Treats!

I am a total sucker for sweet treats and this afternoon I had a super quick baking session with the Boy. Well… I say baking really what I mean is we made some rice krispie treats (or Mars Bar buns if you prefer!).

If you don’t know what they are, essentially they are melted Mars Bars, mixed with Rice Krispies and smothered in with chocolate. If you want a more detailed recipe check out Laura’s post on them at her blog Day Dreaming Foodie.

image

Yum!

They are totally delish and I am very much looking forward to an evening with Netflix, a glass of wine and a couple of treats. I don’t think Sauv Blanc will work too well with them but I’m gonna give it a try!

Advertisements

Oaty Banana Pancakes

I love a sweet and bread based breakfast, whether it’s toast with chocolate spread, pancakes, croissants, pastries… Mmmm! The list could go on and on! I am a big fan of carbs, sugar & caffeine in the morning despite knowing how unhealthy it is.

Recently I have got into the habit of making crepes for breakfast at the weekend and we will all sit down as a family and eat. I really love this but I’m pretty sure all that butter, whole milk and white flour can’t really be good for me so I’ve been thinking about going back to fluffy pancakes filled with fruit and oats.  My favourite recipe was a simple one by Jamie Oliver. I’d usually make it with wholemeal flour, grated apple, blueberries or mashed banana and a handful of oats thrown in. I reckoned that made it healthy enough to use as an easy breakfast for the kids! Unfortunately it seemed that I enjoyed them more than anyone else in the house so I ended up having to eat them, ye know, because I couldn’t possibly waste them!

Anyway I fancied trying to make some really quick and easy, healthy pancakes with a minimum of weighing and whisking and after a bit of searching I came up with these oaty banana pancakes. They are light and delicious and super quick to make!

image

Perfect with a little maple syrup!

OATY BANANA PANCAKES

This recipe makes enough for me! Scale up as necessary. I’d say treble the amount if you were going to make enough for two small kids and two adults.

INGREDIENTS

1 large, very ripe banana
1 egg
1/3 cup of porridge oats
1tsp almond butter – totally optional, I added it because I’m an addict!
1/4 tsp baking powder
A small amount of oil or butter for frying

METHOD

Put all the ingredients into a suitable jug or bowl and blend until smooth. You can use a blender if you’re making a lot!

Heat a frying pan with a bit of oil or butter and add a dollop of the batter. I use an icecream scoop so my pancakes are similar sizes!

Fry for a few minutes on each side until they are cooked through.

Serve warm with your favourite toppings!

image

As you can see these pancakes went down a treat with the littlest member of our family and her big brother was a fan too. They were received a lot more favourably than my usual offerings so I’ll definitely be giving them another go!

Edited to add :

I just made this with a drop of vanilla essence and some chopped up chocolate mixed into the batter before I cooked then. It was amazing! It only took a tiny bit of chocolate (I used one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate) to make them really chocolatey and the wee hint of vanilla really sweetened them up.


Chocolate Spread

I’m a complete and utter, total chocolate addict. I think I would eat chocolate all day every day if I had half a chance and I don’t think there are too many foods that can’t be improved upon by a little chocolate!

One of my favourite breakfast treats is toast with Nutella and banana but when I realised just how much sugar was in Nutella I had to make it a super occasional treat rather than a pretty regular thing. Thank goodness I discovered Keen Nutrition who have their own delicious hazelnut & dark chocolate spread which was able to fill in my chocolate shaped breakfast gap.

Unfortunately there are no stockists near me so when I ran out recently I had to improvise.

I’ve been planning to try making my own almond butter for ages so I thought I’d have a go and I’d add a little chocolate to it! My mum has a super duper heavy duty food processor so in return for her letting me use it I promised her some almond butter. She wanted the unadulterated version, which was just add yummy but in a different way.

I am totally blown away by how delicious the result is. I really didn’t use a lot of chocolate in the whole scheme of things and I think it will give me enough of a little chocolate hit at breakfast that I’ll be able to resist a mid morning snack. Never mind that it’s packed with delicious almonds that will keep me filled up, especially if it’s paired with wholemeal toast & banana. Yummy!

image

Chocolate Almond Spread

Ingredients

400g Whole Almonds
40g Dark Chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
Sea Salt
A little sunflower oil

Method

Spread almonds on a baking tray with a little salt and roast. I roasted my almonds at 220°C for about 5 mins but they could have done with roasting for a little longer.

When the almonds have cooled add to your food processor and pulse until the nuts have broken up in to small pieces.
Run the food processor until the nuts have been reduced to a fine powder then add a small amount of sunflower oil to try to bring it all together.

Continue to run the processor adding small amounts of sunflower oil as needed.

I really used very little oil but it seemed to be necessary to bring it all together. I had the machine running for a long time and all I had was powder. The nuts didn’t want to seem to come together properly until the oil was added. I used sunflower oil because it’s relatively tasteless and I had it to hand. (Any similar oil would do but I think next time I’m going to try using coconut oil for a little bit of interesting flavour!)

When the nuts had been reduced to a suitable paste I spilt it in half and put half in a jar for my mum.

I left my half in the processor and melted the chocolate. Then I added the melted chocolate and continued to process until it was totally combined.

I popped it in a clean jar and it’s now ready for munching. I can’t wait to get stuck in tomorrow morning!

Happy Crafty New Year!

Happy New Year to you all!  I’ve been quieter than I would have liked over the festive season but with the Boy off nursery and the big beardy one off work for the last fortnight our days have been pretty full!

I had last minute Christmas gifts to craft, and some I still have to make!  I had my first ever go at arm knitting and I was so pleased with the result I’m definitely going to have another go.

image

Since it was for a Christmas present I totally forgot to take more photos than this but I’m sure I’ll get one of the finished product to show you!

I’m on a bit of a mission to get my kiddies eating less processed food in 2015 so last night they got home made fish fingers. I used this Annabel Karmel recipe although instead of frying them I baked them for about 15mins at 180°C.

image

Seasoned flour, beaten egg & bashed rice crispies to coast the fish

I thought they were lovely and the babby couldn’t get enough although the boy wasn’t convinced.  Mind you we’re having a bit of a power struggle over food at the minute so he won’t eat a lot of what I put down in front of him right now! I’m hopeful that is just a phase but it is terribly discouraging to spend time making good food only to have it turned down. Ah well, I thought it was pretty tasty so it didn’t go to waste!

My next mission is home made baked beans but not today as we have my niece’s birthday party to go to this afternoon! Yesterday saw us baking some tasty biscuits for the occasion. Can’t wait to get eating them later!

image

image

So a happy new year to you all? Are you planning to be more crafty this year? Do more cooking, make more things or learn a new skill? I’m hoping to do all of the above but I’ll have to see how I get on! Let me know your crafty resolutions!

Christmas Cookies!

Today I picked up a very excited small boy from playgroup. He was cradling a package wrapped in green tissue paper like it was the most precious thing on earth and told me very seriously that he had made a cookie. He was so proud of himself and I couldn’t wait to get him home to see his masterpiece!

Unfortunately disaster struck and when we arrived home his cookie had broken. Now I know it was going to taste the same but there was no convincing him of this fact and faced with a teary three year old I knew I had to act fast! The only thing that could possibly make things alright again was getting to make another cookie so it looked like an afternoon baking was on the cards.

The thought of finding a recipe, checking what ingredients I had and what I needed, starting into weighing and measuring… Bah humbug! Thankfully I had a brainwave and remembered that my local bakery, The Cookie Jar, had started selling cookie dough for us lazy folk to make their own Christmas treats. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy as I was at that moment. I reckoned £1.49 for a pound of dough was very flippin reasonable so a very quick car journey later and we had our package of delectable cookie dough. Once armed with the cookie dough, a rolling pin and some cookie cutters I now had a very happy boy!

Thank goodness James from the Cookie Jar has put together a very easy instructional video for using the dough. I’m not a bad baker but it’s definitely better to get a wee helping hand from the pros! Unfortunately even after I watched it I still managed to burn the first batch of cookies. Admittedly I do use a dreadfully unreliable table top oven so there’s always a bit of trial and error involved!

image

The second lot turned out a lot better than goodness, although they are a lot tinier! The boy found some of his play dough cutters and decided they were much more fun to make cookies with so we did. Tiny cookies are definitely a better size for tiny (and some not so tiny) people to eat! Some yellow icing and sugar sprinkles later and we ended up with a little plate full of treats and we still have half the dough left!

image

I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that we have to make more cookies tomorrow so I think I’ll be back for more cookie dough. Although I think that unless I want to end up with a figure like Santa we’ll definitely be giving them out as Christmas pressies. They are definitely tasty enough to do us proud!

I Can’t Succumb to Sickness! (aka Ginger & Lemon tea)

Both my kids have had a terrible run of ill health since The Boy started playgroup in September. We’ve had cold after cold, chickenpox and now The Babby has ear infections in both sides. I’m convinced they are linked to teething since her brother had the same thing every time new teeth appeared and she has two definite new teeth since this latest bout of sickness started.

In the mean time I have not been sleeping while I care for my poorly baby (she’s fifteen months old now, I should really stop calling her the babby…) and have still been running around doing all the usual things. It has finally started to catch up with me and last night in bed I could feel myself coming down with something. My throat was sore and one ear was aching. Thankfully I had only one night waking to deal with so some sleep helped but the big guns were called for this morning.

I have a secret weapon in the fight to keep the germs at bay, since hot whiskeys aren’t really appropriate, proper ginger tea with lemon & honey is a winner. Here’s how I do it…

image

My cure for the common cold!

Ingredients
A lump of ginger
A lemon
Honey
Cloves (optional)

Method

Coarsely gate an inch or so of the ginger into a pot or a jug and pour a mug of boiling water over it.  Leave to steep for five or ten minutes (or longer if you want it really spicy). Add the cloves here if wanted. You could also simmer it over a very low heat to keep your drink nice & hot. I tend to put mine in a little bean pot and I put it in my range to keep warm.

image

While the tea is infusing chop the lemon in half and squeeze it into a mug and add a good spoonful of honey.

Strain the ginger tea into the mug with the lemon and honey and enjoy!

image

I take this tea really strong and I can feel it clearing me out as I drink it but you could make it weaker if you prefer. The ginger can be reused to make more tea but it obviously won’t be as potent as the first use.

I’m convinced that drinking a few of these mugs of tea throughout the day helps chase away any nasties trying to infect me. It’s maybe not a cure but it’s a definite help for me and a total bonus that I love the taste! 

Yummy Scrummy Mulled Porridge

Now Halloween is over I’m starting to feel a little festive. I’m thinking ahead to the end of December already, although I won’t mention the dreaded “C” word just yet! Dark nights and cold days need a little something to help you through so I’m a big fan of rich and spicy flavors to help warm me up. I do love a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine or cider but it’s hardly what you want first thing in the morning! Mulled porridge on the other hand is just the ticket!

I’m not really a fan of unadulterated porridge. There’s something a bit off putting about the texture so I like porridge with bits in. A bit of added flavour doesn’t go amiss either!

To save time in the morning I prepare this the night before. I’m sure you could pop it in the slow cooker so it would be ready for the morning but since my slow cooker is massive and I’m the only one that eats this it wouldn’t work too well for me.

Into a saucepan I grate one apple, I add a handful of raisins, a pinch of cinnamon and a teeny bit of nutmeg. I add a half cup measure of regular porridge oats and some water. I usually use twice the amount of water to the amount of oats. Then I give everything a stir, pop the lid on and leave it until the morning.

image

It doesn’t take long to cook because the oats get a chance to soak up the water, or milk if you prefer to use that. I’m not a huge fan of milk, never really liked the taste but I do like a bit of extra creaminess in my porridge so I stir in some yogurt before I serve. The raisins get all plump and juicy from the overnight soaking and the oats get a chance to soak up juice from the apples and the spice so all the the flavours blend into a scrummy, yummy bowl of deliciousness!

If you’re looking for something a bit spicy and totally seasonal you can’t go wrong with this. It’s the perfect way to warm yourself up in the morning and set yourself up for the day ahead. Maybe if I don’t eat it too quickly in the morning I’ll remember to take a photo of the cooked porridge for you all to drool over!