Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

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Halloween Fun

October 17, 2011

Meeshie had her Girl Scout Halloween party today.  I’ve been working on the costume and finished it over the weekend.  She was a demented or evil fairy.  I made a black tutu and spray painted some pink wings black.  On the big day, she’ll also have glitter sprayed in her hair and on her body along with some mascara.  Girls!

I’ve taken a few pictures of the skirt, but haven’t had a chance to take care of the wings yet.  I’m hoping to get the whole thing together this weekend and share.

I did make these great cookies for the party, though.  My friend Carol gave me the recipe last week.  She made them last year and brought them to work, they were a big hit and I can see why.  Unfortunately, last year Meeshie’s school instituted a new policy with regard to snacks-they don’t allow any of them.  So, although in the past I’ve made some really cute teats: ghosts from the oreo truffles, pumpkins from small blocks of cheese, and witches hats with fudge stripe cookies and kisses, I was hesitant to make these.  But then I remembered the party with the Girl Scouts!

Thanks Carol!  These were a big hit with the girls and us!

Monster Finger Cookies

  • 1 C Butter, softened
  • 1 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 t Almond Extract
  • 1 1/2 t Vanilla Extract
  • 2 3/4 C Flour
  • 1 t Baking Powder
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1/4 C Almond Slices or Whole
  • 1 tube Red or Black Decorating Gel
  • Green Food Coloring

Beat the butter, sugar, egg, and extracts together.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Add the green food coloring until you achieve the desired color.  (You can skip this step if you want them to look more mummy-like.)  Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Take out one half of the dough at a time and break off a small amount of dough.  Roll out between your fingers to create the knuckle shape.  Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (or grease the pan).  Use a butter knife to make indents in several places to resemble the wrinkles in a finger.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool.

Once cooled, squeeze the red or black decorating gel onto the tip of each finger and gently press an almond on top so the gel oozes out from underneath.  I also used some red gel to give some of the fingers a cut, just be creative!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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Horchata

May 12, 2011

Have you ever had horchata?  It’s a wonderfully cool rice drink that has cinnamon, nuts and lime.   They serve at most mexican restaurants.

It’s very addicting.  Don’t take that as a warning, I want you to make this.

I’ve been wanting to make it since I came across a horchata cupcake recipe.  You can buy horchata mix in the ethnic aisle of your supermarket, but I really wanted to make it.

This recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless.  I don’t think I need to go into any further detail, right?  If you aren’t sure who the James Beard award winner is, just google him.  Any way, the man knows his mexican cuisine and this recipe is awesome, plus the Frontera Grill rocks.

Oh and it doesn’t hurt that I can hum some Vampire Weekend while mixing this up!

What makes this so simple is that you basically let the rice mixture sit in the fridge overnight in water.  Then you put that in the blender to make a slurry.

Then you strain the slurry.  I don’t think you can see the cheese cloth, but it’s there.  Oh, and don’t skip the cheese cloth.  This is probably the most important step, so don’t skip the cheese cloth.

If you like lime, add some more lime zest.  If you cinnamon, add more of that.  You can probably use other nuts instead of the almonds, but I like the balance of the almonds.  I like the balance of all the flavors and once I have a glass I can’t seem to stop, so I really hope that I can make those cupcakes.

Horchata

  • 6 T Rice
  • 1 1/4 C Almonds
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 t of Nutmeg
  • 2  Strips of Lime Zest (colored portion only), about 2-by-3/4-inch
  • 1/2 C Sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 1/4 C Hot Tap Water
  • 4 C Cold Water

Thoroughly pulverize the rice in a blender or spice grinder. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the almonds, cinnamon stick, nutmeg and lime zest. Stir in 2 1/4 cups of hot tap water, cover and let stand a least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Scoop the mixture into the blender jar and blend for 3-4 minutes, until it no longer feels very gritty. Add 2 cups of water then blend for a few seconds more. Set a large sieve over a mixing bowl and line with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth. Pour in the almond-rice mixture a little at a time, gently stirring to help the liquid pass through. When all has been strained, gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist them together to trap the dregs inside. Squeeze the package firmly to expel the remaining liquid.

Add 2 cups of water and stir in enough sugar to sweeten the drink to your taste.  I actually made a simple syrup with the 1/2 C of sugar and 1 C of water that I let cool and then added the remaining water, but you don’t have to.   If the consistency is too thick, add additional water. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir before pouring, serve with ice.

This makes about 7 servings.

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Pretzel Crusted Chicken

January 13, 2011

I wanted to make the pecan chicken strips for dinner the other night but realized I didn’t have any pecans.  I went through them all during my Christmas baking frenzy.  We really love the pecan chicken too.  Since I had already committed to the chicken I went through the pantry to see what I could do about a substitute.

I did have some almonds but I didn’t want to substitute with just that.   That’s when it hit me, pretzels.  The pretzels and the almonds compliment each other, but you could easily just use pretzels in this recipe.

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

  • 2 whole Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • ½ C Milk
  • 1/4 C All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 C Finely Chopped Pretzels
  • 1/4 C Finely Chopped Almonds
  • 1/4 C Italian Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 t Truffle Salt
  • ½ t Black Pepper
  • 1/4 t Shallot Salt
  • 2 T Cooking Oil
  • 2 T Unsalted Butter

 Cut chicken into strips, about 8-10 pieces per breast. Place in a bowl, and add the milk.  Set aside and soak the chicken in the milk for at least a half an hour.  

In a shallow dish, mix flour, pretzels, almonds, breadcrumbs, salts (if you don’t have truffle and shallot salt you can substitute season salt), and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture. In a heavy skillet, heat oil and butter until sizzling. Place chicken pieces in the skillet and allow to brown lightly.  If there is not enough room in the skillet for all the pieces, cook them in batches turning each piece over and placing them on a plate until each piece is browned.  Put all the pieces back in the skillet and place the skillet in  a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 15  minutes.

This makes 4 generous servings of chicken.

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Vanilla Nut Bars

August 26, 2010

I love pecan squares.  Especially Corner Bakery’s maple pecan squares.  If you’ve ever had  Corner Bakery’s maple pecan squares, you know how good they are.  The crust is buttery.  The pecans are the right amount of crunchy.

I came across this recipe and thought of those pecan squares.  The crust is dead on.  I actually like these bars better because of the mixture of the nuts.

Vanilla Nut Bars

  • Crust:
  • 2 1/2 sticks Butter, softened
  • 6 T sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • Pinch of Fine sea salt
  • Filling:
  • 1 C  Butter
  • 1/2 C Honey
  • 1 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 T Half and Half
  • 1 C Almonds, chopped
  • 1 C Pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Make the crust by combining the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and mix for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter/sugar mixture on low speed just until all the ingredients are completely incorporated. Using well floured hands (I actually used a rubber spatula and therefore did not flour my hands), press dough into ungreased 9×13 metal cake pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Cool. While the crust is cooling, make the filling.

Combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils; continue to boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the half and half, vanilla, and chopped nuts. Pour mixture over the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool until set. Cut and serve!

Note: I use half and half pretty much wherever milk/cream is listed.  We drink skim milk and skim milk doesn’t always work well in a recipe.  We buy a lot of half and half so it’s easy to substitute in recipes.   I also plan to drizzle some chocolate on them the next time I bake them!

The original recipe is right here.  Butter Yum’s website is really cool.  I love her pictures.

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