Fruity Banana Flapjacks

These banana flapjacks are sweet, squidy and utterly delicious!

I wanted something quick, simple and perfect for taking to work with me for a little energy boost – or as a home-time pick me up after a long day.

The millionaire’s flapjacks I made the other week were lovely, but possibly a bit too rich for what I had in mind. So I decided on trying a rather lighter variation…

These are by no means ‘super-healthy’ flapjacks, but they are tasty and more naturally sweet with honey, bananas and dried fruit rather than a tonne of sugar. And because I haven’t used sugar or syrup, they’re much squidgier and don’t crisp and burn quite so easily.

Recipe for 12 to 16 flapjacks

  • 270g oats
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 6tbsp honey
  • 125g butter
  • 100g mixed dried fruits and seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
  • 20x20cm tin
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c (170°c fan) and line a tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the oats, dried fruit and seeds into a mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the bananas to a fairly smooth consistency (although you don’t have to worry too much about getting every last lump).
  4. Put the bananas into a saucepan, along with the butter and honey. Melt over a medium heat and simmer until you have a well mixed liquid.
  5. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix together.
  6. Tip the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press down so that it is tightly packed.
  7. Use a spoon or spatula to smooth.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is starting to turn golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Then turn out and slice into rectangles.

And it’s really just as simple as that! Let me know if you try them out – or if you have any other tasty recipes that make good snacks 🙂

Souped-Up Food Waste

How can we be fat and starving; struggling to feed our families yet throwing out tonnes of food every year?

There is no doubt that planning specific meals with a shopping list and buying less is part of the answer, but we will always end up with some waste.

According to WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste, campaign, the most wasted foods are bread, fruit and vegetables. I’ve also been guilty of throwing out the ends of loaves in the past but faced with this obscene and inexcusable waste, I now freeze all bread immediately and literally take out each slice or a few slices as I need them. I process the odds and sods and have a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer often adding grated cheese ends to sprinkle over the tops of vegetables and then grill into a crispy topping. This not only uses up the bits that previously went into the bin but makes any mundane veg into a gourmet delight on a wet Wednesday. This isn’t pretentious cheffery – it’s old-fashioned good housekeeping.

As I went to put my weekly shop in the fridge today, I witnessed the typical sight of past-their-best vegetables skulking apologetically in the bottom of the fridge: half an onion, some sprouting garlic, 1/2 red pepper, some discolouring cabbage leaves, a broccoli stump, some very wrinkly cherry tomatoes, five rather flaccid carrots, the end of a cucumber and about four potatoes. Rather than bin them, which again I would have done a few years back, I chopped them all up, fried them off in a pan for a few minutes, added a litre of vegetable stock and watched them transform into a bright and incredibly appetising pan of food. What could have been destined for the bin was suddenly revitalised and delicious.

I added some black pepper and chilli flakes for taste but actually you could add some chicken or a couple of chopped and fried off sausages and have a delicious family casserole. I chose to whizz it up (using my £6 hand processor from the supermarket) to make a Souper Soup. I will enjoy some today and freeze the rest in portions for a fast lunch or supper or to take to work in a flask. There’s easily enough for 10 wholesome servings; perhaps with some croutons on top from the bread that may have been thrown out or some grated cheese or a few crispy bacon bits from the last dried rasher in the pack. There is little more satisfying than seeing the transformation of bin-fodder.

The point is that using up left overs doesn’t need complicated recipes or even much time or any skill. Roughly chopping the vegetables and tossing them in a pan took literally a couple of minutes. It simmered for 10 minutes whilst I sent some emails and it was whizzed up in another two minutes. There really is no excuse. This is simple, filling, nutritious, low calorie food which would also deal with many of the obesity issues if we could persuade more people to eat this way rather than resorting to expensive processed alternatives.

What I would love to see is somewhere that we could take our soups to share with those who don’t even have the luxury of left overs. So rather than the food banks giving them tins of processed foods with little nutritional value, those of us binning up to £60 of edible food could be sharing that in a more constructive way. Health and safety permitting, of course.

Almond, Pistachio and White Chocolate Biscotti

I was a bit confused about the correct texture of biscotti – just how crisp and crunchy should they be?! I went for edible as a minimum requirement. Mine were pretty solid, but softened easily with a quick dunk into hot coffee. Actually, these might be the ideal dunking biscuits. It would take a lot to make them break!

Now for the recipe. It was simple enough to follow, if a little misleading with the ’30 minute’ bake time – that means 30 minutes for each of the two baking periods! I also used too much egg but this was easy enough to rectify by adding equal amounts of flour and sugar until the dough was the right consistency.

  • To make 10-12 biscotti:
  • 250g plain white flour
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2-3 medium eggs, beaten
  • 150g pistachios
  • 150g almonds
  • 100g white chocolate

1. Begin by pre-heating the oven to 140°c (or 160°c with no fan), and grease and line a baking tray.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then add a little at a time to the flour and sugar, stirring each time. You are aiming for a firm, non-sticky dough so you may not need all the egg. (If you do over-do it, just add equal parts flour and sugar until it’s right).

3. Shell the pistachios if necessary, then roughly chop all the nuts into chunks. The size is up to you, but larger pieces work best here. Add the nuts to your dough and mix in using your hands.

4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, knead lightly and then divide into two equal amounts. Roll each one into a log about 3-4cm diameter and place on the baking tray.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes (the actual recipe says 10, but I’m impatient and it worked ok for me…) so that the dough firms up enough to be cut. Transfer to a board, cut the log diagonally into slices about 1.5cm thick. Put the slices back onto the baking tray, laying them flat. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until the middle of each one has dried.

6. Remove from the oven and cool. Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water, then use a spoon to drizzle across the biscotti. Or you could pipe it if you’re feeling fancy.

7. Enjoy alongside hot coffee, or sweet Italian wine.

I’m excited about bread week tonight – and making bread this week. Make sure to come back to see my annual home-made loaf of bread next week, haha!

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake Recipe

  • 140g (5oz) unsalted butter
  • 140g (5oz) soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 225g (8oz) self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 175g (6oz) grated carrot
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 55g (2oz) sultanas (optional)

Carrot Cake Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F
  2. Grease and line a 7inch (18cm) cake tin
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in the eggs.
  5. Fold in the flour, baking powder, orange juice, grated carrot, vanilla and sultanas
  6. Place into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 mins until golden brown.

Healthy, Low Sugar Parsnip, Lime and Warm Spice Breakfast Muffins

A healthy, low sugar muffin…was it possible? Would it work? I think you might know me by now because here is what I came up with.

An experiment in many ways using much less sugar, a root vegetable and mixing lime with spice but this is a super recipe and perfect if you want something to satisfy your sweet tooth without going over board. My 5 year old daughter loved these and ate 2 in a row. The tang of lime with the back drop of spice some how works really well and the parsnip is not over powering at all, in fact I could hardly taste it. Next time I make them I would fill up the cases a bit more as they did not rise as much as I thought they would.

Ingredients – for approx 12 muffins

  • 300g grated parsnip (I did mine in the magi-mix which I have to say made it very easy indeed)
  • 150g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 100g white spelt flour
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 70g oats
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp orange blossom honey (or any honey that you have)
  • seeds from 4 cardamon pods crushed
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • zest and juice from 2 limes
  • Muffin cases
  • 150g cream cheese
  • zest of 1 lime and the juice of half a lime
  • 3 tbsp orange blossom honey (or any honey that you have)

How to make

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c and line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases
  2. In a small bowl mix together the cardamon, cinnamon, honey and lime zest plus juice
  3. In a bigger bowl mix together the flours, sugar, oats and baking powder
  4. Add in the oil and eggs one at a time whilst continuing to mix. Then add the lime, spice and honey mix
  5. Finally add the grated parsnips and fold in with a large metal spoon
  6. Divide into the muffin cases and bake for 15 – 20 mins
  7. Mix the cream cheese, zest and lime juice and honey together and top the muffins once cooled using a small palette knife

Curried Parsnip, Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

And here is the recipe for my soup because this was a success as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 med butternut squash peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes
  • 3 med apples peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes
  • 4 large parsnips peeled and cut into strips
  • 4 naked cloves of garlic
  • 1400ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • drizzle of olive oil

How to Make

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c
  2. Put all veg and apples and garlic in a roasting tin and drizzle over the olive oil
  3. Cook in the oven for about 40 mins taking them out half way through to give a toss and a stir
  4. Add roasted veg and apples into a large saucepan then add the spices, chilli flakes and stock and simmer for about 10 mins
  5. Liquidise the soup (I used my stick blender in the saucepan) and serve with fresh crusty bread and an optional dollop of creme fraiche

These recipes allow me to enter a few of the monthly blogging challenges that are around this month.

Carrot Cake Cookies

There is nothing better than cosy weekends at home with friends drinking tea, watching films and eating some lovely home baked goods and these are probably some of the cosiest, most comforting biscuits I’ve ever made. They have a very soft, cake texture which combined with all the warming spices just makes them taste like a big friendly hug. It’s beautifully autumnal.

For some reason it also just seems so much more socially acceptable to eat a plate of biscuits than it does to eat a whole cake to yourself so that’s a good thing too (or not, depending on your point of view.)

Oh and did I mention they contain fruit and vegetables? In my eyes that basically makes them a health food. Which is another good way to justify eating even more of them. You’re welcome.

I wanted these to be quite soft and cake like so I only baked them for about 15 minutes but if you want them to be a little harder and more biscuity then just add a few extra minutes in the oven, remembering that they’ll harden up a bit more when they cool anyway.

Carrot Cake Cookies Recipe 

Ingredients (makes approx 12 Carrot Cake Cookies)

  • 2 carrots (grated)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 170g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 300g soft light brown sugar
  • 50g walnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 4 tbsp sultanas
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger

Cream the butter and sugar then whisk in the egg and egg yolk. Gradually stir in the flour, baking powder and dried spices until well combined (it should be a very sticky dough) and then add the walnuts and sultanas.

On a greased baking tray add about a teaspoon of dough and shape into rough circles, leaving at least 1.5cm between each one. Bake at 200c for around 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Cupcake in Cone: What child wouldn’t love these for their birthday party?

Using usual cupcake recipe – add the mixture to ice-cream cones instead of cupcake cases!!

  1. Place the ice cream cones in a muffin tray.
  2. Using an ice-cream scoop add the mixture into the cones. Don’t Overfill!
  3. Bake in the oven (180 C) for 15 minutes or until you insert a cake tester and it comes out clean.
  4. Place on a cooling rack to cool down. Once cooled top with icing. We’ve used glace icing here but you could ice on butter cream to make it look like a Mr Whippy! To add sprinkles – tip the sprinkles into a bowl then dip the icing topped cone into sprinkles to get a good covering. Best made on the day of eating.

Cappuccino Chocolate Mousse

Christmas is the perfect time for desserts. It’s the season for indulgence, for ‘oh just one more drink’ and ‘yes I will have another slice of cake thank you’. I thought this mousse would be a perfect choice for a holiday party. I’d serve as a luxurious end to a Christmas meal/ dinner party or for something less formal you could create edible cups for some impressive bite sized buffet snacks. It’s light, with a very subtle coffee flavour behind the chocolate that will please coffee drinkers without offending the palates of any one else (although you can add extra spices or coffee if you like.)

Cappuccino Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Ingredients

  • 170g Chocolate
  • 75 ml Cappuccino
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp coffee liqueur (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk

Start by melting the chocolate (how you do this is up to you) and setting aside. In a small saucepan bring the coffee, liqueur and any spices to the boil. Pour the liquids and egg yolk onto the melted chocolate and whisk until well combined. Set to one side and leave to cool while you work on the meringue.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Continue to whisk as you gradually add the sugar until well mixed and it had formed stiff peaks (if you’re brave enough, you should be able to hold it above your head without any falling!). Slowly and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix until all streaks are gone, then pour into small glasses or bowls and chill overnight.

Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon or grated chocolate.

 

How to make cookie lollies!

Basic Cookie Recipe

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 400 plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence until well combined. Add the flour. Mix until a dough is formed. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour. Place the dough on a floured surface and briefly knead. Roll out to 5mm even thickness. Cut out your cookies using cookie cutters. Place on a lined baking tray. Place in the fridge again for 30 mins. Pre-heat oven to 180C 350F Gas Mark 4. Bake for 10-12 mins until golden brown at the edges.

How to make cookie lollies

  1. Take a reasonably large cookie cutter.
  2. Cut out a shape.
  3. To insert the cookie stick gently hold down the cookie with one hand.
  4. Using the other hand, slowly twist the stick into the cookie.
  5. Using the spare dough cover any parts of the cookie where you can see the stick poking out. Gently press it down.
  6. Flip the cookie back over and it is ready to place on a baking tray (greased or using a reusable liner)
  7. Chill the cookies for 30 minutes before placing in the oven for 10-12 mins (180C, 350F or Gas Mark 4).
  8. Once cooled you can either decorate the front or the back of the cookie.
  9. If using sugar paste then roll it out and cut it out using the same cutter as you used for the cookie. Stick it to the cookie by using either water, piping gel or a thin layer of glace icing. You can then build up the pattern using different cutters.