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Gingerbread Spiced Nuts: It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot like Christmas

IMG_2074If you asked me to wax poetic about the glory and beauty of the holiday season, believe me I could go on for a while.

The smell of hot chocolate, the glow of lights dangling from rooftops and tree branches alike, the frantic brain-racking to try to remember how many gifts you need to be, the helpless distraction by cute stocking stuffers that I end up just buying for myself usually.

Ah yes the holidays.

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But I think it is safe to say that the holidays are also the most wonderful time for foodies around the world. Food is a holiday centerpiece, and I use that word in a fairly liberal piece. Yes, food can be a literal centerpiece (i.e. a Thanksgiving dinner with the gorgeous glazed turkey towering over the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce). But, food is also an integral part to so many traditions and memories.

I mean, think about it. “The Christmas Song” begins so truthfully with mention of delightful roasted chestnuts. One of my fondest childhood memories is of ski trips (having grown up in Washington State, land of stunning snow-capped peaks) and the breaks we would have between jumping on lifts. We would sit in the lodges, faces rosy from the cold, and sip on delicious hot chocolate and drink warm bowls of soup as Christmas music echoed from the speakers around the lodge.

And the holiday spices. Never has soul-warming gingerbread flavor been so well-complemented for a time of the year, which spurred me to make these nuts.

I’ve been on a nut-making frenzy. Have you realized that food is a perfect DIY holiday gift? These nuts are the epitome of this. Easy to package in mason jars or gift bags, and bursting at the seam with holiday flavor. They are holiday perfection.

Okay, I know I said I wouldn’t wax poetic about the holidays, so I’ll stop here before my writing turns to mush. Have a recipe, my readers.

IMG_2074Gingerbread Spiced Nuts (Adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups nuts (I used 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup pecans, 1 cup roasted cashews)
  • 1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • big pinch coarse salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat egg white until foamy, but before soft peaks form.
  3. Add oil and salt into egg white and mix it in.
  4. Add nuts to a egg white mixture and make sure all are coated.
  5. In a small bowl, combine spices and sugar. Add to nuts and toss well until nuts are completely coated.
  6. Bake in 250 degree for 45 minutes until fragrant. Toss halfway in between (and also make sure to rotate your pan if your oven is known to be uneven) Let cool before serving.

 

 

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Green Tea Biscotti

Here in Seattle, my days have grown pretty darn uniform: overcast skies, teeth-chattering temperatures, cold cheeks, yoga pants, and wet socks from stepping in puddles. And tomorrow’s forecast? The same. Campus just feels  lethargic this time of year. Yawns spread contagiously from one student to the next in a lecture hall and people show up late to class because of that extra 10-minutes spent bundled up in their blankets.

Yet on the opposite end of the mood scale, everything outside of campus is frantic.

Frantic in the bad and good way. The bad way is that it has come to the point where you must park your car in your garage overnight or else you will wake up to an icy/frosty car windshield. And, trust me, you do not want to have to worry about scraping ice when you are already late to get to the park ‘n’ ride for the bus you need to catch. That’s frantic in a bad way. I speak from personal experience.

In the good way, gift shopping gets pretty frantic this time of year. I, for one, get really pumped up about gift shopping. I love seeing ornaments at Anthropologie, peppermint bark at Williams-Sonoma, and Santa Clauses at the mall. And then I picture the look on someone’s face when he/she opens my gift and I simply go crazy in the mall.

Oh right. There’s also that not-so-little thing called finals week coming up. Yeah…I don’t really want to elaborate on that. Just know, that the weekend before, I will finally use the punch card I filled after buying ten drinks at Tully’s to get a free coffee drink. And I’m going to use it to get a venti caramel macchiato.

That’s right. Venti. Caramel. Macchiato. Behold the espresso shots and the calories.

Green Tea Matcha Biscotti (Adapted From Fujiyamas)

  • 4 tablespoons sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus some for sprinkling
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 for egg wash
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons matcha powder, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium until well fluffed.  Add 3 of the eggs, one at a time being sure to clean the sides between each addition.  Add the vanilla.

Sift the flour, matcha, salt, and baking powder together and with the mixer on slow, slowly add the flour mixture to the liquids.  Mix in the white chocolate chips.

Empty out the dough onto a lightly floured board.  Divide dough into equal parts.  Shape each portion into 2” logs and place onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet, making sure to leave room for expansion.  Brush with the reserved beaten egg and sprinkle with pecan pieces.

Bake 22-25 minutes, turning the sheet halfway through.  Logs should be firm to the touch.  Cool logs on a wire rack for a least 30 minutes.

Turn oven temperature down to 300°F.

Using a serrated knife, cut ¾” slices on the diagonal.  Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and place the slices upright on the rack.  Bake an additional 25-30 minutes until biscotti are crisp but not completely dry.  Cool biscotti on the rack.  After cooling, dip in melted white chocolate if desired and allow chocolate to set.

Makes approximately two dozen pieces of biscotti.

Yes, I drink hot chocolate in a panda mug.

Why in the world would I make green tea biscotti? I have no clue. It’s one of those waves of inspiration that seizes you by the neck and shakes you till you are purple in the face and you have to go to the kitchen to let that inspiration flow.

But I suppose my inspiration was for the better this time around because biscotti is perfect for the holiday season. Not only can it serve as a little stocking stuffer, it works as an ideal cookie for hot-chocolate or gingerbread lattes.

My inspiration doesn’t always work that well. Like that time I decided to make little braids in my hair thinking it would make my hair curly when I took them out the next morning.

Nope. I looked more like a pomeranian.