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Archive for the category “nuts”

Pecan Green Beans

pecangreenbeans

One of my favorite low carbohydrate vegetable dishes is green beans. I especially love them with crunchy bits of nuts in them and a pleasant coating of butter.

Whenever I make these I am reminded of the green beans my grandmother used to make. She started with fresh green beans and a little fat like I do, but her cooking approach was very different. She would boil those suckers all afternoon until they were mush at dinner time. They tasted great, but there was no need for teeth to eat them! The great thing about them was flavors from the pork belly she used for the fat element. The pork flavor permeated the beans, so every bite was delicious!

I don’t make mine the same way, partially because I don’t have all day to monitor the bubbling pot, but also because I like my cooked green beans with a little snap to them. The cooking time in this recipe softens the beans a bit, but they can still hold their own as individual, non-mushy beans, and you will need teeth to eat them.

Pecan Green Beans

1/4 cup bacon grease or butter
8 cups trimmed, bite-sized fresh green beans
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the grease or butter. Add the pecans and let cook for about three minutes.

Add the green beans, garlic powder and onion powder. Toss until beans are coated and nuts distributed among them.

Lower heat to medium, cover and let cook for about five minutes, until beans begin to soften. Toss beans and cover again, cooking for five more minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, toss beans. Beans can be served immediately or cooked longer to make them the desired softness.

 

Big D’s Breakfast Mix

bigdbreakfastmix

Big D and I have a big love of oatmeal. It started when we were children and carried on into adulthood. It has always been a staple on our camping and kayaking trips – easy to pack and prepare simply with water (ideally hot if we properly manage our alcohol stove fuel). Although our love for the stuff carries on, our desire to avoid high carbohydrate foods is now ever present.

The other morning we decided to try some of our staple pantry ingredients to make a low carbohydrate version of a morning porridge. The chia seeds worked well as a thickener, and gave us all serious boosts of energy that lasted pretty much all day, which is very much needed during a cold winter day.

After making a thinner version for Little B, she came on board with our concoction as well, followed by the demand to recite the old porridge-centric fairy tale, The Three Bears. Quite appropriate, I thought! I am thinking future batches may include a bit of peanut butter, or sprinkling of cocoa powder for fun. Little B will eat pretty much anything with berries on it, so it is almost a sure thing in the future for her too!

The mix recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, as long as it is kept in an air tight container, so go ahead and stock up!

Big D’s Breakfast Mix

1 cup golden flaxseed meal
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups almond meal
2/3 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt

For Single Serving
1/2 cup breakfast mix
1/2 cup hot water
¼ cup heavy cream or other milk product (soy, almond, cashew, lactose free…)
Dash of preferred sweetener (optional)
Nuts or berries (optional)

Combine flaxseed meal, coconut, almond meal, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in an air tight container. Stir or shake until ingredients are well mixed together.

To prepare a bowl of breakfast mix, stir the bulk mix, then scoop ½ cup of the mixture in a bowl. Add hot water and stir, then add sweetener and cream. Stir once more and then let sit for at least one minute to thicken. Add more hot water to adjust thickness as desired. Add nuts or berries if desired and eat immediately.

Curry Peanuts

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I love nuts. All kinds. Relying on basic roasted nuts as a staple snack can become a bit boring after a while. There is more to life than salty crunchiness. When that hint of monotony happens I like to whip up a batch with some other flavors.

I came up with these when I had a hankering for Big D’s chicken peanut curry dish. It is so pretty when he adds broccoli and spinach, along with the crunch of peanuts and the spiciness of yellow curry. The green is missing from the nuts, but the crunch and curry is definitely there!

Curry Peanut Crunch

4 cups roasted, salted peanuts
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp red chile powder
½ tsp ground clove

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl combine coconut oil and spices into a paste. Add nuts and toss until coated. Spread nuts on aluminum foil lined baking sheets, no thicker than two layers.

Bake for ten minutes, toss nuts, switch pan levels in oven if baking more than one sheet at a time. Return pans to oven and bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit until completely cooled. Store in air tight container.

Dessert Cashews

dessert cashews

In preparation for our recent visit my mom bought some cashews, for Little B loves them. Specifically, she likes roasted, salted cashews. The generous container of purchased cashews was very much not salted. I had to come to the rescue for all our sakes!

The need to ‘fix’ the cashews reminded me of festival nuts. They are often our diet downfall. As we walk through a festival all day it is easy to walk by the funnel cakes, cobbler, ice cream, pastries, battered pig on a stick…you know, sugary and wheaty stuff. There are two or three danger zones, and they are all roasted nut stands. They typically roast the nuts and coat them with cinnamon and sugar. You can smell them about 100 yards away, so when you finally come up to the booth the brain has gone through the battle of yes, no, yes, no, oh well hell why not. We usually rationalize the purchase by assuring ourselves that splitting a bag among six people is not the worst thing in the world, and it is not. What usually happens is everyone has a few, then one or two people absentmindedly nibble on the entire bottom half of the bag and they are suddenly gone. Oops! I blame the ambiance and my nose – if I could not smell I bet I would care less about those darned nuts.

I noticed the festival nut seasoning combination worked well on pecans and almonds, but not so well on the cashews. They seemed to not capture the flavors as well and were just sad. It was not the fault of the nuts – they are more gentle and softer flavor-wise than their almond and pecan kin. The cashews needed something more than cinnamon and sugar. My first inclination was to add some bite, maybe cayenne, but Little B is not a fan. Pondering mom’s pantry and keeping Little B in mind, my eyes fell upon a can of cocoa powder. Of course! I relied on the general process I figured out for savory nuts and came up with these lovely chocolate cashews. They are sweet and rich and satisfying – a handful makes for a great dessert or snack when the chocolate craving bug comes around. I love nipping a few now and then. My mom had some mixed with popcorn for dinner the other day. Oh yeah, Little B liked them too!

Dessert Cashews

1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp Stevita granular sweetener
1 tsp sea salt (discard if using salted nuts)
8 cups roasted, unsalted cashews

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two medium sized shallow baking sheets with foil. In a large bowl melt the butter in a microwave. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa, stevita and salt. Stir until combined. Add the nuts and toss until well coated. With a large slotted spoon drop nuts onto baking sheets and spread evenly into a single layer – additional liquid on the pan may result in a burning smell before the nuts are done baking, so reduce the ‘drizzle’ as much as possible. Place sheets into oven on different shelves. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove nuts from oven. Toss nuts and again spread evenly into single layer. Return to oven, making sure the sheets are switched from the first baking period. Bake for 5 – 8 more minutes, until nuts are sizzling a bit and barely beginning to brown. Note that the point of being brown and being burned are very close together, so stay nearby during the second baking period. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store at room temperature in air tight container.


						
					

Pecan Crusted Chicken

pecan crusted tenders

A few years ago we stopped eating wheat for a number of reasons. We have not been perfect about it, but try really hard. It is amazingly difficult to avoid wheat in convenience foods at stores and restaurants in America. Take a quick look at kid menus in quick serve and sit-down service restaurants – you are most likely to see choices like burgers,  grilled cheese sandwiches, corn dogs, macaroni and cheese, and some sort of breaded chicken. Most often included are the lovely and mysterious chicken nuggets and tenders – lovely because they are often crispy and mysterious because it not always clear what parts of the chicken are tendered or nuggetted. Little B and I like having such things on occasion, and am glad I have found a few versions that are not only wheat free but completely grain free. I like using the baked crispy chicken recipe for tenders and nuggets too, but wanted something with a little more crunch and bulk. The pecans sure fit the bill in this new recipe! The nuts chop up into various sizes, adding a nice texture which mixes well with the chicken. Little B eats them plain, but I like dipping in spicy dressing or mustard. They are filling too – instead of feeling hungry soon after eating like with wheat, the nut coating fills me up fast and keeps me full for a while. My in laws generously let me take over their kitchen during a recent visit and really liked them. Little B inhaled this stuff too – another score!

Pecan Crusted Chicken

3 pounds boneless skinless chicken pieces (tenders and thighs recommended)
2 pounds raw pecans
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor pulse pecans, salt and garlic powder until nuts are finely chopped. In a medium bowl whisk together egg whites and mustard until well combined, but stop short of the whites becoming stiff. Line one to two shallow baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spread the nuts on a third sheet or large plate. Generously season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken in the egg wash, letting the excess run off. Roll chicken in the nuts, gently pressing them into the meat. Place chicken on the foil lined baking sheets with about an inch between pieces. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until juices run clear (whole chicken breasts or bone-in chicken may take longer). Serve immediately, plain or with desired dipping sauces.

Junky Nuts

junkynuts

No, this is not a promotion for a porn movie. It is much less provocative. This recipe is actually based on some family traditions from both my and Big D’s relations. It reminds both of us of holidays we have always celebrated in November and December. Why am I writing about it in March, you ask? Because this is when I start missing some of the holiday food traditions, like snacks and eggnog. Our little family actually keep ‘holidays’ going from November 1st through March 17th. It stretches so far because things like Samhain, birthdays, Mardi Gras, Candlemas (Imbolc) and the Vernal Equinox (Ostara). We officially take a holiday break between St. Patrick’s Day and Easter before the build up for May Day (Beltane). It is a pretty short break this year (less than three weeks), but it is long enough to develop a hankering for holiday smells and flavors. Specifically, an ubiquitous snack mixture. Big D’s family called it Trash, mine called it Junk – the savory combination of square cereal pieces, pretzels, nuts and cheese crackers baked in a buttery Worcestershire sauce. This exclusively nut version takes out the wheaty, grainy bits and lets the saucy flavor shine while keeping the crunch. The sauce sticks to the nuts and creates salty black bits that linger in nut wrinkles. We started the habit years ago of keeping some type of flavored nuts around as a quick, ‘good fat’ snack for when hunger strikes. I first made this version a few months ago and now I automatically make a batch every week. I don’t know what this means for next November when the holiday season begins again, if we continue to eat them year round. Maybe we will have to come up with some other holiday snack tradition and keep it special, for I am pretty sure I am un-special-ing this one, but for a good cause. Regardless, I think it will all turn out okay, time will continue to turn and holidays will still come and go. Crunch on everybody!

Junky Nuts

4 cups raw walnuts
3 cups raw pecans
2 cups shelled peanuts (raw or roasted)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ancho chile powder

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Add melted butter in a large bowl along with the Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and chile powder. Stir until combined. Add walnuts, pecans and peanuts. Toss nuts until they are all coated. Spread nuts evenly in one layer on shallow baking sheets. Bake for ten minutes. Remove from oven and toss nuts so they are all flipped. Return to oven and bake for ten more minutes. If you are baking multiple sheets at once you should switch their positions in the oven. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the sheets. They will look damp at first, but will dry as they cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

King Cheesecake

king cheesecakeIn past years I have created a myriad of different King Cake-themed treats. This year I almost passed up creating a new treat, but then Big D opened his mouth. I do admit that most times when he does that the result is positive. Other times, not so much. This time when he got a look on his face and was about to talk I held my breath. Really? We don’t have enough possibilties to choose from? Really?! Well, after he finished sharing his idea (aka closed his mouth) I was sold. Really, we don’t have enough. More more more! This here treat is a wonderful combination of past creations – the limey cheesecake, the Unholy King Cake and King Cakelettes.  I officially say, Big D, here and now, you were right…this time. The cheesecake is, as always, extremely creamy and satisfying. The crumbly, nutty topping reminds me of the spicy middle of a traditional King Cake, and the colored frosting provides for the traditional colors of Mardi Gras – green, gold and purple. I do wish the colored frosting was more vibrant in the picture, for I had to make a choice while waging a gentle battle. Today, being a gymnastics workshop day, Little B ran and flipped and tumbled pretty much nonstop for four hours. This means that her temperament, and mine, were at a bare minimum. After promising her for days she could help with this treat I could not refuse her here at the end. There was no margin for adjusting color or hue when mixing the three little bowls, so what you see is our wondrous treat with a pastel version of our dream. The good thing is she helped and looks forward to ending our feast tomorrow with a big slice. The bad thing is the decor is about four shades darker than planned. A small price to pay for some fun time with my little chef! Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!!! I hope you all have a wonder Fat Tuesday celebration tomorrow and are properly somber (whether from absinthe or faith or both) on Wednesday!

King Cheesecake

Crust
2 cups finely ground almond flour
2 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp Stevita granulated sweetener
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 ground ginger
1 egg white, whisked (save yolk for filling)

Filling
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1/3 cup Stevita, granular sweetener
2 large limes, zested and juice separated from meat (use less for milder lime tang)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp Stevita granulated sweetener
1/4 cup butter, melted
Dash sea salt

Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 ounces butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp Stevita
Food coloring (green, yellow, purple – made with one part blue and three parts red)

Make the Topping. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread raw walnuts and pecans in one layer on a shallow, metal baking sheet. Place in oven for about five to eight minutes, until they begin to darken. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool. In a microwavable bowl add the butter. Melt on medium power, checking every 30 seconds, until completely melted. In food processor grind toasted nuts until they are a consistency of a rough meal. Add to the butter the ground nuts, cinnamon, Stevita and salt. Stir until well combined. Set aside.

Make the Cake. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In 9″ pie dish cut a round of parchment paper that fits the bottom of the dish. In medium bowl stir together all dry crust ingredients. Add the butter and stir until the ingredients clump. Add the egg white mix until well combined. Crust will still be crumbly. Press crust into dish until bottom and sides are covered.For the filling add to a large bowl the cream cheese and sour cream. Whisk together until completely smooth. Add butter and stir again until smooth. Add eggs and yolk, stirring to incorporate and until smooth. Add sweetener, lime zest, lime juice and vanilla. Beat until well combined and smooth (see a pattern?). Pour filling into crust and gently smooth surface. Place cheesecake in oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until filling sets. Remove cake from oven and sprinkle topping on top – either evenly over the the entire top of the cheesecake, or Just along the edges, leaving a 2″ diameter space the middle uncovered, like the hole in the middle of a traditional King Cake. Return cake to oven for 10 more minutes. Turn off heat without opening oven door. Leave cake in the oven until mostly cooled, about two hours.

Make Frosting and Decorate. Whisk together cream cheese, butter and sweetener until well combined and smooth. Divide mixture into three separate bowls. Using green, yellow and purple food coloring, color the mixture in the different bowls until the desired tint is achieved. Using a spoon for each color drizzle the frosting over the top of the cheesecake – if you left the middle of the cheesecake clear of topping, I suggest you continue the theme of leaving the middle plain and drizzle the frosting over the portions with the topping. If the frosting is too firm to spread randomly you have two choices: 1) scoop frosting onto the bottom of a spoon and run it over the top of the cake, allowing it to catch on the pieces of topping, or 2) heat the frosting in the microwave at half power for 15-30 seconds until it is runny, then drizzle it over the top of the cake. If the topping was spread over the top of the entire cheesecake, then use any pattern you choose to apply the frosting.

Chill finished cheesecake at least one hour before serving.

 

Yule Platter

yule platter_edited-1
Every year on winter solstice we have a family party – Merry Yule! Especially during our winter time in Alaska this day is a big turning point – the shortest day of the year is the beginning of longer days and the approximate midpoint of chilly winter weather. Yes, there are still heavy winter storms in late March sometimes, but there is mostly rain after February here in Southeast. Most of our snow this season so far is melted, with temperatures in the high 30s, and a white Christmas is questionable. Regardless of the weather there is definitely a shortage if light. Sunrise is about 8:45am, if you can see it through the clouds, and then sets about 3pm. One way we celebrate Yule each year is to have a simple meal, made up of preserved foods that require little or no cooking. We don’t do much of the preserving ourselves, but work off the labors of others. Big D smokes some jerky, onion, garlic and cheese, while other items like pickled veggies, cured meats and nuts are added to the platter. We snack from the platter while sipping something bubbly – champagne, beer for me and Big D, and root beer for Little B.  It makes for a winter celebration we appreciate before the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve and Day, which remind us of our childhood traditions. The simple celebration reminds us that the world is hibernating under the bare branches, blustery winds and wet ground. It reminds us of our New Year resolutions from Samhain and look forward to the Candlemas celebration of light in February. A time to ponder during a more sedate time of year when much of the natural world sleeps. Since there is not much recipe involved, here is a list of suggested items for your platter.
Yule Platter
Dry coppa, pastrami or prosciutto
Dry Salami
Beef Jerky
Roasted Chestnuts
Garlic Stuffed Olives
Jalapeno Stuffed Olives
Dry Roasted Mixed Nuts
Specialty Cheeses, sliced
Pickled Asparagus
Pickles
Roasted Mixed Nuts
Arrange ingredients in a pretty way on large platter. Offer and provide bubbly and/or fermented beverages. Eat, drink, be merry. Don’t feel guilty about the ease of this dinner, for more complicated ones are on the horizon.

Banana Bread

banana bread_edited-1

Little B has been requesting banana bread for over a month. We don’t usually buy bananas because Little B is the only one who eats them, and often loses interest before the bunch is gone. The same was true this week. Two bananas were left to get dark brown and look pathetic. I remembered all the breads we have made over the past year and did a crap shoot. The ratio between almond and coconut flour definitely needs to be considered to ensure a moist result, but not overly so. The bananas would provide a natural sweetness, but no need to do much sweetening otherwise. Cinnamon always tastes yummy when sprinkled on a banana, so why not drop in a bit? The bread did not rise very much, but it was still light and fluffy. Little Be loved it, but picked out the walnuts, so the next batch we will do without. A lot of buts that turned into a lovely bread. And the darned bananas are finally gone.

Banana Bread

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp Stevita (can be excluded, if you find the mild sweetness of banana sufficient)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3 eggs
1 cup finely chopped raw walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rectangular bread pan with parchment paper or grease muffin pan. In a large bowl combine the almond and coconut flours, baking soda, sea salt, sweetener and cinnamon. In a separate bowl place the bananas. Puree the bananas with a stick blender (or mush with hands like Little B prefers) until smooth. Add butter and eggs, whisking together until smooth. Pour liquid mixture, and nuts (optional) to dry mixture. Whisk together until combined. Batter will be thick. Pour batter in bread pan, or divide batter equally among muffin pan divets. Bake in oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Muffins take about 20 minutes, loaf about 30. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about ten minutes. Serve or store in refrigerator.

 

Chocolate Cheesecake

chocolate cheesecakeSo the cheesecake saga continues. Our young friend Skinny D has been visiting with us on his first trip to Alaska. When I was making the limey cheesecake for Big D he got a similar ‘happy face like a kid with a new bike’ look as he requested a chocolate cheesecake. Of course I could not say no, and was curious how it would turn out, considering the smooth success from the first cheesecake attempt. I do wish to provide full disclosure here – I have made cheesecake before – it was a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. It was lovely and carby and wheaty. A healthier version may be in my future this fall, for I really liked the pumkiny goodness. Back to the here and now. This cheesecake was smooth like the last one, and Skinny D was very happy. So was Big D and Little B (although for some reason Little B did not like the crust). One piece of advice on cheesecake making – this cheesecake was smooth, but as you can see in the picture, there are little speckles. It is my fault. I did not ensure that the cream cheese was soft enough, nor did I take the time to do extra mixing, so little bitty pieces of cream cheese did not get thoroughly combined. Did not seem to have a negative impact on texture or flavor though. I bet I will take the time to do it right next time!

Crust
2 cups finely ground almond flour
2 Tbsp coconut flour
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp Stevita granulated sweetener
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg white, lightly whisked

Filling
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk (retained from crust ingredients)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup Stevita, granular sweetener
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In 9″ pie dish cut a round of parchment paper that fits the bottom of the dish. In medium bowl stir together all dry crust ingredients. Add the butter and stir until the ingredients clump. Add the egg white, mix until well combined. Crust will still be crumbly. Press crust into dish until bottom and sides are covered. Filling: in large bowl combine cream cheese and sour cream. Melt chocolate in the microwave proof bowl – heat and stir in 10 second increments until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add chocolate to cream cheese and sour cream mixture. Whisk together until completely smooth. Add butter and stir again until smooth. Add eggs and yolk, stir to incorporate and until smooth. Add sweetener and vanilla. Beat until well combined and smooth. Pour filling into crust and gently smooth surface. Place in oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until filling sets. Turn off heat without opening oven door. Leave cake in oven until oven and cake are completely cooled, about two hours. Remove from oven  and chill for at least an hour. Serve plain or with fresh berries.

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