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Banana Bread

We are going on holiday! Hooray. A very long two day drive to a small town on the beach far far away from everything familiar to fish ourselves into a stupor before returning home a week later (another two day drive) to fall exhausted back into work. I can’t wait!

In preparation I have been baking and freezing to take with us and also attempting to use up all the perishables in the refrigerator. Today was a marathon baking day with most of the morning spent using up the bananas in the fridge.

What better to make than Banana Bread, it will freeze well and is universally loved by all.

Banana Bread

125g butter
1 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
2 – 3 large bananas mashed
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups flour
1 tsp bicarb
1 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
Add bananas and vanilla and fold in dry ingredients.
Bake in a loaf tin at 180 c for 45 mins.

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Creamy Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Casserole

I was terribly lazy and not feeling like going outside in the rain so we had this sans the parsley which is shocking really because if I glance out of my kitchen window I look over 6 of the bushiest and most prolific parsley plants you ever did see.  So I am suffering a little guilt at not taking the trouble to dash out in the rain, but what is done is done and the dish was wonderful, saucy and delicious all the same so I’ll get over it I suspect.

I didn’t get much ‘Moroccan’ flavour out of this dish, it was somewhat overpowered by the mustard added at the end. It was a terrific dish though and well worth the time it took to prepare.

The original recipe (here) was actually a slow cooker recipe but I chose to change it up and do it in the oven.

Creamy Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Casserole
Serves: 6

7-8 chicken drumsticks, skin on
2 medium carrots, chopped on chunky angles
1 small brown onion, diced finely
8-10 small potatoes
300 g cherry tomatoes
4 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
60 g butter
4 garlic cloves, chopped thinly
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
¼ cup parsley
300 mL cream
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

Add Moroccan seasoning, salt and pepper to flour.
Coat chicken in flour mixture.
Heat oil and half the butter in pan, fry chicken in batches until browned.
Place chicken into a large casserole dish.
Meanwhile fry onion, garlic, carrot and baby potatoes until brown.
Add chicken stock and wine, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour vegetable mixture over chicken, add bay leaves.
Place in the oven at 150C for 1 1/2 hours.
Add cream, cherry tomatoes and mustard, cook for another half hour.
Garnish with parsley.
Serve with rice.


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Pineapple Cookies

Although I was a little disappointed that they didn’t taste more ‘pineappley’ these were tasty little biscuits that were a breeze to make. They ended up being a soft sweet biscuit with the occasional hint of pineapple. I wasn’t confident reading the recipe that these would be very strongly flavoured by the pineapple and it turns out that they were not but it is always fun to experiment and try new things. My husband likes them so they will go in the keeper folder as a possible re-run one day when I run out of new things to try (hahaha)

Pineapple Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup drained crushed pineapple (this was a whole 440g can minus the juice)
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs.
Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir through pineapple and nuts.
Drop by tablespoon onto lightly sprayed baking sheet.
Bake 180C for 12 minutes.


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Apple and Berry Slice

Tangy and tart and sweet, the best of all worlds. This fruity slice would make a wonderful dessert teamed with vanilla ice cream, a blob of clotted cream or even custard. I love cooked apple and the berries added an extra tartness that was definitely welcome.

I used frozen berries, a mixture of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

 

Apple and Berry Slice

BASE:
375g Plain Flour
185g Butter
2 Eggs
90g White Sugar
250g Apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
250g Blackberries or Raspberries (use frozen and thawed if fresh not available)

TOPPING:
4 Eggs
90g Caster Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
60g Plain Flour

BASE:
Rub together flour and butter. Add the eggs and White Sugar and form into a smooth dough.
Pat pastry into the base of a shallow baking tin (37 x 25cm) and press into corners.
Prick surface of pastry and bake blind in oven preheated to 190C for 10 to 15 mins or until pale golden.
Cover the pastry with sliced apples and berries.
TOPPING:
Beat the eggs, Caster Sugar and vanilla essence together until mixture is pale and fluffy. Fold the flour in gently.
Spoon the mixture evenly over the apples and berries.
Return to the oven, reducing the heat to 180C and cook for 20 to 25 mins.
Cut into slices when cool.


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Cupcakes or Muffins?

What is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? Some muffins are obviously not cupcakes but some pretty much fall into the same category of sweet cakey things and make it hard to tell. I am guessing that cupcakes are usually a lighter mix, whereas, muffins can be quite dense.

In any case, however you call it these muffins are iced with butter icing and that makes them cupcakes as far as I am concerned.

My daughter made these today in her quest to keep me tubby and try every taste combination that pops into her mind. I have an inkling that marshmallows and peanut butter and chocolate may feature in the not so distant future. I look forward to it.

Enjoy!

 

Mint Iced Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mint icing
125g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
1 tablespoon milk
a few drops of peppermint essence
a few drops green food colouring (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips and stir just until well blended.
Fill muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until domed and springy to the touch.
Set aside to cool.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a bowl until pale.
Gradually add icing sugar mixture and milk, beating constantly until combined.
Add desired amount of peppermint essence and green food colouring.
Pipe icing onto cool muffins.


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Crispy Pork Belly Strips

This was simple and tasty fare made on the spot when I found some pork belly strips in the freezer. I went searching for a recipe and found many delicious sounding sweet and sticky marinades for pork but it wasn’t what I was looking for yesterday, I wanted something simple that would just showcase the tastiness of the pork, without overpowering it with spices. Nigella to the rescue! I searched until I found Nigella’s blog and her idea of just roasting the pork, plain and simple.

It was amazing! Crispy and porky and the potatoes were meltingly soft underneath and slightly roasted at the sides. The onion had absorbed some of the pork drippings and was soft and fragrant and delicious. It was just what I was looking for. Thanks Nigella!

 

Crispy Pork Belly Strips

6 thin pork belly slices (I halved 3 thick ones)
1 large onion, cut into 6 wedges
5 potatoes quartered (obviously this depends on size, mine were fairly small)
Fresh Thyme & Sage
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

Place onion and potatoes in a large baking pan, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herbs.
Salt & Pepper to taste.
Drape the pork belly strips over the potatoes.
Salt & Pepper once more.
Cook for 40 mins at about 210C until the pork is crispy and potatoes cooked through.


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Chicken and Mushroom Casserole

My husband and I spend almost every waking hour of every day together and I miss him when he travels for work. We keep in touch via phone when he is gone but it isn’t the same, I miss him in so many different ways. The one thing that is good about his travelling is the opportunity to cook meals that he wouldn’t enjoy if he was here. This in no way makes up for him not being around, I’d give up mushrooms happily if he would just stay home but it is a little silver lining to the clouds that cover my day when he isn’t here.

I love mushrooms, I don’t often cook with them as my husband abhors them and they are a very pervasive flavour, you can’t just pick them out and make it okay, so I just leave them out. I love to have them on toast for breakfast (that I can do for just me) but I really love them teamed up with chicken, I think that makes the best flavour combination of them all.

Last night’s meal was just for me. My daughter (who also loves mushrooms) was inexplicably not hungry but I had a bag of mushrooms in the fridge, brought in expectation of an upcoming business trip and I was not letting them go to waste.

The preparation of this dish was fairly quick and although it took some time to cook it was certainly worth the wait. The rice cooked in the mushroom juices, stock and cream and could have been a meal just on its own. The chicken was half roasted, half poached from being exposed to the oven heat on one side and being submerged in the rice and liquids on the other side and was delicious.

There is still a fair amount left and I am very much looking forward to lunchtime when I can decently get dug into it again, I’ll freeze any leftovers for another meal down the track. Happily the business trip was only an overnighter and it is back to mushroomless meals again for the foreseeable future. This was certainly a meal worthy of the wait.

Chicken and Mushroom Casserole
Serves: 4

45 mL olive oil
6 chicken pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion, sliced
250 g mushrooms, chopped
1½ cups uncooked rice
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
500 mL chicken stock
125 mL white wine
250 mL cream
Salt and pepper to season

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the chicken.
Set aside and then saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms.
Add the rice and stir to coat with oil. Add oregano and transfer to a casserole dish.
Place chicken on top.
Combine the stock, wine and cream and pour over chicken.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until rice is tender.

Test the rice in several places before dishing out, I discovered that although the first spoonful of rice seemed cooked there were a few spots that could have used a little longer.