Fool-Proof Coconut Banana Loaf (With A Top-Secret Ingredient!)

Today’s cooler temperatures and overcast skies made it feel like fall is just around the corner. And one of my favourite things about fall is baking: loaves, muffins, cookies, and cakes–all of the things that felt like too much effort during the hot summer months. I made my Grandma Murphy’s recipe for a coconut banana loaf for an afternoon snack today (freelancing has its perks).

This might look like a plain old ordinary banana loaf, but there’s a secret ingredient that transforms it into banana bread amazingness. And it’s not, surprisingly, the coconut. It’s the wonderful nutty nectar that is almond extract. Yum.

banana coconut bread

I always hate saying goodbye to summer, but there’s something so appealing about cozying up in chunky knits with a mug of piping hot coffee and a slice of homemade banana loaf. That being said, I’m happy to see that summer temperatures will be back before the weekend!

FOOL-PROOF BANANA COCONUT LOAF
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
3 medium bananas, mashed
Splash of almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup medium grind coconut, shredded
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F

Beat the eggs, then add sugar and melted butter and beat well. Stir in bananas and almond extract.

Measure the dry ingredients into another bowl and stir until well mixed. Spoon mixture into a greased loaf pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes.

Easy-Peasy Peach Cream Pie

August. Is there a better month for eating? Not if you live in a part of the world where corn, beefsteak tomatoes, and peaches are available in abundance this time of year. Farmers markets and roadside stands are loaded with so much bright, beautiful produce you hardly need to actually cook anything.

easy peach pie

Of course fresh, juicy peaches are a satisfying dessert on their own, but it’s always a treat to taste them baked in a pie. My aunt has been making this peach cream pie for decades, and it never disappoints. It’s also easy, which is exactly how summer cooking should be. I promise you, this recipe is totally worth turning on the oven, even in this August heat.

easy peach cream pie

EASY-PEASY PEACH CREAM PIE
1 raw pie crust
6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450°F

Place peach slices into the pie shell, cut side up. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Pour mixture over peaches.

Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325°F and bake for 30 minutes.

Baking tips: If your peaches aren’t super fresh, briefly pour boiling water over them to loosen the skin. If there is too much liquid in your pie shell, use a measuring cup to carefully remove the excess. Bake the pie on a cookie sheet in case the filling overflows.

Blogging, Babies & Butter Tarts

I’ve decided to start blogging again. Why? Because I missed it. Because why not. Because what else am I going to do while my baby naps. (Oh yeah–I had a daughter a couple of months ago! But more on that later. Probably.)

September means back to school for students and back to work for summer vacationers, and since I’m not going back to either of those things, I might as well go back to blogging. Right? Write.

A lot of stuff has happened in the past few months: Dave and I said goodbye to our carefree/child-free days of bar hopping and apartment dwelling in Toronto’s Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood and became home-owning, Rav 4-driving, diaper-changing, stroller-pushing east enders. Our new gig keeps us busy doing all sorts of things, like trying to stay ahead of a Mount Everest-sized pile of laundry, making our house feel like a home (I swear we’ll get window coverings soon!), and manipulating our facial muscles in ridiculous contortions in attempt to make our daughter smile. Sometimes it even works (proof below).

baby smiles

Things I haven’t been doing lately include, but are not limited to: baking and blogging. And bathing. Just kidding. I totally still bathe, although it’s been bumped down on the to do list these days. Taking care a human baby is hard work! But it’s impossible to complain about the job when your boss is so darned cute.

Anyway, here’s a Grandma Murphy-approved recipe for butter tarts. I thought these were the perfect treats for this post since our daughter’s due date was Canada Day (her actual birth date was July 2) and apparently butter tarts are considered a Canadian delicacy. Beware: they are sinfully delicious and almost too easy to make!

easy butter tart reicpe

Note: I used this pastry recipe for the tart shells, but store-bought ones work, too!

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425°F

Cover raisins with boiling water. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Drain water. Beat in egg, brown sugar and the remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into raw tart shells–do not overfill. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Morning Muffin Magic

I have a weakness for muffins. Every time I walk into a coffee shop, I instantly forget that I came in to order a latte, and start drooling over the plump muffins staring at me from behind the pastry case. “Pick me! Pick me!” I hear each one pleading. Like adorable little orphan-muffins in a pound.

But as tempting as the muffins in the cake stands at my favourite cafe are, nothing comes close to homemade muffins. Especially Grandma’s homemade muffins.morning muffin magicMy Grandma Murphy is 91 years old, so you won’t be surprised to hear that she doesn’t bake as often as she did when she was a young mother with a husband and five daughters to feed. When she does bake these days, though, muffins are her go-to goodies.

morning muffin magicThere are no special instructions for these muffins. Like all muffins, they’re a great grab-and-go breakfast or cure for those mid-morning stomach rumbles. The one thing I will say about these muffins, which are loaded with chunks of pecans, pineapple and raisins, is that there’s a reason why they have the word “magic” in their name!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained, or 1 apple, peeled and grated
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F

Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well to blend.

Beat eggs, oil and vanilla in small bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in egg mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fill greased or paper cup-lined muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Special thanks to the beautiful and talented Scarlet O’Neill for helping me style this shoot.

Just-Because Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night I made chocolate chip cookies.

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There wasn’t a birthday or anything particularly special to celebrate. Just a random Monday at the end of March and a girl’s craving for something sweet.

IMG_2393Sometimes the soul just needs ooey-gooey, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

IMG_2377

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

peanutbuttertreatsWhen I saw a photo of these peanut butter balls on Pinterest in the fall, I was skeptical. “How cute, someone put chocolate chips in horse feed and called them treats.” Well, I’m not fallin’ for it!

But after spending the Christmas holidays overindulging in sugary, high-fat baked goods, which seemed to be lying about, smug in their seductiveness, everywhere I looked, I thought I’d give these healthier treats a whirl.

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