Tasty Nuts (Meghan’s Xmas Nuts)

January 4, 2013

You know you have a winner of a recipe on your hands when you find the following post on your Facebook: “Megs, I LOVE your nuts”.  This flattering and hilarious statement was accompanied by several recipe requests.

The nuts in question have been my Christmas treat to friends and family for the last two years.  They are also a great hostess gift for those many holiday soirees that pop up around the holiday season.  Last year I packaged the nuts in clasp lid jars with handmade clay ornaments stamped with the word “joy”. This year I put them in regular old mason jars with a square of holiday fabric finished off with a bow of baker’s twine.

Christmas Seasoned Nuts in Jars for Gifting || A Year in the Kitchen

In the recipe below, I have listed the nut combination that I used but feel free to make your own combinations. Especially if you get sticker shock at the price of pecans these days. Holy Cats! I had to ask the cashier to reswipe the bag just to make sure that the $19.99 price for a bag was correct. In which case, add more almonds – they’re much cheaper.

Tasty Nuts (Meghan's Xmas Nuts) || A Year in the Kitchen

Tasty Nuts (Meghan’s Xmas Nuts)

Adapted from eat make read

Ingredients:

2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine the nuts in a large bowl and toss to mix well.

Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (you may need to do this in several batches). Toast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

In the same bowl, stir together the rosemary, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, cumin and melted butter.

Add the warm nuts and toss to coat thoroughly.

Serve or store in an airtight container.


Tapenade

August 28, 2009

I can vividly remember the first time I had tapenade. My mum’s friend Suzanne had invited us over for lunch. She lived in an old miner’s house with tons of character which was lovingly and eclectically decorated. There was a comfy couch, quilts and lots and lots of books – all the necessities in a cozy home. And that afternoon there was tapenade. Casually served in a little dish on the kitchen table, it was unlike anything I had ever tasted. It was delicious.

Time passed and I forgot about the tapenade until a dinner out with friends at what is now my favourite restaurant – Bistrot Bistro. To start each meal, they serve you a tiny dish of tapenade with an oven warmed baguette on a board. My love of the olive paste was revived. Remembering that Suzanne’s tapenade had come from one of the Moosewood cookbooks, I set out to recreate the dish.

tapenade

Tapenade

Adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

1 can pitted Black olives, rinsed
¾ cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons capers
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ cups parsley

Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until the tapenade is smooth but not a paste.

Serve on baguette slices or nice crackers.

This will keep in the fridge for a week. The flavours will blend and intensify with age.


Spicy Hummus

July 11, 2009

When I first moved to Vancouver after university to find a job and was flat broke, my diet largely consisted of microwave popcorn, cereal and hummus and carrots. In fact, I think I ate just that for several weeks straight! Needless to say, I like hummus. So when I got a food processor for my birthday, I set to work developing a super tasty hummus recipe. It had to have two things: lots of garlic and spiciness. This is the recipe I finally settled on; the garlic and pepper amounts can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes.

Since it is so easy to whip up, this hummus is my go-to appetizer when I haven’t thought of or prepared to bring anything else. Since last September (the dawn of the food processor) it has accompanied me to birthday parties, welcome back parties, housewarming parties, the beach and my couch!

Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 jalapeno pepper
2 to 3 red chilies
¼ cup lemon juice
Water, as needed

Remove the seeds from the jalapeno and red chilies. I like to cut them in half and then use the back of the knife to scrape the seeds away.

Put all ingredients, except the water, in the food processor. No need to chop anything. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is a bit lumpy or dry, add water until it reaches a smooth creamy consistency.

Serve with vegetables (my fave is carrots) and pita. Stores well in the fridge for a week (or two…).


Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

May 6, 2009

I had a big jar of artichokes to use up and a party to host, so artichoke dip seemed to be in order. It is a favourite of mine at restaurants, but I had never actually made it. I looked at a bunch of recipes online but they were either too complicated or too boring, so I decided to wing it. Result: Yum yum yumminess. Proof: Scraped clean dish (which was huge, I still can’t believe all that dip got consumed so rapidly).

spinach-artichoke-dip

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

2 to 3 cups marinated artichoke hearts
1 package frozen spinach
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk or cream
pepper
dried chiles

Rinse the artichoke hearts and pat with a towel to get rid of any excess moisture. Squeeze any excess moisture out of the spinach as well.

Place all ingredients into the food processor. Pulse until blended. Be careful not to blend too much, you still want to have some decent size pieces of artichoke. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more cream.

Spoon into an oven-proof dish and place into a 450F oven for 3o minutes. Serve hot with tortilla chips.


Sausage with Dipping Sauce

February 4, 2009

I served this recipe as the regional dish for the Pittsburgh Steelers for our Super Bowl party. I found the recipe online by googling “steelers recipes” after I couldn’t find anything with my searches for Pittsburgh or Pennsylvania recipes. I didn’t really have very high hopes for it, but it turned out great. I thought it was delicious and by the time I went back for seconds, I was out of luck. The dish had been wiped clean.

Sausage with Dipping Sauce

Adapted from the Post Gazette

1 lb of sausage like kielbasa or farmer’s sausage (I used farmer’s sausage from Costco)
1 cup beer (I used Mt. Begbie Tall Timber Ale)

Sauce:
2 cups chili sauce
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 cup brown sugar

Slice the sausage into 1/2 inch-thick rounds. Place in a skillet with the beer over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook stirring for about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain.

Mix all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve the sauce warm with the sausage slices.