Banana Breakfast Muffins


Last night was a strange one…  Awoken at about 2am, soaking from head to toe and covered in what looked like spangly spiders.  I also remember frantically searching for the light switch saying something (not sure what though) to scare the spiders away….ewwww…it makes me shiver thinking about it.

My head is possibly trying to adjust after all the assignment writing those past few months, or it could be the research methods philosophy I am trying make sense of.  However, I put it down to the head and foot massage I gave Andy last night to relieve him of the stress he was swimming in due to a presentation he has to do today.   Lucky Andy, he slept right though the night, which, for him, is strange.  His energy must have transferred over to me during the massage, but he doesn’t seem to think that’s true.    Anyway, to relieve myself of the light trauma from last nights spider hallucinations, I  decided the perfect solution was to bake cakes for breakfast, just something quick, so thanks to my trustworthy banana cake recipe it saved the day 😛 well, so far…

Hot from the oven…I forgot how good they tasted…would you like one? (by the way, I know what you’re thinking, “is that all she can cook?” … it’s not honest…it’s just that they’re sooo quick to make and absolutely satisfying).

No chocolate this time, and a little less sugar too…oh yeah, and I used half and half wholemeal and plain flour…the healthier option 😛

♡ Chilli Chocolate Slices ♡


White chocolate is marketed by confectioners a...

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Chocolate is my vice, especially on days like these when you have to study.  I will do anything to put me into a mindset to open a 700 page textbook.  Luckily I don’t have to look too far.  A bar of 75% chocolate is all it takes for me.

My morning net search took me to my new favourite food blog ‘My Darling lemon Thyme’ where I found a scrumptious looking chilli chocolate slice recipe.  I can’t wait to try out more of her mouth watering recipes.  Take a look, I’m sure you will all agree.

Like any recipe I want to try out without pre-planning, there are always ingredients you never have.   In this case, I had already finished off the last of my blueberries over breaky so I used some dried fruit, and I have also never bought tapioca flour before so I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of corn flour.  There seems to always be substitutions on hand so the baking commenced and the results were just as I had expected, utterly satisfying.  Now where is that textbook of mine?

Information and image taken directly from My Darling Lemon Thyme’s blog;

chocolate, chilli and blueberry slice
This recipe is gluten-free and can easily be dairy-free by using margarine in place of butter and by making sure you use a good quality dark chocolate that’s dairy-free. I used trade aid dark chocolate. As I’ve mentioned before, get to know your chillies. I used 1 whole long chilli, but you may want to go for less or more depending on how hot you chillies are and how hot you want the end result. If you eat wheat, substitute the rice and tapioca flours for 3/4 cup plain flour or spelt flour.  Makes about 20 slices

  • 200 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 125 g butter/ margarine
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar (or use soft brown sugar)
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen/ fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup almond meal/ ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (white rice flour is fine)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat your oven to 15o degrees/ 275-300 f. Grease yourself a slice pan about 20 x 20 cm. Line the base and sides with baking paper and make sure about 2cm of paper extends up and over the edges of the pan.
Melt chocolate, butter, sugar and chilli together in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour into a large bowl and set aside for 10 mins to cool slightly. Gently stir in flours, almond meal and eggs until combined. Fold through blueberries. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth off the top with the back of your spoon/ spatula.
Bake 35-45 mins or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave to cool in the pan before cutting into small squares, dusting with cocoa powder and devouring! Or if you have some serious restraint, hold off eating till tomorrow.
NB If using fresh berries I’d say they would take about 30-35 mins. If using Frozen like I did, allow a little longer – mine took 45 mins to cook.
Heavily adapted from a little women’s day cookbook called “Family favourites – easy biscuits and slices”.

Manly Banana Cinnamon Cupcakes



Here you will find my yummy banana loaf recipe in the shape of little manly style cupcakes.  I was going make a traditional cup cake recipe with all the frills and a variety of flavours, but I didn’t!   Instead, I settled on, in my opinion, the perfect sponge.  They are like mini banana loaf buns, however, this time I topped them with a chocolate & cinnamon cream cheese frosting for added naughtiness.  They do look a little manlier than your usual cup cake, don’t they?  So that’s who I made them for, a newly turned 30-year-old man. Welcome to my world!

Happy Birthday Tom!!

Ingredients:

  • 113g butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar (granulated, caster, or mix in some demerara, whatever you have to hand)
  • 1 cup self raising flour (I couldn’t find self raising here in Japan so used all purpose)
  • [1.5 tsp baking powder & 1/2 tsp salt] – if you use all purpose
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 medium, very ripe bananas
  • Handful crushed walnuts
  • 1 tsp heaped cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1 bar of chocolate (broken into small pieces)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 130 degrees
  2. Grease a muffin tray with butter or marg
  3. Mash the bananas with a sturdy fork or blend in a blender
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs
  5. Mix together the mushy bananas.
  6. Mix in the sieved flour and spices
  7. Mix in the chocolate raisins and crushed walnuts.
  8. divide evenly between muffin holes and bake for 40 minutes
  9. check for they’re by piercing the center of a cup cake. If it comes out clean, cool at room temperature then decorate as desired.

Blueberry Porridge


It’s porridge time!!   Today brings delicious Quaker oats filled with bubble bursting blueberries.  Little bubbles of joy, just popping away in your mouth accompanied with fresh crunch from seeds and nuts.  My tummy loves me 😉

Ingredients:  2-3 portions

  1. 1/2 cup Quakers oatmeal
  2. 1 cup soy milk
  3. 1 cup spring water
  4. 100g fresh blueberries
  5. 2 tsp ground cinnamon (I love the strong cinnamon taste, so start with 1 then increase as desired)
  6. 1 banana
  7. sprinkle of seeds and nuts and raisins (I used a pre-mixed selection from the co-op)
  8. drizzle of honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. Warm 2-3 bowls in your oven at 100°C
  2. Then in a medium-sized saucepan on a med-high head, add the first 5 ingredients and stir continuously scraping the mixture from the bottle as you stir to avoid burning
  3. When it comes to the boil the mixture should begin to thicken
  4. when it has reached a soupy, but thick consistency transfer to the warmed bowls
  5. Sprinkle your seeds,nuts,dried fruit mixture and banana then serve and eat immediately.

An Almond Obsession


An empty kitchen = empty blog posts.  I am literally living in a shell.  I’m sitting on the floor with my laptop on a tray on my knees surrounded by nothing but bags of recycling and boxed up clothes and goodies all ready to go!  This will possibly be my last post in Japan 😦

Only 8 days till I fly back to bonny Scotland and already I am having nostalgia for my Nippon loves.

The list is a long one.  I’ll probably come back to that sometime soon, but today feeling a little rough after too many good-bye drinks.  Right now, I have a huge craving for almonds!!  I want the, lovely, delicious, raw, naturally sweet fresh crunchy ones. I could eat a bucket of them just as they are…mmmm…

(image taken from planetbeauty.com)

While I fantasize over the little beauties here is what I haven’t made yet.  My mouth is watering at the thought of it.

All thanks to Joy the baker she has made the process look so easy…perfect!

What’s more, this delicious treat remains completely guilt free.  Some even say almonds are the king of nuts 😉

They ooze goodness, a one-ounce, 160 calorie serving of almonds (about a handful) stuffed with vitamin E and Magnesium, monounsaturated fat, protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron.

No need to limit yourself to only eating this power food, they contain a nourishing beautiful skin food, vitamin E, so after making the milk, you will be left with almond remains which you can use to make a body scrub.

  1. Fill a sealable container about 2/3 full of the left over almonds
  2. add enough olive oil to make a thick paste
  3. add 1-2 tablespoons of pure honey and stir well
  4. This scrub will work fine on its own, but if you would like to add a little fragrance add your desired essential oil, just enough to meet your desired strength.
  5. Until you are ready to use it, seal the lid of the jar and store in a cool dry place.

No more time to waste, I’m off to get some supplies and get to work on this now.

Blueberry Smoothie for breaky anyone?


Here is a modification of my earlier smoothie.  The tofu macha one.

This one is now my new favourite.  It’s stunning, delicious, wholesome, filling, satisfying, healthy, wonderful.  WOW!!

It was a hot morning, so porridge was not even considered.  This one fits the weekend breakfast perfectly followed by a small leftover toasted slice of my carrot cake.  Ok, so the intention to cut down on the sugar is there, but it is the weekend after all 🙂 Well… I did go swimming, so that may have burnt of the unnecessary calories, ehe?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 300g silken or firm tofu
  • 1 cup of spring water
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 ripe frozen banana
  • 4 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients (not the ice) into the blender and pulse until smooth
  2. fill 2 glasses with the ice, pour the purple deliciousness into the glasses, sit back and enjoy.
  3. There is more for seconds too 🙂
  4. If you like it thinner, just add water until you reach your desired consistency

Summery Strawberry Mousse


I had this one for breaky as it’s not over sweet and the fresh sweetness of  the strawberries is so inviting and comforting.  It tastes rich, but completely healthy and low in calories, what more can you ask for?

If not for breakfast, I also think this would be a great spread for scones or sandwiched in a sponge cake.

I initially wanted to make a chocolate orange tofu mousse, but forgot to buy the chocolates and orange…doh!  The strawberries were calling out for me to buy them.  They looked too vibrant and juicy to resist…aaand they were a bargain!  Bonus!

So here you have it, a baby of tofu, ginger and strawberries was born and devoured almost immediately.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tub of firm tofu
  • 1/2 a punnet of strawberries (10 – 12 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon of pure natural honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth and creamy
  2. transfer into small ramekins then chill in the fridge until you are ready to serve

What makes you smile on a gloomy day?


Wow when will it stop raining?  It almost feels like Scotland here in Kochi right now.

I’m now on a mission to cheer myself up.   What do you usually do to lighten the mood when it’s the greyest of greys outside?

Besides baking and eating cakes my number 1 is listening to Joanna Newsom, especially when I want to feel creative.  My number 2 is painting, but the light is too gloomy to make the most beautiful of paintings look decent (that may just be an excuse for today).  Next in line after listening to Joanna, would be listening to a very eclectic Japanese musician, who owns the quirkiest of cafes in Hiroshima (One of our best finds since coming to Japan) Her name is Goto Izumi.  Her music is a desired taste, but makes me smile every time.  You can find her here.

Oh I almost forgot, before all of the above my all time pick me up is, of course, my out of this world, magic potion, cinnamon porridge. ahhhh shiawase 🙂

Sadly this can only fill a very small portion of my day.   Bellow you will see what is next on the BendiBenri list of rice cooker delights.  Not as flawless as those you will find in restaurants or izakaya, but still delicious, perhaps fresher and definitely healthier.

Simple salad Maki with a herby crunchy salad and ginger Miso soup.

Tofu and Blueberry Scones



Toasted Scone Variation 2


Wow it’s almost March and it has taken me till now to write my first post of the year. Oh dear! However, my lack of posting hasn’t meant lack of cooking. Quite the opposite actually, although I do seem to return to the same dishes over and again. I can’t seem to part with tofu. This ingredient is my partner in crime. I’m just so excited by its versatility and lack of naughtiness. There’s no looking back it’s here to stay and I’m gonna make you love it as much as I do.
From looking back at recipes I have been using, I really need to start pushing the boat a bit more in terms of experimenting with different flavours, methods and styles. That doesn’t mean that I am going to try or even think of attempting more complex recipes or gourmet style. Convenience and nutrition is always going to be key in my collection of recipes. The recipes here will always be easy, always delicious and always healthy. If you are into that too, then perfect!
Just the other day Andy was telling me how much he is bored of his usual egg in the mornings. One a day for almost 2 years straight I’m surprised he hasn’t become allergic to them.
After browsing the Internet for ideas I stumbled upon yogurt scones. They are easy to make and freezable, they are the perfect choice for convenience. But, would they work in the rice cooker? Only one way to find out.
At that time I didn’t have any yogurt in my fridge, Only half a block of tofu a dribble of soy milk and about 60 g cooking marg. Hmmm…blended tofu it is then.
I made one big scone in the cooker, which rose beautifully. The taste test was next and OMG… ridiculous!! Maaaaan this stuff is amazing! Stays moist and fresh in the fridge for a whole week.
We toasted it under the grill to eat plain with green tea, beautiful, not too sweet, just a hint. Sooooo moist and melt in the mouth that you wouldn’t want to ruin it by smothering it with jam or butter. In saying that it would probably taste amazing with a runny poached egg!! 🙂

Toasted Scone Variation 2


Right, here’s the recipe.    I made them twice changing the recipe the second time around.   Both recipes are equally as delicious.
Scone variation 1:(apologies for lack of image for this variation)

  • 1/2 a block of blended firm/silken tofu 150 g (3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups of plain or whole grain sieved flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60 g marg. /butter at room temp.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup blueberries

Directions:

  1. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together with the sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Add the margarine in pieces then rub into the flour with your fingertips making bread crumbs.
  3. Make a weld in the centre of the bread crumbs and pour in the blended tofu (if you are blending firm tofu, you’ll need to add a little water or soy milk to thin it).
  4. Fold in the tofu with a knife forming a dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface and form into a round.
  6. Pierce a few holes in the dough with your knife and insert the blueberries.
  7. Grease the rice cooker pan and drop in the dough and close the lid.
  8. Set the cooker to 60 min and let the magic happen.
  9. When cooking time is over, cool on a wire rack before cutting and storing in the fridge or freezer.

When your ready to eat it, for best results toast it under the grill to crisp it up a bit. nomnomnom…

Tofu and Blueberry Scones Variation 2:


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60g butter/margarine at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup blended silken/firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • handful of raisins
  • Use the same methods as in variation 1 except with the oat meal, break it down in the blender to more of a powder then mix into the flour.

    This one is my healthier option.  You’ll find it’s a little heavier and dense in comparison to the variation 1 and perhaps a little less bready and more cakey.  Still, it is still worth trying out.   This one will definitely be the one I return to.  Enjoy!

    If you have any other suggestions to improve these, please leave a comment.

    I understand that not everyone owns a rice cooker, but all of my rice cookers can easily be adapted for the more traditional methods.

    For this recipe simply preheat your oven to 250 degrees.  Dust a baking sheet with flour and lay out your scone(s).  Cook for 20 – 30 mins




    Scrumptious Cinnamon Porridge


    This is my weekend breakfast and look forward to it all week 🙂 It’s also one I make for any friends who happen to stay over. It seems to work every time. No complaints so far.

    I originally found this recipe in a weight watchers recipe book my mum had. I’ve pretty much stuck to the recipe, however there may be a few tweaks here and there.

    The great thing about oatmeal is that its filled with essential vitamins, it’s an excellent source of soluble fibre. It wonderfully slows down your digestive system making you feel fuller for longer.  Perfect if you are trying to watch what you eat.

    Also, The options of preparing oats are endless. I like to keep it simple.  I don’t like overdoing it with mountains of mixed dried fruit as, for me, it spoils the goodness.  What I have been doing lately is adding fresh/frozen blueberries, just before the oats come to the boil.  Another power food I can’t seem to get enough of.  They don’t overpower, but offer small subtly flavoured bubbles, which delightfully pop in your mouth with almost every bite.

    Give them a go.

    If you have any other variations you need to share, please leave a comment.  I will take any excuse to make a bowl of oats.

    This one is for you Sofie x

    Ingredients

    quantities for 1 serving.

    1/4 cup rolled oats
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup milk
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 banana
    a few raisins
    drizzle honey to taste

    How to:

    1. add oatmeal, water and milk to the pan
    2. turn heat to medium and stir continuously
    3. add cinnamon.
    4. Bring to the boil stir and watch it thicken.
    5. When its bubbling and nice and thick but still soupy turn off the heat and pour into a bowl
    6. Chop your banana on the top then sprinkle the raisins.
    7. If, like me you have a big sweet tooth drizzle a little honey to finish.

    Enjoy 🙂

    Variation : Instead of banana grate 1/2 an apple and add it to the oatmeal when cooking.