Tag Archives: walnuts

Baklava: Easier To Make Than I thought! Oh, And It’s Delicious Too

14 Jun

I wanted to make my husband something for his first “Father’s Day” (we have a dog and a baby due in October so I know some people wouldn’t really consider that a “Father’s Day”, but we do!), and I knew I wanted it to be something sweet. Now, he is NOT picky – he will eat almost anything I make, but I wanted to make him something he loves, something that I have never made before – and instantly it came to me – BAKLAVA! This sweet, flaky, nutty Greek dessert is something he always orders at restaurants, but I have never attempted at home

Why haven’t I attempted it at home, you might ask? Well – the honest truth is that phyllo dough scares the crap out of me. Seriously – its one of those ingredients I just stay away from at any and all costs – paper thin dough that tears easily and is a bear to work with? Pass. Serious, hard pass on that. But – once I did some research and realized that the dough would really be the ONLY hard part of making the baklava, I decided to give it a go (anything for my man!)

So Friday night, I attempted to make it. I neglected to follow the defrosting directions on the dough, and just went and opened it after letting it thaw for a mere 20 minutes on the counter – I thought “how important could that overnight fridge thaw and then 30 minute counter thaw be?” Um. As it turns out – it was VERY important. I ruined a whole package of dough (it just crumbled and flaked EVERYWHERE) – and I might have cried a little. But I persevered – left the dough in the fridge overnight and when I came back to it Saturday morning I had a MUCH easier time with it – so easy in fact that it has restored my faith in humanity. Or at least in flaky pastry anyway

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Here’s me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (literally – I’m 24 weeks along!) layering the dough and nuts

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Once the layers were all set, it was time to cut it into squares – and eat some of the leftover dough apparently? He said it tasted like “pie dough flavored paper”. Yuck. Luckily it will taste much different once its baked!

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Various prep stages – making the sauce while the baklava baked, and then the baked baklava gets a healthy coating of sweet honey sauce

Baklava

Ingredients

1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped nuts
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
-Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
-Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
-Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
-Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

So I realized as I was getting ready to make this that there are a few tiny flaws with the recipe – the first being it doesn’t tell you to melt the butter – but you will want it to melted so you can easily brush it onto the pastry with a pastry brush. Also, it doesn’t say how many layers to do of the 2 sheets of dough/butter/nuts – so I just did as many as I had chopped walnuts for (like 6 I want to say?) then topped it all with the suggested 8 layers of dough (and more butter of course!). Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly and didn’t have any problems

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The gorgeous finished product looked almost too pretty to eat (but my husband definitely didn’t agree-  he wanted to dig in!)

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He was more than ready to take a bite of this delicious looking and smelling dessert (so much so that he ate it for breakfast!)

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The results? He loved it! I tried some too (in the name of research of course!) and I loved the mix of the crisp pastry layers and the nuts and sweet honey – it turned out great, and I know for sure I will have trouble getting him to share more with me…but hey, its his father’s day gift – he can do what he wants with it!

Happy Father’s Day to all the current and soon-to-be dads out there!

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“Eat Your Oatmeal – It’s Good For You!”

1 Mar

When I was a kid, I used to hear adults say “Oatmeal will stick to your ribs” – and it always creeped me out, as I had this mental image of the oatmeal literally coating my insides and why would I want that? Gross! Honestly, I am not even sure why this saying exists – it is confusing to impressionable young minds! But seriously – it was for that reason that I stayed away from oatmeal all through my youth and teen years. It is only recently that I have come to acknowledge the many virtues of the oat – it’s healthy, cheap, versatile, and who doesn’t love a hot breakfast? I know I do. I eat it every day at work, and even sometimes on the weekends. Like this weekend for example…

photo 1 (2)I was browsing through my new favorite recipe book – “Budget Bytes – Over 100 easy, delicious recipes to slash your grocery bill in half”, and I have to admit – I could not WAIT for this cookbook to come out – I have been a HUGE fan of the Budget Bytes Website for a long time – and when I saw they were gonna have a cookbook I pre-ordered it through Amazon, and spent hours poring over it. This recipe for Autumn Delight Baked Oatmeal caught my attention right away – combining oats, pumpkin, and apple plus craisins and walnuts in a delicious warm oat bake? Sign me up!

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It was SUPER easy to make, only one bowl and one whisk needed (the fewer dishes the better in my book!). The wet mix definitely resembled and smelled like pumpkin pie – yum! Once I had the wet stuff combined, it was time to add the oats, walnuts, craisins, and apple

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Then it was time to get in into the pan and then the oven! It smelled great baking – reminded me of my favorite season – FALL!

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I loved the way this came out – we enjoyed it hot right from the oven, and the texture was great – oats and the craisins/apples and the nuts – you never knew what you were going to get in each bite! And it tasted sort of like pumpkin pie – only a more breakfast-y version!

You can check out this and other great wallet-friendly recipes in the cookbook, available through Amazon – I highly recommend you order your copy ASAP!

This recipe and the others in the book are NOT currently available on their website, but they have TONS of others to choose from online – here are some other amazing recipes that I have gotten from Budget Bytes:
Chunky Vegetable Lentil Soup
Garden Tomato Soup
Slow Cooker White Bean Soup
Vegetable Polenta Casserole
Chicken and Pumpkin Soup
Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal (which I blogged about too – check out the post here)