Saturday, 3 May 2014

Butter & sugar free banana muffins

Banana Muffins- butter, oil and sugar free

Here's a recipe shout-out to Em for my healthy banana muffins! I am a bit of a morning-tea-aholic, and love having these in the freezer to take to work each day. Banana muffins are so much better when you can keep eating them knowing they're not full of butter, oil and sugar. I have made so many batches of these and finally perfected the recipe- light & fluffy, not dry, and best of all - adaptable to whatever flavour you wish to add. I have included sultanas, although other options are walnuts, almonds, cranberries, blueberries, dried coconut, choc-chips etc.

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees c, then start with 3-4 ripe bananas. Either 4 small ones, 3 bigger ones, or just go for 3 and a half which is all I have today! I had these in the freezer for a few weeks -they work just as well after they've been frozen.

 You'll need to mash them up so they're quite smooth as the banana will act somewhat as the butter for this recipe. The kitchenaid does a very good job of this- beat for a few minutes until smooth. You can easily make these by hand too.

After the bananas are looking smooth, add 2 eggs. 
Beat until its smooth and creamy- for another 2 minutes.
Add a teaspoon of vanilla and mix in. 
Instead of sugar, we'll be using honey to sweeten them. I added 1/4 cup honey, although feel free to reduce the amount if you don't want them too sweet. 
Add the last wet ingredient- half a cup of milk.
Beat again until well combined into the banana mixture. 
Now we're about to add the flour. Self raising wholemeal flour is the best.
Once you add the flour, fold it in very slowly until just combined. Do not mix it on a high setting as you did with the wet ingredients! It will make them really tough.
Pour in 2 and a quarter cups of self raising wholemeal flour, along with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
 Remember- VERY SLOWLY fold in.
 Now is the fun part where you get to add your extras! I added 1/3 cup sultanas. Add up to half a cup of any dried fruit or nut you wish.
 Just fold it in until it's nice and sticky.
Time to prepare the trays. Ok so I know I said there was no oil in the muffins, but you will need to grease the oven trays so they don't stick! Or you can use the paper cup cake liners. 
So- grease 2 muffin trays. I have one tray of mini muffins, and one regular size. This recipe makes 24 mini muffins, 16 regular muffins, or I did 12 mini muffins and 9 regular size.
 Using 2 spoons, spoon the mixture into the trays. Only fill them about halfway to 2/3 of the way up, or else they will spill over the sides.
 Ready to go in the oven.
mmmm 15 minutes later 
 after another 5 minutes (20 minutes all up) the larger sized muffins are done.
I know it really defeats the purpose of having butter/oil/sugar free muffins by adding butter to serve, but it does make a good treat! Eat while warm or freeze for a week of morning tea.

Banana Muffins- Butter/Oil/Sugar free

3 large, or 4 smaller ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey (or less to taste)
1/2 cup milk

2 1/4 cups wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sultanas 
(or 1/2 cup other dried fruit or nuts)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees c. 
2. Mash bananas until smooth. Beat in eggs and mix until creamy
3. Stir in vanilla and honey
4. Add milk and beat mixture until smooth.
5. Add flour and baking soda to wet mixture, and fold in until just combine. Fold in sultanas.
6. Grease muffin trays (or use cup cake liners), and spoon mixture into trays. Do not fill more than 1/2 to 2/3 full!
7. Bake mini muffins for 15 minutes, or larger muffins for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack and eat!

This made 12 mini muffins and 9 normal size. Or it will makes 24 mini muffins.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Baked Chicken Breast & Tomato Chutney 'pizza'

Baked Chicken & Tomato Chutney 'Pizza'

I am frequently on the lookout for different ways to cook up man-food favourites- that is anything containing chicken, bacon and cheese in the one dish.
Rather than just layer up the three staples to throw in the oven, I have added a few extra ingredients to make it a special little mid-week meal.

Special ingredient number one is spicy tomato relish, made yesterday from our homegrown tomatoes! I used this recipe but I think I might make some amendments for the next batch (stay tuned!).
As the chutney is quite sweet, I added some capers for a little saltiness. Add the cheese and bacon on top and you practically have yourself a chicken pizza! As it's full of flavour, it only needs some green veges or a salad to go with it.

Start with a few chicken breasts (as many as you need to feed your family). 4 will do us for dinner and a few lunches. Lay in a baking dish with a little olive oil spread over the bottom.
Here are the 4 easy ingredients we'll be layering on top- 3 slices of short cut bacon, 2 tablespoons of capers, and 100 mls of tomato chutney. 
 If you don't have any tomato chutney, you could just use some tinned tomatoes and add a little chilli, or make one up really quickly, like the pizza sauce base in part 2 of this recipe.
Spread a good 2 tablespoons on top of each piece of chicken. Then sprinkle a few capers on top.
Time for the cheese. You can use as much as you like 
Cut the bacon up into squares and scatter on top of the cheese. Keeping the bacon on top will make sure they crisp up. 
Ready for the oven! I already have mine going in with some pumpkin pieces. I do love roast pumpkin. 
Bake for 40 minutes at 180 degrees c, or until no pink juices run from the chicken breast (will depend on the size of the chicken)
and the cheese is melted and the bacon is crispy. Make sure you eat it with some other vegetables- this is not a meal in itself!

Baked Chicken & Tomato Chutney 'Pizza'

4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
100mls tomato chutney
2 tablespoons capers
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or less cheese if you like)
3 pieces short cut bacon, cut into squares
Black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. In a baking dish, spread out olive oil and lay chicken breasts on top.
3. Spoon chutney over each piece of chicken
4. Sprinkle capers, then cheese then bacon over the top of the chutney.
5. Grind some pepper over the dish, then bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the bacon on top is just crispy.

Serve with either baked veges, steamed beans, or a green salad.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Barbecued capsicum, asparagus and lentil salad, with worcestershire steak

BBQ capsicum, asparagus and lentil salad

with worcestershire steak

I love my barbecue in the Summer time. Not only does it bring out the best smoky charred flavour in meat, but I love cooking vegetables this way too. And the best part of the deal is that I have help- I send out a tray of marinated steak and chopped up veges, and magically a cooked plate comes back in!
So here I have a simple marinade for the steak, and a fantastic salad with french lentils, barbecued capsicum and asparagus, with lemon, french lentils and sumac.
First up, time to marinate the steak. Pour over about 2 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
a good grind of black pepper, and a little salt 
along with two cloves of garlic finely minced. 
 Rub this all over the steak and leave to marinate for as much time as you have. A few hours is good, but a few minutes is also better than none.

Time for the veges. Take 2 capsicums and chop them up into squares about an inch wide.
You can do this by slicing around the capsicum
so it breaks into two halves. Then you just pull the seeds out and discard. 
 Slice these halves into wide strips 
 and then the strips into large squares.
 Take one bunch of asparagus and rinse in water. We'll cut these up once they have been barbecued so that's all you need to do to them for now.
There are your vegetables all ready for roasting. 
One more step while you're still in the house- measure out half a cup of dried french puy lentils, and simmer until tender, for as long as the packet says.
These were on for 25 minutes. You can always just use a 400g tin as well which are already cooked.
Now time fire up your barbecue and get cooking! Depending on the heat of your barbecue, the capsicum will take about 10-15 minutes to cook, while the asparagus will only need about 5-10 minutes. The steak- well that's all depending on how you like it! 
Look- magically cooked 20 minutes later! (Thanks to the husband here!). The vegetables should be soft with a little bit of charring for flavour.  And the steak will be resting for a few minutes while we assemble the salad.
To assemble the salad, lay your asparagus out on a chopping board
 and cup them into 2 cm pieces.
 Take 4 shallots, and dice these up too, using all of the white part and half of the dark green stem.
And one more fresh green ingredient- a handful of fresh coriander, chopped. 
Once your lentils are soft, but still with a bit of bite to them (we don't want soggy lentils in a salad), drain them and run cold water through for a minute to cool them down slightly. 
In a large salad bowl, add your lentils, roasted capsicum, asparagus, shallots and coriander. 
 Toss to combine.
And now for some dressing- pour the juice of half a lemon over the salad, along with a very generous shaking of sumac.  Sumac gives this dish a wonderful tangy warmth that goes well with the lentils and lemon.
Once your steak has rested for a few minutes while you've been assembling your salad, serve it up, drizzle some more lemon and sumac on your plate, and enjoy with whatever steak condiment you wish!
This would also be really tasty with roast eggplant… maybe I'll try that next time.

BBQ vege and lentil salad with worcestershire steak


2 red capsicums, chopped into inch large squares
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 cup dried french puy lentils (or a 400g tin of lentils)
4 shallots, diced
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon


2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Black pepper to taste
A little salt 

1. Make marinade by mixing ingredients together, and rubbing into the steak. Leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
2. Place lentils in a pot of simmering water on the stove.  Allow to cook for 20-25 minutes until just soft. 
3. Heat barbecue up and grill capsicum pieces (10-15 minutes), asparagus (5-10 minutes) and steak until done. Leave steak to rest after cooking.
4. Chop cooked asparagus into 2cm pieces.
5. Drain lentils, run cold water through them to cool slightly.
6. To assemble the salad, toss together lentils, grilled capsicum, asparagus pieces, diced shallots, coriander leaves, lemon juice, and a good sprinkling of sumac. Dish up the salad and enjoy with your steak.