Happy Leap Day, #50 & Sweet and Savory Nuts

Happy Leap Day!  I’m so grateful for today as I had some work things that needed to be done by the end of February and I got them in right under the wire! 🙂 This is a milestone post for me – #50!  Wahoo!

I love NUTS.  My favs are cashews (since as long as I can remember), pistachios, pecans and almonds.  They are a great snack and a great source of nutrients.  If you are looking for some ways to change them up a bit, here are a few recipes and the stories about them.

The first nut recipe I dabbled with is a Praline Crunch recipe I found in the book, Simply Homemade Food Gifts (to order online:  http://tiny.cc/zfnmf) (and it gives you ideas on creative packaging).  These nuts are super easy and so yummy.  I usually make them over the holidays and give them as gifts.  They are a nice treat to eat alone or throw on a salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  •  2 cups of pecan pieces
  • 3 T butter (plus additional for the baking sheet)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I like to experiment with reg vanilla, Tahitian, Mexican, Madagascar)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  1. Butter a baking sheet; set aside.  In a large skillet place sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat, shaking pan occasionally, until sugar begins to melt.  Reduce heat to low and cook until sugar is golden brown, stirring as necessary.  Add pecans, butter, vanilla and cinnamon (if desired).  Sugar may resolidify.  Stire to remelt sugar and coat nuts evenly.  (Make sure you don’t burn the sugar).
  2. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.  Cool completely.  Break into small clusters.  Store in a tightly covered container in a cool dry place for up to 3 weeks.  Makes 10 – 12 servings.

My all time favorite nut recipe came from a dear friend of mine in Dallas, TX.  They were a holiday gift I received for over 5 years.  You could see me downing my jar at my desk in almost one or two sittings.  I got the recipe after I moved back east.  It is a very well used recipe as the printing is fading on the photo copy.  I’ve given them as gifts as well and have gotten rave reviews.  These are great by themselves (and addictive) and on salads.  They are so easy to make.  Here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Spiced Holiday Nuts

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBSPs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups shelled whole almonds or pecans (I prefer the pecans) (I usually hit BJs to get almonds and pecans)
  • 1 TBSP coarse kosher salt (optional) (I usually just lightly salt at the end – less than a TBSP)
  • Extra garlic salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

  1. In a bowl mix cumin, chili powder, curry powder, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, powdered ginger and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet (I usually use a small pot with a spout) over low heat. Add spice mixture and stir well. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes to mellow flavors.
  3. Place nuts in a bowl. Scrape spice mixture onto nuts and toss well.
  4. Spread nuts in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice.
  5. Remove from oven. With a rubber spatula, toss nuts with any spices and oil on the bottom of the pan. If desired, sprinkle with coarse salt and a bit more garlic salt. Let rest for 2 hours in a cool place. Store in airtight jars or pack up as gifts.

Yields 2 cups.

Enjoy!!

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