(Family Features) - I'm nuts about nuts, and my favorite is the all-American pecan. So, I'm pleased to celebrate National Pecan Month by using this sweet, buttery nut in many ways.
Spiced for cocktail nibbling, folded into rice pilaf or tossed into a salad, I find a place for the Native American pecan in every part of my menu. But there's no question that my favorite place for this nut is tucked into something sweet. Whether it's pralines, fudge, pecan pie or shortbread, pecan desserts are as American as, well, pumpkin pie!
Make a dreamy combo of two all-American favorites - pecan pie and pumpkin pie - in these Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares. Sweet and nutty, these squares are full of spicy pumpkin atop an oat crust. Served on small plates, garnished with a cloud of whipped cream, this dessert will secure your reputation as a creative baker.
I almost can't think of a dish that isn't improved by this crunchy nut. Here are some of my favorite ways of using pecans:
- Adding some to my favorite quick bread or muffin batter before baking
- Topping pancakes or waffles with toasted pecans
- Sprinkling pecans on oatmeal or any favorite cereal
- Adding crunch to chicken salad with toasted pecans
- Garnishing a creamy bisque or pumpkin soup with chopped pecans
- Stirring pecans into a rice pilaf, or topping steamed green beans with chopped pecans
- Tossing toasted pecans into a mixed green salad
- Making a summertime pesto with fresh basil and pecans to toss with hot pasta
Toasting pecans brings out their rich flavor. I place pecans on a shallow rimmed baking sheet in a 300°F oven and bake for 10 to15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are golden brown.
Check out the nutty and nice ideas for inspired baking and cooking at www.VeryBestBaking.com.