Breakfast Berry Muffins

I don’t know about you but I really struggle to find time to eat breakfast before I leave for work in the morning. Then when I do get to work the only options available in the canteen involve sausage, bacon and/or has browns – great at the weekends but not so great on a daily basis!

Luckily, I found a couple of recipes for breakfast muffins which seemed (1) easily manageable for a novice baker like me, (2) low fat and low calorie, and (3) perfect for grabbing on my way out the door in the mornings.

After perusing a couple of different recipes I decided to just experiment a little with the ingredients I had available – rather than going out and buying lots of expensive seeds or toppings. Once you have the base muffin recipe it’s quite easy to do this, so why not try your own fruit/nut combinations.

This made 15 small muffins (because I was conscious of calories with this batch) but if your not too worried and want to make 12 bigger size muffins, just make sure to cook for a bit longer.

The chilling stage is pretty important, as it gives the oats time to soak up some of the moisture and lots of the flavour…without this your muffin mix will end up quite thin and may not rise as well.

I use fresh berries in this recipe, because it’s what I had to hand. If you prefer to use frozen berries just make sure you allow for this in the baking time.

Admittedly, these are not as sweet as your traditional muffins but actually I prefer a more savoury start to the day anyway. The fresh berries keep the mixture nice and moist, meaning they should keep for a few days in an air tight container. Otherwise they are freezable – although I haven’t tried this myself yet!

Ingredients
– 2 eggs
– 150ml low fat natural yoghurt
– 50ml oil (don’t bother using the fancy stuff here)
– 100g smooth apple sauce
– 1 mashed banana
– 3tbsp runny honey
– 1tsp vanilla extract
– 200g wholemeal flour
– 50g rolled oats
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1 1/2 bicarbonate of sofa
– 2tsp cinnamon
– 120g fresh raspberries

1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4 and line your muffin tin with muffin cases;
2. Mix the eggs, yogurt, oil, apple sauce, banana, honey and vanilla in a bowl;
3. Tip all other ingredients into a second bowl and mix together;
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry, and mix gently until just combined;
5. Divide mixture between muffin cases and top with a sprinkling of extra oats;
6. Bake for around 25mins until well risen and golden on top. A clean skewer inserted in should come out clean;
7. Leave to cool, and then enjoy!

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Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Burgers

I don’t know about you, but after the long Christmas break (and my birthday) I was desperate for some fresh home-cooked meals with lots of veg! D and I were both off work for the whole Christmas period which just meant a contstant stream of eating out, drinks with friends and family dinners – with plenty of grazing on christmas goodies along the way.

As fun as it all was at the time (I mean, who doesn’t love a slice of pork pie slathered in stilton?!), suddenly my waist band is feeling a little tight and I think it’s time to start thinking about what I eat a little bit more carefully!

Luckily, thanks to the guys over at Able and Cole I now have a fridge full of fresh organically grown veg. If you haven’t tried a fruit/veg delivery before I would absolutely recommend it – not only does it taste better but I find we are saving more money because we have to go food shopping less (I just make do with the leftovers in the fridge until the next delivery arrives).

But I still need to make food which is substantial enough for D, and doesn’t feel like ‘diet food’. That’s why these veggie burgers are so good – he can have them in a burger bun, or flat wrap, and I can have them in lettuce leaves. It really is a flexible dish – add as many toppings as you like. We went for chill sauce and mayo, with jalapenos and salad, but I think avocado would be a really good addition too if you want to bulk it out a bit – and lots of vitamins and good oils in there too.

Microwaving the butternut squash makes this a really simple, healthy, mid-week recipe. If you don’t have a microwave then I would just roast the squash in chunks for about 40mins, until it is soft and mashable. Adding the crushed tortilla chips may seem a bit odd – but it meant that the burgers had a nice crisp to them and helped them to hold their shape. It also gave them a slightly Mexican taste, which with the added toppings ,worked really well.

This made 6 normal size burgers, but I found they were quite slow to cook so I have suggested making 12 mini burgers instead. If you did want to make normal size burgers just bear in mind the additional time it may need. Alternatively, if you skip the ‘chilling’ stage they would cook quicker but may not hold their shape as well.

Apologies for the lack of photos, but it was the first day back to work and I was just so hungry!

Ingredients

– 600g butternut squash

– 1 tin kidney beans

1 tsp chilli flakes

– 2 cloves of garlic

Several handfuls of crushed tortilla chips

– Vegetable oil

– Burger buns and toppings of your choice

1. Cut the butternut squash into equal chunks (don’t worry about removing the skin) and place in covered microwave proof bowl. Microwave on high for 10 minutes

2. Meanwhile blitz the kidney beans, chilli flakes and garlic cloves in a food processor until they form a smooth paste

3. After the butternut squash has cooked, remove it from the microwave and allow to cool slightly

4. Scoop the butternut squash flesh away from its skin, and add to the bean mixture

5. Mix in a handful of crushed tortilla chips – this will help it bind. Keep adding chips until you think the mixture will hold its shape

6. Using slightly wet hands (to avoid the mixture sticking) mould into twelve mini burger shapes

7. Place on a non-stick baking tray and leave to chill in the fridge for 10 mins

8. Pre-heat grill

9. Remove burgers from the fridge and place under the grill. Cook on each side for at least 5mins. Just make sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn

10. Once they are nice and crisp on both sides remove from the grill

11. Build your burgers and enjoy

Chocolate Brownie Mince Pies

I don’t know about you but one of my favourite things about Christmas is all of the yummy treats there are around – both store bought and homemade. I have been seeing so many different things around this year, but one thing that really caught my eye was this recipe from Sainsbury’s Magazine for Brownie Mince Pies.
I have to admit; as soon as I saw the name I was intrigued – the thought of gooey chocolatey brownie mixed with all of the goodness of mince pies and perfectly baked pastry?! We had had so many awesome ‘hybrid’ foods like the Cronut…so why not do the same with mince pies?!
So, after going on about how much I wanted to try this for about 4 weeks, I finally got round to making them this weekend…and they were definitely worth the wait! The recipe does make quite a few but I promise they won’t go to waste.
As my last few attempts at brownies haven’t gone to well (cracked glass bowls and exploding ovens being the least of my problems) I decided to take the slightly easier option and buy ready-made pastry. I actually managed to find this in Aldi (I think it is part of their Christmas range) and it was surprisingly effective and cheap! I will be very disappointed if they don’t keep this in stock after the New Year!
A standard pack of pastry from Aldi made 14 mince pies, with a bit of brownie mixture left over. I assume if you make the pastry from the recipe you won’t have that problem. I just poured the left over mixture into a tart tin and baked it as a normal brownie – it tasted just like Christmas pudding!
I know a lot of people will think that its sacrilege messing with the traditional mince pie but personally I love a bit of experimentation. And for those of you who don’t really like mince pies (my other half included) these can be a good middle ground.
I decided not to add the frosting decoration as I took this into work as a bit of a Christmas treat for my colleagues and I was concerned about how they would travel. Instead I just have them a dusting if icing sugar and they went down really well…even if they were a bit dubious to begin with.
Safe to say these may become a new Christmas tradition.

Merry Christmas!

Sadly no pics of my own version but here is what they should look like according to the Sainsbury’s recipe image:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/710/72764082/files/2014/12/img_1268.jpg (photo from Sainsbury’s Magazine)

Monday night firsts

A few months ago the boy and I decided we needed more fresh veg in our lives and decided to sign up with Abel and Cole for regular veg box deliveries. As well as ensuring a healthy dose of vitamins, I think the best part has been all of the weird and wonderful vegetables they send us-some of which I have never heard of!

This week the delivery included a pettypan squash, which is a small summer squash resembling a flying saucer. I have to admit when I first saw it I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but after a bit of online research I felt inspired. My first thought was something along the lines of this but having no Parmesan or marinara sauce kinda put the end to that one!

Finally I settled on this – a medley of roasted veg (including the pettypan squash) on top of a bed of spicy cous cous.

Having never tried pettypan squash before I was pleasantly surprised. Roasting it have it a sweet edge, and it worked really well with the roasted carrots and peppers. It does go a little bit soft so you may want to keep an eye on it whilst it’s in the oven, but mixed with the other ingredients there is still plenty of texture.

I apologise but I did use a ready made cous-cous mix (I think the Ainsley Herriot ones are a good option) but it is a Monday night and it’s been a busy day at work!

This served me and the boy with minimal leftovers. The sweetcorn doesn’t technically go with the recipe but it needed eating.

Given the success of the pettypan I can’t wait to see what gets delivered next time 🙂

Roasted Pettypan, Carrots and Red Pepper with Spicy Cous-cous
one pettypan squash cut into chunks
one red pepper cut into chunks
6 carrots, peeled
2 garlic cloves
1tbsp olive oil
100g cous cous

– heat the oven to 180/200
– put squash, carrots and pepper in a roasting dish with the garlic and olive oil
– roast in over for approximately 45mins (or until the veg starts to go soft)
– meanwhile make your cous cous (follow instructions on pack)
– heap hot fluffy cous cous into bowls and top with the roasted veg
– serve and enjoy

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