Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Banana bread is one of my favourite things to bake. It's simple, quick, and makes the house smell wonderful. It's also so easy to adjust the flavour by adding in different mix-ins - chocolate chips, walnuts, coconut, berries - the possibilities are endless! I whipped this loaf up last week when I was craving something sweet. I changed up my original recipe (found here) with the addition of whole wheat flour. It makes the loaf slightly more dense but even more hearty. Banana bread is perfect addition to a rainy day like today when you really want to up your coziness levels.


Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 medium sized bananas, mashed

1 cup white all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Cream together the butter and white and brown sugars until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Stir in the mashed banana until combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the white and whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture into the banana mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean after inserted. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Good Books: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


My sixth completed read for my 25-book pledge was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The Goldfinch is the story of thirteen year old Theo who after being abandoned by his father and losing his mother in a tragic accident, begins a life of crime and moving through dangerous circles. I was intimidated by this book. Though friends have told me how great it is, and I've read so many rave reviews online, this book made me nervous. First of all it was 800 pages long - not exactly a quick weekend read, and second the cover is so boring. Okay yes I know, those are two very superficial judgements but I don't care, I always judge a book by it's cover - this one didn't do it for me.

That being said, I finished this book over a week ago and I only now feel (mostly) settled with it. Though I was racing to finish it before due back at the library, it was so dense and detailed that I needed to give my full attention and soak up every word on every page. What resulted when I turned the last page and closed the cover, was a feeling I have never felt from a book before. So much was said and had happened that I needed to take the time to let it all soak in before I could fully express my thoughts on it. Needless to say, I love The Goldfinch. It is unlike any book I have read before. What initially seems like a relatively simple storyline unfolds into a series of unexpected characters and events. My feelings towards the characters changed with every chapter. There was not a single character that I consistently loved or hated, not even the protagonist! The Goldfinch is not a book to read lightly. It is a heavy, whirlwind of emotions - and probably my favourite book of 2015 thus far.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Homemade Hummus

We got a new food processor and boy is it beautiful! Beautiful and oh so sharp. As amazed as I was with the case full of blades it came with I quickly learned that this machine could be my enemy. My first attempt at making hummus with our new kitchen toy resulted in no hummus, but a couple band aids - all is well! I quickly got over it and tried again and now I am a homemade hummus convert. I looked through a few recipes to get the basic idea of what to put in. It is really so easy, and it makes a tonne! Hummus for days!! 



Ingredients

2 cloves of garlic (or 1 more for extra garlicky)
1 (19-oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of tahini
2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of water
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Add the garlic to the food processor and mince. Add in all the ingredients and process until smooth, or desired consistency. That's all you do! To serve drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Banana Cream Pie

I only tried banana cream pie for the first time this past summer. On one of my trips to San Francisco I stopped by the infamous Mission Pie for a slice of something and the banana cream just looked so good I couldn't resist. Since it's pi day today (happy pi day!) I decided to give making one of these beauties a go! Creamy, slightly sweet and the perfect banana flavour makes this one a keeper. 


Ingredients
Adapted from Food.com

1 9-inch pie crust

2 1/2 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unbleached flour
1/4 salt
3 egg yolks, beaten 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 large, ripe bananas

I was lazy and cheated and bought a pre-made crust (the pillsbury ones are really good! Just roll it out and go!) but you can make your own (try this recipe), prick it all over, bake until lightly brown and let cool.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk just before boiling and then remove from heat. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in the scalded milk. Over medium heat, stir regularly until the mixture has thickened. Cover for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Take a small spoonful of the heated mixture and stir into the beaten egg yolks until well combined. Combine all the eggs into the hot mixture, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. The mixture should resemble near pudding consistency - remove from heat. Mix in the vanilla, butter and rum and let the mixture sit until just warm. Thinly slice the bananas into the bottom of the pie shell and when your mixture has cooled pour evenly over top. Place in the fridge until set and ready to serve! I think it's best with the fresh whipped cream and shaved chocolate, just saying.