A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: fun

How we Avoid Birthday Present Overgiftingitus

How we Avoid Birthday Present Overgiftingitus

When my oldest daughter turned one many years ago she was inundated with so many gifts they filled a small kiddie pool. She was the first grand kid on my side and her dad has a large family plus being the first child of our […]

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

Hello and welcome to the third installment of our A New Beginning in Budgeting Series! Our first installment was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 1: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer” and our second was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 2: Adjusting our […]

Dried Banana Chips

Dried Banana Chips

One of the easiest, cheapest and healthiest snacks I make my kids is dried banana chips. My son absolutely loves them! We buy a couple of bunches of bananas at Costco for $1.39, slice them up and put them into the dehydrator and at the end of the day we have enough snack food for a couple of months.  They are great to store a sandwich bag of in your purse for those days when your kids are starving but you somehow have used up all of the snacks you have stashed in your car. This may happen to me on occasion. My kids are always hungry! I love keeping them in my purse instead of granola bars because dried bananas weigh a lot less and it helps keep my purse from getting too heavy.

 

Gather all of your ingredients. Just two ingredients here!  Try not to look at the sad bunch of bananas on the right missing a few of it’s mates. We may have gotten a little impatient waiting for our bananas to ripen and eaten a few. Make sure your bananas are not overripe. The drying process intensifies the flavor and if you have any sort of blemishes when you are drying the bananas it can cause your dried fruit to go bad faster. I do not dry my bananas all the way to crispy since my son likes them a little chewy. I would not feel comfortable storing our chewy bananas long term so we eat them within three months. For long term storage they will need to be dried until crispy and kept away from moisture, heat and light during storage.  If they go bad and you do end up throwing a few into the compost bin remember, the whole bunch of bananas cost $1.39 so you are not breaking the bank tossing questionable food out.  Always err on the side of caution!

 

 

First things first, squeeze your lemon into a strainer that has been placed over your large bowl. This will catch any seeds or large chunks of pulp.  I used a hand held juicer to get every last bit of lemon juice out of the lemons since they are a little on the older side.

 

 

Next add your cold water. I filled the bowl most of the way and left room for my bananas.

 

 

Lay out your trays and bowl in a way that optimizes speed.  I like to have my bowl right next to the tray that I am working on so that I can quickly place my banana slices onto the tray. Not pictured here is my compost bag which I forgot to get out until after I had sliced my first banana.

 

 

I put a towel under my tray so that the extra liquid doesn’t spill everywhere. Lemon juice can stain towels so it is best to use an older one. I rinsed my towel in some water as soon as I was done to minimize any acid spots.

 

 

Slicing in progress! I put my banana peels directly into the compost bag for easy cleanup.  My banana slices were a little thick this time but if that happens it is ok. They will just need to be dried for longer.

 

 

Place your bananas on the tray after swishing them around in your lemon bath. The banana slices should not be touching but they do not need a lot of room in between since they will shrink down quite a bit. Always rinse your hands thoroughly after placing your bananas so that you do not have lemon juice sitting on your hands. The lemon juice can be an irritant plus you do not want to spread it all over your knife and work space.

 

 

Once you have slices all of your bananas place them into the dehydrator. My almost two bunches of bananas made two and a half trays but I didn’t really place them optimally since I knew it wouldn’t fill the dehydrator.  Make sure you leave empty slots between your trays if you don’t fill the dehydrator so that the air will circulate better.

 

 

Easy clean up! I make sure and scrub the counter really well after making anything with lemon juice so it won’t stain our awesome laminate counter top…

 

 

I usually check my dehydrator after a few hours and rotate the banana chips as needed.  We got about a half of a gallon sized Ziploc bag out of our bananas.  We eat them almost every day so they should last 2-3 months. I store them in the dark pantry away from moisture. Every time I open the bag I give it a little sniff and check to see if I smell anything funky. I also look over the bananas pretty frequently to make sure they are not changing color or growing anything obvious but you should be able to smell if they have gone bad pretty quickly.  We haven’t had any problems with our bananas but I make sure not to make more than what we can eat in a few months.

 

If you are going to store your bananas for more than a few months you should dry them until they are crispy and store them in a vacuumed sealed container in a cool, dry place. It is important to get as much moisture out as possible and keep the oxygen out if you are planning on using them for long term storage.

 

Here are some websites with great tips for using your dehydrator for every day items and long term storage:

 

Modern Survival Blog

Learning and Yearning

National Center for Home Food Preserving

Trayor Wilderness

Pioneering Today

Back to Our Roots

 

What healthy snacks are you making at home?

 

Dried Banana Chips

October 26, 2017
: 15 min
: 12 hr
: Easy

Make these super easy banana chips for a healthy snack!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 or more bunches of bananas
  • The juice of 1 lemon
Directions
  • Step 1 Juice your lemon into a strainer held over a large bowl. You can use cheesecloth as well.
  • Step 2 Add enough cold water to the bowl to fill it most of the way but leave enough room for your sliced bananas.
  • Step 3 Slice 3 or 4 bananas into the bowl and stir. It doesn’t matter how thick you slice them but the thicker they are the longer they will take to dry. It is more important that they are uniform in shape.
  • Step 4 Stir your sliced bananas a bit then lay them out on your dehydrator trays. I place a towel under the trays to absorb any extra juice.
  • Step 5 Repeat slicing and placing your bananas until you have either filled your trays or used all of your bananas.
  • Step 6 Place bananas into the dehydrator at 135 degrees for about 8-12 hours.
  • Step 7 Rotate and check the dryness of your bananas every few hours.
  • Step 8 Place into a Ziploc bag and enjoy!

 

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking chocolate chip cookies with the kids is one of my favorite family activities. When we had to go dairy and gluten free I was a little upset but I found a way to make chocolate chip cookies with some easy substitutions. Back when we […]

Blueberry Picking 2017

Blueberry Picking 2017

We have had a super busy summer and I was really bummed that we missed the July blueberry picking season. Our bushes are only a couple of years old and don’t produce anywhere near enough berries for us to freeze. They were eagerly eaten every […]

Garden Update July 28, 2017

Garden Update July 28, 2017

Summer is upon us and the vegetable garden is in full swing. My pumpkins have taken over the garden space and the spaghetti squash is not far behind it.  The kids and I are harvesting berries, green beans and squash every other day.  I have been blanching and freezing small batches of green beans a couple of times a week since we have an over abundance of produce at the moment. It is wonderful to have fresh produce from the garden every day! I have already noticed a reduction in our grocery bill.

 

 

I went to go take pictures of the bush beans we have been harvesting and I discovered that we had eaten most of them! There are still some smaller ones left that should ripen in the next week or two but then we will be done with green beans until our pole beans start to produce some time in the next few weeks.

 

 

We only have two pumpkins so far but this one is gigantic.  I have been excitedly watching it grow over the past few weeks and my daughter finally got a good look at it the other day. We have decided that it is wonderful even if it doesn’t ripen. We will still carve it green!

 

 

There are several spaghetti squash in various stages of growth around the garden.  They are definitely an exercise in patience! Spaghetti squash is a family favorite and they seem to be taking forever to ripen.  Our very first one is just starting to turn yellow so I am hoping we can harvest it soon. We will be curing most of them so we can eat them in the winter but I want to try one this summer for sure!

 

 

I planted some radishes a few weeks ago and they are growing nicely. I completely forgot to write down when they popped up so I could keep track of when they would be ready to pick but I will be thinning them this week so I can check on their progress then.

 

 

They are kind of hard to see but my daughter and I planted our bottle gourd seedlings last weekend. They are doing well in their new space, crammed in front of some squash plants and an errant pumpkin vine.  I will definitely need to plant pumpkins somewhere else next year. They take up way too much space!

 

 

Our pole beans finally seem to be getting some legs on them.  I checked them again yesterday and one of them is already a couple of feet taller than our tepee so I will have to figure out a solution for that soon.

 

 

My ground cherry plant that I spent many months hoping would germinate and then carefully keeping healthy under the grow light has a couple of ripe fruits! My daughter was very excited to eat the first couple of them.  Our volunteer ground cherries are doing well and have some of the largest fruits I have seen, some are the size of a large grape.

 

 

We have two cucumbers. They aren’t very long but they are definitely fat! We ate the larger one last night and it was delicious! I will probably harvest the other one in the next day or two. I double checked our seed packet and the cucumbers are supposed to grow to 10 inches but this particular plant had several female blossoms shrivel up so I think it can’t support too many large cucumbers at once.  I have read it is better to harvest them to encourage new fruit.  Our cucumber vines are still pretty small at this point but I am a little nervous for how many they will produce later in the summer!

 

 

I thought I would also post a more general picture of the garden.  We have had a ton of growth since the last time I posted one.  Our tomatoes are coming along nicely but our broccoli is still struggling.  I am going to plant seed starts indoors ASAP for a fall/winter crop.  Adding the lavender plants to our garden has really helped with pollination.  Our marigolds all got eaten by slugs but I am sure we will have more next year since I think they are self-seeding.  We are having a huge problem with both crows and squirrels eating a majority of the squash blossoms but it hasn’t really affected our yellow zucchini or spaghetti squash production so I am not too worried about it. They are mostly eating the male blossoms so we aren’t able to harvest and eat any but honestly we haven’t had time anyways.

 

I am really glad we planted such a large vegetable garden this year! I am excited for more veggies to come! What is going on in your garden this week?

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Banana Bread

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Banana Bread

Banana bread was one of those things I always meant to make but never got around to. We would put bananas in the freezer and inevitably forget about them. I have tossed so many bananas into the yard waste I can’t even remember. Part of […]

Garden Update July 10th 2017

Garden Update July 10th 2017

We have had a busy week in the garden! Lots of flowers are in bloom and we spent many hours pulling ivy along the property lines in anticipation of our fence measure this week. We are very close to being done with the fence line […]

Gardening Update

Gardening Update

This week not a lot got done in the garden besides watering and weeding.  We had a busy week with the oldest daughter graduating from high school and Father’s Day so we were pretty occupied.  We spent a lot of time doing maintenance type stuff around the garden so that it looked better for the party. I in no way got it looking nearly as nice as I wanted it to but the weeds were more in control and the lawn was at least mowed.

 

I have been really pleased with the growth in our vegetable garden.  All of the plants took off when the sun came out and we have quite a few vegetables growing.  Most of them are squash but now that they are starting to grow I can tell which plant is which. It is very helpful!

 

 

I pulled the last of our seedlings from the indoor grow area and started hardening them off this week. My ground cherry is growing well and has a couple of fruits on it. Yay! It looks like most of the other plants are bottle gourds. I am a little tight on space so I will have to find somewhere else to stash these.  I am thinking of planting them near the hydrangeas in our front bed for now and install some netting so they can grow vertically. I also have some room over by the blueberry bushes but that area is very weedy and I don’t know if that will be a problem later.  I might have to super mulch and see if that solves the problem.

 

 

The bush bean plants have gotten super tall. They seem to have grown a couple of feet in the last week or two.  We have been checking them every day but we missed a day for graduation and they seemed to grow overnight.

 

 

I am really excited about our carrots.  We grew this variety last year and had no luck.  They doubled in size over the last few days and I am hoping that they are growing some nice roots down in the soil!

 

 

We have a few pumpkins! I am really hoping they aren’t eaten by the pesky squirrels and crows.  I seem to be missing 95% of my strawberries and I think I know who has eaten them…

 

 

Our squash plants are taking over the bed. I planted way to many of them for the area. I honestly was not sure if they would even grow.  We should hopefully have a bunch though so I can freeze a bunch for the winter.  They are mostly summer squash so  they won’t keep over winter.

 

 

Baby zucchini!

 

 

Yellow squash! I took this photo a couple of days ago and they are much bigger today.  I didn’t get a picture but they almost looked big enough to eat. Yellow squash is one of my favorites!

 

 

Our Luffa plants are starting to grow up the trellis.  I need to trim them back a bit but I am waiting for the first flowers so I can do it all at once.  These really are my experiment this year.  I am hoping they do well so we can switch to natural sponges instead of synthetic.

 

 

We have a couple of tiny cucumbers.  I am going to have to train these with some string so they can find the fence behind them. I didn’t plant them quite close enough.

 

 

Our green beans are doing ok. They have been attacked by some slugs and many of them lost their leaves.  I am going to start another batch next week and set up a beer slug trap as soon as I can get around to it. Hopefully that will help.

 

 

Do you see these? These popped up in the garden a couple of weeks ago and I have been watching them carefully.  They first appeared to be weeds but I was hopeful and decided to let them grow a bit before I pulled the plug.  I am fairly certain now what they are since I compared them to my seedling from the laundry room. Do you know what they are? I am pretty sure they are volunteer ground cherries from our plant last year.  We planted it in this spot and many of the ground cherries were either squished or left under leaves since we had a very successful harvest last year and missed a bunch of them.  I am really excited about it if they are because that means next year I can just save some seeds, I don’t have to search high and low or stress about how many seeds germinate next year. I was also really nervous about our one not so great looking plant but even though it has been growing ever so slowly it looks really healthy so hopefully we will get quite a bit from it.

 

That’s it for our short but sweet garden update! I may look into some netting for our strawberry plants but honestly I have spent my budget for gardening for the year and my kids aren’t missing them so I may not.  Hopefully it will keep the birds off of our raspberry plants.  I am excited about the possibility of baby squash to eat next week! Yum!

 

What’s happening in your garden this week?

 

 

Gardening Update June 19, 2017

Gardening Update June 19, 2017

We have had some excitement in the garden this week. Our plants are continuing to grow super fast from our week of excellent sun and we harvested our first few strawberries.  I got some more seedlings planted and we spent quite a bit of time […]