REALLY easy Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am without doubt, more of a cook than a baker. I am impulsive in all things, and I find the exacting measurements and temperatures in baking all a bit tricky. I can do it, I just find myself preferring to do something else with my time! I also like to throw something together, on a bit of a wing and a prayer and find its turned into something marvellous! That is not my experience of baking – its too specific and so many things can go wrong, it can make me anxious – wondering what is going to appear when I finally open the Aga door!

So anyway, that is why I like these little fellas. Everything can be thrown into the bowl in one hit, mixed well and thrown in the oven. Simples.

Also, you can put whatever you like in them. I had two over-ripe bananas and some chocolate buttons in the house. But you could add blueberries, toffee chunks – whatever grabs your fancy.

Set the over to 180 degrees and line a 12 muffin tray with cases.

200g self-raising flour

100g butter or margerine

150g caster sugar

100g choc chips or other filling

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

2 really ripe bananas mashed up

3 tablespoons milk (full fat or semi skimmed 2%)

sift the flour into a large bowl and then add all of the other ingredients. Mix really really well (preferably in a mixer – I love my Kitchenaid). you don’t want any lumps and bumps.

Spread the mixture evenly between the muffin cases. I like it when I fill them quite high and they come over the top in the cooking.

Bake for 25 mins approx. They should rise really well. and be firm on top. pop a skewer in if unsure. if it comes out clean you are good to go!

Cool and eat them up! This batch went very fast in the office this week.

A brunchy, breakfast day. Oh, and the perfect poached egg.

I went to bed really early last night, feeling unwell. So when I awoke, well rested this morning, I was also really hungry! Sunday is a usually and egg and bacon day in our house (time allowing). I remembered the Betty Crocker pancake mix in the cupboard! Lazy I know. The kids and I made pancakes with the usual stuff that kids love: blueberries, Nutella, syrup. Yum. Though admittedly not terribly healthy. Then we decided to take one up to dad in bed as a post-valentines day treat.

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It was the first sunny, almost spring-like day today so we went for a long walk on the Heath. Afterwards I decided to use the leftover roast potatoes from last night to make a brunch hash. Hash can be whatever you like, I usually use bits and bobs of leftover from the fridge. This was todays:

A handful of leftover, roasted new potatoes

A handful of mushrooms

A fingers length of chorizo (cut into pound coin size chunks)

A tablespoon of olive oil

A pinch of black pepper and salt

A pinch of any dried herbs from the cupboard

Just chop everything into largish chunks. heat the oil in a medium sized, non-stick frying pan and add everything, stirring occasionally, till hot and nicely browned.

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Now, you could eat this all on its own. But personally i think it needs a perfectly poached egg (or two). A couple of friends have commented on how good mine look and have asked how I manage it. Its very easy. Here you go…

You need a small, shallow frying pan. and in it you need boiling water. As soon as the water starts boiling, add a tablespoon of vinegar. Any vinegar. It does not matter. The vinegar is my magic trick for keeping the egg together. I think it might be a Delia Smith trick – I have forgotten, but I have used it for years and it always works. The vinegar is imperative. As soon as the vinegar is in, gently add the eggs. Two, one after the other. and turn the water down to simmer. Gently simmer for about 3 mins. the eggs should be able to move around the pan and you can use a spoon to gently spoon water over. As soon as the white looks solid, remove the eggs. You should do this with a spatula, onto a folded tea-towel (to remove water. The place on top of the hash.

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enjoy!

A tart for all seasons…

Its tricky knowing what to make on a weekday night. If I am on my own with the kids early evening it has to be something quick – else we risk eating at midnight. I buy those rolls of puff pastry a couple of times a month. They are great for a quick tart! as there is always a glut of cheese in our fridge to go with it. This can also be one of the weeks veggie meals if you like – unless you add chorizo or similar. Here is tonight’s concoction.

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1 x Pack of ready rolled puff pastry

2 x Romano sweet red peppers

1 x handful of sweet cherry tomatoes

1 x tablespoon of Sacla Fiery chilli pesto (or any pesto you like)

1 x log soft French goats cheese

1 x handful of chopped fresh herbs – Basil or parsley are good

1 x teaspoon dried mixed herbs

1 x tablespoon of good quality olive oil

a clove of garlic, finely chopped.

A few slices of ham, chorizo or salami – completely optional

Salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Slice the peppers in half and de-seed. place in a small shallow backing tray, poor over half of the olive oil, garlic, salt and bake in the oven for about 20 mins or until they are starting to blacken. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Next, take the puff pastry out of the pack and carefully roll out onto a large baking dish. Gently score a rectangle approx 1 centimetre round with a sharp knife. You should place the ingredients only inside the rectangle. The outside becomes brown and puffy when cooked. its acts as a wall to hold everything in!

Spread the pesto over the bottom on the pastry, then place the baked, cooled peppers over it.

Next, spread over the chopped tomatoes, chorizo if using and goats cheese.

sprinkle with the fresh and dried herbs. them pour over the rest of the oil and season well.

Pop in the oven for about 20 mins. The cheese probably won’t melt but will bubble. the Pastry will puff up and brown nicely.

We like with watercress and spinach salad. Yum.