Recipe: Mom’s Baklava


You can’t beat one of mom’s recipes, especially if that recipe has been handed down through generations. My mother’s baklava recipe, that she first learned while visiting relatives in former Yugoslavia, has become quite famous among family and friends and is always requested at dinner parties and celebrations. I have begun my own tradition with the recipe, making it for my husband on special occasions. He and his friends have claimed it is the best baklava they have ever tasted, and I have to agree.

If you’re looking for a treat to bake for your significant other this Valentine’s Day, why not take a break from the usual cookies or brownies and try this baklava recipe? There’s nothing like homemade baklava, and your sig other will appreciate all of the effort you’ve put into making something special for them.

{Mom’s Baklava}
1 pound frozen phyllo sheets
1 cup melted butter

for the filling:
2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans or a mix of the two
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8  teaspoon cloves

for the syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice


1. Thaw phyllo pastry and separate the sheets according to package directions. Most packages will say to cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and a damp towel to keep the sheets from drying out.
2. Transfer half of pastry sheets one by one onto a greased cookie sheet or rimmed pan, brushing each sheet quickly and all over with melted butter (make sure to fully cover the edges with butter).
3. Combine nuts, 1/3 cup sugar, cloves, and cinnamon; sprinkle over buttered pastry (I made slightly more of the filling and did two layers).
4. Place remaining sheets on top, brushing each with melted butter.
5. Cut baklava pastry into squares or diamonds, but leave the bottom layers uncut. Bake at 350° until slightly  golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar, honey, 1 cup water, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Boil baklava syrup for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until syrupy.
7. When both the syrup and baklava have cooled a bit, pour 1/2 of the syrup over the baklava. Let it soak in for about an hour. Then cut thru the uncut layers of dough, and pour the rest of the syrup over the baklava.
8. Let the baklava soak up the syrup about 5 hours or overnight before you serve them, either on plates or in cupcake holders.


{Phyllo dough work station}


{Brush butter over the edges and work lightly inward}


{Combine chopped nuts with sugar, cloves, and cinnamon}


{Once halfway through phyllo sheets, add filling mixture}


{Cut pastry halfway through before baking – it will make for easier and cleaner cuts later}


{Pour syrup over pastry after it’s finished baking}


Let me know if you try out the recipe! Do you have any favorite desserts to bake for loved ones and special occasions?


Affordable Valentine’s Day Date Ideas


Valentine’s Day is this weekend! While some of you might be planning a tropical getaway or a stay-cation in a nice hotel in San Francisco, others might be trying to figure out what to do on a tighter budget. Since my husband and I will be moving into a new place this weekend, we need to stick to a budget to celebrate the day of love. I have come up with seven fun and inexpensive date ideas. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know!

Fun & Cheap Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

1. Make dinner together: For those who cook, and even those that don’t regularly, this is a great Valentine’s Day go-to. It’s ample opportunity to crank up the romance factor in your relationship, or, if it’s a newly formed relationship, a great chance to get to know each other better without anyone else being around and distracting you. Cooking together can be a lot of fun. I’m a fan of a stir-fry since it’s super simple to make and can be done quickly, but if you wanna go all out, try homemade lasagna or something a little more complex. Don’t forget the wine and dessert of your choice. Can’t be a traditional Valentine’s Day date without a great dessert!

2. Takeout and board games: This brings out the kid in everyone. Grab takeout from your favorite restaurant, head over to Bev-Mo! or your local Safeway to grab some beer and wine, then head on home, or to your significant other’s house and choose a few board games to play while you get your grub and drink on. It’s always fun to sit picnic style in the living room by candlelight and play games like the good ol’ days.

3. Valentine’s Day hiking trip: Valentine’s Day dates don’t necessarily have to take place at night. Day dates are just as fun! Living in Marin County, there are tons of beautiful hiking trails. I’m sure wherever you live, there are trails equally as beautiful. Plan the hike so you end up overlooking a beach or something beautiful. To make it extra special, bring a backpack with yummy little (healthy!) snacks and two drinks to celebrate your Valentine’s Day hiking adventure.

4. Dinner and a movie: This is the standard, go-to, every day kind of date. But on Valentine’s Day, try to amp it up and make it a little more romantic. Venture out to a restaurant you both haven’t been to before and see a movie in a genre you both like. Don’t forget your trip to the local frozen yogurt place! Can’t forget about froyo…

5. Video game fun: Even if you both don’t play video games religiously, it’s still nice to sit down together and learn how to play a new game. It can be on any console and head over to your local GameStop and pick a game out together and have fun learning the ins and outs of a new game. Laughter will surely be had.

6. Cards Against Humanity game night: This is a game that requires a lot of people, so be sure to plan it in advance. You will spend your entire night laughing your buns off and having a great time. They don’t call Cards Against Humanity “a horrible game for horrible people” for nothin’! Be sure to have snacks and beverages on hand for this gathering. Keep in mind that the best and easiest place to buy the game is through Amazon, but you can always ask friends if they own it. I personally have the game and all the expansion packs. Totally worth the investment.

7. Road trip it!: This road trip can be a day road trip or a lengthy one. I’m sure that beauty surrounds where you live, so why not venture out to a place like that? Or, to fulfill that kid-at-heart urge, drive down to Disneyland (if you live in California, or Disney World (if you’re in Florida), and have yourself a grand ole time! Disneyland is fun at every and any age, so why not make Valentine’s Day fun? Don’t forget your Disney character gear — I’m a fan of the sparkly Mini Mouse ears headband.

I hope you and your love enjoy the holiday and long weekend!