Wednesday, February 23, 2011


We have puppies! 

We have eight puppies.  We have a gaggle of puppies!

They try my patience.

They are a lot of work.

They sleep like this ...

And play like this ...   

I have to admit, being this cute should be illegal ...


But mostly, they're just getting big!

Whew, I'm exhausted.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sweet Endings - Baklava

Baklava.  Bak-la-va.  Bak-lava!  Any way you choose to pronounce it, it translates into ooey-gooey
sweet 'n nutty goodness!

I've wanted to make this for some time now.  But, I've always been intimidated by the whole process.  Well, it wasn't hard.  Tedious is the word I would use.  You do have to be very careful with the phyllo dough.  The little darlings are frail and delicate.  Just remember, keep them covered with a damp (not wet) kitchen towel when you're not working with them.  Also, I thawed both rolls of phyllo dough, but I didn't open the second until I actually needed it.

I scoured the internet for recipes for baklava and just took an understanding on the flavors involved and the technique used and ran with it.

I strained the syrup
1-1/2 c water
1-1/2 c white sugar
1 c honey
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
one lemon, zested and juiced

In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, add all your ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain into a large measuring cup and place in the refrigerator until you need it. 

1 box of phyllo dough, thawed using the manufacturer's instructions (there should be 2 rolls)
4 c of nuts (I used a combo of roasted pistachio and walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F ( I did mine at 325 degrees because I was using a glass pan).  Brush the entire interior of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with melted butter.  Wet a kitchen towel and wring it out until it's damp.  Set aside.  Add the nuts and cinnamon to your food processor and pulse to a fine chopped.  You do not want them ground into a paste.  Dump your nuts a bowl and set them to the side.  Unroll your phyllo dough, lay it out on a large cutting board, or flat surface, and trim to fit the inside of your pan, leaving one sheet whole.  Cover any dough that your are not working with with the damp towel. Take the whole sheet and carefully lay it in the pan.  Gently work it into the corners and up the side.  Brush with butter.  Lay one of the trimmed phyllo dough on top and brush with butter.  Repeat until you have 8 sheets of dough in the pan.  Sprinkle a thin layer of the nut mixture on the dough.  Add three more layers of dough, buttering each one.  Repeat the nut and dough process until you either run out of nuts, or room in your pan (leave enough room for your final layers.  End with a layer of eight sheets of butter dough.  
Look at all those layers!
Here's the hard part, using a very, very sharp knife cut the baklava into to serving sized pieces.  Traditionally it's cut into little diamond shaped pieces, but I can't draw a straight line much less cut out diamonds.

Bake for 50 minutes. 

Once you remove the baklava from the oven, pour your syrup all over the top and set aside.  When it cools to room temperature, cover with foil and leave overnight.


Afterthoughts:  This is a very sweet dessert.  Believe me when I say you will not want this every day.  When I make this again I'll probably 1.  make a smaller batch and 2.  add more phyllo dough between layers, maybe five sheets instead of three .. but that's me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sweet Endings - Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Sugar Cookie (sandwiches)

Happy Valentine's Day!

So, what did you do this weekend?

I got my car fixed, went grocery shopping, spent some time on Maryland's Eastern Shore, worked on a couple projects at home, and I made cookies.  Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies. 

Okay, I totally kleptoed the recipe for these cookies.  Do you know Joy the Baker?  Well, if not, you really should get to know her.  You won't be disappointed.  This lady creates magic in her over; her blog oozes with yumminess.  Really, I promise.

Her little darlings have a very nice chocolaty favor and a delightful snap when you eat them. 

But I couldn't leave good enough alone.  I have to go over the top embellish them a bit. 

Oh, and guess what happens when you blitz thawed frozen strawberries and add them to buttercream frosting .... magic, that's what!  The strawberries were a little tart, which cut right through that sugar sweetness of the frosting and the balance was pure brilliance, if I say so myself. 

Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies, adapted from Joy the Baker

1 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c + 2 tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 c + 2 tbs cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c brown sugar (Joy doesn't specify, but I packed mine)
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 large egg

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or use a silpat) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until well incorporated.  Stop and scrape down the bowl.  Add the egg.  Beat on medium speed until mixture is glossy and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients, all at once.  Mix on low speed until all of the flour is incorporated.  Stop and incorporate remaining ingredients with a spatula.  Split dough in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Use a heart shaped cookie cutter (or any cookie cutter) to cut out cookies and place them on prepared baking sheets.  If desired, brush cookies with water and sprinkle with course sugar, or sprinkles, or whatever you wish  .... or not.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Try not to snack on cookies.

Repeat until all the dough is used.  This recipe made 24 cookies, for me. 

Not me, personally.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.

5 large thawed frozen strawberries
1/2 c shortening (I used Crisco)
3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Blitz strawberries in a blender, or mini food processor.  In a large mixing bowl, add shortening and sugar.  ON LOW mix until sugar is complete incorporated into shortening.  Add strawberry puree and vanilla.  On low mix until incorporated.  Now turn your mixer on high and beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Put frosting into pastry bag and snip the tip of bag.  Twist open end of bag closed and squeeze until air is pushed out of tip end.  If you're not into piping, just smear it on with a knife.

Match cookies in sets.  Set aside one of each set. 

On remaining cookies pipe frosting on cookies, leaving a small edge around parameter.  Top with remaining cookies. 

Dust with powdered sugar, if you wish. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sweet Endings - what now!

I'm sorry.  Sincerely, sorry.

I know I made a commitment to post sweet treats on Sundays, but, well ....

As I stated in my previous post, the Sunday before the Superbowl, I was sick.  I promise; I was.  Then last Sunday, I was going to redeem myself with a fabulous dessert .. Kouign Amann.  It's French and there were a lot of steps involved.

I'm totally addicted to David Lebovitz.  Don't ask me why because I don't know.  There are certain blogs that just hit me .. ya follow?  Anyway, it was his beautifully photographed Kouign Amann, I was committed to making.  Come Sunday, I was ready.  One problem though, I couldn't get David's site to come up.  I don't know if it was him or me, but I couldn't connect.  I tried to the point that I was having serious words with the BPL (big pink laptop).   Disappointed, I moved on.

Loosely translated Kouign Amann means Butter Cake, so I looked up French Butter Cake recipes.  I finally settled on one that actually read like a cake recipe and not like bread.  If it wasn't DL's recipe, I wanted something different.  Yes, I'm a bit stubborn that way.

It smelled heavenly baking and it tasted good.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  But the texture was that of  "not quite done" shortbread (and I baked it for an hour and a half).  it was a bit heavy and crumbly, and I was just not happy about it. 

So I opted not to write about it. 

I'm making cookies this weekend in honor of  Valentine's Day.

I hope you'll come back and visit.