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Banana Nut Bread

Banana bread recipes are quite varied. When you find one that gives you the right texture and flavor, you tell everyone about it! My go-to recipe was introduced to me by a former coworker. This one comes from Cook’s Illustrated. The bread is soft inside with a just-right crunchy crust.
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Banana Nut Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cups of sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 very ripe, soft, darkly speckled large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)*
1/4 cups plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle portion and heat the oven to 300F.

*to quickly prepare the bananas, use this kitchen hack. Space the bananas out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (the bananas might leak and this provides easy clean up). Place the bananas in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Check on them until they reach desired texture. For the most mashable, let them get black without burning. Take out of oven. Remove peels and mash bananas. Set aside to cool.

Raise oven temp to 350F. Carefully line the same baking sheet with a clean piece of parchment paper. Spread walnuts out onto sheet. Place in oven to toast until fragrant, around 5-10 mins. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cooled walnuts. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract with a wooden spoon. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Do not over-mix! Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to three days. It can also be double wrapped with plastic wrap and double wrapped with foil and kept in the freezer for several weeks.

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Chai Spiced Candied Nuts

Nuts typically make for a good road snack. They’re more healthy than a candy bar or cookies and can be quite tasty. Candied nuts are great but chai spiced candied nuts are even better! This recipe comes from My Baking Addiction and utilizes her homemade chai spice mix which we used trying her chai spiced sugar cookies previously.
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Chai Spiced Candied Pecans

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp chai spice blend (I accidentally only used 1 tsp. Whoops)
Pinch of salt
1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb pecan halves

Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together sugar, chai spice, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add in the pecans and stir to coat.

Stir in the sugar mixture and stir until the pecans are coated. Spread onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 60 mins, stirring every 15-20 mins. Cool completely before serving.