5 Life Lessons Your Kids Learn From The Playground

This post sharing 5 playground benefits was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Head out to the park today to enjoy playground benefits

Growing up, I spent a lot of time outside. Whenever I had the chance to go to a park, I took it. Back then, parks consisted of swings, a single slide, and monkey bars. If we were lucky, there were two slides – a straight one and a twisty slide. While there are always playground benefits, the ones we used to have were somewhat limited.

Flash forward to the playgrounds my kids play on today. They barely resemble my elementary school playground (on an asphalt surface, mind you). My elementary school just built a brand new playground last year to replace the aging wood structure that lacked accessibility and limited the number of children able to play on the structure at one time.

We partnered with Landscape Structures to build our new playground, and the end product blew me away. It was nothing like what I’d imagined going into the process. The amount of space the play structure covered wasn’t much greater than the old playground, but the variety of equipment and multiple heights made it seem like a much larger footprint.

Creative playgrounds feel much bigger

Needless to say, this playground is a hotbed of activity whether school is in session or not. No matter what day we go to play there, we find plenty of company enjoying the playground. In fact, my kids love to have playdates at the park – and that makes me happy.

Granted, this playground’s initial designed aimed at our kindergarten to second grade students. Once installation finished, the older kids begged to play there, too. Now the primary playground rotates each week – and my middle school age kids love to come play, too. It’s possible I’ve been known to go hang out on the playground and play, too.

Even when I sit and watch, the lessons I see all the kids learning from their playground amaze me. There really are playground benefits that help kids develop skills they need throughout life. You can find your own Landscape Structures playground, and check out the fun for yourself.

Playgrounds teach life lessons

5 Playground Benefits: Life Lessons Your Kids Learn

Cooperation is key

Many of the games kids want to play involve compromise. Woodchips (don’t ask) is a huge game by us, bu no one can play without kids working together to set up the rules. Many parts of the playground require cooperation, too. Unless one child (or parent) will push the merry go round, it goes nowhere. Likewise, kids have to decide which way it should go. I’ve seen kids want to push it both ways at the same time, but until they ironed out their differences, the merry go round sat unmoving.

Playground Benefits kids by teaching cooperation

Perseverance is paramount

I remember the first time Little Miss tried to do the monkey bars. She fell after the first one. Having seen other kids successfully cross, she got up and tried again and again until she swung across like … a monkey. This is by far my favorite of the playground benefits because I see far too many people who don’t want to try or who give up after their first attempt. Learning that failure is just temporary and trying again leads to success – I couldn’t ask for more.

If you fall down, no one cares. Playgrounds have soft surfaces to minimize injury (thinking back to my asphalt covered playground again), and most tumbles happen near the ground. The only thing injured tends to be pride, and with so much activity, kids brush that off and keep going.

Playing at a playground helps teach perseverance

With no instructions, kids get creative

The playground structure we have now at our school offers plenty of challenges and different ways to tackle the equipment. While my daughter insists she can balance on the hammock, other children prefer the challenge of simply sitting on it while rocking back and forth. As long as children play safely on the equipment, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the various components. For example, I don’t let anyone climb on top of parts of the structure, but if my daughter wishes to slide down the “running wall” as kids named this hill, she’s more than welcome to do so.

I watch kids play regularly, and often the games are so creative that unless I heard them develop the rules (more cooperation), I can’t figure out what they’re playing. I love the creativity, and heading to the playground benefits my kids by encouraging it.

Playground benefits include encouraging creative play

Kids build core strength without knowing it

At two, I remember taking my son to a birthday party where he tried to cross the bridge at the gymnastics center and lacked the core strength to walk across an unstable surface. Fast forward to today where he’s working on his pull ups at tae kwon do and does great pushups and planks. And of course, he climbs the rope ladders with ease.

The components in today’s playgrounds tend to be designed to move and sway. That includes the aforementioned rope ladders, as well as various steps and other pieces. When the playground equipment moves, kids have to use their cores to stabilize themselves – and that builds muscle. They don’t even know about some of these playground benefits, thinking they’re just playing. In fact, our PE teachers now use the new playground as part of the class curriculum because it offers so many opportunities to build strength, flexibility, and more.

Playground benefits include building core strength

Everyone has to take turns

Oh this is such a hard life lesson. No matter  your age, no one enjoys delayed gratification. No one wants to wait to have fun. The playground offers a great opportunity for kids to learn to take turns. Only so many kids can be on the monkey bars at once. Only one child can go down the slide at a time. The same holds true for the fireman’s pole, the bouncy steps, and so much more. The patience kids develop from having to wait – even if only for a few seconds – helps in so many aspects of life. Fortunately with the new playground style, the variety of offerings means kids don’t have to wait long!

Learn to take turns as part of playground benefits

When was the last time you visited a playground? Am I missing other playground benefits?

5 Life Lessons kids learn. Playground benefits kids both physically and mentally. This is a great excuse to go visit a park near you today!


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9 Reasons You Must Book The Universal Studios VIP Experience Tour

I have been lucky enough the past few years to attend the Family Forward conference that is, in part, sponsored by Universal Studios. The Universal Studios VIP Experience was included in our conference fee last year, and I cannot recommend it enough. In fact, I might be just a touch spoiled from our guides now. My kids don’t want to visit the park any other way.

Universal VIP tours include up to 12 per group

Here’s the thing. The Universal Studios VIP Experience isn’t cheap. You reserve this experience in addition to your park passes. You can choose to book which of the two parks to visit during your VIP tour or book both parks. Honestly? Go with both parks. During the six hour tour, you hit a minimum of 8 major attractions in the parks, and we accomplished far more than that. With the no wait experience, take advantage of the variety across both parks to see the biggest and best Universal offers. The price difference between one park (starting at $209 per day) and two parks (starting at $219 per day) isn’t enough to leave out a park.

With a group of six or fewer people, book a group tour where you get paired with up to twelve total people in the group. You pay per person, with peak season prices climbing to $399 per person. With more than six people – or if you choose to stay just with your family and friends – you can book a private VIP tour for a flat fee (again with a limit of twelve per group). With the private tour, you have more control over what rides and attractions you visit, while the group tours tend to be slightly more set and require negotiation with others in the group if you wish to (for example) ride Escape from Gringotts a second or third time. In a row.

No matter what, you will see more, learn more, and have a far better theme park experience with the Universal Studios VIP Experience. I admit, I had doubts when we first learned that we had this planned starting at 10am during the conference. I’ve been to Universal Studios and knew what rides I liked. Staying onsite at the premium hotels gives us Universal Express Passes, so our lines already decreased from the standard queue in most cases. Why did I need to be a part of the Universal Studios VIP Experience?

Oh, I learned my lesson. I will never again question the value of the Universal Studios VIP Experience.

Fun with the Universal Studios VIP Experience

9 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss the Universal Studios VIP Experience

You skip the line entirely.

Fast passes at Universal Studios are great (better than many competing parks). You don’t make reservations and simple go in the Fast Pass entrance with a significantly shorter queue. With the VIP tour, you skip the line. You walk in the back and get on the ride. You wait for no one. No. One. This factor alone means you get on more rides in less time, making your visit to the park more productive.

Another fun aspect? With no one in line ahead of or  behind you, you can get some fabulous photos you otherwise can’t. We walked up the side of the line in Escape from Gringotts, then stopped to take photos of our favorite goblins with no stray people. While some areas of the park don’t allow photos behind the scenes, this tour lets you capture fabulous images you may otherwise miss.

Take great photos at Escape from Gringotts and other rides with the Universal Studios VIP Experience

You skip every line, even the ones that don’t have Express Pass lines.

A major bummer of the Express Passes? They don’t work at some of the major attractions. My kids love Escape from Gringotts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Hogwarts Express, none of which accepts the Express Passes. Those lines tend to be longer than my patience to wait in them. Hogwarts Express – a fun way to get from one park to the other – can easily have a wait of well over an hour, and I’ve seen it over two hours. With the Universal Studios VIP Experience, you walk straight onto those rides. For us, this became the only time we rode those rides due to the wait times.

You visit behind the scenes locations.

The Men in Black ride continues to be one of my favorites. When you walk through the queue, you see the setup with the aliens in the work room below you. On our tour, we went onto the set. We sat in the chairs and saw everything up close and personal while others watched with jaws agape from above. My kids loved that they even got to sign the alien log book, a memory they treasure.

Experience behind the scenes with Universal Studios VIP Experience

We had a similar experience with Revenge of the Mummy. At the end, we exited through a back way, under where the cars travel. Near the end, our guide had us pause to watch the screen that shows the final scene riders see as they travel. There is a secret extra bit that riders miss because the car continues that we had the pleasure of seeing because we remained stationary. Those little nuggets of secrets make the day even more fun.

Learn the park secrets.

I love knowing all the fun facts and details. The tour guides know so much more about the parks than you might expect. As you walk through the park with your guide, they share information about the history, the building, the speed, and more. Those little tidbits really add to your experience as you realize how much effort it takes to create such an amazing park. This is how you learn where to sit on the rides for the “best” experience or where to watch the parades. The nuggets like where to find Stan Lee in the Amazing Spiderman ride? My kids loved learning these facts and storing them away for “next time” they come. Our tour guide answered every question we asked, and we tried to stump her!

The tour includes lunch.

The “real” tours actually include a complimentary continental breakfast at check-in, though we ate breakfast offsite as part of our conference and didn’t partake. Partway through the day, the tour schedules a break for lunch. Our tour stopped at Cafe La Bamba, which happened to be open only for tours. We enjoyed a fabulous sit meal from a buffet filled with more choices than I expected. Desserts all included dairy, and our tour guide quickly offered to run down to get my daughter Dippin’ Dots (which contain no dairy in many flavors).

Enjoy complimentary lunch as part of the Universal Studios VIP tour

Generally, the tour includes  lunch at a quick service dining option. Your group stops near wherever you happens to be when it’s time to eat. You choose an entree, a non alcoholic beverage, and a snack.

You don’t have to worry about the rain.

Florida is notorious for its rain. The day may start out perfectly sunny, but at some point, the clouds come and it pours. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten soaked in Florida from afternoon showers. With the Universal Studios VIP Experience, your tour guide procures ponchos for the group at no additional charge, as needed. They know what shops have them, ensuring you don’t panic as you try to track down an elusive poncho in a store that happens to not carry them.

Bonus? When you go on water rides at Universal Studios where you will get wet, your guide offers to provide ponchos for guests who don’t want to drip dry the next couple hours. It happened to be sunny when we visited Jurassic Park River Adventure. We all opted for ponchos, which still meant we got wet – just not soaked. After the ride, we held onto our ponchos, and later that day, the skies opened. We counted our blessings that we had our ponchos then.

The fun doesn’t end when the tour does.

After the tour – yes, you have to say goodbye to your fabulous tour guide eventually – your Universal Studios VIP Experience lanyard stays with you. That lanyard continues to provide benefits for the rest of the day. It acts as a Universal Unlimited Express Pass, so you shorten your wait for rides that accept the pass. It isn’t the skip the line entirely from the tour, but this provides a perfect opportunity to revisit your favorite rides and experience them again without a full wait. The tour lasts 5-7 hours, leaving you plenty of time to explore at your leisure.

Enjoy discounts at the shops.

I almost missed this, but your VIP tour lanyard provides a discount at many dining and stores within the parks. When my daughter visited Ollivander’s Wand Shop, she was the lucky child chosen to have a wand select her. Of course she wanted to buy that wand afterwards (with her own money). We received a 10% discount on the purchase because we bought it the day of our VIP tour. Who doesn’t buy souvenirs when on vacation? Remember to buy all yours the day you book a Universal Studios VIP Experience to save money and help offset the cost of the tour.

Receive complimentary valet parking.

If you aren’t staying onsite, this becomes another winning bonus. Valet parking costs $40, but it makes getting into and out of the park easy. The first time we visited Universal Studios, we parked our rental car. At the end of the day, we spent well over a half hour searching the lot with two tired and cranky children before finding it. I would happily have paid any amount for easy access to my car at the end of the day. Valet parking also decreases the walk from the parking structure to the theme parks significantly, which again makes life easier on a day when surpassing 20,000 steps isn’t a surprise.

Have I convinced you to try the Universal Studios VIP Experience yet?

9 reasons you need you book the Universal Studios VIP Experience for the best vacation ever. This VIP tour lets you skip every line and takes you behind the scenes for an unforgettable vacation filled with memories. The value is well worth the cost.


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Crystal Clear Music – Anywhere In Your House

I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free to share my thoughts on Google Chromecast Audio. All opinions remain my own.

We’re music lovers in my house. In fact, I refer to my daughter as my music encyclopedia. I can ask her who sings just about any song, and she can pull it out just like that, and I love it. In fact, on her academic team, she may be the youngest, but they already defer to her on music questions. Does it surprise you to know that we listen to music in our house all the time?

When I’m whipping up dinner, I have music blasting as I dance around the kitchen. When we’re doing chores, whether it’s cleaning my kids’ bedrooms or putting away laundry, we listen to music to help pass the time. Usually that means turning on a clock radio or using my phone’s music streaming apps. It works, but… it isn’t exactly the high fidelity sound I grew up listening to.

We don’t listen to records anymore, and I can’t tell you the last time I played an actual CD. For us, music is virtual. I own a few wireless speakers that we use sometimes, but the quality is fine not great. It works nicely for parties, but we don’t tend to use them on a daily basis. When Best Buy sent me the Google Chromecast audio, they promised great things, but I admit I was a little skeptical. I changed my mind, and this device fully won my heart. I adore the tiny size. And yes, this tiny device truly delivers what it promises.

Tiny size of Google Chromecast audio

What makes the Google Chromecast audio different? Instead of connecting via Bluetooth, this device connects via wifi, which improves the sound quality. My favorite part is that I can connect multiple Chromecast audio devices togethe so the same song plays on multiple speakers. That’s perfect for when we have chores happening upstairs and downstairs – or for parties where I now have the music in the living room and out on the deck. It makes the perfect concert.

How many speakers do you own? This works with just about any speaker, no new purchases necessary. For just $35, you can set up your home without buying an expensive new speaker. You don’t want to know how much my last wireless speaker cost.

Easy to plug the Google Chromecast audio into any speaker

I love that it’s so simple to cast from my phone, meaning I can leave it plugged in to avoid any issues draining my batter. Yes, that happens all the time. I can stream podcasts, radio stations, music I have on my phone, and music from my favorite apps like Pandora and more. The flexibility? I adore it, and the simplicity of Google Chromecast audio means anyone can set this up and enjoy crystal clear high resolution sound. Just tap the cast button from any device, and music streams.

Tap the cast button on any enabled app

While I primarily choose to use my phone to cast, this works just as well and easily with your tablet or laptop. My husband who works a ton with music when he does his PA announcing has a supremely awesome app on his laptop to create mixes. He’s had fun casting that to our devices, too. Flexibility is a major hallmark. There are a ton of great apps you can use to stream. Google Chromecast smartly put together a list of all the apps to stream (that they update regularly). And like my husband’s app that isn’t a part of this (yet), he simply mirrors what’s playing on his computer through his Chrome browser. This works for Android devices, too (and support is coming soon for iOs devices but not quite yet).

More flexibility pluses? My biggest pet peeve is when you get a phone call or other notification on your phone, and it interrupts your streaming. My sister used her phone as DJ for her wedding, and let’s just say everyone knew whenever the stream stopped. Finally, I can answer my phone or text without the stream getting bumped. This alone makes the Google Chromecast audio one of my new favorite tech devices.

How to set up the Google Chromecast audio device

  • Start by plugging the device into your speaker’s aux output. Plug in the power cord to provide power to your device.
  • Connect your device to wifi. Download the Google Home app, and ensure you have your location settings turned on. Open the app, and walk through the setup. Every step is clearly explained, making this simple for anyone, no matter how technically confident you are. After setup, be sure to choose the High Dynamic Range option in settings to improve your audio experience.
  • Using your favorite app, tap “cast” to start streaming. If your app isn’t yet a part of the program and you are using the Chrome browser or an Android device, you can still stream by mirroring the sound from your phone or laptop. The Google Home app is a great free download. Use it to manage not just your Chromecast audio but all the Google Home devices.
  • Use your phone (or laptop) to pause your music, change the volume, or change the song. You have all the control in one place – and with my favorite feature that your music no longer gets interrupted when you receive a call or text!

Have you tried the new Google Chromecast audio? What’s your favorite streaming device?

Use Google Chromecast audio to get high quality audio from any speaker. See how this low cost device gives crystal clear sound over wifi to any speaker from your phone or computer.


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Easy Homemade Brazilian Cheese Bread Recipe

I found out about Brazilian cheese bread the way most people do – from sampling at Costco. Of course, they call them Brazilian cheese bites. Of course, the recipe’s real name is Pao de Queijo – but I’ll stick with Brazilian cheese bread because I hate mispronouncing words, and I know I’m not pronouncing that correctly in my head. Yet.

Gorgeous inside of homemade Brazilian Cheese Bites

But back to Costco. They have a brand of Brazilian cheese bites that they sample regularly. Every time I take one, I almost pick up a package to purchase. Then I see the $11.99 pricetag and put them down again. The Brazilian cheese bread reminds me of gougeres, which is a French cheese puff and surprisingly easy to make. I vowed to make them at home instead.

I vowed it often, but it took me months before I finally started researching how to make Brazilian cheese bread, and wow are there a bunch of different varieties. But just like any dish, of course there are variances. Since I fell in love with the Brazilian cheese bites I ate at Costco, I wanted something similar to those puffs of heaven. I found several recipes and played with them to create what I enjoyed most.

Enjoy a bowl filled with Brazilian Cheese Bread bites

The interesting part of my research? Brazilian cheese just happens to be gluten free. Traditionally, you make these with cassava flour, but that can be hard to find in the States. Instead, feel free to substitute tapioca flour in its place. I tested it both ways, and while there is a slight flavor variance, tapioca works just fine. If you want to stay authentic, head to Amazon (I’m an affiliate link where I earn a commission if you buy) to purchase cassava flour.

Grab some Brazilian Cheese Bites for a great homemade snack

How to Make Brazilian Cheese Bread

Regardless of whether you purchase cassava flour or stick with tapioca flour,  the method remains the same. I played around with it a bit and found what works best for me, which isn’t the directions I initially saw. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees. Just like the apple cinnamon muffins I made recently, the oven starts hot to give a great puff, then you turn down the heat once you start baking. This helps to create a nice rounded Brazilian cheese bread bite.

In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a slow boil, then turn off the heat. If you plan to use a hand mixer, add the cassava or tapioca flour to your pot and use your hand mixer to slowly begin mixing the flour in. At first it will look way too thick and crumbly, but it quickly comes together in a semi-solid gel.

If you plan to use a stand mixer – my preferred method – pour the liquids into the bowl of your stand mixer, then add the flour here. I started mixing it by hand in the pot then moved the mixture to my stand mixer, and it was a disaster. This method creates far less mess. Either way, mix for a few minutes, then let the mixture cool slightly.

While the mixture rests, add your eggs to a bowl and whisk until well beaten. Once you can comfortably touch the dough with your hands, turn the mixer (hand or stand) back on low. Slowly pour a third of the eggs into your bowl. It will take a few minutes, but eventually, the egg will incorporate into your batter. Repeat with the next third, which will incorporate faster. Add the last third and mix until all the batter becomes homogeneous. You may need to scrape down the beaters at times, as it is a thick, sticky batter.

Add the cheese in two batches, mixing thoroughly between additions. It will be less sticky but still a thick dough.

Use a medium size cookie scooper to portion  the batter. Place each round onto a silpat lined cookie sheet with twelve Brazilian cheese bread balls on each sheet. This recipe makes exactly 24 Brazilian cheese bread balls.

Place into your 450 degree oven on two racks. After two minutes, turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 20-22 minutes. The Brazilian cheese bread should puff and just start to turn a golden yellow but not brown. The outside should feel dry when you remove it from the oven. Let it cool just a minute or two, then break into your Brazilian cheese bread for a little dose of heaven in your kitchen.

Break into a homemade pao de Queijo that's a great gluten free treat

Store in a tightly sealed container for up to a week. Reheat for 15-20 seconds in the microwave for one or two or heat in the oven at 200 degrees for 5-7 minutes for a larger batch.

Have you ever tried Brazilian cheese bread? Would you make these at home?

I served mine with some of my tomato basil bisque for my kids. The combination of Brazilian cheese bread with this Italian soup worked surprisingly well.  These are great on their own or enjoy with some chimichurri steak for a pan-South American dinner.

Easy recipe for Brazilian Cheese Bread Bites just like you find in the store. A naturally gluten free side dish. These are fun to make and store well for up to a week. Make your own Pao de Queijo.

Brazilian Cheese Bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 24

Brazilian Cheese Bread

These delicious bites of heaven are surprisingly gluten free. Make them at home at a fraction of the cost of store bought Pao de Queijo. This recipe comes together beautifully and makes enough to serve friends or store for later.

Ingredients

  • 1 c milk
  • 3 T butter
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2 c tapioca flour or cassava flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a slow boil, then turn off the heat. Pour the liquids into the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the flour. Mix on low until the dough comes together, then let the mixture cool slightly.
  3. While the mixture rests, add eggs to a bowl and whisk until well beaten. Once you can comfortably touch the dough, turn the mixer back on low. Slowly pour a third of the eggs into the bowl. It will take a few minutes, but eventually, the egg will incorporate into the batter. Repeat with the next third, which will incorporate faster. Add the last third and mix until all the batter becomes homogeneous. You may need to scrape down the beaters at times, as it is a thick, sticky batter.
  4. Add the cheese in two batches, mixing thoroughly between additions.
  5. Use a medium size cookie scoop to place rounds onto a silpat lined cookie sheet with twelve on each sheet.
  6. Place into 450 degree oven on two racks. After two minutes, turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 20-22 minutes. The Brazilian cheese bread should puff and just start to turn a golden yellow but not brown. Let it cool just a minute or two, then serve. These will store in a tightly sealed container on the counter for up to a week. Reheat 15-20 seconds in the microwave.
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Homemade Apple Cinnamon Muffins Recipe

These homemade apple cinnamon muffins were inspired by the package I received as a member of Stonyfield’s Clean Plate Club. They’re celebrating their announcement that they are officially a certified B Corp™. As a Stonyfield blogger, I do receive a stipend, but all opinions remain my own.

Enjoy a tasty homemade apple cinnamon muffin

So first of all, have you even heard of a B Corp before? I hadn’t. They were news to me, but after I looked them up, I take my hat off to Stonyfield and the other companies that came together to create this certification and live up to it. Certified B Corporations® meet the highest standards of verified overall social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

That’s a lot of words, but in essence, the companies who achieve B Corp certification look to more than shareholder responsibility. They focus on responsibility to the larger community, whether customers or not. They look at the impact their businesses have on the world in all aspects, and I can get behind that. And yeah, my kids have the shirt already.

Plenty of big names already have B Corp certification, with Ben & Jerry’s on that received it long ago. Other no surprise names include Cabot, Seventh Generation, Patagona, and more. Today, Stonyfield joins the list of certified B Corps.

Other corporate friends share this joy, and they sent me a little package of goodies. King Arthur, Preserve, Pukka, Purely Elizabeth, Method, and Pete and Jerry’s provided some fun goodies.

Great examples of of B Corp products

It was like an episode of Chopped, and as soon as I opened up my box, I knew I wanted to use the products to make apple cinnamon muffins. Wash my hands to start for kitchen sanitation. Flour and yogurt as ingredients in the yogurt, and the granola to stud the top of them to add a little crunch to the texture. I planned to serve cup of Pukka tea to enjoy with the muffin, then brush my teeth afterwards to remove any remaining sugar. Done and done.

My biggest goal in this creation? I wanted big domed muffins. I feel like every time I make muffins, I end up with a cupcake shape. While they taste good, they don’t give me that happy, proud feeling. I did a whole lotta research into the causes for a flat muffin, and I solved my problem for these apple cinnamon muffins.

Enjoy a healthier breakfast with this homemade apple cinnamon muffin recipe

A few pro tips?

  • Minimize your liquid. Most muffin batters are too thin, which doesn’t let them get enough structure and support.
  • Use double acting baking powder. This baking powder works twice, so you don’t end up with all your rise outside the oven.
  • Don’t stir too much. If you overmix (your batter should be lumpy), too much gluten develops, and that holds down your rising. Just get the flour mixed in so you don’t have white streaks.
  • Let your batter rest for five minutes before you put it in the oven. This gives your baking powder a chance to work the first time and has the bonus of letting gluten strands that did form relax.
  • Fill your muffin tins nearly to the top. Since the batter is thick, it won’t spill off the sides as it bakes. Finally, you have enough batter to really make the muffins you want without risking a mess.
  • Crank up the heat in your oven. I’ll admit to this being probably my biggest problem. I start preheating then throw everything into the bowl and go. My oven never finishes preheating before I start baking. Couple that with the thought that a high temperature (425 degrees) to start baking ensures the edges firm up around the outside first. After a few minutes, turn the heat down and finish baking. With the outside edges firm, your apple cinnamon muffin can make that perfect dome.

You’re welcome!

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Ensure your oven is fully heated before baking.

Add flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt to your bowl. Mix well, which also helps incorporate some air to give your muffins a lift.

In a separate bowl, add milk, yogurt, eggs, and melted butter. Whisk to combine, then pour into dry ingredients. Stir gently until mostly combined, then add chopped apples. Complete stirring. Let batter rest for five minutes.

While your batter rests, prepare your tins. Use muffin papers to make removal easier.

After five minutes, use a muffin scoop to add a generous helping of batter to each muffin tin. Fill nearly to the top. Sprinkle the tops with granola and gently press into the batter.

Apple cinnamon muffins studded with granola ready to bake

Bake at 425 degrees for five minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Bake for another 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, then pull gently from the muffin tins to finish cooling.

Enjoy immediately, and store in a tightly sealed container for up to three days. These apple cinnamon muffins also freeze well for up to two months.

Pick up an apple cinnamon muffin with this delicious recipe

Have you ever made apple cinnamon muffins? What are your best tips?

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 16 muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

This delicious apple cinnamon muffin recipe creates beautifully domed muffins that taste fantastic. They are a great make ahead breakfast, and you can easily freeze them for up to two months.

Ingredients

  • 3 c flour
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 T butter, melted
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, chopped
  • 1 c granola

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Ensure your oven is fully heated before baking.
  2. Add flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add milk, yogurt, eggs, and melted butter. Whisk to combine, then pour into dry ingredients. Stir gently until mostly combined, then add chopped apples. Complete stirring. Let batter rest for five minutes.
  4. While your batter rests, prepare your tins with muffin papers.After five minutes, use a muffin scoop to add a generous helping of batter to each muffin tin. Fill nearly to the top. Sprinkle the tops with granola and gently press into the batter.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for five minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Bake for another 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, then pull gently from the muffin tins to finish cooling.
  6. Enjoy immediately, and store in a tightly sealed container for up to three days. The muffins freeze well for up to two months.
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Homemade apple cinnamon muffins studded with granola are a delicious and easy breakfast recipe. Make ahead for a great on the go breakfast.


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