cinnamon and spice candied pecans

I’ve made six batches of candied pecans in the past two days, through which this Alton Brown recipe morphed and changed to meet my mothers taste in spicy-yet-sweet pecans. This final version contains a fully toasted nut, a pretty deep collection of spice with a smoky kick to it, and a caramel-y coating that seals it all together. It’s definitely inspired by the above recipe, but following that one resulted in under seasoned pecans that I can’t suggest.

These are a good make ahead gift *cough cough wedding prep* and make the house smell amazing so would be a great appetizer. If you aren’t eating them right away, be sure to pack away into as airtight a container as you can find after they dry – humid weather is your enemy (I mean it always is really, but especially in regards to candy). If you need them to dry faster or they come out a little wetter than you’d like, let them dry out in the oven at about 175 on a sheet try for about 30-45 minutes.

cinnamon and spice candied pecans

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp – 1 tsp cayenne pepper (you will feel the heat from this, so adjust to your taste!)

1 tsp salt

1 lb or 3.4 c pecan halves

5 tbs butter, cut into pieces

1/2 c brown sugar (light or dark)

2 tbs water

  • prep all your ingredients before putting anything on the stove – when this recipe starts going it gets fast, and you don’t have time to be cutting your butter! Also lay out a long strip of parchment paper on a stable flat surface, you’ll lay your pecans here to dry
  • in a large (like seriously, as big as you have) cast iron skillet over medium heat, begin toasting your nuts. They’ll start to smell like warm pecans and that’s when you know it’s time to move on – but remember, nuts burn fast so as soon as you start to smell it begin the next step, the nuts will keep toasting
  • sprinkle in your spice mixture (that you already mixed together in a bowl, remember) and stir through the nuts. The spices will also begin to toast, and you’ll be able to smell it. This is where you have to start moving quickly
  • once you can smell the spices, add in your butter pieces and stir through until melted and coating all the pecans
  • add in your brown sugar and stir to coat
  • the sugar will have begun to melt, but to help it coat the pecans you want to add a splash of water – it will sizzle and bubble, so watch your hands. Add the water slowly, stirring continuously, and let it coat the pecans. You may not need all the water, or you may feel you need a little more.
  • let the sugar melt completely and cover the pecans, stirring
  • when coated, dump pecans and caramel onto the waiting parchment paper, and spread out with your wooden spoon to separate. I wouldn’t worry too much about a little overlap, and the puddle of spicy-sugar won’t bother anyone either!
  • when dry and cool to the touch, package in airtight containers.
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soft and fluffy pita bread

it’s incredibly fluffy, softer than you thought pita would be, and the perfect partner for falafel, shawarma, grilled chicken, pretty much anything you might want some carbs on the side of. Don’t run away from yeast and dough just because it’s a weeknight, because this is foolproof and spends more time sitting than anything else.

I like to mix the dough right when I get in, and put chicken or something in to marinate, then ignore it for a couple of hours. This might work mostly because I like to eat quite late, but I think you could probably let this rise all day in the fridge! (let me know if you try it)

The sugar content might look quite high, but I think it’s the slight sweetness that really makes these special and a great pairing for spicier foods and toppings. These are baked because its fast, easy, and hands off.

Soft, Fluffy Pita Bread

1 1/2 c warm water
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbs sugar (or 1tbs honey, whisked into the water to dissolve before adding yeast)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs olive oil
3 1/2-3/4 c flour (more needed for dusting

  • whisk together water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes, the yeast will activate and the mixture will get foamy
  • whisk in salt and oil
  • gradually add the flour – I prefer mixing with my hands from here and mixing in dough at about a cup at a time to get it well incorporated
  • need for about 10 minutes, dough will feel smooth and should not stick to the sides of the bowl but still be sticky
  • if there is loose flour in your bowl, rinse it out or get a clean one and lightly coat the bowl with oil, turning your dough so it is also covered in oil
  • cover and let rest for 2(ish) hours, or until it has doubled in size
  • *if your kitchen is cold, check and see if you have a ‘proof’ setting on your oven, which will keep it at a warm temperature! This usually speeds up my proofing as well. If not, turn on your oven and set the bowl on top
  • When dough has doubled, turn onto a clean surface dusted with flour and divide into pieces (these will be the size of your pita, so choose wisely)
  • tuck the corners of each piece of dough around and under, making a ball, cover and let rise for another 30 minutes
  • * you can skip this second rise and they will still be great, just a little more dense
  • after rising, roll dough out just a little with a rolling pin (or more likely, with your hands) so its flatter and pita shaped
  • preheat your oven to 400f and bake on parchment lined sheets for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown


nutty – citrus dressing and how I use it

I love sauces/dips/dressing. All foods should have another food on them. I put approximately 4 sauces/toppings on all foods and it has horrified many people. And due to my need for all foods to have sauce on them, I make a lot of different sauces. This one though, I make probably 3 times a week and eat on as many vegetables as possible.

It started because I fell in love with this salad, which I also make incredibly often. But I didn’t quite have all the ingredients for the dressing and I refused to not have salad for dinner, so I used what I had. And then a few days later, I did a similar thing and put in on another salad-y thing. And now I put it on pretty much anything crunchy I can find.

nutty-citrus dressing

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic

2 tbs honey

1/3 cup tahini or peanut butter (crunchy peanut butter here is incredible)

pinch of salt salt

olive oil (as needed)

  • zest lemon into bowl, add juice
  • grate garlic into bowl (I use a microplane)
  • stir in honey and tahini or peanut butter
  • add in salt
  • add oil until desired consistency is reached

This dressing is creamy from the nut butter, tangy from the lemon, and has an amazing slight burn from the raw garlic. Its great with ginger added, or chili if you want more spice.

How to use it

Obviously, in The Salad. I love it on top of shredded salad with pickled onions (often served with quinoa and grilled chicken). I dip carrots into it. I put it on rice cakes. It’s great on falafel (I was going to post a falafel recipe today but I have no photos of making it so that will come another day). Basically, please eat this on everything you can.

Easy raspberry jam + overnight oats

A teaspoon-ish amount of this tart jam, stirred through oats, makes a perfect breakfast for this not-quite-spring weather.

small square glass jar sitting on wooden surface, filled with dark red seeded jam. Metal teaspoon sticking out of open jar

There’s a small jar of my grandmother’s homemade cherry jam tucked into the back of my cabinet, which I haven’t eaten because if I eat it then I don’t have any more. How long I hold out on not eating it is a good question, because it really is the best jelly on earth. However, this is not that recipe, this one is much much easier.

Canning things and sealing jars is great (and you can do that with this recipe if you’d like to) but it’s also a bigger time and space commitment than I think most people want to give. That doesn’t mean you can’t make and eat homemade jam regularly. This recipe relies on the natural pectin in the raspberries (other fruit will work, specifically blackberries and other high pectin fruits) to help it set, rather than adding it separately. This also means it’s JAM not JELLY (fruit not juice) – this difference is a hill I am willing to die on. If you don’t like the seeds though, feel free to run the whole thing through a sieve!

I primarily put jam on top of oatmeal/porridge/overnight oats. The main reason I decided to make it myself was to control how sweet it is – I find store bought jams to often be too sweet so you’ll notice there isn’t that much sugar in this recipe.

Easy Raspberry Jam

makes around one jar

small saucepan sitting on stove, filled with raspberries and sugar

175-200g raspberries (one medium-large carton)

juice of one lemon

1/4- 1/3 c granulated sugar – adjust to your desired sweetness and the sweetness of your berries

  • add berries, sugar, and lemon juice to a non-reactive saucepan
  • stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat
  • skim off the foam that rises and discard – if you don’t get it all, dont’ worry!
  • raise heat to high and boil for aprox 10 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. beginning at 10 minutes check for doneness (I use the wrinkle test by putting a spoon or two in my freezer while the mixture comes to a boil and then testing if the jam sets when dropped onto it – you also get to eat the jam off the spoon after!) you can also check for the jam to get to 220F but I don’t have a thermometer.
  • If you want, strain your jam!
  • pour into a sealing jar and refrigerate. As you can tell in photos, I’m reusing an old jar that I washed out and sterilized (having a kettle is a godsend) right before use but you could definitely use traditional jars and process them in boiling water. However, this jam will keep in the fridge for a few weeks and makes such a small batch there’s no need!

Overnight Oats

one serving

I have never liked oatmeal very much, but living somewhere cold makes you! I prefer my oats soaked overnight so they become a custard-y texture, and honestly I like them cold best. These are great for making in a container you can take on the go to work/class!

1/3 c rolled oats

2/3 c milk (or 1/3 c milk and 1/3 c greek yogurt)

1 tbls chia seeds if you have them and like them!

pinch of salt

  • mix ingredients directly in the container you’ll eat them out of – it needs a lid
  • refrigerate for at least 4 hours – hence the ‘overnight’
  • this recipe is endlessly adjustable. I go ahead and put a spoonful of jam on top the night before. It’s also great with cinnamon sugar and bananas or apples, chocolate, peanut butter, and a variety of other fruits!
white bowl of oatmeal with a spoon in it, a dollop of dark red seeded raspberry jam on top

Winter Stew

I love soup to the point it’s excessive. I probably have soup for at least one meal a day and never tire of it. I might love winter just for the soup. And while I generally prefer my soups fairly brothy and lighter, this stew is by far the most comforting thing in my normal rotation of recipes.

The recipe is a hodge-podge of many, many I’ve read (googling beef stew in the grocery store) with quite a few adjustments to what I can find and what I like to keep on hand. It’s best when topped with scones, which both thicken the stew and cut through some of the richness. You could easily top with scones simply cut into circles, but I’m partial to the way El grew up with them – filled with ketchup and herbs and rolled up like cinnamon rolls. I too was hesitant at first, but it’s incredible.

these scones are a little too crowded

Winter Stew

Serves 4-5

2 stalks celery

3 carrots

3 shallots or 1 small onion

3-4 cloves garlic

2tbs balsamic vinegar (red wine would be good here, if you drink it)

4tbs tomato paste

Fresh thyme

Rump steak (cut into bite size pieces)

½ c flour (season w/ salt, pepper, dried herbs)

2tbs oil

4 c beef stock

  • Chop vegetables into whatever size you want to eat them at, set aside
  • place oven proof pot on stove, heat oil over medium heat
  • Dredge cut meat through flour, fry off in oil over medium heat till all sides are brown turning as needed (let frond develop on the bottom of pan)
they need to be very flour-y so the stew will thicken later
you’re not trying to cook the meat all the way through, just brown the outsides
  • Pull meat from pan
  • Add onion/shallot to pan and deglaze with vinegar, scraping along the bottom until all frond is loose
  • After onion has begun to go soft, add celery and garlic
  • Add tomato pastes, stir to loosen and let caramelize
  • Add carrots
  • Add meat back to pot, add beef stock and fresh thyme
  • Cover and let simmer for 1 ½ hours, meat should be tender

if adding scones to top of stew, place cut scones on top of the liquid with space between and place pot or dutch oven in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes

Scone topping

1 c self raising flour

¼ c cold butter

Splash of milk

Ketchup

Dried herbs

Shredded cheese

  • Rub cold butter into flour until smooth and crumbly,
  • Add milk until dough forms (about 3-5 tbs)
  • Roll out on floured surface to ¼ inch thick
  • Top with ketchup, herbs, and cheese
  • Roll up (like cinnamon rolls)
  • Pinch seam closed, and place seam side down
  • Use serrated knife to cut in ½ inch thick slices, brush tops with milk
  • Place on top of stew or on tray, bake at 200c or 350f for 15-20 minutes until golden

Blood Orange Loaf Cake

I’m going to breeze past the fact that the fact that the last thing I wrote was about my 21st birthday and I’m a month away from 22, and instead write about a cake I made last week!

Winter is citrus season, and my love for it has resulted in a series of jokes about how I’ll never get scurvy. There are orange peels everywhere and my microplane is constantly in use zesting something. I couldn’t be happier. In addition to this I’m working out the kinks in a blood orange curd recipe so maybe I’ll keep up the writing and share that? Planning ahead, who knows!

Anyway, I saw a recipe for this cake on instagram and decided at 10am on a Tuesday morning to make it. I’ve definitely tweaked it since, as my desire for intense citrus flavour is too much for most recipes but it was incredibly easy to make and only gets better as it sits!

loaf cake sitting on wooden cutting board covered in pink glaze

Blood Orange Loaf Cake 

adapted from this recipe from Broma Bakery

½ c vegetable oil

2 eggs

3/4 c sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

Zest of 4 blood oranges

2 tsp blood orange juice

½ c Greek yogurt (I used skyr since its what I had on hand)

1 ½ c flour

  • preheat oven to 350F, line loaf pan with parchment paper
  • whisk oil, eggs, sugar, baking powder and soda, zest and juice together
  • alternate adding flour and Greek yogurt to the mixture, be careful to overmix. I sifted my flour in the second time and it helped prevent overmixing!
  • bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown
blood orange sits cut open on wooden countertop

Blood Orange Simple Syrup

Juice of 2 oranges (use from above)

½ c sugar

  • reduce juice and add sugar, stirring until dissolved
  • when the cake comes out of the oven, poke small holes across top and drizzle syrup over the top

Glaze

Juice of other 2 oranges

1 tsp vanilla

1tbs milk

1 ½ c powdered sugar

  • reduce juice from remaining two oranges, remove from heat and add vanilla, when cool add milk
  • sift in powdered sugar, stirring between ½ cups until desired thickness
  • drizzle over cooled cake

A tuesday night kind of cake or 2 bowl chocolate cake

Sometimes, you just want to bake a cake. Not a fancy cake, not a for show cake, the kind of cake you will eat on the couch out of a bowl because obviously, you put ice cream on it.

It was a tuesday night and I wanted to make a cake. Technically I could have made a one bowl cake but I always feel like those don’t turn out quite right. This cake takes longer in the oven than it does to prep, and gives a great amount of time to eat ‘real food’ before you pull it out.

IMG_5352

Two Bowl Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar (I’d probably cut this down to 1 1/2 in the future!)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder – with this much sugar you want the dark unsweetened stuff!
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp (aka a pinch) of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup hot water
  • opt. extra chocolate chips (but are they optional? Really?)

Directions

  • preheat oven to 350 and grease 2 6in round baking pans (or whatever you have around)
  • mix milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl
  • sift flour, then add sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, and salt in another bowl
  • mix dry ingredients into wet in halves
  • after mixed, pour in hot water and mix well
  • if you want, dust some chocolate chips with flour and fold into the batter before pouring into pans
  • bake for 30 minutes
  • after cooled, top with ice cream, whipped cream, or for some reason if you feel like making it, frosting

IMG_5485

Mushy, gooey, not too pretty, but very delicious. There you go, a 45 minute with 2 bowls to clean, a perfect Tuesday night cake.

 

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