Spiced Pecans

I have many (many!) recipes for spiced nuts (more than I have ever used but I guess I need to D&D_1183remedy that situation). One of my favorite’s is my adapted version of Union Square Cafe’s Best Bar Nuts, but if a nut recipe has fresh minced rosemary I’m pretty much all in.  But, that said, I’m not a fan of nuts that use egg whites to coat. It’s not so much the taste, though that is a bit odd, but largely a texture issue.  I’m kind of a butter, sugar, and bake girl.

4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Worcestershire
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
One wedge of fresh lime or more if it makes you happy

Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Add pecans and cook, swirling pan constantly until pecans are toasted, 5 minutes or so. Add the chopped rosemary and swirl because it smells so good.

Add remaining ingredients except lime and stir to coat pecans. Continue cooking and keep stirring for 1 – 2 minutes. Add lime juice and stir for a bit. Transfer pecans to parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer and let cool. Break up any large pieces.

Note: This is not in the original recipe, but I let the pecans sit in a low oven for about ten minutes. They are still sticky, but the humidity here is a bit of a hot mess (not much if a surprise really).

All that said, the flavor is fantastic or amazing. Might just be a new favorite – yep it is.

www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Jessicas-Spiced-Pecans

Super Bowl 50

A Year Ago – Salted Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Bacon-wrapped Dried Fruit

D&D_1189I have made this play on the dried fruit wrapped in bacon thing once before, but I have no notes on it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. I usually make comments if something is good or something bites. So I’m trying this again in a bit if faith that I can make it work. The flavored sounded great to me especially if I add my spin to stuff the dried fruit with some Bleu cheese which is always a good thing, in my opinion.

Cooking spray
12 Turkish-style Apricots, or Pitted Prunes
6 sliced bacon
Some kind of cheese to stuff in the fruit

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and then add a baking rack on top. Spray baking rack with cooking spray.

Cut each slice of bacon in half cross-wise, about 4 inches long. Use a sharp knife, slit fruit down the middle, but not all the way through. Stuff with whatever cheese (and or nuts) you would like. Make sure you close it up. Then wrap with bacon. Secure with a toothpick and place on the rack seam side down and bake for 10 minutes. Turn with tongs and bake 10 minutes more. Rest for few minutes – really hot dried fruit can burn you – it’s the sugar.

Serve with lime wedges. Oh, yep, I’m so doing that. Citrus makes everything better.

Super Bowl 50

Source: Mollie Katzen – Get Cooking 2009 – great cookbook to get you started in the kitchen. My first experience with Mollie Katzen is probably the same as everyone else. Moosewood Cookbook, I’ve had this book for years – my edition is the 15th anniversary version from 1992 which if I do the math correctly means the book is 39 years old.

Notes: the Bleu cheese leaked out a bit which was unfortunate.  I did get them ready and refrigerate because I worried about that, but it was still a problem. 20 minutes did the bacon perfectly. The ones where the cheese stayed in were awesome, the others were good too, but in general I was a bit bummed about it. Need to figure out how fix it.

I will do this again to be sure. Just need to sort out the minor issue.

Next week’s feeding frenzy – Super Bowl & Mardi Gras

Sometimes the stars align in the food world and food-related holidays  – or excuses to eat as they are really known – are spaced out nicely. That is not the case this year. Both the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras are in the space of three days. Lord, that is a tall order.

We do the Super Bowl at home for who ever want to join us –  kind of just to watch the commercials – and we have a pot luck at work on Mardi Gras. So I have to sort out what I am going to do for each.

Pensacola has a happening Mardi Gras scene with something like 50 Krewes. (You do know the first Mardi Gras celebration wasn’t in New Orleans, right??). There is a krewe here for just about anyone: Krewe of Lafitte, Mayoki Indians, Krewe of St. Patrick, Krewe du Ya Yas,  Pyrates of Perdido Bay, Krewe of Divas, Krewe of Wrecks. The festivities start, usually, the first week of January around 12th night, and continue through till the real Mardi Gras – yep – Fat Tuesday. There are masquerade balls, loads of parades and just a general party atmosphere that gets us through the worst of “our version”of winter, which I am aware is not a real winter. Yes yes, I understand – we don’t have winter. This year Mardi Gras is bloody-friggin’ early – hence the collision with the Super Bowl.

Tonight is the Krewe of Lafitte lighted parade downtown and tomorrow is the big Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade. Sunday is the Wrecks Pensacola Beach Parade. Lord only knows what will happen on Tuesday, but I’m hoping a Bloody Mary will be involved.

So here are my plans for both:
Super Bowl 50 (yes, hate you Super Bowl, but I also do not understand your math)
Sun-dried tomato pesto torte
Spiced pecans
Roast beef and horseradish cream sandwiches
Bacon-wrapped fruit bites
Prosciutto Fontina pinwheels
Buffalo chicken rolls

Mardi Gras pot luck
Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies
Sun-dried tomato pesto torte – I always ask the office what they want me to make. And it’s pretty much always this. Fine with me. I love it. And I get it twice this week – score!!

Hot Reuben Dip

This is just one of those recipes that is good, but not terribly stylish – it’s pretty blah to look at. Yes, beige. I feel bad for the Man of the House. He’s a great photographer, but I’m afraid I don’t give him much to work with. My food can be white, beige, and boring looking.

Slightly off topic, I made homemade buttermilk ranch dressing – it tastes wonderful, but it’s blah.  Will one day get a photo that makes it look good, but I’m not sure when that will happen. Sigh.

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Hot Reuben Dip

2 Feb 2015 Super Bowl
1/2 recipe, instead of ketchup used chili sauce, used Dijon mustard, toasted thin sliced rye bread instead of cocktail squares.

1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 pound corned beef, chopped
8 ozs. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained (recommended: Boar’s Head)
1 package of rye cocktail squares

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix half the Swiss cheese with the next six ingredients.

Place mixture into an oven-proof dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in the oven until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Turn on broiler and brown the top.

Serve the dip with bread squares.

23 Dec 2011 – make a half recipe next time. But really good, but pretty bland to look at. (Do we see a theme here?)

Source: Not sure.

Ham & Swiss Sliders

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Ham & Swiss Sliders

08 July 2002 – Lawn Party Sandwiches – Southern on Occasion – The Junior League of Cobb – Marietta, Inc., p. 71. My first version of this apparently, ubiquitous recipe, and it is special for me. This is my variation after many different iterations.

This (Southern on Occasion) is the first cookbook The Man of the House bought for me. We saw it at Kevin’s Guns and Sporting Goods. I really liked it.  But my, then boyfriend, said later that  he purchased it for his sister-in-law for Christmas. I understood that because he’s good at gifts, but wasn’t exactly pleased since it was the only copy.

Imagined how surprised I was to find it really was for me. He did this way before he was the Man of the House, but it seems fitting that I made something from it for our pre-wedding celebration at the Highland Lake Inn. It was a Monday evening since we were doing everything different  – we were married on a Tuesday – the second best day of my life – The Boy has to take just a bit of precedence. But that Monday with just a small group of family and friends was, well, really just so wonderful.

This is my new version of the same basic idea – I mean, how can you go wrong with ham and melty cheese?

1 package Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
1/3 pound sliced ham (recommended: Boar’s Head Tavern ham)
1/3 pound sliced baby Swiss
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
3 Tbs grated onion

Cut the rolls in half horizontally and keep bottom in one piece, as best as possible. In a small bowl mix butter, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, and grated onion. Spread evenly on bottom half of rolls.

Top with the sliced ham and then sliced cheese. Wrap in foil. At this point you can bake or refrigerate. I think it is best to refrigerate overnight. It makes party day a bit easier to do it a day ahead.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and rolls are slightly toasty.

Thomas’ California French Bread

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Thomas’ California French Bread (addictive)

This a recipe I’ve had so long (pre 1990’s – pre The Boy) that I have no idea where it comes from. Well, that’s not exactly true – it was in the Jacksonville Times Union (Times-Onion if you want to be funny), but I have googled it and nothing comes up. Is that strange or cool? I’m going for cool. Not sure who Thomas is, but in my opinion, he’s a rock star.

It sounds simple and it is. You can mess about with it and use different cheeses or add Italian parsley which would probably be good,  but I kind of stick with the original. I think the key is baking the bread with the garlic, onion, and bleu cheese dressing first. The onions and garlic soften and the bleu cheese bits start to melt.  And I said it’s recommended to use Marie’s (I was trying to be nice, but …) , but it must be Marie’s Super Blue Cheese dressing (in the produce section). Get it when it is buy one – get one and it lasts pretty much, for months, in the fridge. This is key – if you ask me. OR make your own chunky bleu cheese dressing – that would work for sure. May have to try that next time and see if The Boy notices, as he a conniseur of this lovely garlic cheese bread.

1 loaf of French bread

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small yellow onion, grated

1 cup chunky bleu cheese dressing (recommended: Marie’s)

2 cups extra sharp cheddar, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice French bread in half horizontally. Combine onion and garlic in small bowl. Mix in bleu cheese dressing. Spread mixture on both sides of bread and close bread and wrap in foil. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and open bread to lay flat on the foil. Top with cheddar and return to the oven until the cheese melts. If desired, put under broiler for a few minutes until crunchy.

Remove from oven. Slice with serrated knife.

 

Super Bowl Planning

Well, I’ve been thinking about the super bowl for about two weeks, but didn’t really get down to work on it till yesterday. It’s the first, in my opinion, food event of the year. I suppose that Twelfth Night is technically, but I can’t ever seem to manage that as it is usually the day I go back to that thing I call a job. Jobs get in the way of cooking. Enough said. For me New Year’s is part of the previous year of food planning – Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s (eve and day), so it doesn’t quite count – ergo – Super Bowl = 1st food event for 2015.SuperBowlXLIXLogo

The whole idea of “food events” isn’t new*. You can plan your year around them if you choose to do so. It does give me time to experiment and the super bowl, I have to admit is one of my favorites because it is, in our family, appetizers and finger foods (none of them “good” for you) and trying new things and a few standbys that always seem to please. We stay in for the evening and watch – wait for it – the commercials – woo hoo!! I just don’t ever have a dog in this fight – pretty much don’t care who wins. What I would like – though it rarely happens – is a good game, but we can all dream, I suppose. I do prefer Seattle this year, but that’s just because I can’t abide the Patsies.

* We shall expand on this food events calendar notion at a latter time, though not much latter or we will miss the next food event.

So here are my thoughts for this year:

Hawaiian Sliders – this is a take on the ubiquitous ham and swiss appetizer sandwiches. We had the original version (i.e. first version I had seen) at our pre-wedding party in 2002. I’ve read several recipes for this, but have decided that I’m just going to pull the best parts of what I’ve seen and make it work. I am making my own recipe based on what works for us. More on this after the game.

Sun-dried tomato Artichoke Buttons – I’ve been thinking of making this for ages, and I’m finally going to do it. I may eat them all myself (over days, of course), but I think it has potential. But I’m winging it again – no artichoke bottoms at my Publix. Still the flavors sound good, and I’ve made my own pesto as usual – super easy and really good. I’m sure it will work.

Hot Reuben Dip – will do a half recipe as I made it in 2011 for Christmas Eve and it was way to much for our small group.  But the flavors – really good. If you like a reuben, that is. Have thin rye bread to toast for it.

Thomas’ California French Bread – a recipe I’ve had so long (pre 1990’s) that I have no idea where it comes from, but I have googled it and nothing comes up. Is that strange or cool? I’m going for cool. Not sure who Thomas is, but in my opinion – he is a god.

And some sort of cheese cracker – still debating on that. I’m thinking Rosemary Cheddar crackers from a Foster’s Market recipe. I sure do miss the NC triangle. Foster’s Market. Southern Season, UNC-Chapel Hill. They have fall there – sigh. But they also have ice storms, sort of like winter hurricanes.

Any way, bring on the football, um, commercials. Or whatever.