This past weekend we marked the end of Luke's hockey season with a team party. It was time to celebrate the success, the fun, the hard work and time spent together. Being a hockey parent is no small commitment. Tryouts begin the first day of school in September and the season continues until the first of April. Being a hockey coach is an even bigger commitment.
We wanted to give a small gift to each coach to thank them for the countless hours spent both on and off the ice contributing to the team. Luke absolutely admires these men and as parents we have been thrilled to see him feel so valued and appreciated by such positive role models in our community.
I love making food gifts for people, usually giving granola, cookies or pies. The recipients this time were primarily male and my usual standbys just didn't seem right. Any jars of super tasty granola might be consumed by a few hockey coaches' wives, cookies by their children and pies by their families, instead of the coaches themselves.
Enter spicy maple almonds. Addictively crunchy with a hint of sweet, salt and spice, these nuts were the ideal man gift. The nuts are tossed with maple syrup that is seasoned with spices and baked off in the oven. I found it difficult to stop snacking on these before packaging them up to give away.
I reserved a few to put on my salad and they made a great topping on my bitter greens. Luke's buddy was over and after snacking on a few he declared they would be perfect on pancakes (?!) I had not predicted that use, but I kinda think he has a point. Fast, easy with multiple uses and hopefully a demonstration of our gratitude: the perfect gift.
Preheat oven to 325degrees. Grease 2 large baking sheets covered in tinfoil. In a large bowl, whisk together maple syrup, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15 min, stirring every 5min. The nuts will become toasted and the glaze thick and bubbly. Immediately transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet and separate. Cool completely. Enjoy!