Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

Coconut Banana Bread is perfect for anyone who wants to expand their banana bread horizons! The tangy lime glaze cuts the sweetness of the bread and adds a nice citrus kick!

For the bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3½ very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened organic coconut flakes, divided (I love this kind the most!)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

For the glaze:

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

  • Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Place sugar and butter in an electric mixer or large bowl and beat together until well combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
  • Add the banana, yogurt, lime juice, and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
  • Gradually add in the dry ingredients and beat at a low speed until just blended.
  • Fold in the ½ cup of coconut.
  • Spoon mixture into the loaf pan and sprinkle the top with the extra 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • For the glaze, mix together powdered sugar and lime juice with a whisk and set aside until the bread has baked.
  • Cool for 10 minutes in a pan on a wire rack before removing your bread from the pan.
  • Drizzle glaze over warm bread, then let cool completely on a wire rack before digging in. Enjoy!

I hope you’ll try this recipe out whenever you feel like doing something a little different with your ripe bananas 🙂 This was a hit with everyone who tasted it, and it’s a perfect pre-summer treat to enjoy for a snack or for breakfast.

Swedish Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)

 

Cinnamon buns are a classic treat to enjoy with coffee or to munch on in the morning. They make a perfect sweet breakfast for a lazy Saturday, or any day really, because who could say no to a cinnamon bun?

Skip the goopy glaze for these bad boys. This ain’t no cinnabon. They’re already perfectly spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, and warm brown sugar — I think a glaze might even be overkill. Topped with a little egg wash and pearl sugar, this is the perfect recipe for a sweet treat.

Time: 2½-3 hours

Yields: About 15-20 buns

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk (I used skim since it was all I had, but whole milk or almond milk would be even better)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick room temperature unsalted butter
  • ¼ – ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pearl sugar for garnish
  • vegetable oil

  • Begin by scalding the milk in a saucepan. Make sure you have it over low heat so as not to boil the milk — you will know when it’s ready when bubbles start to form around the edge, like a foaming ring. Once you see this, take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Once the milk has cooled enough, transfer it into a large mixing bowl and add in the yeast. Whisk this together until light and foamy.  Add the sugar, the egg and egg yolk, the vanilla, cardamom, and salt then whisk until combined.
  • Gradually add in the flour and knead until a soft and stretchy dough forms.  You can knead your dough in an electric mixer with a dough hook or just use your hands. I always use my hands – nothing fancy. It’s important to add the flour in slowly, because you may not even need the extra half cup — only add in as much as you need. The dough should be silky, not at all rough, but if the dough is still sticking to your hands after kneading and kneading, add more flour in by spoonfuls until it cooperates.
  • Mix in 4 tablespoons of room temperature butter a few pieces at a time until mixed into the dough. This will make your dough much smoother. (And tastier.) Set the rest of the stick of butter aside — you’ll be using it for the yummy cinnamon filling. Shape the dough into a ball.
  • Next, either clean out your large mixing bowl or get an entirely new one and very lightly dab a paper towel or tissue into some vegetable oil. Coat the bowl so it’s not greasy but just a little oily so the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom and sides. Then plop your dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel. Leave it to rise for 1 hour.
  • While your dough is rising, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and a pinch of salt and mix until incorporated. Set aside.
  • After your dough has risen, roll it out onto a floured surface with a rolling pin. You want to make sure to roll it into a rectangular shape, about a 12-inch-by-18-inch rectangle, but it doesn’t have to be totally exact (i.e. no ruler necessary).  When you’ve got your rectangle, spread the cinnamon filling onto the dough using a knife. Be sure to spread it all the way to the sides.
  • Then we roll! Take an edge and begin rolling your rectangle into a big sausage. It will kind of look like a jelly roll. Once you have your roll, take a sharp serrated knife and cut into about 15-20 equal pieces.  Lay them on a baking sheet lined in parchment paper or a silpat. Cover them with some plastic wrap and let them rise again for 1 hour.
  • I begin preheating my oven to 350° about 15 or so minutes before the last hour of rising is up. When they’ve rested for an hour (those terribly needy little things), lightly beat 1 egg with a fork to make a wash. Brush the eggwash generously onto the buns and sprinkle them with a little bit of pearl sugar.
  • Bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they’re a beautiful golden brown. Cool them on a rack — but not for too long, they’re best served warm!


Finnish Coffee Bread

This Finnish coffee bread has been in my family for years. I follow my grandmother’s weathered and worn recipe every time I make it, so instead of resorting to an ancient note card stained with ink and probably a few coffee splatters here and there, I think it’d be best to share it with the world and type it up on my blog.

 

This sweet treat goes by a few names, but mostly it’s pulla, Finnish braid, or just coffee bread. It’s the perfect consistency; somehow dense and fluffy at the same time and just slightly sweet, spiced with subtle cardamom and sprinkled with raw sugar. It’s the perfect bread to have with a cup of coffee or even as toast in the morning. Or if you’re like me, you’ll just eat it all plain and fresh out of the oven…

A quick warning: this is not a quick recipe. From start to finish, you’ll need an entire morning or afternoon. It takes about 6 hours, because we are working with yeast, and it needs proper time to rise. This is a perfect recipe for a weekend or a day off — whenever you have the time to bake something truly special.

  • 2 cups scalded milk
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1⁄3 shortening
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 yeast packet
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1⁄4 tsp cardamom

* Makes 2 loaves

  1. Start by heating up the milk in a saucepan until scalded.
  2. While waiting for the milk to heat up, beat your eggs, sugar, and salt together. In a large separate bowl, add in the 5 cups of flour. Set aside.
  3. Add the shortening to the milk and combine with egg mixture.
  4. Add in yeast, making sure the mixture is not too hot, but at a tepid temperature. Dot some of the mixture on your skin to test heat before adding in the yeast, as the wrong temperature can screw up the whole process!
  5.  Add the yeast/egg mixture to the bowl with the flour and fold it in with a wooden spoon until a thick, stretchy dough forms.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board or surface and knead 150 times. Then, transfer it back into the bowl, cover it with saran wrap and a dish towel. Leave it alone to rise in a warm room until the size of the dough has doubled (about 2 1/2 hours).
  7. Once the dough has risen, transfer it back to your floured surface and cut into thirds and braid. You could also shape the dough into smaller rolls, but I prefer making one long braided loaf. After you’ve shaped your bread, cover it with saran wrap again and let it rise even more (about 1 hour, just until it puffs up nicely).
  8. Brush each loaf with egg wash then sprinkle with raw sugar.
  9. Pop them into the oven for about 15-30 minutes. I usually turn them halfway, so set your timer for 7 minutes and rotate them. Let them cook for another 7 minutes. You’ll know when your bread is done — it will turn beautiful golden brown and when you tap it, it should be solid.
  10. Let cool and enjoy!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hopefully everyone had a fun day whether coupled up or single — I always liked Valentine’s Day because it encourages people to express love (something everyone should do everyday, but this is a good place to start) and it’s probably the best aesthetic holiday… ever? I spent most of my day baking (these amazing linzer cookies above!) and wrapping gifts, but I had time to make a few homemade Valentine’s cards for some neighbors, relatives, and friends.

Ok… maybe they’re more like anti-Valentines, but you get the picture. We’ve all got a good sense of humor around here 🙂 I use very simple, accessible supplies when crafting cards such as these. All you need is:

  • Card stock
  • Scissors and x-acto knife
  • Patterned paper
  • Mini doilies
  • Glue stick
  • Stamps & Ink Pad, if desired
  • Magazines (I love & always use vintage magazines — I tend to find them in antique stores or library magazine exchange racks)

 

Now for the cookies…. these Raspberry Linzer cookies are some of my favorite cookies of all time. I usually reserve them only for Christmas, but since Valentine’s Day calls for some special treats I dug out some heart-shaped cookie cutters and went to town. These are gooey in the center, tart and sweet, and so so pretty dusted with powdered sugar & glistening with jam! While they’re pretty easy to make, I don’t know why I don’t do it more often.

  • 3 sticks of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam or good raspberry preserves

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer and add the vanilla
  3. Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl and add it to the butter/sugar mixture, mixing until a dough forms
  4. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes
  5. Roll the dough out and begin cutting rounds or hearts (whichever shape you desire). For the bottoms, just press your cookie cutter into the dough as usual. For the tops, you may need to double up on cutters — using a smaller one in the center in order to form a hole for the jam.
  6. Place all of your cookies on a baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes
  7. Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges turn golden
  8. Allow cookies to cool
  9. Spread your jam or preserves on the flat side of each bottom half
  10. Sift confectioner’s sugar over each top half, then press your cookies together to form a little jam-cookie sandwich

Voilà! A simple but delightful treat. You may use any kind of jam or preserves you prefer, but I always stick with raspberry because I think it really complements the simple, buttery flavor of the cookie dough. Enjoy!

Easy Tweaks for a Healthier Diet

It can be way easier said than done to commit to a healthy lifestyle — I’ll let you know when I’m ready to give up pizza & beer nights, or treating myself to baked goods and sweet wine, or to forego sleeping in for a trip to the gym (never). I try to never banish anything from my diet, simply try to be healthy most of the time so that indulging is always guilt-free. How can you really enjoy life if you’re constantly cutting out happy things?! I’m a firm believe you can still eat what you want, enjoy life, and be a little healthier overall with some simple habits.

 

You don’t have to swear off carbs forever. Just swap out your white bread for a delicious whole grain loaf, rich in fiber and protein that will keep you feeling full and also acts as an aid for digestion. Since white bread is made from refined grains, the bran and germ in the bread is eliminated in the process — meaning you’re losing vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber when you opt for white bread instead of whole grain.

Obviously, you won’t be able to substitute oil for butter every single time you need it, but it’s definitely a healthier option for everyday use. Olive oil is full of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, some of which can help to fight off disease and prove to be beneficial to your hair and skin. It’s also highly resistant to heat, meaning it’s perfect to cook with.

OK, I’m aware that I did say “everything in moderation,” but I’m also super anti-soda, so I think it’s for the best. Soda is terrible for our bodies: loaded with sugar and empty calories, terrible for our teeth, complexions, and waistlines.  I actually recently read that Mountain Dew has a higher pH than battery acid. You can’t possibly desire a better diet for yourself if you refuse to cut back on soda consumption. There are numerous better ways to get a sugar fix, and if it’s the caffeine you’re after, reach for something with real antioxidants and way less calories, like a hot cup of black coffee or some freshly steeped green tea.

The more you cook at home, the more mindful you are when preparing what goes into your body. At restaurants we don’t know the whole process, meaning we will probably turn a blind eye to what goes into each meal and hope for the best. The truth is that it’s not always the best ingredients used or prepared in the healthiest way. Even if you don’t know how to cook, buying groceries and cooking for yourself will pay off in the long run, and it’s so fun to discover your personal cooking style and create some signature dishes!

 

A lot of store-bought dips or dressings are loaded with sneaky saturated fats… meaning even if you’re eating veggies, that dip you’re indulging in isn’t necessarily healthy. But you don’t need to nix dips forever, just be cautious as to which ones you’re choosing. Try a homemade hummus in place of sour-cream based dips or store-bought chile con queso. If you think creatively, there’s always a healthier substitute!

 

I love fried chicken as much as the next guy, but we all know it’s pretty bad. Whether you’re preparing a meal at home or ordering out at a restaurant, pretty much anything is better than fried. Look for things on the menu that are steamed, sautéed, grilled — even roasted! Fried food is dipped in hot oil containing multitudes of fat that gets absorbed into whatever you’re cooking. It might be delicious (despite how it’s done) but in the long run, steering clear of the fried foods most of the time will be much better for you overall.

 

Just because power-foods are good for you doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious too. Foods like lentils, kale, berries, broccoli, and dark chocolate have various health benefits and taste fantastic. Incorporating foods like these into your everyday diet can introduce multiple advantages over time, leaving you feeling and looking better.

 

Speaking of power foods, I’m pretty sure that eggs will win all of the awards, hands down. Delicious and nutritious, packed with protein and flavor, eggs are highly versatile and never go out of style for good reason. Make an omelet with your favorite veggies and some fresh cracked pepper, or fry them up and eat them with a hearty toast, or boil them or scramble! Whichever your preferred method, eating eggs more often will keep you in good health.

Which of these are your favorites? Let me know your personal tweaks!

 

 

Homemade Cinnamon Bread

Perfect for a Sunday brunch or a quick and comforting snack, this homemade cinnamon loaf will make you and your guests mad with perfectly balanced sugar & spice! It’s super easy to make, and the process is pretty fast as well (no yeast! yay!) coming together in about an hour and half or a little less.

Eat it warm out of the oven, slice it and make french toast, or slather a toasted slice with butter or cream cheese — whichever method you choose for your madness, this bread will not disappoint.

 

For the batter:

  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

For the cinnamon swirl:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 350° and greasing two 9×5 inch loaf pans
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs together in an electric mixer
  3. Gradually add the milk, then the flour and baking soda and mix until incorporated
  4. Whisk together the sugar & cinnamon in a separate bowl
  5. Pour a small amount of batter into each pan, filling it up about a third of the way and smoothing it out into the corners
  6. Follow up with a layer of cinnamon sugar on top of the batter
  7. Pour the remaining batter into each of the pans, smoothing it as you go
  8. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the batter, using the rest of the cinnamon sugar or however much you desire
  9. Swirl slowly with a knife
  10. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean

 

Honestly, it’s so delicious out of the oven — crumbly with a thin sugar-coated topping and soft inside. Let them rest in the pans for about 10 minutes, then let them cool for just a bit on a rack before slicing and digging in. Enjoy!