Monday, March 26, 2012

Almond Joy

A few years ago, we got into the good habit of always having on hand a container of roasted, slivered almonds. We always sprinkle some on our nightly salads which we enjoy, European-style, at the end of the meal. The good habit started while I was reading a nutrition book which I had received as a gift. The book confirmed  that almonds are really good for you.

Here's a peek at their nutritional value:
  • Almonds are a great source of Vitamin E and B
  • They are a great source of protein (perfect for non-meat eaters)
  • They deliver a great mix of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium
  • They are rich in acids that help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Almonds are higher in fiber than any other nut
  • One almond is 7 calories
Even though the book said that you lose some of the nutrients when you roast them. We really like extra crunchiness and flavor that's imparted when you roast them. They're just more satisfying.

So here's what I do. I buy a container of slivered almonds. They have none of the brown skin on them (I have a slight allergy to the brown skin on nuts. Hence, you'll never see any recipes with walnuts or pecans here). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet and spread them out into one layer as best you can. Place them into the oven. You need to monitor them closely because they will over-brown quickly. Total cook time is about 15-20 minutes. You'll notice a wonderful aroma in the oven as they begin to brown. Once you get that aroma, monitor them even more often. When they are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet. Once cool, store in an airtight container.

Then enjoy them!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tuna Caper Spread on Endive

We got three heads of endive last week in the box and three more this week. For us, endive borders on the "what the hell am I supposed to do with this?" territory. And then there's the eternal question: "How do I pronounce it?"

I have a few saved recipes and all of them call for using endive as an appetizer. So if you too are wondering what to do with your endive, the links below have a ton of recipes and ideas.

We were going to an afternoon reception and I decided to pair one of my go-to spreads with the endive. The endive leaves are perfect little "boats" that can deliver a variety of flavors to the mouths of your guests. Perfect for parties.

Wash the endive and discard any outer leaves that are blemished. Chop about a 1/4 inch of the bottom and the outer leaves will begin falling away. Continue unraveling the endive. As you get into the middle of it, you will have to cut off the base again.

When it comes time to putting in the contents, it's best to have the leaf in one hand and spoon in your mixture with the other.

Tuna Caper Spread on Endive

  • Tuna - 1 6 oz. can in water, drained
  • Cream cheese - 4 oz., bring to room temperature ahead of time
  • Olive oil - 1-2 teaspoons
  • Lemon juice - 2 teaspoons
  • Cayenne pepper - about 1/2 teaspoon (depends on your tolerance level. Start with less and build up until you taste it)
  • Capers - 3 tablespoons, rinsed and chopped
  • Parsley - 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • Thyme - 1 1/2 teaspoons, chopped

In a large bowl, combine tuna, cream cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice. Mix until smooth. Stir in herbs and capers and continue to mix. Add cayenne pepper until you reach your desired spice level.

Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon or more onto the base of the endive leaves. Artfully arrange on a platter or plate.