Quick & Easy Sugar Coated Pecans

There are a handful of recipes that I've made for years that are so easy I've never bothered to write them down. I think everyone has a recipe or two like that, but I've been making an effort to post them to the blog as I think of them, that way after I'm gone my friends and family can still enjoy them. There is nothing that makes me more sad around the holidays than knowing that my favorite relative has departed and not left behind the recipe for their signature dish.

Case in point: It's been over ten years since my Great Aunt decided to join the giant cocktail party in the sky and I'm still trying to recreate her cheeseball. It was a staple at family gatherings and I still can't figure out what I'm doing different.

This recipe for sugar coated pecans is one of those quick and easy things I've always tossed together when I need something to bring to a party or family gathering, it's my equivalent of Aunt Helen's cheeseball. This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make, only uses three ingredients, can be made days in advance, travels well, and is always one of the first things to disappear. In my mind this makes it the perfect party food (or last minute holiday gift.)

Quick & Easy Sugar Coated Pecans | Not Starving Yet

Sugar Coated Pecans
 

makes 6 - 8 servings

 

Ingredients


1 pound pecan halves
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
 

Directions

  • In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt butter. Add pecans, then continue cooking until the pecans are lightly toasted and have been throughly covered with butter (approximately 5 minutes.) 
  • Remove pecans from the skillet and allow them to cool slightly before tossing them with sugar. Once cool the pecans can be stored on the counter in a sealed container and should stay fresh for at least a week.

Notes


These pecans are tasty on their own, but you can jazz them up a bit by adding a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice or another seasoning of your choice.
 

 

Using Up Food Scraps: Cherry Pit Vinegar #CanItForward

I've been canning for years, but until recently I hadn't given much though to the peels and pits from my yearly harvest. When I was done with whatever project I was working on I tossed all my scraps in the compost and moved on. It wasn't until I was reading through Alice Water's latest book My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own that I even realized I could turn these leftover bits and pieces into something else.

After a marathon canning session in which I made cherry vanilla applesauce, Cherry Liqueur, and Cherry Almond Preserves I have no shortage of cherry pits to work with which is why my first project ended up being cherry pit vinegar. It's a flexible pantry staple that can be used to create a flavorful vinaigrette, but has a multitude of other uses. Plus, if you're looking for DIY gifts for the holiday season it's festive red color makes it an excellent choice.

Don't forget to check out the rest of our canning section for more great recipes.

Using Up Food Scraps: Cherry Pit Vinegar | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Pit Vinegar

 

Ingredients


cherry pits, whole
apple cider vinegar or other vinegar of your choice
 

Directions
 

 

  • Place cherry pits and excess juice in a sterilized glass jar, add enough vinegar so the pits are completely submerged, then cover. Allow the mixture to sit for at least a week in a dark place, taking care to shake the jar occasionally. If you notice your pits have floated to the top, don't worry, it's all a part of the process.

  • After seven days removed the pits and strain the vinegar through a piece of cheese cloth to remove any solids. Store the cherry vinegar in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place.

Notes


While the acidic nature of vinegar generally prevents harmful bacteria such as botulism from growing it is still best to properly sterilize any equipment you'll be using for this project so other forms of bacteria aren't introduced.

It's not a well known fact, but stone fruit seeds do contain small amounts of cyanide. This is why it's important you only use uncracked pits, so the seed inside does not come into contact with the vinegar. If you're concerned that the cyanide may leach into the vinegar you can always use pitted cherries to flavor your vinegar.

Almond Cookies #fbcookieswap

Today happens to be one of my favorite days of the year, do you know why? It's time to reveal my recipe for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap hosted by Julie from The Little Kitchen and Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil. This is, without a doubt, the highlight of my year. I get to bake and eat cookies while I help support an incredibly important cause. My job is so cool sometimes! This is my third year participating in the swap which partners with Cookies for Kids' Cancer to raise money to fund new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer.

For the swap I made a batch of traditional almond flavored butter cookies and sent them out to my three partners in crime: Rachel from Bakerita, Reneé from Kudos Kitchen by Renee, and Elizabeth from Food Ramblings. I've always loved the simple flavor of these cookies and the fact that you can dip or drizzle them in dark chocolate for a little something extra. They're one of the few cookies that go in the cookie care packages I send out to my friends every year—they're always a hit!

Now in return I got to snack on some pretty amazing cookies, so if you're looking for something new to bake you may want to try out these Ginger Crinkles from Shana at Shana Was Here, Chocolate Dipped Walnut Butter Cookies or Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies from Susan at A Life Less Processed, and Egg Nog Shortbread from Tracy at Pale Yellow.

Or you can check out some of our other popular cookie recipes from years past:

If you are a food blogger or know a food blogger who might want to participate the swap next year you can sign up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap mailing list for updates.

Almond Cookies - Not Starving Yet

Almond Cookies
makes approximately 36 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup almond slivers 

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then add the egg and almond extract. Slowing add flour, baking soda, salt and almond slivers then mix until well combined. The final dough will be very course.
  • Place finished dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, roll into a large ball, and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before continuing.
  • Preheat oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Using a cookie scoop form 1¼ inch balls and place then 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Press the balls flat with the palm of your hand, then bake at 325ºF for 14-16 minutes or until edges and bottoms are lightly browned.
  • Allow the finished cookies to cool for several minutes before transferring to wire racks.

Notes

With butter cookies it's important that you don't place your dough on a hot pan or leave it out on the counter while you're working—the cookies will lose their shape. Make sure you refrigerate your dough until you're ready to bake and allow your cookie sheets adequate time to cool down between batches.

For the most accurate results you'll want to roll all of your dough into balls at the same time. Otherwise you can form them as you go, but your may find your yield varies slightly.

Small Batch Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves + Canning Instructions

I just got back from spending a week with my family, but it wasn't until we were half way back to Missouri that I realized that I had screwed up. I didn't stop by my favorite produce stand to pick up my summer supply of peaches. That meant going an entire year without any because, while Wisconsin produces a lot of great things, peaches just aren't one of them. Those hard as a rock things they sell in the grocery store (you know the ones I'm talking about, don't you?) The ones that never seem to soften up and don't even smell like peaches. Those are not peaches, at least, not the kind I grew up with.

Real peaches are the ones so filled up with juice they burst the second your teeth pierce the flesh, leaving you with a trail of juice running down your chin. Those are the peaches I grew up with, but sadly those are not the peaches I find these days. They seem to be a thing of the past.

I've always felt that it's not officially summer until I've had my first peach, so I spent the drive back to Wisconsin completely dejected. Summer was officially over before it ever really got started. There would be no peach pies, crisps, or cobblers in my future. No jellies, butters, or preserves to get me through the long cold Wisconsin winter.

Summer was dead to me.

Well, at least until I went to the grocery store hungry (something I keep telling myself I shouldn't do, but at least it worked in my favor this time.) I was wandering through the produce section looking for dinner ingredients when I stumbled across case on top of case of canning peaches. I'm ashamed now to admit I walked right on by them (didn't I mention the fact that we don't get good peaches in Wisconsin?)

Then it hit me— I smelled peaches!

I immediately turned the cart around (practically gunning down little old ladies right and left in my effort to get there fast enough) and I picked up a case of some of the best smelling peaching I've seen in years. Then three days later I went back for more, because lets be honest, you can never have too many peaches.

I'm going to give you fair warning, you're about to be inundated with peach recipes, starting with these glorious sweet cherry and peach preserves that I saw on Food in Jars

Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves

Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves
makes 3 half pints

Ingredients

1½ pounds yellow peaches
¾ pounds sweet cherries (see notes)
1¼ cups granulated white sugar 

Directions

  • Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil. Working in small batches, blanch the peaches for 30 seconds, before transferring them to an ice bath. Once the peaches have cooled slightly the skins should easily peel off.
  • Remove the pits from the cherries. You can pull them apart with your hands, or use a chopstick to help force the pit out.
  • In a non-reactive sauce pan add sugar, peaches, and cherries. Stir well to combine, then bring the contents to a boil over high heat.

Make sure to stir the pot frequently taking care to scrape the bottom, especially during the later portion of the cooking process where the fruit tends to burn more easily.

  • While the fruit is cooking sterilize your jars and other canning supplies. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  • Allow the fruit to reduce by roughly ⅓ (this took about 30 minutes, but could take longer.) Turn the heat off once the sauce has thickened.
  • Fill sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Carefully wipe the rims, add lid and ring, then process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Once the timer goes off, leave the jars in the water for an additional 5 minutes to help prevent the preserves from siphoning.
  • Carefully remove jars and set on a dishtowel. Never set hot jars directly on the counter, the rapid temperature change can cause them to break.
  • Allow the jars to cool completely before testing the seal. Any unsealed jars should be reprocessed or refrigerated immediately.

Notes

When selecting peaches for canning I prefer the freestone variety because the flesh of the peach doesn't cling to the pit. They're a lot less work, which really makes a difference if you plan on processing a ton of peaches. For small batches, such as this recipe, clingstone peaches will work just fine.

I used sweet cherries because it's what I had on hand (thanks to my husband's grandma who gave me a huge bag while we were on vacation,) but sour cherries will work just as well.

Give this recipe your own twist! Try adding a vanilla bean, ground cardamom, ginger, or galangal.