My Favourite Banana Muffins

by byn on October 6, 2015

in Muffins & Scones

My Favourite Banana Muffins

In the 5 years I’ve been blogging, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve made these muffins. They are the epitome of comfort to me. My Mom made these all the time for us when we were growing up and I make them all the time now. The recipe comes from a cookbook called “Muffins Mania”, written in 1982 by “two ladies from Kitchener” according to my Mom. Legit!

You can use up your most mangled bananas and I promise they’ll be good. I’m notorious for finding black bananas in my work tote on Sunday night that have been there all weekend. Instead of throwing them out, I add them to a big plastic bag and keep a running stash in my freezer. When you need to use them, just toss them in the microwave, peel and all, and defrost for 3-4 minutes. Snip an end off with kitchen scissors and squeeze out the banana. You’re now less than an hour away from these muffins.

The other fantastic part of this recipe is you only need one bowl and a fork to mix them up, and the recipe makes exactly 12 perfect muffins. They’re so adaptable too, you can throw anything in them and they’ll be amazing: peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, any type of nuts, toffee bits, espresso powder, bourbon, even swirls of Nutella or peanut butter.

Previous Favourites

Banana Muffins

Source: Muffins Mania


3 bananas

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

+ anything you want to add in (my favourite addition is 1/2 cup chocolate chips)


  1. Preheat oven to 375° and add liners to 12 muffin tins.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the sugar, butter and egg and stir with the fork to combine.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir in until just blended.
  4. Stir in any add-ins you have.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin liners and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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September on Planet Byn {2015}

by byn on September 30, 2015

in Monthly Recaps

Summer Dinner

Mindy Kaling has said on Twitter that September should really be considered a Summer month, and I couldn’t agree more. It was freaking hot this month, and there was no way I was busting out the pumpkin. Here’s what was happening in the last month of Summer:

  • Nicole came over for dinner and I made this Corn & Basil Tart from the archives (with zucchini added this time). She brought a tomato/burrata salad, I roasted some mini red potatoes, and we ate those epic Peach Dumplings for dessert.
  • I made two snack recipes from my blog crush Kiwi & Bean and loved them both: Morning Glory Muffins & Chocolate Sunflower Bites.
  • Earlier in the Summer I went to the patio behind El Caballito, but finally ate in the restaurant proper (twice actually). Loving the beef brisket taco the most!
  • Gwendolyn was in town and unfortunately we had a disappointing brunch at the same restaurant we went to when she was here at the beginning of the year. Nothing a quick trip to Momofuku Milk Bar for some cookies couldn’t fix.
  • Made a couple dinners from the Planet Byn archives: Mushroom Stroganoff, Turkey & Feta Stuffed Peppers, Peanut Satay Dragon Bowls and Thai Peanut Quinoa Bowls (guess I was pretty into peanut sauce this month).
  • Last weekend I went to my friend from work’s wedding, and it was a 10-course Chinese banquet. There were a few things I was scared to try (shark’s fin soup, abalone) but I think I did okay. I’ve come a long way since my brother and sister-in-law’s Chinese wedding banquet, where I wouldn’t even try ANY seafood, and at this wedding I ate crab, scallops and lobster. Seafood will never be a priority in my life, but it’s nice to know I don’t embarrass myself anymore at events like this.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • Mindy’s new book Why Not Me? is out, and I read it in a weekend. Everyone knows how much I love her, so it’s not really news that I totally loved this book. Also devoured Jennifer Weiner’s Who Do You Love; highly recommend.
  • I went to see Janet Jackson in concert and had literally been waiting for that moment since I got the Rhythm Nation cassette tape for Christmas in 1989 to listen to on my pink ghetto blaster. It was everything I dreamed of and MORE!
  • TIFF rolled into town, and I went to see a bunch of movies this year. My favourite was The Dressmaker, an Australian film starring Kate Winslet. It was funny, dark and quirky, and that’s kind of the fun of TIFF for me, seeing weird little movies with actors that I love, that I normally wouldn’t get to see otherwise.


Peach Dumplings with Bourbon Hard Sauce

by byn on September 20, 2015

in Pies & Tarts

Peach Filling

There’s really only a certain section of society that understands the importance of peach season. The citizens of Winona for one (Hi Alexis!) and my food blogging friends. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I only had one item on my peach to-do list for 2015: dumplings or bust.

Like most great successes around here, Danielle made this first last summer, raved about it, and then I had to wait a whole year to make it.  The recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, where Deb talks about updating a classic apple dessert with peaches. I’ve never had an apple dumpling, but let me break down for you what’s happening here.

Peach Dumplings

First, you take peach halves (pit removed, obvi) and stuff them with brown sugar and a small cube of butter. You then lovingly wrap those peach halves in a square of pie dough, and bake them in the oven until golden brown, flaky and amazing. I wasn’t sure if these would go best with the accompanying bourbon hard sauce (butter, icing sugar, bourbon) or vanilla ice cream. My dinner guest for the evening, Nicole, put a prompt end to that debate: BOTH.

This is my new favourite peach dessert of all time. Amazing things happen when the sauce/ice cream starts to melt, plus the brown sugar starts oozing out of the peach. As I texted Danielle, why would I ever make peach pie again?

Bourbon Sauce

Peach Dumplings with Bourbon Hard Sauce

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 6 dumplings


3 peaches, halved and pitted

brown sugar, mixed with cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg

1 tbsp butter, cold, cut cubes

+ pastry dough (I used a half batch of Deb’s all-butter really flaky pie dough from her book, and it was enough for six small peach halves. If your peaches are on the big side, or you want to make more, definitely use the full recipe)

+ egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water)

+ vanilla ice cream or bourbon hard sauce (1/2 stick of butter mixed with 3/4 cup icing sugar and 1 tbsp bourbon) for serving


  1. Using a small spoon, scoop the brown sugar mixture into the centre of each peach and pack it in. Place a cube of butter on top.
  2. Roll out the pie dough and cut into squares (4.5″ squares were the right size for me for my size of peaches, this took a little trial and error).
  3. Place a peach half on a square of dough, and bring up all the corners to meet over top, pinching the seams of the dough together with your fingers. Repeat for all peaches.
  4. Place peaches in a 9×13″ glass baking dish that has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray. Chill for 30 minutes (if you can wait), then brush with egg wash and bake 30-40 minutes at 375 until golden brown.
  5. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or hard sauce (or both!) melting over top.


Orange Pancakes with Honey Butter

I normally stay away from orange-flavoured recipes, but I made an exception for this breakfast. Last night I stood in the rain for two hours waiting for a TIFF screening, so I figured I could use some Vitamin C today, even if it was in pancake formation.

The Baked boys are serving up these Orange Pancakes with Honey Butter for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), when you’re supposed to eat honey for a sweet new year. I’m not Jewish, but I can get on board with that, the same way I follow all of Lainey’s instructions every Chinese New Year. I’ll take all the good luck I can get!

These pancakes are mixed up with the usual suspects, but also orange juice, orange zest and some greek yogurt. The star for me is really the honey butter. The boys recommend eating these with copious amount of it, leaving off maple syrup altogether (good news for me, as I was out). I can’t say they’re going to become my go-to pancake (I already have My Favourite), but they were still a nice breakfast.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!


Blueberry Custard Pie

by byn on September 7, 2015

in Pies & Tarts

Blueberry Custard Pie

I’ve been operating on a two-month delay over here when it comes to summer fruit, but luckily just caught the end of blueberry season a couple of weeks ago. I made that amazing Blueberry Buckle, but was dreaming of this Blueberry Custard Pie; a mash-up of the Blueberry Pie I made two summers ago, and the Custard Pie I made last summer.

So this is awesome, I mean, obviously. First of all, blueberries are the most low maintenance of summer fruit. No chopping, coring, peeling, or pitting required. If you have a pie dough prepped and ready to roll out, the filling and crumble topping take no time at all. I have this weird thing in my mind where pies are so time consuming to prepare, but I made this in about an hour on a Sunday morning (not including baking time). I should do this more often.

Blueberry Slice

Many, many pre-blogging years ago I made a Peaches & Cream pie with CANNED PEACHES that my Mom still talks about, so next summer I can guarantee you’ll be seeing a Peach Custard Pie up in here. I did something else with peaches last week that you’ll see soon.

Blueberry Custard Pie

Source: Crust from Smitten Kitchen, Filling from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, Topping from Martha



1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cubed

1/2 cup ice water


1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp flour

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried well with paper towels


3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp sugar

pinch salt

6 tbsp butter, cold, cubed


  1. For crust, add the flour, sugar and salt to a big bowl, and whisk together. Add the butter, and use a pastry cutter to cut it in, until the butter is the size of peas and the mixture is crumbly. Start by adding 1/4 cup of cold water, and stir together with a spatula until the dough starts to come together. Add more ice water a tbsp at a time, until all the floury bits are incorporated. Knead the dough very briefly with your hands until it all comes together, then shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Stick it in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
  2. For filling, whisk together sour cream, sugar, flour, vanilla and salt. Stir in the blueberries. Chill until you need it.
  3. For topping, stir together the flour, brown sugar, sugar and salt, then use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter. I just get my (clean) hands in there at this point and incorporate the butter until mixture is nice and crumbly. Stick in the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°. Roll out the dough on a well-floured counter, then gently add to your pie plate, trim the edges and crimp them. Pour in the blueberry filling. Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven, sprinkle all of the crumble topping over top, and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the topping is golden brown.
  5. Let pie cool for a few hours before slicing. It’s delicious warm, cold or at room temperature.


August on Planet Byn {2015}

by byn on August 31, 2015

in Monthly Recaps


I basically spent this month trying to catch all my favourite fresh summer fruits before they vanished for the season, but here’s what I was up to in the meantime:

  • How is it possible that I had never been to Wvrst before this month? I’m not quite sure. I organized a farewell party for my co-worker (and the hottest guy in my company if you ask some of my old co-workers!) and this was his request. Long picnic tables, a bar along one side, and a counter at the back to order any type of sausage you can think of, plus duck fat fries. I’m so in on this place.
  • My friend Katy from Ottawa was in Waterloo visiting her in-laws, so based on Christina‘s recommendation, we headed to The Bauer Kitchen for lunch. There’s a little bakery attached where we picked up a treat for dessert and I had an ICED NUTELLA LATTE. Seriously this thing was like crack and I still can’t stop thinking about it.
  • I made these Asian Noodle Bowls twice this month, which is pretty unprecedented for me because I never repeat recipes so quickly. They were fast, easy, filling, and used up a lot of the zucchini I overdosed on at the Farmer’s Market.
  • Every Thursday at lunch my friend Heather and I go for a walk, run errands, or shop, but we mixed it up last week and went to Little Fin for lunch. We both had the Crispy Haddock sandwich, which came with potato wedges and ‘slaw. I was so full after, and so glad we finally tried it.
  • My old boss hosted a barbecue at his house, and I obviously was assigned to bring dessert (Blueberry Crumb Squares and Oatmeal S’mores Squares) but I more excited about the jar of PICKLES I brought! I forced everyone to add them to their burgers and they were a hit!
  • Lydia and I had dinner at Plank and we seriously loved everything we ate: Edamame Guacamole, House Sliders (with maple bacon relish!), Pickled Beet Salad and Bacon & Egg Risotto. Definitely need to go back.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I got tickets to the Rogers Cup through work and couldn’t believe it when we got to see Serena Williams play. She got so frustrated at one point she was bashing her racket against a chair, and then basically came back to dominate her opponent in the final set. Pretty amazing.
  • Kristine and I went to see Straight Outta Compton and it was my #2 movie of the summer, only after Southpaw.  I love a good biopic, and who doesn’t want to see Dr. Dre’s origin story?
  • I finally got around to reading Me Before You which various individuals in my life (Mom, Danielle, Jenny) have been hounding me about for years. No spoilers here, but I quite liked it and am looking forward to reading the sequel which comes out soon.


Nonnie's Blueberry Buckle

We’re at the tail-end of blueberry season where I live, so this week’s assignment is just in time! This is another one of the recipes I tested for Baked Occasions about two years ago, but I was happy to make it again. Santa also brought me a new tube pan last December, so I was happy to finally break it in.

This cake is loaded with blueberries – 4 cups worth – and topped with a lovely brown sugar cinnamon struesal. There’s also a little bit of ground ginger in the cake, so it was feeling a bit like Fall in my kitchen with those warm spices out of the cupboard. I’m sure this will disappear in no time when I bring it to work tomorrow.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!


Pickle Close-up

I grew up watching my Mom make countless jars of strawberry jam and mustard pickles, but never really had any interest in canning myself.  Over the last few years, I’ve been making skillet jams that I can keep in the fridge, but recently I’ve been a bit jealous of my friends who are total canning superstars. These girls are always giving me jars of their dill pickles and homemade jam, and I’ve become more interested in the process. You can see where this is going.

Bread & Butter Pickles

The tipping point arrived when fellow foodie friend Amy from Family Feedbag published her new book, The Canning Kitchen. I picked up a copy when she was in town back in June, and flipping through it gave me all the motivation I needed to finally give canning a try. It wasn’t hard to pick my first recipe: Bread & Butter Pickles. Here’s how I did it:

  • Step 1: I decided this would be a Mother/Daughter project, mostly because I was still a little scared that I would end up with exploding jars or something and I wanted back-up for PICKLE DAY.
  • Step 2: A few days before PICKLE DAY we went to Bulk Barn to pick up all of our spices and to Canadian Tire to get our canning supplies, including pickling vinegar and pickling salt, which I couldn’t find at my regular grocery store.
  • Step 3: The night before PICKLE DAY I cleaned my kitchen and cleared everything off my kitchen counters and set out all my new canning supplies (Amy includes a section on canning equipment in the book, so I knew exactly what I needed). My kitchen is basically the size of a shoebox, so this is key.
  • Step 4: The morning of PICKLE DAY I went to the Farmer’s Market near my house and bought my big basket of cucumbers, brought them home, washed them, sliced them, tossed them with sliced onion and pickling salt and set them aside. It’s really important to read the recipe thoroughly before starting, as there’s a 3 hour wait time here before you can proceed (we went out for lunch while we waited!).
  • Step 5: We followed the rest of the recipe, including making the pickling solution, and then processed the jars according to Amy’s 10-step Processing Checklist in the book. We had the book open on the counter and consulted it every step of the way to make sure we didn’t miss anything (especially since my Mom is like, oh you don’t need to do this part, Grammy never did this, and I’m like, but Mooooommmm, Amy says that according to North American home canning guidelines… {insert Mom rolling eyes at me}).

Overall, the process went very smoothly, even in my teeny tiny little kitchen, thanks to Amy’s clear instructions. The only thing that threw me off was that I ended up with a LOT of extra cucumbers – enough to fill a 1L jar. I ended up making some extra pickling solution, and sticking that jar in the fridge.

Extra Jar

Turns out the most challenging part of making pickles is that you have to wait 2-3 weeks to eat them! I finally cracked open my first jar the other day, and they are LEGIT. I can’t believe we made these in my kitchen! You can find the recipe on Page 102 of The Canning Kitchen.

Now for a GIVEAWAY! You too can become a canning queen or king by winning a signed copy of The Canning Kitchen, plus a $100 Gift Card for Canadian Tire, where you can stock up on everything you need to can. Just leave a comment telling me what you’d like to can (think jam, pickles, chutney) and then fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter (start by filling in your name and email address). You can gain even more entries by following the gang on various forms of social media, but that part is optional.

This giveaway is open to anyone in Canada and will run until next Wednesday, September 2nd. Good luck!

You can click the links below to see what my friends made from The Canning Kitchen:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Fresh Strawberry Bundt

You may remember that when I left my old job at the beginning of last summer, my former co-workers sent me off with a two week farewell treat tour. They took turns either baking something or buying treats to bring in, as a thank you for all the goodies I brought to them over the two years I worked there.

This cake was the very first treat of that tour, made with love by my friend Janelle. I’ve been waiting an entire year to make it. Grocery store strawberries just weren’t going to cut if for this beautiful bundt! I wanted fresh, local, sweet Ontario strawberries, and was willing to wait this long.

Strawberry Slice

I’m so glad I did because this cake is a winner. It’s SUPER hydrated because it has a whole cup of greek yogurt, and it’s one of those cakes that tastes better the longer it sits. I love that.

I shared this with my new co-workers and it was gone in record time. I feel like this is so adaptable to any summer fruit you want to add in. I think a peach version would be particularly delicious, working that whole peaches & cream angle.

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Source: A Spicy Perspective


2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

zest from 1 lemon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup greek yogurt – plain or vanilla

12oz strawberries, diced, tossed with 1/4 cup flour

+ 1 cup icing sugar whisked with 2 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 375° and spray a bundt pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and lemon juice and mix again until well combined.
  4. Alternately mix in the flour mixture (3 additions) and yogurt (2 additions), beginning and ending with the flour.
  5. Add the strawberries and gently fold in. Pour batter into bundt pan and smooth it into an even layer.
  6. Bake for 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Drizzle glaze overtop.


Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

For a long time I have had a very real, very negative reaction to strawberries and goat cheese in salad. This stems, no doubt, from my aversion to Milestone’s, which I have explained at length in the past. They had* a salad with this combination on the menu in the early-mid aughts, when I ate there constantly. I feel sorry for my past self…I just didn’t know any better.

Lately though, my BSF Janelle and I have had another salad with this combination at Joey’s. It’s called The Beach, and is basically that same salad from Milestone’s, but with quinoa, avocado and grilled chicken. It’s actually quite delightful, and I love the strawberry and goat cheese combo as clichéd as it may be**.

I decided to make this at home a couple weeks ago, with a handful of my last precious Ontario strawberries tossed in. I also FRIED THE CHEESE because why wouldn’t you? The whole salad gets drizzled with a tasty poppy seed dressing. This is the kind of thing I would make once a year and then forget about, so of course I’m documenting it here.

*Oh snap! It’s still on the menu

**Speaking of clichés…J and I order a Molten Lava Chocolate Soufflé at Joey’s for dessert. It’s basically a Cathy cartoon when that thing hits our table

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Fritter Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Source: Club Narwhal, plus Joey’s, plus *shudder* Milestone’s



1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp white vinegar

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp poppy seeds

Goat Cheese Fritters

1 log goat cheese, sliced into 1/4″ thick discs – you’ll want 3-4 discs per salad, because that’s the way life should be lived – I used the kind with herbs on the outside

1/4 cup flour

1 egg

2/3 cup panko, seasoned with salt and pepper

+ salad greens (I used red leaf lettuce, Joey’s uses some type of mesclun mix)

+ pecans (candied or spicy if you have time)

+ sliced strawberries

+ avocado


  1. For poppy seed dressing, blend all ingredients (except poppy seeds) with an immersion blender. For this dressing to emulsify properly you need to use a blender. I tried to shake everything together in a jar and it wasn’t happening.
  2. For goat cheese, set up your assembly line with 3 bowls in this order: flour, egg (whisk it), breadcrumbs. Toss the goat cheese discs into the flour, then dunk in the egg, then coat in breadcrumbs. Place in the fridge while the pan heats up.
  3. Set a non-stick pan over medium-heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil.
  4. Fry the goat cheese for two minutes on each side, then set on a paper towel to drain.
  5. Toss up your lettuce and toppings, drizzle dressing over top, and set a few discs of goat cheese on top.

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