Traditional Greek Holiday Cookies

Hi friends. My mom and I had a great little girls day last week where we baked up about 450 cookies (yikes!) for the holidays. While I could probably eat them all myself, we made as many as we did because we like to give most of them away to friends and family every year. Who doesn’t love receiving tins and platters of cookies, am I right?

The two types of cookies we made are called melomakarona and kourabiedes. Melomakarona are dark brown honey cookies topped with walnuts, and kourabiedes are sugar cookies coated in… you guessed it, sugar.

I will be coming back with recipes and directions for these cookies at a later time, but for today’s post I wanted to share the “behind the scenes” of the baking process. I snapped some photos as we were going along, as I think it’s so fun to watch the process progress. Let’s start with melomakarona.

fullsizerender-15The dough should be wrapped in some foil for about 10-15 minutes to let the ingredients blend/rest before starting.fullsizerender-5You can make whatever shape you want, but melomakarona are traditionally this kind of log design. We made two different types because of two different recipes. The round version are vegan!
fullsizerender-4Poking holes with your fork not only helps the cookie bake completely, but also aids in the absorption of the honey syrup.
fullsizerender-3The syrup should be made 3-4 hours in advance and set aside.fullsizerender-10You want to soak the cookies in the syrup immediately after they come out of the oven. That’s when they absorb the most.fullsizerender-13Crush the walnuts and add cinnamon for the topping.fullsizerender-6Sprinkle on top!fullsizerender-2We had some craziness going on…
fullsizerender-11So. Stinkin’. Good.

Time for kourabiedes! The dough looks similar and you want to let it rest the way you would with the other cookies.fullsizerender-8Make about 1in balls – again, you can make these into any shape you want.fullsizerenderOnce they’re cooked, let them cool completely. The sugar will get wet and nasty if they’re the slightest bit warm.
fullsizerender-14Coat the top and bottom.fullsizerender-1Add as much sugar as you want. I love adding a lot!fullsizerender-9Gimme some oven lovin’.

Mini Apple Crumb Cheesecakes

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Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

Here I come again with another miniature food item. Soo surprising, isn’t it? What can I say? I’m small and I like small food. And I bet you’ll like this too.

Don’t let the photos fool you. I explain later why mine look the way they do, but trust me. They are delectable.

I broke the ingredient lists down into the different parts of the dessert. It’s easier than it looks. And let me tell you, the delicious aroma starts invading your kitchen from the very beginning.

This recipe yields 18 cheesecakes. Feel free to modify the quantity of ingredients if you need to make more or fewer. Let’s get started.

You’ll need:
fullsizerenderCrust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 sheets)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 7 tablespoons melted butter

fullsizerender_2Filling:

  • 16 oz softened cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Apples

fullsizerender_1Topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Step 2:
Prepare the crust. Combine graham cracker crumbles, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter until moistened. I can’t even begin to describe how good this part alone smells.
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Step 3:
Line your muffin pan and fill each cup with a heaping tablespoon of the mixture. Use the back of the spoon to pat it down. You’ll see the cup in the middle of the photo is the before and the surrounding cups are after (for your reference).
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Step 4:
Bake the crust for 5 minutes.

Step 5:
Make the topping. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. I think cutting your butter into small chunks will make this process easier. I cut mine into 1/2in cubes.
image2Step 6:
Fork the mixture until small crumbles form. You can also go in with your fingers if you are struggling with using a tool. Set this aside.

Step 7:
Filling time! Mix cream cheese and sugar on low-medium speed until just combined. Don’t do what I did and get distracted by HGTV; if you over mix the filling your cheesecakes will rise then fall when they cool. I mean, they’re just as delicious but not as adorable looking. Anyway, let’s continue.

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Step 8:
Combine the eggs (one at a time), vanilla, and sour cream. Set aside to rest while you cut the apples.image4

Step 9:
Apple time. Wash and peel your apples, then dice those babies up. I used two medium ones. However many you decide to use, make sure to cut them really small so they cook and get soft while in the oven.
image6Step 10:
Assemble!!!! Take a heaping tablespoon of filling and fill the cups. They should be about 3/4 full.
image5Step 11:
Add a layer of apple pieces.
image7Step 12:
Finally, spoon a tablespoon of topping on the top. This may get a little messy. Let it.image8

Step 13:
Bake for 23-25 minutes. Let them cool on a baking rack then refrigerate for a few hours. Serve chilled.
image11See? The middle parts fell, but maaaaaan, oh man are these so scrumptious.

And how wonderful to have such a great proportion of crust and cheesecake. That’s my favorite part.image13I hope all of my American followers have a wonderful holiday. I’m thankful for all of you! Gimme some oven lovin’.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

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If you have an Auntie Anne’s near you and you haven’t tried their cinnamon sugar pretzels, you are MISSING OUT. They are my favorite kind of pretzels and today’s inspiration for these muffins.

It’s no surprise I like cinnamon, but the combination of it with sugar is just so heavenly that it’s hard to not enjoy. These treats are light yet filling and are great at any time of the day.

You’ll need:

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  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:

  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup white sugar

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tray with liners.

2. In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Give it little mixing and set aside.

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3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, milk, and oil.

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4. Combine into the large bowl of dry ingredients until everything is blended.

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5. Evenly divide batter into the muffin liners. It should be about 3/4 full.

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6. Bake for about 21-24 minutes, or until the muffins are golden and moist.

7. While they are baking, you can get started on the topping. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl that is big enough to dip the muffins into.

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When they are done baking, allow a couple of minutes to cool, but not too long because you want them warm for the next step!

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8. Spread some margarine onto the top of the muffins untl it melts, then immediately roll the muffin into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat until all of the muffins are coated.

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9. You should still have some topping left over. Spoon a little onto the top of each muffin and spread with the back of the spoon so it sticks to the rest. Repeat again until you no longer have any of the mixture left.

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You can eat them like this or insert a filling. I totally recommend Nutella, but they are also good with jelly or marmelade. Depending on how you serve them, they are great breakfast or dessert goodiess.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.

Homemade Guacamole

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I could eat avocados every single day and be happy for the rest of my life. I like it in, on, and all around my food. Today I made my own homemade guacamole that is being devoured as I write this. Oops.

You’ll need:

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  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Steps:

1. In a medium bowl, smash avocados. You can either use the back of a fork or a potato masher if you have one. When it’s soft and mushy, add the lemon juice.

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2. Dice tomatoes into quarter inch pieces. Mix them into the guac.

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3. Add spices to the bowl. You can use more or less than the called for amount. You can also add any spices you enjoy or take away any that you dislike. In addition, you have the option of adding onions, garlic, jalapenos, and other ingredients that some enjoy in their guacamole. I like it plain which is why I didn’t include those but play around and incorporate whatever you desire.

4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour then serve.

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You can eat this alone or with chips, pretzels, carrots, crackers, celery sticks, sandwiches, salad, burgers, baked potatoes, rice, bacon, or quite frankly, ANYTHING.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.