Spiced Pecans

Mmmm… spiced pecans.  I like mine without all the sugary stuff and just straight spicy.  They are awesome to munch on as a snack, but usually I throw them in salads.  You can really use any nut for this recipe, pecans are just my favorite.

Spiced Pecans

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 garlic salt
2 cups shelled pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together spices in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium low heat.  Add spice mixture and cook until fragrant (no more than 1-2 minutes), stirring frequently.  Add pecans and stir until coated with spices.  Transfer pecans to baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool, serve.


Whole Grain Banana Nut Coconut Muffins

Quaker makes these toasted coconut banana macadamia nut granola bars that are seriously the best thing ever.  The only problem is, I’ve only ever found them at one Target in Strongsville, Ohio.  I blame my mom for introducing me to them and then making me live without them (Hi Mom!  If you’re reading this, I’m not too old for care packages :D)  Until I can make it back home to stock up, I’ve had to improvise.

Is it possible for something so good to be good for you?  If you’re not a believer, you will be after these muffins.  The only thing that would make them better?  Add a little coconut to the top before baking so you get a yummy toasted coconut crust.  I would, but Ben isn’t a fan of straight coconut (not the taste; the consistency).

Whole Grain Banana Nut Coconut Muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (if your nuts are salted, omit)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews because that’s what I had, I think anything except peanuts would taste good)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg, and nuts in a large bowl.  Set aside.  Combine egg, vanilla, oil, honey, coconut milk, and bananas in a medium bowl.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fill greased or lined muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Yields 12-18 muffins.

Spiced Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Biscotti is one of those things that once you’ve made it yourself, you will never buy it ever again.  We’ve been led to believe that it’s the cookie you have to soak to enjoy, something that can’t be enjoyed on it’s own.  It does not have to be this way.

This biscotti is crunchy, but not “I’m going to chip a tooth” crunchy.  But it won’t fall apart in your cup of tea either.  It’s nothing like the stuff you find by the cash register at Starbucks.

Spiced Cranberry Orange Biscotti
Adapted from a recipe posted at Vanilla Garlic

3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
Zest from 1 orange

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.  Let the butter and eggs come to room temperature.  Cream together butter and sugar until the mixture is light in color.  Add the eggs and extract and beat until combined well.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg mixture until combined.  Fold in the cranberries and orange zest.

On the baking sheet, shape the dough into 2 logs, approximately 12 inches long.  Flatten to about 1/2 inch thickness.  The dough will be very sticky.  Try to make the logs into perfect rectangles to ensure even baking.

Bake the logs for about 30 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and the centers are firm.  Remove the pans from the oven and allow the loaves to cool for approximately 10 minutes.  When the loaves are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to slice them into 1/2 inch slices.

Turn the slices on their side and bake for 5 minutes.  Turn over the biscotti and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container.  For crispier biscotti,  leave them in an uncovered container for a day or so.

Chocolate Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookies


This weekend the Christmas season finally ended for me.  I took down my tree and put away the decorations.  However, I was still left with a box of candy canes and a pantry full of leftover chocolate chips that I did not want to let go to waste.  This recipe helped me put a small dent in my leftover fixings from Christmas baking, and will definitely be on the list of cookies to make for next year.

These cookies are deliciously fudgey, with just the right amount of refreshing peppermint.  They go great with a nice tall glass of milk.

Chocolate Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from a recipe posted at Simply Recipes

1 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 3/4 cup all- purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed candy canes

To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugars together for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is well incorporated and light in color.  Add in the egg and extracts.  Beat until well incorporated.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are well blended.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.  Add to the butter mixture slowly, beating at medium speed until everything is incorporated (do not overmix).  Fold in the white chocolate chips and candy cane pieces.  Take small spoonfuls of the dough and roll into 1 inch sized balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Gently flatten the balls with your hand.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cool flat surface to cool completely.

Yields 3-4 dozen cookies