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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Honey Garlic Slow-Cooker Meatballs

It is always a good feeling to see your adult children being successful out in the world. It is an especially good feeling for those of us who were home schooling moms! I remember the anxiety I felt when my children graduated from our home school and began their college careers. Would they do well in their classes? Would they participate in class discussions? How would they manage having a schedule of 6 different classes and 20-hours of part time work? Seriously, I was a nervous wreck while my kids were going to college. However, my worries were ridiculous! I have 2 that have graduated and gone on to their chosen career fields. They did well in school, even making the dean’s list several semesters. And they have done fantastic in their fields of work! I have 2 that have started college and are not yet finished, but have taken up other careers (military included) and plan to finish college at a later date. Whew! Big sigh of relief here!

Ben has recently taken up his military career and has his own apartment on base. A good friend of ours sent him off with a brand new crock pot and a pack of recipes. Ben always enjoyed fiddling around in the kitchen while he was at home, so I had no doubt that he would manage well by himself. After he moved into his apartment, he took some of the recipe cards and went grocery shopping on base. He got the ingredients for this recipe that he said is amazing. It sounds really good to me, too, so I will have to give it a try myself! It’s definitely not a THM recipe, but with a little tweaking, I could probably make it one!

1/4 cup brown sugar,

1/3 cup honey,

1/2 cup ketchup,

2 tablespoons soy sauce,

3 garlic cloves; peeled and minced,

1 (28oz.) bag of fully cooked, frozen meatballs.

In medium bowl, mix brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, and garlic.Place frozen meatballs in crockpot and pour sauce on top. Cook on low for 4 hrs. stirring every 45 min. Serve with rice or in a sandwich.

Cider Vinegar-Honey Morning Tonic

A lot of us have begun this new year with great plans for getting into shape, going on diets, and trying to get back into good health.  Unfortunately, by the end of January, most of these plans have gone by the wayside.

Sometimes the ideas we try actually work, and other times, they don’t.  What works for one, may or may not work for another.  Many years ago my mother (my cooking inspiration) realized that she definitely needed to lose weight when she went dress shopping for an event. I was pretty young at the time and don’t even remember what the event was. What I do remember was my mom’s sadness at having to buy a size 22 dress.  She was appalled at the weight she had slowly gained over the years.  Mom made a decision to lose weight so that she would never have to buy that size again….and she did!

Mom not only cut back on calories, but she decided to drink one cup of hot liquid about an hour before each meal. She would drink hot tea or hot broth before eating.  The idea here is to let the body know that food really is coming!  Mom discovered that she wasn’t as hungry when she ate her meals, and therefore, she ate less.  It really worked for her.  I remember her excitement when she was wearing a size 14!

So, whether you count calories or carbs or just cut back on your portions, the important thing is to find what works for you and stick with it.  Getting exercise is also a must!

I am approaching my mid-50s and have been blessed (so far) to have fairly good health.  Other than typical aches and pains, I  am rarely if ever sick.  However, last summer I began to notice slight headaches more frequently than I usually had and just a general feeling of sluggishness.  I wondered if my blood pressure was contributing to the headaches, so I began taking my blood pressure once a day and writing it down to keep track of it.  Sure enough, I noticed that it was higher than it used to be.

Anyone having very high blood pressure needs to be under a care of a physician, but mine wasn’t terribly high…just a little higher than it had been in the last few years.  So I decided to do a little research on ways to treat high blood pressure naturally.  Taking a garlic capsule and drinking this amazing tonic each morning have done wonders!!

I found quite a few articles on line about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, and decided to give it a try.  I knew it wouldn’t hurt, and it is is much less expensive and better for the body than prescription meds.  After several experiments, I came up with this recipe.  I drink 1/4 cup of this every morning and have found that my blood pressure is back in the normal range, I have more energy, and when eating better (cutting out the deliciously-bad-for-you carbs) I have actually lost weight.

This makes 1 pint.  Drinking 1/4 cup each morning will make it last 4 days.

4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar with the mother

4 tbsp. honey

3/4 c. hot water

1 c.  orange juice  ( I also use this.)

Mix the cider vinegar, honey, and hot water. Stir until honey is melted.  Add juice to make one pint.  Cover and keep in fridge. Stir before pouring your 1/4 c. serving.

I drink it first thing in the morning before my hot tea and breakfast!

Curried Chicken

This recipe has earned an A+ from my family members! I came across it a few weeks ago at allrecipes.com and thought that I would give it a try.  I know that the majority of my dinner recipes are for chicken, and that is because I stock up on split chicken breasts when one of my local grocery stores have them on sale for 99 cents a pound!  My oldest son has loved this so much that he will often stop by the store on his way home from work for a package of chicken and will make this recipe by himself!

The original recipe called for a whole chicken cut up. I have made it with drumsticks since that is what I had on hand at the time I first made it.  I am sure that any cut of chicken meat will be fine!

1 large pkg of chicken drumsticks

1/2 c. butter, divided

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. molasses

1/4 c. yellow mustard

1-2 tsp. curry powder

Place chicken pieces into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Melt 1/4 c. of butter and drizzle it over the chicken. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Bake chicken in a 375 degree oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, combine the honey, molasses, mustard, curry powder, and remaining butter in a medium saucepan. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Set off the heat while the chicken continues to cook.

When the 45 minutes are over, pour the curry mixture over the chicken and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is done.  Serve with rice, using the curry mixture as a sauce over the rice.

Blueberry-Fig Upside-Down Cake

A very dear friend gave me a magazine the other day after she had finished with it.  It is loaded with some pretty amazing recipes!  One section of the magazine has 8 recipes for figs!  I was excited to see this, for we will soon have quite an abundance of this particular fruit.  As most of you know, I usually do not follow recipes exactly, but experiment with them to make them unique.  This one is no different.  It turned out pretty well even though I did have a minor fail with it.  I have now learned that it is not a good idea to use a spring-form pan when making an upside-down cake!  The recipe called for a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch high sides.  My cake pan is not that high, so without much thought at all, I figured that my spring-form pan would work…bad idea!!  Some of the butter and brown sugar leaked out of the pan!  Thankfully I had put the pan on a round pizza pan while it baked, so the mess did not go all over my oven!  The cake tasted very good, but would have been much moister if I hadn’t lost half of the topping!

1 stick butter

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. honey

10-15 fresh figs (I used frozen and it was just fine!)

25-30 blueberries

1 c. shortening

3/4 c. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 c. flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. milk

Lightly spray bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides.  Cut a circle of waxed paper the size of your pan  and lay it in the pan. Lightly spray the paper.  Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in brown sugar and honey.  Cook, stirring often until the sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Cool slightly. Pour sauce into prepared pan.  Place the figs, cut side down in the pan, making a circle in the middle and 5-6 half circles around the edges.  Put 4-5 blueberries inside the circles of figs. *(at this time, you could also sprinkle finely chopped pecans over the fruit.)

In a large bowl, beat shortening, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until creamy, about 4-5 minutes.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add half to the shortening mixture and beat until mixed.  Add half the milk and continue beating.  Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk.  Batter should be thick.  Spoon over figs and blueberries in prepared pan being careful to seal around the edges.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool pan on wire rack for about an hour.  Invert onto a serving plate and remove waxed paper.  Let cool completely.