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Stoney's Crew: Low Fat, Low Sugar Banana Nut Muffins

Recently I found a recipe for Bananas in Pyjamas at Pursuit of Scrappyness that caught my eye (yep, a recipe name will do that) and I decided to adapt and give it a try (click on links above to see original recipe). This adaptation has received the Stoney Seal of Approval. I individually wrapped and froze the muffins after they cooled for an alternate to Stoney's Granola Bars in his lunch...

Here is what I did:
Stoney's Banana PJ's
1-1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 overripe bananas mashed
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mash bananas and mix in other ingredients. Bake for 30 minutes in 350 degree oven. Cool, wrap individually and freeze. Makes up to 12 muffins.

A nice little old lady in the grocery store recently told me that the discounted for quick sale bananas could be frozen peel and all until ready to make muffins and/or bread. No mixing, mashing, or lemon juice required. When ready to use, thaw, peel and use...and yep, it works! Who woulda' thought!

Wondering about the background on this crocheting wonder indeed! Just completed a a new dish cloth...I had just pitched one and needed to make a replacement! An hour of television watching and this is the result. If you want to crochet (or knit) one, just be sure to use 100% cotton yarn. They dry out much better than the "store bought" variety and wash up in the washer and dryer like a dream. For crochet, I used a tighter gauge single crochet stitch and, no, I did not follow a pattern, I crocheted to fit my personal size preference of about 8" square.


Stoney's Crew: Mud Room Make Over

During the cold, harsh, weather-beaten, snow-shoveling months of winter our Mud Room (garage entrance) of our home is shut off from the world to keep the cold at bay and the snowy, muddy, yuck of the season contained. With the spring season comes the opening of the door to the kitchen. Yes, folks, that is when the winter's "pitch and run" bounty becomes an unsightly eyesore. On Saturday Stoney went to Menards for some watch-a-ma-call-its and do-dads that he needed for his current desk rebuild and refinish project, so I asked him to pick up another wire shelf and brackets for the Mud Room (we had been 1 shelf short since the shelves were hung a couple of years ago) and he came home with a shelf for the Mud Room and a second one for the Laundry too! Bonus!

That could only mean one thing...I could no longer put off the inevitable clean and purge of the Mud Room. So about 2:00 I began the challenging process of unloading the room. How could such a small room hold so much crap, uh, I mean stuff? At 6:00 the room was fully unloaded, and the kitchen island, the kitchen table, and 2 card tables were loaded with treasures. I stopped and warmed up some leftover Sloppy Joe for a sandwich supper and fed Stoney. While we were eating I mentioned that now would be the time to paint that room since it was empty and it was, well, NASTY. I asked how late Menards was open and said I would go pick up paint. It was at this point that Stoney became a hapless (victim?) participant in my project. He had the misfortune of saying, "Before you do that let me check the garage, I think there is paint left over from painting the kitchen."

After he checked the garage, we did indeed have a full, unopened gallon of ceiling paint, AND a full unopened gallon of wall paint. I merely asked if I should take down the shelves or paint around them...his response...a very heavy sigh...and then wait for it... "give me a little bit to clean up the desk for the day I'll help you." The man may as well have whispered some sweet nothings in my ear!

We took down the shelves, brackets, and wall mounts and while he painted and then mopped the floor, I washed the dishes, pans, and do-dads that had been in the Mud Room and planned the best way to reload the room. I also had to decide what was really worthy of remaining in the room and what needed to find it's way into a garage sale this summer.

Well, now is the time to unveil our handiwork. It is also the time that I am very thankful that my mom doesn't have a computer to see this mess...a crash cart would need to be nearby to resuscitate her. Brace yourself, it is an ugly scene!

The "pitch and run" room! That empty shelf is the one that Stoney put up that morning and got this makeover rolling!

Ah, what a difference! The stainless roaster is only used a few times a year, so it doubles as the Britta water filter storage unit! I covered the boxes holding the Ball canning jars with a burgundy and white gingham contact paper...(Note to self: next time don't choose a pronounced stripe or check for future "contacting!") The box on the table is currently home to gloves and hats...the bucket will be for Stoney's shoes...until he builds or I can find a reasonably-priced small cabinet to fit in that space. The blue bag contains Stoney's bowling balls and it has to reside somewhere! The Dawg's food is stored in the large pickle jar that is currently in the sink...once again lookin' for a cabinet. The little washtub above the sink holds the berry picking boxes that hopefully we will need soon and the two large canners hold several pieces of canning "stuff" that is used during food processing.

The shelves above the freezer and the freezer top kinda gives you the "twitches" doesn't it?

Much better...and yes that is a folded paper towel on top of the freezer. There is always a large pitcher of iced tea there in the fridge next door...if there is a paper towel there perhaps the dribbles will be wiped up when they happen?

Above the refrigerator was a huge catch all. Twitching again aren't you?

The basket tower on top of the fridge contains medicines and leashes/collars and such for The Dawg. Behind the party bowls is the big torch flashlight for when the lights go out. I am going to look for a flat back basket to put either on the wall between the fridge and the door or on the fridge to hold Campbell's Soup and Box Tops for Education tags at garage sales and flea markets this summer.

The doorway to the attic, (another scary project in the works post-Mud Room Makeover recovery.)

The old picnic basket holds potatoes, the old Easter basket holds onions. The mirror and the picture used to decorate my cubicle when I worked outside the home. The plates once hung in the kitchen. Once a cabinet for the North wall is obtained, I will switch the little table to this location to hold the baskets at a more convenient height.

Well, that is the end of my true confessions of a person guilty of helping to create a pitch and run room. Now that I am home full time, I couldn't stand closing my eyes on the way through any longer! My total Mud Room Makeover cost was $5.47 for the contact paper. (Stoney purchased the shelf and brackets, so I don't know what they may have cost.) The rest was sweat and items we already had on hand. And that concludes what has been keeping me busy the last few days instead of blogging!

For more organizing tips and ideas visit: to see entries into the recent 28 Day Challenge or visit Money Saving Mom for the Clear out the Clutter Challenge.


Stoney's Crew: A Plan Comes Together!

Yep, sometimes it is just amazing what happens when the clicking and whirring starts between my ears...sometimes it might even be considered "scary!" I had been looking for ways to organize my coupons so that I could get to them faster. I researched how other bloggers that coupon do it; tried to take into consideration my limited attention span; my quest for portability; my penchant for a visual organizing system (photographic memory?); and my desire to not need to pull a hay wagon to the grocery store in order to use my coupons.

Today was the maiden voyage of what I think works for me! On other blogs I found baskets with pretty file folders (too big, hence the need for a hay wagon) and binders with baseball card slip sheets (way more $$ than I wanted to spend to save money couponing); a little "coupon folder" for a buck at Michael's; and then bahzzinga there in the Wal-Mart electronic/photo center it was. The answer to my heart's couponing desire: a $3 photo album. Yes, a photo album!

See here it is not a scrap booking wonder, not anything fancy schmancy, just a good old-fashioned photo album with pockets sealed on 3 sides that will hold up to 100 photos. A little guy that is about 4x5 in size.

See my coupons can be organized and seen with ease!

It fits into my Vera Bradley shopping bag and I am off to the store! Today I was even delighted to discover that it lays perfectly on the shopping cart between the cart's handle and my purse. I think I have fallen in love with this latest brainstorm of mine. I should probably patent the idea, but I am a nice person, so I am sharing it with all of you!

Stoney's Crew French Toast

Today's supper menu was French Toast and Sausage patties. The extra pieces of French Toast are separated by wax paper and in the freezer waiting for a trip to my toaster for breakfasts or lunches over the next couple of months! No, I don't do any special recipes. I used 6 eggs, enough ground nutmeg to "track a rabbit" and beat them well with a whisk. I dunked the cinnamon swirl bread in the egg and then fried on a buttered griddle. I did the whole loaf of bread because I knew that all of the extra will toast like a dream in the toaster. (It is what we did when I was a kid...a millennium ago before microwaves were the norm!)

Creativity must be bubbling here at Stoney's Crew! I say this because of the coupon book, the French Toast marathon, and this evening I decided that I did not want to fry the sausage patties and make a mess on my clean stove top, so I put them on a cookie sheet and baked them in the oven and they turned out perfectly. I gotta say it, "I love it when a plan comes together!"


Stoney's Crew: What's for Supper?

Well, I'm almost "back in the saddle" again with menus. This re-engineering of my cooking into fewer servings may get the best of me yet! No really, it is working out pretty well right now because of a little project I work on on Monday's and Friday's for a few hours! Those days are when I pull something already made out of the freezer to finish baking or warm up. I'm getting closer to being a full-fledged once-a-month chef doing this! Now I am starting to mark the "extras" on my master planner calendar for another day of the month as I make them ahead so that I don't forget what is in the freezer and have to dig through the contents!

Last week I had a hankerin' for Chicken Subgum, a dish from one of our local Cantonese eateries. My version was simple and delish, however, the next time I make it I think I will add a little more pepper or red pepper flakes to kick it up a notch

Here's how I made:
2 chicken breasts cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon Sesame Oil
2 cups celery stalks, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper diced (I used 1/2 orange and 1/2 yellow pepper this time)
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock/broth (I used homemade)
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts
Soy sauce to taste

Brown chicken breasts in butter and/or olive oil. Season with sage, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from pan when cooked and set aside. Put onion, peppers, Sesame Oil, and celery in pan and saute on low until onions are almost transparent. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the broth to the pan and bring to a gentle boil. Mix flour and remaining stock with broth and add to pan to thicken the stock to a light "gravy". Add chicken back to pan with water chestnuts, and soy sauce to taste. 2 minutes before serving add the cashews to the mixture. Serve over plain rice or Fried Rice. An additional "side" might be one of my Egg Rolls! Garnish with "Chinese Noodles".

On the menu for this week!

Monday, March 15: Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Rolls (Last week when I made meatloaf, due to this re-engineering thing, instead of make 1 freeze 1, I made 4, froze 3 with 2 pounds of ground beef!) [Bake 4 potatoes, use 2 on Friday.]

Tuesday, March 16: French Toast (made with cinnamon raisin bread), Sausage Patties, Fruit

Wednesday, March 17: Green Salad with Cajun Turkey (I bet you thought, being Irish, I would be serving something else...but Stoney won't eat Corned Beef & Cabbage, so I have to settle for "green" lettuce! I guess I could have opted for Lucky Charms!)

Thursday, March 18: Sloppy Joe Sandwiches, Salad

Friday, March 19: Pork Chops, Twice Baked Potatoes, Corn, Salad

Saturday, March 20: Mystery Meals!

Sunday, March 21: Chicken Subgum, Fried Rice, Egg Rolls

Don't forget to check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie for more menu ideas!


Stoney's Crew: English Muffins!

OK, I like English Muffins...I like them toasted with peanut butter (with and without honey or homemade jam); butter and cinnamon sugar; just plain honey; an egg fried (omelet style) with a spoonful of diced peppers, onions and crumbled bacon with a slice of cheese; and I especially like them with a plain fried egg and slice of cheese (ala McMuffin w/o the Canadian Bacon) for a quick lunch. So when I found this recipe over at Happy Housewife I had to give it a try, cause I am a thrifty-type that cringes when even buying on sale because the cost/quantity ratio is high compared to a loaf of bread, especially when any stale bread turns into croutons for salads and breadcrumbs for meatloaf/meatballs or cassarole toppings here at Stoney's Crew. I can make that $1.29 loaf of bread work hard and earn my money!

English Muffins:

1 cup hot water (approx. 110 degrees F)
1/2 cup milk (I used skim--it is what we drink)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour (divided 2+2)
2 teaspoons instant yeast (I had a jar of Meijer brand All Natural Active Dry Yeast)
3 tablespoons softened butter (I used organic, it was cheaper than the regular with a coupon last week :) )

Mix water, milk, honey, and salt. Add 2 cups of flour and yeast. Mix to loose batter. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Add butter and remaining scant 2 cups of flour. Roll out 1/2 thick on lightly floured (I used a sprinkle from the original 2 cups) and cut in circles. Let rise until double. Cook on hot (350 degrees F) buttered griddle. Turn once. Cool. You can either cut in half (I did) or divide with a fork.

Griddlin' away...yep, that is a pan of croutons I baked this morning while the muffins were doublin!

The loot!

I waited until barely cool and toasted one, slathered with butter and cinnamon/sugar and OH MY! Pure heavenly bliss! Yep, this one will be repeated! I'm thinkin' especially in the summer when it is too hot to bake!

Notes on my adjustments to the original recipe:

  • I did not roll out on corn meal/flour, here at the Stoney's Crew we avoid corn products due to allergies.
  • I used all regular all-purpose flour.
  • I rolled out thinner than 1/2 inch (about 3/8")...what can I say, I guess I was overly energetic since I made them in the morning!
  • I was tempted to just cut squares rather than traditional circles, but I used a glass to get the circles for a standard muffin look.
  • My glass was only 3" in diameter and after rolling thinner, my result was 24 muffins. Into the freezer they go!
  • I am thinking that 3-1/2" would have been a nicer size for egg sandwiches.
  • Adding dried raspberries, strawberry pieces, blueberries, or raisins to the dough stage and toasted (after cooking), topped with cream cheese might just melt me into a puddle!
  • A summer BLT with one of these...oh yeah, now we are talking!


Stoney's Crew: Granola and Re-Engineering!

Well I have been re-engineering my plans for the last week. Stoney announced that due to the soon to be warmer swimsuit weather (he is an optimistic guy) that he would like to change up his lunch plans. He would like yogurt, veggies, granola bar, trail mix, orange juice and fruit in his lunch and that is it.

This is what his lunch was: yogurt, granola bar and OJ for breakfast; trail mix for morning break; leftover day (or a couple of day's) previous supper, radishes or carrot sticks, a fruit such as a banana or similar; with a fruit left for an afternoon snack. His new regimen is granola bar and OJ for breakfast; trail mix for morning snack; yogurt, radishes or carrot sticks, a fruit for lunch; and a fruit for afternoon snack. So you see my less outlet for leftovers! It seems most of my recipes make 4-6 servings so I have been busy re-engineering them and/or (gasp) freezing to make ahead for a future meal. That is where I have to be really careful. All of my research leads me to believe that you shouldn't freeze prepped meals for more than a couple of months (sources: various once a month cooking blogs on That puts me on a tighter meal plan rotation. One thing is for sure tho...Granola Bars need to be made! Here is how I make them (and freeze) for 28 individually wrapped bars. (If you have a more physical job than "desk jockey" you may want to up the size of the bars for a net output of 20 bars.)

Granola Bars

5 cups oatmeal (I don't use quick cooking, I use the "real" stuff)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup flax seed* (or ground flax seed)
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup roasted unsalted almond pieces
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
scant 2 cups water
1 cup dried raspberries**
1 cup dried strawberry pieces**

Mix all together adding water slowly (you may not need as much) you want enough to just hold together. Press into a oversize jelly roll pan (sprayed with butter flavor spray) evenly distributing the mix. Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 hour. (1 hour will make for a softer bar, if you want you can bake longer, but keep an eye on it!)

Cool and cut into 28 pieces.
*After I started using flax seed straight, I read that ground flax seed will provided the desired nutrients better than the seed unground! This batch was the last of my flax seed stock, so when I stock back up, I will opt for ground flax seed, but it will need to be kept in the freezer like the nuts.

**I purchase all of my ingredients in bulk for this at E&S Grocery in Shipshewana. The prices are much cheaper (at least half) and the choices of dried fruit are much more varied than in the grocery. Look for opportunities to purchase the ingredients in bulk in your area. Any favorite dried fruit will work...raisins, dates, apples, apricots, cherries, figs, etc.

This is one thing that I have always done "once a month" style and frozen. The consistency is just right even right out of the freezer for an on the way to work breakfast with the OJ in a "sippy cup" (travel mug).

Since I am still menu again this week; but I can tell you tonight was Chicken Subs made from a roasted chicken and Tuesday will be Meatloaf!

If you get a chance, check out Money Saving Mom, The Frugal Girls, and OrgJunkie for more menu ideas, coupon tips and generally interesting stuff!