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Super Simple Banana Bread

My workplace has a “health and wellness” program, that includes providing the staff with a box of fruit each week (to encourage us to eat healthily and not rely on the coffee van for cakes, muffins and sweets).  Inevitably, there is some fruit left at the end of each week, especially now that we have a lot less staff to eat it all.  So, I have been taking the leftovers home and making various baked goods with it.  I can’t stand the waste otherwise.  It might as well get eaten and not just thrown in the bin, right?

This week I had a few bananas that were overripe and needed using, so I made banana bread for my brother to take to his workplace for morning tea.  From one workplace to another – I don’t care who eats it, as long as someone does!

Here is my very easy-to-make, simple banana bread recipe.  It takes no time at all to whip up and is very flavourful, even if you only have a couple of small bananas to put in to it.  It slices nicely and is equally good served at room temperature, or toasted up and spread with a little butter.  Keeps well and can be frozen.

Super Simple Banana Bread

2-3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten lightly

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana, sugar, vanilla essence and melted butter.  Add the beaten egg and mix well.  Add the sifted flour and salt.  Stir until combined.  The mixture will be quite thick.

Put the batter in a loaf tin, lined with baking paper (or sprayed with non-stick spray, depending on the non-stick-ness of your tin!) and bake at 180 C for approx 30-50 minutes.
(NB : I have found that this cake takes very different amounts of time to bake depending on the amount of banana in it and whether or not you have a decent oven!
Check it after 30 mins, but be prepared that it may take longer).

Have a look every now and then to make sure it is not burning – it has a fairly high sugar content – cake is ready when it is just firm to the touch.  Allow to cool slightly in tin and turn out onto a rack.  Serve sliced, warm, with butter if you like.

That’s it – told you it was simple 🙂  It’s kind of a no-fail recipe and a good one to have in your arsenal of “what can I bake for afternoon tea/unannounced guests/school bake sale?” ideas.  Everybody likes banana bread, right?

Thanks for stopping by x

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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

I am supposed to be on a diet.  Turns out I am not very good at this.  I am better at the “Eat Everything in Sight and then Eat Dessert” diet.  You may be familiar with it.  I think it is well known and quite popular.

Tonight I gave up entirely whilst trying to think of something to make for dinner.  Halfway between deciding whether I should have salad or steamed vegetables, I decided to make muffins.  As you do.  Lemon Ricotta Muffins.  Because I had leftover ricotta and some lemons.  I did not not need to make them.  I shouldn’t be eating them.  But, dammit, I started making them and then one thing led to another and, well, you know.  I took a photo but it’s not great.  Bad lighting and a general air of couldn’t-be-bothered.  You’ll just have to trust me.

So here’s my recipe.  I basically looked at recipes and then combined different ones together, based on what I had in terms of ingredients.  I wasn’t sure if it would even turn out, but they are actually quite light and fluffy and yummy and lemony.  I’m not really selling this, am I?  They’re nice, anyway and just the thing for this freezing cold Winter night, with a cup of tea, and MasterChef on the telly.  I can worry about diets tomorrow.

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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

2 cups Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Bicarb
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 cup Caster Sugar
1 cup Smooth Ricotta
1/2 cup Sunflower Oil
Zest of 2 Lemons
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Lemon Juice

Method

Whisk wet ingredients together in a large bowl until combined.

Sift dry ingredients over this mixture and fold in until just combined.

Half fill greased muffin tins (I used medium sized ones) and bake at 180 degrees Celcius for approx 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and then pop out on to a baking rack to cool completely.  Dust with icing sugar if desired and serve!  Nice served warm with a little bit of lemon curd.

Enjoy! 🙂

Getting My Craft On (and trying to avoid a cold)

Getting My Craft On (and trying to avoid a cold)

Ugh.  Feeling slightly icky today.  Am hoping it’s just a 24-hour type of thing as I have plans to enjoy my weekend and do a bit of crafting as well as enjoying the Australia Day fireworks tomorrow.  I haven’t been ill in ages (and have jinxed myself by saying exactly that, out loud, today) so I really don’t want to spoil my run of good health.  Just very tired and slightly feverish, headachey and blah.  My Mum is staying for the weekend and she always makes me feel better, plus I’ve dosed myself up on vitamin C, garlic and horseradish, so hopefully I will perk up tomorrow. Being sick on a public holiday just will not do!

Spent some time with my brother and his brood today.  Master M was turning six and so we had a little family gathering to celebrate.  Much fun was had.  The children are so well behaved and such a delight to be with.  My heart swells-to-bursting with ridiculous love for them.  They’re just such NICE little people.  Master M got so “awesome” presents (lots of lego, art supplies and an amazing Minecraft-themed bean bag) and had a lovely time building his new lego creations and playing with his siblings.  He had requested a “fox” birthday cake so his Mum made a delightfully orange one (which was enjoyed by all) and she also had decorated the room in various fox-themed party favours and decorations.

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In the afternoon, I attempted to start making some cards (as a lady at work has requested some from me and I have absolutely nothing in my stash).  I completed one, but as I was not feeling the best, gave up for the rest of the evening.  I’m happy to have made one – it’s a starting point and I didn’t have too much trouble making it, despite feeling under the weather and rather uninspired in general.  I went with my stand-by theme of egg-and-wings.  I just love the combination.

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Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.  For those of you here in Oz, happy Australia Day for tomorrow – hope you enjoy your day!  I’ll be watching the fireworks from the foreshore, just at the end of my street.  I am ethically opposed to fireworks – the environment suffers as do any poor animals and birds in the area – but as they will happen regardless, I might as well enjoy them too.  Especially as my beloved nieces and nephews, brother, sister-in-law, and Mum will come and watch them with me this year 🙂

Pineapple Cup Cakes

Pineapple Cup Cakes

It’s been a rough day.  Very, very busy, lots to do, not enough time in which to do it and lots of outside stresses knocking at the door.  I have nothing really to complain about – it was just one of those days where you seem to be talking to everyone through gritted teeth and wishing they would all just leave you alone.  Not their fault at all really.  I am worrying and fretting about a few things at the moment and my patience with everything and everyone (especially myself) is wearing very thin and my ability to cope with “normal” everyday stuff didn’t quite make the party today.

Speaking of parties, tomorrow we have a couple of events at work : one, a combined birthday morning tea for everyone in the building who has celebrated their birthdays this month, and two, an afternoon baby shower for one of our lovely ladies who is expecting her third bub very soon.  There is some doubt as to whether the guest of honour will be there – she hasn’t been too well this week – but we will go ahead with the preparations in the hope she is well enough to join us for a little while.

We’ve all been asked to bring a plate, so I have made some little pineapple cup cakes.  I haven’t made them before, at least not with this recipe, and I’m not convinced of their flavour and over-all finish but they will have to do!  Nothing bakes very well in my horrible oven so there is always the problem of cooking things without under-or-over-cooking them. Anyway, I hope these are ok and that people like them (I’m hoping the cute polka-dot cupcake papers disguises any less-than-perfect taste or texture).

Pineapple Cup Cakes

1 Cup Plain Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2/3 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Egg, beaten lightly
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Cup Tinned Pineapple – diced or crushed (and drained of liquid)

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (you’re probably supposed to sieve the flour and baking powder…I couldn’t find my sieve so I had to leave out that step!)

Make a well in the centre and whisk in the egg, milk and oil until just combined.  Add the pineapple and mix through gently.

Divide mixture into patty pans, muffin cups or whatever you want to use.  My mixture made about 14 medium sized cupcakes.
Bake at 180 C for approx 20-25 minutes.  Leave to cool before frosting if you like.

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Now it’s time for bed and my kitchen looks like something exploded in it and I have neither the energy nor the inclination to do anything about it.  It’s late and if I want to get up in time for work tomorrow, which I do – despite the thought of staying in bed seeming much more tempting – I had better ignore the mess and get myself off to the Land of Nod.  The chaos will still be there in the morning – I might as well add my breakfast dishes to it!

Hope your day has been happy 🙂

High Tea Fun(d)raiser

High Tea Fun(d)raiser

Happy Sunday all!  Boy the weeks are flying by – I can’t believe it will be Christmas again in just over four months!  We’ve been in our new place for 8 months now and soon will have to think about whether we want to continue with the lease or find somewhere else to rent.  I can’t bear the thought of moving again so I am trying to just not think about it at all!  I haven’t even unpacked all my packing boxes yet…

This week at work we had a High Tea fundraiser.  Each of our departments had a separate day to come up with a theme and organise food to go along with it (as reported in my post here) and our Client Services team decided to have a High Tea, complete with “vintage” stalls, raffles and “Best Dressed” competitions.  Cupcakes and thrift-shopping during work hours?  Don’t mind if I do!  Such a lot of work went into organising it and setting it all up on the day.  It all looked beautiful – the food was gorgeous and so pretty with everything from dainty cupcakes to scones, pastries and sandwiches, lots of different teas and champagne.  The ladies all did an amazing job and deserve a pat on the back.  Client Services is one of our busiest departments and I have no idea how they managed to find time to put together such a wonderful afternoon of treats and fun.

Here’s a few pics of the lovely goodies on offer…..

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Everything was so tempting…but I’ve been on a diet this week and trying desperately hard to be good and not eat naughty things.  I had a couple of tiny things – so delicious – and spent the rest of my time wandering about, taking photos and perusing the “vintage stalls”.  I picked up quite a few bargains (and only spent about $5!) and had to control myself in terms of spending or seeming a bit overexcited – you know me and shopping, especially anything that resembles op-shopping/thrifting.  There were some gorgeous items for sale – brand new pairs of shoes and lovely jewellery and accessories.  I bought a few necklaces that had nice beads on them…they’ve already been pulled apart and stored in my bead boxes to turn into other things later on.  I got this lovely bracelet, which I thought I would alter and make into a pendant:

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I also got a couple of rings – the paler one is way to big for me but I really liked it and so I got it anyway.  Maybe I can change it or make it into a brooch or something… I like the darker one – it looks kinda like marcasite (which I love) and is adjustable so I can make it fit my teeny fingers.  It does have a little stone missing but I’m sure I’ve got one I can just glue in there:

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I also got this bracelet (purely for the beads – I liked the stripey ones!):

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I picked out a pretty pink scarf for Mum…

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…and this “pearl” bracelet (again for the beads) for me:

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When all was said and done and packed up, the department raised about $1000 for Alzheimer’s Australia, which was pretty awesome.  They deserved to do well because they really went all out (and put the rest of our departments to shame – even though EVERYONE did a great job in their themes, this one really took the (cup)cake!).  At the end of the afternoon the ladies on the thrift stall said I could rummage through and have whatever I wanted for free, as they really didn’t want to pack it all up again.  I felt a bit weird about doing that so I offered to take it all to an op-shop for them instead.  That way I could get to go through it (great for me!) and also do them a favour and save them some work.  So that’s what I did yesterday.  Four boxes of stuff I had to go through!  Lots of jewellery has now been dissected and separated into nice beads, charms and findings.  There were some lovely shoes – brand new – but not in my size, so I had to let them go but I’ve got a couple of people in mind who might like them.  I also nabbed a couple of accessories for myself, such as…

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…this green brooch.  It looks sort of vintage although I’m quite sure it’s not.  I just liked the green colour.  I would definitely wear this.

This cuff bracelet – a bit chunkier than what I would normally wear…I always wear my plain silver bangle that my cousin gave me for my 30th.  It never comes off.  The only time I have taken it off is when I was in hospital – and then my cousin wore it for two months to keep it safe until I was discharged.  Anyway, I liked this cuff – it will go with a lot of things I wear…

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I also picked up this brooch which is definitely not vintage and probably not something I would wear (as it features gold and I never wear gold) but I like to have a few brooches on hand for tizzying up presents when I want some glam wrapping.  This will be perfect….

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I did get a few other bits and pieces, but I won’t bore you with everything.  Let’s just say I am a magpie and leave it at that (in other words, I collected lots of stuff).  There were a couple of pairs of very expensive shoes that I did contemplate putting on Ebay (I know, I’m dreadful) but then thought it would be better if I gave them to the op-shop.  Better that a charity get some money for them than my wallet!

Anyway, I’ve done NO CRAFTING this week due to a horrible, horrible neck and equally horrible stress and depression this week.  Haven’t been eating much at all so no cooking to show you either.  I’m an epic failure at blogging this week!  Hope my round up of “what I bought” suffices for this weekend’s post.  I am going out with friends for brunch today and so I’m hoping they lift my spirits and take my mind off things.  Friends are amazing that way 🙂

Hope your weekend is fun and fabulous!  Thanks for visiting 🙂