Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

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Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting via jessieweaver.net

When I’ve had a long day … I bake. The best part about being on-campus, in a dorm full of high-school boys, has been the ability to bake without having to eat all the end results. I bake, and then I let Mr. V take the goodies down to the dorm boys. They are happy. I am happy because my kids aren’t asking for cookies every three minutes. My belly is happy because I don’t gain 300 more pounds.

These cupcakes were last night’s creation, inspired by a bunch of ripe bananas on the counter. The rest will go in the freezer for smoothies, but I used two bananas making this awesome cake. I might maybe have been eating the little leftover batter with a spoon. I just love peanut butter and bananas together, so I went for that combo. And with chocolate? A total winner.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting via jessieweaver.net

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 24-32 cupcakes

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

This wonderful chocolate banana cake recipe comes from Joy of Baking. You can also make it in a 9x13 pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Together with the peanut butter frosting, these cupcakes are the perfect balance of sweet, salty, rich, and light.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. flavorless oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T butter, softened
  • 1 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 c. powdered sugar
  • Optional
  • chopped peanut butter cups

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with liners - I use silicone ones. Spray liners with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry ones and stir until well incorporated.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. (I made 30 cupcakes with a little batter left over, but the silicone cups make pretty small cupcakes.) Reduce oven heat to 325.

Bake about 22 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool.

For the frosting.

With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat about 2 minutes, scraping the sides. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Garnish with chopped peanut butter cups if desired.

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What’s your favorite recipe for using up ripe bananas?

Hit Me with Your Best Coconut

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dk_mountain_-_bridge_-_mario_kart_double_dash

Back in college, my husband and our friends played hour upon hour of Mario Kart – first for Nintendo 64, then the GameCube once it came out during our junior or senior year. (Yeah, we’re getting old!) I played, too, but not nearly as much as most of my friends, mainly because I was (and am) really, really bad at it. When playing in a big group, the loser of the race had to give up his or her controller to someone else … and I was almost always the loser.

There was a race for the Nintendo 64 version called DK’s Jungle Parkway. In certain parts of the race, when you went off course, monkeys threw coconuts at you, spinning your car out and slowing you down. (This Mario wiki says they are actually “natives” throwing rocks at you … but I’m pretty sure they are coconut-launching monkeys.)

I was praying last night and honestly asking God to give us speedbumps if our family is driving the wrong course. If we aren’t going where He wants us to be, I want to KNOW. And sometimes that knowing can be really painful. But without it, we can be driving off into nowhere, His glory fading into the background as we gun the engine.

It’s silly that this made me think of Mario Kart. But still, sometimes I wish God would just hit me on the head with a coconut rather than let me wander along my own path. I wish the turtle guy would flash the TURN AROUND arrow sign in front of my eyes when I’m aimless.

I’d rather run slowly and deliberately, learning lessons along the way, than be off in the jungle, hanging out with the “natives,” far away from God.

Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.

Psalm 119:35-37, NIV

15 Kids Books about Ballet

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15 Ballet Picture Books

I believed my daughter when she told me she wanted to take gymnastics instead of ballet. I don’t think I should have.

She is a ballerina.

Once she stopped ballet, her level of obsession with it only rose. She insisted on checking book after book about ballet out from the library. I am pretty sure we’ve read most of them now! Here are our favorites.

Our newest favorites are the Tallulah books by Marilyn Singer. Tallulah is adorable and realistic – she thinks she’s much older than she is, she thinks she’s an amazing ballerina, and she doesn’t understand why she can’t have a tutu RIGHTNOW. So, you know, a lot like Libbie. We’re all in love with Tallulah and Singer’s four books about her: Tallulah’s Tutu, Tallulah’s Toe Shoes, Tallulah’s Solo, and Tallulah’s Nutcracker.

Rachel Isadora has several beautiful ballet books, including Lili On Stage and On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC. There are three Lili books, but this one is Libbie’s favorite, because Lili is in a performance of The Nutcracker. The watercolor illustrations are dreamy, and Isadora really shows what it is like to be a child in a professional ballet performance. Isadora also wrote Bea at Ballet, which is better for your 2-to-4-year-old crowd of tiny dancers.

Brontorina just wants to be a ballerina. So what if she can’t fit in the studio? So what if she doesn’t have the right shoes? She WILL overcome and learn to dance! This one is good for giggles and a lesson in overcoming obstacles.

And for some more paleontological fun, read T. Rex at Swan Lake by Lisa Carrier. This T. Rex is tired of being examined by museum visitors and decides to visit the ballet … but can’t stop herself from getting on stage, donning a tutu, and dancing.

Miss Lina’s Ballerinas by Grace Maccarone is Madeline for ballet. Miss Lina’s eight ballerinas do everything in pairs, and everything goes topsy-turvy when number 9 is added to their school.

In Tanya and the Magic Wardrobe by Patricia Lee Gauch, Tanya, an impish little ballerina, is going to see Coppélia with her mother and sister. When they show up too early for the show, Tanya’s curiosity takes her back to the wardrobing room and she has an adventure before she even sees the ballet!

This is actually a series, but we’ve only read this one and Presenting Tanya, the Ugly Duckling.

Others worth a mention:

What books about ballet do you and your kids love?

Saturday Linky Love

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Saturday Linky Love button

 

Happy Easter weekend, friends! I’m writing this tonight in hopes that I can stay off the computer tomorrow and work on cooking and cleaning and loving on my kiddos. Libbie and Joshua were both running a fever today, so I’m thinking there may be a lot of cuddling and book-reading going on tomorrow. Seriously hoping they are better in the morning, though, because I desperately want to go to church Sunday morning!

Here’s what I read that was great this week!

Reading offline: Finishing up Cress by Marissa Meyer.

So, what did you read that was great this week? Link up here. You can grab the code for the button in the sidebar, if you want. Please link back here and add the PERMALINK to your post, not your home page.

Bye Bye Breastfeeding …

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Bye Bye Breastfeeding
source: Tara Faul via Flickr Creative Commons

Until Friday, I had been breastfeeding or pregnant for all but six months since February 2008. For a few months when I got pregnant with Joshua, I was even both!

I’d been ready to wean Joshua for awhile, honestly. You might think that’s strange since I nursed David until he was 20 months old. And really, I think David just gave up because I was pregnant and there wasn’t much there. He is my most dependent child. And that’s OK! We were mutually OK with nursing.

Joshua is a fierce biter when it comes to nursing. I’ve tried every trick and tool in the arsenal to get him to realize that this isn’t allowed. Nothing works. He might stop for a little while – a few weeks, maybe – and then as soon as he is teething again it’s back with a vengeance. This has been going on since he was about 9 months old. At 10 months, though, he was rather feisty and refused to take a bottle, which hampered any weaning. At 11 months, we were better with the bottle … and then he got the flu. He wouldn’t eat or drink except for nursing. So that’s what we did.

For the last six to eight weeks, I’ve only nursed him once or twice a day. And he hasn’t done much chomping down, but he thinks a little gnawing isn’t too bad. I beg to differ.

Baby monkey nursing
source: George Estreich via Flickr Creative Commons

Friday he pretty much demanded to nurse (it’s amazing how insistent a nonverbal person can be, isn’t it?) and then didn’t actually drink anything, just tried to chew. He likes to do this with his bottles – drink some, then chew on the nipples and walk around with the bottle hanging from his mouth. It’s cute when it’s the bottle. Not cute when it’s my body.

After repeating this twice, I gave up. And decided that was that. We were done.

We’ve now gone four days with no nursing. He hasn’t asked, either, so that helps. I thought I would be jubilant. In a way, I am. I will be glad to have my body back. I am sincerely hoping my chest will deflate a little.

But then I saw my Boppy. Someone had tucked it away in the linen closet. It made my heart sink. Because I am guessing Joshua is probably our last baby. I am not 100% sure, but it’s probable. And I do love nursing. I love that connection. I am mourning the fact that I didn’t have one last sweet nursing time with my Joshy. (Not that I remember any “last times” with the other two.) I’m sad that it might be the end of this part of mothering for me.

Like every phase in parenting, I think, there are many times you wish it to be over. And then it is. And you mourn, deep down, soul-sinking kind of sadness. Just one more time, you think.

One more toothless smile.

One more time that he sleeps in your arms.

One more bang on the high chair.

One more glittery shoe.

You wanted her to eat solids, him to sleep through the night, to get rid of that high chair, to stop seeing glitter all over the carpet each day.

But then those pieces of parenting are gone. And you miss them.

Four days without, and I miss the nuzzle of a baby at my breast already. The feeling of accomplishment, that my body nourishes my baby, it does what it’s supposed to do. The sweet wisps of baby hair on my hand as I rub his precious head. Tiny hand beating me like a drum, happy at his milky time.

Please excuse me. I’m going to go sob now.

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