Easter Memories

I can’t believe that we are at the end of March and preparing for Easter weekend again! Last year 3 of my 4 kiddos were able to be with us for Easter. It was a special time with all three of the grands together for the first time! This year I will have only 2 of them plus a sweet daughter-in-law and 2 of the grands.

Recently I found a few pictures taken during my college days…senior year to be exact. I was a Home Economics major, and at the time, we had to spend 6 weeks in the Home Economics Residence. I happened to be assigned during the spring…including Easter. This picture was taken on Easter Sunday 36 years ago! I have been able to reconnect with 2 of my housemates through social media! We all got along very well and have lots of happy memories of those 6 weeks!

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If you’ve been ready this blog for any length of time, you will know that I got my love of baking from my dear mother. I also was the recipient of many of her small kitchen gadgets when she decided she needed to give up her own kitchen. I know that kitchen gadgets are not meant to last very long. They are items we often receive as gifts for bridal showers and are often replaced before too many years of marriage have passed. However, I do still happen to have a few items that belonged to my mother years ago. They were very well made way back then (early 1970s) and have withstood the test of time. Mom bought these two particular items from a very dear friend of hers who was a school teacher during the year, but needed work during the summer. At least one summer she sold kitchen items…Pampered Chef, perhaps?  I have no idea what company made these amazing tools, but they have lasted and lasted and lasted…like the Energizer Bunny, maybe? It is time for me to replace them, though, because they are finally wearing out. You can see the crack in the spatula to the left and the broken handle on the one on the right.

IMG_2831 For several years, our Easter dessert has been pavlova. This year will be no different! I have all the ingredients written on my grocery list! You can find the recipe here. Be sure to give it a try! Your family will love it!

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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 Apple Pie

Hello, and welcome to the Christmas season! I can’t believe that it has been a month since I wrote my last blog post! These last few weeks have just flown by, and now Christmas is just a week away.

This post is #400! It has taken almost 6 years to get this far, but I have persevered and have  had 22,760 views to the blog in that time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to 23,000 by the end of 2016!

I love Christmas, but I am also often a sentimental puddle of mush during the season. My fondest memories of my dad are from Christmas. I miss him the most during this season. Actually, I miss my mom, dad, and brother the most during Christmas.

Christmas will be a little strange since there will be only 3 of us together. Our family of 10 going on 11 will be spread out from Chicago to Philadelphia to Orlando this year. However, I am very thankful that I had 9 of our 10-almost-11 here at Thanksgiving! This is what life is all about! We spend years training our kids to become independent adults, capable of surviving life without us! It is such a blessing to see our kids marry and become parents and begin new traditions with their own little families! I have two favorite passages of Scripture concerning children. One has also been my mother-in-law’s favorite…Isaiah 54:13–“All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.”  The other is verse 4 of the little 3rd epistle of John–“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  If these are true of my children, then I feel that I was a successful mom, for this is what matters most!

Here are a few pictures that we had taken at Thanksgiving.

Now to this amazing pie recipe! Tomorrow evening we are having our special Lessons and Carols service at church. We always have a fellowship time after this service, and this year we are all supposed to bring side dishes and desserts. I had an extra bag of fresh cranberries that I needed to use, so I did a little searching for a cranberry pie. I found one on the Food Network web page that sounded really good! As usual, I made some changes by adding apples and using pecans instead of walnuts.  It is not THM-friendly, but could easily be adapted. Delicious!!

  • 2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup Truvia baking blend)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Topping:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Spray a 10-inch pie pan to prevent sticking. Spread the cranberries in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and sugar. Let sit while mixing the topping.

Cream the butter with the eggs and sugar. Add the flour and almond extract to the mixture until blended. This mixture will be thick. Spread the topping over the cranberries and nuts. Be sure to seal the edges. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm with whipped topping or ice cream!

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New Recipe Coming Soon!

A friend reminded me the other day that it’s been a while since I shared a new recipe here. I guess time has gotten away from me! I promise I do have a new recipe to share. I’ll give you a hint…if you like chocolate-peanut butter cups, you will like the new recipe!!

In the mean time, enjoy this recipe for pumpkin snicker doodles!  We all love pumpkin at this time of year!

Coconut Fudge Brownies

Here we are at the end of June! We are half-way through 2016 already!! I can’t believe that we are heading towards another 4th of July. I am pretty excited about this coming weekend because, if all goes as planned, I will have ALL four of my kiddlets under my roof once again…for about 48 hours! Hey, I’ll take what I can get! I have no idea when we will all be together again because one of my blue stars will be leaving in early July for the other side of the world. This makes me sad! I’ve never been so far away from any of my kiddos as I will be for the next 3-4 months. And before he returns, one of my other blue stars will be leaving as well. While my momma heart will worry about them, I  understand fully that this is what they are called to do at this time. I will pray for their safety while they are gone and for their safe return.

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Now to the recipe. I took a recipe featured in the new THM cookbook and made some changes ( read “experimented”) and came up with this pretty amazing recipe. Keeping it in the fridge helps keep it fudgy until it is all eaten…which won’t be long, I can assure you! I have made these brownies several times and none of the guys in my family know that there is okra in them! And as a bonus…they are low-carb!

BROWNIES::

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 c. peanut butter powder

3/4 c. coconut oil

3/4 c. butter

1-1/2 c. sweetener (I use Pyure)

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. oat flour

1 c. unsweetened dried coconut

1-1/2 c. okra (I use frozen. Let it thaw slightly before using).

6 eggs

ICING:

2 oz. cream cheese

2 tbsp. butter, softened, but not melted

1/4-1/3 c. heavy cream

4 tbsp. sweetener

1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the brownies: melt the coconut oil and butter in a small saucepan. Add the cocoa powder and peanut butter powder. Stir well.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Set aside.  In your blender, combine the okra, eggs and vanilla. Blend completely so there are no particles of okra seen. Pour the cocoa mixture and the okra mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well.

Pour the batter into a lightly oiled 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. Let cool.

Combine the icing ingredients in your blender or food processor. Give it a taste and add more sweetener if needed. Spread on cooled brownies. For a garnish, grate an 85% chocolate bar over the icing.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Peppernuts and Christmas Memories

As many people do, I become very nostalgic during the Christmas season. It is the time of year that I miss my parents, especially my dad, more than any other time of the year. My dad absolutely loved Christmas! He loved having all the family together around the table, the food, the fellowship, and the giving of gifts. My dad was a giver. He loved giving to others without ever expecting anything in return. He was a great example to me of giving!

When we lived in New Jersey, we always had Dad’s two oldest daughters and their families over to our house for every holiday. When all of us got together it was fun…noisy, but fun! After dinner, we kids would all go up stairs and play tag, freeze tag or upset the fruit basket. We didn’t rely on the adults to entertain us!

This picture  from the mid-1960s shows my grandmother (my dad’s mom) seated in the middle with her daughter, daughter-in-law (my mom), grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I am assuming my dad was the photographer for this one!

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Here is a picture of my parents in the early 1980s.

 

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As my dad got older, his taste buds changed, and his desire for sweet things increased. Mom and I often speculated that he could taste only sweet things, but we really didn’t know. Anyway, one of the treats he loved most at Christmas were small cookies called Peppernuts. They are actually a German cookie called Pfeffernusse. My oldest sister, Sybel, married a man of German heritage, and his mother had the recipe. My mother would make these for my dad. He would often fill his pockets with them every morning after breakfast and have them to munch on throughout the day! I always thought they were rather hard and loved dipping them in hot tea to soften!

I have searched and search for the original recipe, but I can not find it anywhere! I am so disappointed! However, thanks to the internet, I did find a recipe that is pretty similar. This recipe calls for anise seed, but ours called for anise oil. Mom also made the dough into long ropes and cut them into bite-sized pieces instead of making the dough into balls.

Black Bean Brownies

We made it home last night after a whirl-wind trip down to FL to see our 2Lt. He’s been gone since the end of September,  he won’t be home for Thanksgiving (the first time ever to miss it), and his December schedule will have him home before Christmas, but not on Christmas day. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to go see him!

I checked the weather before packing and really thought that I had packed the proper clothing. However, the weather forecasts did not tell me that the wind would blow the entire time we were there! That wind made it feel colder than it really was, and I nearly froze on Friday afternoon and evening! We did have a great time, though, getting to see quite a few planes (even go up inside some), spending time in the Navy museum, the lighthouse and museum, the fort, and the beach! Sunset on the beach was breath-taking!

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I have been greatly enjoying the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook! The recipes are so good, and I am working hard at getting the hubby and me back on track to healthy eating.

The other day I had an opened can of black beans that I needed to use. I remembered a recipe in the new cookbook and thought that maybe I could use the beans instead of the okra that is called for. They turned out great! Even my picky son thought they were pretty good…for diet food! Ha! They tasted even better after being in the fridge overnight.

4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

3/4 c. butter

3/4 c. low-carb sweetener blend

2 pinches salt

1/2 c. oat flour

1/2 c. ground pecans

1 c. black beans

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

Lightly coat a 9×9 pan with coconut oil. Melt the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan. Combine sweetener, salt, flour, and pecans in a large mixing bowl. Combine the beans, eggs, and vanilla in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the chocolate/butter mix and the puree to the dry ingredients. Stir well by hand. Pour into pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let cool in pan. Cut into bars and serve, or refrigerate overnight for a fudgier brownie!