Candied Walnuts and Pecans

Merry Christmas!  Matt and I started off the holiday with a lunch party for work last Friday and then kept the fun going with dinner at my family’s house on Sunday, Christmas Eve dinner at our house, and Christmas Day dinner with Matt’s family.  At some point in the future I will post about the dinner that Matt and I made on Christmas Eve (standing rib roast with yorkshire puddings… YUM!) but for now I want to focus on some sweeter holiday treats that make great gifts for friends and family.  Here they are…

Candied Pecans

Oh yes, those are candied nuts!  Sugary, salty pecans with just a hint of cayenne, to be precise.  Don’t they look delicious?!? I found the recipe over at Smitten Kitchen and after a quick trip to Target for some walnuts and pecans we were ready to start cooking.  These candied nuts are really easy to make, by the way.  We simply coated the nuts with egg white, stirred in the sugars and spices, and baked them in the oven for 30 minutes.  After the nuts cooled completely I packaged them in jelly jars with a red bow and they were ready for gifting!

Candied Nuts

Candied Walnuts and Pecans (from Smitten Kitchen)

You will need…
2/3 cup White Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or hot smoked paprika)
1 Egg White
1 tablespoon Water
1 lb. Walnuts or Pecans (or any other type of nut you want to candy)

Directions:
Combine the sugars, salt, cinnamon and cayenne in a bowl and stir well.  Place the egg white and water in a separate large bowl and beat with a fork for approximately 30 seconds until the mixture is frothy.  Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and stir to coat evenly, then sprinkle on the sugar mixture and stir well until combined.

Candied Pecans before baking

Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake the nuts in a preheated 300°F oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the nuts are done baking separate them (we transferred them to another piece of parchment paper on the counter) and allow them to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container until you are ready to eat them (or gift them!).  I found that one pound of nuts filled approximately 4 1/2 ten-ounce Ball quilted jelly jars.

Candied Pecans

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Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

Peppermint Bark was one of the first recipes that Matt and I ever made together.  I remember the experience clearly… we were home from college on winter break in my mom’s kitchen and we slaved away over a double-boiler for what seemed like hours until our dark chocolate and white chocolate mixtures reached the perfect level of melted-ness.  Then we layered the chocolates (making sure to give the dark chocolate time to set before adding the white) and topped our masterpiece with crushed candy canes.  The resulting bark was decadent and well worth our time, but it was not easy to make!

Fast forward to present day…  It’s now quite common for Matt and me to spend an hour or two in the kitchen making dinner on a weeknight so that peppermint bark no longer seems like such a daunting task.  Nevertheless, we still jump at the chance to make easy recipes every now and then.  That’s where this Magic Mint Chocolate Bark comes in.  This delicious, fancy-looking bark literally took about 6 minutes to make and no double boilers required!

Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

I first saw this recipe when Anne from UniHomeaker.com posted it a few weeks ago.  I immediately decided that we had to make this mint chocolate bark ASAP.  Check out Anne’s post on this chocolately treat… she used crushed pretzels in her bark and it looks delicious!

Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

** Magic Mint Chocolate Bark **

(recipe from the back of the Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsel bag)

You will need…
Two 10 oz. bags Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels
1 handful Roasted, Salted Almonds, roughly chopped

Directions:
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and pour all of the chocolate and mint morsels onto it.  Spread the morsels so they are all touching and arranged in a single layer.  Place the pan in a preheated 325°F oven for 2-3 minutes or until the morsels look wet and shiny.  Remove the pan from the oven and immediately swirl the chips together using the end of a butter knife.

Distribute the almonds evenly over the swirled chocolate.  To help the almonds sink into the bark, raise the pan about 3″ above the counter and drop it back onto the counter.  Repeat this process a few more times.  Refrigerate the bark for an hour or until completely cooled.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Magic Mint Chocolate Bark

Apple and Sausage Stuffing… Slow Cooker Style!

Stuffing is quite possible my favorite dish at Thanksgiving.  There’s just something about the combination of sausage, apple, bread, and spices that I find absolutely irresistible!  Last year I volunteered to make this classic side dish for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner but there was one problem… we had no oven space! Between the very large turkey, candied yams, green bean casserole, and cornbread there was not an inch of oven space to spare.  Therefore, I decided to make my stuffing in a slow cooker and it turned out great!

Slow Cooker Stuffing

Before I get to the stuffing recipe I want to share a link to another recipe from last year’s Thanksgiving feast that’s been getting a lot of Pinterest love lately… my Candied Yams.  Although these sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows will take up space in your oven for about 25 minutes they are super easy to make and those soft browned marshmallows are so delicious!!  Here’s the recipe.

Candied Yams!

Slow-Cooker Apple and Sausage Stuffing (recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking)

You will need…
12 cups of crusty bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8-12 oz. Italian Sausage, crumbled and browned
3 tablespoons Butter, melted
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped
2 Yellow Onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups Celery, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Sage
1 bunch Parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 teaspoon Salt plus more, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
3/4 cup Chicken Broth, divided

Some of the stuffing ingredients (there was a lot more bread than pictured!)

Some of the stuffing ingredients (there was a lot more bread than pictured!)

Directions:
Spread the cubed bread onto a few large cookie sheets and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  If desired, do this a day in advance and store the bread cubes in an airtight container overnight.

3-4 hours before you are going to eat, stir the bread cubes, sausage, and melted butter together in a large slow cooker.  My slow cooker was too small so I borrowed my mom’s and split the ingredients into two batches.  Add in the apples, vegetables and seasonings and stir until well mixed.  Pour in 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and stir again.  Cover and cook on high for approx. 3 hours or until the bread is browned and the vegetables are tender.  If the stuffing is too dry, stir in the remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth before serving.  Enjoy!

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!!  🙂

299 Turkey 2012

25 Days of Christmas: Days 22-25

This is the last installation of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge!  The last four topics are cookies, sparkle, Christmas eve, and unwrapped:

Day 22 – Cookies – Matt’s mom bakes a huge assortment of sugar and gingerbread cookies and his family gathers before Christmas to frost and decorate them.  Matt frosted this ornament cookie.

Day 23 – Sparkle – One of our sparkly snowflake ornaments.

Day 24 – Christmas Eve – We had our parents over for Christmas Eve dinner last night.  We made bruschetta and Giada’s Penne with Shrimp in Herbed Cream Sauce… yum!

Day 25 – Unwrapped – I’m cheating and using two photos for this final topic…  The top photo shows pile of unwrapped wrapping paper on Matt’s new step stool and the bottom photo shows Bailey with her freshly-unwrapped bone!

25 Day Photo Challenge

Would you like to see more 25 Days of Christmas fun?  Visti Pa-BLAM to see Pami’s days 22-25 post and visit Katie at Kitchen Notes and Other Sundries to see her challenge photos.

Related Posts:

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Cookie Sticks

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!  🙂  Matt and I kicked off our holiday cooking last week by baking dozens of Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Cookie Sticks.  We chose coconut cookies because I have fond memories of making a similar cookie with my mom years ago so I thought it would be fun to recreate them this year.  I don’t have my mom’s original recipe so I used this recipe from Vesta Vamps and it was perfect!  The cookies turned out buttery, crisp and chocolatey and they looked great “wrapped” in mason jars with red bows.  We shared several jars with friends and family and still have a couple dozen left over for ourselves.

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Sticks

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Cookie Sticks (from Vesta Vamps)

You will need…
1 pound (4 sticks) Butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt
3 Egg Yolks
2 teaspoons Vanilla
4 2/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 bag (approx. 5 1/2 cups) Sweeted Coconut Flakes
16 oz. Semisweet Chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions:
In a stand mixer beat together the butter, sugar and salt until light a fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time and add the vanilla.  Beat until smooth, then add in the flour in small increments and mix until combined.  Scoop the dough out of the bowl with your hands and form into two dough balls.

Row after row of cooling cookies

Meanwhile, empty the bag of coconut out onto a large rimmed cookie sheet and place in a preheated 350° oven.  Toast the coconut for 15-18 minutes until golden brown, stirring frequently.  Remove the toasted coconut from the oven and allow to cool.

Place one of the dough balls and half of the toasted coconut into the mixer bowl.  Mix until combined and then remove the dough from the bowl and divide in half.  Use your hands to form each dough half into rectangles that measure approximately 18 in. long by 5 in. wide and 1/2-3/4 in. tall.  Place the dough rectangles onto parchment paper and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Repeat this step with the second half of the dough; you should end up with 4 chilled rectangles.

Slicing the dough into sticks

Cut the chilled dough into cookie sticks that are approximately 1/2 inch wide.  Roll the dough slightly between your palms to create a round cookie (or leave it flat to create more of a biscotti-type shape) and place the dough sticks onto a non-stick cookie sheet.  Bake each batch of sticks in a preheated 350° oven for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.  Allow the cookies to cool on the tray for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer them to cooling racks until they cool completely.

Cooling cookies

Place the chopped chocolate in a double boiler bowl over simmering water and stir until it melts.  Dip the end of each cookie into the chocolate mixture, scrape any excess chocolate off on the side of the bowl, and place each of the cookies on parchment paper to cool.

This makes about 120 cookies and they are perfect to share with friends and family around the holidays!

These cookies make great gifts!

25 Days of Christmas: Days 15-21

This week’s 25 Days of Christmas topics are warmth, ornaments, wreath, giving, reindeer, memories, and bells:

Day 15 – Warmth – Our wonderful, warm, easy-to-use propane stove!

Day 16 – Ornaments – Our tree doesn’t have a specific theme, but I’ve noticed that we seem to gravitate towards animal ornaments and apparently we have a thing for squirrels! Next year we really need to get a black squirrel ornament.

Day 17 – Wreath – We have a double front door which means that we need these double wreathes!

Day 18 – Giving – These chocolate-dipped coconut stick cookies are all packed up and ready to give to friends and family. I’ll post the recipe soon!

Day 19 – Reindeer – This reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh was always one of my favorite Christmas decorations growing up.

Day 20 – Memories – My dad passed away in 2005 but I fondly remember him always sitting in this chair on Christmas morning while we opened presents. We’d have to wait for what seemed like hours until we were allowed to come downstairs and see what Santa had brought for us!

Day 21 – Bells – This ornate bell is part of an indoor display at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. Longwood is a great place to visit at Christmas time!

25 Day Photo Challenge

Would you like to see more 25 Days of Christmas fun? Visit Pami at Pa-BLAM and Katie at Kitchen Notes and Other Sundries to see their photos!

Related Posts:

25 Days of Christmas: Days 8-14

It’s time for another installation of my 25 Days of Christmas challenge!

Day 8 – Tree – This was an easy one because I love our tree this year! As usual, we picked it out at Linvilla Orchards the Sunday after Thanksgiving. You’ll get to see some of the ornaments on Day 16…

Day 9 – Treats – OK, not a Christmas photo per se, but to me this photo screams “treat.” We taught Bailey this trick a few years ago but juding by the look on her face I don’t think that she likes it very much!

Day 10 – Joy – This photo is from Christmas morning last year. It was our first Christmas in our new house and Bailey was having fun trying to lick our faces mid-photo.

Day 11 – Carols – This is my mom’s piano with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” ready to be played by someone (not me!). I spent countless hours of my childhood sitting in front of this piano. Now I’m glad just to photograph it and move on!

Day 12 – Vintage – I don’t know what year this Santa is from, but he’s been around since as long as I can remember so that makes him vintage as far as I’m concerned!

Day 13 – Festive – A nice holiday beverage with an orange peel “twist.” We made these last year for New Year’s Eve.

Day 14 – Glitter – These glittery candles belonged to my wonderful grandma, “Mimi Betty.” Mimi passed away a few years ago but my mom and I each have several of her Christmas decorations and I often think about her at this time of year. Mimi was fond of – no, obsessed with! – the color gold and had dozens of glittery ornaments and candles including these lovely Christmas trees.

25 Day Photo Challenge

Would you like to see more 25 Days of Christmas fun? Visit Pami at Pa-BLAM and Katie at Kitchen Notes and Other Sundries to see their photos!