All the Pumpkin Pie Things

Pumpkin Pie Filling | Cook it Pretty
I made a big batch of pumpkin pie filling at Thanksgiving time and froze the leftovers. I knew I could use it for something delicious when the craving struck. So recently I opened my freezer to discover a small pack of puff pastry squares. Light bulb moment: Heyyyyy that sounds like instant pumpkin pie to me! I decided to cut the squares down to fit a mini muffin pan. Bite sized instant pumpkin pie…even better.

Mini Punkin Pies | Cook it Pretty
I didn’t waste time trying to make the crust pretty, I just kind of threw them in the tin, filled with the excess pie filling, and started baking. While I am the biggest fan of home made pie crust you know, especially my Mom’s, this was just. so. fast. Which makes it kind of irresistible, doesn’t it? Filling I already made and dough I don’t have to fret over? Pretty close to instant gratification for all your pumpkin pie craving needs.

Even after that mini pie feast, I still had more filling left. Also in my freezer, old-ass bananas saved for just such an occasion. Substitute a cup of pumpkin pie filling for one of the two eggs in my go-to banana bread recipe, reduce the sugar a tad to balance the already sweetened filling, and BAM – Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread.

Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread | Cook it Pretty
That’s two pretty major leftovers baking success stories in a row. Both delicious, quick, and easy. What’s your latest brilliant use of leftovers?

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I got it from my Mama

Since the dead of summer in Dubai is comparable to the dead of winter in the Midwest (in that it’s dangerous to leave the house and you rely on climate-controlled environments to support life), you have similar cravings for comforting activities such as curling up on the couch to watch movies and baking. Therefore, today we’re making banana bread!

BananaBread done

Bake it Pretty.

Ok, so not everything I cook comes from Pinspiration on the internets. I have a secret baking weapon: my Mom. I love that she learned to bake bread and pies from scratch from her mother and grandmother, and I’m thankful that she wanted to keep that tradition alive by baking with us as kids. Such a lost art these days.

I have at least a little bit of the baking touch in my blood, though I would never presume to say I could ever do it as well as she does – at the drop of a hat, without reference to a recipe, with your initial monogrammed on the crust. Hate to break it to you, but any pie she didn’t make basically sucks. She’s a master of light and flaky pie crust and hand-kneaded bread. She mocks your bread maker (lovingly, of course). We are all born with bread makers, and they’re at the ends of your arms.

Beard Bread Page

This recipe has been used a few times.

When she does want a recipe, she looks to the classics. I have a copy of the well-loved banana bread page from her 1970s “Beard on Bread” cookbook folded up among my collection of hand written recipes, and use it often.

James Beard’s banana nut bread is delicious and simple, and to me it tastes like home. I make it every time I have more than one too-old banana. It’s a great excuse to bake for no occasion at all. No kneading or bread maker required.

Banana Bread Coffee

Breakfast perfection.

It’s so yummy fresh out of the oven, but somehow even better the next day (I wrap the loaf in foil overnight). Moist and delicious! I think the honey is the secret ingredient. The man’s review was classic: “We need some more old-ass bananas.” Noted. Thanks Mom!

James Beard’s Banana Nut Bread

1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
2 large or 3 small super ripe bananas, peeled
1½ cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like walnuts or almonds)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream the butter (easiest if you think ahead and let sit at room temp for a while before). Add sugar and honey and beat until creamy. Add eggs, then thoroughly mix/mash in the bananas (I happen to enjoy the stress-relieving properties of smashing bananas with my hands, but use whichever method you prefer).

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and mix into batter thoroughly. Add nuts if you got ’em.

Butter a standard sized bread pan and pour in the batter. Bake 45 mins – 1 hr, checking that it’s cooked through by inserting a knife into the center and seeing that it comes out clean. I usually set the timer to check at 45 mins because the loaf size (and therefore baking time) will vary slightly based on your banana content.

Let cool & enjoy!