Amelie’s Banana Choc Chunk Cupcakes

As with most kids who like to cook, Miss 7 loves baking, and that’s where her culinary career started – helping me make cakes and muffins. It’s simple and easy, and has a fabulous reward at the end – of course kids love it! However, Miss 7 isn’t really much of a cake person (unless we’re talking chocolate cake!), but she is an attention-loving person. She’ll shamelessly admit that she loves cooking, not for the end result, but for the credit. Chefs and their egos start young, it seems!

This recipe is pretty foolproof – remove the chocolate and the bananas, and you’re left with a moist and tasty basic cupcake recipe that you can pretty much add anything too. I can’t even remember where I found that particular recipe, but for the past 15 years or so, I’ve stayed pretty loyal to the flour, butter, egg, milk and sugar ratios, because it’s never failed, and everybody seems to love it. Then, a world of toppings and additions await, and the sky’s the limit.

I have calculated that the base cake recipe has 200 calories, so with the addition of the banana and chocolate, each muffin is about 240. I hesitate to become too technical with these because after all these years, I barely measure anything anymore. I tend to just estimate the calories of whatever I add to the base and call it a day. I mean, I’m not eating them when I’m being particularly fastidious about my food intake, anyway.

Makes 18 smallish cupcakes.

Ingredients

2 large bananas, peeled and broken into large pieces

125g butter

3/4 cup raw sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups self raising flour

1/4 cup mik

1/2 cup chocolate buttons (we used Nestle melts), chopped coarsely. There’s no reason you can’t use choc chips, but the large, uneven chunks have a charm of their own.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 muffin pans with 18 patty cases.
  2. Beat bananas until they form a soft mush – I use my stand mixer for this. Add butter, sugar and vanilla, and beat until well combined.  The mixture will be very wet.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until well combined.
  4. Sift flour into mixture and stir gently to combine.
  5. Gently fold in choc chunks.
  6. Spoon mixture into prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until an insterted skewer comes out clean.
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Deluxe Greek Salad

There’s really no other way of saying it – Summers in Sydney suck. It’s not just hot – it’s scorching, muggy and unrelenting down here in Satan’s armpit.

Not exactly the best conditions for food-spiration. Who wants to turn on the oven or stove when it’s been 40 degrees for weeks on end? But also, who wants another bloody salad?

That would be me.

There’s no such thing as too many salads. Salads are magical. However, I do feel the need to change it all up a bit. While I could eat salad five nights in a row, it cannot be the same salad. Hence all the varieties on this blog, with more to come, I can guarantee it.

I’m really rather partial to this particular salad, as it takes all of 5 minutes to make, barely uses any heat, and is hearty enough that you don’t need to serve it with bread, although nobody would fault you if you did. It’s a 250 calorie salad, 329 with the dressing. As I’m not a huge fan of salad dressings or vinaigrette, I usually skip it altogether, but I am well aware that I am an anomaly in this situation.

serves 4

Ingredients

1tsp olive oil

500g heart smart diced lamb

Salt and pepper, to taste

150g mushrooms

60g baby spinach

1 yellow capsicum, sliced

1 cucumber, sliced

250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 small beetroot, roasted (or, purchased pickled), cut into small chunks

60g feta

Dressing

1tbs olive oil

1tbs lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2tsp brown sugar

Method

  1. To make dressing, place ingredients in a small jug and whisk to combine.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add meat and mushrooms to pan, and stir occasionally until lamb is cooked to your liking.
  3. Combine all other ingredients except for feta together in a large bowl.
  4. Add lamb and mushrooms. Sprinkle with crumbled feta.
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Strawberry Cheesecake Muffins

While I do take a healthy diet and lifestyle very, very seriously, I’ve long said that the secret to my success is that I haven’t cut anything out, I’ve just cut it down.  Sugar, fat, carbs, white food, alcohol, bagels, cake – you name it, I’ve almost certainly eaten it since starting  my fitness journey nearly 18 months ago. It’s all about balance, and making sensible choices in terms of portion size and what else you eat that day. Conscious, mindful eating. That’s my boring trick.

Today, I was expecting anywhere between 1 and 12 people in my house today, with no idea what time anyone would be over. I wanted something delicious, fun to make, and flexible to cook/store, that my kids and I could bake in the middle of a heatwave. These muffins were just the ticket. Part muffin, part cheesecake, and 100% delicious, we had as much fun making them as we did eating them. And when only 2 people ended up dropping by, I simply froze the extra (non-frosted) cakes, so we now have emergency cake. PLEASE tell me I’m not the only person who feels far more comfortable in life knowing that there is emergency cake stashed in the freezer!

This recipe is very closely adpated from Taste.com.au, however, by making 20 smaller muffins instead of 12 jumbos, I cut the calories to a much more palatable 297 calories, proving once again that you can have your cake and eat it too!  They’re pretty sweet – I don’t think I could have eaten a jumbo muffin anyway – these the perfect treat size. For me, any way.It’d make a perfectly respectable whole cake, too, provided you used a rather large tin – with four eggs in there, the rise is considerable. I’d hazard a guess that the cream is pretty optional in the icing, and will skip it next time (and there will be a next time!), although it wasn’t ruining anything by being there.

Makes 20

Ingredients

muffins:

125g butter

1.5 cups caster sugar

250g cream cheese

1tsp vanilla

4 eggs

250g strawberries, diced

cheesecake frosting

150g cream cheese

1/2 cup thickened cream

3/4 icing sugar (the original recipe calls for 1/3, but I found it was too runny and tasted far too much of cream)

1/2 tsp vanilla

10 strawberries, hulled and halved

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line muffin tins with patty pans.
  2. Beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Add sugar and beat until pale and creamy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, and beat after each egg until fully incorporated.
  4. Add vanilla and mix.
  5. Add flour and gently combine. Fold through strawberries.
  6. Spoon mixture into cases until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. When cooked, remove pans from oven and allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
  8. While muffins are baking,  combine all icing ingredients and beat thoroughly until thick and fully incorporated. Rest in fridge until ready to use.
  9. When muffins are cool, pipe or spread the icing over the muffin and top with a slice of strawberry. (my kids ate the strawberries on me while I was still using them – any other berry works just as well!)

 

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