Monday Munchies: Laura’s Banana Cake

Banana Cake 2

On Saturday evening, we had two families over for dinner.  Amazing how adding only two families to our house means we are feeding a total of fifteen people!  Luckily, everyone pitches in and brings a few items to supplement the menu.  This week, Laura brought this delicious banana cake that I loved.  All nine of the kiddos devoured it in record time.  I knew this was a recipe that I’d be making in the future – both because it tastes great and because it seems like I’m always trying to find new ways to use up overripe bananas. 

The cake is very moist and flavorful and the creamy topping makes it a great spring dessert.  I’ll even admit to eating a piece for breakfast the last two mornings. It tastes great with coffee too.  🙂

Laura gave me permission to photograph her cake and share the recipe on the blog.  Thanks, Laura!!

Banana Cake


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups cold water


  • 8 oz Cool Whip (lite is fine)
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 small instant vanilla pudding
  • Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together the cake mix, bananas, baking soda, eggs, and water.  Spread into a 9×13 pan sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake for 35 minutes and cool completely.  For the topping, whip together the Cool Whip, milk, and instant pudding.  Spread on top of the cooled cake.  Refrigerate.  Laura said that this is the type of cake that becomes even better after it’s aged a few days and having just had another piece this morning, I will say that I agree!

Banana Cake 1

I’m hoping my food photography starts to improve soon.  My Mother’s Day gift was two books I’ve been eyeing on Amazon regarding Food Photography.  Looks like I’m going to have to invest a bit for the proper lighting, etc. but hopefully I can figure out the trick to making the food look extra yummy – and the plates look less blue – in the near future!

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!

Monday Munchies: Menu Planning

Menu plan

I was recently asked about how I plan our meals so I thought I would share here – both for my friend that asked – and for anyone else who is interested.  First, a disclaimer:  we do not always eat all of the meals I plan for the week.  Life happens.  T-ball practice gets cancelled so we decide to eat after the kids.  Mike comes home and suggests we take the kids to Delaney’s.  Whatever I have planned just doesn’t sound good.  You get the idea… 

Each week, usually on Saturday or Sunday morning, I look over our schedule for the week and send Mike an email that outlines everything we have going on that week – for both sanity and so I don’t have to repeat myself a million times throughout the week.  Once I know what our schedule looks like, I make the meal plan for the week.  Crockpot and easy meals when I suspect Mike will be home late or there is an afternoon activity on the schedule such as a playdate, t-ball, etc.  Usually, I take whatever meals we didn’t manage to eat the previous week and automatically assume we will eat them the following week. 

We keep a running grocery list of items needed on the counter next to the stove.  As we run out of staple items, I put them on the list.  There is always something on the list – usually within minutes of returning from the store!  I don’t plan out specific breakfasts or lunches for the week.  For breakfast, the kids typically choose some combo of leftover waffles from the freezer, cinnamon bread toasted, bananas or other fruit, smoothies, cereal, eggs, or oatmeal.  We always have these items on hand.  For lunches, it’s basically another short list – fruit, yogurt, string cheese, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter crackers, cheese and crackers, grilled cheese, leftovers, and just basics that we have on hand.  I will need to be more organized for lunches next year as all three kiddos will be taking their lunch to preschool. Today, they had half of a kiwi, carrot shreds, a piece of string cheese, fresh banana bread with butter, and milk.

Banana Bread Lunch

The meal plan above is for this week and I went to the store yesterday afternoon to pick up the items needed (Mike usually goes at least once during the week too).  Tonight, after the kiddos go to bed, Mike and I will have cashew chicken, rice, and a veggie (probably broccoli).  The kiddos are having pasta, yogurt, watermelon, and a veggie.  On Tuesday, we’ll eat together early since Bo has t-ball.  On the agenda is crockpot pizza, breadsticks, and salad.  And so it goes.  We are having friends over on Saturday night, so I have a few extra items on the list and Sunday has become our pizza and movie night, so that evening stays pretty consistent.  Typically we have pizza and strawberries. 

You’ll notice on my menu plan there is also an area I labeled “Other”.  If I know I’m making a snack for a playdate, baking something, or trying something new, those usually go in the “other” column.  Mostly so I won’t forget to make them after I’ve picked up the ingredients.  I made banana bread with some older bananas this morning.  I’m also planning to make avocado fries this week (probably with regular fries as well on Wednesday with our tuna bunwiches) that I found on Pinterest.  Where else?  Last week, I baked several times for playdates.  These extras vary each week.  If I know I need to make a batch of waffles for breakfast one morning, I usually add that here too.

I’m not sure if this is really helpful or not.  Mostly, I just try to keep a running list of items we need and at least have a plan of some type so it isn’t 5:30 and I have no idea what to cook.  Having the list on the wall in the kitchen (inspired by Pinterest, of course) also helps me to remember to put meat out, start crockpot meals, etc. in the morning. 

How do you meal plan for your family?  Do you write out all meals or just plan dinner?  Any tips or tricks to share?

Monday Munchies: Fuzzy Navel Smoothie

Fuzzy Navel Smoothie

This recipe received two thumbs up from my kiddos.  I originally found this recipe when I was doing Weight Watchers pre-children and was inspired to make it for the kids one morning last week.  They loved it – but what’s not to love?  It’s very sweet from all of the fruit, but at least it’s natural sugar.  Of course, they wanted cinnamon bread toast too, but at least I felt good that they were getting lots of Vitamin C and nutrients from the smoothie! I doubled the recipe and split it four ways, which was plenty for the kiddos.  The banana makes it creamy without the need for milk or yogurt and don’t leave out the vanilla extract – it adds dreamsicle type quality that is quite tasty. 

Fuzzy Navel Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in blender and liquefy. Makes a great smoothie for 4 points (old Weight Watchers program). Includes 3 fruit servings for the day!  Serves 1.


As you can see, these smoothies were definitely trio approved!!


Anna smoothie Bo smoothie Clara funny face 

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!

Monday Munchies: Banana Bread with Coconut Oil and Flax

Palm Banana Bread

This is supposed to be a palm tree!  Maybe one of these days I’ll be motivated to pick up my real camera instead of using my phone for everything!  🙂  I saw this on Pinterest using oranges as the sand and decided banana bread would be even better.  I should have taken more time cutting the kiwi slices, but the kids still thought it was tasty.   As I’ve shown, my kiddos love banana bread.   I wanted to make some on Wednesday when the trio was home sick but I only had 2 ripe bananas and we were out of eggs. I decided to tweak the recipe a bit and I think the result was even better than the original.  It was moist and the kids (even while sick!) ate nearly the entire loaf for lunch on Wednesday. 

Banana Bread

  • 2 Tbsp flax seed mixed with 6 Tbsp water
  • 2 medium sized very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 C flour (white/wheat/or a mixture)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.  In a measuring cup, combine flax and water and stir.  In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with the sugar, applesauce, and vanilla.  Add the flax mixture and then add the baking soda, salt, and flour.  Mix until just combined.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Moist and delicious!  This recipe makes 1 loaf.

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!

Monday Munchies: Baked Eggs with Kale Chips

Baked Eggs

The kiddos have had “the sickness” – mostly consisting of fevers and snot.  Mike ran to the store before coming home early on Friday to give me some much needed work time and one of my requests was kale.  I’m not sure I’ve ever knowingly eaten kale before and Mike had to ask at the store to be sure he was purchasing the right leafy green.  Pinterest inspiration had struck again, and I had big plans – for kale chips from Smitten Kitchen and baked eggs found on Pinterest – with kale chips instead of sautéed kale.  Luckily, both recipes were a success!

I started the prep for our Saturday morning breakfast on Friday afternoon.  First, I made a batch of baked bacon.   The kiddos munched on some of it for dinner and I crumbled the rest and stored it in the fridge.  I also made a batch of kale chips – which were super easy and good.  I could have easily eaten all of them, but I saved a few for my eggs the next morning. 

Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • Salt

Preheat the oven to 300.  Wash and pat dry the kale.  Cut into small pieces and place in a bowl.  Add olive oil and salt and toss thoroughly.  Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  These will be one of my new snack ideas.  Very yummy and crunchy!

The next morning, I made the rest of the baked egg recipe and topped it with my leftover kale chips and baked bacon – as well as a few other key ingredients.  These were delicious served with the leftover baguette from Friday night’s lasagna.  Even Mike said, “This is really good.  We need to put it in the recipe book.” 

Baked Eggs

  • butter for ramekins
  • 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup kale chips
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Butter the ramekins.  Combine the cheese and herbs. Crack two eggs into two ramekins.  Sprinkle bacon, kale, and the cheese-herb blend over the eggs. Bake the eggs for 10-15 minutes until the eggs have achieved desired doneness: less time for runny yolks, more time for firm yolks.  Serves two.  Double or triple to serve a family.  Delish!  And a perfect use for creme brulee dishes too!

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!

Monday Munchies: Homemade Pizza Crust

Candy Cane Pizza Stocking pizza 2

Since originally posting about the Christmas pizza that we made before Christmas, I’ve had several requests for my pizza crust recipe. This crust recipe originates from my in-laws and I have no idea where they found it. I’ve been making it for as long as I’ve known Mike.

We try to have Friday evenings be “pizza night” and since I’ve been trying to eat healthier, homemade pizza with a whole wheat crust has been on the agenda. Until the trio and I made the Christmas pizza, they weren’t big fans of pizza, so usually Mike and I would just eat after they were in bed. For our Christmas pizza, we read the book “Pizza at Sally’s” and then I let them help me make the crust. They’ve been on board with eating pizza ever since. This week, we attempted to make a heart.

When I’m making pizza for all 5 of us, I usually prepare two crusts. This week, I made one whole wheat crust with honey instead of brown sugar, low fat cheese, and turkey pepperoni and one traditional. The girls actually seemed to like the wheat crust a bit better since it was slightly more chewy. Mike won’t eat whole wheat so I always have to make a traditional pizza for him. This Friday, I’m planning to try Lauren’s eggplant pizza and make a traditional pizza for the rest of the family.

Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

  • 2 1/4 cup flour – white/wheat/ or some combo
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar or alternative sweetener

Combine and mix 1/2 cup of warm water and sugar. Dissolve yeast in sugar water mix and let stand for a minimum of 5 minutes. Put flour and salt in the food processor and blend in oil, 1/2 cup of water, and yeast mixture. Process until a sticky ball forms. Transfer dough into a mixing bowl oiled or sprayed with PAM. Cover and let rice until doubled – about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours).

Preheat oven to 500 with pizza stone inside. Roll dough flat on a floured surface until 14 inches in diameter. Place on a pizza palate that is sprinkled with cornmeal and poke holes in crust with fork. Slide the crust into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and add toppings. Reduce oven temperature to 425. Return pizza to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted (5-7 minutes). Enjoy!

Friday pizza dinner

My Friday night dinner.

Bo pizza Clara pizza Anna pizza

Bo, Clara, and Anna enjoy their pizza! They had strawberries and bananas too.

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!

Monday Munchies: Smoky Black Bean Salad

Smoky Black Bean Salad

Yesterday started the beginning of my clean eating transformation. This recipe is originally from the January/February issue of Clean Eating magazine but I made a few minor changes. I had a cup of this for lunch on top of a cup and a half lettuce shreds. Delicious and filling! If you’re interested in following my food journal and fitness journal on Facebook, you can like my Jamie’s Fitness and Nutrition page.

Smoky Black Bean Salad

  • 16 oz. dry black beans
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot shreds
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp grape seed oil

In a large colander, rinse beans. Transfer beans to a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak at room temperature overnight. Drain and transfer the beans to a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches and stir in paprika. Bring to a boil Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, place oven rack in highest position and preheat broiler to high. Arrange a medium bowl and plastic wrap near oven. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place peppers on sheet and transfer to the top oven rack. Broil, turning often, until skin is blistered and blackened evenly, 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Hold pepper under cool running water and carefully peel away and discard blackened skin. Remove and discard stems, seeds, and membranes, then dice flesh into 1/4 inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine beans, peppers, scallions, carrots, and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, mustard, and salt until smooth. Slowly whisk in oil. Pour over top of bean-pepper mixture and gently stir to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. 1 cup serving as prepared above – 212 calories, 1 g fat. I’ll be eating this for lunches this week. Yum!

Monday Munchies: Christmas Cookies

For me, it just isn’t Christmas unless there are numerous types of cookies littering my countertop. I love to bake and Christmas cookies help to give me the spirit of the season. I just wish I could hand it out on the street so I wouldn’t end up eating so much of it. Oh well, after Christmas I’m going “sugar-free” for a month – that is bound to be entertaining. Expect some pretty grumpy posts as I work through my sugar withdrawals.

On Sunday morning, the trio and I made numerous cookies to add to our sugar cookie adventure from last week. We made buttons (these have become traditional – and look how much Bo has grown! The girls are older than he was in that first post. Wow…), lemon cake cookies, M & M cookies, butterscotch haystacks, and peanut butter blossoms. We will be taking a tray of cookies to Bo’s preschool program tonight. Today, I’m sharing the two easiest recipes that originally came from my mom. These are fast to throw together and perfect for last minute holiday baking.

Lemon Cake Cookies

Lemon Cake Cookies

  • 1/2 tub Cool Whip
  • 1 egg
  • 1 box lemon cake
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and line 3 cookie sheets with parchment. In a mixing bowl, combine Cool Whip, egg, and cake mix. Stir well. Roll into balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 8-11 minutes. Cool. Super easy and can be made with any flavor of cake mix. Mike prefers lemon. I prefer chocolate.



  • 1 package butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1 large bag chow mien noodles

In a large bowl, microwave the butterscotch chips until melted, stirring every 20 to 25 seconds to prevent burning. Immediately stir in the chow mien noodles and peanuts and stir until well combined. Drop on waxed paper and allow to cool. These are also delicious with regular chocolate chips.

Seriously, it doesn’t get much easier!

Here are few photos of the kiddos making buttons. They all really seemed to enjoy it and were very good about not eating the candy.

Anna buttons Anna buttons cheese Anna hershey kiss

Bo buttons 2 Bo buttons smile

Clara buttons Clara buttons rest Clara button hand

We also plan to make gingerbread cookies, a gingerbread house (prepackaged – I’m not that crazy, yet), and candy cane cookies before Christmas.

What are you baking this year?

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!

Monday Munchies: Crockpot Refried Beans

Refried Beans

Last week, I made these yummy refried beans on Monday and incorporated them into several meals and lunches throughout the week. On Monday evening, we had tacos, and these were served as a side. I made myself a bean/lettuce dip with chips one evening and the kiddos and I had bean quesadillas one day for lunch. I’ll definitely be adding these to our regular rotation.

Crockpot Refried Beans

  • 1 bag pinto beans
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade stock which added lots of flavor)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • pepper (to taste)

Soak pinto beans in water overnight. In the morning, put the soaked beans, and all other ingredients into the Crockpot. Cook on high for 8 hours. When ready to serve, pour all ingredients into a food processor and puree. If you prefer chunky you can use a potato masher, but I prefer the smooth texture. Serve. Great refried beans at a fraction of the cost, with no weird chemicals, and they taste delicious. These also freeze well for more manageable portions if you don’t want to eat beans all week.

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!

Monday Munchies: Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Chicken Salad

If you ignore that I took this photo with my phone (no idea where my real camera was!) you’ll see that this salad is delicious! I first had this salad when I was in the hospital on bedrest with the girls and it was the first thing I ate after the girls were born. I wasn’t able to eat all day, and when the girls were born around 5:30, my first thought (besides thinking they were adorable) was FOOD! I made this for lunch last week and it was very good – Anna tried it and liked it too – but Bo and Clara were less than interested.

Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Spinach Salad

  • 1 chicken breast, grilled and cut into cubes, hot or cold (I grilled mine on the stove-top)
  • 4 cups spinach greens
  • 4 large strawberries, halved and sliced
  • 6 walnut halves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp bleu cheese crumbles
  • 4 Tbsp red raspberry vinaigrette

Serves two. Layer ingredients on two salad plates – spinach, strawberries, walnuts, bleu cheese, and chicken. Top with vinaigrette. Serve.

I’m not sure I have any chicken, but I’m thinking this salad sounds pretty tasty today!

Each Monday, I’ll showcase a family and kid-friendly recipe to share with your family. Please let me know if you try one of my recipes! Enjoy!