Late Night Mocha Muffins

20170920_213208[1]Tonight I needed a treat. I have been oh so good lately. Lots of fruit. Nuts as snacks. Sometimes though, a late night homemade sweet treat is all that will satisfy that niggling feeling that simply can’t be cured with an apple.

Now, I am not a coffee drinker. At all. Im a true tea girl. Give me a brew any day. I do, however, adore the smell and taste of coffee in baked goods or chocolate and the only coffee-related drink I can manage is a mocha, where the chocolate masks the bitterness you sometimes get in coffee which suits me nicely.

I decided the mocha flavours would be worthwhile making into a muffin and they work beautifully. I’ve added some walnuts for texture, good quality sugar and dark chocolate,  so they don’t feel too devilish. These would be a perfect late night treat or naughty breakfast on the run. Its a really simple nearly all in one recipe and has limited room for failure, which I love! Easy and tasty! I’ve had one fresh out the oven and I like them a lot! Will have to wait until tomorrow to try them cold!

Ingredients

250g Plain Flour

75g Muscovado Sugar

75g golden Caster Sugar

2 Flat Teaspoons Baking Powder

4 Teaspoons Coffee granules

1 Flat Teaspoon Cinnamon

225ml Whole Milk

110ml Sunflower Oil

Small Pinch of Salt

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

100g dark chocolate Chips

50g Walnuts

20170920_205248[1]Method

Preheat oven to Gas 5

Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl (Flour, Sugars, Baking Powder, Coffee, Cinnamon, Salt)

Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl (Milk, Oil, Vanilla)

Gently fold the wet mix into the dry until combined

Fold in the chocolate chips and crushed walnuts at the end

Fill up muffin cases about 3/4 full with the mix

Bake for 25 minutes for larger muffins, 20 minutes for smaller cases. I used large paper cases which made 7 very large muffins. Standard paper cases would need less mix in and make about 15 muffins with this mix at small cupcake size.

It will be cooked when a skewer comes out clean

Eat one warm from the oven when the chocolate chips are at their gooey best!

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Making Breakfast Fun!

Over the last couple of weeks, my three year old has really gone off eating breakfast. I know kids tend to go through understandable short term phases, but when you are as active as she is, it concerned me that she was not fueling up properly for the day ahead, often having an eleven o clock slump, feeling tired and grumpy because of it…much like us big ones I guess if we neglect to fuel our bodies properly. I know I feel dizzy come lunch time if I skip breakfast.

I was trying the usual, eating together, offering different options, buying in her previous usual favourite things. She nibbled bits, she always eats something. But she just wasnt excited to eat anymore and I wanted to change that.

So, this week, I took action! I decided that me and her simply were not having enough fun, in all aspects of our life, but with the food in particular. I have been fortunate enough that I introduced real food to my daughter from a really early age, so there is next to nothing she wont at least try. But meal times shouldnt be seen as a chore, food is amazing and there’s so much we don’t know about. I never want her to think she has to eat her food, I want her to know eating is a pleasure and to look forward to it.

With that in mind, I decided to start making her food more like play time! Kids, especially three year olds, thrive off activities and fun! More than anything, I wanted to make her smile again.

So yesterday morning, we came downstairs and she said she was hungry. She opened the fridge, already like a teenager, seeing nothing she much fancied and walked out of the kitchen again huffing to go and slump in her mini arm chair. I smiled and left her to it and felt excited that I was going to surprise her with something she didn’t expect. It’s so easy to quickly rush a bowl of cereal or a slice of toast. Most days you have to if you have work or have large family commitments. However, if you can genuinely say to yourself you have 10 minutes to spare that morning, its well worth investing a little more time to give something different a try!

I made her some pancakes. Not the usual circle ones. Still using a standard batter (I just used 1 egg and as much flour and milk as I needed.) I poured in random amounts around the bottom of the pan making sure the batter edges didn’t meet. Turns out it made a load of random shapes , some even vaguely resembled dinosaurs and a U.F.O I thought. I chopped up some fresh berries and did a pot of yoghurt with a paintbrush dipped in ready for her to get busy. I covered it with a tea towel and said I had a surprise. (Three year olds love that word.) The look on her face when I whipped it away was priceless. She adored that she could glue on her berries with the yoghurt and essentially make crafts with her breakfast. She was excited, mealtime no longer was rushed to get back and play because it was the play and she ate lots in the process. We did it  again tonight for dinner ;-). A little imagination goes a long way with children this young.

20160904_160602[1]Above: Sure I can see a couple of by chance dinosaurs in there!20160904_160608[1]Above: One happy girl x20160904_161220[1]20160904_160839[1]

Above: Emi just checking the yoghurt glue wasnt real! Theres only one way to check after all!

This morning I wanted to surprise her again and she was actually smiling at me when she asked what was for breakfast. She knew something was coming again. So today, I made her day by saying we could have her favourite, ice cream, for breakfast! Well, that just blew her little mind.

She said “Ice cream? For breakfast? Ha!”. Throwing her head back and laughing as she does. I love seeing her thinking when something changes the game plan! Before you spit out your tea and call me a bad mom, give me a break. I wouldn’t actually give my daughter sugar laden ice cream as a promoted way of having a good breakfast! We made our own instant soft scoop ice cream using bananas I had frozen the night before. This one is great, really quick and super healthy!

You simply blend frozen bananas with whatever other ingredient or flavour you fancy. We made two types to try, one with fresh strawberries and frozen bananas and a chocolate ice cream which is just the bananas, 1 tsp of cocoa powder and a squeeze of honey. The strawberry one doesn’t need sweetening but cocoa can be quite bitter so that needed the honey I thought. Plus the chocolate one is really gooey almost like a pudding, which feels great to be allowed in the morning! Add a splash of milk to the chocolate one too to loosen it up a bit, a little goes a long way. So with just two ingredients in the strawberry one and four in the chocolate one, all natural and healthy, it makes a great start to the day and is really fun too.20160904_081441[1]Above: Thats enough now Emi!20160904_081448[1]Above: mmmmm I try some too!20160904_082153[1]Above: Loving her treat breakfast x20160904_082215[1] Above: Yummy and healthy too x

It takes all of about a minute and makes an instant soft scoop ice cream that is super healthy but feels like a treat. Just make sure you only blend until the bananas have no more lumps. If you do it more than that your soft scoop will become more of a thick shake! Best of all its something she could join in with, again, getting her excited by eating what she’s made herself rather than just being handed something and told it has to be eaten. Food has to be fun! Especially when kids are learning!

There are loads of fun things to try.

Making faces out of Fruit shapes is a nice one to do with them. (Bananas slit in half are perfect for a big smily mouth!).

We make porridge and make shapes on the top decorating with dried fruits and a squeeze of honey or jam. Hearts is a favourite and she always does me one on mine 😉 xWP_20160214_08_33_38_ProAbove: Emi with her blueberry heart porridge on Valentines day this year x

I am a realist and I do understand that food play isn’t always achievable or quick enough to do every day of the week. I am not suggesting that. I am going to aim to dedicate at least the weekend mornings to doing this for her and with her, more if I can, but at least those two days. Setting realistic goals is better than just saying I have no time or it’s too much upkeep. The child having one fun food day to look forward to each week is better than none at all.

You don’t have to keep it to one certain meal event either. We do the same with lunches sometime.

Making lettuce boats she can fill with chicken and salad herself and float across the table like on water is always fun (Thank god for wipe clean table cloths!)

Letting her draw a face on her hard-boiled egg shell after she has eaten and reenacting humptey dumptey before smashing his shell with her spoon is another firm favourite!

Using my inherited sherry glasses from Nan and letting her have her own little glass of wine at the dinner table always makes her feel really grown up and not left out. (It is squash for the record ;-0.)20160816_135948[1].jpgAbove: Emi with her mini wine x

Kids just want to be involved so give something a bit more inventive a try to see if they like it. Theres a good chance they will x

 

 

 

 

Best Brownies

I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love a good brownie!

This recipe is my favourite. Its reliable, comforting and never fails to satisfy the appetite. Ever 😉

I literally make these once a fortnight, sometimes even once a week if I feel the need. I do always share them out though and give a box to whoever I might be seeing that day. The rest go in an airtight jar and they will keep well for at least a week. My lovely friend bought me a gorgeous pink kilner jar recently and now I have an excuse to make them so I can store them in a pretty place ;-). I love jars! WP_20160605_08_08_16_Pro[1].jpg

Above: My gorgeous new pink addition to my jar shelf. Thanks Liz x

I strongly advise that depriving yourself of life’s pleasures will make you utterly miserable!  Eating only lettuce will not make for a long and happy life! On the other hand, don’t go crazy! It’s very simple when you think about it! A little bit of what you like does you the world of good.

I use good quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) and unrefined sugar. One small square is enough with a hot cup of tea. I don’t drink red wine but a couple of my friends I had the pleasure of cooking for recently assured me that these are an excellent accompaniment to a glass! So much so, I do believe they demolished about 4 each on the night. And took the rest home the next day. It’s a pleasure to see people enjoying something you have made!WP_20160221_14_30_28_Pro[1].jpg

Above: Birthday brownies for my daughters 3rd birthday!

I made a batch at 6.30am this morning to post off for a friend’s birthday! They make an excellent gift in a lovely tin and I have used this recipe for presents, party’s,dinner guests, every one seems to love them, from the three-year olds right up to my nearly 80-year-old Nan. They are a big hit!

They are very easy to make, the tricky part is timing it just right so that it doesn’t cook all the way through like a dry cake! I have had varied success with this but seem to be on a roll timing it for 21 minutes! WP_20160608_08_42_49_Pro[1]

Above: Batch for friend’s birthday. Just the right amount of squidge!

Ingredients

  1. 185g Unsalted Butter
  2. 185g 70% Minimum Good Quality Dark Chocolate (Aldi do a great range and not too expensive!)
  3. 85g Plain Flour (You could replace this with gluten-free or ground almonds for wheat allergies etc)
  4. 3 Large Eggs
  5. 275g Golden Caster Sugar
  6. 40g Cocoa Powder
  7. Icing Sugar to Dust after Cooking

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to Gas 4.
  2. Break up the chocolate and put into a heat proof bowl along with the butter. Melt in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds until melted. Usually takes around 2 minutes but every microwave may differ! Once melted set aside to cool until luke warm, just so long as it’s no longer hot enough to cook the eggs when combined!
  3. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together sieving into a clean bowl. Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer (if you have one), beat the eggs with the sugar on the highest speed setting. This will make the mix turn very pale and the volume will increase  almost doubling in size. Do this for at least two minutes. This will add air into the mixture for a lighter brownie.
  5. Once the melted chocolate mix from step 2 is cool enough, add this into the egg mix, folding it in gently to prevent knocking the air back out. Once combined, sieve the flour mix into this and again fold it in, don’t stir as this will make the brownies too dense without the lightness you have whipped into the eggs.
  6. Pour into a tin, you can get good tray bake tins, mine was just a poundshop job! The base of my tin measures 24cm by 18cm and it’s just the right size to hold this mixture.
  7. Cook on the middle shelf until the top starts to crack but inside still looks moist. I would recommend between 20-25 minutes but I have found around 20 works best.
  8. Leave to cool completely in the tin at room temperature. Dont be tempted to cut into it before its cool! Then sprinkle with icing sugar and cut!

I hope you enjoy x