Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Banana-Berry Smoothie Muffins

Okay, I know it's not a food blog, but I've been on a bit of a baking binge recently, and it's only fair that I show you some of it: the good, the bad and the ugly.

I'm a little bit pleased with my odd wee brain for the way it came up with this one. I'd just set out to whip up a quick and easy batch of berry muffins, but the berries were huge and very frozen, and adding a cup or so of those would probably amount to one berry per muffin.


So I got out the blender, thinking to break them up a bit. Also pointless. It just shaved round the edges so that I had about a dozen rocks that were a bit smaller, and some mush coating the sides of the blender. Worse than before! Also, it meant I had to clean the blender for no reason, and we can't have that, can we?

I could probably make a smoothie then, I thought. And then it occurred to me, I could probably use that smoothie to make the muffins! Brilliant, if I do say so myself. And judging by the speed at which they were devoured, there seemed to be some agreement.

Here's what I threw in the bowl:
*1 egg
*2 cups of smoothie (mine flavoured banana-berry but you could use just about anything)
*1/4 cup oil
*1/2 cup sugar
*2 cups plain flour
*4 heaped teaspoons baking powder
*2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon

And then you:
Whisk all the wet ingredients together in the bowl and then stir in the dry.
Spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins and bake at 200C for 15 minutes or until golden.

Easy peasy!

Then you spend half an hour trying to get a decent picture of one - first by starting out with it on a non-sunny bench where the pictures were too dark to see, and then keep moving when you push the button on the camera (quite the photographer, me) to make sure you get blurry ones. After 50 goes, there's sure to be one that's usable.

All baking and photographic tips gratefully received!!

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Freestyle Baking: possibly the ugliest pin-wheels ever!

About six months ago, we lived about a kilometre up the road from a bakery that made really addictive spiced pin-wheels with custard in them. Then we had a house fire (I'll get to that story one day) and had to move about 40 kilometres away, and I haven't been back to the bakery since. Now and again though, I want one of their rolls, and finally that's coincided with the desire to bake.


Now, because I'm a bit lazy by nature, I didn't really want to look for a recipe I liked and follow it step by step, maybe running out of one ingredient or another, or perhaps being asked to wait over night for them to rise. Lazy and impatient - so sue me. I'm not scared of freestyle baking; mostly it turns out edible.

So I started out with a basic pizza dough, the same as the one on this post, except that I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar. I get impatient waiting for the yeast to rise too (and mine is a little old and slightly dead) but whamming it in the microwave for 45 seconds on high helps it along nicely. If it's still not as high as you want to see it in ten minutes, give it another 45 seconds - too easy.

While waiting, I set to making the fillings:
*A couple of tablespoons of melted butter mixed with a cup of brown sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon.
*A handful of sultanas.
*Custard. I wasn't a hero: I used custard powder and made it in the microwave.

Well, if it's pizza dough I'm using, I might as well make it like a pizza, I thought, so I stretched out the dough and added the filling. The dough was too thin and the fillings were too great, but I didn't care. It looked pretty.

I even poured the custard into a snap lock bag and snipped the corner off so that I could pipe it evenly onto the top. I didn't want huge globs of custard here and there just in case one of the rolls missed out. Also, I wanted it to look pretty for you - Aww, see what I do for you guys?

This is the last time it looked pretty though (it was worth it.)

I thought ahead a bit: see how it's rolled out onto baking paper? I knew it would be a pain in the bum to roll without that there, and I'd have been right. Even with it, and with the perfectly even rolling I did, filling started to ooze everywhere. There was no panic though - that puppy was stuffed full anyway.

Cutting caused more oozing and general fiddly stickiness. It was fun and gross at the same time. At that point, I wondered if I shouldn't have used a sweet scone dough, but then it wouldn't have been as bready and I wanted that. I chucked them (ten of 'em) in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes, at which point they felt cooked and bread-like and also had an unexpected toffeeish coating. Bonus!

They're in no way as good as the bakery's, I'm afraid, but still totally edible. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so impatient with the rising and whatnot. But then we'd have had to wait, and who wants that?

As Mr. Me so rightly said: "Tastebuds don't care how ugly food looks."

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Friday, 12 October 2012

10 Times The Rainy Day Toddler Fun

Make Playdough!

playdough photo credit

It's completely easy to make. You do need to use boiling water, but kids can help with all the rest and they can help knead it all together when the dough has cooled enough to touch. Here's a recipe:

1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups flour
6 tbsp cream of tartar
3 cups boiling water
3 tbsp cooking oil
food colouring

Mix all ingredients together. Store in a plastic bag or airtight container. Makes approximately 1.5kg.

You can add glitter for sparkle, or even powdered cordial in place of the food colouring to create different colours and smells (though it's still going to taste disgusting if it gets in their mouth).

Play with the playdough you just made.

'Cause let's face it, everyone loves playing with the dough. For the littlest fingers, it's sensory fun, cause and effect and learning motor skills. Older kids, (and me) learn to think spatially, plan their creations, stretch their imagination and strengthen their concentration. Who could ask for more?

Well, since you do ask for more (because I assume you're a smart-a*se like me) they also learn through role-play (think pretending to be a baker), about shapes and which ones are stronger, physics - how to strengthen their structures, and about art.

Playdough is epic.

Build a fort

fort photo credit

A classic activity for all kiddos, but most of the time we forget, being the adults that we are! Forts are awesome fun to make up, and knock down and make up and knock down, pretending to make a house of cards out of the cushions and using them as gymnastics mats. And then when you have the fort perfect, it's time to clamber inside with a book and torch or some picnic food. Stories and eating are what people do every day, but they're made just that bit more special and memorable in a different place.

Feed the ducks and jump in puddles

duck photo credit

Really, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes for the weather. Kit out in raincoat, umbrella and boots and find some ducks to feed. You'll probably be the only ones there, and ducks, funnily enough, think it's great weather!

While you're at it, jump in some puddles. Hunt for and count all the worms that have emerged onto the paths. Shake droplets out of tree-branches onto each other's umbrellas. Pick flowers. The outdoors in the rain is just as much opportunity as it is obstacle.

Take pictures!

take pictures photo credit

Get your digital camera or cellphone out and take photos together. Look at them and talk about them. Pull funny faces at the camera, dangle from the sofa, sing songs and let your little ones video you. Play it back for them. Play it again the next rainy day, and the next! Let them initiate how to take the pictures. Let them push the buttons. Keep the best pictures as a screen saver for your computer.

Chase raindrops

raindrops photo credit

Have raindrop races down window panes. It's not an activity that will keep kids occupied for hours, or even more than a minute or two, but it's something everyone should do and a memory every kid should have.

It's something they can look back on fondly during rainy days of their own, and repeat. A feeling of warmth that might hit them twenty years from now, stuck in traffic in the pouring rain. It's one of the little things in life.


dancing photo credit

Dance! Use up some of that wiggle that's driving you mad. If it's the middle of the year, then break out the Christmas tunes for something different and to jog everyone's memory back to awesome fun times. Play something bouncy and jiggly. Something that kids can remember and scream the words to. Join in! Try to dance just as crazy and sing just as loudly as they are. A favourite song at our place for this, is Snoopy's Christmas!

Blow bubbles inside.

bubbles photo credit

Blowing bubbles isn't just for sunny days. It's for days in the kitchen when you're going to mop the floor anyway! And you get to pop far more bubbles when the wind doesn't carry them away anyway. Probably best done after you've made and eaten your pizza!

Make pizza together, then eat it.

pizza photo credit

Pizza dough is almost as simple as playdough to make, and while it's rising you can be chopping up the toppings ready for everyone to create their own masterpieces.

Dough Recipe:
1 packet of the instant yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar, dissolved in 1 cup of warm water
Add it to 2.5 cups of plain flour and 2 tbls of your oil of preference.
Knead, cover and leave to rise.
When about double in size, shape into one big or several little pizzas and add toppings.
Bake in a medium oven for about 15 mins.

Easy peasy!

Let the kids decide and play along

Children need the opportunity to make decisions of their own. Maybe they have a favourite game they want to revisit, or perhaps they want to invent something completely new? Chances are they remember something they did while away from you that they might want to show you but don't yet have the words for. Allow them to direct their own play. They're the experts at it.

Play along. Enjoy the ride. It's OK for adults to be kids too, now and then.

When I was thinking these up, I remembered I haven't done some of them in a very long time, and it's time I stepped up and remembered how to be a kid again. They're the ones who know how to be free and unselfconscious. They get the job done.

Got any ideas you'd like to add? I want to hear them!

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