Autumnal Apple & Sultana Muffins

Every Autumn, one of the houses on our block walk with Coco puts a bucket outside of their front drive with an invitation to help oneself to bags of their windfall Bramley Apples – what a lovely way to share with neighbours. And by lovely I mean lovely for my family, courtesy of the kindness of these neighbours because we get crumbles and baked goods out of their apples for free ^.^

Even after I made an 8 portions Apple Crumble (!!) I still had 3 apples leftover, and since Adelyn keeps very seriously saying “MUFFIN” at me, I figured I’d whip together some Apple & Sultana muffins (inspired by the BBC’s) as an Autumnal variation on our usual Banana muffins!

Enjoy the warm, homey smells of freshly baked cinnamon, appley goodness.

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml milk
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 apples, peeled and grated (I used Bramley). Give a little squeeze so it’s not TOO juicy
  • 100g sultanas

Preheat your oven to 180C (160C Fan) and line a 12-muffin tin with muffin cases.

In a big bowl, combine the dry ingredients; the self-raising flour, baking powder, cinnamon, wholemeal flour and sugar – give it a good mix together.

In a jug (or another bowl), beat the milk, eggs and oil together. Add this to the dry ingredients bowl and mix well.

Stir in the grated apple and sultanas and give it one last good stir.

Carefully spoon the mix into your prepared muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes until golden on top.

Spinach Puffs Recipe

OK so when you give this to your little ones to eat, you’d better have the hoover ready. My husband seemed to delight in sharing a video with me of the mess she had made as I commuted home, and then realised that he was the only one around to handle the clean up. He was later seen wafting our beloved child in the garden, shortly followed by her high chair in a bid to de-flake.

After getting lots of inspiration from the thoughtfully compiled set of Ella’s Kitchen recipe books – it suddenly dawned on me whilst going through The Big Baking Book aka The Yellow One of the series – that combining puff pastry and yummy fillings would solve the two issues I’ve been having with sending Adelyn off to the childminder’s with her packed lunch; 1) homemade and 2) easy-to-feed-herself portioned food.

I get mildly anxious about ensuring Adelyn gets enough iron in her diet so this recipe has been somewhat of a Godsend given her reluctance to eat bolognese (like seriously, how can anyone fail to enjoy spaghetti bolognese??) The Big Baking Book helpfully reassures me that “spinach is rich in iron and calcium, making it perfect for superhero-style bones and brains.”

And look at these crispy beauts! Note: I made a change to the original recipe and made my puffs smaller.

Ingredients:

150g spinach

125g ricotta cheese

50g Parmesan, grated

Good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

250g ready-made puff pastry (I use ready rolled)

1 egg, beaten for glazing

Sesame seeds (I only had black at home!)

  • Preheat the oven to 200C and line your baking sheet with parchment.
  • In a sizeable saucepan (must have a lid too), pop your spinach in and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and heat the spinach gently for 5 minutes till wilted. Tip the spinach into a sieve or colander and press out the juice as you don’t want soggy filling! Then roughly chop.
  • Drain off any liquid from the tub of ricotta and place in a large bowl along with the Parmesan and nutmeg. Mix together. Then add the chopped spinach and mix till evenly combined.
  • Assuming you’ve bought the ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry as I do, roll it out and leave on the parchment. Cut in half widthways and lengthways and then quarter those rectangles too so you have 16 rectangles.
  • Divide the filling amongst 8 of the rectangles and you’ll have something that looks like this:

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  • Brush the edges lightly with the beaten egg. Cover with the remaining 8 rectangles and press the edges down with a fork or finger.
  • Carefully place your puffs on to the prepared baking sheet. Cut a little cross in the top of the pastry and then glaze with the remaining egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for 20-25minutes until wonderfully puffed up and golden!
  • Delicious served warm (but can be eaten cold). Store in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.

 

Banana Muffins Recipe (no sugar!)

Adelyn loves bananas. One of her words is “Na-Na”, complete with frantic arm waving and searching the room for her beloved yellow fruit. Sometimes I overdo it on the banana-buying and end up with some that are just begging to be muffined – and though Adelyn is now over a year old, I’m still hesitant to give her foods with added sugar in them.

With this recipe, the sultanas and bananas should give enough of a sweet hit, plus bonus points for the extra goodness you’ll get into your little one.

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125g self-raising flour

1/2tsp baking powder

1tsp ground cinnamon

75g sultanas

50g unsalted butter, melted

2tsp vanilla essence

1 medium egg, beaten

1tbsp milk

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

Optional: 1tbsp honey or agave syrup (only if little one is over a year old, honey is NOT recommended below this age)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan oven) and lightly greased a muffin tin (when it comes to baking for baby, I don’t bother with cases)
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas in a bowl. Then add the melted butter, vanilla essence, egg and milk – mix well. Add a little more milk if the mix seems too thick.
  • Add the honey/agave if using.
  • Fold in the mashed bananas and mix.
  • Spoon the mix evenly into the 12 muffin holes and bake for 20-25mins, till golden on top and a skewer comes out cleanly.

 

Sweetcorn Fritters

Agh. The dreaded day has landed upon us; my once wonderful eater has turned into a right fusspot for the best part of the past week.

Foods she once devoured she now reacts to as though I was giving her cat food (squawking and scrunchy faces and spitting food back out ensue). 

One thing I’ve found though, is that finger foods will find their way into her mouth more often than not so I figured – how do I make her favourite foods into more of a readily held meal?

Solution: combine them in egg, milk and flour to make Fritters. Voila! My greedy eater is (kind of) back:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 10ml milk
  • 1 already-roasted sweet potato, flesh scooped out
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 100g courgette, grated
  • 2tbsp sweetcorn
  • 50g cheddar cheese 

You’ll need to have a sweet potato already baked and ready to be used so wash, stab with a fork a bit and bake in an oven for 40-60mins (depending on size) with a bit of foil on the rack underneath to catch any juice.

Then you can get the batter ready…

  • In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Mix in the flour and then the milk to form a thick batter. 
  • Cut open the baked sweet potato and scoop the squishyness out and into the batter. 
  • Add the spring onions, courgette, sweetcorn and cheese. Mix well. 
  • Heat up a non-stick frying pan with a light drizzle of oil for good measure over a medium heat.
  • Using a table spoon, plop heaped tablespoons of the batter into the pan so that they form nice even rounds and fry for 2-3mins each side till a lovely golden brown.
  • Note – they’re not the driest fritters on account of the veggies in the mix! 

Apricot and Apple Oaties Recipe

These crumby little bites are perfectly sized snack for little ones, full of nutrition and home-baked so you know there are no weird preservatives in there.

They’ve gone down a treat whenever I’ve offered them at play dates. Think of them as a healthy version of a flapjack, only no way near as sweet. Admittedly these are maybe not sweet enough for the adult palate but watch your kid get crumbs EVERYWHERE as they get their nibble on with these.

I’ve been using a porridge oat mix that Tescos have recently brought out which combines oatmeal, oat bran and wheat bran, but using oatmeal will also do nicely. Oat bran on its own lends an especially crumby and almost malty taste – try and see what suits your family.

Apricots are a great source of Vitamin A (for healthy cell growth and immune system), fibre (keeping things *ahem* moving) and potassium (maintains blood pressure). Their natural sweetness combined with that of the apple mean you can bake without having to add sugar.

I make a bigger batch of Apricot Purée than necessary as a teaspoon goes really nicely in porridge for the little ones. I like to think of it as jam that hasn’t been made out of refined sugar so is therefore safe.

Ingredients:

150g oatmeal, oatbran and wheat bran mix

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid form for ease of mixing

3 tbsp water

1 apple, peeled and grated

For the apricot purée 

100g dried apricots*

200ml boiling water

  • Start by making the apricot purée – pop the apricots into a small saucepan, add the boiled water and bring back to the boil. Lower to a simmer for about 7 mins and then take off the heat. Leave to cool a little before pureeing in a blender (you can make the oaty mix whilst it cools down)
  • Preheat your oven to 200C and lightly oil a brownie tin or something of a similar size.
  • Combine the oaty mix with the bicarbonate of soda and give it a little stir. Add the coconut oil and the grated apple and stir.
  • Purée the apricots (if you haven’t already) and add approx 120g of the purée to the mix (pot up the rest of it and keep it in the fridge). Add the water a tablespoon at a time till you have a nicely formed mixture that holds together. Just leave it to rest for a minute or two.
  • Pop the mixture into the prepared brownie tin and gently coax outwards to cover the tin. You’ll have a thin layer that should nicely spread out.
  • Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden on top and coming away from the edge of the pan.
  • Leave to cool before cutting into little squares – my brownie tin is square so I go for 5×5.
  • Keep in an airtight container for up to one week.

* For my own peace of mind I use organic and naturally dried apricots; these are darker in colour as a result of not being treated with sulphur dioxide.

 

Courgette, Spinach & Cheese Muffins

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I’m a big fan of finger foods, especially ones that are quick to make and packed full of nutrition – courgette, carrots and spinach with the added hit of cheese for that moreishness…oooh these’ll be a hit in your household too if my family are anything to go by!

Adelyn literally bounces and makes strained squealing sounds when she sees me coming with these. Just like her Papa.

Remember – babies under 1 years old shouldn’t have salt added to their food as their kidneys aren’t mature enough to process it efficiently so there’s no need to season this. The cheese contains enough savoury flavour to satisfy even an adult’s palate.

INGREDIENTS

225g self-raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1 carrot – peeled and grated

1 small courgette – washed and grated

80g mature cheddar, grated

2 handfuls of spinach, chopped

1 egg, beaten

45g unsalted butter, melted

120ml milk

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (fan) and lightly grease a muffin tray with butter or oil. You can use muffin cases if you like.
  • Pop your dry ingredients into a big bowl – so your flour, baking powder, cheese, carrot, courgette and spinach – and mix together.
  • Then add your wet ingredients one at a time, mixing after each addition – so the egg, butter and then the milk. You should have a thick and pleasingly colourful batter.
  • Pop a generous tablespoon of the mixture into your prepared muffin tray – you should have enough for 12.
  • Bake for 20-25mins, until golden brown on top and your chosen poking testing implement comes out clean (toothpick, uncooked spaghetti, actual poker tester thing etc.)
  • Leave them to cool slightly, if you can bear the wait.

FREEZING TIP: These freeze well in an airtight container or baggy. You can warm them up in the oven from frozen for 15mins (or leave to defrost) to enjoy all over again.

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Adelyn using two hands to devour hers – a sign of enjoyment!