Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes

apple cinnamon and raisin pancakes3

The world and his wife are going crazy for crepes at the moment, and we’re no exception here at Chez Bangers where pancakes are always a regular feature on our menus.

Just in time for tomorrow’s Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day, I thought I’d share with you my apple, cinnamon and raisin pancake recipe, which is one of our favourite weekend breakfasts and very quick and easy to rustle up. Continue reading “Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes”

Oatie cookies with ginger and chocolate


Who can resist an oatie cookie, especially one that’s crammed with gooey dark chocolate and chewy chunks of crystallised ginger? I know I certainly can’t, and neither can my children. They’re the perfect biscuit for a spot of baking with the kids on a wet Saturday afternoon and an ideal snack for when they get home after school – if there any are left from the weekend that is.
Continue reading “Oatie cookies with ginger and chocolate”

Fig and honey smoothie

fig and honey smoothie

Since making the Cheeky Monkey smoothie, we’ve been experimenting with all kinds of fresh juices and smoothies at Chez Bangers. This one is currently one of our favourites.

I wasn’t sure my children would like the idea of a smoothie made from dried figs, so I told them it was a honey smoothie. They gulped it down in seconds and demanded another. They also asked whether there was chocolate in it. I guess that’s partly due to the colour, but the fig does give it a lovely richness which isn’t all that dissimilar to a chocolate smoothie.

So if you’re trying to encourage your children to consume a little extra fruit and fibre, this smoothie could be a good way to go…

fig and honey smoothie

Fig and honey smoothie

Serves 2

50g dried figs, roughly chopped
250ml milk
1 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp runny honey

Place the figs in a glass and cover with milk, around 50ml. Leave in the fridge for 2-3 hours, or even better overnight, to allow the figs to become all plump and squidgy.

Simply pour the figs, along with the milk in which they have been soaking, together with the rest of the milk, oats and honey into a liquidiser and blend well until smooth.

fig and honey smoothie

As my fig and honey smoothie is a great way to sneak some extra goodies into your children’s diets (and your own while you’re at it), I’m entering it into January’s Family Foodies challenge, where the theme is Hidden Goodies.


Round up: July’s Recipes for Life challenge

Oats, berries and honey were the three set ingredients for July’s installment of the Recipes for Life challenge and I was rather impressed with the variety of dishes we received.

While we might not have attracted as many entries as in previous months, I’d say it was definitely a case of quality over quantity and the team at SWALLOW still had a pretty tough job to decide the winner. But before we make that announcement, let’s run through the entries…

Raspberry and Toasted Coconut Flapjacks with Yoghurt Drizzle from Under The Blue Gum Tree
Raspberry and Toasted Coconut Flapjacks with Yoghurt Drizzle from Under The Blue Gum Tree

Claire at Under The Blue Gum Tree got in there first with her tempting Raspberry and Toasted Coconut Flapjacks with Yoghurt Drizzle, which would be equally welcome at breakfast time as a well as lovely teatime treat. I do like the idea of serving them with custard too for a perfect pud.

Honey Nut Granola and Raspberry Yogurt Parfaits from Whatever Gets You Through The Day
Honey Nut Granola and Raspberry Yogurt Parfaits from Whatever Gets You Through The Day

Another entry I could easily see myself scoffing for breakfast are these deliciously virtuous Honey Nut Granola and Raspberry Yogurt Parfaits from Iris at Whatever Gets You Through The Day. Like Iris, granola is one of my favourite foods and I love the look of hers. Everybody should make their own granola!

Strawberry & Honey Super Smoothies from Bangers & Mash
Strawberry & Honey Super Smoothies from Bangers & Mash

Regular readers of this blog might have noticed I’m rather partial to a fruit smoothie. They’re a pretty standard feature of our more leisurely weekend breakfasts in the Bangers & Mash household. These Strawberry & Honey Super Smoothies are a tasty and energising way to start the day.

Fruit and Nut Granola from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary
Fruit and Nut Granola from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary brings us another granola as her entry. Her Fruit & Nut Granola is jam-packed with juicy fruity nutty goodness and I’m definitely stealing her idea of using cashew nuts next time I make up a jar.

Duck with a Honey and Oats Crust Served with Berries Compote
Duck with a Honey and Oats Crust Served with Berries Compote

Martin from Spurs Cook always comes up with surprisingly ingenious entries and this month was no exception. Check out his Duck with a Honey & Oats Crust and Berries Compote – not something you’d expect to see here, right? But it looks pretty damn good nonetheless.

Blueberry and Oat Drop Pancakes from Rich in Flavour
Blueberry and Oat Drop Pancakes from Rich in Flavour

Another inventive entry comes from Rich at Rich in Flavour with these gorgeous Blueberry and Oat Drop Pancakes, for a deliciously lazy Sunday brunch with a clever combination of the classic winter breakfast, porridge and the American pancake of choice, blueberry. I do look forward to trying them out myself.

Chewy Honey & Oatmeal Cookies with Summer Berry Jam from The Crazy Kitchen
Chewy Honey & Oatmeal Cookies with Summer Berry Jam from The Crazy Kitchen

Helen from The Crazy Kitchen has been a fantastic stalwart of the Recipes for Life challenge and despite being away on holiday she still managed to get an entry in this month. Her Chewy Honey & Oatmeal Cookies with Summery Berry Jam look absolutely irresistible and I’m rather taken with the notion of serving cookies with homemade jam.

Cherry Crumble Muffins from Bangers & Mash
Cherry Crumble Muffins from Bangers & Mash

The final entry is one of mine but technically I shouldn’t really allow it as it features cherries which of course are not actually a berry. This really didn’t occur to me until I was posting the recipe last week but I went and entered it anyway. Cherries are very similar to berries, aren’t they? And you could easily substitute them for blueberries or blackberries. Anyway, here are my Cherry Crumble Muffins.

So there you go – July’s mouth-watering entries for Recipes for Life. Which one would you choose to win? I’m very glad the decision wasn’t down to me. That was the task for the team at SWALLOW, who are collecting recipes for their cookery club to try out, the best of which will appear in their new cookbook coming out later in the year. So which one did they go for? Drum roll please…

This month’s winner is the talented Martin from Spurs Cook with his Duck with a Honey & Oats Crust and Berries Compote and a very deserving winner he is too. Huge congratulations to Martin – a little something will be on its way to you shortly from SWALLOW.

That really should have been the last month of the Recipes for Life challenge but due to ‘popular demand’ we have decided to extend it by another month. Watch this space for news of the next three ingredients. Will you rise to the final challenge?


Cherry crumble muffins

cherry crumble muffins

We often make apple crumble muffins in our house. They’re a lovely cross between a cake and a pudding and popular with children and grown ups alike. The other day I thought I’d see what they were like using cherries instead of apples. I was inspired by my friend Sarah who baked us the most gorgeous cherry crumble when we went over to hers recently. I thought the apple crumble muffins were good, but boy! These cherry bad boys are to die for – I’m totally addicted!

cherry crumble muffins

Cherry crumble muffins

Makes 12

For the topping:

50g butter
50g Demerara sugar
30g plain flour
50g rolled oats

For the muffins:

275g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
150g melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tbsp honey

48 cherries, pitted

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

To make the topping, cut the butter into small pieces and put in a mixing bowl with the Demerara sugar, flour and oats. Work them together using your finger tips until it looks like crumble mixture.

For the cake mixture, sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and mix in the sugar. Make a well in the middle, pour in the melted butter, beaten eggs and honey and mix gently.

cherry crumble muffis

Spoon the mixture into paper muffin cases in a 12-hole muffin tray. Place four cherries on top of each muffin and then carefully sprinkle over the crumble topping.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Just perfect for a mid afternoon snack.

cherry crumble muffins

As these scrummy muffins contain oats and honey, and cherries are almost berries (yes, I know they can’t be a berry because they have a stone rather than seeds), I’m entering them into this month’s Recipes for Life challenge. And since I’m hosting it, I’m going to allow cherries in as a wannabe-berry. So there. Sticklers for the rules can swap their cherries for blueberries or blackberries I suppose.


Strawberry and honey super smoothies

Strawberry super smoothie

We slurp our way through a fair few smoothies in our house. They’re the perfect way to use up ripe bananas, especially when it’s way too hot to consider baking banana bread, and they are a brilliantly healthy start to the day. Although saying that, quite often our smoothies are rather indulgent, especially when my husband makes them with lots of vanilla ice cream.

This strawberry and honey super smoothie is of the healthy variety. It features a couple of spoonfuls of rolled oats, making it extra thick and creamy and perfect for a fuel-filled breakfast.

And of course they’re ridiculously easy to make, which is essential first thing in the morning.

strawberry super smoothie

Strawberry and honey super smoothies

2 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
400g strawberries, hulled and chopped
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp rolled oats
1 pint ice cold milk

Simply pop all the ingredients into your food blender and whizz until smooth and frothy. That’s it.

Serve alongside your bowl of cereal or dippy eggs and soldiers for a top brekkie.

strawberry super smoothie

Because these super smoothies are so easy to rustle up and contain this month’s trio of ingredients (honey, oats and berries), I’m entering them into the Recipes for Life challenge, which I also happen to be hosting.


July is the penultimate month for Recipes for Life. Each month we challenge food bloggers to create tasty, healthy and easy-to-make dishes using three key ingredients.

I’m running the challenge on behalf of a brilliant charity called SWALLOW, which supports adults with learning difficulties. Their cookery club will have a go at making the recipes themselves and the best ones will be included in a new cookbook later in the year.

Perhaps you’d like to get involved in the challenge? Find out more here.


Apple porridge

I often feel a bit of a hypocrite in the mornings as I make my daughters their porridge for breakfast. I’ve never been able to eat the stuff you see.

I love the idea of it; a big steaming bowl of hot porridge sounds the ideal way to set you up on a chilly day. And it’s just so good for you. You digest porridge slowly, so it fills you up for longer. High in fibre, oats are proven to prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol and boost serotonin.

My problem is the hot milk. I’m not good with hot, milky things and have never been able eat rice pudding or semolina. Even with hot chocolate I have to be in just the right mood, and it must be really good quality chocolate to distract me from the milk. And if there’s any skin on top – urrrgghh!

Lots of people have suggested ditching the milk and making porridge with water instead. But that’s always sounded rather mean and stingy to me. Then I came across an item in Runners World (can’t believe I mentioning that particular publication again!) which suggested using apple juice. Why had I never thought of that myself?

Porridge made with apple juice is my new favourite breakfast. It’s absolutely delicious and I feel just so virtuous eating it. I add currants, giving it a lovely crunchy fruitiness and mix in a little cinnamon, which of course goes so well with apple. Then I serve it with a decent dollop of yoghurt and a squeeze of runny honey. Perfect! The children like it too. But my husband’s a traditionalist and is sticking with his milk.

Apple porridge

Makes one large bowl

4og porridge oats
200ml apple juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Handful of currants
2 tbsp natural yoghurt

I don’t have that much time in the mornings, so I make my porridge in the microwave. Simply put the oats, juice, cinnamon and currants into a microwaveable bowl, give it a good mix and place in the microwave. Cook on medium power for a couple of minutes and then stir. Cook again for another two, maybe two and a half minutes, until you’ve got the porridgy consistency you’re after. I like mine pretty thick. Serve with a generous spoonful of yoghurt and lots of lovely honey. Yum!

Granola – my favourite start to the day

Someone once told me that when you start making your own granola, you never go back to eating the shop bought stuff again. And how right they were. I made up my first batch at the start of the summer and I’ve been addicted ever since. Better still, your homemade version will probably contain a lot less sugar and fat.

OK so it’s essentially a sweeter take on muesli but it’s so much tastier. Plus when you make your own you can use all your favourite fruits and nuts. So you don’t like dates? No problem, replace them with apricots or prunes instead!

While my husband’s not a fan, the girls and I like to eat it in the morning with yoghurt and fresh fruit. They call it the crunchy stuff. Whatever you call it, it’s a lovely start to the day I reckon.

My recipe is based loosely on one I found in a Leon cookbook, although it changes every time I make it depending on what I happen to have in the store cupboard. This is how I made my latest stash…


200g rolled oats
125g sunflower seeds
75g honey
30ml sunflower oil
100g hazelnuts, chopped
100g flaked almonds
100g dried dates, chopped
125g sultanas
100g currants

Preheat oven to 190°C/gas mark 4.

Put the oats and sunflower seeds in a large bowl, pour in the honey and oil and mix together well so the oats and seeds are completely coated. Cover a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper and spread the oat mixture evenly across it. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the oats are golden.

Meanwhile dry fry the hazelnuts and almonds on the hob until they are ever so slightly browned and leave to one side to cool.

When the oats have cooled, pour into a bowl and combine with the hazelnuts, almonds, dates, sultanas and currants.

Store in a large airtight container – a kilner jar is perfect. The granola will keep for around a month.

Peanut butter and jelly super smoothie

I adore smoothies. They’re so easy to make and, for me, they constitute the perfect breakfast on those days when I don’t really fancy eating all that much. They’re great for kids when they’re feeling poorly and off their food. And this particular super smoothie, with the addition of oats, is an ideal post-run drink to give me a much-needed energy boost when I’m absolutely exhausted.

Peanut butter and jelly (jam to us Brits) is the most wonderful combination. I think I could probably live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if I could get away with it. It also works really well in this super smoothie. With the oats and banana it makes for quite a substantial smoothie; pretty much a meal in a glass.

While I’d usually use milk and yoghurt in my smoothies, I’ve come up with this recipe for Blue Diamond using their unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk. It’s free of sugars and has less than half the calories of skimmed dairy milk and half the calories of soya milk, which makes it a great alternative for those wanting to avoid dairy and/or live a healthier lifestyle.

Peanut butter and jelly super smoothies

Makes two glasses

1 banana, peeled and roughly chopped
200g strawberries, hulled
60g rolled oats
3tbsp peanut butter
3tbsp strawberry jam
275ml Almond Breeze almond milk

Simply place all the ingredients in a liquidiser or smoothie maker and blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses and enjoy as a super healthy start to your day.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free sample of Almond Breeze so that I could develop a recipe for their competition.