Super-cheap treats

Just to prove that cheap living does not need to be seriously earnest all of the time we thought we would remind readers that its perfectly all right to indulge in some sweet treats from time to time – OK, most of the time!

Here are some ideas and suggestions from readers.

Pineapple treat. Add something interesting to your toast. Butter a piece of toast, place a pineapple ring on top, fill the centre of the ring with grated cheese then grill until molten.

American-style pancakes are great for breakfast, lunch, or as an after dinner dessert. All you need is 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk, 1 egg (use a duck egg if you have one), a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, a tablespoon of melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Mix the dry ingredients. Lightly beat the egg and combine with the milk and butter, then add to the dry ingredients. Blend together and pour about a quarter of a cup of the batter into a hot, lightly greased frypan. Cook until bubbles break the surface, flip, and finishing cooking. Pile the hot pancakes on a warm plate, with a dot of butter between each. Serve with heaps of maple or golden syrup and cream or yoghurt, and pile loads of chopped fruit on top.

Lots of readers have written in with delicious ways to use bananas. Here’s the simplest – slice a banana and spread on a piece of toast. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the banana and grill.

To make a banana smoothie (any soft fruit can be used) take two very ripe bananas, 200g of natural yoghurt (homemade of course), ½ cup of milk, some ice cubes, and a scoop of ice cream if desired. Puree together and pour into glasses.

To make a banana split – slice a banana lengthwise, place two scoops of ice cream in the middle of the bananas and add a dollop of whipped cream or yoghurt. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and pour over your favourite topping. Dribbleicious!

Here’s a way to use fresh or frozen berries in a berry parfait (pronounced par-fay and named after the glass the dessert is served in!). You will need about two cups of berries, 400 gm yoghurt, ½ cup whipped cream, 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind, and ½ cup icing sugar. Combine yoghurt, cream, orange rind and half the sugar in a bowl, and add the rest of the sugar to the berries. Layer yoghurt mixture in the bottom of the glass, add some berries, another layer of the mix, more berries, and so on until full. Serve chilled as a great way to end an oily rag feast. And to be honest you don’t really need to serve this in fancy parfait glasses at all!

Potato chips are simple to make. All you need are potatoes and cooking oil for frying. Peel the spuds and slice them paper thin. Dry in a paper towel. Heat oil in saucepan and drop a few slices in at a time. They will only need a few seconds cooking, depending on how crispy you want them. Drain off the excess oil and sprinkle with salt.

Popcorn is a great TV treat. If you want to get a bit fancy try caramel corn. All you need is 125g popping corn, a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil, 125g butter, two tablespoons honey, and ¾ cup sugar. Heat oil in a large saucepan until hot. Add the corn, place the lid on the pan and shake constantly until popping ceases (or use a popcorn maker!). Place the popped corn into a large bowl. Combine honey, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, then boil for 5 minutes. Pour the syrup over the corn, mixing until the popcorn is well coated. Pour onto greased oven trays then pig in when cool!

Roasted peanuts are a quick and economical treat. If possible, buy your peanuts from the bulk section of your food retailer. Place peanuts in a large microwave or ovenproof dish, just covering the bottom. Toss in oil so they are lightly coated. Microwave on high for 10 minutes, or bake at 180 degrees for just a few minutes – until they start to turn brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt – they will continue to cook and darken as they cool.