beautiuful LIVINg, bountiful FOOD

It’s funny how I look back at the beginning of our relationship and the crazy things we did in the name of love. My best effort was our first Valentine’s Day together in 2004. Brad and I had been together only three months by that time, but I had a key to his place. I bought enough helium balloons that day while he was away at work (pre-COVID days, right?) and filled his bedroom with balloons. At the time, I drove a Honda Accord. I don’t exactly remember, but I must have had to make several trips back and forth.

Brad was equally romantic, in his own “special” way. I casually mentioned that my favorite flower was periwinkle blue hydrangea a month or two earlier. On Valentine’s Day, I opened the door to a special delivery : he had a bunch of the flowers FLOWN IN from California because they were nowhere to be found in Michigan that time of year. When he called to ask how they looked, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that two of the six didn’t fare well during the trip. I just photographed the four that looked beautiful. And I’ll never forget that he made the gesture for me.

This year, we’re not giving candy or flowers. Brad and I have been together for 20 years this year (married 18) and we’re definitely more into experiences than gifts at this stage. Roses are WAY overpriced for Valentine’s Day (and as a Frugalista, I insist on Manager’s Special flowers for $3 a bunch, if any at all). I definitely don’t need the extra 3000 calories in a box of chocolates. HOWEVER, I do want to celebrate and acknowledge my love. So, I’m making something sweet and spicy that’s easy and healthy this year. Love is making sure you spouse get enough fiber in his diet, right?

Praline pecans are a favorite around our house. I prefer using pieces rather than whole pecan halves (okay . . . yeah . . .you get it). IMHO, more surface area on the smaller pieces = more candied topping. I add just a “whisper” of heat with a little cayenne pepper to ensure their addictiveness and to keep him coming back.

These are the easiest treat to make. Simply coat them in the wet mixture, then coat them in the dry mixture, pop them in the oven for an hour (perfect play date time with my best furry friend), allow them to cool a bit, and eat.

Praline Pecan Pieces

Yields (4) I Cup Servings | Prep Time :05 | Total Cook Time 1:05


1 lb. (4 cups) pecan pieces
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 egg white
2 tsp. water
2 tbsp. vanilla

  • mixing bowl
  • smaller mixing bowl
  • baking sheet
  • whisk
  • parchment paper
  1. Preheat oven to 250°.
  2. In small mixing bowl, combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
  3. In larger bowl, whisk together egg white, water, and vanilla extract until frothy.
  4. Toss pecan pieces in egg mixture until well-coated.
  5. Pour in sugar mixture and toss pecans until well-coated.
  6. Pour out onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spread so all pecans are touching sheet.
  7. Toast pecans in oven for 1 hour, turning every 20 minutes.
  8. Cool and enjoy.

Praline Pecan Pieces

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