Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins

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What a year it’s been.  Today’s bake is, to be honest, a guilt bake.  I feel bad that I have not posted much this year at all, but I feel I have to make an effort.  F for failure then!

Between having to rebuild my computer (thanks, Microsoft for destroying it with your update), scattering my mother’s ashes, being stuck in the middle of nowhere due to ice and snow, being completely felled by one of the seasonal viruses doing the rounds, selling the house, I could go on and on.  But I’m exhausted, I need sleep, I need a break, I need good things.  Don’t we all, though.  A year of good news, and happy events would do us all the world of good.

So I found myself wondering what to bake.  I had some over-ripe bananas, but I’ve done various banana bread recipes, how about cupcakes……no, how about muffins!  Of course the recipe I saw on the internet didn’t have the same ingredients as I remembered it having…..you can see where this is going now, can’t you!  I’d committed myself to baking, so there was no alternative but to tweak the recipe………but you all know by now, tweaking a recipe is something I do a lot of – not always successfully!  In this case I used two different recipes as a reference point.

Muffins are a fairly forgiving bake, the only thing to remember is not to over-mix, otherwise they end up rubbery.

This recipe was for 12 muffins.  Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven)

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, mashed

125ml light oil (I used olive oil, but sunflower oil is fine too)

4 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

100g golden caster sugar

225g cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

220g chocolate buttons

Method:

Beat together the oil, egg, milk and vanilla extract.  Add the mashed bananas and the sugar and mix well.

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Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add in the chocolate buttons, covering well with the flour mixture, in the hope that the buttons don’t sink to the bottom when you bake the muffins.

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Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, mixing gently to combine only. Don’t over-mix, it doesn’t matter if the batter is a bit lumpy.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool on a rack before eating!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

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Smoked Salmon & Mackerel Parcels

I love smoked salmon.  Love, love, love it.  But it’s a luxury and so sadly I don’t get to eat it as often as I would like.  I have been eyeing up a recipe for ages, thinking I want to make this, but can I justify it?  Ummm…ah…yes…..no….should I?  Shouldn’t I?  Finally decision time!  Hell yes, because every now and then you just have to do something special.

I saw this recipe first in the Good Housekeeping Christmas Collection magazine in 2011, it is for a Smoked Salmon and Mackerel Mousse Ring.  I don’t have a ring mould, and don’t think I could justify buying one just to make this one recipe.  However, I have a crazy number of ramekins, so I decided to make parcels instead of one large ring.  Problem solved 🙂

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The recipe is easy enough, line the ring mould (or ramekins) with cling film.  Place layers of smoked salmon to line the mould, with the edges overlapping.

Mix together the cream cheese, crème fraîche, chopped parsley, flaked smoked mackerel, chopped capers and lemon zest.  I added a bit more lemon zest than the recipe asked for and I really liked that extra zing it gave.

Spoon the filling into the mould and level off, before covering with more smoked salmon.  Wrap tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for a few hours.

Serve with some freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, a fresh zingy salad and thin crisp toast slices.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂

Me and my shadow

It has been one of those weeks where it really feels like no good deed goes unpunished.

I feel “mind-blown”, my head is reeling with the events.  I try to do the right thing, but this week it has just slapped me hard in the face. Things don’t always work out for the best. People are unpredictable. I am left sad.

I went for a walk on the beach, just me and my shadow. It does make me laugh, at least,how huge my feet look!

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Pebbles

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Pebbles. Stones. We see them all the time. We hurt our feet walking on them. We kick them. We throw them.  We walk over them and never notice them. We never really look at them.  They are there. In time they get beaten up and ground down and end up smaller and smaller until they are grains of sand. Forgotten.

Sometimes after rain, or walking on a beach when the waves have broken over the pebbles, the sun catches them at just the right angle, and for a moment they are beautiful.

Beauty in small things. Things thought of as ordinary, but full of beauty. We just need the right light, the right angle, the right frame of mind, and then we see it. But with a little care, a little love, the beauty in what we once thought of as dull, can be brought out. And it shines.

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