Here are some creative and healthy treats to beat the back to school blues. The banana muffins are a tasty and nutritious addition to the lunchbox.  The frozen bananas make a great after school snack, served directly from the freezer.  Both recipes are fun and kid friendly so your child can help you prepare them.  To make the two-tone doggie sandwich, use a dog cookie cutter to remove the center of a slice of whole wheat bread and replace with a dog cut-out from a slice of white bread.

Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening*
  • 1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 bananas)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Before you begin you will need: A pastry blender**, and a 12-cup standard size muffin pan (3” diameter x 1” deep) lined with 12 standard size cupcake liners.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the first 6 ingredients.

With a pastry blender, two knives or your fingertips cut in the shortening until it resembles coarse meal.

In another mixing bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, orange juice and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients.

Mix together all ingredients until just combined—do not over mix.

Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

Fill each cupcake liner about ½ to ¾ full with the dough.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

Makes 8 to 12 muffins.

Notes

* I use Crisco, but it is ok to substitute butter or margarine.

** You can find a pastry blender in most kitchen stores or the kitchen supply aisle of your supermarket.

Ingredients for Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

  • 4 ripe small bananas
  • popsicle or lollipop sticks (about 5 to 6 inches)
  • 16 ounces white, dark or milk chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons Crisco (can also use Canola oil, butter or margarine)
  • Assorted toppings: chocolate jimmies, rainbow sprinkles, chopped nuts, toasted flaked coconut, crushed cookies, Rice Krispies, granola

Peel bananas.  Cut in half. Insert popsicle or lollipop stick into cut side very gently about halfway into the banana being careful not to split banana.

Place bananas on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for several hours or overnight.  Once bananas are frozen, you can place them in a large baggie and store in freezer until ready to use.

When you are ready to dip the bananas, place your favorite toppings on paper plates.

Place chocolate and Crisco in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at 50% power for 1 minute.  Repeat this process, one minute at a time until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Pour the melted chocolate into a long, slender cylindrical vessel (such as a champagne flute), remove banana from freezer and dip the banana into the melted chocolate.

Once banana is fully coated, work quickly and roll in your favorite topping before the chocolate hardens.

If desired, you can melt a different color chocolate to drizzle on banana instead of a topping, i.e. if you’ve coated the banana in dark chocolate, you can drizzle white chocolate over it.  It is okay to drizzle on a design after the coating has hardened.

Place coated and decorated bananas on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze.

When finished bananas are frozen, you can store them in Tupperware or aluminum storage containers.

Serve bananas directly from freezer.  They will turn mushy if they defrost.