Apple Chips

We were fortunate enough this year to go apple picking at one of our favorite orchards. Not sure if we love apple picking as much as we love their apple pie from the Elegant Farmer.  Regardless, apple picking was something we always loved to do when the kids were growing up. Something about watching them eat a bunch of apples while climbing trees is a quick pleasure. This year we probably bought way too many apples, and as I would walk past the half bushel, I decided that I would come up with something and see if the family would try out the apple chips.

Dehydrated Apple Chips Recipe
Dehydrated Apple Chips Recipe

My wife was gratuitous enough to get me a food dehydrator some time ago.  I’ve done everything from making beef jerky to vegetable chips in the dehydrator and I’ll admit that I love it. So when the apples were in my zone, I decided on batching out some apples and making apple chips. So easy, so good, and a great way to use up some apples.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 of your favorite apples, cored, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • food dehydrator

Yep, that’s it. If you want to jazz them up, you could put some cinnamon and sugar mix onto them once they were cut up, but I went simple and simple was good.

Take your sliced apples and place them onto your dehydrator trays, leaving about 1/2 inch between each one. The goal is to not let them overlap or touch one another.

Apple Picking
Apple Picking – The Squinters

Once you have filled the trays, turn on your dehydrator and let them dry out for about 4-6 hours. It’s ok to feel them, and take them out when they meet your desired crispness.

Dehydrated Apples
Dehydrated Apples

You can store these in a airtight container to keep their crispness, but in our house, they were gone that afternoon. I was a bit startled to say the least to see them go so quickly, but I was actually really glad because I knew that everyone had a great nutritious snack that day. So if you are looking for something delicious and easy, and a great snack to boot, give these dehydrated apple chips a try (and yes you can do these in the oven as well).

Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

I find it interesting that over the last few months there are a couple of boxes of fillo dough and puff pastry in my freezer. I’m almost certain I had a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head during those purchases, but it was not until team members from D’Vash Organics contacted me once again to partner with them in creating yet another great recipe using their amazing D’Vash Date Nectar.  That’s when I knew exactly what I was going to make. A traditional baklava, in some ways, but using D’Vash date nectar in replace of honey. The result was mind blowing to say the least.

Homemade Baklava using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 rolls or 1 box of fillo dough, thawed
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups of shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of D’Vash date nectar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Start by making your sweet sauce that will be used after the baklava has baked. You will want to do this ahead so that it has time to cool.

Add 3/4 cup of sugar, water, lemon juice, and D’Vash date nectar to a small pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then once boiling reduce the heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir along the way. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Now the backbreaking work. Just kidding. This is the only time consuming part, and if you are having your kids help, this can take a bit of patience as unlayering each piece of fragile fillo can be a bit nerve wracking. Just make sure your fillo dough is completely thawed. I set mine out the day before and place it in the refrigerator overnight for a day or two to ensure it is completely thawed.

Get a baking sheet out, or if your are super detailed get a baking dish out that will fit your sheet of fillo dough. I go with my baking sheet and make sure that when I layer each fillo that it matches up with the previous fillo dough.

Make the sugar and nut mixture. To a food processor, or use a knife if you desire, pulse the nuts into a fine chop. Add the nuts to a bowl along with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon and give that a good mix.

Get your bowl of melted butter ready along with a pastry brush. Unroll a roll of fillo and get ready to baklava!

Place 10 fillo sheets onto the baking sheet one at a time, and brush each sheet with butter once it’s in the pan before adding the next sheet of fillo.  After the 10th sheet, spread about 1/5 of nut mixture over the fillo dough.

Do the same process, but this time layer only 5 sheets, buttering each sheet, then on the 5th sheet, top with the nut and sugar mixture.

Do this about 4 more times with the 5 sheet layer process, then on the final top, go back to the 10 stack of fillo, ensuring that all nut mixture is used up before layering the top 10 sheets of fillo.

Butter the top of the 10th sheet, then gently push down and form the baklava.

Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D’Vash

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Now let’s cut the baklava. Cut the fillo into about 2 inch strips, lengthwise, then make diagonal cuts to make somewhat of a diamond shape. If you want to keep things simple, just cut into rectangles, it’s up to you.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for about 1 hour, up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once the baklava is a great golden brown, remove from the oven, and immediately ladle over the cooled syrup you made earlier, ensuring that you get into all of those crevices.

Now the hard part… waiting.

The goal is to not only let the baklava cool, but you want that syrup to penetrate all of that great fillo that you took your time stacking. After about 4 hours, go ahead and try the baklava, but trust me the longer you wait, the better it gets. Kids approved, neighbors and friends approved, and chef approved.

If you are looking for a great treat that will be sure to please everyone (with the exception of those with nut allergies), then give this baklava a try. The replacement of D’Vash really made this baklava stand out. It had this subtle tartness that really made this delicious baklava pop.

If you are wanting to try D’Vash Organics Date Nectar (and I highly recommend it), then head over to their store and pick some up. My lucky readers can use the coupon code DVASHSIMPLECOMFORTFOOD upon check out! Hope you enjoy D’Vash as much as we do!

Berry Danish Recipe

The goal this summer was to beat cancer and to keep my daughter occupied. Both are big challenges, and I think I am winning both at this point in time. The first challenge has been a total battle, but being the warrior that I am, I think I am at the tail end in finding out the outcome, and the second one, as challenging as it might not sound, has been a tough one as well. I’ll be honest. My daughter is pretty bored this summer, and unfortunately there has not been a whole lot I can do based on my condition to keep her busy. There has been one thing I have been active doing though and that is teaching her how to bake and cook in the kitchen. This is something that she has always loved, and I can say that it has been a joy teaching her new things. This one in particular was teaching her how to make a berry danish.

Homemade Berry Danish Recipe
Homemade Berry Danish Recipe

I knew that she was going to love pretty much all of this, but there is one thing that she was going to question and that was the cream cheese. Something that she doesn’t really like, nor eat on a regular basis. My hope is that by using it in the desert factor that she would get over that hump and really enjoy the combination of berries and cream cheese. I think she loved them!

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 14-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups of blueberries, washed
  • 2 cups of blackberries, washed
  • Pinch kosher sal
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 8 ounces package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • Splash water or milk

Begin by making the berry mixture. Combine the honey, half of the blueberries, half of the blackberries, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook this down for about 15 minutes, stirring during the simmer. About 15 minutes in add the rest of the berries and simmer gently about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, set aside to cool to room temperature. The goal is to have some texture to the berries.

Next, make the cream cheese filling. Beat together the cream cheese and the egg yolk. Set aside. That’s it, simple stuff.

Get out two baking sheets and line them with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Homemade Berry Danish Ingredients
Homemade Berry Danish Ingredients

Unfold your puff pastry and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Try to keep the pastry cold while you continue to work on each individual one. The colder the better. No one likes working with room temperature pastry dough.

Roll the puff pastry into a 4-x-9-inch rectangle on a sheet of parchment. Use a ramekin or cookie cutter and cut them into circles, repeating as you continue to lay them out on the parchment paper, leaving about an inch or so between each circle.

Take a fork and gently poke each  pastry circle. Add a tablespoon of cream cheese filling into the center of each pastry circle, then put the entire tray into the freezer for 20 minutes. Next, whisk together the egg and and water and set aside.

After 2o minutes, remove the the pan from the freezer and brush the edges lightly with egg wash. Spoon a very heaping tablespoon or so of the berries on top of the cream cheese.

Homemade Berry Danish Recipe
Homemade Berry Danish Recipe

Bake the pastries 15 minutes at 400°F, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake 10 minutes more, until the pastries are deeply golden. Once cooked, remove the pastries to a wire rack and let cool. Now it’s time to dig in!

The result is a perfect bite. An awesome pastry that is creamy and fruity and is just a real treat anytime of the day. Did my daughter like them? I think so, especially after she investigated the cream cheese for a long period of time, but she got over it and asked for seconds. Hope you enjoy!

Ultimate Brownie Bites

Since I have been laid up at home, and the kids have been around during their summer break, I have been dabbling in more baking than I probably should, not only to kill time and boredom but to provide a dessert for post dinner meals for the kids. I typically let my daughter handle most, if not all, of the desserts for the family. By default it is typically a small bowl of ice cream, however my daughter will jazz things up with crushed pistachios and a fresh raspberry coulis from time to time. For me, I have little patience and just want to get things done with dessert. This is where the ultimate brownie bites comes into play.

It’s similar to the dump cake I made last year, or maybe even the Ranger cookies where I purged a bunch of things from our cupboard. This is very identical and the inspiration was to get rid of things and make a chocolate dessert that I knew my kids would love. The things I do, I’ll tell you…

Ultimate Brownie Bites Recipe
Ultimate Brownie Bites Recipe

Not the prettiest of pictures, but trust me, the picture doesn’t matter as the taste made up for it.

Let’s get started.

  • 1 box of your favorite brownie mix, cooked according to its instructions
  • 16 small Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 6 Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of roasted, salted peanuts, crushed
  • 1/4 cup of butterscotch chips, optional
  • vanilla ice cream, optional

Start by baking your brownie mix according to directions. Cook about 3/4 of the way through, then remove from the oven. We are only cooking partially as we are going to load it up and finish the rest with the toppings.

Once about 3/4 of the way through cooking, remove the brownie pan from the oven and set onto a non-burn working surface.

Take the graham cracker crumbs and sprinkle on top of the brownies, lightly coating the top.

Next, layer on about 16 of the Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Ultimate Brownie Bars Recipe
Ultimate Brownie Bites Recipe

Crumble on the Oreo cookies, then sprinkle with roasted peanuts and butterscotch chips.

Place this back into the oven, and cook until the top is nicely melted and the brownies are cooked to your liking.

Remove, let cool, and let the kids gaze at this sugary delight until it is time to dig in. Sure, it’s a mess when slicing into it, and it falls apart of the most part, but that’s where the vanilla ice cream come in and acts like a glue to capture all of that loveliness.

Ultimate Brownie Bites Recipe
Ultimate Brownie Bites Recipe

Was this a hit for dessert? You betcha, and let’s just say it didn’t last long in the house. The good thing is I was able to purge a few things from the cupboard while satisfying the rest of the family. A win, win. Hope you enjoy!