Sunday, October 28, 2012

Banana Bread

Banana Bread © All rights reserved

Fellow Aussies will remember the Great Banana Shortage of 2010 when Cyclone Larry destroyed up to 90% of Australia's banana crops. I think I actually got hubby a banana for his birthday that year!

What a difference a few years makes, because I recently bought a ton of them at 99c/kilo and we've been eating bananas every way you can think of since then. Which brings me to banana bread ...

Nothing beats homemade banana bread. Not only does it taste great but when you've got cheap bananas you can almost make a loaf for less than you can buy a single slice of it at some cafes ($4.75 at Gloria Jeans on the weekend).

I'm still trying to cut back on wheat and dairy but in a way that's not particularly noticeable to the rest of the family. Here I swapped out half the wheat flour for white spelt and used non-dairy milk and butter. You can of course use any flour, milk and butter you like.

This made a lovely moist loaf with a heady banana flavour and gorgeous aroma from the spices. Normally I would use dark brown sugar in something like this but had run out so I made do. As you do.

I froze most of the loaf already sliced so that's this week's lunchbox treat sorted. Or maybe my breakfast!

Banana Bread
Adapted from

1 cup plain flour
1 cup white spelt flour (or plain flour)
1 tbs baking powder
1 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts allspice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbs golden syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup oat milk (or any milk)
50g nuttelex (or butter), melted
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan forced). Spray a loaf tin (approx 11 x 21cm) with oil spray and line the base and 2 sides with baking paper, allowing it to overhang.

Place the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl mix together the mashed banana, eggs, milk, melted butter and golden syrup.

Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix gently until just combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This cake will keep for 3 days in an airtight container on the bench or slice and freeze for up to 1 month.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin, Banana and Date Muffins

Pumpkin Banana and Date Muffins © All rights reserved

I've been on a real pumpkin kick lately, it's just such a versatile ingredient. Coming into summer here I foresee lots of roast pumpkin and feta salads, while from the northern hemisphere there is sure to be an abundance of pumpkin pie and cake recipes. Bring it on!

Ever on the hunt for healthy lunchbox ideas for hubby and the boys, I came across these muffins in a healthy lunchbox post on Fig & Cherry. I made a few small changes to the original recipe - using all wholemeal flour instead of half and half. I also added a mashed banana simply because I didn't have quite enough leftover pumpkin and wasn't keen to cook any more.

All my boys loved these. I think the banana upped the sweetness a bit and helped them to not be quite so pumpkiny (a bonus for my pumpkin-hating husband).

We took these for morning tea on our day trip to Underwater World last weekend and they felt like a real treat! Definitely made me feel better about the fish and chips we had for lunch later that day :-)

Pumpkin, Banana and Date Muffins
Adapted from Weight Watchers via Fig & Cherry

2 cups (300g) wholemeal self-raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour plus 4 ts baking powder)
2 ts ground cinnamon
1/3 cup (80g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) oat milk (or any milk)
1/4 cup (60ml) rice bran oil
1 egg
1 cup (250g) cooked mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup (100g) mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup (80g) dried dates, chopped
1 tbs raw sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan forced). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, egg and oil together. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined. Fold through the pumpkin and dates being careful not to overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray, sprinkle the tops with raw sugar and bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked. Stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finger Buns

Another trip down memory lane with these! I can vividly recall being in a particular bakery as a child - rows and rows of sweet treats, the smell of sugar mixing with fresh bread and piping hot sausage rolls. What always caught my eye though were the finger buns with their vivid pink icing and sprinkles. What could be more attractive to a little girl?

Although I have boys I knew these would go down a treat. The buns themselves are made from a simple sweet bread dough with some dried fruit. Nothing wrong with that! Add some pretty icing and sprinkles and you have something really special.

Finger Buns
Recipe from Frills in the Hills

475g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml lukewarm water
40g butter, cubed
1/2 cup currants (or sultanas or cranberries)

Place the flour, milk powder, sugar, yeast and currants into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix to combine. Add in the water and egg and mix using the dough hook for about 4 minutes. Add in the butter, one cube at a time, and mix for another 6 minutes or until the dough is sticky and elastic.

Remove the dough from the mixer and place into a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down the dough, give it a quick knead by hand and divide it into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a sausage then place them on a greased or lined baking tray. Leave to prove for another hour or until doubled in size.

Bake the buns in a preheated 190 degree oven (170 degrees fan-forced) for about 12-15 minutes. The buns should be risen, golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

I find most food colourings pretty scary in terms of both the colour and ingredients, so for these I used some all-natural colours. They made some lovely pastel shades which is just what I was after. I guess to get the really bright colours you need the nasty stuff.


1 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
2tbs soft butter
Few drops of food colouring
Coconut, sprinkles, nuts etc to decorate

In a large bowl beat together the icing sugar and butter until smooth. You may need a teaspoon or so of milk to get the consistency you want. Divide the mix into small bowls and add a few drops of food colour to each. Mix well to incorporate the colour evenly. Spread over the top of the cooled finger buns and top with decorations of your choice.

with slivered almonds

with cachous

with coconut

with chopped walnuts

Making these would be a great rainy-day project (not that we've had any rain much for months) and kids would have lots of fun decorating their own!

This recipe is a keeper.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Baking with Julia - Bagels

Bagels © All rights reserved

Bagels have been on my must-bake list for years so I was really happy they were picked for this week!

The recipe seemed long and a little daunting but there was nothing particularly complicated about it, just a lot of steps and long wait. After reading the P & Q I decided to split the batch and do each half a little differently.

For my first batch I shaped the bagels after the first rise and then rested them in the fridge for 4 hours. The instructions for shaping the bagels were a little vague. I really didn't get the whole 'draw up and pinch the dough' thing (hope it wasn't just me) so I made up my own technique. Which could be why I ended up with this:

Bagels © All rights reserved

So they look more like rolls than bagels. The holes almost completely disappeared during baking (clearly they weren't big enough to start with) and the end result was a little doughy. I'm guessing because there was no air circulating through the middle. They tasted pretty good though and we had bacon and egg bagels for dinner. Yum!

Bacon and Egg Bagel © All rights reserved

I made the second batch the day after, so the dough had a full 24 hours in the fridge before I shaped it. It seemed easier to shape this time and I made sure the holes were the right size before boiling them. Both times I used sesame seeds and caraway seeds on top which we loved. I dropped the oven temp by 10 degrees this time but they still got a little darker than I would have liked.

But look! I made bagels!

Bagel © All rights reserved

My only negative is that I found these really salty. Like REALLY salty to the point of having to guzzle water for a few hours after eating. So if we make these again I would definitely want to reduce the salt. Anyone know if that amount of salt is important for the texture etc?

I'm also keen to try a sweet version with cinnamon and raisins and if any of this batch lasts long enough I will make bagel chips and update this post.

Our host this week is Heather of Heather's Bytes so make sure you check her blog the recipe and some great photos.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cocoa, Cranberry and Almond Balls

Cocoa, Cranberry and Almond Balls © All rights reserved
After completing my 3 day juice cleanse I was on the lookout for some snacks that were in line with a detox, that is, no wheat, dairy or refined sugar. What I found online was a veritable treasure trove of vegan treats. Call them truffles, bliss bombs or whatever you like, they taste amazing and are a brilliant portable snack.

This is my version simply based on what I happened to have in the pantry, but the possibilities are endless!

Cocoa, Cranberry and Almond Balls
Makes approx 20

2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tbs cocoa
1 tbs rice malt syrup
1/2 cup dessicated coconut for rolling (optional)

Place the almonds in the bowl of your food processor and blitz until they form chunky crumbs. Add the cranberries, cocoa and rice malt syrup and process until you get a sticky and cohesive mix. You can made the mixture as smooth as you like but I prefer to see the ingredients in the finished product so didn't over-process them. Roll into balls, using coconut if you wish. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge they will keep for up to 2 weeks.

The taste test ...

Absolutely delicious! I'm already planning on making these, as well as a few other variations, at Christmas time. They make a great alternative to sugar and saturated fat filled chocolate truffles. Both the boys loved them too which makes for a happy mummy!

This post is linked to Veggie Mama's Meatless Mondays:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

Pumpkin Spice Waffles © All rights reserved

Brinner (aka breakfast for dinner) has become a regular feature on our weekly meal plan. And why not?! This week I decided to make waffles, and having a lot of pumpkin to use up, went searching for pumpkin waffles. I think I've said it before but pumpkin based sweet dishes really aren't popular in Australia which is such a shame as they're so good!

I actually felt great about the boys having these for dinner. They're dairy free, low in sugar, use wholemeal flour, eggs for protein and of course pumpkin for veggies. Topped with a little crispy bacon and a generous slug of maple syrup they were the perfect dinner for all of us. You could of course leave off the bacon to make them vego.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles
Adapted from

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 ts baking powder
1/2 ts bicarb soda
Pinch salt
2 tbs brown sugar
3 ts cinnamon
1 ts ginger
1/8 ts ground cloves
1/8 ts nutmeg
3 eggs
2 tbs melted butter (I used nuttelex)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used oat milk)
3/4 cup mashed pumpkin
Maple syrup to serve

Preheat waffle maker.

Combine the all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, pumpkin and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix well to combine.

Place 1/3 cup mixture into the waffle maker at a time and cook until firm and crispy, about 2 1/2 minutes. Keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

Makes 8 waffles.

We will definitely be making these again!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow cooked pulled pork roll with coleslaw from

It's funny how tastes change. Up until a couple of years ago I had a major sweet tooth and really wasn't a fan of chilli. Now though, give me spicy food any day, and I can take or leave dessert (although I always have room for ice cream!).

In fact I'm getting hungry just thinking about this amazing pulled pork! And on a rainy cool day like today I'm wishing this is what we were having for dinner tonight.

This  is such an easy and budget-friendly recipe. While the pork shoulder may cost a bit it will feed an army and I tend to have all the other ingredients in the pantry already. You can add as much or as little chilli powder as you like or use fresh red chillies if you have them.

The house will smell amazing during the day and the end result is the most succulent, flavourful, amazing piece of meat. I like it served on a roll with a really fresh and zingy coleslaw to balance out the richness of the meat. It will be messy but it's so worth it!

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

1 x 1.5kg pork shoulder, skin and excess fat removed
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 ts - 2tbs chili powder
1 tbs paprika
2 ts pepper
1 ts cumin seeds
2 ts salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs dijon mustard
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup homemade tomato ketchup
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients except the pork and bay leaf in the food processor and blitz until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Place the pork into your slow cooker, pour over the marinade mix and add the bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

To serve - remove the pork from the slow cooker then pour the liquid into a saucepan. Bring the liquid to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes until it has reduced by at least half.

Using 2 forks, pull the pork into shreds then add the meat to the reduced sauce and stir to combine.

Serve on top of a hot buttered roll with plenty of zingy coleslaw. Devour.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Zingy Green Juice

Super Green Juice © All rights reserved
After thinking about it for probably 6 months, I completed a 3 day juice cleanse last weekend and afterwards felt pretty damn good (longer post to come about the cleanse). In an attempt to keep that good feeling I have been detoxing my diet since then and just eating a bit lighter overall. Part of that process has been to keep up the juice.

I adore fresh juice and as we already had a juicer it's such an easy way for me to get a hit of nutrients in a tasty way. This green juice is really fresh and zingy and no one would ever know they were drinking 1/2 a cucumber and some lettuce leaves!

I watered some down and gave it to my boys who both loved it and wanted more!

Super Tasty Green Juice

3 large green apples
2 kiwi fruits
1/2 medium cucumber
6 large cos leaves
1 small lemon
2cm piece ginger

Juice all ingredients in your juicer. Serve immediately over ice. Serves 2.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Easy Nutella Brownie Bites

Nutella Brownie Bites © All rights reserved
My husband (aka the chocolate fiend) loves nutella and will quite often be seen eating it out of the jar by the thick, fudgy spoonful. Having just bought a few jars on special I was determined to actually make something with it this time. And then I stumbled across these incredibly decadent but oh so easy brownie bites.

They were originally called 3 ingredient brownies with just nutella, flour and eggs, but I can't help tweaking so I added some salt and also vanilla extract to round out the flavour.

The verdict? 10/10. These would be up there with some of the best brownies I've made and for a lot less effort. I managed to freeze a few and after a quick zap in the microwave they were back to brownie perfection. They would be sensational smooshed up through vanilla ice cream as well. Yum!

Nutella Brownie Bites
Makes 12. Adapted from various sources including Laura's Sweet Spot

1 cup Nutella
1/2 heaped cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan-forced). Line a muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the nutella, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Sprinkle over the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Spoon evenly into the prepared tray and bake for 12 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the tray and the paper cases. Just try to stop at one!
Oscar has definitely inherited his father's sweet tooth and couldn't wait for a taste.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Baking with Julia - Cranberry and Pumpkin Loaf

Pumpkin and Cranberry Loaf Breadmaker © All rights reserved

Just wondering, is there anyone else out there who completely missed the mark with this recipe? I somehow had it into my head that this was a quick bread, more of a cake even. Imagine my surprise when I go to make it and not only is it a proper bread, it has to rest in the fridge overnight! Aaaah!

Now I could have just made it properly another day but I was psyched for pumpkin and cranberries and knew I wouldn't get another chance before posting day. I even had steamed pumpkin leftover from the night before ready and waiting to be mashed. (We can't buy canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling in Australia).

So instead I pulled out my trusty bread maker and made it in there. 

Granted it's not exactly the same as in the book, but the basic elements are all there - pumpkin, cranberries, spices. Yum! I didn't use any walnuts as I didn't have any on hand and I wanted to make it child friendly.
Pumpkin and Cranberry Loaf Breadmaker © All rights reserved

Luckily my breadmaker cookbook had a recipe for pumpkin bread already so I just had to tweak it slightly. Let me tell you, the aroma wafting through the house as this was cooking was to die for! And it was ready in just 3 1/2 hours!

Pumpkin and Cranberry Bread in the Breadmaker

200ml water
1 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
1 ts salt
1 tbs brown sugar
100g wholemeal flour
350g white bread flour
2 ts ground cinnamon
1/2 ts ground nutmeg
1 tbs milk powder
1/2 ts bread improver
1 1/4 ts instant dried yeast

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Add all ingredients except the cranberries to your breadmaker in the order listed above. Select the 750g loaf size, basic bread setting and medium crust. If you have a fruit and nut dispenser, add your cranberries in there and make sure you select 'Nuts - Yes' so they will be added automatically. Otherwise add in your cranberries after the first mix. Press start and wait just a couple of hours for your delicious bread to be ready!

The taste test ...

Pumpkin and Cranberry Loaf Breadmaker © All rights reserved

Just gorgeous! It was amazing fresh out of the 'oven' but sliced up the next day and toasted it was possibly even better. There wasn't much pumpkin flavour but it did add a lovely colour and helped to keep the bread  moist. My boys loved it toasted for breakfast with a big glass of milk and my pumpkin-hating husband had a taste before he knew it contained pumpkin and declared it 'really good.' Success!!!

Our host this week is Rebecca at This Bountiful Backyard. Make sure you check her blog for the proper recipe or give mine a go if you're time-poor.
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