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. 

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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. 

Coconut and Chocolate Oaties


The recipe for these cookies is from an old book Mammy got years ago as a Christmas Present – Maida Heatter’s (rhymes with eaters) Book of Great Cookies first published in 1977. I never paid much attention to the book or Maida herself but there was one recipe that got a lot of attention in our house – Chocolate Oatmeal Cripsies.  Mammy used to make these cookies so often, we all loved them. Not only because they tasted good when they were cooked but because the raw mixture was delicious we used to fight over who got to lick the spoons.  I had been to busy making new recipes from blogs or new cookbook I hadn’t made the cookies in ages. They are really easy and the best part is licking the bowl clean at the end ( I have been making a lot of bread recently where you don’t get to do this). As the cooked an amazing aroma of chocolate and coconut filled the house, a smell I will forever associate with Mammy. I love how smell can evoke memories of people. These cookies are so delicious on their own but twice as nice sandwiched with vanilla ice cream enjoy.

Coconut and Chocolaty Oaties

  • 170g of semi-sweet chocolate (I used ½ semisweet and ½ bittersweet), cut into pieces
  • 60g  sifted all-purpose flour
  • 60g of wholemeal flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 150g of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 90g old-fashioned or quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
  • 100g of dessicated coconut

Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 170C. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats or dus with flour.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, sift together the plain flour, baking soda, and salt, add the wholemeal flour and set aside. In the small bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add the vanilla and the almond extracts and the sugar, and beat until blended. Beat in the egg and the melted chocolate. On low speed gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating only until incorporated. Mix in the oatmeal and the coconut.

To divide the dough evenly: On a long piece of wax paper, place the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls in 15- equal mounds. Roll each mound between your hands to form a ball and place the balls on the cookie sheets at least 2 to 2½ inches apart, no closer.

Press the tops of the cookies with the back of the tines of a fork to flatten them to ½-inch thickness. First press all in one direction, and then press in the opposite direction.

Bake for about 15 minutes, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once to ensure even browning. When done, the cookies will feel crusty on the tops, but semisoft in the centers— they will harden as they cool.

With a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

Feel Good Chocolate Cake

I am leaving this rainy country for sunnier climate, I am off to Spain tomorrow. One week of Sunshine and beach… hopefully. Beach and sunshine also means bikini and my body hasn’t been so forgiving to the scones, cookies and cakes I have been filling it with. Before I go I would like to share this feel good chocolate cake. I spent a while coming up for a name for this cake, I didn’t want the word healthy in the title as that suggests some tasteless, dry chocolate cake, which this is not. It is decadent and fudgy cake almost like a brownie. The wholemeal flour adds a nutty flavour and the honey creates a light sticky sweetness. It is not a low fat, weightloss cake but more of a whole food cake you eat to feel good. Its decadent but you feel happy after eating it plus their is no sugar or white flour. Enjoy and adios por ahora!!

Feel Good Chocolate Cake

I created a new way for adding chocolate to the chocolate cake. I finely ground the chocolate in a food processor until it resembled powder almost like cocoa powder. It adds to the fudgyness of the cake. I also use wholemeal flour but feel free to subsitute it with all purpose flour,

45og of wholemeal flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

3/4 tsp of salt

1/2 cup of oil

2 eggs

1 cup of honey

1 cup of yogurt/buttermilk

200g of chocolate powder (see above) or cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 170C degrees with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour an 20×20 square cake pan (I used a le crueset square stone dish 23cmx23).

Put the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the egg, honey and oil in a jug. Add the yogurt and mix. Then pour the wet ingredients into the flour. Then add the chocolate powder and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and place in the oven for 40-50 minutes. The cake will be fudgy and slightly sticky so the skewer test wont work .Leave to cool and make the chocolate cream to frost.

Chocolate Cream

1 cup of cream

150g of dark chocolate

80g of icing sugar (omit if not using very dark chocolate)

Melt the chocolate. Whip the cream to stiff peaks (but be careful you want it thick and creamy but you don’t want butter) Pour the chocolate over the cream and stir it in until all the chocolate is incorporated. Then fold in the sugar.Top the cooled cake with the chocolate frosting and spread evenly over top. Use a n offset spatula to create little swirls on the top.

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.

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.

It all started with a cookie ….

I began this blog back in March with a cookie recipe since then it has grown and expanded. Like this blog, this recipe for Chocolate Chip Oat Bars began with or as a cookie recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks. I changed the recipe around and was delighted to take out of the oven the most delicious wholesome oaty cookies. I love that feeling you get when you stumble upon a new recipe to add to your collection.  I decided to make these cookies again as they are so easy, just mix all ingredient together, but I was feeling extremely lazy at the time and didn’t want to roll out each cookie individually. Instead I divided the mixture in three and pressed it into three lined loaf tins. When they came out of the oven I cut them into bars. The result was more than amazing, they were like flapjacks only they didn’t have that sickeningly sweet golden syrup taste.

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

250g of rolled oats

125g of wholewheat flour

45g of wheat bran

2 eggs

200ml of rapeseed oil

130 of golden brown sugar

1 tsp of baking soda

1.5 tsp of baking powder

200g of dark chocolate chopped

1tsp of vanilla essence

50g of dessicated coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then add in the chocolate chips and mix again. Stir in the wet ingredients. Stir well with a wooden spoon to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Divide the mixture into three and press into three lined loaf tins. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cut the loafs each into 5 bars to give you a total of 15 bars.

Variation

Instead of cooking them in the loaf tins you could spoon them out onto a tray (it makes about 20) flatten them and cook them at 180C for 15-20 minutes

For the love of Cookbooks

I love Cookbooks. I read them like novels, each recipe is a new chapter . Usually I am not a fan of cookbooks that don’t have pictures but there is one exception – “The New Baisics Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo, former owners of the Silver Palate Deli. This cookbook was given to Mammy by a close friend about 30 years ago in America. The spine has fallen off and it the book has divided into about four different sections. Pages that have fallen out are stapled back on other loved recipes are stained from eggs and cake batter. To make matters worse it smells of old, damp paper but despite all its faults Mammy refuses to replace it. I recently went to visit the giver of the book  in the States I discovered her book had, had a similar fate. I was delighted to discover that she had the third book by the “Silver Palate Girls” “The Good Times Cookbook”. Shelia Lukins and Julee Russo, who co-owned the small deli in  Upper West Side New York, were my heroes when I was little. The Whenever we had  a dinner party there book was referred to for the famous “Chicken Marbella ” which has become Mammy’s signature company dinner. At Christmas it was there “Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies” that Santa enjoyed and there brownie was served on our table long before it became popular this side of the Atlantic. In this new book I stumbled upon a recipe for biscotti or more correctly known as biscotti de Prato. I was never a huge fan of the very hard twice baked biscuit I found it almost impossible to eat but decided to give it a try .  This recipe the biscuit is a little bit softer than the traditional biscuit but the flavour is really good what can go wrong with hazelnuts and chocolate

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti

makes 20

Adapted from “The Good Times Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo

2 eggs

50g of dark chocolate chips

50 g of hazelnuts toasted, skinned  and bashed with a rolling pin

50g of sugar

20ml of vegtable oil

1 tsp of vanilla extract

150g of white flour

60g of wheat bran/wheat germ or a combination

1 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

Preheat the oven to 190C

Beat eggs and sugars in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add oil and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Whisk flour and wheat bran/germ, baking powder and salt together in another bowl; add to sugar mixture. Mix until blended; stir in nuts and chocolate.

Briefly knead the dough. Firmly shape into a log 3 inches wide ( be sure to make the loaf compact. Pat it solidly, so when you cut it into slices, the cookies won’t crumble). Place log on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut log into slices about 1/2 an inch thick. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes on each side (longer if you want them crunchier). Leave to cool before serving they last up to a week in an airtight container but can be frozen for as long as three months.

Variations: You could change the nuts to pistachio, almonds ect. Dried fruit could replace the chocolate. The original recipe is Apricot and Pistachio which sounds like a really nice combination. The biscuits could be drizzled with melted chocolate after cooking. Or if you are not a fan of whole meal or don’t have wheat bran white flour or ground almonds could replace it. If using the ground almonds replace the vanilla with almond extract for extra flavour.

Cinnamon Scone Swirls and a little inspirations


Sometimes recipe inspiration comes to me at the most random times. I spend a lot of time thinking about food and different flavours. Sometimes ideas come to when I am running as I am trying to preocupy my mind from the 9km ahead of me or sometimes as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep an idea juts comes to me like an epiphany and I have to write it down there and then otherwise I will have forgotten it by morning. Other times, other recipes inspire me and I love looking at and examining new recipes seeing how I can adapt them to suite my taste. I also get ideas from movies and books which I scrutinize every meal and piece of food eaten. When I come up with a new idea a get giddy and restless until I try it. I then watch with eager eyes as my family, usually Sister number one, eat it. No sooner have they got it in their mouth do I badger them with questions ” what do you think of it honestly?” ” Is it too sweet/sour/hard/soft ect.?” Usually they are very patient and answer truthfully but sometimes they  get a little angry at my eagerness and a huge fight errupts. The idea for these cinnamin scone swirls had been in my head for a while. They were slightly inspired by Joy the Bakers biscuit cinnamin rolls   and these cinnamon roll scones I found on a new blog Naturally Ella. The flavour idea for these scones first came to me when I was eating the Hunger Games inspiered Fruit and Nut Bread. So inspiration can come to all of us at funny times but remember to stay opened minded “You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany”-Unknown source

Cinnamon Swirl Scones

makes 6

Dough

100g of unbleached all purpose flour
100g of whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons natural sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
15g butter softened
1 egg yolk
3/8 cup buttermilk (or natural yogurt thinned with a little milk or water)

Filling

1 tbsp of ground cinnamon

1tbsp of maple syrup

1tbsp of olive oil

small handfull of raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 190C.  Line a muffin tin with buncases. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. In a seperate bowl mix the milk and egg yolk. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well to form a dough. Knead it gently for a few seconds then put out on lightly floured surface. Roll out to about 2.5cm thick (try make it sort of rectangly it’s easier to roll up). Combine all of the filling ingredients and mix. Using a brush brush the cinnamon mixture over the surface of the dough and evenly sprinkle ont the raisins. Roll up tightly like a swiss roll. Then squeeze the roll to ensure it is tight roll it up and down a few times. Cut it into 6 even, smaller rolls. Place upright in the bunc cases. Brush with the remaining egg white or milk and sprinkle with caster sugar. Cook for about 30 minutes until the tops are nicly browned and so is the bottems.  Leave to cool slightly but serve warm.

These are also nice sprinkled with a royal icing made from 30g of icing sugar and 1-2 tsp of water.

Our Daily Bread

I am mad about bread. I love all types but brown soda bread is something i believe to be above all other breads. I almost get offended at non-Irish people who announce their dislike for the bread. Maybe it’s because they haven’t tried homemade soda bread instead they are basing their judgement on the dry, sour green bread you get in supermarkets – not a scratch on the homemade version. Mammy and her Sisters  take bread very seriously they share recipes,methods and slices regularly (unfortunately one has been omitted from this circle since she was diagnosed with celiac disease, now she is pitied). I find wherever you may go if there is good bread the place can’t be too bad. I find kindred spirits in those who make bread. This Particular recipe is from a cousin of Mammy’s it contains lots of different grains and “healthy stuff” but the result is a really wholesome loaf. It is so simple to make and lovely served with anything from soup to paté but I like it with this homemade raspberry jam for breakfast.

Mary Breens Brown Bread

225g of wholewheat flour

70g of wholemeal flour

40g of wheatgerm

40g of oat bran

40g of wheat bran

40g of pin head oatmeal

3 rounded tsp of bread soda

pinch of salt

500ml of butter milk (or natural yogurt)

Seeds/rolled oats to top it (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 2b loaf tin with loaf liners (handy pieces of grease proof paper made to fit in a loaf tin availible at good supermarkets or kitchen shops) or grease it well. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Slowly mix in the milk. Stir well until all the mixture is comined. It should resemble thick porridge. Pour into loaf tin and flatten with the back of a fork. Top with seeds or oats if using. Place in oven and cook for about 50 minutes. The loaf is cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottem. I would reccomend taking it out of the tin for the last 10 minutes and turning it upside down.

Rasperry Jam

Any sort of berry can be used in this jam. Raspberries are the easiest as they have high level of pectin but logan berries, blackberries,  are also good. If using strawberries add a squeeze of lemon to help it set.

400g of Raspberries ( I use Frozen)

400g of sugar

Put a saucer in the fride this will be used to test the jam later.Put the raspberries into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring slowly. Cook for 25 minutes. Meanwhile put the sugar in the bottom of a low oven to heat through. Stir the sugar into the raspberries and cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up and boil for 10 minutes. To test the jam and see if it’s done, remove the saucer from the fridge and put a small spoonful of jam on it. Leave for a minute or so, then Push the jam with your finger if the it wrinkles it is set. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Remove any scum that has formed on the surface before potting in sterilised jars and seal tightly.