | March 2nd, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
Baby Mixed Greens
Tomatoes, sliced into wedges
Banana Pepper
Red Onion, sliced
Feta cheese

Toss chopped lettuce and greens in a bowl. Arrange the tomatoes, olives, peppers, cucumbers, and onion slices on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle with cheese.

Serve with Greek Salad Dressing

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Balsamic Greek Salad Dressing

– johanna | February 24th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

While on holiday in Florida we visited the Greek shops on the sponge docks of Tarpon Springs. We stuffed ourselves with Gyros and salad at Yianni’s and then walked off enough room for a tasty treat down the street at Hellas. If you are in the area looking for authentic Greek food then Hellas restaurant and bakery is the place to go. The chocolate baklava cheesecake was sensational. It was so rich it took three of us to finish it off.

This week when I was trying to come up with a salad to serve at my son’s Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts I decided on my Americanized version of a Greek salad with lettuce. Here is the dressing I use.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar or Balsamic vinegar
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 whole Lemon, For Squeezing

In a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk until completely blended.

Toss dressing with salad. Drizzle salad with a little lemon juice.

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Family Togetherness: Valentine’s Day Character Awards

– johanna | February 21st, 2012


On Valentine’s Day we express our love or appreciation to those we care about by exchanging cards and candy. This year I wanted to take it one step further. I wanted my family to know just how much I love them and what I appreciate most about them.

Each of us has a special gift or talent within us that when cultivated and allowed to blossom will make our homes a lovely place. The Valentine’s Day award is in recognition of the good ways we have used our talents over the past year.

The Festivities:

Good Eats-
Strawberry and milk smoothies with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate covered strawberries.

The Awards-
Courageous Compassion Award:
My oldest son earned the award for Courageous Compassion. He has the ability to make others, adult and youth alike, feel accepted. He has the courage to include everyone in his play at school bringing children of all aptitude together. Moreover, he can sense when someone is hurting emotionally and help bring a smile to their sad face.

The Heart of Valor Award:
Our daughter earned the Heart of Valor award. She can recognize a need and willingly steps in to help. She is full of passion. She reminds us to view the mundane as a grand fairytale full of adventure. She teaches us to love everyone and even homework can be a delight.

The Radiant Heart Award: Our youngest earned the Radiant Heart award. He is warm and cuddly just like a giant teddy bear. He bares a gentle kindness. He is aware of other’s feelings and calmly goes about to give them comfort. If you say you are in pain he is there to rub your back. If you are sick or sad he will offer a hug.

The After Awards Party-
Watch the Wizard of OZ.

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Chocolate Sauce

– johanna | February 14th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Treats

David claims that this chocolate sauce is the best chocolate sauce ever. I must agree it is pretty awesome. A great homemade chocolate sauce recipe is a must in every woman’s arsenal of romanitc Valentine’s Day recipes. The main dish is just the bait. A delectable chocolate sauce, however, is the hook, line and sinker. It can communicate I Love You! with just one bite.

This chocolate sauce is absolutely amazing when paired with strawberry cream cheese and crapes. Drizzle chocolate sauce over ice cream, cheesecake, or chocolate torte.

Source: David Lebovitz
About 2 1/2 cups

1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 cup (160 g) light corn syrup, agave nectar, or glucose
3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 ounces (55 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup (or agave or glucose), and cocoa powder.

2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it’s just begun to simmer and boil, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.

Serving: You should let the Chocolate Sauce stand for a few hours before serving, which will give it time to thicken a bit.

Storage: Store the chocolate sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Rewarm before serving.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese

– johanna | February 10th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast

Nothing screams Happy Valentine’s Day more than crepes with strawberry sauce and chocolate. This strawberry sauce takes it a bit further by combining cream cheese, or mascarpone cheese, with strawberries. It is literally out of this world delicious!

1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Blend powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in berries.

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Strawberry Sauce

– johanna | February 10th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast

I believe in the school of thought, the simpler the better. I prefer fresh sliced strawberries on my vanilla ice cream as opposed to the syrupy version. However, there are occasions that warrant a little more sweetness. I use this strawberry sauce on crepes but it is also perfect for drizzling over cheesecake or shortcake.

1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup sugar

Stir sugar and berries together and heat in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Until syrup starts to thicken.

Add up to 1 1/2 cups sugar. Depending on how sweet and thick you want the syrup.

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February Website Review: Dollar Store Crafts

– johanna | February 7th, 2012

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF

I have been dying to make this chandelier for my daughter’s fairy garden bedroom since last fall. With my husbands crazy work schedule and my number rule- never go shopping with kids, I have yet to make it to the dollar store to see if I can find the items. The chandelier is only one of all the amazing crafts on Dollar Store Crafts that can be made from dollar store items, scraps from home or other cheap finds.

Here are a few of my favorite lastest posts on Dollar Store Crafts for Valentine’s Day:
Duct Tape Rings– Duck tape wallets and such are the latest teen fashion. Add an accessory like a duck tape ring to compliment any outfit.
Valentine’s Day Gumball Machine– A cute V-Day gift for a teacher.
Leftover Candy Cane Mints– a perfect save to make for Valentine’s Day hot choclate.

If You:

  • Love to craft and write about it
  • Write tutorials that are easy to follow
  • Love to find great craft projects and share them
  • Shop often at a dollar store near you
  • Take great photos
  • Can contribute one or more articles a month

And are Interested: in working for Dollar Store Crafts

Then Email:Heather at with answers to the info from here.

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Yummy Crepes

– johanna | February 3rd, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast

“Pancakes are yummy! They taste so good in my tummy! Honey, chocolate, berries, sugar, and syrup…”

These are the words to a song we like to sing when we eat pancakes. It comes from the movie, “Frogs and Toads”, directed by Simone van Dusseldorp. Frogs and Toads is a delightful story about two brothers, Max and Jannus. Jannus, the older of the two, is off to the hospital to have his tonsils out. He manages to convince his younger brother Max to collect frog spawn (fish eggs) for him, because without them he will never be able to speak again. The story follows Max on a wonderful adventure with his new found friend Jesse as they search the countryside for the magical frog spawn.

In Europe pancakes refer to what we American’s call crepes. Crepes are served with powdered sugar or a sweet array of toppings including: honey, chocolate, berries, and syrup.

4 eggs
1 1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp oil
1 cup flour

Beat eggs slightly, add remaining ingredients; beating just until smooth. Pour a scant quarter cup of batter into a small hot skillet, tilting to spread evenly. Brown lightly on both sides.

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