Baklava!

Wow! I can go for weeks (months?) on end without a single blog post, and here I am writing a second one in as many days! I actually have several recipes that I can share. I  just haven’t gotten my priorities right to put “write blog post” near the top of my to-do list! And my recipe yesterday along with this one are definitely not THM approved! Yikes!

Hubby had been asking about making baklava in recent weeks since we now have our own honey. I kept putting him off because I knew the other ingredients would have a cost higher than I was willing to pay. However, a friend of mine shared her recipe (with a picture) of her baklava and I knew that I simply just had to make a batch.

It was not nearly as hard as I had envisioned. Time-consuming, yes, but hard, no. As per my usual, I did not follow the recipe exactly. I used more cinnamon than the recipe called for. I also did not make a sugar syrup to mix with the honey. I used honey only. And oh, the flavor! It is amazing!! I took some to our church fellowship dinner on Sunday evening and received quite a few complements on it! I think that the only thing I would do differently next time is cut the pieces smaller since it is so rich!

  • 1/2 pound chopped pecans
  • 1/2 pound chopped walnuts
  • 2-3 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound package of Phyllo dough
  • 1-1/2 cups butter, melted
  • 2-1/2 cups honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Mix nuts together in a large bowl and toss with the ground cinnamon. Set aside.

Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Place 2 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of prepared dish. Brush generously with melted butter. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Repeat layers until all the nuts, butter, and phyllo are used. End with about 6 layers of phyllo on the top. If you still have some butter left, brush it over the top layer.

Using a very sharp knife, cut through all layers of the baklava. Cut 3-4 sliced length-wise. Then make diagonal cuts to make diamond shapes. Bake in heated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until golden and crisp.

While baklava is baking, heat honey in a sauce pan until close to boiling. Stir in vanilla and lemon zest.

When baklava is done baking, immediately pour the honey mixture over the top. Let cool completely in the pan.

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Cranberry Gelatin Salad

It’s hard to believe that we are just 1 week away from another Christmas! It seems to me that 2017 has flown by faster than any other year!

My family has been scattered all over the world this year, so we have had no opportunity to get a family picture taken. I made this picture from ones we took throughout the year so that you can see how the family has grown.

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Last night we had our church’s annual service of Lessons and Carols. I think that it is one of my favorite services of the year. I needed to take a dessert and a salad for the fellowship meal afterwards. My family has always enjoyed a cranberry gelatin salad at Christmas time, so I decided to make one for the meal. As usual, I didn’t follow a recipe, but just made it up as I went along. Many people liked it and asked for the recipe! I was shocked that it was really that good!  🙂

I think the trick to the flavor came from the wassail that I used in place of the cold water when I made the gelatin. It added an extra burst of cranberry flavor which did make it a delightful salad.

1 large box raspberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 cup regular apple juice (no extra sugar added)
1 cup cranberry wassail
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1 can whole cranberry sauce
Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, stirring until completely dissolved. Stir in the apple juice and the cranberry wassail. Stir in the whole cranberry sauce so the gelatin melts.
Put a layer of the crushed pineapple in the bottom of your dish. Pour some of the gelatin over the top and refrigerate until set. Add another layer of pineapple and more gelatin; refrigerate until set. Keep doing this until you use all the pineapple and the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate for several hours or until firmly set.

Cinnamon Apple Baked Oatmeal

Welcome, October! While autumn arrived a few weeks ago, the cooler weather has just recently arrived. We’ve had temps down around 50 each morning while the afternoon temps are making it to the mid-70s. With low humidity, the days are just glorious! I can easily say that this is my favorite time of year! The leaves are slowly beginning their change to gorgeous yellows and oranges.

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I have been enjoying some recipes found in the new THM cookbook, Trim Healthy Table. I was looking through it the other day wanting something new for breakfast. I found one for baked oatmeal, but realized that I could personalize it by making a few changes. I love anything apple and pumpkin this time of year, and since we still have some apples from an orchard we went to a few weeks ago, I decided to make an apple baked oatmeal dish. I was totally amazed at how moist it was! Absolutely delicious!

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 c. low-carb flour blend (I use my own mix of oat flour; almond flour; and ground flax)
  • 1-1/2 c. almond milk
  • 3 tbsp. pyure
  • 2 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. caramel flavoring
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
  • plain Greek yogurt

Lightly coat a 9×9 baking pan with coconut oil. Whisk the eggs well in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients except for the apple and mix well. Add the grated apple and stir until just mixed. Pour into greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cut into 6 pieces. Serve each with Greek yogurt or a squirt of canned whipped topping!

Hurricanes, Family, and Low-Carb Cake

Life has been busy (as usual) this last month. Things settled down to a normal routine after we survived the gazillions of people who descended upon us for the Great American Eclipse. Final child began another year of classes; the weather began a nice cool-down; and we lost our business. That last one there has been a cause of great stress and discouragement lately. We learned in July that we were probably going to be losing our best account because of the required re-bidding process. However, it didn’t totally happen until the middle of August. We’ve had our commercial cleaning company for almost 18 years. Because of the very low unemployment in our area, keeping great workers was getting harder and harder, and those great workers that we did have were wanting higher and higher pay. It is just not worth the trouble any more to keep it going, so we are now officially out of the cleaning business. It has been an emotional few weeks for me, but I need to remind myself that God has not failed to provide for us yet, and He never will. I must trust Him whatever the future holds.

Another event which brought lots of people to our area was Irma, that huge and powerful hurricane that did so much damage to Florida and brought so much rain even here. I have done my weekly grocery shopping on Thursdays for years. On the Thursday before Irma’s expected arrival, I went to the store and discovered this:

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This empty cart corral was my first clue that this would be no normal shopping trip.  I was able to get one from a customer returning his, and continued into the store to do my shopping. Clue #2…no bread. Seriously, there was NO bread! A few other items were completely gone as well. At this point I was seriously wondering what was going on. Then I noticed a very orderly, very long line of people…the check-out line. There were actually 2  (only 2) very long lines of people wanting to check out. These people in line were stocking up for the coming hurricane. I guess they were afraid they would run out of bread and milk while Florida evacuees were in town. All I wanted to do was my normal weekly shopping, and it took me about 45 minutes longer than usual!

Happy family news…Grandbaby #4 is scheduled to arrive next spring!  Little Man will be a Big Brother!

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As many of you know, I have been trying to follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating for about 3 years now. I love the eating plan and feel so much better when I eat right. I am also a lover of cookbooks, so when the new cookbook came out, I was hoping to get a copy. Then we lost the business, and the desire for the new book went on the back burner. Thanks to another THM who is a complete stranger, I now have the new cookbook! It arrived in today’s mail, and I am thrilled! Can’t wait to try some of the recipes.

The THM cookbook that came out 2 years ago has an amazing cake recipe. I discovered it not long ago when I was looking for a dessert to make. I had a few peaches that needed to be used, and I was thinking of an upside down cake. This recipe is perfect! The second time I made the recipe, I spread it in a jellyroll pan and made a fig jam-filled cake roll. It just melts in your mouth! Delicious!

  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup low-carb sweetener
  • 1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tbsp. psyllium flakes
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 large peach, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp. butter melted
  • 3 tbps. low-carb brown sugar

Put half the melted butter in the bottom of the pan. Layer peach pieces and sprinkle with brown sugar.

In a mixing bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gently stir in the dry ingredients a little at a time until well blended. Pour the batter over the peaches and spread evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

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Low-Carb Burger Buns and the Great American Eclipse

Good afternoon, all! I am actually making it back to the blog before too many weeks have passed since the last time I was here! I tell ya, life gets busier and busier!!

Since I posted last, my little man turned 1!

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We have picked over 50 pounds of figs from one tree! Yes, that is correct! This particular tree is 19 years old and has always produced well. I think it has out-done itself this year though! I quit weighing them once we reached 50 lbs. Thankfully, we are about done with the picking. The honey bees are enjoying what is left.

Speaking of the honey bees, we have also gotten some honey from our first-year hives! We have hives in 5 different locations and have discovered that honey from those hives tastes different! The honey from one of the locations reminds us all of butter pecan ice cream!

 

We here in the south are anticipating the Great American Eclipse coming in less than 48 hours now. My hometown happens to be in the path of totality, so we are expecting kaboodles of extra people on Monday! Actually, they are already arriving. Traffic is heavier than normal for a Saturday; hotel rooms are booked over 70 miles out; and eclipse glasses are no where to be found! I read an article today about the 12 busiest cities along the line of totality for the eclipse…the 12 cities that will see the largest influx of people for the eclipse. Three of those 12 cites are in my state! I think I will just stay home on Monday!

Since last night, I received Face Time calls from 3 of my 4 kiddlets! I love this modern technology! It is just so amazing to be able to see them at the same time I am speaking to them, even though they are so very far away.

Surprise!  Last night I actually tried a new recipe! I know…it has been forever since I did that! But I’m really trying to get back on the THM wagon and stay there! This low-carb bread is amazing. I decided to divide the dough into 8 small pieces which were the perfect size for burger buns…sliders to be exact. I made my burger patties to match the size of the buns. By adding burger toppings, we had a great meal.

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Yes, that is a jar of honey with some honeycomb in the back ground. This bread would be amazing  with some local honey drizzled over the top! You can find the recipe here.  Enjoy!

 

Life Happens and Taco Seasoning Mix

Here I am again, months after I should have written a new post, finally taking the time to do so! Oh well! Life happens!

We had a wedding since I wrote last! If you have ever been the parents of the bride or groom, you will know that there is this flurry of activities leading up to a busy weekend when every moment is itemized so that nothing is forgotten. And then you have the days following where you crash and wonder how it all got done! Yes! That was us!

Friday held a bridal luncheon hosted by a very special friend of our family. It was a relaxing time in between the decorating of the church and setting up the centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner.

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The rehearsal dinner went off without a hitch, but the time spent setting up the centerpieces did not! Let’s just say that I dropped a box of glass vases which broke into a gazillion pieces and leave it at that.

The wedding went great, though, and we are thrilled with our newest family member!

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Little Miss Mia performed her responsibilities as flower girl very well! Her first time down the aisle during rehearsal left a lot to be desired (she ran the whole way!), but after quite a bit of practice her confidence grew and she knew exactly what she was to do. She did an amazing job during the wedding! Shortly before the seating of the mothers and the processional, she worked her way out of position by the bride and ended up near the front of the line where she loudly proclaimed, “I’m getting married today!” It definitely gave us the laugh we all needed and helped us to relax!

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Several weeks (months??) ago, my sister and brother-in-law were in town for a week, and I had done some meal planning and shopping in advance of their visit. I had decided to have tacos on Tuesday, and for the sake of time and convenience, decided to purchase 2 packets of taco seasoning mix. I remember getting them off the shelf and crossing it off my list. However, those packets evidently did not make it to my house. I was already browning the beef for the tacos when I realized that the packets were missing. Here we are weeks (months?) later, and I still haven’t found them. Who knows where they ended up.

Any way, I found myself in need of some taco seasoning very quickly! Thankfully, I found a recipe and had all the necessary ingredients on hand. I used the entire recipe for about 1-1/2 lbs of beef. Everyone thought that the tacos tasted much better than when using the purchased seasoning! And it is so incredibly easy, I really don’t know why I ever bothered using the ready-made seasonings in the first place!

Mix all these ingredients together and store in an air-tight container. Use in recipes to taste.

  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper–more if you like it spicier
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

You can also use dried red pepper flakes if you prefer.

 

Family Happenings and Blueberry Scones

It’s been a crazy last few weeks which has contributed to my negligence in writing another blog post! I’ve been mentally writing this several days, and have really tried to get it here on the blog. This is the second time that I have sat at the computer to try to complete a post. I keep getting interrupted! You’d think that with just 2 of us in the house the majority of the time that I should be able to do this without interruption.  Guess I’m just not doing it at the right time. Maybe now I can get it done!  🙂

Here is what’s been happening with the family.

For Father’s Day this year I decided to replace our old tried and true automatic drip coffee maker. The old one was a gift to us for our wedding 29 years ago! I think that it is the last of the small-appliance-wedding-gifts that we received. I have burned out more crockpots, toasters, and hand mixers than I can count. The large appliances are are anywhere from 15 years to 25 years old, but the coffee pot has stuck around for 29! But not the carafe! We’ve replaced that more times than can be counted, too!

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My sweet Little Man is rapidly approaching his first birthday! His latest accomplishment is crawling!! Time for my girl and her man to baby-proof the house!

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Little Miss Mia is loving summer by playing outside in her pool and by jumping on the trampoline. She is doing pretty well as a big sister to sweet little Gracie Mae! Both the girls and their mommy are adjusting to life without Daddy for awhile as he serves our country. We pray daily for him while he is gone.

We are just 18 days out from the Big Day for my officer and his lady! I have my dress and shoes; the venue for the rehearsal dinner is reserved and menu chosen. I’m working on the center pieces for the tables and finalizing the number for the caterer. I can’t believe that this wedding is just around the corner!!

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For a few weeks I found myself falling off the THM wagon and realized that I was just not feeling well. Three weeks ago I got back on that wagon and have worked hard to keep the bad carbs out of my diet. It always amazes me how much better I feel when I eat the THM way!

I discovered this recipe not long ago and knew that I had to give it a try. The original recipe called for strawberries, but last week a friend gave me lots of blueberries! Using blueberries instead of the strawberries made a wonderful scone! Try it yourself using any of the berries. You will be glad that you did!