Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sugar & Spice, and Everything . . . Nuts

A week before Christmas, and I'm crossing off lists, thumbing through recipes, and decorating everything that stands still.


And outside, too:

When I was climbing the ladder to hang these oversize ornaments on our bare crepe myrtle tree, a (very wise) neighbor called out, "Be careful up there!"--probably heard the rumor about my acorn-ankle incident. Sigh. Infamous. 

Speaking of neighbors, I always try to gift a little cheer to those special folks who make us grateful we live where we do. Mostly, I take cookies. But this year, I'm saying NUTS to that idea, and stirring up several batches of one of the favorite Calvert house munchies. A sweet and spicy nut mix that is perfect for gifting, adding to your cookie tray, or enjoying as you wrap presents, wipe away a tear over  "A Wonderful Life," a  Hallmark Christmas movie--or root wildly for your favorite football team.  

So here we go, a very easy and very yummy recipe:

Chili Nuts Santa Fe
adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens Recipe

1 egg white
1 Tbl. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp red pepper (to taste, I use the smaller measure)
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 cups of peanuts or mixed nuts (I use unsalted cashews, large peanuts, pecan halves, and unsalted whole almonds)

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large cookie pan with foil and coat liberally with cooking spray. 

Mix all ingredents together in a large bowl.

Stir well to coat the nuts.
Then spread the mixture onto your prepared pan:

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring twice.
Cool. Break apart large clusters.
Store in an airtight container (or zip lock bag) for up to one week--if they last that long!

So that's it, easy-peasy. And a nice higher protein complement to the Christmas cookie fest.
Here's a photo of the nuts all packaged up (with a few pretty chocolates added) and ready to take to the neighbors:

And while we're making ourselves NUTS, crossing off lists, climbing up ladders, and trying to make everything "merry and bright," let's find some moments to take a deep breath and remember that it's the simple pleasures that are most important. Those everyday things we too often take for granted as we let the busy-ness of our lives take over. In this season of miracles, let's be grateful for the beauty and affirmation of those perfect blessings. Like this one we saw last night, above that ornament-adorned crepe myrtle tree:

Courtesy of God the Artist.

Tinsel will never compare.

Merry Christmas friends!