Friday, October 29, 2010

Awwww Nuts! - Sugared Pecans

I have not always loved nuts. In fact, I still don't care for nuts when they are baked in things like cookies, brownies, cakes, etc since I am a purist. But one thing I do love are sugared nuts, especially in fun salads. I love making salad and try to have that on my menu for most dinner parties. I have a house dressing (which I might share at a later date but today is not that day) that is great with every topping under the sun, especially sugared nuts. I usually have peanuts, some sliced almonds and smoked almonds on hand at any given time and I try to keep some pecans in the freezer for a last minute party to make some nuts. So, when you are needing to impress your guests, whether it is your mother in law (although her life motto is "absence of vegetation") or your boss (thank goodness mine is easily impressed) throw together a spinach salad topped with these babies and you will be set. But first, lets review the nut rules.
1. Only use FRESH nuts. I think this is the reason I have been so scared is because I grew up on old gross Texas pecans that were way past their prime because they had become lost in the bottom of the freezer at my moms house. You know when you have a bad nut, and no amount of butter or sugar will make it taste good!
2. You can freeze nuts, I will buy a bag and stick them straight into the freezer (only nuts you will eventually bake with, not snacking nuts). Nuts will stay fresh in your freezer for up to 4 months if they are in an air tight container. This will allow you to pull out the amount you need and save the rest for later.
3. I prefer walnuts, almonds (slivered or sliced)  or pecans with making a salad because they have a great texture. I really prefer sliced almonds the best because they get crispy crunchy and don't have the buttery after taste that walnuts do.
4. Once you have cooked these sugared nuts you can refreeze them and save them for the next use.
5. Make sure the nuts have totally cooled before adding to the salad or it will make the lettuce wilty. YUCK!!!

3/4 Cup nuts of choice
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp brown sugar
dash of salt

In a sauce pan place all ingredients and stir and place on med-low heat. Too hot and you will burn the nuts!! Let the nuts cook for approx 12 minutes and continue to stir every few minutes to make sure the nuts are thoroughly coated and that they don't burn. Once you get a toasty nut smell you are know they are done. Spread cooked nuts on parchment, wax or foil and allow to cool. Break up and enjoy!

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