Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Banana, Raisin & Cinnamon Loaf


Banana bread is so versatile. You can prepare all types of variations. The kids absolutely love this bread, and they always get a slice in their lunchboxes. It's also a great teatime treat, with lashings of butter, or toasted and topped with peanut butter.
I have been absent from the blog, as I am trying to find my feet with the new Bed and Breakfast season. This will be my sixth season, and every single year has been so different for me, because of my family life, and this year is no different. This year I have an extremely busy 18 month old as well as a vocal 4 year old to contend with, as well as all the work that comes with running a busy B&B, all by myself.


But now that I have settled into it and got a new routine going with the kids, I feel that my own normal life can continue and hopefully that means more time for blogging once again.
So starting back after a couple of months off with a quick and easy baking recipe. I'm killing two birds with one stone really, as I made this bread for my B&B guests for tomorrow morning.
Banana bread is a real crowd pleaser and I find it always tastes better on day two, which is why I made it the evening before the breakfast run.
There are hundreds of banana bread recipes out there, but this one is probably one of the quickest and easiest of them, oven ready in five minutes. Then let the oven do all the work.



Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 level tbsp baking powder
  • 1 lvel tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g soft butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 75g raisins
  • 1 tbsp demerera sugar
  • 3 bananas (2 mashed, 1 sliced length ways)

Method

  1. Line a 2lb loaf tin, or oil a silicone loaf tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, add the eggs, butter, mashed bananas, and sugar.
  3. Using an electric hand blender, beat the mixture well.
  4. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
  5. Add the raisins and fold into the mixture.
  6. Pour evenly into the loaf tin.
  7. Top the loaf with slices of banana down the centre of the loaf and sprinkle with the demerera sugar.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes. Place of a wire rack to cool
  9. Allow to cool completely in the tin before turning it out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Irish Potato Pancakes - Pimped up Leftovers for a happy Pancake Tuesday


I have gotten into the habit of deliberately making too much mash potatoes for the dinner, so I can have an excuse to make these delicious potato pancakes. The kids love them, as does my husband.



Today is pancake Tuesday, but rather than making my usual batter (which I make a couple times a week anyway off season) I decided to make these potato pancakes. I make them with the kids in mind, so I always make a plain batch. However if I was thinking about adults I would certainly spruce them up with scallions and herbs, and maybe ever some feta.  There really are loads of possibilities and variations so feel free to experiment for more grown up tastes.



Ingredients


  • 325g cold mashed potatoes
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 110g self raising flour
  • Salt/pepper
  • 180ml milk (today I used soy milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • Oil for frying


Method


  1. In a bowl add all the ingredients except for the oil
  2. Whisk until very well combined, I used a hand held whisk
  3. Put a pan on a medium heat, add the oil, I used olive
  4. Using a ladle, pour in the batter in ladle size batches. 
  5. Allow to fry until bubble holes appear on the top. This takes approx 2-3 minutes.
  6. Flip the pancakes, and fry for another 2 minutes.
  7. I got 15 small-medium size pancakes from this mixture and served with baked beans for the kids lunch. The wolfed them.




Tip: A sophisticated starter/brunch idea, would be to add chopped dill to the batter and serve the pancakes with smoked salmon and creme fraiche.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Chocolate" Energy Bars


These energy bars are a variation on my Nut Free Energy Balls. Their very health ingredients help give a slow release of energy along with a tasty chocolatey hit. I've research Maca powder lately after seeing it in my local Aldi supermarket. Apparently it has a positive effect on our hormone levels, it's an energy booster, along with being very rich in nutrients. It's high in vitamin B, C, & E; and it has a higher level of calcium than milk.  I think I'm onto a new favorite in my health food cupboard, along with my raw cocoa powder and chia seeds.



I highly recommend making these, they are delicious and the kids love them. Perhaps too good as I've snuck to the freezer at least for four times today for a sneeky bite.



Ingredients

  • 9oz pitted dates
  • 4 oz raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of maca powder
  • 1 tbsp of  raw cocoa powder
  • 1  tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of desiccated coconut 
  • 1-2 tbsp of sesame seeds




Method


  1. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they are broken down.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blender until the mixture forms a large dough ball.
  3. Turn out the ball onto a swiss roll tin lined with baking paper, and flatten out into a thin even layer.
  4. Scatter with the sesame seeds and transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
  5. Cut into squares and store either in the freezer or the fridge. (I like them hard and chewy out of the freezer).







Monday, February 6, 2017

Fig & Hazelnut Cake - The Perfect Weekend Indulgence



I made this cake back in October and it got rave reviews from everyone who ate it and I promised myself that I would make it again and blog it. Well October was ages ago, and between this and that I never got the chance. But this week was one hell of a week. We ended up staying in hospital for 3 days with my little small dude, Fionn. He's fine and home and everything, but it was a tough week. So on this cold rainy Saturday, Fionn is napping, Aoife's gone on a play date, and Alan is gone DIYing. So  for me the ultimate indulgence is light candles, turn down the lights, turn on some tunes and bake an awesome cake. For me baking is so relaxing! I love it. I decided I'd waited long enough to recreate that fig cake of October and I seized the perfect opportunity to bake.



The cake batter is a very simple one. I picked it up from Donna Hay. I have previously blogged a few different versions of this quick and simply cake, most notably my Quick Apple & Blueberry Cake.  I found figs are a great baking companion, and the hazelnuts are a match made in heaven. While the addition of the honey, while the cake is warm lends to the cakes sweetness and glossy finish. All in all, it's a great cake for an afternoon cup of tea, or equally warmed with a spoon of vanilla ice-cream for a yum dinner party dessert, cut and served at the table.




Ingredients

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 170g brown sugar
  • 125g soft butter
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 3 fresh figs, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp demerera sugar
  • 1 tbsp of runny honey


Method


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and the butter with a hand held blender
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. 
  4. Sieve the flour, and add the milk, and mix until combined
  5. In a 8inch diameter cake tin with a loose bottom, line with parchment and grease the sides with soft butter.
  6. Add the cake mixture to the tin. Top with the figs and the hazelnuts.
  7. Sprinkle the top with demerera sugar.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. While the cake is still warm, drizzle with the honey.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mango & Raspberry Overnight Oats



There's nothing new about overnight oats!! Soak your porridge overnight and they're nice and creamy in the morning and more digestion friendly. Right!! My friend's mom has been religiously soaking her porridge in water overnight since I was a child. So what's changed???!!




Well for one thing Instagram/Pinterest happened. All of a sudden we are seeing porridge becoming increasingly trendy, with an explosion of photos of beautiful looking overnight oats, with all sorts of fruits, seeds, exotic powders etc. Healthy eating has never been more popular especially online. When I do a search of '#overnightoats' on Instagram's public posts there are more than 318,000 post.

So basically what are these new pimped up overnight oats?? Well, there is no one recipe. You can make them with what ever combination you like. The possibilities are endless. Here's a nice and fragrant one though that I like to make, It has a tropical and fruit vibe. It has chia seeds and pumpkin seeds that will super charge your body first thing in the morning. They are a great healthy make ahead breakfast, that is also very portable. The thought of a ready made tasty breakfast already made in the fridge, might make getting out of a warm cozy bed that much easier.



Ingredients

  • 50g of porridge oats
  • 50ml of water
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 a fresh mango, cubed
  • 2 tbsp of frozen raspberries
  • 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds

Method

  1. Place the oats in a jar or deep glass, add the water.
  2. Top with the chia seeds and coconut
  3. Top then with the mango, raspberries and pumpkin seeds.
  4. Cover and allow to sit in the fridge overnight.
  5. I like to serve mine with a spoon of Greek yogurt, honey, and milled chia seeds.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Prawn & Mango Red Curry - Quick & Healthy Mid Week Supper


When you are up against it, stir fries are a great speedy dinner option, not to mention healthy. Here's the fastest stir fry I've made in ages and tastiest. The sweetness of the mango with the prawns works so well, along with the spicy red curry paste.



Ingredients

  • 100g raw prawns
  • 1/2 a fresh mango cubed
  • 3 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion. thinly sliced
  • 1  lime, quartered
  • 10-15 fine green beans
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1cm piece of ginger, diced
  • 3 tbsp of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 tsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce

Rice to serve




Method

  1. Put a wok on high heat, and heat the coconut oil. Fry off the onions, garlic, & ginger. Add the red curry paste, and cook it out for a minute or so.
  2. Add the mushrooms and the prawns. Cook until the prawn turn pink. 
  3. Add the mango cubes and the coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. To thicken the sauce, pour a tbsp of water into a container with a tsp of cornflour and stir to make a loose paste. Add to the gently simmering sauce and it should thicken. 
  5. Finally add the green beans to warm through, but they still retain their colour. To taste add the fish sauce and the soy sauce.
  6. For freshness and zing, serve with a wedge of lime and some brown rice.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Nut Free Energy Balls - Great for kids & post workouts


I love protein balls, they seem to be the on-trend thing to eat at the moment, up there with avocado!! My kids adore the balls I make for them, most of the time consisting of dates, almonds, and a nut butter.




 I recieved a healthy eating newsletter from their day care centre today and there was quite a long list of banned foods for safety, and to promote healthy eating. I realised that I couldn't send their normal protein balls in their lunch boxes as nuts are banned in the centre, for understandable allergy reasons. So today I set about making the balls using maple syrup as the core binding ingredient, and milled chia seeds and sesame seeds in place of my usual nuts.


 I'm sure it's easy enough to chop and change ingredients according to availability and preferences. For example tahini paste could be used in place of the usual nut butter. or maple syrup Anyway, these protein balls went down a treat. There was a spoon of cacao powder (which hopefully isn't frowned upon in the centre). This powder was gifted to me my a very dear friend when he came to stay with us during the summer. This is a highly prized powder from a chocolatier, Hazel Mountain Chocolate the Burren in Co Clare, so I use it very sparingly. It's chocolate in it's purest unrefined form.


Ingredients
  • 10-12 pitted dates (depending on size)
  • 1 tbsp of raw cacao powder Buy Hazel Mountain one here (not an advert, just adore it)
  • 3 tbsp of milled chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp of desiccated coconut
  • 3 tbsp of maple syrup


Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.
  2. Put the mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes to stiffen up.
  3. Roll the mixture into bite size balls, and then roll the balls in either extra sesame seeds and/or coconut.
  4. These keep great in the freezer and I recommend storing them there, to keep them firm, but not frozen.

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