Sweet and spicy pecans: A sweet excuse to break your New Year's resolutions

Well, here we are again. Another year gone by and I honestly didn’t see it coming. Seriously. Where did the time go? They say that time flies when you’re having fun. If that’s true, then 2010 must have been one helluva nonstop party. Too bad I can’t remember it!

I don’t usually make a lot of New Year’s resolutions. Been there, done that. I find that I usually break most of them by the end of January, and then spend the rest of the year beating myself up over it. Who needs that kind of pressure? I mean, I know that I’m never going to hoof it to the gym at 6:00 a.m. three times a week. Almost everyone who knows me, knows it too. So why set myself up for failure? Instead, I try to set a few goals that I want to achieve, and work toward them in small, realistic increments. I probably won’t be making many any pre-dawn visits to the gym. But, I might take my dog, Bella, for an extra walk around the block from time to time. Maybe.

The point is that a brand new year is upon us and that means a fresh start and a world of possibilities. I have a feeling that 2011 is going to be a fabulous year. I can taste it! I plan to make the best of it and I hope that all of you do too.

Here's a great little recipe to enjoy while you're planning your strategy for 2011. My Sweet and Spicy Pecans are absolutely addictive and a breeze to make. I included containers of them in my Holiday gift bags this year and they were a huge hit.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can adapt it in many different ways. I used brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne and smoked paprika in my version, but you can use less sugar to make the nuts more savory, or switch up the spices however you like. Not only are these pecans an incredibly delicious nibble, they can also be added to salads, veggies and lots of different baked goods. Banana bread or apple muffins with spiced pecans, anyone? Mmmm!

I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I've enjoyed sharing my recipes with you this past year. You can look forward to many more in the months to come. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May 2011 bring you all you ever dreamed of!

Sweet & Spicy Pecans

Ingredients:

1/4 cup dark-brown sugar

2/3 cup white granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 pound pecan halves

1 egg white, room temperature

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Whisk sugars, salt, cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne together in a bowl and set aside.

Beat egg white, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces together until foamy. Add pecans, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated.

Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are dry and crisp. Be careful not to burn the nuts!

Remove baking sheet from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, break up any nuts that have stuck together and store in an airtight container.  The nuts will stay fresh and crunchy for at least two weeks.

Still hungry?  Come visit me at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy for even more delicious recipes!