Maple Glazed Walnuts

Maple Glazed Walnuts
For many years I have made spiced pecans for my friends and neighbors at Christmas.  You can check out the recipe for these savory nuts in one of my earlier blogs. This year I decided to make maple glazed walnuts as a change.  They are equally tasty and as easy to make.

2 cups of English walnuts (halves as much as possible)
1/3 cup of real maple syrup *
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1.  Preheat a dry skillet (cast iron preferably) over medium-high heat.
2.  Add the salt and then the walnuts.  Cook for about a minute stirring frequently.
3.  Add the maple syrup and continue cooking until nuts are toasted and syrup is caramelized, about two more minutes.
4.  Spread nuts on a parchment lined cookie sheet to cool.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

English walnuts and maple syrup. 

Add salt to heated skillet. 
Add walnuts. 

Add maple syrup. 

Spread on parchment paper to cool.  
Ready to gift. 

These nuts make for a good snack, can be added to a salad, or even used to top a dessert (ice cream sundae!!!).  They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids that may help to prevent heart attacks, and are high in fiber and Vitamin E.  A handful a day would be good for you.

*Honey could be substituted for maple syrup.

When Life Gives You Lemons......

Gingerbread Trifle
Well life gave me cranberry gingerbread that wouldn't come out of the pan, so I made a gingerbread trifle.  This sticky cranberry gingerbread I've made successfully in a regular baking pan, but I decided I would make two small round gingerbreads using my six-inch cast iron skillets.  What cute little Christmas gifts I thought.  I did grease the pan, but probably I should have used parchment paper in the bottom as well, because when done the gingerbread would not come out of the pan in once piece.  It was so tasty, and I thought this can't be wasted.
The gingerbread came out of pan in pieces.
I often make trifles particularly during the holidays.  So why not a gingerbread trifle I thought.  Whipping up a vanilla custard was quick and alternately layering the bread and the custard made for a lovely dessert.  As it happened I had a bit of the cranberry sauce leftover. Fresh cranberry sauce is an ingredient in the gingerbread.  Voila,this makes for a nice topping, no?   Notice I have not included whipped cream.  Although, it could be added when served.  Three friends are joining me for dessert this afternoon. 
Vanilla custard. 
Freshly made cranberry sauce on top.
Ready to eat.  

I've tried it and it is delicious!  By accident I have created a new recipe to add to my recipe book.

Lentil Soup for a Cold Day

There's a chill in the air this morning, and just the kind of weather to make one crave soup.  One of the tastiest and easiest soup to make is lentil soup.  You can grab a bag of lentils and a ham hock at the grocery and use the recipe that's on the bag of lentils, or you can follow this one that I like.

2 cups of lentils that have been washed (They do not need to be soaked.)
6 cups of water
1 ham hock*
1 cup of chopped or diced carrots (I used shredded ones that I had on hand.)
1/2 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of diced onions (I used frozen diced onions.)
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove sliced
A grind or two of fresh pepper
Salt to taste (Optional, the ham hock is salty and may be enough for your taste.)**
1 cup of chopped fresh spinach (Optional)

In a large pot, combine all the ingredients except the spinach if using.  Bring to a boil and cover.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Add the spinach and cook just until the spinach is wilted.  Take out the ham hock, remove the meat, chop and return it to the pot. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

*I had asked my son to pick up a ham hock for me at the grocery and he didn't know what a ham hock was.  I explained it is the lower part of the pig's leg between the ham and the foot.  They are typically cured and smoked and available in the meat department of the grocery.

**I typically do not salt food as I cook it so that each person can add as much or as little salt as they desire when eating it.