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Lunchbox Daze

  The beginning of the school year can signal lunchbox blues for those of us who try to spice up meals for kids tired of the same old brown-bag ideas. Why not give them peanut butter and bananas baked into a delicious bread, or cornflakes bars with a butterscotch twist? And what finicky youngster doesn’t love the taste of nachos and queso cheese? I tried the easy Nacho Cheese Potato Soup out on Noelle, my own lunchbox critic, and she gave it two “fiery” thumbs up! Just make sure you pack it in a wide-mouthed thermos so little ones can easily scoop out the potatoes.

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA BREAD

1-3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1-1/4 cups mashed bananas

1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, and sift together. Cream vegetable shortening, sugar, and peanut butter in large mixing bowl. Add eggs, beating well. Combine mashed banana with buttermilk. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture, alternating with banana mixture until all is combined. Mix thoroughly and pour batter into a well-greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour or until golden brown and done. Cool completely before slicing.

BUTTERSCOTCH CORNFLAKES BARS

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups cornflakes

Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into large mixing bowl. Stir in brown sugar, melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Blend thoroughly. Stir in 1-1/2 cups of the cornflakes. Spread in greased 8×8-square baking pan. Sprinkle remaining cornflakes over top and press firmly into batter. Bake 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into squares. Makes 16 large bars. 

NACHO CHEESE POTATO SOUP

1 box Betty Crocker au gratin potatoes

1 (16 oz.) jar picante sauce or mild salsa

2 cups water

2 cups milk

1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Tortilla chips

Mix dried potatoes and accompanying packet of sauce, picante sauce or salsa, and water in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in milk and grated cheese. Heat thoroughly until cheese melts. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 5 servings.

SIX-WEEK MUFFIN MIX

MIX #1: 

Combine

6-1/4 cups raisin bran cereal

5 cups whole wheat flour (or half all-purpose 

white and half whole-wheat)

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons salt

MIX #2: 

Combine

4 eggs, well-beaten

1 cup canola oil

1 quart buttermilk

5 teaspoons baking soda

Combine mix 1 with mix 2 and store in large Tupperware-type bowl with tight-fitting lid in refrigerator. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with mix and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350°. Combined mix will keep in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Makes 4 dozen.

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