Baklava

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I am so exciting to be blogging right now!  For Christmas, my sweet husband bought me a laptop!  I have been dreaming for years about being able to blog from my couch or kitchen table or even my bed instead of in our chilly office where our family PC currently sits.  I knew exactly what recipe I wanted to bring you first because I have been so anxious to share this recipe with you!  Prior to making Baklava myself, I always assumed that it would be extremely difficult and time-consuming to make.  I was so wrong!  I have made this recipe 2 or 3 times now and anyone who tastes it raves about it and can’t believe that I actually made it myself. It is such a beautiful, delicate treat and it really is not difficult! The hard part is already done for you (the phyllo dough). You just have to slap it in a pan with some butter, nuts, and cinnamon, pour a homemade syrup over the top and voila’! – crispy, chewy, sweet, nutty homemade Baklava.  Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1 (16oz) package phyllo dough (also spelled fillo, filo or phylo)

1 lb chopped nuts

1 cup butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

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First, you are going to want to visit your local grocery store freezer section and pick up some Phyllo (sometimes spelled Filo or Fillo) Dough.  It should be in a long rectangular box somewhere near the Cool Whip.  Defrost the dough according to the package directions (in the fridge or on the counter).  It shouldn’t  take too long to defrost.  A pastry brush will also be a necessity for this recipe.

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Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.  Once defrosted, open the box and unroll the dough onto your counter or onto a cutting board.  The dough will be approximately twice as wide as you will need it to be, so you will want to use a sharp knife and cut the length of the rectangle in half, leaving you with two piles of dough that will fit perfectly into your 9×13 pan.  Keep the dough covered with a damp cloth throughout the assembly process so it doesn’t dry out.

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Next melt butter in a bowl.  Make sure you are using real butter, not margarine.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan using your pastry brush.

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Place 2 sheets of phyllo dough down onto the buttered pan.  Butter the entire top sheet.  Place another 2 sheets of dough on top of the already buttered sheets.  Brush butter on top sheet.  Repeat this step until you have at least 8 sheets (4 layers of 2).

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Now you will want to place a mixture of nuts (I used pecans and almonds. Some other good choices are pistachios or walnuts.  Just don’t use peanuts!) into a food processor (if you don’t have one, hand chopping will work, it will just require that you chop them very finely).

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Stir in cinnamon.

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Sprinkle a light coating of nuts onto the top buttered layer of dough (approximately 1/4 cup)

Place another 2 sheets of dough over nuts and brush with butter.  Sprinkle with another layer of nuts. Repeat dough, butter, nuts for several more layers until you reach the desired thickness.  (Please keep in mind that you will need to save 6-8 sheets for the top layers that don’t contain nuts.  I also had approximately 8-10 sheets of dough left over that I cut in half again and used an 8×8 pan to make another small batch. Feel free to make it as thick as you want it).

Now layer 2 more sheets of dough then brush with butter 3-4 more times to make your top flaky layer.  Brush the top layer with butter.

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Using a sharp knife, cut all the way through the Baklava cutting it into triangles.  You can see I cut 4 long rows then cut diagonally and then diagonally again across to make smaller triangles.

Bake at 350 degrees 50 minutes until Baklava is golden and crisp.

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While the Baklava is baking, make your sauce/syrup.  Boil water and sugar until dissolved then add honey.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla.

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Remove Baklava from the oven and immediately pour syrup over the top.  If you let it cool completely before removing from the pan, it will really stick.  So, when it is still a little warm and pliable, remove each triangle and place in a cupcake liner or parchment paper square.

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These make really great teacher gifts, or party hors d’oeuvres – IF you decide after eating one that you even want to share them.

I found this gem of a recipe on allrecipes.com by NEONWILLIE.

 

 

Baklava

  • Servings: 28-30
  • Time: 1Hr. 20min.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

1 (16 oz) package Phyllo Dough

1 cup butter

1 lb chopped nuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Thaw phyllo dough.  Remove from box and unroll.  Cut in half so that sheets will fit in a 9×13 pan.  Cover with a damp cloth during preparation so it won’t dry out
  2. Melt Butter.  Using a pastry brush, butter bottom and sides of  9×13 pan.  Place two sheets of dough flat into buttered pan.  Brush top sheet thoroughly with butter.  Now layer another 2 sheets and again brush with butter.  Do this until you have 8 sheets layered in the pan.
  3. Chop nuts finely in a food processor (or by hand).  Stir in cinnamon.  Sprinkle a layer of nuts onto top sheet of phyllo dough (approx. 1/4 cup).  4.  Top with 2 more sheets of dough, butter then sprinkle with nuts.  Repeat these steps several more times until you reach the desired thickness.
  4. Top with 2 sheets of dough.  Butter top then repeat this (with no nuts) 3 times until you have 6 sheets (3 layers) of dough on top.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 long strips, then cut diagonally in both directions to make triangles.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. While Baklava is baking, make your sauce.  Boil 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar until dissolved.  Add honey.  Simmer for 20 min.  Add vanilla.
  7. When baklava is done baking, remove from oven and pour sauce over the top.  Let cool almost completely then remove pieces with a stiff metal spatula while still slightly warm.   Place each individual piece into a cupcake wrapper or parchment square. Do not cover. You don’t want any moisture to build because it will change the flaky texture.  Enjoy!

 

Fall-Off-The-Bone Crock Pot Ham

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I can almost guarantee that once you try this ham recipe, you will never go back to preparing your ham any other way.  Not only does this recipe completely free up your oven during the holidays for your turkey or dinner rolls or whatever else you may need it for, but the end result will leave you feeling like the king/queen of the kitchen because chances are, it will be the talk of the dinner table.  The ham is so tender; it falls apart and is so full of flavor.  We make this ham year round in our house because my family absolutely loves it and it enables us to have so many awesome options for quick meals with the leftovers.   You will want to eat the entire thing yourself.  You may find yourself limiting your guests to a small helping of ham because you are going to want those leftovers! 🙂

Ingredients:

1 Bone-in Ham

Here’s a little lesson on ham…At a regular grocery store, you will most likely have the option of a “Butt End/Portion” (the upper portion of the leg) or a “Shank End/Portion” (the lower portion of the leg). The “Butt ” cut generally has more meat than the “Shank ” cut, but also contains more fat and bone. The “Shank ” cut only has one large bone so it is a great choice if you will be carving your ham.  We won’t be doing much carving folks; it’s going to be falling apart on its own. If you are curious what the difference between the “End” and the “Portion” cuts are, I will enlighten you.  Have you ever bought the “Center Ham Slices” from the store? They are more like a ham steak, usually less than 1” thick.  This is the prime cut from the ham that is sliced from between the “Butt” and the “Shank” portions of the ham.  If you buy a ham labeled “Butt or Shank End,” you are buying a ham that still has that center slice attached.  If you buy the “Butt or Shank Portion,” that center slice has been removed.   

As far as our ham goes, I recommend the “Butt Portion” as our goal for this recipe in the crock pot is to find the shortest ham you can. We are good with bones and fat in a crock pot recipe because they are going to give us a ton of flavor.  Also a note on spirals… they will work just fine but tend to dry out a little more and don’t give you the delicious chunks of shredded ham.  You will just have a whole lot of tiny little pieces.    Whew! Let’s move on!

3 cups light brown sugar (I never measure, so this is just an approximate amount).

Directions:

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Use about 1 and ½ cups of the brown sugar, or enough to cover the bottom of the crock pot in a ¼ inch layer.

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Cut open your ham packaging and remove the plastic circle that is most likely covering the bone on the bottom side of the ham.

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Place your ham face down on top of the brown sugar.

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Coat the top of the ham in a thick layer of brown sugar.

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Replace lid.  If your ham is too tall to fit the lid on top, cover with a few pieces of foil.  Try to get as tight a seal as possible.

Cook over high heat for 6-7 hours or low heat for 8-10 hours. I like to flip the ham at least once during the last hour or two of cooking to ensure the entire ham gets to soak in all the yummy juices.

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You know the ham is done when you can poke in a fork and easily shred the ham.  The hams are already pre-cooked before they are packaged so if you happen to run short on time and have to pull it out before it starts falling apart, it will still be ok to eat. 

Remove from crock pot and serve in chunks.

Don’t worry about cleaning off the bone too much because you can save the bone and scraps for a split pea and ham soup or ham and navy bean soup. 

I usually save some of the ham chunks for leftovers and sandwiches but the rest I cube up and freeze for convenient additions to other meals.  Use a handful for omelets, breakfast burritos, biscuits and ham gravy, baked macaroni and cheese with ham, etc. This is primarily why I make ham year-round.  I love the convenience of having it in the freezer for go-to meals. 

Stay tuned as I will be using some of my left-overs in other recipes.

Fall Off The Bone Crockpot Ham

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

1 butt-portion ham (approx. 6-9 lbs)

3 cups light brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Remove ham from plastic wrap, also remove plastic circle that is covering the bone.
  2. Cover the bottom of the crockpot with a  good layer of brown sugar.
  3. Place the ham face (flat side) down in the crockpot.
  4. Cover the top of the ham with the remaining brown sugar.
  5. Cover with lid (or foil if lid doesn’t fit).
  6. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for  6-8 hours.
  7. Flip ham in the last hour or two to ensure that the top of the ham is allowed time to soak in the juices.
  8. Remove ham from crockpot when ham easily falls apart.  Pull ham apart (being careful not to burn your fingers) to separate the meat from the fat and bone.
  9. Serve on a platter.