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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Cherry Nut Bread, Low-Carb Style

I’ve been learning a lot by following the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook page, and it is not just about  recipes! The ladies on that page come up with wonderful ideas to help make life easier as they try to lose weight and get healthy.  My favorite tip so far has to be this creative way to make pouring those half-gallon Mason jars full of wonderful beverages.003

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Isn’t this a great idea? I just cut around a pour spout from a carton of almond milk and used it as the flat lid with the ring to my Mason jar.  Seriously, why didn’t I think of this?  I’m telling you, these ladies are absolutely brilliant!

One of the favorite recipes in our home at Christmas is this delicious cherry nut bread. I first discovered this recipe while I was still in college. I baked it for my parents who just loved it.  Once I got married, I made it for the hubby and for friends as gifts. You can read the recipe here.

Now that we are trying to eat a low-carb diet, I had to figure out a way to make this recipe without all the carbs, so that we could still enjoy it. While it doesn’t taste the same, it is a good substitute. I followed the basic recipe but made these substitutions:

1. I replaced the 2 c. flour with a combination of almond, coconut, and oat flours. I used 1 c. almond flour and 1/2 cup of each coconut and oat flours.  I think when I make this again, I will switch the amounts of oat and almond flours.

2. I used stevia as my sweetener instead of sugar.

3. I used 1 cup of tart pie cherries instead of maraschino cherries.

We liked the flavor of this bread, but it is rather crumbly.  I made the recipe into 16 muffins so that I could try to figure out the carbs per serving.  If I did my math right, it comes out to 7 carbs per muffin. For those following the THM plan, these would be an S.

 

Resurrection Cookies

Easter is finally here!  After such a long and hard winter for most of the country, and spring teasing us for several weeks, it is nice to be able to enjoy the season, remembering what was done on the cross for us.

If you have young children in your home, you might enjoy making these cookies with them as you teach them about the Resurrection.  One of my favorite verses about the Easter season is “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen.”  (Luke 24:5-6)   This recipe is a great way to help them understand the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

 

Leighann over at Four Hobbits and a Giant shared this recipe. You can find it here.

Cranberry Pecan Muffin Mix In a Jar

We are already a week into December, and the Christmas festivities are in full swing!  Today I spent some time with a dear friend who helped me make a wreath for my front door, and tonight Sam is over on campus at the Christmas Carol Sing and Lighting Ceremony!

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Shopping is started (finally), and the challenge to keep to the budget is…well, challenging!  Homemade gifts are  always welcomed by those receiving them, and they are fun, thoughtful, and less expensive than purchased gifts.  Cookie mixes or muffin mixes in jars make wonderful gifts.  They are often easy enough to make that even small children can help create them.  Why not consider making some of these to give this year?

1-quart canning jar with a tight-fitting lid

1 c chopped pecans

1 c. dried cranberries

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1-3/4 c. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2-1/2 tsp. baking powder

Layer the ingredients in order in the 1-quart Mason jar. Lightly pack down the ingredients before adding the next layer.  Put lid on the jar and cover with a pretty piece of Christmas fabric using a piece of ribbon to hold it in place. Write out the following directions and attach to the jar.

1 jar Cranberry Pecan muffin mix

3/4 c. milk

1 stick butter, melted

1 egg, slightly beaten

Pour contents of jar into large mixing bowl. Combine milk, butter and egg in separate bowl, mixing well.  Add to jar mixture and stir until just moistened. Spoon evenly into 12 greased muffin cups.

Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.

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Fresh Pecans and Haystack Cookies

Today was an absolutely beautiful fall day!  Although the temperatures were about 10 degrees higher than normal (global warming??), the breeze was gentle and cool. I was able to purchase some fresh pecans earlier in the week from a friend. I have not had fresh pecans in quite a few years, so this is a real treat for me!  I grew up having about 5 pecan trees in our yard, and many fall days were spent picking them up. While my siblings and I were in school during the day, my mom would spend time cracking them. In the evenings or on the weekends,  the rest of us would often sit around the table talking and cleaning the nuts.  Definitely fun memories!  Today I spent about half an hour cracking some pecans using the old nut cracker that my mom used years ago!

Haystack Cookies are a fun treat that I first made when my kids were little.    These are an easy no-bake cookie that even toddlers can help with.  You can’t lose with just 3 ingredients!

6 oz. butterscotch chips

2 c. chow mein noodles

1 c. peanuts

Melt the butterscotch chips on low heat in a large sauce pot, stirring frequently. Add the chow mein noodles and peanuts. Stir to coat.  Using a tablespoon, make “haystacks”  out of the mixture and place on cookie sheets.   Allow to cool.  If the mixture is too dry, add more chips. If it is too wet, add more chow mein noodles or peanuts.