due bambini

By Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I've been MIA for quite some time, sorry about that! On August 25, 2011, our Hungry Bambino got a brother, James Willem. Now we have due bambini and things are doubly crazy as they used to be.

I'm just getting back in the swing of things and heading back to work full time. Future posts will mostly be focused on what dinners can be made in the 15-minute window I now have between work and dinner. This will probably entail a lot of pre-planning, shopping on the weekends, and the cooking one protein for multiple dinners. If you have any dinner challenges of your own that you would like me to tackle, let me know. It may inspire something great on the dinner plate!

My mom asked me to bring a little nibble for our pre-thanksgiving dinner noshing and I wanted to do something that wasn't too heavy and was a bit more kid-friendly as we are slowly becoming outnumbered by the little ones at the holidays. I ended up bringing two things: rosemary and cayenne caramalized nuts and coconut-oil-popped popcorn. Both were a big hit, as I manned the Whirly Pop for 4 batches of popcorn and both jars of nuts were decimated by Friday evening.

The nuts were my take on a favorite: the Union Square Cafe's bar nuts. I love them so, but I always find them a little greasy and the best parts -- the sugar, salt, rosemary and cayenne -- always end up on the bottom of the bowl. In my recipe, I nixed the butter and pan-toasted the nuts before adding the sugar to start the caramel bath that slowly enveloped the cashews, almonds and pecans. Once the sugar was in liquid form, I added the minced fresh rosemary, salt and cayenne. Once they were thoroughly coated and the sugar was a nice dark amber, the nuts were layed out to cool on Silpats. When they were cool enough to handle, I broke them apart and placed in jars -- a perfect food gift for holidays.

Rosemary-Scented Bar Nuts
serves many at cocktail time

1 1/2 cups of each: roasted, unsalted cashews, raw pecan halves and blanched, slivered almonds
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leave, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Equipment: a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet, silpats or parchment paper, heat-resistent rubber spatula.

Over medium heat, add nuts to 12-inch skillet and toast until frangrant. Add sugar and let sit, untouched for 2 minutes. Start stirring the nuts with the melting sugar until all the sugar has turned to a liquid. Add the rosemary, salt and cayenne and stir to coat and distribute evenly over the nuts. Cook the mixture until the sugar is a dark amber -- be careful not to burn the sugar or the nuts.

What we're eating this week:
Sunday: pizza margarita with apple, celery, raisin and toasted almond salad
Monday: pork bulgogi with snow peas from marthastewart.com
Tuesday: ham and salami heros with quick pickled onion vinaigrette and carrot sticks
Wednesday: turkey meatloaf with buttermilk mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach
Thursday: red beans and rice
Friday: ???
Saturday: Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and Holley's cranberry relish

Happy eating, -s.

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