Ingredient SpotLight

Almonds are a great nut and growing in popularity. Whether you are snacking on them or using them in baking or a main dish, they bring a satisfying crunch and wonderful flavor with them. A growing number of snacking options are available, too. Smoked almonds and salted almonds have been available for a while, but a wide variety of flavored options are being sold in grocery stores all over.

Almonds are well known as extremely rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals & importantly monounsaturated fatty acids, which tests have shown to lower the risk of heart problems. Also, a steady diet of almonds helps to lower cholesterol and has only a trace amount of salt in the almonds natural state. Even various almonds roasted no-salt have positive influences on our bodies.

To give you an idea of the versatility of almonds, I'm including three recipes here. They range from sweet candy to a great main dish. Enjoy!

Almond Brittle

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 10 tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb. almonds

Put the sugar into a heavy fry pan. Heat the sugar over low heat until it has melted and is delicately browned. Add the honey and butter and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the nuts and cook for 10 minutes. Line a platter or pan with wax paper and drop tablespoons of the brittle on the paper. Let harden.

  • Yields: 1.5 lbs. brittle
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Crepes Almondine

  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c. salad dressing
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. (4 oz.) shredded natural Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 c. chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pimiento
  • 2 tbsp. green onion slices

Combine the flour, salt, milk and eggs; beat until smooth. Let stand 30 minutes. For each crepe, pour 1/4 cup of the batter into hot, lightly greased 8-inch skillet. Cook on one side only until the underside is lightly browned. Combine the salad dressing, flour and seasonings; gradually add the milk. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat until thickened. Add the cheese; stir until melted. Stir in 1/4 cup of the nuts and the remaining ingredients. Fill each crepe with 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture; roll up. Place in a 12x8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Top with the remaining sauce and nuts; continue baking for 5 minutes.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Orange Almond Chicken

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 6 chicken breast halves
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 c. sliced almonds

Combine the flour and seasoned salt and coat the chicken with the mixture. Coat a 10x15-inch dish with butter. Place the chicken in single layer, brush with the butter. Bake at 350 degrees F, uncovered, for 1 hour. Combine the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, cornstarch, lemon juice and ginger in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce is thick and smooth. Spoon the sauce over the chicken after 1 hour. Sprinkle the mandarin oranges over the chicken and sauce. Bake another 15 minutes. Sauté the almonds in butter, drain, lightly salt. Remove the chicken, sprinkle with the almonds. Serve with rice.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes