Friday, November 21, 2014

Pina Colada Baklava

Pina Colada Baklava

If you are looking for something new to bring to the holiday parties this year, look no more! How about some Pina Colada Baklava? You certainly will not have to worry about having duplicates of these at the dessert table. And if you have never made baklava before, now is the time to try. I promise, these babies are going to fly off the plate and you will be happy that you made them. My husband brought some to work and got rave reviews and requests for the recipe. This was supposed to be next week's post, but I decided to publish this one earlier than usual in the event that any of my husband's coworkers wanted to make some for Thanksgiving. 

Pina Colada Baklava

These bars are made with layers upon layers of buttered phyllo dough intersperse with several layers of pineapples, coconut flakes, and chopped almonds. After baking, the flaky, crispy bars are drenched in a coconut rum syrup which makes them sweet and sticky, yet retain their crispness. Finally, coconut flakes top off this sweet sensation. OH MY GOODNESS!!! 

Pina Colada Baklava

This recipe is not complicated, although it is a little tedious. There are 40 layers of phyllo dough to be buttered. Additionally, separating and layering the mass of pureed, dried pineapple is a labor of love, but it is so worth your while. Finally, if you have any hesitation about using rum, omit it and add coconut extract instead. I haven't done it myself, but I would start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste. I like to use the rum which definitely kicks it up a notch!

In parting, bring the uniqueness and the fun to your next social event with this Pina Colada Baklava. It's going to be a crowd-pleaser. If you don't have one to go to, make it anyway and have a party of your own!

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Pina Colada Baklava

Pina Colada Baklava:

1 (16 oz.) pkg. phyllo dough, about 40 9"x14" sheets
20 oz. sweetened dried pineapple
12 oz. sweetened coconut flakes
3 sticks butter, melted
1 cup shelled almonds, finely chopped

For the Glaze:
1 cup agave nectar
4 tbsp. butter
3 oz. coconut rum

Thaw phyllo dough according to package directions.

Rough chop pineapple and place in a food processor. Pulse to break up chunks then puree. Pineapple will become a sticky mass. It is fine if there are small chunks but hand cut any large ones that might have remained.

Reserve and set aside a heaping 1/3 cup of the coconut for topping baklava after baking.

Butter the inside of a 9"x13" baking pan. Remove phyllo dough from packaging. There should be forty 9"x14" sheets. Trim off excess phyllo to fit baking pan using kitchen sheers or a knife (optional). Lay phyllo flat and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Working one sheet at a time, butter the top of a phyllo sheet and place butter-side-up in baking pan. Repeat for 10 more sheets (there should be a total of 11 buttered sheets in the pan), keeping the unused phyllo sheets covered to prevent drying out.

Pull apart and layer 1/4 of the pineapple over the top phyllo sheet. The pineapple will be clumpy and sticky to work with. Sprinkle 1/4 of the coconut and 1/4 of the almonds over the pineapple.

Layer 6 buttered phyllo sheets over the pineapple/coconut mixture. Top with 1/4 of pineapple, 1/4 of coconut, and 1/4 of almonds. Repeat layering the 6 phyllo sheets and filling two more times. 

There should be 11 phyllo sheets remaining. Butter and place each sheet over the last layer of pineapple/coconut mixture. Use a sharp knife and cut through baklava on a diagonal to create diamond shaped bars that are roughly 1 1/2-inch thick. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F for 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Meanwhile, during the last 15 minutes of baking, make the glaze. Place butter and agave nectar in a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add rum and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Spoon about 1/3 of the glaze evenly over the baklava once it comes out of the oven. Let glaze soak for a minute. Spoon another 1/3. Sprinkle on the reserved coconut flakes. Add the last third of the glaze. Allow to set for about 4 hours before serving. Makes about 30 bars.

Note: If you don't want to use rum, it may be substituted with a coconut extract. Take the finished glaze off the heat and stir in coconut extract. Start with about 1/2 teaspoon and adjust quantity to taste.

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In Good Flavor likes to keep in good company and parties at Full Plate Thursday, The Country Cook, Lady Behind the Curtain and these other places. Please check them out!

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cranberry Mashed Potatoes

Cranberry Mashed Potatoes

I am excited!, Norway's biggest food website, featured my Bread Bowl Hamburger Stew in its article on bread bowl recipes this past week. It was a nice surprise when they contacted me to ask for permission to publish the photo. I won't lie, it totally made my week when I saw my work on their site! Please feel free to check it out here, but be prepared to use a translator tool to read it as everything is entirely in Norwegian.

Now onto the recipe.

Cranberry Mashed Potatoes

First, I am curious to know which camp are you in. Do you think this mashed potato recipe is crazy or do you think this is rather brilliant? Please say the option B!! All I know is it tastes really good and it is a perfect complementary side dish for the Thanksgiving feast. It combines two of the dinner's must-haves, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, into one dish. The cranberries impart a slight sweetness, hint of tartness, and a nice soft crunch to the potatoes. It's such a refreshing take on the dish. And pretty!!!  How could you not want to try it?

If you need cranberries with your turkey, then you are going to need this mashed potato. Imagine the flavor blast when you have a mouthful of it along with some turkey. You see what I'm talking about? Don't deprive yourself, your family, or your cranberry loving guests of this experience—make some this year for the feast. Who knows? It may very well become a new Thanksgiving tradition for you. And pretty!!

Cranberry Mashed Potatoes

Cranberry Mashed Potatoes:

5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 heaping cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cup milk or half & half
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Peel and dice potatoes. Place in a large saucepan and cover potatoes with water. Cover pan loosely and bring water boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. 

While potatoes boil, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pan. Add cranberries, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove cranberries using a slotted spoon. Place on paper towels and pat dry. Set aside.

Drain potatoes when tender. Place back in pan. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper. Mash until smooth and creamy using a potato masher or an electric mixer. If too thick, add a little more milk. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in 3/4 of the cranberries. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining cranberries over potatoes and garnish with parsley (optional). Makes 10 servings.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna

Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna

Good November to all of you! It is that time of year  when some of us to throw caution to the wind and give ourselves permission to increase our intake of foods that are on the sinful side. I'd like to think of it not as a choice but merely as a coping mechanism. Living in the Northeast, it's going to be five long months of waking up and ending the work day in the darkness. Then there is the cold, snow, sleet, and ice factor to consider. It's enough to make a girl want to crawl into bed and hibernate throughout the fall and winter seasons. And if you read my older posts, you will see that I will be living in multiple layers and turtlenecks for the next six months. It's not because I want to—it's because I HAVE TO!! I get THAT cold! Since the next several months can't be slept through, I do the next best thing and wait it out with some help from gut-busting-warm-you-inside-and-out gastronomic delights.

Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna

I am starting out with the Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna. It's a cheesy, bacon-filled, carb-loading plateful of shaking-off-the-winter-blues (okay, so it's not officially winter yet...but it's autumn and it's dark and cold...essentially, it's winter in my book). This lasagna has a little more carbs than your typical lasagna thanks to the addition of thinly sliced potatoes. I'd like to think of this dish as corn chowder in lasagna form—with layers of potatoes, creamed corn sauce, cheese, and bacon. It will definitely satiate any appetite!

Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna

So...the next time you want to have something new, something filling, something delicious, something to pick you up, try this. Invite the neighbors over and commiserate over hot Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna!

Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna

Creamed Corn and Bacon Lasagna:

1 (16 oz.) pkg. lower sodium bacon
1 medium potato (about 1/2 pound)
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
2 cans (14.75 oz.) sweet corn cream style
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 pkg. Barilla Oven-Ready Lasagne
1 cup chopped scallion (greens only)
2 cups shredded Monterey cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella 

Preheat a large skillet with deep sides on medium high. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to hot pan. Cook, stirring until crispy, but not hard. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel and slice potato into 1/8" slices. Place in water and parboil for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add flour and whisk for about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium high. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes or until thicken and smooth. Stir in cream corn and season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of cream corn sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 3 sheets of lasagna, leaving space in between each for expansion during baking. Spread 1 rounded cup of cream corn sauce over pasta. Layer with a third of the potato slices. Add 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup of Monterey. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the bacon pieces. Add 1/4 of the chopped scallion. 

For the next two layers: repeat layering 3 sheets of lasagna, 1 rounded cup of cream corn sauce, 1/3 of the potato slices, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup Monterey, 1/4 of the bacon, and 1/4 of the chopped scallion.

For the top layer: add three sheets of lasagna (there is will 3 unused sheets), 1 rounded cup of creamed corn sauce, and the remaining cheeses.

Spray a heavy duty foil with cooking spray. Cover lasagna tightly with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a pointed knife pierces through the layers of lasagna easily. Broil, uncovered for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese becomes lightly golden. Remove from oven. Garnish with the remaining bacon and scallion. Allow to set for about 15 minutes before serving.  Makes 8 servings.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Carrots and Turnips with Honey Pecans

Hope you all had a good weekend! I spent mine being thankful that I don't have what the daycare children have...the run-of-the-mill cold and hand-foot-and-mouth. It's been a rough week in regards to the health aspect. Thank goodness for Airborne! I swear by that stuff! It does a great job of boosting my immune system. In fact, I have called out sick only ONE DAY in the 15 years of doing daycare and working in close contact with children. NO LIE!! That's not to say I don't get sick...I do, but many times the cold symptoms are gone within 24 hours. And when I am ill, I don't get to the point where I am non-functional.  

Sorry to sound like a commercial (I am not being sponsored to say this), but I thought I would share one of my favorite products with you. Airborne doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me. How about you? What  is your comfort item when you're not feeling well?

Unlike the cold or diseases that are prevalent and unwanted this time of year, carrots and turnips, a fall/winter fixture is always welcomed at my table.  For me, the holiday menu is not quite complete without it. Here is my version—with honey pecans! Yum! It really dresses up the standard carrots and turnip and gives it presence (and extra delicious too!!). Since I still had a lot of pecans left from my Chocolate Crepe Cake with Pumpkin Mascarpone Cream Filling, I thought this is a perfect opportunity to use some up by sharing this recipe with you. It's not too early to plan for Thanksgiving. Yikes!

The recipe I have provided makes 4-6 servings. Double, triple, quadruple, decuple (meaning tenfold...isn't Wikipedia a great thing?) the recipe as needed for your size crowd. Let me know if you decide to give it a try!

Carrots and Turnips with Honey Pecans:

1 lb. carrots
1 lb. turnips
5 tbsp. butter or margarine, divided
1/2 rounded tsp. salt
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Peel and cut carrots no larger than 1/2-inch slices. Peel turnips and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place carrots and turnips in a medium saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the vegetables. Cover pan loosely and bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and boil for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. I use a small pointed sharp knife to test tendernessdone when knife slides in and out easily.

While carrots and turnip boil, make the honey pecans. Place a medium skillet on medium to medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the honey. Stir gently as the butter melts. Add pecans, and cook for a couple minutes. Remove from heat and spread pecans in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet to dry out. Allow enough space between pecan pieces to prevent excessive clumping.

When carrots and turnips are tender, drain. Add butter, salt, and brown sugar. Mash using a potato masher. Place in a serving bowl. Break up pecans clumps and layer over mashed carrots and turnips. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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In Good Flavor likes to keep in good company and parties at Full Plate Thursday, The Country Cook, Lady Behind the Curtain and these other places. Please check them out!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup

Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup

Hello dear readers! I am starting today's blog post with a confession. What is that saying...never admit you made a mistake in the kitchen? Well, I am afraid that I will have to fess up because the evidence is staring at you in the face, or rather, the lack of evidence is staring at you in the face. What I mean is I forgot to use an ingredient in the batch of soup you see here. It wasn't until I started to post the pictures for this recipe that realized I forgot to make the fried shallot garnish! It's supposed to be sitting on top of the soup. Booo hooo...I really wanted you to see them!!

I love the slight nuttiness and sweetness the shallots impart. They take practically no time to make. All it takes is a couple of thinly sliced shallots. Toss them in some hot oil and BAM! you got yourself a tasty little topper. Please don't forget to make them like I did if you decide to try this soup.

Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup

I have made the stock using two different methods: by adding embellishments to canned chicken broth and by making from-scratch using pork bones and shrimp shells. Both are equally delicious but slightly different. The former is quicker to make while the latter takes longer. I find that canned broths vary in clarity and can be muddied in color. For this soup, I prefer a clear broth. The stock in theses pictures, as you can see, is clear and therefore is the homemade version. It requires a little bit of TLC, cooking at a gentle simmer...undisturbed. The surface needs to be skimmed to rid of impurities, and the finished stock requires straining. But the result is a delicate, tasty, and clear stock. It is worth the effort if you want to put in the time as it allows you to customize the flavor to complement the stuffed wontons, and all of the ingredients used are fresh. I have provided instructions for making both versions below.

Pork and Shrimp Wonton SoupIn parting, I hope you all have a great week! If you celebrate Halloween, then Happy Halloween week to you! If you don't observe the holiday, then I wish you a happy Friday in advance! Good luck avoiding all of the Elsas, minions, princesses, witches, and Spidermen out there. I will probably see all of them as I get around 300 visitors every Halloween! See you next time...

Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup

Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup:

For Canned Stock Option:
2 (48 oz.) cans lower sodium chicken broth
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger, peeled and sliced in half
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup chopped scallion

For Homemade Stock Option:
12 cups water
2 lbs. pork bones (I use fresh tail bones)
1 small onion, peeled and halved
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger, peeled and sliced in half
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup chopped scallion

For the Pork and Shrimp Wontons:
1 lb. shell-on shrimp
3/4 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup chopped scallion (greens only) 
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 egg
1 (12 oz.) package wonton wraps
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water for egg wash
Water for boiling wontons

Fried Shallot Garnish:
2 shallots sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 cup canola or vegetable oil

Peel and devein shrimp. If making homemade stock, keep shells. Discard shells if using canned chicken broth. 

To make stock from cans: Place all ingredients (except scallion) in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove ginger. Reduce heat to warm.

To make stock from scratch: Place all ingredients (except scallion) into a large stock pot. Add shrimp shells. Bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for at least one hour. Be sure to keep stock at a gentle simmer. Do not stir. Skim off foam and residue from the top of the broth using a large spoon 3 to 4 times during this period. Strain broth through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. Discard solids. Return the clear broth to the stock pot and keep warm.

To Make Fried Shallots:
Preheat oil on between medium-medium high in a small skillet. Add shallots and cook until it become golden brown. Transfer to paper towel line plate. Set aside.

To make wontons: Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil then turn off heat and cover while the filling is being made. Grind up shrimp using a food processor. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Add pork, scallion, garlic, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and one whole egg. Use hands to mix until well incorporated. Lay 8 wontons on a flat work surface. Brush egg wash around the edge of each wonton. Place a spoonful of the filling in the center of each wonton. Do not overstuff wonton to prevent them from opening up during cooking. Fold one corner of the wonton the opposite corner to form a triangle. Press edges firmly together to seal, squeezing out any air pockets during the process. Place on a greased, flat surface. Continue wrapping up the remaining 7 wontons. Repeat the entire process until all of the wontons are filled. 

To cook wontons: Bring the stock back to heat but not to a boil. Bring the water back to a boil. Divide wontons into three batches. Place the first batch of wontons into water. Boil about 6 minutes. You may need to reduce heat to a medium to prevent the stock from coming to a hard boil. It will cause the wontons to open up. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer the cooked wontons into the stock. Don't let the stock boil. Cook the remaining two batches of wontons. Add 1/3 cup chopped scallion. Serve with fried shallot garnish. Additional garnish suggestions: bean sprouts, chili peppers, Thai basil. Makes 6 servings.

To post a comment, click here and follow on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram.

In Good Flavor likes to keep in good company and parties at Full Plate Thursday, The Country Cook, Lady Behind the Curtain and these other places. Please check them out!

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