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Posts Tagged ‘pecans’

Nothing smells more like autumn than the smell of roasting squash in the oven, especially when it’s basted in olive oil, pressed garlic and herbs. I picked up a beautiful organic 2-pound butternut squash at the market, peeled and de-seeded it, and diced it into 3/4 inch cubes.  Then I tossed in in a mix of olive oil, fresh marjoram, garlic, corriander, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper and salt before roasting for an hour at 350 degrees.

The scent alone is to die for, but the flavors are aromatic and complex, amplified by a half-a-lemon’s worth of juice a little extra olive oil and toasted pecans.  Then toss with some fresh arugula, drizzle with a little aged balsamic and top off with some shavings of peppery pecorino cheese.  Amazing. … Or, just eat the roasted squash alone!

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There’s something simply irresistible about the smell of warm cinnamon and buttery pecans emanating from the oven.  And with that thought in mind, this weekend I made my first foray into the world of sweet rolls from scratch, making a homemade, self-kneaded yeast-based dough.  The result was an delightfully soft roll — golden crusted outside, warm fluffy inside — filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecans.

Surprisingly, this recipe took less than three hours from start to finish, including rising and baking time. And it was a lot of fun in the process. I followed this recipe, from the Pecan St. Bakery & Cafe in Blanco, Texas, care of a 1999 Bon Appetit. I modified it slightly, using 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar instead of all white sugar, and I also used a smaller baking dish, 16×9 glass.  Finally, I topped mine off with a little homemade vanilla icing for a creamy kick.

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Yum

I first made these back in January, and tonight I was craving them again. They are as fabulous as I remember them — sweet, sticky oatmeal-pecan-raisin rolls. Nothing like a little weeknight “baking therapy” at the spur of the moment!  These hit the sweet spot. Yum.

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germanchocolate

German Chocolate Cake was my grandmother’s signature dessert. Layers of sweet chocolate cake overflowed with rich carmely, coconut-pecan topping. (If it was your birthday, she’d bury a quarter wrapped in foil deep inside; you’d have to keep eating until you found it.)

Good thing it wasn’t my birthday and there wasn’t a lucky coin to find!  This cake is incredibly sweet, decadent – and filling.  The three cake layers are moist and dense without being firm.  Four beaten egg whites folded into the batter give the cake a delicate and fluffy texture. The topping is…spoon-lickingly tasty.  Here’s the recipe.

One aside… ever wonder about the origin of “German Chocolate”?  I always figured it had roots in German cuisine or culture, but apparently it doesn’t at all!  According to Joy of Baking.com, a guy named Samuel German concoted the sweet stuff with a blend of cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, sugar, and other flavorings. He wanted to make a chocolate eaiser for bakers to use than semi-sweet because the sugar would already be added.

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stickybiscuits

These oatmeal, pecan and raisin sticky “biscuits” will have you licking the bottom of the pan. They are unbelievably good: forget those New Years’ resolutions at least for a bite… or two or three!

One of the winning aspects of this recipe is that the dough is yeast-free, hence why they’re biscuits and not buns. That means no time spent waiting for them to rise. And another variation on the traditional sticky bun — the oatmeal — adds a wonderful texture and heartiness, complemented well by the raisins and pecans.

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The sticky sauce of butter, dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup melts together before filling the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan.

pecanpan

Even though they aren’t from the South, these pecans look and taste like their famous counterparts. They stick to the syrup in the bottom of the pan before the doughy biscuits are added.

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The dough itself is not overly sweet. That comes from the cinnamon-sugar filling that coats the raisins and extra chopped pecans, sprinkled across the rolled out pastry.

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Once rolled up and cut into 8 segments, the biscuits are nestled in the pan atop the pecans and syrup – and in just 30 minutes they bake together into these tasty treats.

(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2008)

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granolaraw

Store-bought granolas are often high in sugar, oil and fat not to mention price. They vary widely in terms flavor, consistency, and crunchy/chewiness. But making granola at home is surprisingly easy and the best way to ensure a wholesome cereal that suits your taste. The key is fresh, quality raw materials — whole oats, raw unsalted nuts, and fresh dried fruits. The “wet mixture,” or coating that creates those classic, flavorful granola oat-nut clusters, can be customized to your preference of sweetness and flavor. This recipe from the Lafayette Inn bed & breakfast in Easton, PA, plays with the flavors of peanut butter and jelly — the nuttiness of the peanut butter complements the tangy sweetness of the dried cranberries and raisins.

Lafayette Inn Granola

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup dried cranberries

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Heat the honey, peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon over low heat, stirring frequently so the mixture doesn’t burn. Then, add the wet mixture to the oats and nuts.  (Leave out the raisins and cranberries until after baking.)

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The peanut butter will create clumps in the dry mixture, so do your best to break them up in the mixing process. Pour the coated oat-nut mixture on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Depending on your “crunch” preference, you can roast it longer.  After the granola cools, add the cranberries and raisins and store in an airtight container.

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thanksgiving08

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