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Easy Lemon Delicious

Lemon Self-Flagellation Pudding. When you’re sad and hating yourself for being a not very good human being, cook a guilt-laden dessert for yourself and shove it in your gob. Salty tears and a scoop of remorse add a little savoury note.

It’s been a rough week.  I hurt someone’s feelings and I feel terrible about it.  I’ve apologised and I think they’ve forgiven me but I can’t get the yuckiness out of my brain.

 I’ve had to say goodbye to people this week, a dear friend lost her beloved four-legged best friend, I’m anxious and tired, and everything seems tricky and hard.

Feeling miserable and sad and not liking myself very much, I turned to food.  Because that’s what I do.  I have been trying so hard to be good but last night was NOT the time to be disciplined.  So, baking was on the agenda.  The fat and sugar-laden agenda.

I had some lemons that were beckoning me (they’re fruit – that’s healthy, right?) and I was not looking to create anything too difficult or taxing on my limited energy.  I wanted comfort food.  I wanted sweet, lemony, saucy comfort food.  So I made a Lemon Delicious Self-Saucing Pudding.  And then ate pretty much all of it.  Hating myself with every bite. Crying over the bowl as I stood at the kitchen counter.

I use this recipe from Best Recipes.com – it’s easy and fool-proof and takes no time at all to whip up and devour.  Which is good if you want to bake it and eat it in record time so there’s no evidence of your bad adulting left behind. Unless of course your brother comes home and catches you, standing in your PJs, sobbing into a steaming hot baking dish, your face smeared with lemon sauce and cake crumbs.

Lemon Delicious (Self-Saucing Pudding)

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon rind grated
  • 2 tbs butter melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon rind grated
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C.
Sift the flour and pinch of salt together.
Add sugar and grated lemon rind, mixing well. Stir in melted butter, vanilla and milk.
Turn into a greased, ovenproof dish with deep sides.

Sauce: Sprinkle mixture with the sugar and lemon rind.
Combine boiling water and lemon juice and carefully pour over the mixture in the dish.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tears optional 🙂

 

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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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Salted Butterscotch Cookies

Tonight, I was craving cookies.  This is not uncommon for me, which is why I do not keep them in the house.  Otherwise I would be eating them all the time.  But, tonight, I NEEDED a cookie.  Or several cookies.  Ok, a whole batch of cookies.  These little beauties satisfied that need and took no time at all to make.  Even less time to eat.

The secret is to use salted butter – this definitely gives them that extra little edge.  I usually bake with unsalted butter (I have to watch my sodium intake because of my kidneys) but these cookies really need that little savoury kick.  Trust me.  The golden syrup is also essential – don’t leave it out or substitute it with honey or some such nonsense.  It must be golden syrup to get that real butterscotch flavour.  You wouldn’t think that one little tablespoon would make a difference, but it really does.

I think these would make excellent ice cream sandwiches.  Just imagine some peanut butter gelato or a nice scoop of vanilla in between two of these – heaven!

SALTED BUTTERSCOTCH COOKIES

125g salted butter, softened
1 tbs golden syrup
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 1/4 cup self-raising flour, sifted

Cream sugar, butter and golden syrup until well combined.  Add sifted flour and mix to form a dough (you might need to mix the final bit of flour through with your hands).

Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into small balls and place onto a baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake at 180 c for approx 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly.

Let them cool on a wire rack.

Demolish.

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Salted Butterscotch Cookies

Happy Munching! 🙂

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Strawberry Muffins

We’re having a little lunch at work this week to sort-of-farewell my library volunteer who is taking some time off to manage some family issues for the next couple of months.  She’s the loveliest person ever and always spoils me with home-cooked meals (which make me feel very guilty but not so guilty that I don’t go home and gobble them up, ha ha) and helps me out in the library and basically supports me more than she knows.  I didn’t know what to bring and didn’t have a lot of ingredients in my pantry to make anything very exciting so I did a quick panicked look through my cookbooks to find something I could bake.  I had some strawberries in the fridge that were a bit past it but still fine to eat so I wanted to incorporate them.

I ended up finding this recipe at Food.com and it worked a treat.  I adapted it slightly, but it was so easy and the muffins are very tasty.  I’m not actually a huge muffin fan, but I wolfed down a few of these – purely as a taste-testing exercise, you understand.  They were delicious.  And they’re a one-bowl wonder which is always good.  No butter to beat or anything fiddly or fussy.  A good standby recipe to have when you’ve got people coming over and have nothing to serve them.  This recipe took less than 30 minutes – from making to baking and then eating.  So quick!  This would be a good recipe for kids (and first-time cooks) to have a  go at.  You could substitute any fruit in the recipe so give them a try with raspberries or blueberries, apple or even pineapple.

Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup strawberries, chopped
2 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1 1/2 cup plain flour
2 tbs milk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180 c
  2. Put a paper baking cup in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups, or grease just the bottoms of 12 muffin cups.
  3. Slightly smash strawberries in large bowl, using fork.
  4. Stir in sugar, oil and eggs and milk until mixed.
  5. Stir in other ingredients just until moistened.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  7. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown or toothpick poked in center comes out clean.
  8. Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar, if desired
  9. Cool 5 minutes.
  10. Makes 12 muffins.

Enjoy! (Best eaten the day you make them)

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Baked Apples and Custard

I love custard.  Sometimes you just want something warm, nourishing, sweet, and just a little bit childish.  It’s total comfort food.  It makes the world a much nicer place and improves just about any dessert.

But, I am ashamed to admit, I usually rely on custard powder to make my custard.  I just figured it’s easier and less likely to fail.  I never bothered to actually make the real stuff, from scratch.  Mostly because I thought I would do a bad job of it and end up with a burnt saucepan and me weeping over the stove.

Tonight I wanted to make something warm and luscious for dessert.  My diet at the moment is terrible;  I am comfort-eating like a crazy person, and today was no exception.  Stress and emotional turmoil make me want to stuff food in my face until the world goes away.  The world doesn’t, however, go away, and I just get fat and fed up with myself.  But, nevertheless, I wanted to make dessert tonight.

I had some apples that were looking a bit sad, and I didn’t want to waste them, so I decided to bake them.  And add custard, of course.  A search through the cupboard resulted in the discovery that I didn’t have any custard powder (I seem to remember similar searches in the past – every time resulting in “no custard powder”.  But do I remember to buy any?  No, I do not) so I decided to bite the bullet and make my own.

It was so easy.  Like, EASY!  In fact, it was easier and less labour intensive than using the powdered variety.  Tasted better too, as you would imagine.  It wasn’t that evil, bright yellow colour that you get from the instant stuff either.  Just custardy-coloured.  I used the recipe and method from the Stay at Home Mum website.

So, here are the recipes for both custard and apples.  Easy to make, even easier to eat.  Make them tonight.  Feel comforted 🙂

Baked Apples

Ingredients (for 2 Serves)

2 large cooking apples
6 dried dates, chopped finely
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs crunchy peanut butter
Tbs butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup boiling water

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius

Using a small knife (or an apple corer if you have such a thing…
note to self : buy an apple corer), carefully cut out the core and seeds, making a hole in the centre of the apple, about an inch or so wide.

In a small bowl, combine the dates, spice, sugar and peanut butter.  Fill the cavities in the apples with this mixture.  Dot 1/2 the butter on the top of each apple.

Pour the boiling water into an oven-proof dish.  Place the apples into the dish.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until apple is tender.  You can baste with some juices from the pan, if you wish.

Serve with warm custard.

Custard

Ingredients (for 2 serves)

2 egg yolks (room temperature)
2 tsp cornflour
1 cup milk
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

In a jug,

In a jug whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar until well combined.

In a saucepan gently heat the milk and vanilla until warm (not hot!), remove from the heat and add the milk to the egg mixture.

Tip it back into the saucepan and whisk constantly until boiling.  Take off the heat and whisk until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (if mixture isn’t thickening, gently heat again).

Serve hot or cold.  If serving cold – add a layer of plastic wrap to the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming.

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Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

We had a morning tea at work this week, to farewell one of our longest-serving staff members.  For twenty three years TM has worked diligently and cheerfully, always going the extra mile and making sure everything and everyone is organised and looked after.  I have only been at the organisation for just over three years, but in that time she has been such a support to me and I will miss her terribly.  I don’t even want to think about her not being there when I arrive in the mornings.  The place will seem very empty without her presence – even on the days she’s not there, she’s still THERE, you know?

So, as is mandatory for all morning teas, cakes, biscuits, quiches and slices were baked and brought in for everyone to share.  I made my Date & Almond Slice, and also tried a new recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, which I hadn’t made before.  They turned out really well.  Very moist and moreish and easy to make.  Everyone enjoyed them so I am glad I tried something new, and will make them again.  I tend to make things I shouldn’t really eat (ie things with chocolate or nuts in) – my theory being that I won’t indulge too much myself.  This is a fallacy.  I eat half the batter before it even goes in the tin and then keep taste-testing the baked product.  Pathetic.  I’m sure my kidneys hate me.

Anyway, the brownies were delicious – I did modify the original recipe slightly as I felt it had too much sugar in it (I left out about a 1/3 cup from the chocolate batter, but I am giving you the original amounts here).  The recipe comes from Baking Bites – a lovely foody blog with lots of yummy recipes, baking advice, kitchen gadgets and more.
Please do visit their site – you’ll find lots of inspiration 🙂

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INGREDIENTS

Brownie Batter
1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake Batter
8-oz ricotta cheese (I used smooth)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with baking paper.
Prepare brownie batter: In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Stir in cocoa powder until well-incorporated. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Stir in flour and salt, mixing until ingredients are just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and set aside.

Prepare cheesecake batter: In a medium bowl, beat ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A sharp knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into small squares (or large squares if you’re a piggy ha ha)

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Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Enjoy!

And to TM, I say a fond farewell – you will be missed more than I can say x

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! 🙂