Monday, December 9

cheap eats [candied nuts]

My friend had D and I over for dinner and made these butternut squash stuffed shells with sage...oh yum. We were in charge of bringing a side and a drink, and if there's anything that I and D know, it's vegetables and alcohol, respectively.

My first thought was a light salad, since the shells will be warm and heavy. I love a good harvest salad, and there are endless combinations- apple or pears for fruit, craisins or grapes for sweetness, gorgonzola, blue, or goat cheese for creaminess, pecans, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds for crunch, and of course a sweet, vinegary dressing to top it off. Don't even get me started on the variety of lettuces that work here.

Don't get me wrong, I love nuts, butter and sugar, but I don't love becoming a chubster over the holidays, so I hunted down a healthier version of candied nuts. I loosely followed this recipe (cut out the white sugar entirely, added the vanilla extract to the wet mix rather than the dry, and almost doubled the spices).

brown sugar and mucho spices
Instead of your traditional candied nut recipe, which calls for butter and lots o' sugar, this version uses egg whites and water to coat the nuts before they get their light brown sugar bath. Trust me, they bake up crunchy, crispy, and plenty sweet. For my salad, I mixed 'em up with goat cheese, dried cherries, granny smith apples, and a raspberry vinaigrette).

bake until they lose the wet, shiny look. they smell DIVINE
These make an excellent gift as well- try doing a homemade gourmet gift basket for friends, including these nuts, candied citrus peel, rosemary pecan bark, maybe some apple butter, and the DIY beef jerky and cocktail bitters here.

(P.S.- for drinks, we went with an amaretto sour, but used this recipe so we could add 100 proof bourbon. our deer approves.)

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how you like dem apples?