baking

Sweet and Spicy (and sticky) Cashews

I made these tasty little delights for Superbowl Sunday.

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The recipe comes from Juli Bauer at paleOMG. She posted her Smoky and Spicy Candied Cashews in January, just in time for the Superbowl. I didn’t have enough cashews to follow the recipe exactly, so I winged it and I’m fairly certain I screwed up the process a bit so they came out a bit sticky. BUT, they were yummy and I learned from my mistake for next time.

Juli’s recipe calls for the following:

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of salt
 The instructions are as follows:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together honey, coconut oil, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the cashews to the bowl and coat in the mixture. Pour the cashews on the baking sheet and spread out.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together coconut sugar, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Sprinkle the crystal mixture on top of the nuts.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, tossing the nuts every 5 minutes to ensure they cooked evenly.
  6. Remove from oven, slide the parchment paper onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  7. Once the nuts have cooled, break apart the pieces that have stuck together.

I only had 1.5 cups of cashews. So I tried to reduce all the other ingredients but it was not an exact science. Mixing the nuts in the bowl with the coconut oil, honey, paprika, cayenne, and salt went fine. I laid them out on the parchment paper below and dusted them with the dry mix of sugar and spices.

sweet spicy cashews

Where I went wrong was when I took them out of the oven at 5 minutes to turn them. They didn’t look anything like the (beautiful) photo on Juli’s site. I was worried that maybe I didn’t put enough sugar and/or honey on them. So, I dusted them with more of the dry sugar and spices. Which, btw, I should mention that I knew I had made far more of the dry mix than I was going to need. Or so I thought. Once knee-deep in the baking, I second guessed myself and it went terribly wrong. LOL  I’ve never baked anything quite like this before. I think it’s probably somewhat similar to making brittle. Because that’s the direction mine took eventually. When I took them out at 10 minutes to stir them again, I again misjudged how things were going and I dumped the rest of my dry mix on the nuts. When I took them out at 15 minutes, the sugar had bubbled up into a huge ball surrounding and obscuring the nuts. The moment they were out of the heat, the bubble fell, coating the nuts. I stirred them and pulled the parchment off the tray, placing it onto a wire cookie sheet to cool, which was a balancing act since I had ton of molten lava sugar all over the paper. But, I got it on the wire rack with no spills or burns and I hoped that it would cool and harden so I could “break the pieces apart that stuck together” as the recipe instructed. This, didn’t, happen. Another fail on my part, I think, was my choice to make this on a day with high humidity and I had the house at about 72 degrees. So, while the nuts and sugar cooled to a touchable temperature, the sugar never solidified. After a couple of hours I had a sticky, gooey, mess of nuts that I had to just pull apart and remove as much of the excess sugar as I could. I used WAY too much sugar (and probably honey too.)

So. Lesson learned. Next time I make these, I’m going to have 2 cups of cashews and I’m going to follow the measurements exactly, and I’m NOT going to worry when the nuts don’t look quite right at the beginning of the baking. I have faith that after 15 minutes they will look more like the finished product without tossing oodles of extra sugar on them.

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

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Maple Banana Spice Bread from Primal Cravings Cookbook

My niece and her husband surprised us with a very thoughtful gift for Christmas – the Primal Cravings cookbook!

primal cravings cookbook

They certainly know their audience. 🙂 (Thank you Harmony and Nate!)

I don’t usually spring for cookbooks because Don tends to be a wet noodle about them, preferring to come up with his own recipe, and because the internet is so readily available to search when we do want to get ideas. I do love cookbooks though and I really love the way Brandon and Megan Keatley put together Primal Cravings. I’ve actually visited their website before, Health-Bent, and skimmed through their recipes online. (I can’t remember if we’ve ever made any before.)

Before I get to the recipe, I have to tell you about the book. As someone who still hasn’t been able to transition to e-reading because I simply love paper and love holding the real deal, I LOVE the binding choice and formatting of the book itself. The cover is thick and rugged yet muted in color which gives it a nostalgic, used feel. It reminds me of an old book I had as a child that was a hardback collection of stories.

As for the content, the recipes are straight-forward and easy to follow. They are all low-sugar, grain-free, gluten-free, and industrial oil-free. The Keatley’s included a lot of great information for beginners (and even seasoned gluten-free/paleo/primal eaters who need a reminder on a few things) on topics ranging from how paleo-style foods are good for you, how to stock your kitchen with the right foods AND utensils, metric conversions of measurements, and even nutritional information. The book is not text-laden and cumbersome. It’s like Goldilocks says, “just right.”

For my first recipe I chose to make Maple Banana Spice Bread.

banana spice cake recipe

maple banana spice cake
Couldn’t have been better. Simple yet elegant and full of flavor. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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I’ve Been Pinned!

I have been continually perplexed for some time that one of my very early recipe experiments (Beef Stew and Almond Flour Dumplings) was constantly popping up in my stats traffic. Like daily.

I kept wondering, what IS it about that recipe/page?

Did I tag it in some way that made it more searchable? I couldn’t quite figure it out. So recently I took a few extra minutes to dig around in my traffic stats to see if I could determine the source from there.

Lo and behold. It was PINTEREST.

Really? People are pinning my stuff? Aww, shucks. NOW I get it. And I suddenly understand how powerful Pinterest can be as a social media tool.

BTW, I’m completely humbled by this discovery. A very warm THANK YOU to all the folks who are pinning things I’ve shared.

It is a trip to see all the pins to my blog and to be able to see what people are pinning and saying. I didn’t even know you COULD see a summary like that. Apparently, you can.

Folks are pinning things like…

Pumpkin Chicken Casserole
Pumpkin Walnut Muffins
Pumpkin Pancakes
Cup of Spiced Pumpkin
(Of course, everything pumpkin in the fall. 🙂 )
Pear Muffins
Cucumber Relish made with honey
Chicken Parmesean
Spaghetti Squash (BTW, I’ve got something new to update how to cook your spaghetti squash and a new way to serve it! Stay tuned.)

As for the dumplings, which is why people are pinning that first post I mentioned, they are ok but not out of this world. Definitely not the first thing that would come to mind if you asked me to name my favorite dish or recipe. I’ve only ever made them a couple of times. I’m SURE there are other recipes out there that have better results. But if it helps get people interested in alternative ways of cooking and baking, or connects them to some other new idea, product, or food, and perhaps leads to something more, then I’m pleased to be part of that journey.

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.
~ Omar Khayyam 

Mini Cakes in a Cup

This is NOT my recipe but in the interest of sharing this amazing idea, I give you…Mug Cakes. Courtesy of The Paleo Mom and Delighted Momma. Holy Crap. Creative much?

The only adjustment I made to Paleo Mom’s 2 Minute Cinnamon Apple Mug Cake was to use a little less honey. Her recipe calls for 2 tablespoons and that just seemed like a lot for me. So I only used 1 tablespoon. I also didn’t measure my walnuts, just chopped up a handful. Cuz I like nuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 apple, peeled and cored
  • 3 tbsp almond flour
  • handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of pink salt

(Be sure to jump over to check out the original recipes for other adaptations to making mug cakes, especially since Delighted Momma’s are chocolate cakes – for you chocolate lovers out there.)

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The idea is to combine everything in a mug, and then microwave for 2 minutes. Easy. Peasy.

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I used my bullet to puree the apple.

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I chopped the walnuts by hand.

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And then used a fork to mix it all together.

Before microwaving…

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After.

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Delightful.

Sweets grown common lose their dear delight. 
~ William Shakespeare

Win a Gallon of Organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions

**UPDATE** This giveaway has ended. The winner has been notified.

I had so much success and fun with the Tropical Traditions coconut oil giveaway two weeks ago (congrats to Donna K. for winning!) that Tropical Traditions approved me for another one! And they upped the ante…to a gallon-sized tub! Wow! I know that might seem like a lot, but if you use it for as many things as I do (skin care, hair care, cooking, baking) it can be used up fairly quickly. If you’d like another chance to try this product, for FREE, enter today at the bottom of this post.

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - gallon.Win 1 gallon of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

To Enter: 

You must 18+ and be a US or Canadian resident. Simply subscribe to the Tropical Traditions newsletter here AND leave a comment below letting me know that you did, or that you already are a subscriber, and tell me what’s your favorite recipe or way to use coconut oil. Is it for sunscreen? Bug repellent? Hair care? Deodorant? Do you have a favorite recipe for cookies, fudge, or snack bars? I had never tried it in my coffee until readers had commented in the last post that they enjoyed it in their coffee so I’m looking forward to hearing more new ideas that I haven’t thought of or tried.

This giveaway will close at midnight on July 11th. I will use random.org to choose the winner and will notify the winner via email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, I will choose a new winner.

GOOD LUCK! 🙂

Important Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Full Disclosure: If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
~ Edith Wharton