Monday, June 20, 2016

Two Recipes for Sweet Treats this summer

Need something cool to make for the 4th of July or for any day that’s hot? Try these honey-yogurt popsicles. They’re a hit with kids of all ages!

Honey-Yogurt Popsicles
2 cups - plain yogurt
1 cup - milk
⅓ cup - honey
1 teaspoon - vanilla extract
½ cup – raspberries, pureed

In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, milk, honey and vanilla extract.  Taste the mixture and add a little more honey if needed.  Stir in pureed raspberries. Pour mixture into popsicle mold and freeze the popsicles for several hours, until completely solid.

Notes: This is a great recipe for kids to make. We tossed everything in a blender to make it really easy. To minimize the raspberry seeds, next time we’ll use a food mill or strain the pureed raspberries. We used Meadow Wildflower honey and definitely added more. My daughter wanted strawberries in her popsicles, so we cut some up and she put the slices in the molds, too.

Variations: Try different fruit (peaches, cherries, blueberries, etc.), pureed or sliced.
Adapted from the National Honey Board (

This next recipe is a wonderful dessert. I highly recommend doing the layering section with another person: one lays sheets of phyllo dough, one brushes on the butter. Two people aren’t necessary, but I found the layering faster and smoother this way. I also used Meadow Wildflower honey for this one and it was delicious.

1 (16 oz) pkg phyllo dough; thawed by package instructions
2 sticks (½ lb) unsalted butter, melted
1 lb (about 4 cups) walnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For honey sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup water

Melted chocolate chips & chopped walnuts for garnish, optional

1. Thaw phyllo dough according to package instructions (this is best done overnight in the fridge, then place it on the counter for 1 hr before starting your recipe to bring it to room temp).
2. Trim phyllo dough to fit your baking dish. You can trim one stack at a time then cover with a very lightly damp towel to keep from drying out. (If the towel is too wet, it will cause the layers to stick together.)
3. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13x9 non-stick baking pan.

Make the honey sauce (which needs to cool as baklava bakes):
1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, honey, lemon juice, and water. Bring to a boil over med/high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat to med/low and boil additional 4 min without stirring. Remove from heat and let syrup cool while preparing baklava.

Make Baklava:
1. Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.
2. Pulse walnuts 10 times in a food process or until coarsely ground/ finely chopped. In a medium bowl, stir together: 4 cups finely chopped walnuts and 1 tsp cinnamon.
3. Place 10 phyllo sheets into baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with butter once it's in the pan before adding the next (i.e. place phyllo sheet into pan, brush the top with butter, place next phyllo sheet in pan, butter the top, etc. etc.). Keep remaining phyllo covered with a damp towel at all times. Spread about of nut mixture (about ¾ cup) over phyllo dough.
4. Add 5 buttered sheets of phyllo, then another layer of nuts. Repeat x 4. Finish off with 10 layers of buttered phyllo sheets. Brush the very top with butter.
5. Cut pastry into 1½" wide strips, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes. Bake at 325 ˚F for 1 hour and 15 min or until tops are golden brown. (I removed my at 50 min because the tops were golden brown and it turned out great, so be sure to check; you may not need the whole 1 hr 15 min. cooking time.)
6. Remove from oven and immediately spoon cooled syrup evenly over the hot baklava (you'll hear it sizzle). This will ensure that it stays crisp rather than soggy. Let baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temperature. For best results, let baklava sit 4-6 hours or overnight at room temperature for the syrup to penetrate and soften the layers. Garnish baklava with finely chopped nuts or drizzle with melted chocolate. Store at room temp, covered with a thin towel or napkin for 1 to 2 weeks.

Here's the order of the Baklava Layers:
10 buttered phyllo sheets, ¾ cup nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets, ¾ cup nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets, ¾ cup nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets, ¾ cup nut mixture,
5 buttered phyllo sheets, ¾ cup nut mixture
10 buttered phyllo sheets and butter the top.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Summer picnic fare - two great recipes!

Pack up the blanket, fill a cooler with ice and drinks, load up a basket with salads and sandwiches, and head to your favorite picnic spot. Maybe your backyard or your front yard. Maybe a park or pontoon. Wherever you go, here are two recipes, a salad and energy bars, to add to your list of picnic bring-alongs.

After walking the beautiful grounds of the Arboretum last summer (a great place to picnic!), a friend and I stayed for lunch in the restaurant. We both opted for the deep green, curly leaves of the kale salad.

Here was most of our lunch chatter:
  “That is the best salad.”
  “Fresh kale, crunchy almonds, and a kick of spice. Yum!”
  “What do you think is in the dressing that makes it taste so good?”
  “We must have this recipe.”

As a regular to the Arboretum, I felt comfortable sidling up to the salad area and asking what was in the dressing, then asking if I could have two copies of the recipe. The chef happily obliged! And we’ve both been making this salad ever since.

The ingredients in the dressing that make it taste great? Honey and lemon!

Kale Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing
½ cup honey
1½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ cup lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated or chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bundle (about 8 big leaves) of kale, stripped off stalk and chopped
½ cup almonds
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup parmesan cheese

In a bowl, whisk honey, salt, pepper flakes, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Add kale. Toss well and use your hands to massage dressing onto kale (this softens this kale). Let sit 10 minutes. This mixture can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or used immediately.

In a dry pan, toast almonds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until color deepens, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add almonds, dried cranberries, and parmesan to kale mixture. Serve. Enjoy!

Variations: omit pepper flakes; skip parmesan cheese; try a different dried fruit; try sunflower seeds instead of almonds; serve with a scoop of quinoa on top; the possibilities are endless.

Option: Mix up a larger amount of dressing and save in refrigerator to pour on your next batch of kale, then just add the almonds, cranberries and parmesan.

This next recipe is a snack with five simple ingredients. It mixes up fast and tastes so good. Also, sure to be a hit with kids!

Energy Bars
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup honey
1 cup peanut butter
½ cup dark chocolate chips
2½ cups uncooked, quick-cooking oats

Melt coconut oil, honey & peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat. In a separate pan, melt the chocolate chips over low heat; then add it to the oil/honey/peanut butter mixture. Remove from heat. Stir in the oats.

Spread in a 9x9 pan, refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour) and cut into bars. Keep refrigerated.

Optional: add coconut, chia seeds or other nuts.

These bars are great after exercise. Want to take a bar with you to nosh on throughout the day? Wrap bars individually in wax paper, keep in the fridge and grab one when you’re on the go. The bar gets a little soft, but it doesn’t stick to the wax paper and still tastes great!
I used a light clover honey, but am eager to try these bars with a darker honey such as buckwheat. If you try a different flavor honey, feel free to drop by the store and tell us how they turned out!

By Amber D. Stoner