Peanut Brittle and Nine Other Nutty Treats
Looking for a cheap source of protein to jazz up your recipe repertoire? Searching for a multifunctional ingredient you can take from sweet to savory? Peanuts are where it's at. Loaded with flavor just like the spreadable version, whole raw peanuts add another layer to the food party in your mouth. Crunch. Here are ten great recipe ideas for sweets, snacks and savory main events, all using the humble peanut.
When it comes to nuts, few are more affordable than good old fashioned peanuts. While technically a legume, the difference between them and other nuts isn't necessarily an easy distinction. For the purposes of this article however, I'm considering them nuts for the purposes of how they are used in the various recipes. Ready for some cheap ideas for treats on the home front? Let's go!
In addition to being just plain fun to make and eat, peanut brittle makes a decent hostess or holiday gift in a tin. Bonus? It's short on ingredients, all of which are super affordable. Here's a link to a recipe and an instructional video for the basic kind we are all used to. If you're feeling adventurous and want to spice things up, try out some of these exceptional varieties: jalapeno, beer, a spicy kind or two, chili and this peppery version you can whip up in the microwave without a candy thermometer.
Peanut and Pineapple Fried Rice
Looking for a protein source you don't need a fridge to store? Having a vegan for dinner and you don't know what to do? Check out this recipe from SustainablePantry.Com.
I don't think I'll ever get sick of eating this stuff. And peanuts are a main part of the experience. Mostly just as a ground up and heavily used topper, although I've seen peanut pieces stir fried with the meal as well. There's a recipe for it in this Thai food round up over on my Wanderlust and Lipstick blog.
My previous article on cooking with cabbage has a link to a phenomenal peanut lime coleslaw that we enjoyed with tuna steaks and horseradish sauce the other night. Here's another link with a recipe for Gado-Gado, and Indonesian vegetable salad with peanuts. (You'll have to scroll down a bit.)
Jazz Up Your Caramel Corn
Caramel corn is a yummy treat that just screams “family time”. It's also a fun and affordable homemade gift around the holidays that can be packaged in brown paper bags secured with staples or printed gift tag labels. Have the kids decorate the bags with thematic rubber stamp designs. This could also work at children's birthday parties if the kids are at an age where they are old enough to start making their own party favors to hand out to friends. Of course you can make caramel corn without peanuts, but I think they take it to the next level while keeping things on budget.
Raisin and Peanut Clusters
Homemade Trail or Snack Mix
GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) is one basic way to get a snack mix on a budget. You can add other dried fruits and seeds if you want, but if you need to keep it cheap, this'll definitely do the trick. Other snack mix recipes are out there of course, including this margarita flavored trail mix, an Asian style one and even Asian GORP. (Who knew they had that?)
Roasted and Coated.
If just shoveling them in by the handful as a tasty snack is what floats your boat the most, try some of these roasting and flavoring options to kick it up a notch: Toffee coated, BBQ, curried, honey roasted, Vietnamese garlic-ginger, chili roasted, Chinese vinegar, chipotle-honey and chili-lime. Here's another link to a resource page with three different seasoning recipes for roasted peanuts, including one for Moroccan style ones. Yum!
Personally, I think this is one of the more elegant homemade gift options out there. Bonus? You can pull it off with nearly any budget or kitchen ability level. Gotta. Love. That.
OK, I sort of went a little nuts (pun intended) in this category, people. There were just so many options for scrumptious soups. Soups from the southern United States, the African Congo and an inn that's been in business since 1797 to name a few. I also found a sweet potato and peanut soup, a Thai inspired version you can make with canned pumpkin, another slightly fancy American one, a Senegalese variety that could work with extra peanuts on the side, and an interesting green chile and peanut concoction.
That's it. My top ten picks for making the most of affordable pantry peanuts. Other unusual peanut recipes I found included an Orient Express wrap, peanut chutney and Thai pizza. The ultimate resource for peanut recipes though, including loads of main dish recipes that will make your mouth water, would be this page from the National Peanut Board. Got another great peanut recipe for the masses? (Like this one for cream of peanut and celery soup?) You know where to let me know.