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Peanut Butter Monkey Ice Cream

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This sweet summer treat is the brainchild of my brilliant five-year-old, who is perpetually dreaming up new recipe ideas. Of course, the fact that he speaks the words and I immediately get cooking has provided some serious reinforcement of this behavior. If you dream it, I will make it. I don’t think a soul at the table was disappointed after Liam recently suggested I make a batch of chocolate peanut butter pudding. In fact, as he sat at the table of guests enjoying the luscious, still-warm pudding, he suggested that everyone should thank him for coming up with such a great idea. Actually most of Liam’s recent recipe ideas have had something to do with peanut butter and chocolate. I told you, he’s a brilliant kid.

With three kids in the family, we go through a good deal of ice cream once the summer heat hits. Catching the elusive ice cream man has become a mission of epic proportions. In the five years that we’ve lived here, we’ve caught the ice cream man once. Once. And this is not for lack of effort. I’m beginning to feel like that kid in Better Off Dead who justs wants his two dollars, as my ice cream man races down my road with the speed of the mailman in Funny Farm. My life has become an ’80s movie.

Unable to rely on the local ice cream man, we’re resorted to purchasing our ice cream at the grocery store or making our own. Making your ice cream at home is not a money-saving endeavor. The cost of the cream and other ingredients will run you just as much as picking up a half-gallon container of your favorite brand. But, there are few pleasures in life as ridiculously decadent as a spoonful of homemade ice cream straight out of the ice cream maker. That’s when it’s best folks; fresh frozen, still slightly soft, and oh-so-satisfying. Don’t wait. Just dive in.

The addition of a fresh, pureed banana to this creamy peanut butter ice cream is the inspired genius of my son. He tried to back out of the banana idea moments after suggesting it, but I was too committed to the idea at that point. He later agreed that his initial instinct was right on target. Mini chocolate chips, fresh bits of banana, and salty peanuts complete this fantastic ice cream treat.

Peanut Butter Monkey Ice Cream


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 banana (pureed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarse chopped


Prepare your ice cream maker according to your maker’s instructions.

In a saucepan over medium/medium-low heat, combine the cream, milk, pureed banana, sugar, and peanut butter, whisking frequently, just until the sugar dissolves and the peanut butter has melted. Cool for a few minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate for a couple hours until the mixture is completely chilled. Once the mixture is cold, pour it into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions. Once the ice cream has reached the consistency of soft-serve, add the chopped banana, chocolate chips, and peanuts. Freeze in the ice cream maker for a few minutes longer.


It’s Smoothie Time

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The sun is shining. The pools are open. The farmstands are brimming with fruit.

It’s smoothie time!!

I’ve got two tasty smoothies for you today. The first, my personal favorite, is a Mango Creamsicle Smoothie. It tastes like a creamsicle bar, with the added punch of sweet, fresh mango. The second is a smoothie I like to make for the kids because it’s made with nothing more than fresh fruit and milk. Rather than using ice in my smoothies, I use frozen fruit, which makes a thick smoothie without watering down the flavor. You can purchase bags of chopped, frozen fruit, with no added sugar or syrup.  Or chop and freeze your own fruit!

Mango Creamsicle Smoothie


  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/2 cup Frozen Mango Chunks


Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Alternately, combine ingredients in a bowl or large measuring cup and blend with an immersion blender. (Makes 1 Smoothie)

Fresh Fruit and Milk Smoothie


  • 1 cup of Frozen Fruit, sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1/2 cup Milk


Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Alternately, combine ingredients in a bowl or large measuring cup and blend with an immersion blender. Add more or less milk, as necessary, to achieve your desired consistency.

A delicious frosty treat!

Speaking of frosty treats… There’s still time to get in on the Baked Alaska fun!!! I’ve got my flavors picked out!  Anyone else want to join in the adventure?? Just make any version of a Baked Alaska before next Wednesday and let me know how it goes!

Cooking with Kids: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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First and foremost, this is a blog about food. But, being a mom is inseparable from the rest of me. It’s at the core of my being. It’s part of almost everything I do, including cooking. And it just so happens that I believe that cooking with kids is one of the most fantastic ways to develop early-learning skills. Prior to my life as a stay-at-home mom, I was a teacher. Though I am no longer a teacher by trade, I will always be an educator. As an educator, a mom, and a culinary fanatic, I feel passionately about the many ways that cooking with kids can be learning-rich experiences.

Just a few of the many skills that are developed through cooking:

  • Vocabulary Development – names of foods, cooking terms, procedural language
  • Following Directions – single and multi-step directions
  • Sequencing Skills – following the steps in the directions, retelling the sequence of steps
  • Fine Motor Skill Development – stirring, pouring, mashing, cutting soft objects
  • Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Social Emotional Development – feeling pride and sense of accomplishment, following directions, turn-taking, participation
  • Science Knowledge – change of state from liquid to solid, heating and cooling, dissolving
  • Math Knowledge – measuring, counting
  • Willingness to experiment with new foods – kids may be more open to trying something they had a hand in making

A few tips to help make your cooking experience enjoyable for everyone:

  • Give yourself extra time.
  • Be prepared for a little extra mess.
  • Select tasks which are age-appropriate for your child.  (Kids are expert mixers, pourers, and banana-mashers!) Give them tasks to keep them occupied between steps.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! In the culinary field, one often hears the French phrase, “mise en place”. Essentially, this translates to “everything in its place”. It simply involves the practice of gathering, measuring, and preparing all ingredients prior to beginning the cooking process.  This practice is useful for all cooking, but is especially helpful when you’re working with young kids, with short attention spans.
  • Don’t forget to model good sanitary practices, such washing hands and using clean utensils.  (Keep a few extra spoons nearby so you can quickly replace spoons used for tasting!)

Children learn best when they are engaged in meaningful, hands-on activities. So, next time you’re in the kitchen, grab your kid (or borrow someone else’s) and get cooking!

A few pictures of today’s banana chocolate chip muffin-making event…

Adding the salt

Pouring the oil

Expert banana mashers

Using a fork to loosen the banana

Feeling proud of his work

Taste test

Anxiously waiting and watching

And now the recipe.  Children welcome, but not required to make!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. To prepare your muffin pan, use muffin liners, grease and flour, or spray with Baker’s Joy (or a similar product). Pour the batter into prepared muffins tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Makes about 12-15 muffins.

**This recipe was adapted from a recipe for Banana Bread, found here.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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