Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sharing food for the holidays

With my commitment to giving handmade gifts, this holiday season I decided to give gifts of food. Flavored, roasted nuts are a tasty and healthy treat! The main inspiration for this idea comes from Elana’s Pantry. I also picked up a flyer at Whole Foods Market with a recipe, and got hints from reading the ingredients on some commercially produced roasted nuts.

Our holiday plan is to spend Christmas day with David’s (grown-up) kids, their spouses, and the grandkids. A total of 8 people. I sure have been having fun concocting different flavor combinations so that each person’s jar of nuts will be different. As usual with food experiments David and I are the research team. We also get to (or have to) eat both the successes and the rejects!

These flavored roasted nuts are easy to make, even in my miniature oven! And they’re Gluten-Free, too.

Start with:
2 cups nuts of your choice (cashews, pecans, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc)

2 tablespoons liquid (Tamari, honey, maple syrup, agave, vanilla extract, or any combination)

Mix until the nuts are all coated.

Mix together spices, if desired, about 2-3 teaspoons. A bit of salt can boost the flavor of sweet mixes. For extra sweet flavor, brown sugar or maple sugar are good.

Sprinkle powder over wet nuts and mix up together until all the nuts are coated with the powder.

Spread a relatively thin layer of coated nuts in a buttered baking pan (I use a pyrex or ceramic pan). Adding extra butter (like about 1/2 tablespoon) to the baking pan adds a nice flavor, too!

Bake at 300ºF for about 15 – 20 minutes. It’s easy to over cook these! They won’t necessarily “look done” until they are over done. I go by smell (if the nuts smell roasted, they are done), or by taste testing. Getting to know your oven/pan characteristics will make this easier.

As for flavor and nut combinations, the sky’s the limit! I’ve still got several ideas that I’m planning to try.

Here’s a list of some that I’ve tried:

Pecans and/or almonds with maple syrup or honey

Cashews with tamari and curry powder

Almonds with tamari and a spice mix of garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and turmeric

Pecans and/or almonds with tamari and honey and a spice mix of chili powder and cumin

Almonds with honey and cinnamon

Walnuts with maple syrup and maple sugar

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