Thursday, 28 February 2013

Crunchy Granola

For a while now, I have considered myself to be a bit unhealthy. Although I try to eat a balanced diet, I still find myself snacking on biscuits and chocolate. And even though I walk to and from uni everyday, it's not very far away, so I don't see it as anything strenuous. It might not seem that bad, but when I look at myself in the mirror, I don't feel like I'm doing enough.

Which is why, as of last week, I decided to go on a slight diet, comprising of eating more salads, and eating less chocolate. And this week I took it one step further, and started to go jogging.

At the moment, the only effect I'm feeling is a difference in my energy levels. During the day, I feel a lot more awake, and my concentration during lectures is a lot better. And I just feel a lot more positive when I'm tucking in to a salad instead of a plate full of carbs.

Now I've always believed in having breakfast to start the day. I like my food too much to be able to miss a meal. While doing some research, I found that granola was a good idea for breakfast, due to it being mostly oats. Oats are very good for you, as they have a lot of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels. In addition to the oats, you can have a number of different ingredients, including seeds, fruit and nuts. Think of all the healthy goodness.

Now I was quite naughty when I was making this, and I decided to slip in some chocolate chips. I did say I was eating less chocolate, not excluding it completely from my diet. But you can leave out the chocolate, and it's just as delicious.
300g Rolled Oats
125ml Golden Syrup
2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
2 tbsp Honey
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
50g Pumpkin Seeds
50g Almonds, roughly chopped
50g Pistachios, roughly chopped
75g Dried Cranberries
50g Chocolate Chips

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.
In a large bowl, mix together the oil, syrup, honey and vanilla extract.
Add the rolled oats, seeds and nuts, and mix together.
Tip the oat mixture onto two separate baking trays. This can be quite difficult due to the mixture being so sticky, but don't worry if you have some clumps of oats, you'll be able to break them apart later.
Bake for 15 minutes in the oven, before adding the dried fruit.
Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
While baking, roll out some baking parchment, or get out another baking tray.
Remove the granola from the oven, and scrape onto the tray/parchment, and leave to cool.
Once cooled, transfer the granola to an airtight container. At this point break apart the oaty clumps, they should snap into smaller sections.
Also, if you want to add the chocolate, just add it to the container.
The granola should keep in the airtight container for around a month, if you can make it last that long.
It's perfect served with milk or yoghurt, although I prefer it with yoghurt.
It's that nice that I've not just been eating it for breakfast, sometimes I ended up eating it as a snack later the same day.
I just couldn't stop myself...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Lemon and Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake

I love citrus fruits, I just think they are so refreshing.
Now I use limes quite frequently when I'm making Thai Green Curry (yummy), but my lemons have just been collecting up in my cupboard.
So today I decided to use a couple of them up, which meant looking for recipes.
And the first one that came to mind was Lemon Drizzle.

When I was searching through my cupboards, I also found some poppy seeds, and we all now how well poppy seeds go with lemons.
So this cake is a bit of a mixture between lemon drizzle and lemon &  poppy seed muffins.
180g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
180g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
50ml Milk
150ml Sunflower Oil
Zest and Juice from 1 Lemon

3tbsp Icing Sugar
Juice from 1/2 Lemon

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3, and grease and line a 4lb loaf tin.
In a large bowl, sieve in the flour and baking powder, before adding the caster sugar and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, lemon juice and oil.
Once thoroughly mixed, add to the flour, and stir.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes.
While the cake is cooking, prepare the icing.
Sieve the icing sugar into a small bowl, and add the lemon juice. Mix thoroughly until it forms a thick paste.
Once the cake has cooled, drizzle the icing over the cake.

And that's it! Such a simple cake, and an easy way to use up lemons.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Starbucks-Style Ginger Muffins

As I mentioned in my coffee syrup post, I have recently found a love for coffee. This, of course, led me to taking a trip to Starbucks while out shopping with a friend, where I had a Caramel Macchiato (my favourite), and a 'Skinny Ginger Muffin'.
Now I like most of the muffins found in coffee shops, like the popular lemon and poppy seed, and white chocolate and raspberry. However, this was the first time I'd seen the ginger muffin, so I decided to give it a go.

I swear, it was one of the best muffins I've ever had.
It was just perfect. The ginger flavour was not too overpowering, and the muffin itself was light and airy.
I loved it that much, that when I got home, I had to look up on the internet to see if anyone had tried to re-create the recipe. And luckily for me, I found one here.
Unfortunately, due to my work load suddenly increasing, today was the first chance I had to experiment.
Makes 12 Muffins.
250g Plain Flour
3tsp Baking Powder
225g Caster Sugar
3tsp Ginger Powder
100g Crystallised Ginger (finely chopped)
3tbsp Golden Syrup
100g Butter (melted)
2 Eggs
250ml Milk

125g Icing Sugar
1tsp Ginger Powder
5-6tbsp Water

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6, and place muffin cases in a bun tray.
In a bowl, put in the flour, baking powder, ginger powder, caster sugar and the crystallised ginger.
In a separate bowl, put in the butter and golden syrup, and melt in the microwave (or do this on the hob and then place in the bowl).
Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, before adding the milk and eggs, and mix thoroughly.
Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture, and combine together.
Fill the muffin cases with the muffin mix, until the cases are 2/3 full.
Place the tray in the oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
While cooling, make the icing, but sieving the icing sugar and ginger powder into a bowl, and adding the water a bit at a time, until you form a thick(ish) paste.
Once the muffins have cooled, spread the icing onto the muffins.
I had to make myself a cup of coffee as soon as they were ready, just to make it feel like the first time.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

I don't know when it started, or why. 
But I've managed to get myself hooked onto peanut butter.
Most specifically, peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
They've become my post-clubbing snack.

Today, I thought I would move away from the sandwiches, and onto the next most obvious peanut butter snack.

125g Plain Flour
125g Caster Sugar
1 egg
50g Butter
2 (large) tbsp Crunchy Peanut Butter

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, until it comes together to form a dough.
If the dough is a bit dry, and not completely coming together, just add a sprinkle of water, and it should be sorted out.
Break off evenly sized portions of the dough, and roll into small balls.
Place onto the baking tray evenly spaced apart, and press down a bit, either with your fingers or the back of a spoon, to flatten the balls.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
Take out of the oven, and leave to cool for a few minutes, before placing on a wire rack.

I only managed to leave them alone for 5 minutes before I had to eat one.
A nice crunchy edge, with a warm soft gooey centre.
My idea of the perfect cookie.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat the rest, before my housemates get hold of them.