Candied Spiced Nuts #improvcooking

Even though it’s October (and the weather is still feeling like August…), I’m starting to think about Thanksgiving. I know, I know, but I get to host this year and I’m pumped! We’re not sure if we’ll have a big crowd or just the four of us, so I’ve got several menus floating around in my head.

I knew this month’s Improv Challenge theme, Sugar and Spice,  was perfect for trying out some of the recipes I’m considering. Sugar and spice is SO fall – apple spice, pumpkin spice – but I couldn’t get these nuts off my mind, so they won out.

This is such an easy recipe – the slow cooker makes it totally hands off. Just mix, let the slow cooker do it’s thing, then spread them out to cool. They were so good – and a perfect pre-Thanksgiving dinner snack!

CandiedSpicedNuts

Candied Spiced Nuts
(adapted from Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet)
Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves

Grease the crock of a slow cooker and add the nuts. Add the sugars and cinnamon and stir. Add the water and stir until everything is evenly combined and wet.

Cook on high for 3 hours.

Remove nuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Sprinkle with remaining  seasonings. Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container.

You can check out the other Sugar and Spice themed recipes that bloggers made here:

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Caramel Nut Chex Mix

improvchallenge

The latest round of the Improv Cooking Challenge was Nuts and Caramel – so perfect as we’re going into the holiday season! I decided on a fun dish that could be either an appetizer or dessert – perfect for a holiday potluck or to make and give to friends and family.

CaramelNutChexMix

This snack mix is a super easy thing to make, even when you’re pressed for time. I added red and green M&Ms to make it festive for a holiday, but you could switch up the colors for any special occasion!

You can see the other Nuts and Caramel dishes bloggers cooked up here:

Caramel Nut Chex Mix
(from Butter With a Side of Bread)

3/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 box corn Chex
2 cups salted mixed nuts
2 cups M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Combine the corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1 minute intervals until the butter is melted. Whisk to combine.

In a roasting pan, combine the Chex and mixed nuts. Pour the sugar mixture over and stir to coat.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and stir as it cools – don’t let it just sit, it’ll become one big block! When cool, stir in M&Ms.

Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Garlic and Rosemary Sliders

improvchallenge

This month’s Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients were garlic and rosemary – and I immediately thought, burgers! I couldn’t find a recipe that I really liked, so I decided to create my own – and these were a fabulous success.

There’s double garlic and rosemary here – fresh in the aioli that tops the burgers and dried spices in the burgers themselves. The result is flavorful without being over-powering. And, I made them slider-sized because that makes them perfectly toddler sized – a big win in our house right now!

You can check out what the other participating bloggers made with garlic and rosemary here:

 

GarlicRosemaryBurgers

Garlic and Rosemary Sliders
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 8 sliders

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
1 tsp. herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
8 slider rolls
Arugula, for serving

In a heavy pan over low heat, toss together the olive oil and the sliced sweet onion. Cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, then transfer the onions to a bowl.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, herbs de Provence, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Divide into eight equal patties and cook in the pan from the onions until they reach the desired doneness.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic and rosemary. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Spread 2-3 tsp. of mayonnaise mixture on the bottom of each slider bun. Top with a burger patty, onions and arugula. Serve immediately.