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Nuts about Nuts

 

Nuts are some of the world’s most versatile foods, and they’re good for you too, so go nuts!

BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY Food/Photography BY BROOKE ECHOLS

We use the word “nuts” as a blanket term to refer to a group of edible items that are actually not all the same thing. Take a container of mixed nuts: Peanuts are legumes (in the same family as many beans); cashews are the seeds of a drupe (which include stone fruits like peaches) and so are almonds and pecans; hazelnuts are true tree nuts.

     These are fun facts to impress your friends with at parties (while snacking on a handful of the above), but no matter how “nuts” break down botanically, they get lumped together thanks to their common traits, characteristics that make them versatile, extremely tasty and for many, almost addictive. (When was the last time you ate a single cashew?)

     They’ve got their own species-specific tastes but their shared buttery, rich flavors and crunchy-that-turns-to-creamy textures make them a popular stand-alone treat and a workhorse ingredient for a wide array of dishes. Nuts are found in myriad recipes — both savory and sweet — and almost always hold their own with other big, bold tastes.

     And they’re healthy. Each has its own nutrition numbers, but they’re all good sources of protein and fiber and have been linked to staving off several different categories of chronic disease. And while they are high in fat, it’s mostly monounsaturated fat and omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fat, aka the “good” fats.

     Since nuts boast so many positive attributes, it’s no wonder we got so many reader recipes chock full of them. Try a few. Or try them all. You’d be nuts not to at least try one.


Cook of the Month:

Carolyn Shears, Tallapoosa River EC

Carolyn Shears began experimenting with baking early; when she was still a child, her mom would get her the ingredients she needed for anything she wanted to try. “Then, she’d cut me loose in the kitchen,” Shears says. “Sometimes what I made was good; sometimes it wasn’t, but that’s how you learn.” That education has kept going, and she put it to delicious use with her Bundle of Nuts cookies, a recipe she’s adapted from one she got in high school. “I’ve continued to modify it through the years,” she says. She makes the cookies often, as they’re favorites of both her husband and grandchildren, and she often makes them different ways for both groups. “My husband likes chocolate chips in them, and then sometimes I do different add-ins. Cranberries and hazelnuts are a great combo,” she says. She encourages others to mix whatever nuts and whatever else they like into the versatile dough. “Making them yours is what makes them so yummy.”

Bundle of Nuts Cookies

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose biscuit mix
  • 2/3 cup pecans, walnuts, peanuts, almonds or hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or chocolate chips

Blend sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and milk; stir until mixed. Add biscuit mix. Blend well. Mix in desired nut and toppings. Divide dough if you want half one nut and half another. Cook’s choice. Roll out and cut in shapes or drop by spoonful on a well-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Yield: about 3 dozen. Remove from pan while hot and place on a cooling rack.


BBQ Pecans

  • 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon catsup
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 cups pecan halves
  • Salt (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients; stir in pecans and mix well. Spread pecans and mix well. Spread pecans evenly in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

Ann Fossett, North Alabama EC


Spiced Pecans

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups pecan halves

Beat egg whites and water. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, nuts and spices. Dip pecan halves in egg mix, then in the spice mixture. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 275 degrees for 30 minutes.

Barbara Walker, Coosa Valley EC


Goobers

  • 2 cups raw peanuts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Combine ingredients; cook until water is almost gone, stirring constantly. Remove nuts from heat and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 325-335 degrees. The peanuts will turn a light pink and will be crusted with sugar.

Lexie Turnipseed, Dixie EC


Nutty Cereal Crunch

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 cups cornflakes
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 cup salted cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds (sliced) or macadamia nuts

In a large Dutch oven or large saucepan, melt butter; stir in brown sugar and cinnamon until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Combine cornflakes and nuts; add to sugar mixture and stir to coat. Spread onto two greased baking sheets. Cool; break into chunks. Yield: 10 cups.

Peggy Key, North Alabama EC


Ann’s Star Clusters

  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 5 cups roasted Alabama peanuts

Melt Crisco; add chocolate and melt slowly, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter; blend well. Stir in Alabama roasted peanuts and drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets. Chill until firm. Store in refrigerator until needed. Yield: 40 to 50 clusters.

Ann Varnum, Wiregrass EC


Southern Pecan Pie

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 19-inch pie shell, unbaked
  • Mix first five ingredients together and pour into pie shell. Put chopped pecans on top. Bake at 350 degrees until set, approximately 45 minutes.

Marlene Dekok, Baldwin EMC


Praline Pecans

  • 3½ cups pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Cover large cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside. Spread pecans in single layer in prepared baking pan. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a 2 cup glass measuring cup or small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute more or until boiling rapidly. Stir in vanilla and baking soda until well blended. Drizzle evenly over pecans; stir with wooden spoon until evenly coated. Bake in the oven 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes of baking with a wooden spoon. Immediately transfer mixture to the prepared baking sheet, spreading pecans evenly over foil with a lightly greased spatula. Cool completely. Break pecans apart with wooden spoon. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks. Makes about 5 cups.

Beverly Hanson, Tombigbee EC


Sweet and Nutty Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

  • 1 loaf stale Italian bread
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla flavoring
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Maple Whiskey Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

Cut bread into cubes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk in eggs, combine sugar, add milk, syrup and vanilla flavoring. After it all has been mixed together, pour mixture over bread, stirring carefully. Take a handful of walnuts and raisins and drop into bowl, stirring gently. Pour mixture into a greased baking dish and top with remaining walnuts and raisins. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 365 degrees.

Make maple whiskey sauce. In a medium saucepan on low heat, add sugar, melted butter and egg, stirring lightly. Add whiskey. Stir sauce as it gets hot, then add in vanilla flavoring and maple syrup. After bread pudding has been removed from oven, gently pour whiskey sauce on top. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sharlene Parker, Baldwin EMC


Cranberry Walnut Feta Pinwheels

  • 18-ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup chives, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1/4-1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 4 flour tortillas (10-inch)

Place cream cheese in a small bowl and beat until fluffy. Add in remaining ingredients (except tortillas) and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over the 4 tortillas. Roll each tortilla in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Cut into slices and serve.

Mary Rich, Sand Mountain


Butter Pecan Bars

  • 1 box butter pecan cake mix
  • 2 sticks margarine, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 18-ounce block cream cheese, softened
  • 11-pound box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine cake mix, 1 stick margarine and 1 slightly beaten egg. Press into a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the other stick of softened margarine, the other two eggs and the confectioners’ sugar. Mix well. Pour over cake mix layer. Top with pecans. Bake for one hour. Cool and cut into squares.

Jane Kendrick, Coosa Valley EC


Peanut Brittle I Can Eat

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of light white corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup of dry roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda

Stir sugar and syrup in 2-quart microwaveable dish. Put in a 1,000-watt microwave and heat for 5 minutes. Bowl and mixture will get very hot. Then stir in peanuts and microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stir mixture again and microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and quickly stir in margarine (stir about 15 times.) Then add vanilla and quickly stir (about 15 times.) Add baking soda and quickly stir (about 15 times or less, do not over stir.) Quickly pour onto lightly buttered cookie pan. Gently shake and tilt pan to spread out the mixture. Allow to cool. Twist pan to loosen peanut brittle, flip over and crack into pieces with a large metal spoon. Allow microwave bowl to cool before soaking in the sink. It is amazing how easy it will clean up after you let it soak.

Melanie Henry, Franklin EC


Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter, vanilla extract and brown sugar together. Beat in eggs. Add oats. Mix well. Stir in the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the pecans and cranberries. Mix until combined. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly brown. Remove from oven a bit earlier for chewy/soft cookies. Cool on a rack. Yields: 24 cookies.

Robin O’Sullivan, Wiregrass EC


Send us your recipes for a chance to win!

November’s prize pack winner is Beverly Hanson of Tombigbee EC!

Themes and Deadlines

  • January: Protein-packed | Nov 8
  • February: Pasta | Dec 3
  • March: Instant Pot | Jan 13

Ways to submit: Online: alabamaliving.coop    Email: recipes@alabamaliving.coop

Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Cook of the Month winners will receive $50 and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year. One gift basket winner will be drawn monthly at random and each name will be entered only once. Items in basket may vary each month. To be eligible, submissions must include a name, phone number, mailing address and co-op name. Alabama Living reserves the right to reprint recipes in our other publications.