Thanksgiving Prep: Start with a Snack

WILSON, WY —Every year, while children come down from their Halloween-high, the holiday season is thrust upon us. With the turn of the month, grocery stores are transformed from spooky to jolly, and suddenly Thanksgiving arrives. With it, the panic of where we’re going and, most importantly, what we’ll be eating.

A lover of everything Thanksgiving, from much needed family time to days and days of planning, prepping and cooking the feast of all feasts, it’s without a doubt my favorite holiday. Whether you’re hosting this year, visiting the in-laws, joining a friendsgiving, or heading home to the parents, there’s always the question of what to cook or bring. In the next few weeks, I hope to give anyone desperate for inspiration a few ideas for the upcoming holiday.

The first recipe of my “Thanksgiving Segment” is great for hosting or bringing a little something to your hosts. You can use these as a gift (hint: wrap them in some parchment with butchers twine for a charming home-made look), as a pre-dinner snack to tide revelers over before the annual feasting begins, or even as a garnish for roasted vegetables or in your favorite salad. They’re for the savory and sweet snackers alike. Feel free to adjust according to your preferences. Not a sugar fan? You can substitute a tbsp of maple syrup or keep the sweet out all together. A lover of all things sweet? You can add up to 1/2 a cup of sugar. The nuts are also up to you! These are just what I have on hand.

Helen’s Spiced Mixed Nuts:         

1 C pecans

1 C Cashews

1/2 C shelled pistachios

1/2 C raw almonds

1/2 C raw hazelnuts

2 egg whites

1 tsp gharam marsala spice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/8-1/4 tsp smoked paprika (depending on your preference for the spice)

1 tbsp rosemary (I prefer fresh, but dry will work)  

a dash of nutmeg

a dash of cayenne pepper

a pinch of sugar

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Mix the nuts in a bowl, but keep the pecans separate as they may take longer to cook. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft and fluffy (there should be no raw egg white at the bottom of the bowl). Add the spices and whisk until combined. Pour a quarter of the egg white mixture over the pecans, then fold the rest of the mixture into the mixed nuts. Spread the mixed nuts out evenly onto one of the sheet pans. Spread the pecans across the other. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir to ensure an even cooking. Cook further, turning every 5 minutes, until the nuts are toasted to a medium-light brown. Do not let them get too dark or they will taste burnt. Once they’re toasted, take them out and set them onto a rack to cool. They will harden as they cool, so don’t fret if they’re soft when they’re removed from the oven. Remove from the pan into a bowl for immediate snacking; wrap them up tightly for a gift; or pack them off in airtight containers to save for later.


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