Spiced pecans are my signature holiday food gift.
Spiced pecans have become my signature holiday party food gift. Crunchy, salty and sweet with a touch of heat, they are an irresistible cocktail snack. They also add personality to a cheese plate or a simple green salad.
A homemade food gift is more personal and saves money, and who doesn’t want to save money at this time of the year? I buy the pecans at a warehouse club and package them in repurposed mason or jam jars decorated with a bit of Christmas ribbon or a sprig of fresh holly or rosemary from the garden.
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- 2 cups unsalted pecan halves
- 1/2 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne or ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, cover the pecans with water. Transfer to a sieve and shake out water.
- 2. In another bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, cayenne or cinnamon and salt. Add the pecans and toss. Transfer to a sieve and shake off the excess coating.
- 3. Arrange the pecans on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the sugar carmelizes and the nuts are golden. Let cool and package in decorated mason or jam jars.
We don’t always eat turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas — sometimes we roast duck or have a crown roast of pork — but we always have my mother’s Irish sausage stuffing. Like most family recipes, my mother does not have a written recipe for this stuffing and has made it so often that she intuitively knows how much of each ingredient to include. This is my attempt to capture it in writing. You can vary the recipe to your own taste by perhaps adding some diced apple or using a different type of bread. My mother often uses boxed croutons and the stuffing tastes just as good.
Irish style sausages are available in ethnic stores butchers or can be ordered online at:foodireland.com, shop.spencerfoods.com or winstonsmarket.net.age.
- 1 loaf white country loaf cut into cubes to make 6 cups of croutons
- 2 tbsps. butter
- 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 lb. Irish sausages
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
- To make croutons: Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Slice bread, trim crusts, cut into ½ inch cubes. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet, toast in preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Heat butter over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add onions, garlic and celery. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Using a kitchen shears, cut the casing on the sausages to remove the meat. Add sausage meat to the skillet, breaking it up with a wooden spoon to mix with the onions and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until sausages are no longer pink. Add the sage and thyme.
- Transfer the sausage, onion and celery mixture to a large bowl. Add 6 cups of the croutons. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth.
- Butter a shallow baking dish and spread the stuffing in it. If cooking the stuffing with a roast, add some of the juices from the roasted meat to the stuffing to give it added flavor. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. or until the stuffing is heated through and the top is browned and crisp.