Toad's Kitchen

(mostly) healthy recipes for the family

Archive for the category “Snack”

Boozy (not really) Banana Bread via Nigella

This is a tip from the lovely and talented Nigella Lawson…I just tried it, and it is great!

Before making your favourite banana bread recipe, take 1/2 cup or so of raisins (for one loaf) and put them in a small saucepan with 1/3 cup dark rum. Bring to a boil, remove from heat immediately and let cool.

Mix up your loaf, and stir these babies in. Nigella said to drain them, I didn’t – just dumped the whole lot in, there wasn’t much to drain as the raisins had soaked most of the rum up.

The resulting banana bread was elevated from “very yummy” to “Mmmmmmmmmmmyummy”. I recommend using a recipe (like mine) that uses butter rather than oil, for an extra rich taste.

Try it! So simple and so good. Thank you, Nigella!

For those of you who do not have a “go-to” basic Banana Bread recipe, this is mine:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (can cut back to 3/4 cup)
2 eggs
3 medium bananas (ripe), mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
(optional: 1/2-3/4 cup raisins/craisins and/or chopped pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together. Ad eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Add bananas and vanilla, and blend until combined. If you are adding rummy raisins, add them now.

In second bowl, stir dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture, stirring only to moisten. Transfer to greased loaf pan (9″x5″) and bake for 1 hour or until done.

Remove from pan after ten minutes, cool on rack and try to leave it alone until the next day. Banana bread always is better the next day!

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“I Miss Hawaii” Cookies

We recently returned from a wonderful trip to Hawaii…first, a great week in Maui, followed by a fantastic week in Oahu where we attended our son’s wedding! What a fabulous time 🙂

Now we are back at home on our own (admittedly cooler) island in the Pacific. It is currently raining, nothing unusual for June.  I have been wishing for summer and remembering the endless sun and turquoise water in Hawaii….what better way of spending a rainy day than baking cookies? Wanting to add a bit of tropical yumminess, I came up with the (incredibly original!) idea of adding toasted coconut and macadamia nuts to the carob chip cookie dough, and I must say the results are divine 🙂

This makes lots, you can halve the recipe…

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut oil
2-1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
I cup toasted unsweetened coconut (toast at 350 degrees for 5 minutes), cooled
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted with the coconut, cooled
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 cups carob chips
Pinch salt

Beat fats together. Add sugar and beat until blended. Add eggs, beating in one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl and stir into butter/sugar mixture. Drop 2″ apart onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

The Best Scone Recipe

It seems sometimes that the easiest things to make are sometimes the easiest to mess up. Don’t get me started on tea…today, I will discuss the humble scone. Scones, despite relatively few ingredients and simple instructions, can be often not as *fabulous* as we would like…they always look wonderful, then when you taste them…meh. Many delicious-looking “homemade” scones I have purchased in coffee shops and bakeries have proven to be dry and crumbly, and definitely not to my taste. I prefer to make my own…this simple recipe is one that I have used for years and has never let me down. It is flexible and can be tweaked to suit different serving situations – plain for either jam or cheese, cream for shortcakes or cream teas, and savoury for with soups and stews.

What makes the perfect scone? The secret, in my opinion (besides not making the dough too wet, or overworking said dough) is not to use baking powder, which can leave a “taste”. These little guys bake up perfect and tender every time. I like to bake them on a stone, which I put in the oven before preheating so it is nice and hot when the scones are ready to bake. They are also yummy baked on a lightly greased baking sheet.

2-3 cups unbleached flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Salt to taste
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup milk

(ingredients for variations are listed after basic instructions)


*I usually start with about 2-1/2 cups flour and add a bit more if needed, using some of the total allotment of flour for the rolling out part – if it is damp weather, you might find you need to use in a bit more flour in the dough.

Preheat oven to 450 deg F. Lightly grease baking sheet, or preheat bakestone. Mix dry ingredients together, incorporate butter with pastry blender or your hands until crumbly, add milk and mix gently until combined. Dough will be soft and elastic.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead gently a few times (as in, five or six kneads) until smooth. Do not overwork the dough, or it will start to develop the gluten and the scones will be tough.

Press dough out with hands or rolling pin to about 3/4-1″ thickness. Cut into 2-1/2-3″ rounds, place on baking sheet (or hot stone) and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Raisins or berries are a nice addition (about 3/4 cup, add with liquid and mix very gently if using fresh berries). I like to brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle sugar on top, if they are to be eaten with tea. Don’t stop with berries! Add chocolate chips (white or brown), or candied ginger to the dough, or mix cinnamon into the sugar you sprinkle on top – this basic recipe works well with any kind of addition you like 🙂

To make cream scones, use heavy cream instead of milk, and add 2 eggs also when adding cream to recipe. These are quite rich but very nice, good for “strawberry shortcakes”. If you are craving the traditional “cream tea”: serve with thick cream (comes in a jar in the dairy section…if you can find clotted cream, go for it – be authentic!) and sliced ripe, fresh strawberries or high quality strawberry jam, and of course a perfect pot of tea… 🙂

Savoury scones: You can add 1 cup grated sharp cheese if you are making to serve with soup, etc. A few chives or chopped herbs are a nice addition also.

If you prefer, you can bake as one big circle and cut into wedges (score before baking) – adjust baking time accordingly.

Whichever type you make, don’t forget to eat them fresh (they don’t keep all that well)!

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