Tag Archives: walnuts

Baklava

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Meet one of my favorite desserts – EVER.  It’s not hard considering that I’ve admitted that my favorite food is all things Mediterranean.  Luckily, baklava is just as easy to make as it is delicious.  All in all, this recipe is just the same set of steps repeated over and over again to create a buttery and flaky dessert that’s sure to wow your guests.

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I am going to just say that baklava is an addiction.  It’s a rare treat reserved for special occasions in our house, but once available, I wish someone would ration this.

Baklava

adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) package of phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 16 oz  chopped roasted nuts (I prefer a mix of pistachios and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

Syrup:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 clove of cardamom (or a pinch of ground cardamom)
  • 1 tsp rose water (optional)
  • 1 2-inch piece of orange peel

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Using the melted butter, butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the nuts until you reach your desired consistency.  I prefer a mixture of finely ground nuts with some chopped pieces mixed in.
  3. Toss together the cinnamon, cardamom, nuts and white sugar.
  4. Unwrap the phyllo dough and place under a damp cloth so it does not dry out.
  5. Place two sheets of phyllo dough in the pan and brush the phyllo with butter lightly with a pastry brush.
  6. Repeat with two sheets until you have a layer that’s 8 sheets deep.
  7. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the nut mixture over the phyllo dough.
  8. Place another two sheets of phyllo and brush lightly with the melted butter.
  9. Repeat with the nuts and the phyllo dough.
  10. Top the last layer with another 8 pieces of phyllo dough.
  11. Using a sharp knife cut the phyllo dough (into diamonds or squares) within half an inch from the bottom of the pan.
  12. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown and crisp.
  13. After placing the baklava into the oven, prepare the syrup.  In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and water and heat over medium heat until the sugar is melted.  Add the vanilla extract, honey, cinnamon stick, cardamom, rose water, and orange peel.  Allow this mixture to come to a boil and reduce heat to let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove the cinnamon stick, cardamom and orange peel.  Let it cool while the baklava bakes.
  14. Once the baklava is done, remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the phyllo dough.
  15. Cool and cut all the way through.

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Filed under Desserts, Favorites

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Meet one of my all-time favorite cookies. I can almost guarantee that they are my second favorite, right after the obvious chocolate chip. I prepare these cookies often, as they are a favorite among all members of the family. I also prepare them for my family because they are not overly sweet and the flavors are subtly sweet and rich from the walnuts. I have also displayed them on the blog several times on the blog as well. I cannot say enough about these cookies. So, instead I just eat them.

As I make them often, I have adapted it over time to perfect the balance of all flavors. If you have not yet tried these cookies, I highly suggest that you. Perfect for any occasion, these light and crisp cookies can be made all-year round.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
– adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a pan, over medium-high heat, roast the walnuts for about 3-5 minutes. Do not burn. Once cooled, chop the walnuts quite finely. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter.
  4. Add vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly add the powdered sugar and flour until fully incorporated.
  6. Add the chopped walnuts.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, place each cookie an inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes. When cooled, roll twice in powdered sugar.
  9. I place them on cupcake liners to keep them in tact.

6 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts

I cook pasta at least once a week.  And, taking into account leftovers, we eat pasta three times a week.  It’s fast and versatile.  And, while I usually rely on marinara sauce or quick spaghetti sauce, I try to incorporate different flavors and textures to create a satisfying dish without being too monotonous.

And, with my everlasting fondness for pesto, this dish is appropriate for a lunch or dinner.  And, the flavors get even better the next day.  So, leftovers of this comforting dish are anything but mundane.

The addition of spinach, broccoli and toasted walnuts adds depth and nutritional value without compromising taste.

Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) package bow tie pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head broccoli crown
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed and drained of water
  • 3/4 cup pesto – use your favorite pesto (I used half basil pesto and half sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for dusting on top

Directions:

  1.  Boil pasta to al dente in salted water.  Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Using a large saucepan (I use my dutch oven), and heat your olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook for approximately 2 minutes – until the garlic is slightly brown.  Add the broccoli and stir for a minute.  Cover the broccoli and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes over medium.  After 3 minutes, add the spinach to the broccoli.  At this point, you are just trying to warm up the spinach without overcooking the broccoli.  I cook the spinach with the broccoli for about one minute.  You do not want to overcook the broccoli.  You want it to be firm but not raw.  If you can pierce it, it’s ready – you definitely do not want it be mushy.
  3. Once the broccoli/spinach mixture is cooked, add it to the bowl containing the pasta.
  4. To the pasta/broccoli mix, add your pesto, red pepper flakes, walnuts, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Toss to ensure that the pasta is evenly coated.
  5. Check for salt and add more if desired.  I start with 1/4 tsp because the pesto and the Parmesan add saltiness to the dish.
  6. Once the pasta is coated, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top right before serving.

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Filed under garlic, olive oil, Uncategorized

Cilantro You Glad I Didn’t Say Basil?

Did I mention that I love sandwiches?  And I have been having them!  They have been delicious – especially the addition of hummus.

But, as with the seasons, it was time for a change.

There’s a new sandwich spread in town and it’s not fancy.  It’s not shmancy.  It’s just really good.  Like really. good.

Cilantro Pesto.

Say hello.

Note:  I hate raw unadulterated cilantro.  It’s got too much of a bite that I can’t take.

So, when I started making this, I thought this might be a no-go.  Not so.

The mix of the spicy cilantro with the mellow walnut and the nutty parmesan really make this spread/sauce work beautifully together.  Like having the perfect number of people on the see-saw to make it go up and down. 

You didn’t just have one person on each side did you?  If so, well…we rolled a little differently at my school.  It could have been that the swing-set was always ‘under repair’ from some kid that broke it or tossed up the swing seats and got it rolled on the bars – were you that kid?  If so, I’m mad at you.

Back to the pesto!

It’s yummy.

It’s cheap.  Basil is way more expensive than cilantro.  And, pine nuts – don’t even get me started on that price!

Helpful hint:  Instead of having to mince garlic for the spread, put it first into the food processor before adding everything else.

So you can imagine what my lunch looked like today!

A fabulous sandwich with sliced turkey and gouda.

It pairs well with dijon mustard.

For all that is good and great – go home, make this dip.  It will change your life.

Cilantro Pesto

Inspired by KERF

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch cilantro, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  • Mince garlic cloves in food processor.
  • Add cilantro, walnuts and parmesan cheese; puree  until it forms a paste.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • While processing, add olive oil through the spout until everything is mixed together well.

15 Comments

Filed under Favorites, garlic, olive oil, Vegetarian