Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fun with Fillo: Baklava take 2!

1/2 package of fillo dough, defrosted
4 tbs butter, melted
1/2 c pistachios, shelled and chopped
1/2 c almonds, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of an 8X8 baking dish with 2 layers of fillo dough, brush the top with butter, and repeat until there are 8 layers of fillo. Place 1/3 of the nut mixture on top of the dough. Layer the nuts with 2 pieces of fillo, brush with butter, repeat until there are 8 layers and complete the layering with the nuts and fillo (ending with phylo on top). Butter the top layer well. Using a sharp knife, cut into square pieces. Place into the oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until it's golden brown.
Meanwhile, place the water and sugar into a sauce pan. Place over medium heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Next, add the honey and vanilla and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove the golden brown baklava from the oven, and immediately pour the hot syrup onto the baklava. Let it sit and cool while soaking up the liquid.

Tonight for dinner I made spanakopita. We all really love it, and it is actually surprisingly easy to make. I even took the time to individually wrap the spanakopita triangular pockets, instead of making it lasangna-style. Ms L was willing to help fold the triangles, especially after studying triangles in school this week!

After we had finished making the spanakopita, I sadly looked at the remaining half of the fillo dough just lying out, defrosted, and thought to myself, "In keeping with our pantry-meals this week, why not grab some nuts and whip up a baklava?". Total stroke of genuis!  This stuff is heaventely. So sweet, perfectly chewy and nutty, and absolutely fantastic. I strayed a bit from my traditional baklava recipe, using almonds, and cutting some of the syrup (it was a small pan). I think someone may have to remove me from my kitchen because this baklava is addictive!

It was certainly a fun-with-fillo kind of night!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

We're gearing up for a vacation, and I've decided that this week will be a mostly eat-from-the-pantry menu. I had a very large sweet potato kicking about, and sweet potato gnocchi just seemed like the perfect use! Everyone knows that sweet potato and brown butter go hand-in-hand, so you will not be surprised to know that these little pillows of sweet deliciousness were enjoyed fried in brown butter. Unforutnately they broke apart a bit, and thus do not look as great as they tasted, but these babies were fantastic! Soft, sweet, caramelized and light...and served along size an arugula salad with fried shallots and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Another fabulous dinner here;)

Irish Raisin Bread

I'm a sucker for a great Irish soda bread, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe for Irish raisin bread in the favorite toasting breads blog post. Rest assured that you will be seeing more breads from this delicious line-up!

This Irish raisin bread is delightful, and toasting is really a must. It's dense, but not heavy, sweet, but not cloying and really truly fabulous! We've all been enjoying it toasted with butter and jam. A delightful breakfast or afternoon snack, and a total hit in this house. Oh, and it freezes wonderfully!

Happy St. Patty's day a little early;)

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Let me start by saying that these peanut butter banana muffins totally blew me away! I mean, who would have thought that a muffin with NO flour or grain could possibly end up rising to beautifully during baking? I was amazed, and overjoyed!

I have been pining for a Blendtec for a while now, and while searching around for my dream I found the recipe for these muffins. They are so simple, so healthy, and really quite tasty! Plus, they make an excellent and nutritious snack for me or for the little ones. I froze them to just defrost and snack upon:) I did add a few tbs of milled flax seed to the muffins while making the batter because why not?

Yum, yum, yum!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Adapted from Once Upon a Chef
3 tbs butter
3 tbs coconut oil
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 c quick oats
1 3/4 c rice crispies
1/4 c ground flax seed
1/4 c wheat germ
3 tbs chia seeds
1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c miniature chocolate chips

Place the butter thru salt into a small sauce pan and heat, until bubbling and just slightly thickened.
In a large bowl mix the remaining ingredients, except for the chocolate chips.
Pour the hot butter mixture over the oat mixture, and fold to coat.
Press into a 9X13" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Use wet hands to firmly press into pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, and further press down with a spatula.
Place into fridge and chill for a couple of hours, and then cut into bars.
These will freeze well, or keep on the counter for a couple of days, tightly wrapped.

These granola bars are a bit more "treaty" that our usual snack bars, but they are easy and fun to make, and ALWAYS a complete hit with everyone (including D and I!). The coconut flavor is very mild, and I love how these really have a nice chewy-and-crunchy consistency. Kind of like a Quaker bar, but way better. Enjoy!

Sourdough English Muffins

Everyone know how much I love my 3rd child, I mean my sourdough starter;) So, just about any excuse I can make to use it gets me really fired up!

When I stumbled across this recipe for sourdough English muffins on King Arthur Flour's blog, I literally just about jumped for joy.

Let's be honest, even I know that 24 English muffins is WAY too many for our little family, so I halved the recipe (they even gave some instructions for success when doing so, but of course I didn't see those until after I had baked these babies!).

I followed the halved recipe (without the additional yeast suggested), but I chose to brown the muffins (around 4 minutes per side) on my cast iron skillet, and then finish them off in a 350 F oven (for about 12 additional minutes).

These muffins were really tasty. They were crisp on the outside, and light and airy on the inside. Although these were certainly tasty, they were not quite as sour-tasting as I had imagined (I didn't add the additional citric acid for sourness), and I do think I prefer the whole wheat English muffins I've made in the past. There's just something magical about the honey-wheat flavor and the frying in butter...

We enjoyed ours in tuna melts, and we're planning on PB&J muffins for breakfast tomorrow morning!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Greens and Peanut Red Lentil Stew

1 1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 c onion, finely diced
3 tsp harissa
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp nutmeg
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
4 c broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 c red lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 tbs peanut butter
salt and pepper to taste
3 c washed greens (kale, chard, spinach)
1/4 c shelled whole peanuts

Place the oil into a medium sized dutch oven and heat. Add the onion and cook, until starting to brown. Add the spices, and cook for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, broth and lentils, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the peanut butter until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper (or more harissa if desired!).
Finish by wilting the greens in the stew. And, top with shelled peanuts.

I literally threw this stew together the other night in a matter of minutes, in between cleaning up another dinner and getting the kids into the bath. I was planning ahead for a busy work day, and didn't want to have to come home and cook a full meal. I'm so glad that the extra few minutes at the end of a busy day were spent because this stew reheated beautifully, and was a hearty and healthy dinner! Definitely a favorite for a cold night.