Roasted Maple Chai-Spiced Cashews

Maple Chai-Spiced Roasted Cashews

Thirty minutes before friends were set to arrive, I heated maple syrup in a skillet until it was sticky. I was making this salad from Saveur Magazine. No more than five minutes later, the cashews were candied and slowly disappearing while they cooled. (Who? Me? Steeling cashews from the pan? Never! 😏)

The cashews from that salad reminded me of the honey sesame cashews Trader Joe's sells in it's trail mix section. But better, because maple syrup. All things maple syrup are better, right? 

Those cashews sat in my mind for the next week. My eyes had been opened to something new: homemade maple cashews, and the flavor possibilities were endless. Maple Cayenne Cashews. Maple Cinnamon Cashews. Maple Rosemary? It could work. 

Maple Chai-Spiced Roasted Cashews
Maple Chai-Spiced Roasted Cashews

But the flavor profile that really got me excited was Maple Chai (you know how I love all things chai-spice). 

And now? Now I don't think I'll ever go back to Trader Joe's honey cashews. These homemade puppies are easy to make (we're talking a 10 minute recipe) and I find the maple flavor, with a bit of warm spice, SO. MUCH. BETTER. I couldn't stop eating these once they were made. 

And while I did no gifting of these cashews, and we ate most of them while they were still warm, they would also make a pretty little gift. Can you picture a mason jar filled with Maple Chai-Spiced Cashews tied up with a festive bow and a little name tag? Cute! And so sweet, in more ways than one. 

Maple Chai-Spiced Roasted Cashews

P.S., I did also try the Maple Cayenne idea but with pepitas instead of cashews. After they were candied they needed something else, so then I drizzled them with dark chocolate. They were good, but I liked these cozy cashews more. 

Roasted Maple Chai-Spiced Cashews

Published November 30, 2017 by
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Serves: 8   |    Total Time: 10 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roasted, unsalted whole cashews 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground anise
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Directions:

  1. Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper or a Silpat (affiliate link!). Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cardamom, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, anise, and cloves. Stir to combine.
  3. Heat maple syrup in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes, stirring, until it begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add spice mix to syrup, stirring to distribute.
  4. Now, add cashews to skillet. Stir using a spatula or wooden spoon until all cashews are coated. Scrape cashews with maple syrup onto lined baking sheet and spread out into a single layer, breaking up large clumps. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes.

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Green Chile Smother Sauce

Green Chile Smother Sauce

This green chile smother sauce was created for a good friend after we went to a Mexican restaurant and fell in love with their smother sauce. The Mexican restaurant is a little hole in the wall across the street from the DMV. You wouldn’t think much of that little restaurant if you were just driving by, but those that know it love it. The burritos come stuffed full of ingredients, making them bigger than anyone person could ever really need. And key to this story, each burrito gets coated in smother sauce.

What is smother sauce, you ask? Well, it’s a sauce, for smothering. But it can be used in a kajillion ways (I’ll share some ideas later in this post). Mostly, it’s a spicy sauce that you can pour over burritos, tacos, eggs—really anything. 

After eating at this restaurant, we realized smothered burritos didn’t have to be restaurant-only food. Why not make our own smother sauce? That’s how this happened. Introducing Green Chile Smother Sauce.

Green Chile Smother Sauce
Green Chile Smother Sauce

This green chili sauce is really similar to what you would use in my Pork Chile Verde. The difference is that this smother sauce can be used in 1,000,001 ways. It is a dip for chips when you want something zesty and tangy. It is the drizzle your eggs need in the morning. It is the sauce to smother every burrito, tamale, and taco with. Basically, it is everything. Still need ideas for how to use it? 

  • Green enchilada sauce (do you have leftover turkey still? Enchiladas are the answer)

  • Green eggs in purgatory

  • A hot sauce for your breakfast (fried eggs or omellete)

  • Serve as a salsa

  • Slow Cooker Pork Chile Verde (use this sauce in place of the tomatillo, onion, garlic blend that the recipe calls for: they are pretty much the same thing)

  • A starter for guacamole

  • A smother sauce for burritos

...just to name a few.

The secret to making the sauce is roasting the tomatillos, onion, and garlic before you blend it up. That gives it a slow cooked smoky flavor that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve. It cuts some of the tartness of the tomatillos. Then all you have to do is throw it in the blender and purée it. I use this blender (affiliate link)! And then you eat it, however you damn well please. That’s it! Easy peasy. 

Green Chile Smother Sauce

Green Chile Smother Sauce

Published November 21, 2017 by
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Serves: 6   |    Total Time: 20 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 8 medium sized tomatillos
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 cans hatch green chiles (I use the hot ones, but feel free to use mild if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat your over to 475°F. Peel the papery outer skins from the tomatillos, wash them, and slice them in half. Cut the onion into 4 to 6 large wedges. Arrange them all on a sheet pan along with the garlic cloves. Brush with 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and place in oven. Roast until the tops of the tomatillos are browned, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add roasted tomatillos, onions, and garlic to a blender along with canned green chiles, cilantro, lime, spices (cumin, coriander, oregano, and optional cayenne), salt, and pepper. Puree. Mixture should be similar to a less chunky salsa.
  3. Store sauce in jars until ready to use. Stays good in fridge for 1 week.

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The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack

The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack

This morning I am writing you from our rental cabin in Stanton, Kentucky. You can hear the quite patter of rain on the rooftop over the gurgle of the coffee machine behind me. I am always the first awake, and I like it that way. Only one light is on, and beyond the rain and the coffee machine there is a sense of stillness all around our cabin. 

The Red River Gorge sits just southwest of Lexington, and is surrounded by dense forests that are rainbow with fall foliage this week. This is only my second time here, but it's revered as one of the best places in the country for climbing and frequented by many climbers from around the world. The sandstone walls of the gorge are tall, and after decades of erosion they are covered in thousands of holes and pockets. It's as if they want to be climbed. 

The Red River Gorge

This area of Kentucky is so different from my own home. For one, it’s wet. Even when it’s “dry,” things are humid. The forests are thick, mossy walls of deciduous trees, which are painted all colors of fall right now. (I find myself uncontrollably taking photos of this rainbow forest).

The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack

If you plan to stay outside all day here, you must plan ahead. Once we’re out of the house, we’re out of the house: our cabin is a ways from the closest town, at the far reaches of a ranch. Donkeys wander the grounds with the company of a single Shetland pony. Our rental minivan can barely handle our steep gravel driveway! In town there is a grocery store, but once you are in the Gorge you are essentially off the map. The road is dotted with signs of a few adventure companies and parking lots for climbers. There is a campground with a pizza shop where many climbers set up camp, and that’s it. We make sure our bags have enough to get us through an eight to ten hour climbing day.

My climbing bag almost always looks the same: gear (climbing shoes, quick draws, a headlamp, etc.), extra clothing (a down coat, a rain coat, hat, gloves, warm pants), drinking water, sunscreen, and easy-to-pack food.

Lunch on Thursday, which fueled me up my favorite climb of the whole trip, the left side of  Another Doug Reed Route .

Lunch on Thursday, which fueled me up my favorite climb of the whole trip, the left side of Another Doug Reed Route.

I try to include a source of protein for long-lasting fuel, something with carbs for quick energy, and snacks for in-between routes. This trip, Chomps sent me a box of their grass-fed jerky sticks to try, and they were the perfect protein to bring. They are lightweight--a lot lighter than a can of tuna, which I often pack- and stay good without refrigeration so you can pack them for a long trip (unlike hard boiled eggs or cheese). If you're looking for something Paleo-friendly, these are great because they are Certified Paleo, Certified Gluten-Free, and WHOLE30 Approved. I also have found Chomps to be super satisfying, which is important when we aren’t going to get home for dinner until 7 or 8pm.

The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack - Chomps

What to Pack in Your Day Pack for a Healthy Lunch:

  • 1-2 food high in carbohydrates, for quick energy: apple, banana, grapefruit, dried fruit, or even a cooked sweet potato
  • 1 food with plenty of protein, for long-lasting energy: Chomps! They are 100% grass-fed too, so even though I normally shy away from things that can be called “meat sticks,” these are dang good. Find them on their website, Amazon, Trader Joe's, or at Target.
  • 1 veggie (optional – this can add weight to your pack but it’s nice to have): carrot or celery sticks are easiest for me
  • 1-2 other snacks: chocolate (this is especially good when you need some extra motivation), trail mix (this mocha trail mix is a total treat!), peanut butter packets, no-granola bars, or even grain-free cookies
My favorite Chomps stick is the  cranberry  one—it has a dynamic flavor that is not at all sweet, and slightly spicy. This is probably because it doesn’t have any added sugar--there are real cranberries in there! Plus, the minute I unwrapped one of the sticks, my favorite puppy would stick by my side until it was gone. Definitely worth it. Also a sign these are really good. The puppy knows. (Pro tip: People also use these snack sticks on cheese boards (think  a better quality cured sausage —one with out fillers and preservatives) and in cooking, it you’re feeling creative. Get some ideas on their  Instagram feed !)

My favorite Chomps stick is the cranberry one—it has a dynamic flavor that is not at all sweet, and slightly spicy. This is probably because it doesn’t have any added sugar--there are real cranberries in there! Plus, the minute I unwrapped one of the sticks, my favorite puppy would stick by my side until it was gone. Definitely worth it. Also a sign these are really good. The puppy knows. (Pro tip: People also use these snack sticks on cheese boards (think a better quality cured sausage—one with out fillers and preservatives) and in cooking, it you’re feeling creative. Get some ideas on their Instagram feed!)

This last week was a learning experience of a new kind: I didn’t train for this trip as much as I would’ve liked to, so rather than setting my expectations high, I focused on the simple pleasure of being on vacation, unplugged and amongst the trees. When your goal is simply vacation, life feels pretty luxurious.

By day four I was starting to get used to climbing on a rope and was able to get into a groove (at home, I tend to boulder, so my head wasn’t prepared for sport climbing like it should have been). Now that we’re heading home, my motivation is renewed and I’m psyched to get training on both ropes and boulders again! There is no replacement for a weeklong adventure for getting your spirits high and your workout routine rejuvenated, whether that means going with a group of friends on a bike tour, paddling down a river, or backpacking!

Moonrise at dusk.

Moonrise at dusk.

Chomps sponsored this blog post, but the images, thoughts, and experiences are all my own! This post is a true reflection of my last week—snacks, adventures and all!

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