I’m Nuts for You

In the fall, I made some spicy cashews for my Thanksgiving baskets.  During this endeavor, I discovered that my beau loves all kinds of nuts, especially cashew and macadamia nuts.  While macadamia nuts are a bit too expensive for my budget, I can afford to make spicy cashews for him and that’s just what I did for Valentine’s Day.  However, it is important to note that you don’t have to do sweet things for your sweetie only on Valentine’s Day.  You should do little things all year long to keep your man happy.  He should be doing the same for you as well.  Keep the romance alive.  Make him this recipe mid-week and tell him how nuts you are for him.  It’s guaranteed to bring a smile to his face after a long day at work.

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Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts (adapted from Paula Deen)

Ingredients

6 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cayenne pepper, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 6 cups unsalted cashews, 2 cups salted peanuts

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2.  In a large bowl, combine honey and butter.  Melt in microwave for one minute.  Stir in brown sugar, pepper, and paprika.  Add the nuts and stir to coat.  Spread nuts on prepared pans.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through the cooking time.

4. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir the nuts and then allow them to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  They wouldn’t last that long with the way my beau snacks on them!

 

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Have Some Ham…Make Croque Madame

This weekend I was having some girlfriends over for brunch.  I decided to try Paula Deen’s Croque Madame Casserole.  Let me tell you.  This is a must have for your next brunch menu.  It is rich and delicious.  Mind you, it is not something you should make if you are counting your calories!

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Ingredients
8 tbsp butter, 1/4 c flour, 2 c milk, 2 tbsp mustard, 3/4 tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 10 slices bread, 3/4 lb ham, 8 oz grated swiss, 6 eggs
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400. Grease an 8×8 square baking dish. (I used an 8×11 baking dish instead).Melt 6 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over low heat until bubbling. Whisk in flour and cook for one minute. Whisk in milk and cook until thick and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes more. Whisk in mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Pour a thin layer of sauce in the baking dish and cover it with 5 slices of bread. Then top the slices of bread with half of the ham slices and half of the swiss. Repeat the layers once more and finish the casserole with another layer of sauce to cover the entire dish. Bake for 30 minutes.

In a large skillet, cook 6 eggs over easy. You can work in batches. Season with salt and pepper to taste. After the casserole is finished baking, cut the casserole into 6 portions and top each portion with an egg. You have a delicious meal ready for your guests.

Check out this cute grater that I found at Love the Cook in Cape May!
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The Right Decision

Growing up people always tell you that everyone is good at something.  When you are grown, the task is to figure out what you’re good at and leverage those skills into a career.  Easier said than done.

What do you mean I can’t make a career out of crocheting doilies and telling my brothers what to do?

But that’s what I’m good at…

Grad school has come in handy in this respect, it helps me turn bossiness into “leadership skills” and crocheting into “creative thinking,” but it’s not so helpful with my baking habit.  When I decided to make a cream cheese pound cake last weekend, however, I knew I should turn to a specialist.  Considering the traditional ingredients in pound cake, along with the addition of cream cheese, one name came to mind: Paula Deen.

It was the right decision.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

yields 2 8×4 loaves or 1 tubular bunt cake

From Paula

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks room temp butter (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (or vanilla if you’re not an almond fan)
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 eggs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and prepare pans.
  2. Cream together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and extract, beat to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour and baking powder.
  4. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the wet along with two eggs.  Mix to combine.  Repeat process twice more.  Try not to over-mix (Also try not to eat all the batter before you bake it, it tastes very much like cream cheese frosting and is hard to resist).
  5. Pour batter into pans and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until tester comes out clean (mine took longer).

My advice: If you need to meditate on your own “special skills,” do it over a slice (or five) of this cake.  It will make for a much more positive experience.

This is what happens when you put you oven racks too close. But it didn’t detract from the taste!