Banana Chips

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These were super easy and perfect for those bananas you need to use up. I made these to go along for a trip as an easy, non-squishable snack for my kids. They were a hit with the kids and the adults! 😉

Thinly slice 2-4 bananas – firm are easier to work with – if they’re mushy, put them in a freezer bag in the freezer and I’ll get to my banana bread recipe later. 🙂

Toss the banana slices gently in about 2-4 tbsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed is always better, but I used bottled lemon juice since I couldn’t find my lemon). Add a sprinkle of sugar (more or less – or omit – to taste). I made these without the sugar and my kids didn’t notice.

Lightly spray/grease 1-2 baking sheets (depending on how many slices of bananas you have). Place slices with a tad bit of space around them so they don’t stick and bake in an oven preheated to 215 degrees F for 1 – 1/2 hours. Flip over. Continue baking for another 1 to 1 – 1/2 hours. When they’re crisp, they’re done.

Blessed

Usually in the peacefulness that comes shortly after my youngest falls asleep, I revel in amazement at my life. If you told me 15 years ago that this would be my life now, I wouldn’t have believed you. I don’t think you can grasp just how fulfilling having a family can be until you are there. I am so grateful. I get overwhelmed with just how blessed I am. I have a wonderful, loving, hard-working, brilliant husband who is also an excellent father and defines “partner”. I have three healthy children who are so smart and compassionate and love school, church and family. I have a wonderful and supportive family. I feel so blessed to think, every SINGLE day, of how lucky I am. How lucky my children are. I had two amazing grandparents to raise me, and wonderful aunts and uncles to support me as well. When I say family, I’m also referring to my husband’s family, my “in laws” who are so much more than that phrase. We don’t have his family and my family. It’s OUR family. And for OUR amazing family, I will always be blessed by the love we share. I never would have thought, when I met him at only 14, we would share this life together. I’m endlessly grateful for every second.

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Whole Wheat Bread

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I started baking our families bread back in November, when I found I couldn’t find ANY breads without either a corn or a soy product in it. I’ve played around with different measurements since then and this is a recent favorite!

(Mostly) Whole Wheat Bread

2 cups warm water (a little over 100 degrees, but not too hot!)
2/3 cup sugar
1 – 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
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2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups white unbleached bread flour
4 cups whole wheat flour

In the (large) mixer bowl, dissolve sugar in the warm water. Gently stir in yeast. Allow yeast to proof until it appears to be a creamy foam. *This step is very important – be patient and let your yeast rise!*

Mix salt and oil into the yeast mixture. Attach your dough hook. Starting with one cup of white flour (or mix the two kinds together prior to this step), add it to the mixing bowl with your mixer on a low or stir speed. Continue adding the flour one cup at a time until your dough pulls away from the edges and makes a nice dough ball. Turn out on a lightly floured surface (I love having my pastry mat for this) and lightly flour your hands. I usually keep a small bowl with flour so I’m not reaching into the flour container with dough-y hands! Knead dough for 8-10 minutes. Place a couple tbsp of canola oil (I just eyeball it – you need a good amount) into a large bowl (or use the mixing bowl – that’s what I usually do) and smear around the edges. Add the dough back in, turn to coat it, and place a damp cloth on top. Allow to rise until doubled in size – between 1-3 hours (it takes less time to rise in a warm area, so if it’s cool, it will take the longer end generally). If you’re baking, or have your oven preheating, you can place your mixing bowl on top of the oven, helping it rise faster. Or if you have a sunny window… you get the point! 🙂 Yeast bread likes warmth!

Once the dough has risen, punch down (this is kinda fun – watch it “melt” into itself – kinda like a deflating balloon! My boys love watching this part!). Knead again for about 5 minutes. Separate into two, and shape into loaves. Grease your 9X5 baking pans (2 of them) and place your dough in to rise yet again. About 30-60 minutes this time, or until it poofs up over or to the edges. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. When it’s golden brown on top (like the picture) it’s finished. Pull out loaves and butter the tops while still warm (real butter, always). Let cool. Place on a cooling rack until finished cooling. You can freeze one loaf and slice the other with a nice, long, serrated knife. I keep mine in a ziplock bag on the counter – it’s usually eaten in a couple of days. I haven’t found my preferred way of storing my homemade bread yet – if you have ideas, please share them! To defrost your frozen loaf, you can preheat the oven to 250 degrees F, and place the loaf in for 10-15 minutes or so. It’s like a fresh loaf!

Please contact me for any questions, comments or suggestions! therivetingredhead@gmail.com

Happy baking!