Honey Roasted Pecans

It is …

Warm soft bun, salty all beef hotdog – season.

Cold overpriced I’ll take two to avoid lengthy lines later beer – season.

Red striped boxes  chock-full of salty butter flavored popcorn – season.

Enormous plastic must collect all by season’s end souvenir cups – season.

Helmet nacho season.  Enough said.

Eat my weight in roasted salted peanuts and then wonder why my fingers are swollen the following day – season.

The urge to purchase cotton candy every time the vendor wanders done my aisle – season.

It is watch, listen, breath baseball – season.

If you are new to my place here, welcome!  I am so very glad you stopped by … but know…I love baseball.  The game, the atmosphere, the strategy involved, the precision of the field, the crack of a bat, the hot dog races, the call of a homer, the pop of the ball inside a cather’s mit, a 4-6-3 double play, a 2 out rally, a walk off…

It makes my heart sing.  My soul to dance.  My very cells to shimmy.

And today friends (and by the time you read this…it will be a bit after the fact)…today is Opening Day  in the great city of Cleveland.  It is an unrecognized widely celebrated local holiday.  Vacation days are taken, school is skipped, sick days are had.  Sun, rain, snow, clouds, wind – we as, Cleveland Indian Fans, come out in hoards and celebrate the beginning of the baseball season.   All of us thinking, this is our year.

I made a snack for today that would be great for any ballgame from now through October (fingers crossed!).  At home, in the stadium, at a cookout.  The batch here, is nearly all gone, since I ate them while watching re-runs of The Office and drinking coffee…but I will be making many more to be enjoyed while sitting on the patio, listening to Tom call a game, sipping on a cold brew.

We are talking crisp nutty pecans and oh – so sweet honey, finished with a fine layer of sugar (eek!) and coarse kosher salt.
People!  It is baseball season!!!  Wahoo!

4 Ingredients.  Pecan halves.  Honey.  Sugar.  Salt.

Warmed honey.  Pecans coated.  This is where life gets good.

All kinds of sticky going on.  Guess what?  I don’t like sticky.  I hate sticky. I tolerate sticky.

Easy to tolerate when sticky is wrapped around pecans.  Not so much when the sticky is wrapped inconspicuously around a spoon handle…ARGH!

Sticky pecans, single layer, parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake.

Bake.  Sugar.  Salt.  Cool.

 

Graze while they cool.  Taste testing, if you will.  Quality control.

Pile into jam jars … perfect transport vessel for such a large number of my favorite things.  Jam, jelly, booze, nuts…

Grab me a beer (or a cup of coffee), a handful of these honey roasted pecans, a good ballgame, and I am set.  (p.s…my inner 90 year old is jumping hobbling for joy!)

Enjoy!!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Honey Roasted Pecans
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Whole Pecan Halves (unroasted)
  • ⅓ Cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Coarse Salt (Kosher)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a microwave safe dish, warm honey in microwave for 20 to 30 seconds to loosen it up.
  3. Place pecans in a medium mixing bowl and pour warmed honey over pecans. Toss to coat pecans well.
  4. Pour pecans out onto prepared baking sheet, separating pecans with a fork until they are in a single layer.
  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and re-spread out into an even layer. Return to oven for an additional 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes - make sure the pecans are not layered and that they are, for the most part, not sticking to each other. If need be, separate with a fork.
  6. After five minutes, sprinkle with sugar and salt and let cool for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. Once cooled, break apart any large pieces and transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for several days.

 

,

 

 

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap…Chocolate Pistachio Sables

‘Tis the season for garland.  24 hours of Christmas carols on the radio.  Christmas movies overflowing on Netflix…which leads to White Christmas and continuous loop finding their way into the same sentence.  Rooftops outlined in twinkle lights…making me question people’s idea of what a straight line actually is … because if it means wavy, they are  spot on – or maybe their houses need re-roofed and if that is the case, I am just being an ass…however, butthead or not, I continue to wish people would stop outlining their houses in lights if they have no desire to make the lights straight or if they have a crooked roof.  They make these for a reason.  And since I am on a roll here… let’s talk about the infamous Leg Lamp and  A Christmas Story or as I refer to as the worst Christmas movie … ever.  I am fully aware of this so-called crazy stance against an ‘American classic’…but, I can’t pretend to like something that awful.  I tried, I failed.  I stand firm in my distaste.

I love Christmas.  I swear.  I love…

The decorated trees – deciduous and coniferous alike- to be draped in twinkle lights – making city centers absolutely magical.

Christmas caroling…or at least the charming idea of such an event.  An activity, I believe, I missed out on by merely being born in the wrong decade/century.

Christmas Eve midnight church service.  Where it begins at the top of the final hour of a day full of anticipation and preparation, squished into pews among friends and family.   There is a gentle buzz of conversation that rises and falls as the church fills with followers…This is a place where we celebrate the reason for the following day, Jesus Christ’s birth…where the service ends as the first minutes of Christmas day arrive and we stand and sing Silent Night by candle light.  This is my favorite tradition.

And of course…

Cookie swapping or exchanging or trading – whatever your circle goes by is fine, because when it comes to cookies and friends – umm, it’s just bonkers amazing!  (and yes, I just followed up church service with cookies)  And who to take cookie swapping to the next level than we food bloggers.  I have seen this food blogging cookie swapping extravaganza from afar for the past 2  years and finally decided to join in all the fun this year.  Julie from The Little Kitchen and Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil  have created quite an event….inviting food bloggers from anywhere and everywhere to join together to not only bake and swap cookies and share our love of butter, sugar, and flour…but also raise money for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer and to spread Christmas cheer.

From explaining this event to others not in the food blogging community, most are floored by the friendliness, friendship, and trust that is and has always been overflowing in this dear community.  It is not surprising that people baking cookies and cakes and pies in their kitchens aren’t lovely people, but that a group of people, who in all rights are competing for the same audience and readers, are so willing to work together and achieve together and be such a tight knit bunch.  And the trust…many have asked me ‘ you mean, you are going to eat cookies shipped to you from a stranger’…without thinking, my answer has been a quick and firm ‘yes‘.  And trust me, the cookies have been delicious!

In our efforts to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and with help from the lovely sponsors, we as a food blogging community raised over $13,000.  Wow, right?

To say I am thankful to find myself in and among these folk is an understatement.

Once we signed up, we were then emailed our cookie swapping matches.  I mailed my cookies to Laurie from Crunchy Gooey;  Carly from Icing on the Cake; and Shari from Tickled Red.  I devoured cookies from Deanna in New York – she baked crunchy molasses cookies that took me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen.  Deanna, so good!  Valerie, from Pursuit of Sweetness , made banana bread sugar cookies with a brown sugar cinnamon glaze that took me by surprise.  It is no secret, that I am not a ‘fan’ of banana baked goods (as mentioned here and here), however these cookies –  HOLY SMOKES!  I had to hide them from myself in the depths of my freezer behind the bacon and well, more bananas.  Could not, would not stop eating.  And finally, Cait from The Patriotic Baker baked chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies – think homemade peppermint Oreos – yeah they are as good as you think they might be.  Girls, you seriously out did yourselves!  Plus, the packaging … seriously?!?  I need to up my game next year.  Game on food bloggers.  Game on.

So what cookies did I mail across the country?  Chocolate Pistachio Sables.  A chocolate shortbread like cookie…AKA durable when in the hands of the United States Postal Service.  Chopped bittersweet chocolate…because what is the harm in more chocolate?   And pistachios….a punch of salty nutty flavor and peeps, they are GREEN!

‘Tis the season.  ‘Tis the season.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap...Chocolate Pistachio Sables
 
Ingredients
  • 2+1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2+1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1+1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped (salted or unsalted)
  • Flaky sea salt (used Maldon)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and vanilla, until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Reduce mixer speed to low, and add dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Beat in egg white.
  3. Fold in chopped chocolate and pistachios.
  4. Divide dough into 2 sections and form into 2 logs measuring about 8 inches x 2 inches or so. Wrap tightly in parchment paper (or plastic wrap or tinfoil) and place in fridge for at least 3-4 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Cut logs into ¼ to ½ inch thick cookie rounds and place cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets about ½ inch apart from each other. Sprinkle cookies with flaky sea salt
  7. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on tray for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.

 

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appétit December 2013

Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread

I don’t like banana things.  I like bananas…I take that back, I love actual, real life, peel and eat, yellow … and let’s be clear on the yellow…darkish yellow, not the new yellow that leads one to believe it was green just moments ago… they must be, ya know, perfectly ripe bananas.  I just detest banana things.  What does banana things include?  I am so very glad you asked…you didn’t?  Oh! Well…too bad.

Banana chips or dried bananas – ya know, those thin slices of hardened fruit (errr dried) that are found primarily in trail mixes that inevitably result in the almonds, walnuts, cranberries, raisins, M&M’s (or chocolate buttons if you aren’t careful), and heaven knows what else they have thought to cram into trail mixes these days, taste like bananas.  Gross.  Gawdawful.

 

Banana flavored Runts (or any banana ‘flavored’ candy).  Who eats this stuff?  It doesn’t even remotely taste like a banana.  Have the creators of the infamous banana ‘flavor’ actually consumed a banana in their life?  I think not.  Banana flavored Laffy Taffy – NO!  1)  It doesn’t taste like bananas and 2) Laffy Taffy never fails to numb my lips, resulting in me drooling on myself.  Fact.

Banana Splits.  Bananas DO NOT belong in my ice cream.  Brownies, cookies, nuts, cherries, strawberries…yes, go right ahead – join the ice cream party…but bananas, please stay at home, you are not welcome.  And speaking of ice cream, banana flavored popsicles…who enjoys these so-called treats?  Probably you…and I have now offended you, but I can’t be sorry because it is disgusting.

 

 

And have you seen on Pinterest these two ingredient banana cookies and banana frozen ‘yogurt’ or would it be ice cream?  First, these are labeled as ‘healthy’…well, yes, bananas are healthy, or healthier than say a bag of potato chips or Oreos, however – they are chock full of sugar and eating a tray of banana cookies – which is inevitably what will happen when something is labeled healthy and is also a cookie…you will undoubtedly eat a dozen of them and still crave the damn chocolate chip cookie that you were trying to avoid in the first place, which would have been a wiser choice (because you would have only eaten 1, ha!) plus, it wouldn’t have tasted like a banana.  Which leads me to the second point…why would you want a banana flavored cookie…just eat a banana or a cookie.  No need to mash the two together.   ACK!

Banana bread/muffins/cakes/pancakes/waffles….No where near my cup of tea (or coffee – we are talking about me here…).  Banana nut muffins are my morning nemesis.  Mark this down…it is THE ONE sweet good that I will turn down given the chance ( not counting the banana cookies mentioned above)….  How come when heat is applied to a banana, all of its heavenly goodness is removed?  Banana foster – no, just give me the pound cake and butter/sugar/caramel goodness and perhaps swap the bananas for peaches or apples.  Or plums.  Why bananas?  Peach foster, please.

There are slight exceptions to the rule…a plain old banana can be fancied up with a dollop of peanut butter or sliced and covered in chocolate hard shell sauce and frozen.  And I think the chocolate bit needs emphasized…the bananas must be sliced and never placed whole on a stick, frozen, and dipped in chocolate, and then eaten in public.  No one, and I mean NO ONE can pull off eating a chocolate covered banana on a stick in public.  NO ONE!  Maybe my head is in the gutter…it normally is…but come on!

Get the point?  I greatly dislike bananas unless it is just a banana…so why do I continue to bake banana bread?  Because I am bonkers and think that if I stuff more things into banana bread that I will actually enjoy it (next up, peanut butter banana bread?!?)…and honestly, this chocolate banana bread came pretty damn close and so did this chocolate banana zucchini bread…I think the common link here is the chocolate.

This go around, I stuffed cherries, chocolate (that was sea salted), and walnuts along side the bananas…Think Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, but with the addition of banana and well, bread.  I don’t know.  But I do know my older brother would have eaten the whole loaf given the chance, since cherry cordial ice cream is his favorite and he actually likes bananas in his ice cream or he likes bananas in his bread.  What?!?  All I know, he eats what I bake and well he didn’t get any….but he would have liked it.  Those that were lucky enough to have this stuffed into their bags as they were leaving my house ( you don’t leave without a doggy bag made from my freezer) texted me as they arrived home, that the this bread was delicious and the chocolate made it nice and rich.

I’ll have to take their word for it.

Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread
 
makes 1 loaf (9x5)
Ingredients
  • 1+1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup Quick Cooking Oats
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Cup Light Brown Sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 Eggs
  • ⅓ Cup 2% Greek Yogurt
  • ½ Cup Unsalted Butter, Melted and cooled
  • 1 Cup Mashed Bananas (about 3 overly ripe bananas)
  • ½ Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Cup Pitted Cherries
  • ½ Cup Toasted Walnuts (or pecans), roughly chopped
  • 4 ounce dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped (or about ½ cup chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside. (i also use parchment paper and let a little bit hang over the edges for easy removal)
  2. In a small bowl, toss together cherries and almond extract. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl using a wooden spoon, mix together melted butter and bananas. Blend in eggs and yogurt. Mix until everything is well combined.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Fold in cherries (with any juice in bowl), toasted walnuts, and chocolate to batter.
  7. Pour batter (it'll be thick, so I use the term 'pour', lightly) into prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven and bake until toothpick, when inserted near the middle comes out nearly clean with a few crumbs attached - about 50-60 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on rack for about 20 minutes before inverting on wire rack and letting cool completely.

 

 

Broccoli Salad

My week days consist of me telling  people they can’t eat broccoli.

Or brussel sprouts or kale or god-forbid any greens – including but not limited to turnip and collards.  And do not even think about spinach.

But I feel really bad about the broccoli.

I blame the drug they’re on…it is the main reason.  Or perhaps it’s their heart that isn’t functioning as it should or maybe they have blood clots in their legs or lungs or somewhere in-between or perhaps it because they had a knee replaced….I place the blame on one of the above….but I think the patients blame me.  Because I am telling them ‘ no dark green vegetables’.  I am the bad guy.  If only vegetables didn’t contain vitamin K…because that is the true suspect.

It is hard to be angry at a vitamin…

 

The other month (yes, I made broccoli salad weeks ago and just haven’t found the time to post ) when I was explaining to an elderly women and her daughter, with whom she lived, that she would need to hold off on the broccoli, she turned to her daughter and shouted (either from pure distress over no broccoli or she damn near deaf…) ” DOES THAT MEAN NO MORE BROCCOLI SALAD FROM HEINENS’?!?!?!?! (note: Heinen’s is a local grocery store with a lovely prepared food/salad bar and their produce is top- notch, but their parking lots are death traps and they don’t let you remove their carts from the store…drives me bonkers)  She was visibly upset by this fact.  And I instantly had to agree with her…that stuff is like crack.

Dopamine triggering goodness.  Bacon, cranberries, red onion, creamy dressing, and of course – crunchy, vitamin K rich broccoli.  I felt the need to hug this lovely old women, with graying hair, and wrinkly thin skin…because I too, would be unconsolable.

Honestly, I hadn’t given broccoli salad much thought in some time…I am not a frequent salad bar at the grocery store type.  I grab my veggies, coffee, head down the baking aisle for flour and sugar, grab my almond milk, eggs, and butter in the dairy and I am out the door…But I knew of the concoction she was mourning over.  I’ve been to summer picnics and church dinners…places where broccoli ALWAYS makes an appearance.  And I have had my fill…trust me. And it is delicious.

The thought of broccoli salad stuck with me and before long I found myself in my kitchen rendering bacon, chopping onion, and nibbling on cranberries…I needed a fix before I got too old and needed to be placed on Coumadin, which I think is the prize that is awarded for becoming elderly.  Can.  Not.  Freaking.  Wait.

Until then…I am loading up on broccoli salad.  I think you should too.

 

 

Broccoli Salad
 
Serves about 4-6 as a side.
Ingredients
  • 2 Heads Broccoli, stems removed and florets chopped into bit sized pieces
  • ½ lb Bacon
  • ⅔ Cup Cranberries
  • ½ Cup Walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
  • ½ Small Red Onion, diced or thin half moons
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dressing
  • ½ Cup Buttermilk, well shaken
  • ⅓ Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • Pinch of salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread walnuts (or your nut of choice) evenly on a baking sheet. Place in preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes until fragrant (keep close eye). Remove from oven and let cool and then roughly chop. Set aside.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until brown and crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel lined plate to absorb extra grease. Let cool and then roughly chop.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bit sized broccoli florets, bacon, cranberries, roasted walnuts, and red onion. Toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine ingredients for dressing and whisk to combine - if you would like a thicker dressing, decrease buttermilk and increase mayonnaise.
  5. Pour over salad and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.
  6. Place in refrigerator to chill. Serve cold.

 

Oatmeal Pecan Scotchies

Food is quite the memory jogger.  A trigger of sorts.  Much like music.  Or certain smells.

I don’t know if everyone is like this, but I want to think that a warm chocolate chip cookie takes everyone back to their childhood – I think my first memory of a chocolate chip cookie and looking back, probably the first time I took comfort from food or felt love through its simple preparation, was when our first childhood dog – ‘Puppy’ – original, I know…died.

I was curled up on dad’s lap in our old gray (it wasn’t old yet) recliner and I was sobbing and mom, from the kitchen, offered to make cookies – ‘maybe that will make us feel better’.  I don’t remember the taste of the cookies or if we even ate them that night – I am sure we did, with large glasses of milk and spoons to fish out soggy lost bits and pieces. What I remember, as dad sat reassuring us that Puppy was in heaven causing ruckus up there, was that mom, while also mourning the loss of her beloved dog (even though she would holler and throw spoons in his direction from the back door when he would bark and howl), took time to bake us cookies – hoping they would ease our tears and cheer us up a bit.  Which, I am sure they did.

Cookies have that sort of power.  Especially if mom is making them.

Oatmeal Scotchies … guess what..you got it, comes with a memory.  Like any cookie, they remind me of my grandma.  As most things I bake do, but these are most definitely a Shirley memory.  On Wednesday evenings, grandma had church choir practice or perhaps it was the Women’s Society meeting…all I know, is that she was at church on Wednesday nights and the church was just 2 blocks from our house.  Therefore, Wednesday nights always guaranteed a visit from grandma and she normally brought a bake good ( and I wonder where I get this habit from).  Cookies or pie.  And if it was cookies…4 out of 5 times, they would be chewy oatmeal scotchies.

 

As grandma and mom sat and chit chatted and gossiped … we 3 kids scarfed down cookies, leaving just crumbs behind.  Sore jaws and crumbs.

I hadn’t had an oatmeal scotchie in years.  Years!  Quite devastating, seeing how the recipe for these magic little guys are on the back of the bag of Nestle butterscotch chips.  And when something is this good, there is really no need to tinker with the recipe.  Well, I kinda did…I added roasted pecans, because pecans kind of rock in cookies.  No?

Of all the cakes, cookies, and pies I have taken into work…I believe these cookies received the most hubbub.  The container was returned with a pleading of it being refilled with more.  People were hiding and stowing away cookies in lockers.  They were being eaten 2 and 3 at a time.  I wanna believe it was because these cookies were not only chewy and delicious, but because their flavor and texture and slight hint of cinnamon took them back.

Back to grandmas, school lunches, after school snacks, Wednesday nights.

Oatmeal Pecan Scotchies
 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ¾ Cup white sugar
  • ¾ Cup, light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1¼ Cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ Cup Roasted Pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • One 11-oz bag butterscotch chip
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
  4. With mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated - the dough will be tacky.
  5. With a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, pecans, and butterscotch chips.
  6. Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined (optional) baking sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Adapted from Nestle TollHouse