A Few of My Father's Favorite Things!

December 13, 2013

Rose 4Happy Holidays!  With Thanksgiving being so late, and Hanukkah being so early this year, the holidays have gotten off to kind of a crazy start this year.  On top of the that, a significant event happen happened in my family.  After a long struggle with Alzheimer's, my father passed away last month.  Although his passing was not unexpected, it was still hard.  He was my daddy... on top of being an absolutely amazing person.  So as a little tribute to him, this month will be about some one of his favorite food groups, SNACKS! :), especially those made with nuts.  He always had a jar in the kitchen and a little bowl next to his big chair by the TV.  He had a real sweet tooth too, as does my mom, so I guess that may explain my never ending ability to eat sugar in almost any form.  My dad was incredibly outgoing and he loved this time of year...getting together with family and friends, and he loved parties! He also loved to play Santa for us, his daughters, his nieces and nephews, and then his grandchildren.  He would put on his Santa suit, all the padding, then his hat and beard.  He would cover his face almost entirely, so that all you could see was his nose poking out.  He tried his best not to be recognized.  He wanted to keep the mystery alive! That's me with a picture of him as a little girl.  I'm on the right and my sister Annette is on the left. I think I'm about 5 there.  As you can see, none of the kids in this picture were afraid of this Santa!

Santa DaddyAll these snacks wrap up nicely in bags or jars or tins and are perfect for gift giving, or just in bowls around the house for nibbling.On top of these new recipes, have a look at previous year's gift editions by checking out my blog archive.  At the bottom of the page is a list of previous editions.  All the recipes are pretty easy and quick to make so click here, then start creating your own gifts for family and friends.  Don't forget to follow us on Facebook.  Click here and become a fan to get daily updates from our kitchen.  

Happy Holidays everyone and Best Dishes to all for 2013!  


Toffee Popcorn Crunch

Toffee Popcorn CrunchRemember Fiddle Faddle and Crunch 'n Munch?  Oh how we loved this snack at our house growing up.  I was so excited to find the recipe, and it's a breeze to make...just don't look at the nutritional count.  It's not pretty but so fun and delicious!

This is what you need: 4 quarts popped popcorn (16 cups), 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts, 4 ounces toffe chips.

Here's what you do: Preheat oven to 250F.  Pour popcorn onto one or two greased baking sheets in a single layer.
Bring to a boil and then simmer brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a medium sauce pan for about 3-5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth and a dark amber color, stirring occasionally.  Take pan off the heat and then add the baking soda and vanilla.  Pour miture over the popcorn.  Mix well with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle with peanuts and toffee chips.
Bake in the low heat oven for 1 hour, stirring several times (about every 10 minutes) during the baking time.  Let cool then eat and enjoy! 

Chocolate Turtles

chocolate turtlesChocolate Turtles...old fashion but always tasty!  And what's not to love???  Seems like there is always a box of these around my parent's house.  My sister's and I have to hide them from ourselves because it seems that every time we walk by, we're opening the box to have another one!  They are super easy to make and when they come from your kitchen, there's just  that extra bit of love that makes them extra special.  Substitute walnuts for pecans if your prefer but make sure you toast whatever nut you use.  It brings out the essential oils and adds extra crunch to go with the sweet chewy caramel. 

This is what you need: 2 cups pecan halves, 2 (12 ounce bags) chocolate chips, 25 bite-sized caramel squares, 2 tablespoons water, 1/2 cup butter - softened.

This is what you do: Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange pecans on a baking sheet and bake unitl fragrant and lightly browned, about 7 minutes.

Combine caramels, water, and butter in a saucepan over low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramels are melted and smooth. Fold in pecans.

On another baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, then greased with butter, Drop caramel and pecan mixture by the spoonful onto the prepared sheet.  Arrange pecans so they form a base for the candy.  Drop any extra caramel on top of candies.  Place in fridge or freezer and allow to cool and harden.

When pecans and caramels are cooled, melt chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching.

Drizzle chocolate over caramel nut clusters. Refrigerate to set, about 1 hour.


Granola Crusted Nuts

I never got to make this for my dad.  It's a newer recipe I found on the Smitten Kitchen blog, but I know he would have loved these little nuggets! 

My children love this granola, especially my daughter Sarah.  It's crispy and light as well as delicious and nutritious! Much better than anything you can find in a box :)  It's also very pretty wrapped in a cellophane bag and topped with a festive bow.  If you want to reduce the fat and calorie count even further, reduce the amount of almonds and brown sugar. I like to use dried cranberries and blueberries, but really, any dried fruit will do.  This wonderful granola is great with milk or yogurt, but equally good eaten right out of your hand.  Everyone loves it so it's perfect for all your holiday gift giving!  

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups slivered almonds
cup brown sugar

teaspoons ground cinnamon
cup canola oil
1/2 cup hot water
cup maple sugar, preferably Grade B
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cup dried blueberries, or              
  cranberries or combination of both
  Source: Bon Appetit, December 2010

Granola Crusted Nuts

Arrange 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 300°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

Toss oats, brown sugar, almonds, and cinnamon in large bowl. Whisk oil, maple syrup, hot water, both extracts, and salt in medium bowl. Drizzle over dry ingredients; toss to coat. Divide mixture between sheets, spreading in even layer.

Bake granola 20 minutes. Stir granola; reverse sheets and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer granola on sheets to racks. Sprinkle dried fruit over and cool completely, stirring occasionally. Store airtight at room temperature.  The maple-almond granola will stay crunchiest if sealed in an airtight container as soon as it has cooled completely.

Makes 16 half cup servings. Per Serving: 367 Calories; 18g Fat (43.0% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 80mg Sodium.  

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