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Cinnamon Walnut Banana Bread

Banana bread is the dish I bake most often, since I hate seeing overripe bananas go to waste and the rest of the ingredients are usually on hand. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with adding cinnamon and walnuts to give it an extra kick of flavor and texture. I have finally found just the right amount of both ingredients and would like to share my altered recipe. Enjoy!
3 or 4 ripe or overripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup vegetable shortening or melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts*
1 1/2 cups white or whole wheat all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix shortening or butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Sprinkle the baking soda, salt, and walnuts over the mixture and mix in. Mix in the flour last. Pour mixture into a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from pan to cool on a rack. Slice to serve. Yields one loaf. Store at room temperature for up to one week.
* The amount of walnuts can easily be altered to your preference or can be left out entirely.
Please also note that using vegetable shortening instead of butter and whole wheat flour instead of white flour does not affect the taste. I prefer using the former ingredients to make the bread a bit healthier.

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Miso Soup Recipe

Miso soup is a staple in Japanese cuisine, and I was hooked after I tried it a few years ago at Asiana restaurant in Pewaukee. This light and salty soup is surprisingly easily to make yourself and provides numerous health benefits from reducing the risk of breast cancer to providing an excellent source of fiber, protein, and minerals.
2 teaspoons dried wakame cut seaweed
4 cups water
3 tablespoons miso paste (white, yellow, or red)*
1 (8 ounce) package silken tofu, diced (firm or extra firm works the best)**
2 green onions, sliced into 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch pieces
*I always use yellow miso paste, which is sweet and creamy (shown in the photo above).
**The store I purchase tofu from only has 12.3 ounce packages, so I use about half of the package.
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine dried wakame and water and bring to a boil. Once the dried wakame has fully bloomed, whisk or stir in the miso paste. Stir in the tofu and add the green onions to the soup. Simmer gently for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, before serving or until all the miso paste has dissolved enough so there are no pieces remaining.
This recipe is very forgiving, so you can adjust the amounts to your personal preferences. I usually add a little extra seaweed and sometimes another green onion. I also occasionally include udon noodles or sliced mushrooms. Enjoy!

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