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Mum’s Marvellous Muffins: A healthy snack and a ...

Well I have been back from Australia for just over 5 weeks now and I am still trying to get myself settled back into a daily routine. Fortunately Nutmeg hasn’t been having the same problems. Once we picked her up from the cattery and brought her home she hopped straight up onto the sofa wanting nose rubs and cuddles. All seems to be forgiven – which when dealing with cats is a good thing, however I am still sleeping with one eye open – just in case!

The time spent with my parents was very special. My husband and I spent time in Sydney, Brisbane and Airlie beach. There were some wonderful trips to nature reserves where we saw some amazing (if not slightly terrifying) wildlife. We also helped my parents move house which was an adventure in and of itself. There were restaurant visits of course but what we really enjoyed was cooking together and sharing our meals at the dining room table.

While my Dad and husband were in charge of making cocktails and occasionally throwing something on the barbeque, it was my Mum and I that did the majority of the cooking. She shared many wonderful recipes with me – some were old favourites that I hadn’t had since I was a child. Others like this muffin recipe were new to me.

I have to say this muffin recipe is one of my favourites and I have made them several times since arriving back in the UK. They are so simple to make and are perfect for breakfast or as a healthy snack during the day. They are nothing like the ’cake’ style muffins we get here in the UK and I am delighted. If I wanted cake I would eat it – but muffins should taste like muffins!

So here it is, my Mum’s Marvellous Muffin Recipe.

Ingredients:

2 ½ Cup of Raisin Bran Cereal

¼ Cup All Bran Cereal

5 dried apricots chopped in large chunks (one apricot chopped into 3 pieces works well)

5 dates chopped (same as the apricots I like to chop each date into 3 large pieces)

¼ Cup walnuts

¼ Cup dried blueberries OR cranberries

1 ½ Cup of low fat milk (I actually use 2%)

2 ½ tbsp of Oil (you can use vegetable oil or canola)

1 egg

1 ¼ Cup self raising flour

¼ Cup brown sugar

3 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp dried ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg (the magic ingredient!)

(You can also add wheat germ or any other nuts or dried fruits you like. I did use fresh blueberries which also worked well. It made the muffins really moist)

Directions

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Grease the bottom of 12 medium sized muffin tins (or see my Mum’s Top Tip below)

Mix the Raisin Bran and All Bran in a large bowl and slowly add the milk.

Let this stand until the cereal has softened (about 5 minutes)

Muffin Mixture After Adding Milk

Muffin Mixture After Adding Milk

Gradually beat in the oil and egg.

Mix the remaining ingredients (including the flour) in a separate bowl and gently stir into the cereal and milk mixture.

Mix until everything is just moistened.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove muffins and place on cooling rack.

Enjoy for breakfast with some fruit yoghurt on the side or in the afternoon with a cup of tea!

Top Tip

Greasing muffin tins is not only messy but it adds unnecessary calories to your cooking.

I have never felt comfortable cooking with parchment paper but my Mum showed me a really easy way to use it.

Cut some squares of parchment paper (I use 4 inches by 4 inches)

Fold the paper over the end of an upturned glass (my Mum used a can of olive oil spray)

Top Tip For Lining A Muffin Tin

Top Tip For Lining A Muffin Tin

You get a nice little ‘cup’ of paper that neatly slots into your muffin tin.

Getting The Muffin Tins Ready

Getting The Muffin Tins Ready

Carefully spoon the batter into each cup.

Mum's Marvellous Muffins About To Go In The Oven

Mum's Marvellous Muffins About To Go In The Oven

Once the muffins are cooked the parchment paper peels off really easily.

There was no mess and no fuss!

Mum's Marvellous Muffins

Mum's Marvellous Muffins

Please Sir, I Want Some More……..Porridge....

This past summer my husband and I had the pleasure of taking my sister on holiday to Edinburgh for a few days. It is a city we have been visiting for many years (usually for the famous fringe festival in August). I adore Scotland and for me, Edinburgh really is one of the most magical and beautiful cities in the world – yes even in the rain, although my sister might disagree with the rain part.

We stayed in a well located hostel and to our delight we noticed a small café just opposite. It looked relatively new and we didn’t remember it from any of our previous trips. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the café but we could see it through the window of our room. In the mornings we would hover by the window watching eagerly for signs of the café opening its doors.

So what exactly made this café so special? Well aside from a cosy and friendly atmosphere, they served porridge. Now there are many restaurants and cafes serving porridge in Edinburgh but this was by far the best any of us had ever tasted. The consistency was perfectly smooth, rich and creamy. But the real crowning glory of this porridge was the addition of crème fraiche and fruit jam on top. It was absolutely amazing and we couldn’t get enough of it. We ate there everyday and always had the porridge. Not only was it delicious but it prepared us for a full day of drizzly weather conditions and fringe theatre.

I had always loved porridge as a child and I confess to actually eating Quaker Porridge Oats straight out of the little packets my mom used to buy. Maple and brown sugar being my all time favourite flavour! My great grandmother also used to make me porridge and I loved the way she prepared it. She would let it simmer away on the hob and as she served it up she would put some buttered saltine crackers on top with a little splash of milk. It was always a perfect bowl of comforting goodness.

Porridge is a funny thing and people can be very particular about how it’s made. I prefer mine to be made with full fat milk and no water. This makes for a very smooth rich creamy porridge, similar to the café’s. For some though it can be a little too intense so using half milk and half water is better. Of course there is nothing wrong with just using water, but the consistency is much thinner. Personally I feel the addition of milk makes the porridge a real treat and find it help keeps me fuller for longer.

There are all sorts of wonderful ingredients you can add to porridge to make it a healthy but decadent breakfast.

• Buttered and crumbled saltine crackers (my great grandmother’s way).
• Maple syrup with chopped nuts (walnuts and pecans are delicious).
• Brown sugar with cinnamon (you can also add raisins or dried apples and apricots).
• Assorted fresh fruit and berries (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peach and apple. You can get a little more exotic and add mango or papaya and some desiccated coconut)
• Crème fraiche with a fruit jam (raspberry is especially tasty).

I won’t go on about the many health benefits of oats but they really are one of the best foods you can eat to start your day. They are good for your digestive health, they can help prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol levels, their slow release in the body can help control blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer. You can use oats in many different ways but having porridge is one of the most delicious and magical!

Porridge with Creme Fraiche and Raspberry Jam