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March 22, 2019

Baking at The School House | Basket of GF Banana Muffins

I did some baking at The School House in the Blue Kitchen this week.  I just love the light in that kitchen : )

We have had the longest and most boring winter.  I got very, very lazy in the kitchen.  I'm sure we can all relate, especially if you have kids - too often I've taken the easy way out lately.  For me, that means Pasta, Pasta, Pasta.  It is just too easy to throw in a pan, add some veggies and meat, come up with a sauce, boom, dinners done in about 30 minutes and everyone is full and satisfied.  I was loving this solution, until I realized that I was also eating those leftovers for lunch.  And usually a PBJ for breakfast.  That is a lot of pasta and bread... especially when there wasn't much else going on for nutrition's sake.

For spring, I'm going to try to brighten up our meals for a bit.  For all of you that said this back in January, bravo.  It took me 3 months to get on board!  I've been doing some research on what kind of foods I want to focus on and what I could focus less on.  It is pretty obvious that focusing our meals around pasta and/or bread was not helping me get a balanced diet - I was missing a lot of daily vegetables and nutrients (especially magnesium - turns out that seems to be what I don't get enough of).

So, here we are.  I'm going to do a couple of weeks Gluten "Light" and see how I feel.  I'm really not into avoiding foods, but more into adding better things in - that is the goal for me - eat more colorful vegetables (especially greens, which I was not good at), nutrients and add more healthy nuts.  And not eat pasta for every meal.

With all of this said - there are SO MANY OPINIONS* about this out there.  I'm sure many of you have experience with this, but I really want to stay away from too many extremes.  I love being active and having the energy to do so, so I'm hoping adding some of these healthful things to my day and lightening up on the flour intake will help me just feel better.

*To the Celiac population : I did not mean to be insensitive to your disease : )  I am not claiming that your disease is a fad, only that it seems a lot of non-celiac people are trying to be gluten free to solve a number of ailments and or weight issues and therefore the GF lifestyle has become a trend among non-celiacs.  It seems to be the most recent "magic bullet" which I'm always weary of.  This post was merely my weariness to this phenomenon to be the cure-all that many claim it is.  I completely empathize with your celiac diagnosis, as after trying it for a week, there seems to be gluten hiding everywhere.  

It seems that many people are sensitive to this topic... and to gluten!  I didn't mean to offend anyone, just exploring this new idea for myself personally.  I was directing this post more to people, like myself, who stay away from the newest thing that everyone else is doing and try to just listen to my body and enjoy food.  I'm just personally curious if after avoiding gluten for a while, if my body will tell me that that's my answer - and honestly, I hope not!  It is hard : )


Packaging : 

Rectangle Basket (being restocked next week - all shapes and sizes)
Slate Linen Cocktail Napkin
Thistle Satin Ribbon
Basket Tag

Baking Supplies Used : 

Disposable Pastry Bag
Large Scoop
Jumbo Brown Cupcake Papers

Shop all Packaging & Baking Supplies >

Luckily this GF phenom has opened up lots of modifications for bakers, so this new "gluten light" adventures has also sort of made me excited about trying some old recipes with new modifications.

One of our all-time favorites is Banana Muffins (original recipe here for those all not interested in anything GF, like my former self) for breakfast.  I love a quick and easy breakfast and often have muffins and coffee every morning (what, isn't that healthy?!?!), so I wanted to take this favorite routine and make it a bit healthier.  I switched the regular flour for Glueten Free Flour Blend (I used Simply Balanced, Target's brand).  I also added 2 tablespoons of olive oil at add to the moisture factor since there isn't any gluteny gluten.  To pack it with extra nutrients, I tripled the nuts and added lots and lots of walnuts.  I should have saved some to add to the top along with the banana chips (which are one of my favorite parts - don't skip the dehydrated banana chips!), but I forgot.  It is still a muffin for breakfast, but hey, baby steps.

The results?  They were good!  Really good.  In fact, I don't know that I could tell the difference between regular - when they were hot out of the oven with some butter.  I had one later for a snack and had to re-heat it to get the same effect.  I'd love to know what you think... and what you think about all of this GF business.  For the birds?  Or has it helped you?

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

5 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons of olive oil2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups Gluten Free flour blend (I used Simply Balanced found at Target)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup of dehydrated banana chips
Peel 3 bananas and place them in the mixer half of them in a KitchenAid fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add sugar and mix them together for 3 minutes until a frothy mixture forms.  Add butter, eggs and vanilla.  Mix together until combined.  Add flour, soda, salt, and nuts.  Mash up remaining bananas with a fork and mix them in.

If baking immediately, scoop the mixture into Brown Jumbo Cupcake Papers in a muffin tin with a Large Scoop.    Top with walnuts and dehydrated banana chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes until baked through.  Serve with soften butter.

Make Ahead : One of my favorite shortcuts that I use almost every week, is to make a large batch of muffin batter and keep it in the fridge or freezer in a Disposable Piping Bag.  If we want fresh baked muffins, I just get the bag out of the fridge in the morning, snip off the end, squeeze the batter into muffin papers, and in 15 minutes we have warm, buttery Banana Muffins.

If you keep the batter in the freezer, just put the bag of batter in the fridge the night before and it should be perfectly thawed in the morning.

Packaging :

Rectangle Basket (being restocked next week - all shapes and sizes)
Slate Linen Cocktail Napkin
Thistle Satin Ribbon
Basket Tag

Baking Supplies Used :

Disposable Pastry Bag
Large Scoop
Jumbo Brown Cupcake Papers

Shop all Packaging & Baking Supplies >

More details on the Blue School House Kitchen, here >

March 20, 2019

The Easter Collection

The Easter Collection

Easter is always a welcome celebration in our family.  We've had a welcomed rest after the holidays, usually suffered through a boring winter and are ready to celebrate the emergence of blossoms, blooms and fresh air.  I've compiled my Easter Essentials here - many are actually Everyday Essentials, too, that can be used in many different ways.

Table Setting :

-Basket Centerpiece made using Wet Foam Block
-Terracotta Pot Place cards with Eggs or Bulbs
-Buttercup Blockprint Napkins
-Gingham wrapped gifts

I'll walk you through creating the centerpiece and the place cards later this week!

The Bunny Cake!

One of my post popular posts of all time : ).  Granny would be proud!

I use an 8" Cake Pan + Parchment Paper + Sage Moss to create this entire look.  Details are in this post.

I'm planning an entire post to creating darling Easter Baskets later this week - stay tuned for that.  But in the meantime, here are the supplies I use.

Cello Bags
Wrapping Paper

Parchment Wrapped (parchment paper's use is endless) Banana Bread tied with Blue Bunny Tag

The Classic Bunny Tag

Speaking of darling Easter Baskets.  These little tiny mice in boxes are just the cutest thing to tuck into an Easter Basket.  We just restocked them!

The softest little bunnies for baskets.  Each year, Emma gets a little bunny tucked into her Easter Basket - these are the sweetest, softest little versions.

Little Lemon Tarts are a great make-ahead dessert for Easter - or any spring party.

 I've added Preserved Green Moss to the store - I use it often to hide dirt in potted plants.

I love these little pots.  I used them here for place cards, filling them with moss and little buds.

For the place card, you can write a name on an egg with a sharpie, or plant a little bulb in it.  Easily tie a ribbon around with a tag for the name.  So sweet for a luncheon or shower favor.

I created this centerpiece using a block of wet floral foam - I've added them to the store!

More DIY details to come!

Watering Can Tablets & Tags

Basket Tablets & Tags

Spring Wrapping Papers Collection

Tessa, from, has long been a source of inspiration for me.  We've gotten to know each other personally over the last 7 years through our blogs.  I'm constantly consulting her for product ideas, travel recommendations and decorating my own home.  Her insights are always spot on - one of those people that knows your own style better than you do!  I asked her to design a wrapping paper for the Holiday Collection with the direction - "What is your dream paper?"  We texted back and forth for about 20 minutes and this design was born.  
**I"ve updated Tessa's paper for spring in another one of her signature colors, a slate grey blue.
4 sheets of wrap packaged in a Kraft Tube.
Each sheet is 36" x 24"

Meadow Linen Napkins

These are lovely for a hostess gift - I often include one wrapped around a loaf of banana bread (in parchment or a cello bag), tied with a ribbon.

I've perked up our hearth room with fresh linens.

Our Pillows come in the following sizes :

22" Large Pillow Covers
20" Medium Pillow Covers
Rectangle Accent Covers

I use Ikea inserts for all of the Cushion Covers in my store.  So, you can invest in the inserts from Ikea (inexpensive!!) once, and then switch out covers from my store each season like I do.

Ikea 26" Insert  ($9.99) for my 22" Pillow Covers

Ikea 20" Insert ($5.99) for my 20" Pillow Covers

Ikea Rectangle 26x16" Insert ($6.99) for my Rectangle Pillow Cover

I'll update later this week with DIY tutorials for the floral arrangements later this week!

Shop the entire Spring & Easter Collection >

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