Black bananas. Yuck.
Neither Mushroom nor I will touch a banana if it’s got more than the tiniest hint of brown on it’s skin. Mr B prefers them sweeter but we don’t like the texture as they turn, so we tend to use them a lot in baking. Sometimes we simply mash them with blueberries and zap them for 20 seconds in the microwave for a healthy, tasty dessert but when we have the time we like to make banana bread, or, in this case – pudding muffins. I call them pudding muffins because although we used a bread recipe, the consistency of the end result was more like pudding (and tasted delicious served hot with custard). Here’s how we did it:
Ingredients: 3 ripe bananas, mashed, a cup of raisins (about 200g), a cup of flour (about 2oog), 1 egg, beaten, either 200g sugar OR 100g sugar and about 50g honey or agave syrup , a drop of vanilla essence and a teaspoon of baking soda. We add a splash of milk (for the pudding consistency) and touch of cinnamon too.
Method: Start with the bananas, then add the egg, sugar (and agave syrup if using) and vanilla and mix well with a wooden spoon. Then add all the dry ingredients and stir well. You can use a mixer for this but we prefer not too as we like the lumpy banana bits you get when you mix by hand! We put the mixture into silicone cake cases but you can just use a muffin tray if you have one. Pop in a pre-heated oven (350 degrees/Gas mark 4) for one hour. Et voila!
We ran out of silicone cases so we put the rest of the mixture into a square cake tin and cut the end result into slices – bigger portions for bigger appetites! They kept in the fridge for about a week.
On a recent rainy day, I asked Mushroom what he would like to do (I know, a dangerous question!). His response was simply ‘Make cake Mummy.’ So we did.
We had some blueberries and raspberries left over so I looked up a few recipes online to see what we could do with them and then, as usual… We made up our own.
Here’s what we used (ingredients are approximate):
125 grams/half a cup of butter or margarine
75 grams/just under a third of a cup of caster sugar
375 grams/one and a half cups self-raising flour
120mls/half a cup of milk (or almond milk for a more almondy flavour
Roughly 400g (one average supermarket pack) fresh blueberries (optional) and raspberries – the raspberries are pretty important 😉
Here’s what we did:
- Mix the butter and sugar until creamy
- Add the eggs and stir
- Add half the flour and half the milk and whisk – we used an electric mixer for this but it’s not necessary, Mushroom just likes it
- Add the remaining flour and whisk
- Add the blueberries to the mixture and stir. No more whisking – unless you would like blue cake (which would be pretty cool! But we wanted the keep the blueberries whole so they burst in your mouth later), then whisk away!
Pour half the mixture into a cake tin (greased and/or lined with baking paper) then scatter raspberries on top and squeeze a little honey over them
Add the remaining mixture to cover the raspberries (don’t worry if it doesn’t quite cover them, they will sink to the bottom anyway) and scatter with flaked almonds
Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees/Gas mark 4
Eat while warm!
Seriously, it’s so easy I’m not even going to give proper instructions. I never follow a recipe to the letter myself so get creative, give it a go and let me know how it tastes!
Throw some spices in a pan (I recommend cumin, coriander, tumeric and/or garam masala).
Add some fresh sliced chillies (I use mild if the curry will be for Mushroom too), chopped (or minced) garlic and onions with a little vegetable oil and fry until it smells good.
Add some veg. We used Okra, aubergine (cubed) and chickpeas (if you’re using tinned chickpeas, add them at the end). Stir in a little tomato puree (or paste. Sometimes we use Sacla’s sun-dried tomato paste)
Not sure about okra? Ours came from the freezer aisle…
It loses a bit of bite but still tastes great.
Add a tin of chopped tomatoes (or if you can be bothered to boil, peel and chop them yourself, do. I’d add a bit of salt if you do this but that’s just me):
Leave on a low heat, stirring occasionally for at least 20 minutes. Longer is good.
If you prefer a slightly creamy curry, add some milk or yogurt just before serving. Stir through…
Serve warm with rice or naan. That’s it! Told you it was easy.
Another easy recipe (I don’t do complicated recipes so they’ll all be easy!) that also serves as sensory play for your little ones. It’s got touch, smell and taste – what’s not to love! You could even use this time to talk about colours and shapes, if you like (you don’t have to). The main purpose is to have fun!
You will need: Icing sugar, peppermint essence, strawberry flavouring, red food colouring and sparkles (optional! Mushroom insisted no these)
Oh, and an egg white. I forgot to take a photo of that. Find out how to separate eggs here.
And here’s how to make your sweets in pictures! Hover over the images for more info (and to find out what to do for the bits I didn’t get pictures of because of sticky hands!)
Whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form when you take the whisk out. Add the icing sugar and a drop of peppermint essence (or strawberry flavouring for the strawberry creams. Mix until you get a thick paste.
Dust a surface with icing sugar and roll out the paste to the desired thickness.
For the strawberry creams, add a little red food colouring (Mushroom added a lot!). You can add green for the mint if you like. Mushroom added green sparkles to these later
Use small pastry cutters to cut out pretty shapes, or, if you prefer, roll the mixture into small balls and press down to make discs.
Put on a sheet of greaseproof and leave to chill. You might want to dip them in melted chocolate (dark for the peppermint, white for the strawberry) before putting them in the fridge. Yum!
These sweets may be a bit sickly for adult tastes (unless you have a really sweet tooth!) and even Mushroom wouldn’t eat more than a couple but they are such good fun to make (it’s edible play dough as far as he’s concerned!). You could wrap them up in little muslin bags and add some little stars and give them to family as Christmas presents! It doesn’t matter if they don’t eat them – it’s the thought that they were made my your little chef that counts.
If you try these I’ve no doubt that you’ll make more spectacular looking ones than we did so please share your pictures either on twitter (remember tweet me so I can see!) or if you write a blog, do comment below. Happy (non) baking!
Now that the weather is starting to turn Mushroom and I are starting to make more winter recipes. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not great at measuring out ingredients for cooking but things still seem to turn out alright so if, like me, you’re no contender for Masterchef but wouldn’t mind spending a bit more time with your little ones in the kitchen, here’s a bit of a cheat’s recipe for chicken pie.
You will need:
A tin of chicken in white sauce (or you could use leftover chicken and make your own white sauce if you’re a little less lazy than I am!), ready-to-roll puff pastry (it’s a cheat’s pie, remember!) and some vegetables. We used mushrooms and asparagus but feel free to use your preferred veg, or use up any leftovers!
You’ll also need: A pie tin and a pastry brush
Chop the veg and place in an unbreakable bowl/container (we’re working with toddlers here!):
We threw in a leftover carrot too.
Add the chicken and get your little chef to stir:
Roll out the pasty and cut round a pie tin. Place the pasty in the tin and press down. Little hands are good for this. Add the chicken and veg mix.
Roll out the remaining pasty and place over the top of the pie. Cut holes in it.
Melt some butter or margarine in a microwavable pot and once it’s cooled down a little, let you little chef ‘paint’ the pie with the pastry brush.
Put in the oven for around 30 minutes (follow the instructions on the pastry)…
Et voila! Serve hot with gravy and mashed potatoes. If you like. Yum!