Greetings from Blizzardville! After five days at home, I finally went back to work today, only to have the university close early. So I still did not make it to class. I’ve only been to one out of four scheduled class sessions in the semester. County schools are closed for the rest of the week and we have 6-foot-tall piles of snow at the corners of every intersection. Thankfully, all the days off and missed classes have allowed me to get a week ahead of my homework for this semester! I’m sure this will help with my stress levels this spring, especially when we reach the end of April and we have four (four!) tech weeks and performance weekends in a row. Eek!
My gluten intolerance has made me more aware to food allergies than, perhaps, some people without any problems with food. Working with children, and thus adding health information to countless rosters, I am even more aware of allergies. Just like more and more schools, nut products are pretty much a no-go during the hours that I am around children or when we have students in our facility. For years, I have avoided even bringing nuts to work. Those were sad days since almonds and peanut butter are two of my favorite foods. Also, with my gluten intolerance eliminating a lot of choices, nut products are a wonderful, nutrient-dense snack. Recently, I have been carefully bringing nuts back into my meals at my workplace. As long as I am sure that I can eat my snack away from the students, and I can thoroughly wash my hands afterwards, I have become confident that I can keep my students safe and still enjoy my peanut butter!
In the past few months, I’ve been working to keep our weekly groceries under $50.00 (except for an occasional stock up trip to Costco). And so we found ourselves with a huge bag of almonds (bulk is so much more economical!) I want to make more of our snacks, mostly to avoid the added costs that just can’t be squeezed into the weekly budget. I love stovetop sugared almonds, so I wanted to try a savory option. I was hoping to make these Honey Mustard Almonds completely on the stovetop, but the honey takes to long to crystallize. I finished them in the oven without too much added time and these were the result. The almonds remain a little sticky: they clump together, but are easily broken apart and don’t necessarily leave your fingers sticky. I haven’t tried the technique, but I bet you could toss the cooled almonds in a teaspoon or two of cornstarch to cut down on the stickiness even further.
Rosemary & Honey Mustard Roasted Almonds
Serves: 15 | Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes
- 1/4 c. honey
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
- 2 tsp. ground dried mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground paprika
- 3 c. raw almonds
- 1 Tbsp. fresh* rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
*Fresh rosemary really is pretty necessary here, as it is added at the end of roasting. Dried rosemary would be prickly in this recipe, unless it is ground done very small.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly coat the parchment paper with oil.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, stir together the honey, water, dijon mustard, ground mustard, and paprika. After a few minutes, when the mixture just begins to bubble, add in the almonds and stir until all of the nuts are coated in the honey mixture. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for about 6-8 minutes. The mixture will thicken up. Spread the coated nuts out over the sheet pan so the nuts are in a single layer. Sprinkle the almonds generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the almonds are browned. When the almonds start to look golden (around 10-15 minutes) and you stir them before the last round of baking, sprinkle over the chopped rosemary before popping the pan back into the oven. Once cooked, allow the almonds to cool completely in the pan. They will be a little sticky, even when cool, but the almonds are easy to break up. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, breaking apart the almonds as needed.
Well, it took 20+ inches of snow, but I am finally able to sit down and share this year’s planner! We are currently in the midst of our largest snowstorm in five years. The county schools already had a few days off in the beginning of the week, so there was one day of school before the impending storm cancelled schools. The university closed on Friday, so M and I had a day off together yesterday and are snowed in until further notice. The snow is still coming down, and is expected to last through the rest of the day. I’m sure we will hit two feet!
I have a pile of homework to get through in the next few days, in case the plows are efficient enough to have us back at work/school by Tuesday. One of my classes is the notorious “reading” class of the program–we’ve got around a book+a paper a week to get through, plus additional assignments. I’m glad to be getting it out of the way this early, but I expect that I will have to work on my self-discipline to stay on track.
Thankfully, my planner is all set up to help me remember everything for my classes and my work–there is even space to remember to take care of me! I stuck with most of my set-up from last year. I still love my horizontal weekly spread, with the trio of delineated space for the important things for the day. This year, those spaces are for homework (super necessary), self-care/relationship care (one of my goals to work on for 2016), and dinner (always important). Last year’s planner had space for daily chores and workouts. I am still working to make a true routine of movement in my life, but homework definitely trumps workout, in terms of valuable planner space. Instead, my workouts are now in a row of checkboxes at the end of each week. I also realized over the course of last year that having the daily chore space was weighing on me far more than it should. I am still trying to come up with a routine of daily maintenance that cuts down on my cleaning time, but, realistically, I do most of my cleaning on my day off each week. The solution was to add another row to check off the chores at the end of the week. This way, I can do the cleaning whenever is convenient! I even found some adorable little images to help remind me of the seven major cleaning tasks that I try to conquer each week. I added a third row to my checkbox tracker that is blank, so I can use it for whatever habit I’m working on. I also move my blog planner onto the weekly spread–hopefully I will see it more often!
My meal planner page remained the same, as did my time sheet. I added a place on the follow-up pages to track my weekly goals, that tie in the monthly goal planner that I built into my monthly page spread. My word for 2016 is intentional. We saw a lot of improvements in 2015: having our own place (no roommates!), being more social, settling into life on two full-time salaries, growing our first garden. But I reached the end of the year feeling like I coasted through a lot of it. I want to be more intentional about how I spend my free time, rather than ending up in front of the TV. With this striving for intentional action on my mind, I added in monthly goals (and weekly sub-goals) to help plan out and achieve new habits and good changes in my life. I also added the section for self-care in hopes of teaching myself better stress management.
This new format takes a little bit more time to set up each week, but I think slowing down and spending a little more intentional time setting up each week will only benefit my life. 2016 is off to a wonderful start!