Today we have a guest post from Christine over at Ladies Holiday! Read on to see how she gets healthy and tasty treats ready for back to school.
This year, I have three school-aged children, which means my mornings will be getting very hectic, very soon. Any pre-work I can do to get my little pumpkins ready for the day is helpful in my household. That's why I decided to go on a baking frenzy.
Homemade granola bars, fruit, and/or yogurt are usually standard fare for early-morning snack time at school, but they don't store well for more than a week or so, so I decided to make snacks that I could freeze, namely, breads.
I had a ton of frozen bananas and about a half bag of blueberries, so I started with those ingredients. I slightly defrosted the bananas I needed in the microwave, until I could scrape at them and mash them. I tripled this recipe for Agave Nectar Banana Bread. Part way through this recipe, I realized I only had three eggs in the fridge. Acckkk! Not to worry. I remembered Tamar once telling me that I could substitute flax meal (which I, luckily, had on hand) for eggs. I texted Tamar and Deirdre, as well as googled, to find out the substitution ratio:
3 Tbs water + 1Tbs flaxmeal = 1 egg
I sprinkled the flax meal over the water, stirred it slightly, and let it sit. Voila! In a matter of minutes, I had a healthy substitute, with the uncanny consistency of egg, ready to use.
While the breads were baking, I started on a double-batch of these blueberry muffins. Again, I used the flax meal substitute. Usually, I omit the vanilla, almond extract, and sugar-cinnamon topping. Instead, I like to use lemon zest from one lemon and 1/4 tsp lemon extract. But, this time, I decided to follow the recipe, with the exception of the almond extract (because I didn't have any on hand).
When the breads were done, I set them in their pans on a rack to cool, and popped the muffins in. When I make banana bread, I usually make a triple batch, dividing the batter into three equal parts before baking. One loaf is plain, one cup of bittersweet chocolate chips gets added to the second loaf, and one cup of chopped pecans or walnuts gets added to the final loaf. Since I left all three loaves plain, and my oldest child has a chocolate addiction, I decided to try out this new recipe for chocolate chip muffins, making a double batch.
After the blueberry muffins came out of the oven and cooled in their tins for 10 minutes, I took them out of their tins to cool on the rack completely. Luckily, one of them broke during this process, so it gave me the perfect excuse to try a muffin with the egg substitute. Delish! I couldn't even tell the difference! (And all those omega-3s, to boot!)
I'd like to say the taste-testing stopped there, but the kids were begging to try the chocolate chip muffins when they came out (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it), so I joined in. Double yum!
Okay, onto the freezing component. It's really quite simple. You need to make sure whatever you are freezing has cooled completely. This takes an especially long time for loaves. If you freeze them while they are warm, the condensation will cause freezer burn...yuck!
Usually, I plop muffins directly into gallon freezer bags, but, this time, I wanted to cut out a step in my morning lunch-making. So, I individually wrapped each muffin in plastic wrap, before placing them into the freezer bag. Freezer bags take up little space and can always be rinsed out and reused, so I like to use them, but you could also use any freezer-safe container. For the loaves, again, you can either plop it into a bag or container directly, or you can wrap in plastic wrap, and then in aluminum foil. I was running low on freezer bags, so I used the aluminum foil, which can also be reused.
By the time I finished baking, wrapping, and freezing 3 loaves of bread and 48 muffins, I was pooped. My plans for preparing and freezing pancakes, waffles, and peasant bread, were squelched. They will have to wait for another day.
My kids really enjoy these homemade additions to their lunch boxes, and taking them directly from the freezer makes mama a little less stressed on those weekday mornings. Please share any snack/lunch tips you use to make getting your kids out of the door a little simpler. I could sure use the help!
Your fellow muffin-gobbler,
Linking up with these fabulous ladies: