Nutty Baklava

Baklava is so decadent and heavenly.  Nutty, sweet, gooey, crunchy all at the same time.

MeasuringSunshine-Baklava is so decadent and heavenly.  Nutty, sweet, gooey, crunchy all at the same time.

Homemade baklava  is so much better than store bought in my book.  You have so many choices in the ingredients you can put in the baklava.  You can use your favorite nut, I have used walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts.  The type of honey, type of cinnamon or other  spices.

You will need:

9×13 baking pan
1 package of frozen filo dough-defrost in refrigerator 2 days before making baklava
1 lb. of nuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, or pretty much any other nut you would like to use.(chopped finely)
1 cup melted butter give or take- have extra butter on hand if needed
1 Tbsp of cinnamon, and any other spices you might want to add. (I will also use fresh nutmeg, powdered clove, you can also use pumpkin pie spice)
Honey syrup- recipe follows

Syrup ingredients:
1 cup honey
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp of cinnamon

Bring to boil ,lower temperature and simmer for 15 min. Stir during cooking process.  After the 15 minutes turn off heat and let cool.

To put together the baklava:
Brush bottom of 9 x 13 pan with some of the melted butter.  Add layer of filo, brush with butter, add layer of filo, brush with butter, do this 4 more times.  Add layer of chopped nuts and cinnamon.  Add 5-6 more layers of the filo brushed with the melted butter.
When you have used all the nuts and cinnamon- add 7-8 layers of the butter filo to finish off the top.

Put pan into freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pull pan from freezer, get a very sharp knife and cut long diagonal cuts through the dough.  When you have completed the cuts it will look like a pan of diamonds.
Bake for about 1 hour- it will look nice a golden color.
Take out of oven.  Pour syrup gently over the top of the baklava.  I normally pour about half and wait 5-10 minutes and then pour the remaining syrup over the top.

NuttyBaklava-MeasurningSunshine-Baklava is so decadent and heavenly.  Nutty, sweet, gooey, crunchy all at the same time.  You have so many choices in the ingredients you can put into it.

Tips:

Make sure filo is completely thawed.
Keep filo covered with damp towel while working with it.
Either precut filo to fit the pan or just fold the filo to fit. ( this is what I do- just adds additional layers of buttery filo.)
Freezing pan after layering will help to firm up the layers before you cut them- this is not required.
Let sit for several hours for syrup to soak it completing and baklava is cooled.
Some people leave baklava out for several days, I however, will usually store covered in the refrigerator.

Caramel Walnut Cinnamon Rolls

There is nothing better than these gooey caramel cinnamon rolls laden with fresh walnuts.  I have made some variety of these rolls since my kids were little. The kids were always very excited because I love them so much I wouldn’t bake them very often or I would end up eating most of them.

I have a friend who’s grandmother cracks walnuts and pulls the meat. I feel fortunate that I am able to buy a couple of bags each year.  The walnuts are so fresh, so beautiful, the first thing I think of making when I get my hands on the walnuts are these gooey cinnamony walnuty rolls.

MeasuringSunshine-CaramelWalnutCinnamonRolls

Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 pkg rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter- cut into pieces
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla paste-optional
3 – 3 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
_________
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 – 2 cups chopped walnuts
__________
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
more chopped walnuts
cinnamon, nutmeg, more cinnamon, more cinnamon

Warm up the milk in the microwave to about 115 degrees,  add 1/4 cup sugar and the yeast- set aside for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the egg, add the chopped butter.  After the 5 minutes and the yeast has activated add to the egg and butter.  Mix  3 cups flour with the salt.  Add to the yeast mixture 1/2 cup at a time.  The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl, if not add another 1/2 cup flour.
Prepare a separate bowl with drizzling 1 tbsp of canola oil.  Set aside.

Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour onto the kneading board and them pull the dough out of bowl.  Knead  for 2-4 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy.  I keep wanting to take a picture of this but my hands are in the dough and not camera worthy.
Take the dough and toss into the prepared bowl that has the canola oil. Swish it around to coat and then flip so the oily part is on the top.  I normally cover with a towel, but you can also use plastic wrap.  Put bowl into a warm place to rise for about an hour.

While the dough is rising- get a saucepan and add the half cup butter and the brown sugar- turn the stove onto medium.  Add the corn syrup and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sugar is all the way melted and then I will usually simmer until it thickens.  Set aside for it to cool down.

Chop the walnuts, set aside.
When the dough had risen to double the size, take out half and roll out into a rectangle mine is never rectangle. Smear the soften butter over the whole thing.   Sprinkle the white sugar, then the brown sugar, then add the cinnamon, and or other spices.  I don’t think you can put too much cinnamon. Sprinkle part of the chopped walnuts(these I chop finer than the ones that go into the caramel.
Start at the wide side and start rolling.
I use a piece of thread to cut the rolls, but a very sharp knife will work as well.
MeasuringSunshine- CaramelCinnamonWalnut Rolls

Get your pan (make sure pan has handles or a lip that you will be able to hold as you flip the pan after baking) out and pour the caramel onto the bottom, sprinkle the rest of the walnuts over the caramel.
As you cut the rolls, place on top of the caramel.
MeasuringSunshine- CaramelCinnamonWalnut Rolls
Leave some space between the rolls- these are a little too close, I actually had to take some of them out and put into a different pan. Cover with a towel and set aside to rise again for about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes.  To check to see if they are done, select one of the center rolls and pull gently away from the roll next to it.  Does it look flaky or still gooey?  If still gooey , put back into the oven for 5-10 more minutes.
After rolls are done, let cool in the pan until you can touch the pan without burning yourself.
Get a plate at least a big as the pan with the rolls.  Put the plate upside down on top of pan of rolls, grab both sides and flip.
MeasuringSunshine- CaramelCinnamonWalnut Rolls

 

Get a cup of coffee, sit down and enjoy.

You can do these the night before and when you get to the bake stage- put into the refrigerator.
The next morning let the chill where off and throw into the oven. You may need to bake a little longer.

Easy Wonton Soup Recipe

This wonton soup was easy to make and so delicious.  My favorite soup is Won-ton soup and I can never get enough of it.  After doing a little research……. and by research I mean that I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant and ordered the won-ton soup. I wrote down everything I could identify so I could attempt it my self.

easy wonton soup is easy and healthy . It has shrimp and homemade wonton.

This soup is better than my favorite Chinese restaurant soup, why? The ingredients are fresh and crisp and I was able to add more of my favorite ingredients. The aroma in the kitchen as you make it is so delicious your mouth will water.  This soup is so healthy and by adding more or different ingredients you can make it even more so. It turned out so amazing……..if I do say so myself.

I have to admit I was pretty scared to try this.  I’ve never made homemade won-tons before, and I was just a little nervous about it.
I went to the grocery store to decide what I wanted to put in my soup and even though I couldn’t find fresh snow peas it did turn out great.

You will need:

1 package won-ton wrappers- 12 oz.
For the won-ton filling:
2 chicken breasts- about 1 lb.
one bunch of green onions-you’ll only need 2-3 for the filling
4-6 gloves garlic-I will most likely put more in next time- but I am a garlic-oholic.
3 slices of fresh ginger- I peeled the ginger and cut 3 thin slices off of it.  (You really need to like ginger-or add less)
2 stalks of celery
2 mushrooms- any kind will work
1 tbsp of soy sauce

For the broth:
3-4 chicken broth containers(low sodium)- I used 48 oz containers.
1 bunch bok choy-wash and chop(not too small)
3 stalks of celery- sliced thin
3-5 carrots- slice thin disc’s
1 slice of ginger- this is only going into the pot until it boils-then you need to fish it out.
1/2 can of baby sweet corn-found in the oriental section of the grocery store, or you can use the whole can-up to you.
1/2 lb of shelled shrimp
3 mushrooms-sliced- I think this could use a couple more.

Okay………….. get everything out and ready to work on.

Filling:

Get the food processor and add the mushrooms, celery, green onions, garlic and ginger-chop until small but not pureed.  Chunk the chicken up and add to the processor-chop. While its whirling around-add the soy sauce.  Done.

Get a cutting board and dust with a little flour- very little.  Get a little bowl and put some cold water for dipping fingers into.
Get one wrapper- lay flat- dip fingers in water and dampen all edges- I have to admit- I was not very careful- the whole thing pretty much got damp.  Add 1/2 tsp-ish into the middle, fold in half. Squish the edges together, point the top edge toward you.
homemade chicken wontons, quick, easy and delicious
Roll towards and then fold in half into the middle.
homemade chicken wontons, easy and delicious

Not a very good picture but I had icky fingers and I was only using one hand.
Warning- do not stack on top of each other, they will all stick together.
Meanwhile- open the broth and add to a big pot- start heating on medium high.  Chop the celery, carrots,slice the mushrooms, and 1 glove garlic and slice 1 disc of ginger and add to the broth.

Finish making the won-tons, set aside while you chop all the other ingredients. Clean and prep shrimp.
healthy wonton soup ingredients, fresh, healthy and delicious.

When the broth is boiling- add the won-tons and stir gently.
Then after a couple of minutes(about 4 min.) add the other ingredients to the pot.
simmering wonton soup, healthy, easy and delicous
Bring to boil again and boil for 4-6 minutes- then turn down to simmer for a couple more minutes.

If you look really carefully at the bowl you will see one of the first won-tons I wrapped- they looked like a little envelopes.  Not pretty, but they did stick together.

Easy wor won-ton soup recipe, healthy, fresh and delicious

 

 

Quick Easy Fudge

This fudge takes all of 10 minutes to get mixed and in the frig.  Quick easy fudge, this fudge take so little time and effort to make and tastes so smooth and creamy.
You can adjust to suit your tastes or the season for giving as gifts.

fudge-Quick easy fudge, this fudge take so little time and effort to make and tastes so smooth and creamy. You can adjust to suit your tastes or the season for giving as gifts.

You can add nuts or not, you can add vanilla, peppermint, rum flavorings or not.
You will need:
14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
7oz. marshmallow cream
3 cups chocolate chips.  I use 2cups milk chocolate and 1 cup of semi sweet.  Any mixture works.  You can even use bitter chocolate if that is your favorite.
1-2 tsp of vanilla paste- you can use extract if that’s what you have. (you can also substitute peppermint, rum or other  flavoring- less amount if using peppermint or it will taste like toothpaste)
Optional items: any type of nut, or mini marshmallows, broken candy canes, chopped candy bars or candy.

fudge-product-2

Start with a heavy bottom sauce pan.  Add milk, marshmallow cream and chips………. melt and mix together over low heat.  When all is mixed and melted add flavoring.

 

Have ready a 8×8 square pan, I usually line with wax paper.
When its all mixed pour into the prepared pan.
Put in refrigerator to harden.

fudge-Quick easy fudge, this fudge take so little time and effort to make and tastes so smooth and creamy. You can adjust to suit your tastes or the season for giving as gifts.

 

quickfudge-Quick easy fudge, this fudge take so little time and effort to make and tastes so smooth and creamy. You can adjust to suit your tastes or the season for giving as gifts.

Easy Holiday Carmel Corn

 

This is my all time favorite caramel popcorn. I use air popped corn which makes it lighter and fluffier.
You can add anything that you want to it. I have used peanuts, coconut, pretzels, walnuts, etc.

This is my all time favorite caramel popcorn. I use air popped corn which makes it lighter and fluffier. You can add anything that you want to it. I have used peanuts, coconut, pretzels, walnuts, etc.
If you want to add chocolate pieces, add after the baking period.

This is my all time favorite caramel popcorn. I use air popped corn which makes it lighter and fluffier. You can add anything that you want to it. I have used peanuts, coconut, pretzels, walnuts, etc.
Ingredients:
1 cup butter -I use unsalted
2 cups brown sugar -I use dark brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup -white
1 teaspoon salt-I don’t usually add the salt if I’m adding pretzels or salted nuts.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or to taste
5 quarts popped popcorn
Nuts, or add in’s like: pretzels, etc.
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
2.  Pop the popcorn into a very large baking pan. (if using an air popper)
3.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat(#6 on my electric stove), melt butter.
4.  Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.
This is my all time favorite caramel popcorn. I use air popped corn which makes it lighter and fluffier. You can add anything that you want to it. I have used peanuts, coconut, pretzels, walnuts, etc.
5.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, boil without stirring 4 minutes.
6.  Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla bean paste.
7.  Pour over popcorn, stir to coat all the popcorn.
8.  Bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for about an hour.
9.  Remove from oven and let cool completely  in pan before breaking into pieces.

This is my all time favorite caramel popcorn. I use air popped corn which makes it lighter and fluffier. You can add anything that you want to it. I have used peanuts, coconut, pretzels, walnuts, etc.

This is my all time favorite caramel popcorn. I use air popped corn which makes it lighter and fluffier. You can add anything that you want to it. I have used peanuts, coconut, pretzels, walnuts, etc.

 

This is Carmel Popcorn with Pretzels and Peanuts- the pretzels are so good in this.  Salty sweet with a lot of crunch.

cpop-pretzelpeanut

 

The best homemade Nut Brittle

This is an old fashioned brittle, you can add any type of nut you want to personalize it to your families taste.

It helps this recipe go smoother if you gather all the ingredients and have them close at hand.

Please read the whole recipe before you start; or your brittle will not turn out the best it could be for your family.

I will usually line all the ingredient’s up in the order I need them.

At a certain point everything happens at once and you don’t have the time to search for a ingredient.

Use a  deep  heavy bottom pan.

Put these ingredients into pan.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup-white
1/2 t. salt
1 cup water
Cook on Medium high heat, you can stir until it starts to boil-then do not stir.
Boil for 15-20 minutes until it gets to an amber color.
This is where things get a little quick.

If you want to use candy thermometer then it should be to soft crack stage- 132 degrees on a candy thermometer.
I will usually pick up the pan and swirl a couple of times to see the color on the bottom of the pan. Do this very carefully!

The next step is quick………. have everything measured out and prepared.

You can see the bubbles appear heavier and more condensed.

This is good, DON’T walk away from the pan at this point.

The color appears the last 1-3 minutes of the boil. See how dense the bubbles are, this is why I swirl it a little-you can see the darker color toward the bottom of the pan.

Have a pan prepped to pour the hot mixture onto it.

brittle-2

I use a cookie sheet with high edges, and one of those silicone baking sheets–spray with non stick to prepare. (you can use tin foil but make sure to spray really well)
Find a good heat resistant rubber spatula and spray with the non stick too, you will need this to spread out the brittle after you pour onto the pan.

The nuts, any kind, I really like cashews with this and it seems to be the most requested by friends and family.
I use about 1 and 1/2 cup of nuts. I break them up a bit.
2 tablespoons of butter (do not use margarine)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 Tablespoon of vanilla bean paste.(or regular vanilla extract if you don’t have the paste)

I would loved to have a picture of all the ingredients being stirred but it happens in about 20 seconds before it begins to stiffen.

All the items that you have prepared are stirred in quick and spread on the pan.
Let sit for 15-30 minutes and break into pieces and enjoy.

As you can see this batch was Cashew Brittle.

Cashew Brittle