Thursday, January 29, 2009

BAK-LA-VA...sounds a little naughty...and it is

I made Baklava the other day for a Young Women's cultural night that we were supposed to have last weekend, but most of them didn't show up because there were all at a going away party for some boy in the ward so I ended up bringing most of it home and since I thought we were going to eat it all that night, and so Justin wouldn't cry about not getting any, I made an extra giant pan of it for home. So basically I ended up with enough baklava to gain 20 lbs. Luckily it freezes well because I was eating so much of it and ruining my plans to get in shape!

So the recipe I used is on but I did a few things differently after I read all the comments. After you get your recipe just remember a few things...add some lemon slices and orange slices to the honey syrup while it cooks, add a pinch or two of nutmeg and cardamom to the cinnamon and nuts and use a variety of nuts if you can. I used almonds, pecans, walnuts and pistachios ground up pretty finely, but not overly ground. Lastly, you must cool the honey syrup and pour it into your just baked and hot phyllo dough OR pour hot syrup into you baked and cooled phyllo dough. It's not hard to make, but it takes about an hour of constant labor to put it all together, but at 1 to 2 dollars a piece they charge you at the store, it's totally worth it every once in a while! Oh yeah, I almost forgot to say that I put in a layer of dark chocolate after the initial 8 layers of dough on the bottom and it was heavenly!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I have too much to put on this Blog!

Well I just realized that I have so much to put on this blog that I'm not getting around to doing. I guess my New Years resolutions to cook better food for my family AND get to bed early are preventing me from having the time to write and at the same time giving me more to write about. Today I have to talk about my Asian Food Extravaganzas I had this January in honor of the Chou family who are our in-laws and who are Chinese (well I guess technically Taiwanese) and so we celebrated Chinese New Year with three days of Asian food. I had a ton of recipes planned out but I bagged most of them when the second meal we did the HOT POT and fell in love. The hot pot is basically the same in China and Japan and is a boiling pot of water or broth that you cook small chunks of veggies and meat in at the table. I remembered eating it when my family lived in Tokyo and I always wanted to do one of my own...but forgot until my bro in law reminded me how yummy they are. I went to Lotus Market and spent hours familiarizing myself with the ingredients and vegetables while Henry ate Hi Chews. We ended up loving all sorts of strange mushrooms and the baby bok choi or Shanghi Tips. Chinese cabbage, huge white radishes, bean sprouts, tofu, carrots, and string beans were some of the things we cooked. You basically can't go wrong with this dish. If you can't stand anything exotic, just throw in what you usually eat. I used my electric wok as the hot pot and along with shrimp, beef and a large bowl of udon noodles in broth we ate to our hearts content. We each made our own dipping sauce out of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, ginger, and spices -- yum. The best part about the Hot Pot is that even though it takes a decent amount of preparation at first, I had leftovers for an entire week and when water boils in the wok after just two minutes, it was easy to pull out my ziplock bags of veggies and boil me up a healthy lunch. I'm going to make this a staple in my house. The best part about it is that Henry LOVES all the veggies and noodles. Bea was even giving me the eye while I was devouring my concoction.

I also have to tell you about my cool bud vases I got for Christmas. The flowers last longer and you don't require as many to make it look beautiful. I just love the way it looks and it's even pretty when there are no flowers in it. I also got this tulip that has a leaf that couldn't decide if it was a petal or a leaf. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Brussels Sprouts ARE so matter what you think

Justin had Brussels Sprouts(don't forget the s) for the first time on one of our first dates and he had, as many of you do, misconceptions about their deliciousness. I, however, have always loved them and decided to grow some in my garden this year. All members of the cabbage family are pretty hearty and can be harvested well into the winter. I still have two gigantic stalks out there to be enjoyed soon. This cold week is starting to make them wilt so we'll have to harvest the rest soon. Henry also loves eating them and usually eats more than half of whatever I cook. The ones I grew didn't get enough sun and were attacked by caterpillars three times so they are all very small, but that doesn't affect the taste. They are yummy! Oh, and the stalks are so tough to cut through! You wouldn't believe that they are hard as wood! Justin had to get out the hacksaw to cut the thing down! haha.