Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cupcakes- Easiest ever

These are the easiest moist cupcakes you can throw together within minutes, and best of all you are likely to have all the ingredients in your pantry. The recipe is from an old magazine clipping, but I've added a few tweaks to my taste. We didn't have a reason to bake, just that my daughter (no.1) woke up this morning with a desire for 'fairy cakes'. And since Daughter 2 can now tolerate eggs in baked foods (yippee!), I thought it would be fitting to celebrate with cupcakes and brighten up a gloomy Autumn day.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk (Optional: I added 2 heaped tablespoons low fat sour cream)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

ICING: Icing sugar and fresh lemon juice (use water if you prefer)


Preheat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F)
Line a muffin pan with paper moulds.
Combine all ingredients; try not to overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until an inserted skewer/toothpick comes out clean. Note that the cupcakes do not brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
Combine icing sugar and lemon juice/water to form a thick paste.
Spoon icing onto cooled cupcakes, decorate as desired and allow to set.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mac and Cheese- Really simple comfort food

Now that the Summer holidays are officially over, it feels like Summer itself has decided to simultaneously disappear, at least in my part of the world. The last few rainy days have made me think of hearty stews and chunky vegetable soups, and the trusty comfort of mac and cheese.

This old recipe is at least 25 years old and I made sure I kept a copy of it from my mom's coveted recipe book before I left home. It is so simple, you'll wonder why you ever stood over a lumpy pot of bechamel sauce, trying to squash those lumps away (and hoping no one in the family notices them).

I improvised with ingredients I had in the house- I use Penne instead of macaroni, and Polish sausage instead of bacon. To make this dish lower in fat and calories, I usually use less butter and add some canola oil while frying the bacon. I sometimes add frozen peas to the mix if I don't want to cook vegetables separately. You can use a lower fat cheese, like mozzarella, in the sauce, but I recommend using at least some cheddar for the topping. Of course, you can use partly skimmed/ skimmed milk. I always leave out the eggs due to my toddler's egg allergy, but I recommend trying the eggs at least once as it adds another element of comfort to this home favourite.

Macaroni and Cheese recipe

250 g macaroni
125g rindless bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
50 g butter/ margarine
50 g all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Few drops of Tabasco sauce
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, 4 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

Cook macaroni as directed, drain and set aside.
Fry bacon, garlic, and onion in heated butter for a few minutes.
Add flour and stir until blended.
Gradually add milk, stirring until mixture is smooth and boils.
Add Tabasco sauce, cheese, salt and pepper.
Stir until cheese melts.
Remove from heat and if including, stir in beaten eggs.
Add sauce to hot, cooked macaroni and stir until blended.
Turn into a greased oven-proof casserole dish and sprinkle cheese over.
Bake at 180 deg Celsius/ 350 deg F for approximately 30 minutes.