Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Food

March 20, 2012

Nuts for all: It’s welcome news they’re healthy

ASHLAND — It was wonderful news: in moderation, nuts are healthy food.

That doesn’t mean we always use them in a healthy way, but nuts make a contribution of fiber and protein to our diets.

March 25 is Pecan Day — they must be really important to get a whole day!

Culinary.net has a super-easy and delicious recipe to share that showcases pecans. It was contributed by Pillsbury.

CARAMEL PECAN BUNS

1 can (17.5 ounces) Pillsbury Grands! refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Bake cinnamon rolls as directed on package. Reserve icing.

To caramelize pecans, melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat; add pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until butter just starts to brown. Add brown sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and bubbles, about 2 minutes. Spoon over buns when they are hot out of the oven.

Remove cover from icing; microwave on medium (50 percent power) 5 to 10 seconds or until thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over warm buns. Serve warm.

TIP: I make a similar bun using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Spread the dough out and seal the crimps to make one, solid piece of dough.

Spread with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Roll dough, then cut it into individual rolls.

Place each roll in buttered baking pan and bake for the amount of time and at the temperature recommended.

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My favorite vegetables are the ones other people don’t like: brussel sprouts, asparagus, spinach.

Maybe the love for spinach is picking up a little because March 26 (the day after Pecan Day) is Spinach Day.

I enjoy it raw in salads and on sandwiches but also disguised in certain dishes, including scrambled eggs.

SPINACH MUSHROOM SALAD

1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach leaves torn in bite-size pieces

2 cups Pepperidge Farm® Seasoned Croutons

2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 6 ounces)

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Toss the spinach, croutons, mushrooms, bacon, onion and eggs in a large bowl.

Stir the oil, vinegar, sugar and mustard in a 1-quart saucepan and heat through over medium heat. Pour the dressing over the spinach mixture and toss until evenly coated.

TIP: To microwave the dressing, stir the oil, vinegar, sugar and mustard in a 1-cup microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute or until the mixture is hot.

SOURCE: CAMPBELL’S KITCHEN

EASY PICANTE SPINACH DIP

2 cups Pace® Picante Sauce

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 ounces)

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cut into cubes

1 package (about 10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

1 cup chopped pitted ripe olives

Tortilla chips, fresh vegetables or bread cubes

Heat the picante sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, spinach and olives in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat until the cheeses are melted, stirring often. Serve with the tortilla chips for dipping.

TIP: To thaw the spinach, microwave on high for 3 minutes, breaking the spinach apart with a fork halfway through heating.

SOURCE: CAMPBELL’S KITCHEN

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The American Pie Council’s National Pie Championships are near so if you think you make the greatest thing in a crust, you might want to enter.

The competition is April 27 through 29 in Orlando, during the Great American Pie Festival, which is April 28 and 29. Last year, the prestigious bake-off drew more than 447 commercial, 142 professional, 301 amateur and six junior entries for a total of 896 pies. Commercial winners took home bragging rights and the promise of greater sales, while winners in all other categories received plenty of cash and prizes, including a Sears Kenmore range. This year's competition is expected to be even more heated. Entry forms and pie categories for each division are available on the APC website,  piecouncil.org.

Entry is free for junior chefs and $15 per pie for amateur APC members, $35/non members and each entrant receives an Emile Henry pie dish; see website for professional and commercial entry costs. APC members receive discounted entry costs; membership information is also available online.

 Pie lovers are also invited to apply to be a judge at the prestigious competition. Last year, 174 esteemed pie aficionados from all over the world lent their time and taste buds to nibble on nearly 900 pies. No previous judging or baking experience is required; applicants need only explain why they would like to be a judge. Potential pie judges may fill out an entry form online at piecouncil.org through March 30.

 Hundreds of volunteers are also needed to make the championships and the APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco® run as easy as, well, pie. Volunteers may indicate the shifts or duties they prefer to work by filling out an application online at piecouncil.org by April 24.

The highlight of the festival is the Never Ending Pie Buffet, which last year featured 87,000 slices of pie as well as ice cream, toppings and beverages from America's best known commercial bakers. The Never Ending Pie Buffet has grown each year, from 83,000 slices in 2010 and 70,000 in 2009. The buffet and the children activities are the only paid events at the festival. All stage entertainment and demonstrations are free. Tickets for the Pie Buffet are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors older than 65 and children younger than 5 to enjoy all they care of eat and drink.

 For more information, visit the Front Porch Celebration Community at celebration.fl.us or the American Pie Council® piecouncil.org.

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While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send e-mail to lward@dailyindependent

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