Candied Nut Treats!

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Happy Halloween!  It has been a great start to the holiday fun.  I am still pecking away at the computer but, only 2 more weeks in a cast!  Thanks for all the thoughtful notes of recovery! G&H has great new help and we are excited about the upcoming parties.  Weekends are filling up fast so please call ASAP if you need help for your party.  (The first two weeks in December are already booked!)  We will be getting our baskets and Spicy Candied Nuts ready for shipment in the next few weeks for teachers, family, friends, and for yourself! I love this time of year!  It’s so great giving great gifts to others and ourselves!

Today I am working on new spices for the candied nuts.  I want it sweet but with a bit of a kick.  Try your own batch with different spices you may like.  Here is what I came up with and they are fabulous~ (We still have our original nuts too) 🙂

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest of one lemon

2 cups walnut

1 egg white

Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix spices,lemon zest and sugar in a small mixing bowl.  In another medium bowl, stir egg whites, then add walnuts.  When your walnuts are coated with the egg whites, add the sugar/spice mixture.  All of your nuts should be well coated.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes, mixing halfway through.  The nuts will be dry to touch when cool and not sticky.

Have fun with all the ghosts, goblins or little lady bugs!

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The Goose

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When I see my little Gabby Goose outside playing, content with herself, making up foods, cooking for her bug friends, chatting to herself and those made up creatures, my heart melts with love.  All of my girls did this at some point.  The older girls don’t do it anymore.  They are little ladies now, too cool to talk to stuffed animals or bugs.  But my Goose, she is turning 7, and she is still that sweet little girl with the imagination of Rembrandt or Picasso.  The computer, mini iPad, or cell phone hasn’t sucked her completely in.

She is grating chalk into cups and I see her nose and cheeks becoming rosy from the crispness in the air.  I wonder who she is chatting with.  She shirks her shoulders as if to say “I don’t know”.  I realize this moment is worth its weight in gold.  I want to cherish it like so many other fleeting moments.  There are so many of these moments, if, I just stop for a minute to notice them.

My Goose has this attraction that brings people to her.  They enjoy and want to be around her.   Her happiness and joy is a magnet to everyone who comes in contact with her.  Well, maybe not so much when she was an infant.  She was the loudest of any child I have ever heard.  I think most people who were around us when she was a baby would vouch for that.  Her scream was piercing.  But now, I wonder why this little, happy soul chose me to be its mother.  It is really cool to think about this with each of my daughters.  How these sweet spirits grow from a little bean in your womb into these human beings that are so precious.  They are all pretty damn amazing, and I get to be their mom.  There really is nothing sweeter!

For my goose’s birthday, we will make cupcakes.  She wants her sisters to make the cake and I will make the Buttercream Icing.  In her honor, I will share my Buttercream Icing recipe.

Ingredients

10 egg whites

3 cups white sugar

3 lbs butter (room temp)

1 tablespoon flavoring (vanilla, almond, or other extract)

Directions

In a double boiler, heat your egg whites and sugar until the sugar dissolves.  You need to whisk your mixture while it heats up so the egg and sugar doesn’t burn.  When your egg whites are hot to touch, pour the mixture into a mixer and whisk on high speed.  You will notice that your egg whites become fluffy white, and tripled in size.  Once they are stiff, take your whisk off and add your dough attachment.  Add half the butter and pulse so that the butter goes to the bottom.  Repeat until all the butter is added.  Mix on high until it is fully incorporated.  Your Buttercream Icing will be smooth and silky.  At this point, you can add your extract or favorite food coloring.  This can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks or the freezer for a couple of months.  Just, thaw and add back to the mixer to get that smooth texture.  If it looks watery, it has separated and is too cold.  Just heat it up to room temp. and it will combine right back together!

This Buttercream Icing is delicious with the Vanilla Pound Cake recipe thatI shared a few weeks ago.  I have made them for many parties and events.  There is never any left over.  I will be showing my love for my little Goose on her birthday by making her favorite icing.  Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  I think some sweet cupcakes with Buttercream Icing are just the thing to show your love!  Make them for that special person in your life.  OR order them from G&H and take that time to enjoy moments in your life.  Cheers!

You want WHAT for Christmas?

Vanilla Pound Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream Icing

Vanilla Pound Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream Icing

It is finally here!  The season that little people and some big people favor most of the year.  Christmas is finally upon us!

I may have written this before, but this is not my favorite holiday.  It reminds me of a really bad drug (like a decongestant) that gets you all hyped up only to plummet you to the bottom of the deepest darkest hole.  OK, maybe that is a bit extreme but I ain’t a fan.  We all feel way too busy rushing around.  We all hear those car horns a little more this time of year.  Everyone seems a little Mad.  And for most Moms and Dads, it can be brutal having your little monkey look at you with those sweet eyes, saying “please get me that iPad mini” that is over $300.  I sold my car from college for about that much.

I believe the best part of this year is staying warm in the kitchen while baking goodies for friends and family. And sometimes eating the goodies myself while watching Netflix in the comfort of my own home.  Sometimes I turn on some calming music (maybe a little Frank Sinatra’s Christmas but only once during the season) and zone in on the baking, tuning everything else out.  All eyes do light up and twinkle when given that gift that is made from the heart and fills the belly.

The girls and I have so much fun concocting different sweet treats.  One such treat are these Vanilla Pound Cupcakes.  I call them pound cakes because they use more egg than a normal yellow vanilla cake.  They can be tricky because as they cool, they will shrink from the cupcake tin.  I found this Pound Cake recipe from Gourmet.  It was called Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake.  I changed a couple of things, like the egg amount, to make them into more of a yummy cupcake.

You will need to soften your butter to room temperature.  This always gets me because I forget and then need to make it on the fly.

Ingredients~

2 sticks butter

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all purpose flour (sifted)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream your butter and sugar together in a mixer and then add the eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla and mix.  Scrape down of your bowl.  Add half your flour, then all your heavy cream, and finish with your last bit of flour and salt.  Mix this on high speed for 5-6 minutes.  This is where the batter will get a lovely silky texture.  Bake your cupcakes for about 45 minutes.  Check to make sure your toothpick comes out clean!

You will love this with berries and cream in the summertime too.  It doesn’t hurt to dream of the warm spring, which IS my favorite season.  It will be here sooner than we know.

Here is to spending way too much money on the monkeys and feeding them way too much sugar.  But, most importantly, to their faces lighting up when they receive what they didn’t expect, which is always priceless.

Holiday Time

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  Get your orders in before December 20th!

Medium Jars of Spicy Candied Pecans or Walnuts  $10.

Large Jars of Spicy Candied Pecans  $13

Baskets- include One Medium Jar of Spicy Candied Pecans, One Bag of Grits, One Jar of Grits and Honey’s Granola and Honey Sticks $45

I cannot believe myself.  I have actually gotten Christmas Cards made this year.  Am I becoming more organized?  Am I less of a scrooge this year?  I think so.

I am so proud of my Christmas Tree.  It was $27 at Costco.  They are already wrapped up so you can’t really tell what they look like.  I just let the guy helping me pick it out.  I wasn’t going to fret over a tree that was going to be put in the dump in less than three weeks.  I figured he could pick me out my Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.  Oh, it is a beautiful Fraser Fir Tree.  I think it is even more beautiful because it was only $27- $29 and change with tax.  I had Allie help me get it off my car and I sawed the bottom three inches off so that it would soak up the water.  We carried “her” in and placed “her” in the living room.  We played Christmas music, I had a glass of wine, and we decorated “her”.  The girls at one point pulled every ornament out but only hung 3.  I said “no way, you guys wanted the tree, you guys help decorate it.”  What is it with their attention span?  The tree isn’t perfect, but it is perfect for us.  It was a perfect evening, with every one of the trees flaws and ours.

I hope to make this Christmas simpler for us all.  One thing that helps me are my Spicy Candied Nuts as gifts.  They are the perfect gift for teachers, coworkers, or neighbors.  Get those orders in and let’s make this Christmas perfectly simple and delicious!