winter recipe

Snack Time -> Candied Pecans

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by    alyssa joy photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography

I love candied pecans. I took elements from recipes and blended them together to get all the elements I love the best. Sweet, salty, buttery, and a hint of heat. Since pecans come in an array of package sizes, I altered the recipe for smaller 16 oz bags and larger 24 oz bags which is what I purchase from a place in Georgia (Adcock Pecans in Tifton). Use the smaller measurements for a smaller quantity of pecans and the higher for a larger bag. These are addictive. When we were photographing them, it was the one subject we couldn’t stop eating. :)

Candied Pecans

Ingredients

16 - 24 oz whole pecans

1/2 - 1 stick butter, melted and cooled

1 - 2 egg whites

1/3 c brown sugar, packed

1/2 - 2/3 c white granulated sugar

1 - 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp will not set you on fire)

1 - 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 325. Place a piece of parchment on a half sheet or jelly roll pan. Add pecans to a large bowl. Pour the melted butter over the pecans. In a separate small bowl beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugars, salt, cinnamon + cayenne. Pour over pecans and stir until evenly coated. Spread evenly on pan. Bake pecans for 3o minutes being sure to flip and stir them every ten minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack covered in parchment paper. As they cool, I give them a stir to keep from sticking to one another. When cool, eat until you explode. :)

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by    alyssa joy photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography

Cocktail Time -> Mulled Winter Sangria

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by    alyssa joy photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by alyssa joy photography

If you desire a warm hug in a glass in cold, wet weather as much as I do, you are in luck. Last week the weather was so gross day of our Christmas party and I really wanted a warm drink that was comforting and felt cheerful. I flipped through many a cider and mulled wine recipe but nothing jumped out at me because what I really wanted was sangria. It’s my favorite party drink because wine and fruit and you mix it up in a pitcher and forget about it. But it’s also cold. And it was cold outside. And raining. So I thought I’d try my hand at a warm version. I’ll be honest, this was a gamble on my part as I am not a drink maker. But it turned out great plus it’s really easy to throw together. Also, crock pot! Make and walk away. AND it keeps well in the fridge if there is any left + reheats in the microwave beautifully. The first batch disappeared really quickly - always a good sign - so I threw together a second batch. I’ve had several people ask for the recipe so thought I would throw it on the old blog to share.

NOTE: obviously the end result will vary depending on the wine purchased. My first batch was made with a Côtes du Rhône Villages (75% Grenache/25% Syrah blend), the second with a Cabernet. They each had their own personality but the first batch was my favorite and the one that disappeared quickly. I had some of the cabernet batch left over and it mellowed nicely in the fridge (and I might’ve enjoyed having it around to sip on in the evening). I would suggest letting it marry longer if you choose a cab or merlot varietal because it definitely became quite lovely the next day.

Mulled Winter Sangria

Ingredients

1 bottle red wine (read NOTE above)

2 c unsweetened apple juice (I used Martinelli’s)

2 c cranberry juice (not cocktail)

1/2 c black rum (I used Gosling)

1/4 - 1/3 c orange liqueur

1 orange

1/2 - 3/4 c brown sugar, packed

4 cinnamon sticks

1 - 2 tsp whole clove

1/2 - 1 c fresh whole cranberries

Directions

You can use a crock pot or do this on the stove top. Several ingredients have a range. This is because I literally made this up as I went so there were a couple adjustments; mostly around sugar/spices as I did not want to make it a sweet drink. I would start on the low end of the measurement and move up from there.

Add red wine, apple and cranberry juices to crockpot. Using a vegetable peeler, peel three good strips from the orange being careful to avoid the pith (it will make the drink bitter if too much pith) and toss in crock pot. Slice the orange in half and juice directly into crock pot. Sprinkle in the sugar, spices, and cranberries. Turn crock pot on high and give it all a good stir before putting the lid on. Let it heat for 30 minutes. Give it a taste test (careful, it will be hot) and adjust spices + sugar as needed to taste.

Seasonal Brunch -> Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Nothing says brunch to me quite like French Toast and this cozy cool weather version is a warm hug in a pan, I tell ya. Pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, pecans - praise hands! I'll be honest and share that I add a little extra of everything: extra pumpkin, extra spice, and definitely extra pecans. When I was shopping for this recipe I got lucky and stumbled on one last loaf of brioche so I snatched it up to mix with the baguettes I already had in my cart. That eggy brioche makes it that much more decadent. If you expect to refrigerate leftovers, I would stick to french baguette or a similar hearty bread as the brioche can get a bit too wet when refrigerated after baking. I like to make my own pumpkin pie spice because I already have all of the spices anyway and it seems a waste for me to buy pumpkin pie spice. Plus I love to grate my own nutmeg as it's one of those spices that loses its punch fairly quickly if it sits on a shelf too long. There's really no comparison to buying it off the shelf and grating it yourself. But if you don't have all of the spices in the recipe, pumpkin pie spice is perfectly fine! 

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography:  alyssa joy photography    

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography: alyssa joy photography
 

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

(adapted from Little Spice Jar)

Ingredients

1 day old French, brioche, or challah bread, diced (see Note)

2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

6 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

2 tablespoons vanilla

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (recipe below)

1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Streusal Topping

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup cold salted butter, diced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (recipe below)

1/2 - 3/4 cup whole pecans

The smell when this comes out of the oven is delightful. Prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography:  alyssa joy photography    

The smell when this comes out of the oven is delightful. Prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography: alyssa joy photography
 

Directions

Generously spritz a 9x13 dish with nonstick cooking spray. Add diced bread to baking dish, sprinkle with chopped pecans; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and pie spice. Pour the prepared custard over the bread in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 3-4 hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Streusal Topping: combine light brown sugar, butter, flour, and pie spice in a small bowl. Using your fingertips, quickly mix together until the butter breaks down into smaller pieces. Press the whole pecans onto the casserole and sprinkle the topping over the top.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. If the streusal topping starts to brown too much, tent with a piece of aluminum foil. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with syrup of your choice, butter, and powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

3 tablespoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Whisk all in a small bowl and store in resealable container.

*We used a 50/50 mix of French + brioche breads. It is important that the bread not be fresh so it will stand up to the custard. To accelerate the process: cube or tear bread into chunks, spread on baking sheet and allow to sit out on counter for several hours. Every hour, toss the cubes to expose them to more air. When bread starts feeling dry to the touch, ready to use.

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography:  alyssa joy photography

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography: alyssa joy photography

It's nutty and delicious and smells amazing when you take it out of the oven.