Easy Banana Muffins

I love the banana loaf at Starbucks, but I can’t seem to replicate it. After several failed attempts at banana loaf (not cooked properly inside) I decided to try banana muffins. I found this recipe and it works every time. And the upside is I don’t have to cut it into portions (like banana loaf). Enjoy!!

Recipe yields about 12 large muffins, or 18 medium muffins (tins filled at half)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large bananas, mashed

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl (I use a wooden spoon). Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth.

Scoop into muffin pans.

Bake in preheated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (I start checking at 25 mins with a toothpick). Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

My Notes:

• These also taste great with a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips added to the batter. I’ve made them this way a few times.
• I used liners bought at Ikea for this batch and they worked nicely. They have a waxy interior so the muffins come out easily. They also look pretty!

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A little Mother’s Day baking

Happy Mother’s Day! We have a family dinner tonight so I used it as an excuse to make some cupcakes. I made Red Velvet and Chocolate Fudge.

I love the Betty Crocker Red Velvet batter but the icing that comes with it sucks. Now that I’m used to working with buttercream, I find it so runny and uncooperative. And as you can see, it was hard to make it look good.

I made a batch of purple buttercream for the chocolate fudge cupcakes and decided to practice my “rose swirl”. For the most part they look good but I need to work on the outer edge and tail. I would love some suggestions on how to fix them if anyone has some!

And just because there’s three boys at the dinner, I made a couple spiderman cupcakes with red icing, black piping gel and leftover sugar decorations from DS1s birthday. I was a little rushed as they were at the end of the baking session and I had to wrap up, but they aren’t bad. I know if I slowed down I could make the “webbing” look better. But I suspect the boys won’t be critiquing my work 🙂

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Final cake project

I can’t believe a week has passed since my final cake decorating class. Life with a 4 month old and 3 year old can be pretty chaotic at times!

During our last class we learned how to make the ribbon rose and wilton rose. After all my icing prep the day before, I was so disappointed when my stiff hot pink icing went runny and became unusable. I’m not sure what went wrong, everything else was fine. Grr!

So the teacher let me use her orange icing, which didn’t match with my cake at all, so that’s why you don’t see any roses on it. They are really finicky and I know I will need to practice them a lot to get them right.

So here’s my final cake. I’m not over the moon about it, but considering where I was before I started the course (I never baked a cake, iced a cake or decorated a cake), I’m very pleased. I know I’ll get better with practice. So a warning to nearby family and friends – I may spontaneously show up with goodies because I had an urge to “play”.

I’m most proud of the “ombré” edge. I saw it on a lot of cakes on Pinterest and it was quite easy! I started with a batch of purple icing, scooped some out and added more colouring, and then repeated it so I had three shades. I like the cakes covered in ombré rose swirls, I think I’ll try that next! It’s also much more forgiving and hides icing blemishes underneath.

I’m considering the next course, but I may actually take it on Craftsy because then I can do it on my own time. The summer is busy and it’s hard to coordinate schedules to get away for two hours. The Wilton piped flowers class on Craftsy looks interesting! I’m not sure I want to go down the path of sugar flowers or fondant until I improve at buttercream. I also don’t want to spend the money on a whole new assortment of tools.

This is a fun hobby but it’s not cheap when you’re starting out. That said, I’ve learned a lot of techniques and recipes that should save me a lot on birthday cakes and pot luck contributions in the future!

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Final cake decorating class: the homework

Tomorrow is my last class, and I’m a little sad it’s over. I’ve enjoyed my Sunday escape!

Our class homework was to bake and ice a cake and prep icing in a bunch of consistencies and colours so we can practice some final new techniques and then decorate our cake.

The cake icing went better this time, but I now know why they refer to it as the “spin of death”. You could spin the cake on the turntable for hours and still find mistakes. This is where I need to release my OCD tendencies and accept it won’t be perfect.

I picked up some great tips by watching a free buttercream course on Craftsy (I highly recommend for anyone who wants to learn!).

As you can see, it turned out pretty good! Not perfect but better than my first attempt.

Now I’m all ready to make it beautiful tomorrow. Stay tuned for pictures!

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Asparagus & Asiago “Risotto”

I found this recipe in a crock pot cookbook my mother in law lent me and was intrigued. I’ve heard risotto is time consuming and hard to make so I’ve never tried it.

I’ve made this recipe twice and it’s super easy, delicious and filling! I add Cajun seasoned chicken to it because I like the extra protein and flavour. I’d love to hear other ideas to jazz it up!

Ingredients

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup uncooked converted rice (uncle ben’s works great)

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth

½ pound asparagus spears, trimmed and broken into 1-inch pieces

1 to 1¼ cups half and half, divided

½ cup (about 4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for garnish (I used a three cheese blend with asiago for more flavour)

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, cut into small pieces

2 ounces pine nuts or slivered almonds, toasted (I haven’t tried these)

1 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Combine onion, rice, garlic and broth in slow cooker. Stir until well blended; cover and cook on HIGH 2 hours or until rice is done (liquid is absorbed – I found mine finished in closer to 90 mins).

2. Stir in asparagus and 1/2 cup half-and-half. Cover and cook on HIGH 20 to 30 minutes more or until asparagus is just tender (I found it takes about 40 mins so it isn’t too crunchy)

3. Stir in remaining ingredients, then cover and let stand 5 minutes to melt cheese. Fluff with fork and top with additional Asiago cheese (and protein like Cajun chicken) before serving.

This recipe reheats well the next day but becomes complete mush when you freeze – so freezing isn’t recommended!

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