Berry Nice Granola

Sometimes when I am alone in the house I blare music ( I am scared the neighbours will come in sometime to stop the party and find me alone) .

Sometimes I lie for no reason at all it just come out of my mouth I can’t control it.

Sometimes I lie awake in bed and wonder what I will be like in ten years time.

Sometimes (if no one is looking) I drink straight out of cartons and put them back.

Sometimes when I am sweeping the floors I just sweep everything out of the room and in to another.

Sometimes I spend hours at a time browsing food blogs on the internet and then  next time forget which good blogs I found. Pinterest  as reduced this problem greatly

Sometimes I stink my hand in the Granola jar and pick out all the cranberries or almonds, to eat.

I just love granola its my one weakness,
I came upon this granola recipe when I was spending hours browsing food blogs. I printed it out and kept meaning to make it, but things just kept putting me off – lack of ingredients, lack of time and the really good shop bought granola from Lidl. Finally I decided to make it and am I glad I did. Mammy said it was the best granola yet (and we are a granola family, we have a granola jar).

Berry Nice Granola

  • 300g rolled oats
  • 50g whole or chopped almonds and hazelnuts
  • 120g sunflower seeds
  • 50g of pumpkin seeds
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 20g wheat germ
  • 125ml unsweetened apple juice
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • dried berries (preferably unsweetened or naturally sweetened with fruit juice)

Preheat oven to 160 C. Mix oats, seeds, wheatgerm, apple juice, sunflower oil in a bowl, then spread out evenly on a baking tray ( I like to add the dried fruit at this stage as they get chewy.)
Bake, turning and mixing often, for about 45 minutes
Remove from oven and leave until cool.
Serve with yogurt or milk. You can keep it in an airtight container for about two weeks (  or granola jar).

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Banana and Coconut Muffins

I had one of those days. You know the kind of days that you loose everything goes wrong. It all started with me skipping my dinner the night before, I then woke up in the middle of the night starving so at 2 am I went to and had a mini feast. I then was too full to sleep so I lay in bed for ages.  After much tossing and turning I decided to open the window. This made set off the house alarm waking the whole family and causing a lot of shouting generally in my direction. I then woke up with a slight sinus infection which meant I couldn’t put my contacts in so I spent the whole day going around blind, as I hate my glasses. None of  my formulas  would work out in physics class and I had to sit alone in English at the top of the class.  My head heart the whole day and  piano after school I just couldn’t concentrate. The loud banging of the notes only made my head hurt even more. At home I couldn’t wrap my head around Pascals Triangle  for maths homework. After 12 attempts I finally finished my physics question. I popped two Panadol and continued on. I began quoting Dido “wondering why got out of bed at all”. I noticed the black banana in the fruit bowl and my spirit began to perk up, coconut and banana muffins I thought. What I love about these is the mixture tastes just as good raw plus bananas contain tryptophan that the body converts into serotonin. Bananas can make you relax, feel happier and improve your mood and the potassium improves brain power and makes you more alert which I am going to need to be in class if I want to master Pascals Triangle.

Banana and Coconut Muffins adapted from Rachel Allens fruity muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml of milk
  • 100ml of natural yogurt
  • 75ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 225g of plain flour
  • 3 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 100g of wholemeal flour
  • 70g of brown sugar
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 50g of dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line muffin tray with 12 cases.  Mix all the wet ingredients together including the banana. In another bowl sift the plain flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the wholemeal flour, coconut and sugar. Fold into the wet ingredients. Be careful not to over mix. Divide the  mixture between the muffin cases. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The tops should spring back gently when cooked. Allow to stand in the tin for 102 minutes than transfer to a wire tray to cool. 

Back to school lunch rolls

The end of August means one thing back to school. Back to school means new pens , teachers and homework but also with the start of school their is an attempt to make better lunches. This resolution, despite it’s best intention usually lasts about two months at most, before I return to sliced bread sandwiches. Yesterday after my first day of school I came up and made a brown/white/spelt roll for school lunch. I simply weighed out whatever flour I had in the press (left over from my summer bread making spree) added salt and yeast then mixed in some water, then added more yeast. I kneaded it for a little while – it allowed me to take my anger out on the starting of 5th year. I put in back in the bowl and forgot about it for about two hours. Then took it out cut it into squares, dipped in semolina and cooked for about 30 minutes. The result was a delicious roll/bap perfect holding all sort of fillings for a school lunch. Much better than a Sliced pan sandwich.

Suggestions for school lunch

Home made rolls filled with your choice salad, carrot and hummus

These lovely wraps mmmm….

This yummy quinoa salad

These muffins are top of my must try for lunch 

Bread Rolls

500g of flour (200g of spelt, 150g of strong white flour and 150g of whole wheat flour)

7g of yeast

400ml of water

7g of salt

40ml of olive oil

semolina for dusting

Put the flour in a bowl add the salt to one side and the yeast to another.  Pour in the 4/4 of the  water and oil. Mix the dough together until it forms a rough dough.  Add the rest of the water if needed you might not need to add the rest of the water, the dough should be soft but not sloppy. Tip the dough out onto a oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes ( hard work but you “knead” to do it) Oil a square container and put the dough back in. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 2-3 hours. When the dough has more than doubled in size and is springy to touch tip it out again onto a surface dusted sithe semolina. Try to keep as much air in the dough as possible so work gently with it. Cut it into 8-10 equal amounts and shape into a square by tucking the dough in underneath.Place on tray dusted with semolina and leave for ten minutes. At this point you could brush the rolls with milk and top them with seeds of your choice. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C. Cook for 25-30 minutes. 

Raspberry and Pine Nut Muffins

As I have already told you Mammy has instilled in me the importance of being a good host. She also has taught us that it’s not enough to be a good host but also a good guest. “Don’t leave wet towels on the floor”,  she would warn us before we stayed in anybody else’s house. “Offer to help around the house” “Be polite and don’t fight with each other” she would warn my sisters and I . Whenever we were packed off to stay with Aunties or friends our behavior was impeccable. We obeyed Mammy’s rules as we knew the significance of being a good guest. One other rule that Mammy had was bring something to the hostess. I have learned that the best sort of gifts for this occasion are the edible ones and brownie points if its is homemade and if it is homemade and contains a combination of butter and sugar, well then your just sucking up. Recently I spent two nights at a friends house while my family went to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kerry. I obeyed all of Mammy’s guest rules, no towels were left on floors and I brought a homemade loaf of bread and these yummy raspberry pine nut muffins (I replaced the butter with oil so I am not quiet sucking up).

Rasberry and Pine Nut Muffins adapted from the BBC Good Food 
100ml of canola oil
25g lightly toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp milk
400g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
284ml carton buttermilk
225g fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180C

Line a 12 whole muffin tin with muffin cases. Mix the flour, toasted pine nuts, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the buttermilk and oil. Stir this into the flour mixture until almost combined – it will need only a few stirs and the mix will feel light and airy. Tip in the raspberries, give a few more stirs to finish the mixing, but don’t overbeat or the mix will toughen. Spoon the mix into the muffin tins using an ice cream scoop – they will be very full.bake for about 25 mins until risen and golden. Let them cool in the tin a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack best eaten on the day buat within 2 days.

Baguettes

I have being going through a bread making phase lately. I recently bought Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake” and have been making a different bread everyday. No low carb diets in my house anyway. Before I had always found that when I made yeast bread it never turned out right so I decided to start at the very beginning and make  a plain white Cobb, I followed the recipe and steps exactly – the result a delicious white loaf of bread. Next day I advanced on to brown bread. Again the result was  good well texture wise anyway, it was a little salty to taste but that’s easily corrected. I now felt I was ready to advance to a seed bread which contained a combination of rye, wholewheat and strong white flour. This time my loaf was not a success it was heavy and stodgy. I reviewed what I did wrong and I think I came up with my problem, you NEED to knead. For the previous two breads I had kneaded them for 5-10 minutes for the third loaf I had become more relaxed an kneaded for about 3 minutes. So it was back to basics I made the white Cobb again just to prove I still had my bread making mojo. Then I advanced to a spelt bread which was really tasty despite sticking to the parchment case used to line the tin. Then today I stepped a little outside my comfort zone and made baguettes. I was a little nervous about this their is something daunting about the long thin loaf. I was wrong though the hardest part making these was not eating all 6 as soon as they came out of the oven they smell so good. 

This recipe for the classic french loaf coincides with the 100th birthday of the women who made French cooking famous outside France, Julia Child

Baguette Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywoods How to Bake 

This dough is a lot wetter than most other dough so don’t be tempted to add more flour

500g of strong bread flour

7g of salt

7g sachet of instant yeast

370ml of water

olive oil for kneading

Lightly oil a rectangle or square container. (The shape of the tub is important as it plays a role in shaping the baguettes.)

Put the flour in a bowl. Put the yeast to one side and the salt to another side of the bowl (the salt can kill the yeast if it comes in direct contact with it). Add three quarters of the water to begin with and using a wooden spoon mix it vigorously ad the dough comes together add the rest of the water. Now using your hand shaped in a claw position combine all the flour and water. Keeping it in the bowl knead it, pull and mix it. I oiled my hands with the olive oil to prevent to much sticking. Work with the dough for about seven minutes. It is a little tedious but keep at it. Tip the dough into the square container and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for about 1 hour or until double in size.

Coat the work top with oil and tip the dough out on it. Handle it carefully you want to keep as much air as possible in it.

Divide the dough into 5-6 pieces.  (Shape each into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each into a sausage – the top should be smooth with a joint running along the bottom. Now beginning in the middle roll each sausage out with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavly. Concentrate on a backwards forward movement and gently use the weight of your hands to roll out the dough to the length of the tray. ) I couldn’t do this instead I dipped each piece of dough into flour and gently rolled it out to a baguette shape.

Lightly flour two baking trays  Place 2-3 baguettes on tray. Place each tray inside a clean plastic bag tucking the edges under the tray. Leave for about one hour until the the dough has doubled in size and springs back when likely prodded. Meanwhile heat your oven to 220C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.

When your baguettes have risen and are light dust them with a little flour adn slash them with a very sharp knife. Fill the roasting tray in the oven with water to achieve a steamy oven that creates a crispy crust (essential) bake for 25 minutes or until the baguettes are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and try not to eat straight away. 

“I’ll go tomorrow” Porridge

How do you start your mornings? In Spain I started my morning with this, a big bowl of cherries from the fruit shop next door to the apartment, and a crusty roll from the bakery two doors down. Then I went for a dip in the Sea in 20C water. I think it wold be a lot easier to get up everyday if I lived in Spain.

Back home in Ireland I usually start my day with a bowl of cereal or toast and whatever fruit is left in the bowl never very exciting.

Sometimes I go for a run ( only sometimes)

Other days I role over in bed and come up with some excuse and not even these will work. On the ” I’ll go for a long run tomorrow” mornings, I make myself this porridge so I feel good about myself. I find porridge is so wholesome it almost compensates for the run, or lack of it.

Porridge My Way 

I make porridge with pinhead oatmeal a.k.a  steel-cut oats a.k.a Irish oats. They take longer to cut but I prefer the texture. You could over course use rolled oats just follow the instructions on the packet. I cook it with all water but again thats just a preference use all milk or half and half for a creamier porridge. I make a big batch of pinhead oatmeal refrigerate it and then heat it up through out the week with a little water. 

Ingredients

One cup of steel cut oats

Four cups of water

Put the oats and water in a saucepan over the heat. Bring to the boil then simmer on a lower heat for 20-25 minutes. When the oats are creamy and tender, remove from heat . Serve immediately or allow to cool before transferring into air tight containers in the fridge. In the morning, add a splash of milk or water and reheat in the microwave or on the stove-top.

Toppings

For a little variety I like to serve my porrige with toppings here are some suggestions.

Nuts for Bananas porridge

1/2 a banana sliced.

4-5 almonds and hazelnuts (toasted)

3 tablespoons of toasted dessicated coconut

drizzle of maple syrup.

Arrange the slices of bananas on the porridge. Scatter over the nuts and coconut. Then drizzle with the syrup.

Blueberry Bliss porridge

1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen is okay)

1/2 cup of flaked almonds (toatsted)

drizzle of honey

Gently heat the blueberries over a low heat or microwave them for about 45-60 seconds. They should be soft but still hold their shape. Place on top of the porridge and scater over the flaked almonds. Drizzle with honey for sweetness.

Peach Melba Porridge

One peach sliced into wedges.

3-4 tablespoons of natural yogurt

4-5 raspberries

drizzle of honey

Place the yogurt in the center of the porridge. Then top with peaches and raspberries. Drizzle with honey

Apple Crumble Porridge

One apple chopped up

2-3 tablespoons of coconut

2 tablespoons of flaked almonds

1 table spoon of sunflower seeds

Fry the apple slices over a low heat with a little butter or oil to soften them. Toast the coconut, almonds and seeds until just golden. Arrange the softened apple on top of the porridge and scatter with nut topping.

Be our guest … you’ll get pancakes

The bad thing about living in my house is I never get to be a guest in it. Mammy is a lot of things but one of her attributes is a wonderful host. Food plays a major role in her hosting skills. She buys and cooks everything and anything that the guest may or may not like. When you are staying in somebodies house getting feed well can change your whole opinion of the household, from somebody who went on Spanish exchange and only got one proper meal. This weekend we had two lovely girls staying in our house for Feile. A nationwide G.A.A competition for under fourteens. (Well done to Sister No. One and her team who made it to semi-final where they were beaten by a point to the eventual winners).  When people stay in our house we live by the motto “remember as far as anybody knows we are a normal family”, the house is tidied, new towels are bought to match the bed linen, (Mammy has a thing about new towels) and lots of yummy food is bought. The milk get served from a jug rather than the usual carton, sugar put in a sugar bowl and the butter is put on the table,  in a butter dish rather than the aluminum gold foil it comes wrapped in. I always think that breakfast is one of the most important meals to serve a guest but maybe that’s just because I am a breakfast lover. If I stay at somebodies house it just makes me all the happier to got a nice breakfast that morning. The Feile girls got pancakes, well technically they are crepes but the silky french crepes made it across the sea to Ireland before the fluffier american pancake. We have always called them pancakes unless they served in a French creperie of course. This crepe recipe is adapted from a Darina Allen recipe that has been used in our house every pancake Tuesday I can remember and other days in between. I didn’t want to scare the girls early in the morning with any buckwheat, rye or other brown healthy stuff, but the crepes would be lovely  if you replaced 75g of the plain flour with buckwheat flour.

Pancakes (crepes)

175g of plain flour

pinch of salt

2 eggs and 1-2 egg yolks

200 ml of water

225 ml of milk

Oil to grease pan
Put the flour  and salt in a food processor and whizz to sieve.  Beat the eggs and yolks in with the water and milk. Then with the processor still running slowly pour it into the flour. Leave to rest for a few hours or overnight in a fridge if possible, if not cook straight away. Remo ve from fridge and mix up the batter as it may have separated while resting. Grease a frying and pan and put it on the heat. Ladle in just enough batter to cover the base when you tilt and swirl the pan. Put the pan back on the heat; loosen the pancake around the edge with a non metal slice. Flip over, cook for a few seconds on the reverse side. Slide over onto a plate. Repeat until all the batter has been used up greasing pan every two or three.. Serve with toppings of your choice sweet or savory though I only ever serve them sweet
My serving  suggestions maple syrup, toasted nuts and banana, honey and lemon, berry compote and yogurt, nutella and banana, chocolate sauce and almond

Wholemeal pancakes to get you running

I love to run but there are some mornings when I get up and the last thing I want to do is put on my running gear and go running. It’s never as bad when I have left the house but for some reason. I saw a slogan saying “The hardest steps for a runner is the first one out the door” I completely agree. I have come up with a few methods of getting myself out of bed and out the door.

  1. Don’t think just do it. Make it part of a must do ritual like you wouldn’t start the day without brushing your teeth
  2. Don’t allow any excuses-its cold, I have blisters, I am don’t feel well …. They all mean I am too lazy
  3. Don’t think that one run won’t make a difference, it will make more of a difference than sitting at home.
  4. Tell yourself you will only go out for a short one, then once you are out their decide how long it will be. Your up and out now might as well make it count.

Though there are some times when I am half way round my run I start sucking air. This is when I have to chant to myself ” I don’t stop when I am tired I stop when I am done”. I know they all sound cheesy but they work for me.

Another tip is tell youself you will whip up a batch of these pancakes when you get home, or even better get somebody else to make them while you are out.

So go on get up and run then stuff yourself with these

Wholemeal pancakes makes 12 adapted from Lilly Higgins stuff I make bake and love 

125g of wholemeal flour

180 ml of buttermilk

2 tsp of baking powder

1-2 tsp of caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl Add the salt and sugar. Beat the egg with the milk and mix into the dry ingredients. Beat well making sure there are no lumps. Grease and heat a frying pan. When the pan is hot scoop spoonfuls of the mix onto the pan and turn down the heat. When the tops start to bubble flip the pancakes over and cook for 1-2 minutes on this side.  Serve straight away with maple syrup or dusted with sugar.

I dream of scones

Okay I have a problem… last night I had my third dream this month that included baked goods. The first was about chocolate cake, the last two have been about scones. Yes I have dreams about round sweetened biscuit like cakes. In these dreams the scones are  lightest, yet flakiest most perfect scone I have ever eaten and I am against the clock to find the recipe for them. Real thriller material.  So while most girls my age dream of this…..

I dream of this….

So this morning I decided, after I went for a run (keeping to my To Do List), I needed to make scones. Real scones, not the american biscuit like scones that are nice but taste more like cookies than scones. These are genuine round fluffy scones. Made with white flour, butter, eggs, buttermilk and sugar. They must be round, not triangle or square shaped, they can not include oats or any wholemeal flour or they will loose their fluffiness and despite what some recipes think they must contain eggs. This combination makes them buttery but not short, fluffy but not spongey, light yet crumbly – In other words heaven in a bite

So here it is my Perfect real scone

makes 15 scones

450g of self raising flour

30g of sugar

85 of softened butter

1/2 tsp of baking powder

220ml of butter milk

1 egg beaten

150g of mixed berries ( I use frozen)

egg and milk to glaze

Preheat oven to 185C. Sift the flour, baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then using your finger tips lift up the crumb like mixture a few times to incorporate air. Make a well in the center and pour in the  egg and half the milk. Using a fork mix the mixture. Now add in the berries and mix.

Add in the rest of the milk, you want a moist yet dry dough so you might not need it all. Then quickly work the dough into a ball. Do not over work or knead the dough. Flatten out on a floured surface and flatten to about 3cm thick. Using a 6cm round cookie cutter cut out roughly 15 scones. Place on a floured tray and brush with glaze cook for 15-20 minutes. Until they are lightly golden and well risen.

variations: There is limitless ways to serve these here are some suggestions

  • plain
  • add 60g of coconut with the flour
  • change the berries for raisins, currants or other dried fruit
  • add lemon and orange rind with the flour
  • put almond essence in with the milk and put slices of pear on top before cooking
  • chocolate chips

The list is endless but the result is usually delicious

My Very Retro Upside Down Pineapple Cake

My recent trip to Madison, Wisconsin has put a vintage theme on my life. Madison is a quirky town studded with vintage shops and hippies. On returning to the cold and wet Dublin I tried to continued my life in retro style. Yesterday I enjoyed a shopping spree into town with me, myself and I. It was a wonderful experience I could go where I wanted when I wanted, I wasn’t had no time limits or agenda and just wandered from shop to shop. I spent most of my time in George’s Street Arcade which is filled with quirky shops I bought a ring made of a 5p coin in Beaux bows and a vintage style clock pendent necklace in bobay banshee. I also enjoyed wandering around in the other vintage shops along the street including Om Diva which has vintage clothing but also new Irish designers . Apart from having cute shops Georges street Arcade has wonderful foodie outlets I enjoyed a FroYo from Yogism, where if you guess the weight correctly you get the yogurt free I was off by about 100g (maybe next time). I decided to continue on this vintage theme into  my cooking and what screams retro cake more than upside down pineapple cake. I know it’s cliche so I tweaked it a little bit. Instead of the sickening red glace cherry I used raspberries and I used a wholemeal batter for the cake and omitted the caramel topping . Simply because I bought the wrong ones I used cubes of pineapple and not the usual rings that top the traditional rings which are probably nicer. This cake is one of those cakes that you will go for a second slice because it seems healthy despite the butter and sugar and then maybe take serve up another slice the next morning for breakfast because it is wholemeal after all how bad can it be for you. In my opinion cake for breakfast is the ultimate luxury.

Retro Upside Down Pineapple Cake

For the cake adapted from whole wheat pound cake from joy the baker

250g  of white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

30g of   of plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

15og of butter, at room temperature250g of caster sugar
1/2 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

for the topping
8 pineapple rings or 200g of cubed pineapple
handful of raspberries fresh or frozenre
prehheat oven to 160 degrees C.  Butter and flour the a 28 cm round tin

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip the butter, sugar and honey on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about one minute after each addition.  Scrape down the bowl as needed.  Add the d

ry mixture and buttermilk in three additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is evenly incorporate. Lay the pineapple rings or cubes in the prepared tin. In the center of each ring place a raspberry dot the spare raspberries around the place. Pour the batter on top in spoonfuls then spread it out.

Put it in preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes  . leave to cool slightly before turning up and putting on a wire tray pineapple side up.