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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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Sweet Process

Creating a card can be tricky
You start off with papers and thoughts
You fuss and you fiddle and change things around
Probably more than you ought

Then you decide on an image
Something that’s pretty and sweet
You shuffle your papers, add and subtract
And hope it forms something complete

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You ink up the edges carefully
To add some vintage distress
Your fingers are getting quite grubby
And the table is looking a mess

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You position all the pieces
And figure out what will go where
Should they be on an angle somehow
Or centred and straightened with care?

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Pieces all glued together
And suitable text added in
You try some little embellishments
To give it some sparkly bling

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Nothing says cute and jaunty
Like a birdie wearing a hat
You’re finished now, and everything’s done
And that, my friends, is that!

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Ok, so I am no poet… I won’t give up my day job any time soon 🙂
I’ve just come home from celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday – lots of delicious food and lovely company (as all birthdays should focus on!).  Happy Birthday MD 🙂

It’s late but I had to wind down before going to bed (I don’t know about you, but I can’t just go straight to bed after being out…my brain is too hyped up, especially after social occasions which, despite being enjoyable in this case, are stressful and nerve-wracking for me). Why I thought writing a poem would help me, I do not know.

But it’s off to bed now, with a hot water bottle (mandatory), some flannel jammies (very necessary) and strict and stern instructions to myself to get up early
(I have a breakfast to go to – seriously, all I do at the moment is eat).

Hope you’re having a happy weekend x

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Little Peeps & Night Owls

A lovely long weekend has just passed, which means I didn’t have to deal with the dreaded Monday-it is.  Every Monday should be a public holiday – how would I go about getting that made into law?  Who can I call about that?  I’m sure it would be a popular decision…

I went to the movies (Lady in The Van) and spent time with my friend – we went for a VERY long walk on a windy beach and my calves are still hurting three days later – and had an impromptu dinner at her house.  I visited my brother and his family and went to a David Bowie tribute night at a local pub.  It was so loud, I ended up stuffing bits of napkin into my ears.  I’m not very good with super loud stuff – I am paranoid about my hearing.  My friend came with me, as did my brother and his partner.  My Mum babysat the four rugrats while we were out.  Little Miss Two stayed up until we got home – she just wasn’t having any of that “It’s time for bed” nonsense.  She’s becoming a bit of a night owl which is problematic…but I stay out of it!  But my Mum got to spend a lovely evening having mini tea parties, playing with blocks, and reading books (over and over).

On Monday, I took my Mum home (she had stayed the night with me as it was too late to take her home the night before) and then I spent the rest of the day crafting and mucking about at home.  I couldn’t settle in to anything for a bit, but eventually started doodling and colouring some little people for cards.

I drew them out of watercolour paper and then coloured them in with Copic markers.  Then I cut them out with very sharp, tiny scissors.  Which almost sent me blind and a bit crazy, but I got there in the end without snipping off anything I shouldn’t (including my own fingers).  I edged them with a black marker so there wasn’t any white showing.  Just makes it look a bit neater and helps the design “pop”.

Then I assembled them onto a card using scrapbooking paper for their dresses.  I used some rubber stamps to add sentiments and some extra accents here and there.

I’m quite pleased with them.  They’re kinda cute and make me smile.  I’m trying out different hair on my Little Peeps at the moment so there will probably be more as the weeks go by, with varying styles and dos.

Anyway, it was good to finish a couple of things and be satisfied with them – I’m trying to do that more often these days.  I’m also trying to use up more of my brighter papers and embellishments, so they will feature more and more often I think too.

Hope you had a good weekend – enjoy your week 🙂

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Muesli Biscuits

I am a bit of a cereal nut.  I loves me some cereal, any time of day or night.  It is a good standby when the cupboard is otherwise bare and you need something to eat, whether it be for dinner or lunch or, obviously, breakfast.  This week I thought I would branch out of my usual Cheerios or porridge routine and get some muesli.  I chose a low fat one, thinking it would at least be less likely to adhere directly to my thighs.  Alas, it probably contained enough sugar to give half the world diabetes and actually didn’t taste all that good.  So, what to do with a box of muesli you don’t actually want to eat?  Make cookies out of it, of course.  Everything is better if it is cookie-shaped, after all.

So, here is a simple recipe for using up that crummy muesli you don’t like.  I gave these to my little nephews and nieces on the weekend and they gobbled them up.  To be fair, they are not the fussiest of eaters but, still, they ate these happily – even the little one (who is two and very, very aware of what she does and DOES NOT like).

Muesli Biscuits

3 cups muesli
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons flax seed meal (optional)
100g butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180 C

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix butter, honey and egg together until combined.

Mix dry and wet ingredients together.  Set aside for 10 minutes or so.

Roll spoonfuls of mixture together into golfball-sized balls.

Place on baking paper-lined trays and flatten slightly.

Bake for 15-20 mins.  If you have used two trays, swap them around midway through cooking so they bake evenly.

Cool for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack.
If you like, drizzle with a little bit of lemon icing (or leave plain).

That’s pretty much it.  They’re not beauty queens, these bikkies, but they taste alright and they’re a good fibre-rich treat to pop in lunch boxes etc.  You can almost pretend they’re healthy.  Sort of.  And at least you haven’t wasted your muesli! 🙂

Happy Munching x

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