Nut Job

Spicy nuts, mixed nuts, Dew Abides
Spicy nuts, mixed nuts, Dew Abides

Brad likes to call me his little hummingbird, but my good friend Meg’s term of endearment is probably more accurate: The Shrew. As in, “creature who eats its weight in food every day.”

Given my rabid healthy appetite, snacks are a necessity — and lots of them. Though it might seem difficult to find grab-n-go goodies that are local, low in sugar, and easy on packaging, there are plenty of good options:

  • Boiled eggs
  • Piece of seasonal fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Crackers and pickled veggies
  • Hunk of cheese
  • Mixed nuts
  • Fresh veg with aioli dip
  • Chips and homemade salsa

Those mixed nuts have become an obsession, thanks to inspiration from Alton Brown’s recipe for spicy pecans. I’ve tweaked the ingredients to make a larger batch that includes our peanuts from Plains and leaves out most of the brown sugar. Give it a try with whatever nuts are available in your region.

Spicy Mixed Nuts

4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried ground orange peel
2 pounds pecan halves
2 pounds shelled peanuts
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
8 tablespoons water

The directions are the same:

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the salt, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and orange peel together in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the nuts in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes until they just start to brown and smell toasted. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, add both sugars and water, stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheetpan and separate them with a fork or spatula. Allow the nuts to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Can be stored up to 3 weeks.

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