Playdate and a banana muffin recipe

We just completed our second (homeschooling) session! Oh what fun! The three mothers were tasked to conduct the various segments and I must say I learnt quite a fair bit from my fellow mummies!

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We learnt about the colour blue the previous session and this time round, it was red. After the welcome song, C got the kids to learn about RED by showing them items with that colour. It was a quick segment since we realised that our young kids get bored and couldn’t sit still for long.

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Next, Sab read a story entitled ‘Are you my Mummy’ and got the children’s attention. The illustration was colourful and the kids got to feel the furry material too. I guess our kids have been educated on animals and the older ones could call out the names of some animals. Faith? She was just distracted by the many toys in the house.

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We did some craftwork as a follow up to the reading. Using toilet paper roll and some scraps of paper, we made a duck! I thought it is quite a good idea since we could teach the kiddos the different parts of the body as we pieced them together.

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Right after that, the kids played with homemade dough as free play. This was the first time that Faith interacted with dough and she didn’t dare to touch it, let alone do some cut outs with it. I think I have to expose her to more materials from now on! *think sensory play*

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 I am in charge of refreshment this week and I made a bento (kind of) with cranberry buns, banana muffins and fruits. I seriously love how the Japanese present their food and want to do the same. So, you can expect more bentos from me too!

I like this session a lot because it is also a time for the mummies to rest and catch up with one another. As expected, the boy could finish whatever was presented to him while the girls had some slight problem. But no worries!

I love the idea of placing the food items on the tray because this teaches the kids personal space. This time round, Faith couldn’t finish her food. How rare!

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After the makan session, it’s Quiet Time. We wanted to instill this in the kids so that they will know how to be quiet before the Lord as they grow up. For now, it’s really just for them to get down and rest while we pray for them. You may think it is easy but the kids were trying to get up every now and then! 5 minutes….just for 5 minutes!

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The last session is on Practical Life which was somewhat the same as the previous session. The kids got to scoop cotton balls from one container to the other, match caps with the respective bottles and to match shapes using theMelissa N Doug puzzles. With a goodbye song, the children bade farewell to one another and so our 2-hour session ended! So fast!

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Banana Muffin Recipe
(Makes about 10 – 12 medium size muffins)

Ingredients:

4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
250 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
80 g caster sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
60 g milk
60 g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1 or 2 banana, sliced into 1/2cm chunks

1. Sieve flour, baking powder and cinnamon ground together. Set aside.

2. In a big bowl. Stir and mix butter, milk, eggs and vanilla together. Add in sugar and salt. Mix till well combined and add in the mashed bananas. Mix well.

3. Fold in the sieve flour at one time and mix slowly till well combined. Remember not to over stir the batter.

4. Scoop the batter into the paper cup, add the sliced banana chunks and cover it with some batter. Fill about 8/10 of the batter, leave some space for the muffin to raise when we bake them. I have some caramel and walnuts left from previous bakes and added the caramel in between the batter and sprinkle some chopped toasted walnuts on top.

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5. Bake at preheated oven at 175c for 20mins or till it’s cooked, when the toothpick inserted at the center of the cakes came out clean. Every oven is different so you have to trial and test!

* Note to self: The next time I bake these, I will try brown sugar and see the difference it makes.

 

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Apple streusel muffins

P1090461This is the season for apple picking and oh, how I miss this activity!

Doesn’t matter. Even though I can’t pick apples, surely I can bake something with them. I like that I could taste the apples pieces in these muffins and surely love the streusel. I thought the creme fraiche added some twist to the sweetness which can be rather refreshing. Hah!

Am keeping this recipe as I find that the muffins turn out well and delish. I like how they rise and look at the end of the day. They have got some character!

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Apple Streusel Muffins (Adapted from The Kitchn)

Yields 12 muffins

For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar ( I used light brown sugar)
226g crème fraîche (or full-fat sour cream)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
113g unsalted butter, melted and still warm
2 medium-sized baking apples, peeled, cored and diced into irregular pieces

For the streusel:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar ( I used light brown sugar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
57g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a regular-sized muffin tin generously with cooking spray, both inside the cups and over the top or use muffin cases.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, crème fraîche, and vanilla. Add the melted butter, pouring in a slow and steady stream, while whisking vigorously to emulsify the mixture.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold until the liquid is just barely combined, being careful not to over-mix. (A few lumps are okay.) Stir in the chopped apples. Fill each muffin well all the way to the top with batter; set aside while preparing the streusel. Yup. if you are fearful that the muffins will rise a lot and so overflow, don’t worry. They WON’T.

For the streusel, add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and gently stir with a fork until well combined and small pebble-sized pieces remain throughout.

Top each filled well with a heaping tablespoon of streusel, lightly pressing it into the batter. (A round cookie cutter placed over the cup helps keep the mess to a minimum.) Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. The batter can be made in advance and held in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or frozen for 2 weeks (thaw overnight in the fridge before using.)

Blackberry and Lemon Muffins

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The other day when I was shopping for grocery, the blackberries were on sale. Thus far, I have baked with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries but none with blackberries and decided to buy one (small) box.

So what can you bake with them? I could mostly think of using them as decorations on cakes or cheesecakes but then decided on doing something simple like muffins. This recipe is adapted from Simply Recipes and I thought the muffins lack something crunchy and topped each up with a pecan nut. 🙂

I’m not sure if I like these muffins but here you are. Hope your Monday has been great.

Blackberry and Lemon Muffins
[Yields about 18 muffins]

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Grated zest of 1 small lemon, about a heaping tablespoon
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
8 Tbsp warm melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh blackberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Prepare 2 muffin tins with 18 liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, butter and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix together just until evenly combined. Add the blackberries and gently fold into the batter. Careful not to over mix, that can cause tough muffins.

Divide the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for just a few minutes, until the muffins are cool enough to handle and transfer to a wire rack.

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Strawberry, apple and almond breakfast muffins

Fancy a fruity and quick-to-make muffins? I’ll suggest making these muffins. Once you have amassed all ingredients, all you need to do is to mix them together. No mixer or any complicated tools needed. Perfect!

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I like these muffins because I can literally taste the fruits (in this case, strawberries and apples) as I fill my stomach. It is not too sweet and if you really want it to be more wholesome, reduce the amount of sugar and replace it with raisins or cranberries! I like it that these muffins are soft and fluffy unlike some other dense versions of them. The top is caramelized since a morsel of light brown sugar has been sprinkled on each muffin.

Bake them for your family or colleagues. They would love this gesture of yours!

Adapted from What Katie Ate: Recipes and other bits and pieces
Makes 12

1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Large pinch of fine salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
113g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
6 large strawberries, hulled and quartered
Handful sliced blanched almonds
1-2 tbsp light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400F/204C.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper baking cups or use 12 muffin baking cups.

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Place the flour, almond flour, castor sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the vanilla IMG_0426extract, melted butter, beaten egg and 3/4 cup warm water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon, then add theapple and gently stir to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup to about 3/4 full.

Place two strawberry quarters on top of each muffin, then sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

The first day of school

My facebook feed was swarmed with friends posting photos of their child going to school – nursery, kindergartens, primary schools. It must have been a very nerve-racking experience for both parents and child. After all, it is a whole new experience and like many have expressed, “My child has grown up!”

So while the rest of the world were getting excited about school, I was getting ready to train Faith into settling into a routine. Not that we did not have one previously. Just that I wanted her to learn to get into sleep herself without having to have us cradle or pat her to sleep.

And I suspect babies do understand when we tell them certain things. I was telling Faith that she needed to fall asleep by herself and when I did that, for the rest of the day, she practically achieved that! I was amazed!

Definitely, the book – The contented little baby book- that I was reading helped in setting the routine. Though I couldn’t follow the timing to the letter, I was already contented that Faith could rely less on us to sleep, leaving me with pockets of time to do the household chores in peace.

So, with that, my achievements for the rest of the day were:
– Cleaning Faith without much crying (she, not me)
– Washing and drying her laundry
– Mopping the floor
– Ironing the hubs’ clothes
– Reading to Faith (without much success; she isn’t that interested)
– Tummy time for Faith and with her landing on the face (bad mommy!)
– Cleaning and sterilising bottles
– Wash dishes
– Bake!

So, with a window period of 1 hour after her morning feed, I was thinking it would be a waste of time if I just relax and drink my milo. So, the hands started to itch again and decided to bake! Anyway, I need to have something to munch during breaks (do mothers always eat when they are at home? I do!)

Decided to do something simple since I know she would wake up not long after. It’s chocolate muffins from the hummingbird bakery cookbook. The result is a moist and decadent eat! I like! Please use good quality chocolate if you intend to bake this.

And I am pleased that Faith was able to sleep throughout the night (from 10.30pm to 4.30pm) which was a far cry from her previous routine in which she would wake up at around 1 am to be fed. Please stay this way! Hurray!

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Blueberry crumble muffins

When there is discount for fruits at the supermarket, you bet I will be one of the many who will take advantage of it. So into the basket went 2 packs of blueberries and kiwi fruits.

The breakfast supplies have run out and how apt to bake something simple and perhaps (depends on how much sugar you want to add) healthy.

This is taken from Keiko’s Okashi: sweet treats made with love.

Makes 6
Crumble topping
20g unsalted butter, softened
20g caster sugar
20g cake flour, sifted
10g ground almonds

Muffins
120g cake flour
1tsp baking powder
100g fresh blueberries
50g unsalted butter, softened
40g brown sugar
30g castor sugar
1 egg, about 65g
60g cold fresh whole milk

1. Make crumble topping. Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Chill in the refrigerator until use.

2. Preheat oven to 180C. Sift flour and baking powder twice. Set aside 18 blueberries.

3. Beat butter with an electric handheld mixer until soft and creamy. I only have standmixer and it poses quite a problem since the portion is a tad too little for the beater to ‘catch’ the butter. Add both sugars and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well-combined.

4. Add 1/3 of flour and fold in with a spatula. Add half of milk and continue to fold batter gently. Add another 1/3 of flour and fold in, followed by the remaining milk. Add remaining flour and fold through, but do not over-mix. Add remaining blueberries and fold in gently.

5. Line muffin tray with muffin paper cases (I don’t have nice ones at hand!). Spoon batter into cases until about 3/4 full. Divide the 18 blueberries among each muffin, then sprinkle crumble topping over. Bake for about 25-30 minutes (I need 10 minutes more) or until muffins have a springy texture when pressed gently.

6. Leave muffins to cool on a wire rack. They are best served warm and consumed the day they are baked, or the day after. If not consuming immediately, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

The hungry Mama could not resist and took the first bite.

Raspberry bran muffin

19 more days before we depart and bid sayonaro to Boston. Looking at the current state of the kitchen, I still have a lot of things to clear. Flour, noodles, rice, sauces…I probably wouldn’t be able to clear them before that date. Nonetheless, I will keep on trying!

If there’s anything that I will miss during my time here, it would be the many wonderful friends that I have made and baking. The company makes a difference wherever you are and to be able to meet so many fun-loving and God-fearing friends is just a precious gift from the Lord. They are just…different.

Baking. Oh! How I will miss this new-found hobby when I go back home. Not that I will totally abandon it, but I also know that work will constitute a large part of my life and along with all other commitments, baking has to take back seat. Now with about 2 weeks to go before I depart from my beloved standmixer, all the more I will want to spend more time baking.

This recipe is created because I didn’t have some of the ingredients from another recipe. So, I decided to just play around and see if it works.

I guess it does. Muffins and cupcakes are just some of the things that you wouldn’t mess up terribly even if you are a novice. As an amateur, the first baked goods I made were muffins and cookies and they turned out okay. This one is moist, not too sweet and delicious. I wanted to stop after having the first bite but I failed.

Since this is just an attempt, I halved the original amount for baking 12 muffins. Using the standard muffin pan, I was able to yield 8 in the end.

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooked
1/8 cup brown sugar, plus more for topping
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 large egg
1/4 cup honey (didn’t really have enough amount and top it up with light corn syrup)
1/8 cup canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose oil
1/2 cup FARINA (wheat germ), lightly toasted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 cup raspberry

 1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan (you won’t yield all 12).

3. In a large bowl, whisk by hand the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add the egg and whisk to combine.

4. Add the honey and canola oil. Whisk until emulsified.

5. Add the flour, FARINA, baking soda, and yogurt, and whisk together just until combined.

6. Fill in the muffin cups about 3/4 full. Top with the raspberries. Crumble a little brown sugar on top of the fruit.

7. Bake in the oven until the cake springs back and the tops are golden brown about 20 to 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Yay!

I realised that my MacBook Pro could accept the AVCHD files without their conversion to other acceptable format in iMovie! That’s really a good piece of news! I can finally make movies and this without purchasing or installing any other software.

It worked just then and I only need to maneuver my way into iMovie now.  Hope it truly can work!

Zucchini muffins (yields 12)

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Independence Day

Savory item – Ham and mushroom cheese muffins. Off to NYC for a few days. Happy Independence Day, America!

The first time I baked this in May 2010, I cried. The muffins turned out horrid and I had to throw the whole batch away. Something was wrong but I couldn’t figure it out. I decided to try again today since I had ham and mushrooms in the fridge and they needed to be used. Replacing cheddar cheese with Gruyere cheese, the final product was passable though still a bit tough. It reminded me of FFWD’s savory cheese and ham bread which I like. I’m just glad I didn’t have to throw away stuff today. =)

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Allspice crumb muffins

Muffins are those that fall under the category of Quick Breads because they don’t need the long fermentation time that traditional yeast- risen breads require. Instead, quick bread recipes rely upon chemical leaveners – baking soda and baking power – for their rise, and once the batter is mixed, it goes directly into the oven.

There are three mixing methods for quick bread and this recipe here uses the Muffin Method. It is sometimes called the quick-bread method and this technique involves blending the dry ingredients in one bowl and the other liquid ingredients in another and then combining the two just until moistened. You want to mix until no streaks of flour or pools of liquid remain. Don’t worry too much about lumps remaining in the batter; they’ll disappear during the baking process. Be careful not to overmix! Should you do so, the muffins or quick bread will be tough and chewy and you will see some tunneling in the crumb – a sure sign that too much gluten was developed during mixing.

Good muffins have a slightly uneven, coarse texture.

So, these are breakfast for today. What’s yours?

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Banana Nut Bread Muffins

Banana bread is a quick bread, made with a chemical leavening such as baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast. Banana bread batter also makes great muffins. Make them with young children; they’ll love it!

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Not in but not out!

About a month ago, I signed up for the Project Food Blog contest and today was the announcement of the result. Me? I didn’t advance to the next stage BUT it’s not the end of the world!

Through this contest, I realised there were MANY out there who were interested in food, be it cooking or baking them, eating (but of course!) and taking photographs and writing about them and there is really a BIG community out there! It was indeed an eye-opener and I was inspired by them in many ways.

So, I’m not in but I’m still cooking/baking all the same! Having received the gift, I decided to use it just to make sure it functions well. It’s blueberry muffins, following MS’ recipe. Easy bake and I’m all set for a day trip tomorrow! To my friends who have been working real hard for the Olive run and fellow contestants who have advanced, here’s s treat for you! Enjoy the next stage! I’ll be following closely! =)

Apple crumble muffins

I’m counting down to relocating to Boston for 1.5 years and that would also mean that I need to use up whatever ingredients I have in the storage. Obviously, they are different types of flour, fats and nuts. I wanted to call it a day for baking until Boston but the itchy hands couldnt rest.

So while the hubs was packing away, I looked into the fridge and saw apples. So it shall be apple crumble muffins. Unfortunately I did not have fine sugar and thus replaced it with muscovado sugar and hoped that it would turn out fine. Again, there wasn’t sufficent almond powder to make up the right proportion and I replaced it with walnuts. This could give some crunch to the toppings!

And the day proceeded with an unfortunate event – I melted my plastic measuring cup in the oven and I thought I have checked twice!! This was not the first time that I have melted a similar cup and how could I?

The muffins turned out fine but a little bland at the bottom. They suit mama fine and I’m pleased with that.

Apple Crumble Muffins

I just bought a book intending to give it as a gift to an eight-year-old and thought I should try one of the recipes to see if it is that easy to bake. It IS easy.

Makes 12 muffins

For the topping:
50g unsalted butter, chilled
50g Demerara sugar (or caster sugar)
50g plain flour
50g ground almonds

For the base:
275g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
175g caster sugar
1 unwaxed lemon
150g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
100ml milk
2 medium eating-apples, washed

1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
2. Make the topping first. Cut the butter into small pieces and put it into a mixing bowl with the sugar, flour and ground almonds. Use the ‘rubbing-in’ method until they look like small peas. Set aside.
3. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar to the bowl and mix in with a wooden spoon.
4. Carefully grate the yellow zest from the lemon leaving the white pith on the fruit. Add to the bowl and stir in. Make a well in the centre of the ingredients.
5. Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Pour into the well.
6. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat then with a fork. Tip into thw well in the mixing bowl and then pour in the milk. Mix gently with a wooden spoon.
7. Spoon the mixture into the paper muffin cases (about 1/2 as they will rise).
8. Carefully cut each apple into quarters, then cut out the core. Roughly chop the apples. Scatter the apple pieces on top of the muffin mixture. Sprinkle the topping over the apples.
9. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove the tray from the oven and leave to cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and leave to cool completely Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.

Source: Baking with kids by Linda Collister

ham & mushroom muffins

3 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup whole milk
1 egg
2 1/2 oz. smoked ham, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Makes 12 muffins

Steps:
1. Preheat oven 170 degrees.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then fry onion and mushrooms until cooked. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.
3. Put the flour, baking powder, and cheese in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and egg together, then pour into the flour mixture and beat with a handheld electric whisk.
4. Stir in the onion, mushrooms and chopped ham with a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed.
5. Spoon the batter into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until deep golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the muffins cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Source: The hummingbird bakery cookbook.