Banana and Walnut Muffins

No one ever eats a whole bunch of bananas. That's why I generally only buy 3 at a time, one for me and one each for my little people. I could continue down the path of going on about how these muffins are a great way to use up old bananas, but to be honest I bought discounted already brown bananas just so I could make these muffins! 

Actually I had a bag of walnuts in my cupboard - so this time it wasn't the bananas at all! Except for the muffins. The muffins are about the bananas. 

Banana and Walnut Muffins

3-4 ripe bananas, smashed
75g melted butter
190g sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
200g flour
100g walnuts, chopped up

Heat the oven 180C. Mix the smashed bananas and butter together. Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle in baking powder and salt and mix. Slowly add flour, blending after each addition. Fold in the walnuts and scoop the batter into the muffin pan, lined. Bake 18-25 minutes. 

These muffins are super easy to make! They actually don't take all that long in the oven and can easily be made upon waking up on one lazy weekend morning! 

One Pot Peanut Butter Brownies

When I first moved to the UK when I talked about peanut butter people were like "eww." It was rare for me to come across a single soul who loved peanut butter as much as me. Then I start this new job and I have at minimum 4 co-workers who absolutely love peanut butter.

The fact they love it as much as I do gives me the perfect excuse to bake with peanut butter. Since we've had a bit of a stressful time of it the last couple of weeks I thought I'd do just that. What goes well with peanut butter? Chocolate! It is my strong opinion that the best baked chocolate treat is the brownie.

I have made a lot of batches of brownies in my baking career and I always come back to this recipe. They are super easy to make as they are made in one pot or saucepan if you want to be pedantic. I generally keep the ingredients in my cupboards for brownie making emergencies! Brownies solve a lot of problems. It's true.

So, if you have problems that need to be solved or co-workers who love peanut butter make these!!

Peanut Butter Brownies

150g dark chocolate, broken up
150g milk chocolate, broken up
250g salted butter
400g light brown sugar
4 large eggs
140g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
150g smooth peanut butter

Preheat oven to 180C/gas4 and line a brownie pan or an 8in square pan with parchment paper.
Very gently melt both chocolates with the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan. Just before the chocolate is completely melted, take off the heat and gently stir until it’s completely melted.
Then add the eggs one at a time to the melted chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the pan and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared pan and dot the peanut butter over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the peanut butter through the batter. Bake in the pre-heated oven for a minimum of 35 minutes. Depending on your pan size and oven add an extra five minutes if need be. Cool before cutting into squares and sharing with friends, family, and co-workers!

7 Movies for Singles to Watch on Valentine's Day

Generally speaking I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, but as it's my first as a single person in a while I started thinking about how I might celebrate it. I figure I will celebrate as I spend most of my Saturday nights - watching a movie by myself in my jammies on my couch.

It sounds pathetic because it is. However, I really don't mind. I like my own company and a good movie with take out! Sounds like a great night in to me! So, I thought if you were like me you might need a suggest or a reminder of a great movie to watch this Valentine's Day!

Without further delay here are 7 movies I couldn't recommend more!

Bring it On! 
- Your first thoughts may be why would I want to watch a movie with a bunch of girls going "rah rah rah"? Don't be fooled as this movie is so much more. When Torrance takes over as team captain she thinks it will be another easy season, but when she learns of a well kept secret it turns her world upside down. You can't go wrong with this movie as it's a lot of fun and will get you cheering along!
Quote: "She puts the 'whore' in horrifying." - Courtney
Romance/Relationships: a terrible boyfriend vs a cute crush on the new kid

Pitch Perfect
- If you haven't heard of this movie you must have been living under a rock the last few years .... if you haven't seen it, it's a must! Becca starts university because her dad wants her too, she'd rather be in a recording studio anywhere, but there. To please her dad she gets involved and that is where the magic starts.
Quote: "Even though some of you are pretty thin, you all have fat hearts, and that’s what matters." - Fat Amy
Romance/Relationshops: moody girl doesn't let anyone get close to her, but will she make an exception for this one guy?

He's Just Not that Into You
- It's also maybe not the best movie for Valentine's Day. However, it's full of interesting characters in a variety of different relationship stages. It is easy to relate too because many of us have been where the characters have been at some point in our lives. If we haven't been there we will be.
Quote: "So trust me when I say if a guy is treating you like he doesn't give a shit, he genuinely doesn't give a shit. No exceptions." - Alex
Romance/Relationships: the whole point of this movie is how men and women behave in different relationships

Devil Wears Prada 
- Girl who has no fashion sense, but wants to be a writer, gets a job at the biggest fashion magazine as an assistant to the editor and hijinks ensue. Will she ever fit in? Will she ever be a writer or will she live life as a go-for? It's a must see!
Quote: "...It's for Paris, I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight." Emily
Romance/Relationships: the sweet down to earth boyfriend vs the hot sexy guy in the publishing business

Now and Then
- A great coming of age film. Probably one of the best of all time. After making a pact with her best friends that whenever one of them needed they others they'd come running. With Chrissy due to give birth at any moment she calls her besties to be by her side and together they reminisce about the summer their lives were changed forever.
Quote: "As we grow older, it becomes difficult to just believe. It's not that we don't want to, but too much has happened and we can't." - Samantha
Romance/Relationships: young girls figuring out that not all boys have cooties

- A dark comedy/drama about a waitress named Jenna, who is in a very unhappy relationship and is a waitress at a diner where she is known for her pies. She has all sorts of silly, life reflecting names to give to her pies. She has a plan to escape when things take an unexpected turn.
Quote: [after reading a news column about a woman contemplating suicide] Oh I love living vicariously through the pain and suffering of others. - Old Joe
Romance/Relationships: horrible marriage and an affair

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
- The title says it all. What more could you ask for in a movie to watch alone on Valentines Day. Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy all hate and then love, but in the midst of it killing zombies!! I know which movie I will be watching first on Valentine's Day.
Quote: "A woman is either highly trained or highly refined. One cannot afford the luxury of both in such times. - Elizabeth Bennet
Romance/Relationships: it's Jane Austen at the heart and zombies at the brain plus of course marriage

What movie(s) would you add to the list?
Leave a comment below!

*Photos are not mine own and are linked to the orginal source.

Apple & Carrot Juice + 16 Juice and Smoothie Recipes

A long long time ago a young 26 year old wished for a juicer for her birthday. Her desire for such a kitchen appliance came from the thought that store bought apple juice had too much added sugar. Her wish was granted and she was gifted a juicer.

The first juice she made was apple juice. She soon realised that apple juice needed no added sugar as it was super super sweet and needed to be diluted with water.

After that the juicer lived on a shelf, forgotten, and eventually covered in dust. 

Fast forward to present day and with a new slow juicer sitting on her counter 24/7 juicing has become away to drink more then water. See I don't like squash nor do I drink much soda so to add something besides water I am experimenting with freshly squeezed juice and smoothies.

That's right the girl in the story is me! As if you didn't know..... Anyhow here are couple of juice recipes I have made recently. I have also included several juices and smoothies from other bloggers that I just have to try out soon!

Apple & Carrot Juice: 

4 large carrots
2 apple
1 lime
1 small piece of ginger about an inch
1/4 cucumber

- Chop the vegetables and fruit into chunks that fit your juicers chute before juicing them. Then pour into your favorite class with a few ice cubes!

Pineapple Fizz 

1 small pineapple
sparkling water

- Cut the pineapple length wise and juice. Pour into your favorite glass with a few ice cubes and top up with sparkling water.

I love carrot juice and I was very pleased with the Apple & Carrot Juice the lime and ginger counter acts the sweetness of the carrots and apples with a sharp twist. Pineapple Fizz is the simplest juice ever! Pineapple juice plus sparkling water and done. I found it refreshing and light. Definitely recommend it as a mocktail for the upcoming spring and summer seasons!

I am always looking for excuses to use my juicer and here are some great recipes from fellow bloggers!

The Petite CookVegan Apple Pie Smoothie & Carrot Berry Smoothie & Wonderland Smoothie (pictured below)

From Plate to Pen - Simple Banana Smoothie with Ginger

Tin and Thyme - Cucumber and Celery Smoothie (pictured below) & Berry and Rose Kefir Smoothie

*images are owned by the respective bloggers listed and linked above 

Lemon Cake: The Lunar Chronicles

My tastes in books is very broad, I would give any book no matter the label a chance. However, I am prone to gravitate towards fantasy and science fiction. Even better if the two are mixed. Which is exactly what you get with the Lunar Chronicles.

The first book in the series is Cinder - based on surprise surprise Cinderella! Except she's a cyborg and a wanted fugitive. That's all I can say without giving too much away. I enjoyed it so much I couldn't wait to read what happened next in Scarlet. A story about a young girl who is looking for her grandmother and seeks help from a wolf. Marissa Meyer ties the two stories together very smoothly as she continued to do in Cress. The only title that might cause a raised eyebrow as it's the one name that isn't as obvious as the others if you haven't read the first two. Cress's story is based on Rapunzel and it's very cleverly done. The last but, not last title is Winter, which is based on no other then Snow White. Winter is the final book in the series and the fattest - probably due to the tying up of all the other stories as well as having a story for Winter.

In the end of the series they eat cake. I know it was a little bit random when Scarlet is like "Yo, everyone this has been a blast and so to celebrate here's a cake!" I can't say too much more without giving out spoilers and that's the last thing I want to do as this post is suppose to inspire you to read this series.

Anyhow, the cake Scarlet brings out is lemon. Therefore it made sense to me to make a lemon cake. Cake is a great comfort food and when mourning the end of a great series it good to have cake waiting for you. Just my option, but I dare you to deny it!

Lemon Cake

200g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 lemons, zest
4 medium eggs
200g self-rising flour

Heat the oven to 175C and prepare two 7 inch or 18cm cake tins by lining the bottom of the tin and greasing the sides with butter. Beat the butter in a free standing mixer or with a handheld mixer, until soft. Add the sugar, salt, and lemon zest to the butter and beat together until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl beat the eggs together until just combined. Slowly add the eggs the butter mixture. It will probably curdle when it does that just add a tablespoon or two of the flour (from the amount above not extra). Once all the eggs are added sift in the rest of the flour and beat until just combined. Divide between the batter between the cake tins and gently smooth out. Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes. Cake should be a light brown and springy to the touch. If in doubt use the skewer test.

While the cake is baking make the lemon sugar syrup: 150ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (use the lemons from the zest and about another one or two lemons) and 150g caster sugar. In a sauce pan bring the lemon juice and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the sugar dissolves and it thickens up a little.

When the cakes come out of the oven leave them to cool for a short while before soaking the tops of the sponge with the lemon sugar syrup. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely before icing.

Lemon Buttercream
80g unsalted butter, room temperature
80g icing sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
40g lemon curd + 1 tbsp

Beat the butter until soft before adding the icing sugar. Beat the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy and lighter in color. Then fold in the lemon curd.

to finish the cake: Ice the bottom layer with half the buttercream and a tablespoon of the lemon curd place the other cake layer on top and ice the top layer with the rest of the buttercream.

*Recipe was adapted from Peggy Porschen's Baking Boutique.

On My Book Shelf: 6 Titles on my Reading List

"We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too." - Unknown

I have read a lot of books in my life, too many to count! However, there are probably 10 times the amount of books I've read that I haven't read. Here are 6 books I have sitting on my bookshelf right now ... the only thing I have to decide is which to read first!

My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story by Hand, Ashton, Meadows
- At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.
+ This book kept appearing on my social media feeds and in the end I gave in and bought myself a copy. I am looking forward to it as it sounds like it should be a good laugh!

The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan
- Nina is a librarian who spends her days happily matchmaking books and people - she always knows what someone should read next. But when her beloved library closes and she's suddenly out of a job, Nina has no idea what to do next. Then an advert catches her eye: she could be the owner of a tiny little bookshop bus, driving around the Scottish highlands.
Using up all her courage, and her savings, Nina makes a new start in the beautiful Scottish highlands. But real life is a bit trickier than the stories she loves - especially when she keeps having to be rescued by the grumpy-but-gorgeous farmer next door...
+ I have read almost all of Jenny Colgan's books and they never disappoint. So, this one better not!

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
- When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered. Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting - a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called 'The Improbability of Love'. Delving into the painting's past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history - and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.
+ I have heard great things about this book. I am trying not to have too high expectations, because I am in fear of it not being as great as it's portrayed as.....

In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
- It's just before New Year, and Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's nightlife. But, Frank's behaviour is so odd that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: his client may in fact have murderous desires. Although Kenji is far from innocent himself, he unwillingly descends with Frank into an inferno of evil, from which only his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Jun, can possibly save him.
+ This book was recommended to me as I am a fan Haruki Murakami. It sounds like it's going to be an odd book, which is what appeals to me!

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
- Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. It's an eternal party, shown on TV 24 hours a day - gorgeous, glamorous, deadly! Because, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave...
+ Holly Black has quickly become one of my favorite authors so I asked for this book from Santa and he brought it for me. Actually I bought it and gave it to myself.

Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein
- A generation gap has emerged between parents and their daughters. Mothers and fathers have little idea about the pressures and expectations they face or how they feel about them.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with young women and a wide range of psychologists and experts, renowned journalist and bestselling author Peggy Orenstein goes where most others fear to tread, pulling back the curtain on the hidden truths and hard lessons of girls’ sex lives in the modern world.
+ I read non-fiction here and there. This title originally made me think it was going to be sex and the city like fiction book. However, I picked it up and started reading and I read a whole chapter before I decided to buy it and see what it's all about!

What is on your Book Shelf? 
I am always looking for new recommendations so, if there is anything you think I'd like or that you just love leave me a comment below!   

Mary Berry's Classic Rice Pudding

Until I moved to the UK I had never ever tried Rice Pudding. To be honest the sound and look of it did not make me want to try it anytime soon. I thought it was a going to feel weird in my mouth. There is no other way to say that...

Anyhow. I have sort of become a bit addicted to Muller Rice's limited edition maple syrup flavor and I thought hey this must be pretty easy to make at home! So, I went straight to Mary Berry. This is her recipe from Mary Berry Cooks, I've had the book for a couple of years now, but I have never made anything out of it. Not sure why, it has some great looking recipes.

Again anywho. I wanted rice pudding so I made rice pudding. The thing that I love about rice pudding, after I realised it doesn't feel weird in your mouth and I got over the fact I was eating rice as a dessert, is that it tastes great on it's own, but it's a great base for other flavors. You can add a teaspoon of jam or curd to it. Fresh fruit is always a great addition as well as maple syrup or chocolate sauce. Plus, it's fairly inexpensive to make which is always a bonus.

Mary Berry's Classic Rice Pudding

100g pudding rice
50g caster sugar
600ml milk
300ml single cream
25g butter
pinch of grated nutmeg

One must have a baking dish that will hold 900ml of liquid and then some. Heat the oven to 150C. Put the rice and sugar in the baking dish. Then pour the milk and cream over the top giving it a little stir. Cut up the butter into little cubes and place around the dish randomly before sprinkling the top with a pinch or two of grated nutmeg. Bake for 30 minutes. Give it a stir before placing back in the oven for another 1 1/2 hours. Should have a skin over the top and the rice should have absorbed the milk and cream.

It turned out lovely and I guarantee that I will be making this again soon! Only thing is is that it's not a quick dessert, it requires time, but it's well worth the wait!

*For more Mary Berry recipes pick up one of her many books or check out her website.
*This post is not associated with Mary Berry in any shape or form all opinions are my own. Please see my contact/policy page above for more information.
*Check out the time I met the legend - it was while I got this book signed!


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