Butter Bean and Spinach Smash

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I never thought I’d be the kind of person to own a book called “The Detox Bible”. I don’t believe in detox diets – namely because I feel our bodies are perfectly capable of doing all the detoxification that they need, and don’t need magical juices or powders to help them along. I also don’t believe in “bad” foods that must be avoided at all costs, unless of course, you have an allergy. Nevertheless, when a local bookshop was having a sale on cookbooks and slashing prices by 75%, I’m willing to be more open to things.

I have to say, this book pleasantly surprised me. It’s wheat, refined sugar and dairy free (all of which I happily ignore when it suits me), but really, it’s pretty well balanced. It’s more often a case that these recipes are naturally free of these devil ingredients, than a case of the authors moving heaven and earth to swap these perfectly fine ingredients with ridiculous substitutions. I appreciate such common sense approaches, even if I don’t subscribe to the core philosophy.

Anyway, I digress. This dip is why I bought the book. It’s the first page I opened to when I was flicking through it at the store, and I was immediately sold. I love beans. Like, LOVE beans. My family aren’t quite as enthusiastic, so while I use them regularly, I rarely make them the star of the dish… Until now. Combined with an array of crudités, this dip makes an extremely healthy, delicious, filling and cheap work lunch that will make you feel like some kind of nutritionally superior god/dess for only 240 calories (it’s 170 by itself). Did I mention it’s delicious?! Because, seriously, even I was taken aback with just how GOOD this is. Off a spoon, with crackers, as a bed for your egg – it just works with everything, and my new addiction.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 handfuls of baby spinach (about 25g)

400g butter beans, drained and rinsed (butter beans are lima beans – I had no idea!)

1tsp olive oil

1tbs lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chopped raw vegetables to serve

Method

  1. Place all ingredients except the crudités into a blender and pulse into a chunky consistency (you can make it completely smooth if you prefer. I like it chunky – the butter beans are creamy enough to provide a lovely texture). If it won’t break down, add a teaspoon of water to help it along.
  2. That’s it. It couldn’t be easier.

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Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles

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It’s a tragic truth that here in Australia, snickerdoodles are not readily available. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a store and seen a pack, or heard anyone casually speak of them. If not for the fact that American pop culture is ubiquitous, and the name sticks in your head (or, at least, it does if you have the sense of humour of a 12 year old boy), they’d be an unknown entity to me.

I remember once, when I was first trying my hand at cooking, making some sort of snickerdoodle slice recipe that I’d seen online, and by which I been thoroughly underwhelmed. Experience tells me now that I hadn’t completely cooked the flour out of the batter, which would account for the unpleasant aftertaste, but I still remained vehemently uncurious about these funnily named little snacks. I hadn’t thought about them for years, save for the occasional time they were mentioned in an American movie or show.

The day after Mother’s Day, I found I had a glut of cream cheese left over, and no inspiration for to do with it – not even a stale bagel, nothing. So, I figured I’d do some cream cheese cookies… because what’s life without a little naughtiness, right? It wasn’t until I’d made, eaten, and thoroughly enjoyed these cookies, adapted from This Silly Girl’s Kitchen, that I realised they were, essentially, a somewhat decadent snickerdoodle. Now I get the hype, because these are the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. They’re so fluffy and cake-like, they melt in your mouth, and are sweet without being too sweet. I could eat them all day. Of course, they’re 165 calories per (not huge) cookie, so they’re a special treat, but oh, my, what a treat they are!

This recipe yields 28 cookies.

Ingredients

1/2 cup  butter, softened

125g cream cheese, softened

1 & 1/2 cup icing sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Small pinch Maldon salt flakes

1 & 3/4 cup self raising flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Using a stand or electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar until combined.
  2. Add egg, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Mix to combine.
  3. Slowly incorporate flour, scraping the sides as needed. Refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sugar.
  6. Roll 2 teaspoons of dough into small balls, Roll each ball into the cinnamon sugar mixture to fully coat, and place on the trays about 5cm apart – they do spread a bit. Flatten slightly.
  7. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until just set. Be aware that these are a very blonde cookie, and won’t brown much, so don’t overcook. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes (if, after this, they still seem undercooked, place back in hot oven for another two minutes or so). Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
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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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