Speckled Monkey Bars

Bananas have always been a staple ingredient for lunch bags/boxes in our household. When selecting fruit to add to my weekly shopping list, bananas always take center stage. I often choose far more than needed for a week’s worth of lunches as I love having a few extra over-ripe bananas to add to tasty quick bread and snack recipes, such as this one. These delicious bars have few ingredients and highlight some of my family’s favorite flavors. My three (not so) little monkeys have enjoyed these flavors for many years.

Speckled Money Bars

4 medium (over-ripe) bananas, mashed

2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9” baking pan.

Mix bananas with oats and peanut butter; add vanilla and continue to mix until well blended. Carefully, spread the mixture in prepared pan making sure to evenly distribute to the corners. Top with chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting into delicious squares. Wrap individually for a lunch bag treat or store in an airtight container.

Note: Lately, I’ve been using the Copper Chef brownie pan to make perfect portions while baking. Depending on your oven, you may have to reduce cooking time when using this pan. Cool completely before removing insert.

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Sweet and Salty White Chocolate Snack Mix

The next time you’re looking for a sweet treat this one will not disappoint. Great for holiday gatherings, this party mix is completely addicting.  Make a quick batch, place it out on the counter and BAM, it’s gone in a flash. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this delicious treat! It’s a sinful mix that will satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season.



Sweet and Salty White Chocolate Snack Mix

1 (10 oz) package mini twist pretzels

5 cups toasted oat cereal rounds

5 cups crispy rice or corn cereal squares

2 1/2 cups salted peanuts

1 (14 oz) package peanut M&M candies

2 (11 oz) packages white chocolate chips

3 tablespoons canola oil

Line a few (3) jelly roll pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a very large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside.  In a microwave-safe bowl, heat white chips and oil for 2 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring once. Microwave on high for 10 seconds and stir until smooth.  Pour over cereal mixture and combine well. Spread into prepared pans, cool and break apart.  Store in an airtight container.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts



As the cool winds blow down the length of Lake Michigan, they usher in autumn showers and chilly temperatures.  This weekend we are experiencing “lake effect rains” and the cooler temperatures have me searching through my files for all of my favorite “comfort food” recipes. 

This irresistible snack is great for a fall tailgate party or family get-together.  Roasted cashews mixed with a blend of sweet and spicy ingredients make this crunchy finger-food hard to resist.  Nearly everyone that has tried these spiced nuts find them irresistible.  Make a couple of batches because they’re usually gobbled up rather quickly.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts

1 1/2 lbs. cashew nuts

1½ tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 teaspoons brown sugar 

½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spread cashews in a single layer on a jelly roll pan.  Roast the cashews for 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly toasted and golden brown. 

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine fresh rosemary, brown sugar, cayenne, and salt; add melted butter, mixing well.Remove the nuts from the oven and carefully add hot cashews to the spice mixture.  With a large spoon or spatula fold in the nuts to completely coat with the spice mixture. Cool cashews in a single layer on a piece of foil or parchment. Serve warm or  transfer to an airtight container and keep at room temperature for a few days.

(adapted from the Food Network)

Italian Nut Medley

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When looking for a salty snack, I usually reach for a jar of nuts on the pantry shelf. Recently, I scoured my cookbooks for a recipe that might change up the taste of my everyday snack staple. Most recipes I found included a good dose of sugar which was definitely not the direction I was headed. I stumbled on a recipe in my Best of Country Cooking Cookbook from 1999. I had all of the ingredients on hand so I whipped up the quick recipe. What a yummy, crunchy, surprise! The four ingredient recipe calls for a mixture of Italian spices, a bit of butter and soy sauce mixed in with a few cups of quality nuts. After tasting this flavorful crunchy mix, I’m sure this will become a staple recipe in my snack folder.

Italian Nut Medley

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups quality mixed nuts ( cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add nuts; cook and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce. Sprinkle with salad dressing mix, stir to coat. Immediately transfer to a baking sheet and spread thinly to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from The Best of Country Cooking – 1999.

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Unbelievably Moist Banana Snack Cake

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Well, the weather outside has quickly turned from a mild Autumn of wind and rain to a wintery mix of cold and snow…I fear that our Midwest winter weather is here to stay for a while.
This recipe is perfect for a cold and dreary day indoors while the snow falls outside. I love to brew a cup of English tea and slice up this moist and flavorful cake. I am always amazed that mixing this simple list of ingredients together can produce such a delicious treat. By the way, this is a another great cake to pack in the lunchbox.

Unbelievably Moist Banana Snack Cake

1 2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, combine flour and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk brown sugar, water, banana, oil, and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients, just until moistened. Transfer to greased 8″ square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.