Baklava – Simple and Delicious

I have wanted to make Baklava for at least 10 years.  I have been a bit hesitant and decided this year to just do it.  Martin called his grandma to get her recipe.  We discussed and we did her recipe with a few tweaks of our own.

Baklava

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Ingredients

16 ounces Phyllo dough
1 Tablespoon vegetable oi
3 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Filling

4 cups of chopped walnuts (If you have leftover nuts, place the extra on a baking sheet and toast at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes)
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of lemon
zest of orange (you could do both or just one fruit)

Syrup

2 cups of water
1 cup sugar
1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

  1.  Layout phyllo dough and cover with damp towel. They dry out fast.  I learned that today!  I cut the dough in half and that was the perfect size for my 9×13 metal baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt those sticks of butter.
  2. Mix together the nut filling ingredients.
  3. Here is where Grandma Olga comes into play.  Her way of making baklava is not the usual process you see and read about. Lightly oil the baking pan.  I used sunflower oil. You can use vegetable oil.
  4. When you layer the phyllo you do not butter each piece.  Layers as follows;  6 pieces on bottom, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces phyllo dough. Top layer is not covered with nuts, as you see from the above photo. (When layering be sure to layer one by one not just grabbing six pieces and setting down.)
  5. Cut the baklava into squares/diamonds.  Make sure you are careful when you are doing this.  (You want to be sure you cut all the way through. The melted butter and syrup have to get through the entire pan.)
  6. Pour the 3 1/2 sticks of melted butter into every nook and cranny.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  8. While the baklava is baking, make the syrup.  Put all ingredients in saucepan.  Over medium heat stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
  9. When baklava is done baking.  Set aside to cool. (I put in the cold garage as my fridge was full.  If you are lucky enough to have room in your fridge this time of year, after it cools a bit put it in there.)  When cooled pour the warm syrup over the entire pan.
  10. Lightly cover with a towel. Let set for at least 6 hours.  Overnight is best.

This was absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to make again.  Next time, pistachios with almond flavoring.  Hmmm, maybe for New Years Eve!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit Topping – Simple and Delicious

We always have fruit in our home.  I can always pick up berries.   Our favorites; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.  Occasionally we like to add some extra sweetness to our fruit especially on Friday nights.

Fruit Topping

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8 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounce container marshmallow crème (Jet Puffed or Fluff)

Mix above together.  Top on your fruit.

That is it! YUM!!

 

 

Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler

Fall is in the air.  Baked this simple and delicious cobbler.  Everyone loved this one.

Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler

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Ingredients

Fruit Mixture
7 cups peeled, medium sliced apples (This is about 4-5 large apples, 6-8 smaller ones. I used Macintosh this time.  I also use Fuji and Honeycrisp when baking apples.)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  I used my Cinnamon Cookie aka Snickerdoodle Cookie recipe.

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 9inch deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss fruit mixture ingredients until apple slices are coated.  Pour evenly into pie plate.
  3. In small bowl mix granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
  4. Top the fruit mixture with cookie dough.  I took about a tablespoon of dough and flattened then topped on the fruit mixture.  It took 12 of the cookie doughs to cover the top.  I then sprinkled the top of the cookies with cinnamon and sugar mix. (You may have leftover cookie dough.  BONUS – bake those later.)
  5. Bake 50-55 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
  6. Cool slightly before serving.  Top with ice cream, whipped cream or whatever your little heart desires!

Your home will smell fabulous!  ENJOY!

Fruit and Nut Bars

Kent likes fruit and nut bars.  I buy them all the time for his lunches for work.  I thought it would be nice to make some homemade bars.  They turned out to be way better than the store bought ones.  I found this recipe here.  I used her recipe as a guide.  You can follow her recipe, mine or make up your own. Here is my recipe for our family (this time around);

Fruit and Nut Bars

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (175 grams) chopped nuts.  I used pecans, almonds and walnuts
1 3/4 cups (235 grams) dried blueberries, dried cherry berry mix, raisins and craisins
1/2 cup (70 grams) dried apricots
1/3 cup all purpose flout
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place rack in center of oven.  Have ready an 8 inch square baking pan that has been lined with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chopped nuts with the dried fruit.  (You can use chocolate chips but we did not opt for that.) February 004
  3. Add flour, baking soda, salt and sugar and stir until all the fruit and nuts are completely coated with the flour mixture.  Make sure to separate any clumps of dried fruits.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat (with a wire whisk or electric mixer) the egg and vanilla until light colored and this.  This take about 3-4 minutes using an electric mixer.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are completely coated with the batter.
  6. Evenly spread into your prepared pan, pressing to compact the batter.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the batter is golden brown and is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  9. Lift the bars from the pan using the edges of the foil.  Use a sharp knife to cut into squares or bars.

You can store up to 10 days at room temperature or longer if refrigerated.

Believe me, these are simple and delicious.  You must give them a try.  Enjoy!

Very Chocolate Brownies

Eric popped over tonight.  He suggested I bake some brownies for Pizza Friday tomorrow.  We enjoy this recipe I found on Epicurious a couple of years ago.  The brownies are of course extremely chocolatey and very moist.  Here is the simple and delicious recipe;

Brownies

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Ingredients

10 Tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 to 1 teaspoon espresso powder (you don’t have to add the espresso powder.  We like it.)
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup nuts (I do not use nuts)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper (you could use foil too, I use parchment).
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of simmering water.  Stir occasionally until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.  The mix should be hot enough you want to remove your finger when you test it.
  3. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside until warm.
  4. Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon.  Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.  When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer.  Beat for 40 strokes.
  5. Spread evenly in the lined baking pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes.  When you put a toothpick in middle it will be moist.  Don’t overcook.  Do not leave in more than 25 minutes.   Let cool on rack.  Lift up the ends of the parchment and transfer to cutting board.  Cut into squares.

These brownies can be prepared, baked and eaten in less than an hour!  Enjoy!!

 

Popcorn Balls – Simple and Delicious

Eric requested popcorn balls for Sunday dessert.  I wasn’t too sure about this one.  I can’t remember the last time I had a popcorn ball.  Maybe never.  I am not a fan of popcorn though.  Well, these were so simple to make and quite delicious.  Here is the recipe he sent me to try.  It takes no time at all.  Since my husband enjoys popcorn and in our youthful days he used to make it often, I had him make the popcorn.  Believe it or not, I have never made popcorn in a pan.  I left that to the popcorn expert in our home. 🙂

Popcorn Balls

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Whoa, this new program with WordPress makes the photos gigundo!!

Ingredients

9 cups popcorn
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1.  Pop that popcorn!!  Whether you buy the microwave kind or kernels to pop in a stock pot.
  2. Coat a large heatproof bowl with butter, vegetable oil or cooking spray.  Place popcorn in the bowl. (I used butter)
  3. Place sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar and salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine.  Place over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  That takes about 2-5 minutes.  Bring to a boil and cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer. That will take 7-10 minutes.  (I used a thermometer.  If you don’t 10 minutes will be enough time.)  Stirring periodically and pay attention!
  4. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until melted and smooth.
  5. Immediately drizzle sugar mixture over popcorn and stir continuously with a rubber spatula.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl, the syrup settles at the bottom.  Make sure you mix thoroughly.
  6. Using buttered or oiled hands, tightly press mixture into 3 inch rounds. (I buttered my hands)  Place on parchment paper to cool completely, about 10 minutes.

Eat them up. They are delicious.  Eric and Rachel LOVED them!!

Baked Apples – Simple and Delicious

Cool Fall day.  Sunday.  Time in my kitchen.  Love those kind of days.   For our Sunday gathering,  I made a Green Tea Cheesecake, Mekitsa, Dill Potato Salad,  tomato sauce,  fried up for some  breaded chicken to make chicken parmesan, opened that box of spaghetti (did you know spaghetti fits just right in a 12″ frying pan.  I boil the water in a frying pan and make my spaghetti that way. No broken pieces that way!) and of course, baked apples.  (I found the baked apple recipe here.)

Baked Apples

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Ingredients

4 medium apples (I used Honey Crisp)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into 4 cubes
1 cup hot water

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put rack in lowest position.
  2. Remove the core of the apples, cutting to within a half-inch of the bottom of the apple and creating a well roughly 3/4-inch wide. I used a melon baller.  You could use an apple corer or a paring knife to hollow out the apple.
  3. Mix the brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves in a bowl. Divide this mixture between the apples, pack firmly into the hollowed space.October 009
  4. Arrange the apples in an 8×8 baking dish (the apples fit perfectly!) and top each one with a pat of butter. October 011Pour the water into the bottom of the dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and remove foil. Continue baking uncovered until the apples are soft and the brown sugar has melted into a syrup, an additional 20 to 30 minutes. You can test the apples by poking a paring knife through the oatmeal mixture and into the interior of the apple; it should slide into the apple easily with no resistance. The skin on the apples will also become wrinkled and soft by the end of cooking.October 013
  6. You can eat as is or serve with ice cream or whipped cream.  YUM!!

Cucumber Smash – Fogo de Chao

Went to Chicago for 4th of July weekend.  Kent and I went to Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner.  I asked the bartender what he would recommend for a refreshing drink.  He made me a Cucumber Smash.  I have not tried this yet at home.  I thought I would post the recipe for those who would love to make a simple and delicious drink at home. I hope to make a few of these before the summer ends.  Here is the recipe;

Cucumber Smash

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Ingredients

1 Cucumber (cut two ½ inch slices, then quarter. Cut three 1/16 inch slices for garnish)
1 fresh mint sprig
½ oz. Lemon juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 ½ oz. Hendricks Gin (This is the secret.  You HAVE to use Hendricks Gin)

Directions

1. Place cucumber, mint, and lemon juice into shaker. Muddle the ingredients well. (He did say I need to buy a muddle)
2. Add simple syrup, Hendricks Gin, and crushed ice. Top shaker with shaker glass and seal. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
3. Place sliced cucumber in bottom of glass.  Top with crushed ice. Strain the drink into your glass and top with a mint leaf.
4. Serve at once, and enjoy!

Note: If you do not have crushed ice, get a clean towel and place ice into the towel and hit it with rolling pin or hammer to crush the ice.

Can’t wait to make this one.  Had to post so I don’t forget to make this refreshing cocktail!!

Puppy Chow, Muddy Buddies – whatever you want to call it

Here is the most ridiculously simple sweet treat recipe you can make.  The recipe is off of a Chex cereal box. Not a personal favorite but the 20 somethings seem to enjoy it.  I made some as a gift for Jenni from work. Lily and Paige popped over Sunday and they took the rest of it home.  Paige certainly enjoyed “chowing” down on it while visiting!  Simple and Delicious!!

Puppy Chow

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Ingredients

9 cups of rice, corn, chocolate Chex (I used combo of rice and corn)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Direction

1.  Measure cereal into a large bowl; set aside.
2.  In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3.  Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Enjoy!!

Apple Crisp – Couldn’t be more simple or delicious!

Apple Crisp is one of Eric’s favorite fall desserts.  It takes no time to make and bake.  Truly simple and delicious.  Eric’s expression says it all!!October 039

Apple Crisp

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Ingredients

4 cups apples, sliced (I usually fill an 8×8 square baking dish.  8-10 medium apples)
1 Tablespoon butter to grease 8×8 baking dish
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

1.  Preheat oven 375 degrees
2.  Use 1 Tablespoon butter to grease baking dish
3.  Peel and slice apples. Place in baking dish
4.  Put remaining ingredients in food processor.  October 032Pulse until combined.  October 033Put on top of apples in baking dish.October 035
5.  Bake 30 minutes.
6.  Eat with or without ice cream. October 038   Hope you enjoy this simple and delicious dessert!!  Ciao!!