Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Banana Crumble Muffins

Noel has annual leave this week and it was so nice to come home to dinner already cooked for us (Noel cooked Shepherds Pie - a family favourite) .... so with nothing else to do I had a "Stepford Wife" moment and decided to do some baking.  I really enjoy baking but find myself so time poor at times that it is impossible to squeeze the extra enjoyable activity in unless I have nothing to do or I get bored.
So with the urge to bake then came the huge decision of what to bake??  Looking across to the fruit bowl I spotted a few bananas left from last weeks' shop (so they were nice and ripe).  Banana muffins came to mind but I didn't want to make just the normal banana muffins - you know the boring ones with no character or define flavour.  Searching through recipe books and googling I remember that I had recently come a different recipe on the Rachael Ray website.
Ok armed with all the ingredients I went ahead and made Banana Crumble Muffins... Perfect Banana Crumble Muffins.  Oh and WOW they were perfect...
Moist on the inside, crunchy crumble topping... so nice especially while still a little warm.  Definitely a flavour explosion in your mouth.  The crumble topping will be used again on other fruit muffins but this recipe is a keeper.

Banana Crumble Muffins
(recipe adapted from Rachael Ray)

Makes 12 muffins
Smart Points Per Serve: SP Warning

Crumble topping
3/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold reduced fat butter (cut into small pieces)

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium, ripe bananas
1 egg
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt. Then with your hands, work in the butter until large clumps form. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add egg, oil and vanilla and mix well.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir until it just comes together

Fill prepared muffin tins halfway then evenly distribute crumble topping over the muffins.

Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mexican Beef and Bean Pasta Bake

Once again it's been a long time between blogs.... I am finding myself with more and more excuses keeping me away from something that I really enjoy doing.  Life has been so busy with March and April it actually quite embarrassing.  With a daughter turning 15 and a son turning 18, both having parties and family get togethers to help celebrate all while the footy season has started once again.  There should really be no major time issues as it's not its the first year that this has ever happened - it just seems to get harder and harder each year even though these things happen year in year out?  Maybe when I'm old and grey sitting at home bored I will get to answer my own questions....  until then I must soldier on and enjoy what I can which as you all know is cooking and blogging.
I've decided being so time poor I do need to focus on weeknight wonder dishes - ones that take minimal preparation and more importantly minimal time while still satisfying the tastebuds.  Saying this, at the moment some nights I would more that happily eat beans on toast with a fried egg on top - one of my favourite meals of all time, believe it or not!
One of my favourite flavours of all times is Mexican and both the kids love pasta so this dinner was a no-brainer when it came to knowing that it would be a hit in the Murray household.  Not only was the flavour perfect but this Mexican Beef and Bean Pasta Bake fit perfectly into the requirements of easy, quick and tasty.  Surprisingly it was bursting with flavour considering the minimum effort required.
I used my homemade taco seasoning rather than the packaged version but that was by my choice.  It has none of the preservatives or additives and while it adds a more authentic taste to the dish it's also bursting with flavour.  We like it a little more spicy so I did actually add extra by doubling the quantity required. 
Even though this was a simple recipe the bake is jam-packed with vegetables making it a perfect serving but it could easily be served with a nice green salad. 

Mexican Beef and Bean Pasta Bake
(recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Australia)

Serves: 6
SmartPoints per serve: 11

500 grams lean beef mince
cooking spray spray
200 grams pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
1 medium red capsicum, coarsely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
30 grams homemade taco seasoning or packet taco seasoning 
400grams canned diced tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, chopped
240 grams canned red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
180 grams canned corn kernels, drained
60 grams 50% Less Fat Tasty Cheddar Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced. Lightly spray a 2L (8-cup) capacity ovenproof dish with oil. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet instructions, or until just tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and capsicum and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add mince and cook, breaking up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Stir in taco spice mix and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, zucchini and ½ cup (125ml) water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until zucchini is just tender and mixture has thickened. Add pasta, beans and corn and mix to combine.

Spoon mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden. Serve.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)