Monday, December 10, 2012

spiced pecans

[This post submitted to SortaCrunchy's Your Green Resouce 12/13/12.]

'Tis the season for holiday parties and celebrations.  Staff Christmas party, Nashville District Christmas Party, Uncle Robert's birthday celebration, Peep's (that's Jeff's stepdad's dad) birthday party.  It all comes boom-boom-boom in a row.

I signed up for salad this year.  I can do salad.  It's pretty failsafe.  Lettuce:  just make sure you wash and spin it dry.  Nothing worse than gritty salad.  For the salad I'm taking to the party tonight, I bought a package of artisan lettuces at Kroger (I know - fancy!  It was $2.99).  Tore them up, washed, and spun them dry.

Dressing:  I always make my own.  Easy:  vinegar, olive oil, a little squirt of dijon mustard to emulsify, salt, pepper, honey if you want a little sweetness.  Put it in a jar, shake it up, and taste it.  Add whatever you need more of.

Toppings:  go hog wild!

I love citrus in the winter.  It reminds me of when my brother would have to do these high school marching band fundraisers so they could go to the Rose Bowl or wherever.  We would always end up with huge boxes of oranges and grapefruits in the fridge.  And clementines.  Don't get me started.  They are perfection.  Seems like a natural craving to have in winter, when we could all use more Vitamin C.

Took a few tangerines and cut the peels off.  Sliced them into quarters, and then into bite-sized segments.

And spiced pecans!  I got a bag of pecan halves as a present the other day.  Normally I am way too cheap to buy whole nut halves.  I go for pieces, as they are always less expensive.  But when I got this gift of perfect halves, I knew I needed to do something special.  I adapted a recipe I found here to give them some extra flavor:

Spiced Pecans
1 lb pecan halves
2 T butter
1/4 C maple syrup
2 T rapadura (evaporated cane sugar)
1/2 t minced fresh rosemary, or 1 T dried that you crush in the palm of your hand
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t salt

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Melt butter with maple syrup and rapadura over medium heat in a large saucepan. Stir in the herbs, spices, and salt.  Stir in the nuts and coat thoroughly.  Spread them on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch them very closely as they go from toasted to burnt quickly!  Salt again once they are out of the oven.  Let them cool, and transfer to a jar for storage.

These are great on salad, as a snack, or would be a perfect holiday present for the neighbors or a co-worker.  Enjoy!

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