Big Bran Breakfast Cookies


When you are young, you tend to take a lot of things for granted. Things like good health and a strong body.  You think things are always going to work the way they do now.




Its not until you are older that you realise this isn't exactly the case.  Things start to break down and don't work quite so well anymore, and the sad truth is that this process  starts to accelerate after you hit sixty! 



Or maybe even before.  Maybe I am lucky to have made it as old as I am (63 1/2) before things start to go really downhill digestion wise.  Ahem . . .


Without getting too descriptive just let me say that I now think about getting enough fibre into my gut every single day, almost to the point of obsession.  Prune juice,  Metamucil and bran have become a part of my daily life.


I am quite grateful however for having made it this far in life, as I am well aware that it is a privilege which is denied to many, even if things don't always work the way they used to!!!



I try to have something with bran in it every day.  Some days it is bran cereal . . .  others it might be one of my bran muffins, and some days it is one of  these delicious Big Bran Breakfast Cookies!



They are loaded with fibre and go down really well with your morning cuppa!



They make a nice change from your morning oats or wheat cereals . . . 



The recipe makes 16 lovely, breakfast sized cookies.  They also freeze well, so you can bake them up, wrap and freeze, ready to take out when you are ready to eat.  Just a few minutes at room temperature works fine.


They are perfect for a breakfast on the go as well.  And kids love them.  They are totally unaware that you are feeding them something filled with goodness . . .


They are half unbleached (I only use unbleached) flour and half whole wheat flour, with a mix of white and brown sugars. (I always use muscovado sugar, which is less refined.) 



Then there are bran flakes . . .  I crumble them up a bit . . .  easier to eat that way. My teeth are getting old too.



And a hefty portion of dried fruit goes in as well. You can use raisins, sultanas, chopped dates, apricots, chopped prunes, cranberries, or a mixture of some of each. All work well.  You can even add chopped toasted nuts if you are really keen.


The fact is this is a very tasty way in order to get some of your daily fibre intake and a darned delicious way to start your day!

Big Bran Breakfast Cookies


Yield: 16
Author:
These breakfast cookies are loaded with fibre and taste!  The whole family is sure to love them!

ingredients:

  • 75g of bran flakes, crushed to 2/3 the amount (2 cups)
  • 140g whole wheat flour (1 cup)
  • 140g plain flour (1 cup)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • pinch salt
  • 180g butter, at room temperature
  • 140g granulated sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 100g soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup, packed)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 150g dried fruit (1 cup) (raisins, chopped dates, cranberries, etc.)

instructions:

How to cook Big Bran Breakfast Cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.  Line several baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.
  2. Whisk both flours, the crushed bran flakes, soda and salt together.  Set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and both sugars until light.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Stir in the flour mixture. Combine well.  Stir in the dried fruit.
  4. Drop by 1/4 cup fulls onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between. You should get about six per sheet, which means you will fill 2 sheets and then have a final bake with only 4 on it.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or so until risen, dry on top, set and golden brown around the edges.  Let stand on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before scooping out onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. Store in an airtight container.
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Delicious with a nice cup of tea, a hot cup of java or a cold glass of milk. You are sure to love these!



Creamy Chicken & Butter Biscuits


Normally I wouldn't show you two chicken recipes in a row, but this turned out so lovely that I just couldn't wait to share it with you!  


I've been in the process of reducing the size of some of our favourite meals and today's casserole is our favourite Chicken & Biscuit casserole reduced to feed only 2 or 3 depending on how hungry you are! 


What you have is a delicious, well flavoured creamy chicken filling . . .  a lush sauce, combined with shredded cooked chicken and vegetables.  


I used potatoes, carrots and Swede/rutabaga combined with a handful of frozen peas.  



The gravy is really simple as well.  You just sweat some onion and celery (don't forget to use some of the leaves) in a bit of butter until softened without browning and whisk in flour  . . . 

 

And then whisk in a mixture of stock and milk . . .  cooking until it thickens. You won't want it to be too thick as the potatoes and biscuits will absorb some of the gravy while it is baking.  If you make it too thick, you will end up without any sauce. 


The butter biscuit topping is also really easy to make.  Just sift together the dry ingredients and then cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until you have a mixture of small grains of fat, along with some bits the size of peas.  It is these large bits that will melt and make little pockets of air in your biscuits, helping them to rise well!  


Stir in the milk with a fork to make a soft dough and pat the dough out to a rectangle on a well floured surface. Try not to handle the dough too much.  Over handling it toughens the biscuits.  Cut into small squares with a sharp knife and place them right on top of your casserole filled with the hot chicken filling. 


Depending on the size of your casserole dish they will probably pretty much cover the filling.  My dish is about 6 by 8 inches in size.


That's it really . . .  so simple  . . .  just bake . . . in a hot oven  . . . 



Until those butter biscuits puff up and turn golden brown . . . . 


And that lush filling bubbles up all rich an scrumptious  . . .  you can't beat this for comfort food.

Creamy Chicken & Butter Biscuits


Yield: 2 - 3
Author:
This is one of my husband's favourite things to eat. You have a creamy chicken and vegetable casserole topped with crisp buttery biscuits.  Its a great way to use leftover cooked chicken. I like to serve it with a salad.

ingredients:

For the filling:
  • 3 medium sized red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 8ths
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 60g peeled and cubed Swede/rutabaga (1/2 cup)
  • and handful of frozen peas
  • 1/2 stalk celery with leaves, minced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 TBS butter
  • 1 1/2 TBS flour
  • 190g cooked chicken shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 120ml chicken stock made with 1 1/2 chicken stock cubes (1/2 cup)
  • 240ml milk (1 cup)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
For the biscuit topping:
  • 140g plain flour (1 cup)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 60g cold butter, cut into bits (1/4 cup)
  • 80ml milk (1/3 cup)

instructions:

How to cook Creamy Chicken & Butter Biscuits

  1. First make the filling.  Place the swede/rutabaga into a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 8 minutes.  Add the potato cubes and continue to cook until all the vegetables are tender.  Drain well.  Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onions and celery.  Cook over medium heat until they soften without browning.  Whisk in the flour. Cook for several minutes to cook out the flour taste.  Stir the stock and milk together and then slowly whisk this into the flour mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture boils and thickens.  It will not be really thick, but that is how you want it as it the potatoes and topping will absorb some as it cooks.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. Stir in the cooked vegetables and shredded chicken meat, along with the frozen peas.  Keep warm while you make the topping.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Stir in the poultry seasoning. Drop in the cold butter. Cut it in with a pastry blender until you have a crumbly coarse textured mixture. You will want some bits the size of peas and most bits smaller.  Stir in the milk with a fork to make a soft dough.
  4. Pat out on a well floured surface to  a rough rectangle about 1/2 inch in thickness.  Cut the rectangle into squares, using a sharp knife.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Butter a small casserole dish.  Pour the chicken filling into the dish.  Top with the squares of biscuit dough.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the biscuits are risen and golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  Serve hot.


This is really, really, REALLY good!  Simple ingredients done well.  You can't beat them!  All you need is perhaps a salad on the side!  Nothing artificial here . . .  just plain good old home cooking.





Chicken with a Pesto & Mushroom Sauce


Early on in our marriage I really struggled with cooking for only two people.  I had had several years on my own before we got married, but I had lived first in a rented room without any cooking facilities, and then I had lived with my mom.  The last time I had done any real appreciative amount of cookery, it had been for a large family along with friends, guests, etc.  In short, I was used to cooking for a lot of people!



I've had almost 19 years  now to hone my skills at cooking for a smaller audience. I think I can reduce almost any recipe you can throw at me these days, and make it suitable for only two people. The only time it gets really trick is in baking  . . .  that takes a bit more thought. 



Most regular recipes, however,  can easily be adjusted down, or up as needed. Its very simple to do.



And the simpler the recipe the simpler it is to do . . .  this recipe today is a fine example.


It uses only a very few ingredients . . .  boneless skinless chicken breasts . . .


white button mushrooms  . . .  garlic  . . .


Chicken stock and cream  . . . .


And at the very end, some basil pesto and lemon juice  . . .  simple ingredients . . .  really. 



I recommend using white mushrooms because darker mushrooms will colour the sauce and you don't want your sauce to turn grey or purple . . .  it would still taste good, but it wouldn't be as visually appealing  . . .


You can use a good store brand of Basil Pesto, or you can use a homemade pest.  Perhaps you have some in the freezer, that will also work very well.   I only add a couple of TBS of it to my sauce, but if you are really fond of pesto you might want to use more.


For me 2 TBS works perfectly.  I don't like it when any one ingredient takes over a dish . . .


I always use fresh lemon juice.  I am not a lover of the concentrate you buy in bottles.  I know years and years ago that is all people had, but nowadays fresh lemons are so much more readily available.


It just makes sense to use fresh  . . . and it tastes infinitely better if you do.  The chicken in this is so tender and delicious . . .  the sauce rich and flavourful  . . .


The two together are a little taste of heaven . . .  built just for two. (But easily doubled.)


Chicken with a Pesto & Mushroom Sauce

Yield: 2
Author:
Perfectly cooked chicken with a velvety luxurious sauce, flavoured with pesto and lemon. YOU might want to double up on the sauce.  Its gorgeous!

ingredients:

You will need:
  • 2 medium sized free range boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 TBS light olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
  • 1/2 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 60ml chicken stock (1/4 cup)
  • 120ml heavy cream (1/2 cup)
  • 2 TBS basil pesto
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice

instructions:

How to cook Chicken with a Pesto & Mushroom Sauce

  1. Wipe your chicken and pat it dry. You can pound it a bit until they are even in size.  Season generously all over with salt and black pepper.  Heat half the oil in a medium sized skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken breasts.  Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden.  Remove to a plate, tip a bowl over top and leave to set while you begin the sauce.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the skillet.  Add the mushrooms. Cook, without disturbing until they begin to brown.  Stir and continue to repeat until all are browned.  Don't agitate them too much or you will release too many of the juices and they will stew rather than fry.  Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, about half a minute.  Stir in the chicken stock and the cream.  Return the chicken breasts to the pan, turning them to coat.  Bring to the boil then cover and simmer on very low heat for about 15 minutes, until cooked through. Remove to a serving plate.
  3. Whisk the pesto and lemon juice into the sauce and gently heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.  Spoon over the chicken pieces and serve immediately.
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This is really, really good.  The sauce is so luxurious and creamy. You could make it lower fat by using evaporated milk instead of cream. I do believe you can get a low fat version of that.  I used a low fat brand of pesto today and I couldn't really tell the difference between that and the higher fat version.  This sauce is so delicious, you may find yourself wishing that you had doubled it, so I am warning you ahead of time just in case you want to do that.  You are sure not to regret doing so.  Your hips might moan about it a bit, but  . . .  in for a penny in for a pound! 



Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


Okay so you might be asking yourself, do you really need another Banana Bread???  I say YES!  You can never have too many Banana Bread Recipes! 



Especially when they are as moist and flavourful as this one!  Stogged full of lovely banana flavours and chocolate chips, this spells W I N N E R all round! 



I have a multitude of Banana Breads on here.   Each one is  quite different than the rest and all are delicious in their own right.


Plain old Banana Bread, Nutella Banana Bread, Chocolate Marbled,  Sour Cream, Oat Topped, etc.  They are all very good.


This recipe I am sharing today boasts a sour cream batter . . .  sour cream makes for a very moist batter  . . .




The only leavening in it is some bicarbonate of soda.  When you are using something acidic like sour cream or plain yogurt (and by the way you can also use the equivalent amount of yogurt in this recipe instead of the sour cream) you need to add bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).



The bicarb works with the acid in the sour cream/yogurt/buttermilk to create a chemical reaction which causes the baked good to rise in the oven. It may even start to rise before you get it into the oven, so its best to get whatever you are making into the heat of the oven as soon as you can. 



There are plenty of chocolate chips in this bread.  I don't buy special ones.  I just use the semi-sweet chocolate chips that you can get at Costco.  Kirkland brand.  I like them.



I stir them into the dry ingredients before I combine the wet and the dry for the bread.  



When you are adding something heavy, like nuts, or dried fruit, or chocolate chips to a batter, it always helps to stir them into the flour before you stir them into the creamed mixture.



It helps to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf/bake.  You end up with a much more even distribution throughout your bake.


In any case this is truly a lovely bake. You could also add chopped nuts if you wanted to . . .  


Toasted Walnuts or Pecans would be just lovely  . . . 



Chocolate Chip Banana Bread  

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Yield: Makes one medium loaf
Author:
Do you really need another Banana Bread.  YES!  Especially one as moist and flavourful as this one!

ingredients:

  • 3 medium well ripened bananas (about 1 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 100g soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
  • 95g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 120g butter, melted (1/2 cup)
  • 2 large free range eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 60g sour cream (1/2 cup) (can use low fat)
  • 190g plain flour (1 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 135g semi-sweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)

instructions:

How to cook Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

  1. Preheat the oven to 165*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.  Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf tin and line with baking paper, leaving an overhang to help lift out at the end.
  2. Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl.  Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate chips and set aside.
  3. Peel and then beat the bananas with an electric whisk until thoroughly mashed.  Beat in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.  Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture, just to combine.  Pour into the prepared loaf tin. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  If you think it is browning too quickly towards the end, cover lightly with foil. (Mine took 1 hour 15 minutes.)
  5. Let cool completely in the pan before lifting out.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.  Cut into thick slices to serve.
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This bread is so moist and delicious, I declare it downright dangerous!