Menu Monday: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

OK. So, it's not the most creative name for a pie, but it is pretty simple to make and oh-so-yummy to eat.

I personally prefer the made-from-scratch cream pies like my momma makes, but a basic pudding pie is OK every once in a while. And this one combines some of my favorite tastes: peanut butter and bananas, with chocolate!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

35 Nilla Wafers, finely crushed
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 medium bananas, halved lenthwise, quartered
2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 c. milk
2 pkg (4 serving size each) Jell-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie filling
2 c. thawed Cool Whip, divided
2 Tbsp. peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix wafer crumbs and butter until well blended; press firmly onto bottom and up side of 9" pie plate. Bake 5 to 8 min. or until golden brown. Cool completely; top with bananas.

Make chocolate curls from 1/2 square of chocolate; reserve for garnish. Microwave remaining chocolate and PB on HIGH 1 min.; stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Drizzle over bananas; set aside. Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 min. or until well blended. Gently stir in 1 cup of whipped topping. Spread over bananas; top with remaining 1 cup whipped topping.

Refrigerate at least 3 hrs or overnight. Top with chocolate curls and peanuts just before serving. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.

Jenni's tips: It tastes much better the same day you make it, so I would advise making it the day of and letting it rest 3 hrs. vs. setting overnight.

Make chocolate garnish with a vegetable peeler.

I use a premade graham cracker crust and don't mess with the cookie crumbs. I think they also sell a premade Nilla Wafer crust, too (I couldn't find it).

Easter fun

These are the four Fertig great-grandkids - Jacklynn, Jillian, Lauren and Sophie. Next year, there will be two more girls on the couch. Jaime is due in about two weeks with another girl and me in July.

Here are the Poe grandkids - Emily, Jake, Lauren and Jillian. Emily is exactly one year younger than the girls and is wearing Lauren's Easter dress from last year. Isn't it amazing how much they grow in one year!

This is a classic Jillian shot to me. Paci in mouth, toes turned in, baby in hand, dress slightly up (trying her best to be a lady, but it's just not easy for a wild woman), and her hair in a barrette.

Lauren's basket was getting pretty full. She got the hang of the egg hunt pretty quickly.

Jillian was a natural, too. It was cute watching them carry their baskets and put eggs in all by themselves.

This is Lauren getting her first egg.

A rare Keller family photo. Shannon got an even better shot (with all the kids looking). Back (R to L): Andy, Mike and Jason. Middle: Me, Duane, Debbie and Shannon. Front: Lauren, Jillian and Sophie.

We had a great Easter this year. We went to Easter services at church on Saturday evening and then Sunday afternoon, we were off to the McCord's party barn to celebrate with our families. (Andy and I are very grateful that our families celebrate holidays like this together.)

We ate a delicious lunch and then the kids had an egg hunt. It was so cute. The only one not participating was little Emily (6 mo.), but I hear Jake got lots of barrettes and rings in his basket, so I'm sure he'll share.

After the egg hunt, everyone just relaxed and visited until we wondered why Jillian was getting cranky, looked at the clock and realized it was bedtime.

Going to the Park!

I love this picture of Jillian. Doesn't she have a sweet face?!

Nothing like a snack on the slide :)

This is Lauren climbing, climbing, climbing. She couldn't go down this slide, because of the pool of water at the entry. But, she had a fun time splashing in it.

Lauren also loved the swings. I'm sure she doesn't remember them from last summer. She would giggle and smile. But, unlike last year, she only sat in them for a couple minutes. There was just too much to explore.

We had a great LONG weekend with Daddy home (Andy had Friday off). So, Friday afternoon we headed for the park.

The girls had a great time exploring. They like the swings, but not as much as they enjoyed climbing on the jungle gym. The insist on standing upright and holding the rail when they climb the stairs, rather than staying on all fours. Which, made me nervous since the rail is right next to the edge of the step, which leads to a long fall to the ground. Andy and I split up, each taking one of the girls.

We had a blast, but Andy and I were exhausted after an hour and I learned that I will not be taking both girls to the park without an extra set of hands any time soon. At least not parks with tall jungle gyms.

State of the Mucus

I can' t tell you how tired I am of sickness - mine, my husbands, my kids. I feel like I've been blowing my nose since Jan. 1. I think I now have my third sinus infection.

Last week, both girls got a little pukey on us. Nothing over the top, thank God. But, Jillian had it Sunday night and Lauren on Thursday.

Thankfully, no one else fell victim.

I snapped this shot of the girls on Thursday - you can tell Lauren is obviously feeling a little better. We had a lazy pajama day. Except for mommy, who was up, showered and ready for work when Lauren woke up and changed the day's plans.


Menu Monday

I just returned yesterday afternoon from working on the team for the Discipleship Walk (a weekend retreat our church puts together). For our team dinner on Thursday night, we had soups and salad.

I brought Chicken Tortilla Soup - a recipe I got from Andy's aunt, Sharon Keller, up in North Dakota. She makes it for us nearly every trip and I was so shocked to learn just how simple it is to make. And boy is it tasty. Enjoy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Fiesta Nacho soup
1 can Enchilada sauce (mild, medium or hot - your choice)
2 cups cooked chicken, cut in cubes or shredded
2 soup cans milk

Open cans and mix together in a medium saucepan. Use empty soup can to measure milk - stir well and heat through - about 20 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.

Chicken prep: When I made this for our retreat, I poached chicken breasts in chicken broth, let them cool and then shredded the meat.

Milk note: You can use skim milk to save on fat and calories, but I think it affects the flavor - It tastes much better even if you just use 2% milk.


I want to be like my bald brother

I just got done reading my brother's blog and was inspired to write this post, because honestly, I was taken completely by surprise by not only his action (see for yourself), but by the range of emotion I'm feeling right now because of it.

Over the past few years, I've been watching my brother and this incredible spiritual journey he's been on. God has really rocked his world in a way that has caused a major shift not just in his thinking, but literally in the way he lives out every aspect of his life.

I have to say, it's the most genuine transformation I've ever witnessed. It's such a simple idea - that a person would take their convictions and actually do something about it - but it seems that so few of us in life actually do.

But, honestly I had wondered how long he would continue with his "hair system." I knew it wasn't a free service and I also new it was purely a cosmetic choice for him. And with all his recent changes in life, I thought that maybe he would stop doing it soon. Or, I thought maybe it would be something he held onto for himself (which I guess I thought he was entirely entitled to).

So after I read that he actually did it and I saw his picture, I'm now sitting here like a blubbering fool (seriously, I can't stop crying), because I am so humbled by his choice and convicted for my own lack of putting my words/thinking into action.

It's one thing to change your finances - stop buying fancy clothes, share a meal at a restaurant to save a buck, or go serve breakfast at an inner city ministry - but, to humble yourself in a way that you no longer care what people think and only what God thinks, is an entirely different level of commitment to your convictions.

So, here I am crying like a baby because I want to be like my bald brother. I want to change the world, by changing my life and my choices. I say I want to be Jesus' hands and feet, but I can't help wanting to fix up my new home with fancy bathroom fixtures and art.

It's a process, I know. I've watched my brother go through it. Ask him four years ago about getting rid of his hair and he would have responded with a stubborn "Mind your own business."

But, to me, it's simple proof of how God can truly use us "broken pots" to do his work. To be transformed to become more like Him.

I guess that's all I have to say. I'm so proud of you, Ryan! Thank you for being such an amazing example to me and to everyone around you.


Cute Pic and Story

Yesterday, I had the fun task of watching my friend Jaime's little girl, Jacklynn (13 mo) and my friend Kristin's little boy, Owen (16 mo), for the morning.

They did great. I snapped a photo of the girls watching Sesame Street - something my girls are REALLY into right now (especially Elmo). Owen missed out because he was taking his morning nap (such a good boy!).

Jillian really likes Jacklynn. I think because she thinks Jacklynn is a baby. She gets in her face and giggles and the way Jacklynn looks back at her cracks me up. It's like she's saying "Hey, I'm only a couple months younger than you!"

It's interesting how both the girls show interest in babies. Lauren loves her baby dolls - she holds them, feeds them, rocks them. And Jillian loves REAL babies. Whenever we're around my niece, Emily, she loves to get her her blanket or hand her toys. It's very sweet.

It makes me hopeful that they will both like their new baby sister.

Funny Story

OK. So now for the funny story. It's totally unrelated to this picture, but I still had to share.

Lately, Lauren has started talking a lot. It seems like she adds new words every week. Lately, some of her best words are - juice, eat, cracker, thank you (melt my heart!), bless you (after a sneeze (also, melt my heart)), bye-bye, momma, daddy - and the latest addition, "Ew!"

She started laughing when I would say it and then she started to say it. So, then I began to associate the word with her going poo-poo. I'd say "Did you go poo-poo? Ew!" And she thought it was funny.

Then, last night in the bathtub, we were getting the girls out and dressed for bed. We had Jillian out and Lauren was still playing in the water, when suddenly she said, "Ew!" Totally unprovoked. We looked in the tub, only to find she had gone poo-poo in the water.

It was so hilarious, but also so smart of her! It's a funny story, but I was impressed with how quickly she put my association of the word with the action. What a genius :)

The other funny part of the story, was us trying to hold Lauren (with Jillian half-dressed in my lap) from climbing out of the tub while Andy wiped her bum. But, while he was doing this, his gag reflux kicked in and he could hardly keep from choking while he got her cleaned up. I was laughing, telling him to breathe through his mouth. I think it was funnier for me, than for him. But, we both had a good laugh over it later.


Menu Monday

You know that friend Emily I mentioned before? I made this recipe for her when she had her newest baby, Nola. She made a special request for the recipe, making it my first official Menu Monday request! So, I'm happy to oblige.

These have a different flavor, because of the green salsa, garlic and fresh herbs. I nice change from the typical red tomato salsa enchilada.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

1 c. Salsa Verde
1/4 c. Fresh Cilantro
1/4 c. Fresh Parsley
1 Tb. Lime juice
2 Cloves Garlic
2 c. Chopped cooked chicken
3/4 c. Mozzarella
6 Flour tortillas (6" or 8" size)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place salsa, cilantro, parsley, lime juice and garlic in a food processor. Cover and blend for 30 seconds. Reserve 1/2 of this mixture.

Mix the remaining salsa mixture with the chicken and 1/4 c. of the cheese.

Spoon 1/4 c. chicken mixture into each tortilla. Roll and stack seam-side town in a baking dish.

Pour reserved salsa over tortillas, followed by remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Mommy sling contest

My good friend Emily has been offering some really fun giveaways on her blog, over the past few months. In fact, it's because of her that I've become determined to win a mommy-blog contest.

But, this recent contest she's hosting - The Mod Mum baby sling giveaway - is the one I REALLY want to win.

Emily is a baby-wearing pro. I didn't "wear" the girls as much as maybe I would have if there had only been one of them. But, I have a feeling this next little girl will be worn A LOT! Seeing as how I'll need to be as hands-free as possible.

All the patterns for their slings are so cute. My favorite is Madison.

By posting about this fun contest, I now have a chance at winning it. Wish me luck!


We got to go outside!

The weather yesterday was too good to be true. I think it hit the 60s. It was sunny and warm and wonderful.

Andy and I took the girls to Clay Terrace (an outdoor shopping center) and walked around for a while, ate lunch and I got a new phone (hooray!). The sun and fresh air felt so nice.

Then, later in the afternoon, Andy's parents returned from Florida and so they and Mike and Merrie Leigh came over for a visit. We ended up outside, where the girls thought they were in heaven. They were squealing while they ran and played in the backyard.

They were wearing some of the super-cute new spring shirts I bought them recently, so I snapped a few pictures.

We enjoyed it while it lasted, because today, we're back to the 30s - with NO warmth in sight.

Seriously, I am so sick of winter. We've been couped up for way to long and this momma's about the give Old Man Winter a piece of her mind, if he doesn't hit the road - SOON!

Menu Monday

For this week of Menu Monday, I'm going to post another Keller Family stand-by. In fact, I always keep these ingredients on hand, because it's easy, yummy and quick.

This is a recipe my mom made for us growing up. I think it's best served with corn bread.

This is a great "red" chili recipe, but if you prefer the "white" variety - I recently discovered the McCormick seasoning packet for White Chicken Chili. I think all you need for this recipe is the seasoning packet, water, white beans (your choice) and a 1lb of chicken. It's delicious served with fresh cilantro, avocado and sour cream.

Sorry, no picture this week.

Chicken Chili

1lb Chicken breast, cut in 1" cubes
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbs. Olive oil
28oz stewed tomatoes, undrained
14oz pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup salsa
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin

Heat olive oil in medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and chicken chunks and cook until your chicken is no longer pink.

Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. Seriously, that's it!