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’.

Caramel Apple Bites

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It’s been a few days but here I am with another recipe. Took a little break to welcome my adorable baby nephew 🙂 His name is Marco James and he was born on November 14th. He’s great, as is my sister, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Caramel apples remind me a lot of autumn, so this is the perfect time to make this easy and delicious snack. I will be sharing another recipe with caramel and apples in the near future, so come back soon. Wink, wink.

This recipe is incredibly easy. All you need is two ingredients for the base (plus water), but you can add as many toppings as you’d like. Chocolate chips, coconut flakes, sprinkles, nuts, etc, are wonderful choices.

You can also decide how much caramel you want to have. You’ll see in the photo that I submerged and drizzled bites. Both are easy to do and taste yummy. It’s all about your preference.

You’ll need:
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  • Caramels (I used Kraft – you’ll need about 1 cube for every 2 bites)
  • Apples

Step 1:
Wash and peel your apples. You can use whatever kind of apple you want.
fullsizerender_1Step 2:
Using a melon peeler, scoop out your bites. I was able to get about 8 pieces per apple, but that number depends entirely on how big your apples are.
fullsizerender_2Step 3:
Melt the caramel squares. Add about 1 teaspoon of water for every 5-6 squares you have in your saucepan. This will prevent the caramel from burning and make the texture easy to work with.
fullsizerender_3fullsizerender_4Step 4:
Use the point of a knife or 1-2 prongs of a fork to hold each bite. Dip and set on a piece of wax paper to cool. If you are adding toppings, do this immediately before the caramel hardens.
*Note – be sure to pat the bites totally dry before dipping them in the caramel so it doesn’t just slide off!
image1I guess you could bypass most of this process by just buying this guy, but where’s the fun in that? Try this out and, as always, gimme some oven lovin’.

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

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The first time I made these guys was only a couple of months ago. We had just moved and we were hosting our new neighbors for dinner. I didn’t have much time before they were scheduled to come over, so I was glad I found this recipe that only needed 15 minutes for both prep and cook time.

Feel free to use your own cornbread recipe if you have one. I like the box for its convenience and speed. If you do have your own, please share in the comment section! I’d love to try it out.

You’ll need:
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  • Cornbread/muffin mix (and its needed ingredients)
  • 4 hot dogs

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2:
Prepare the cornbread mix as instructed. I first whisked the egg then added the milk to form the batter.fullsizerender_1fullsizerender_3fullsizerender_4

Step 3:
While the mixture is setting, cut each hot dog into 5 equal pieces. You should have 20 pieces in all.image1image2Step 4:
Spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray, then fill each cup with batter about 2/3 of the way.
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Step 5:
Insert one hot dog piece into the middle of each cup, pressing it down until the mixture surrounds it.image4

Step 6:
Bake for 10 minutes.
image5Remove them from the pan to cool. I suggest you eat them warm, but let’s be serious. These little guys are delicious at any temperature. You can serve them with ketchup, mustard, or nothing at all.
image6Eat up, buttercup, and gimme some oven lovin’.

No Bake Cookie Dough Bombs

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We all love bite size desserts, don’t we? Especially when they’re coated in chocolate. Give. Me. All. Of. Them. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of eating raw dough by the spoonfuls. Cookie dough, brownie batter; you name it, I lick it. The good thing about this recipe is the lack of egg, making it safe to eat! You’re welcome!

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 cup of mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Meltable chocolate coating

Step 1:
In a mixer, blend the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy.
fullsizerender_1Step 2:
Add the vanilla and milk and continue beating.
fullsizerender_3Step 3:
Mix the salt and flour and pour into the mixer, one cup at a time. Be sure to scrape the edges in between to really get everything blended.
fullsizerender_4Step 4:
Fold in the chocolate chips.
image1Step 5:
Freeze the mixture for about 20-30 minutes. I put mine in a separate container to keep the remaining dough frozen until I’m ready to use it again.
image3Step 6:
After the mixture has stiffened a bit in the freezer, use a melon baller or spoon to scoop out dough, and roll between your palms to create balls. I make them about 1in but you can make them bigger if your bites aren’t as small as mine.
image4Step 7:
Freeze again! This step will really help make the balls stay in their shape when dipped into the chocolate, so put them back in for another 10-15 minutes.
image5Step 8:
Melt your chocolate. Then roll each ball to coat completely. Let it harden on a piece of wax paper.image8
While the chocolate is still melted, you can top each “bomb” with sprinkles, chocolate chips, crushed nuts, shredded coconut, etc. Or you can just leave them as they are.

Take a bite! And gimme some oven lovin’.

Goldfish Pumpkin Treats

image3Here’s another Halloween inspired treat you can make for your house party or classroom fiesta. It’s just as easy as the mandarin and Frankenstein goodies I posted this week, so grab the supplies and let’s get started!

You’ll need:
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  • Goldfish crackers
  • Party baggies (4″x6″)
  • Black permanent marker

Step 1:
Decorate your bags. Again, you can decide what faces you want to make. They can be scary, funny, cute, ugly, whatever. My suggestion: draw the face toward the bottom of the bag so it becomes centered when you fill it. If you draw it in the middle or toward the top, the eyes will get hidden when it is tied.

image2Step 2:
Fill them! Leave about 1.5 inches from the top so you can tie it off. If you don’t have twisty ties, you can use string, ribbon, tape, etc.
image4How easy is that?! You can find the bags from Party City, Michaels, Amazon, or any other place that sells Wilton baking products. There are also other sizes you can use instead if you want to make them bigger/smaller.

I’d love to know if you create any of these Halloween treats! Send me pictures and be sure to gimme some oven lovin’.

 

 

Healthy Halloween: Jack-o-lantern Mandarins

My nephew is having a Halloween party at school and I wanted to contribute a healthy snack for his friends. This is quite possibly the easiest thing I’ve put on my site. So much so that I didn’t want to take pictures because it’s almost silly to have them.

This is the first of a few last minute Halloween-themed treats coming up. I also have some more food-related goodies I will be sharing in the near future. Perhaps I will make a new holiday inspired treats segment that you can follow for all sorts of events. We’ll see!

You’ll need:
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  • Mandarines/tangerines/clementines/oranges
  • Sharpie/permanent marker

Step 1:
Decorate. The end.img_6819Just kidding. But seriously. That’s it! Draw little faces on each piece of fruit to resemble mini jack-o-lanterns. You can make them as happy/sad/angry/scary as you wish.

Easy enough, right? Good. Now gimme some oven lovin’.

Mushroom Onion Tart Shells

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If you’ve been following me for some time, you know that I like small, bite size foods. Desserts, appetizers, meals, whatever. My family and friends make fun of me constantly for cutting my food into tiny pieces. Even mini options like grapes and m&ms get at least 3 bites each from me. I don’t know why I do this. I guess it makes me think I have more food. My brain is special.

Anyway, I’ve used these fillo shells a few times in past recipes. They’re just so cute and delicious and make appetizers super easy to create. Today’s filling is similar to this mushroom cream sauce, though there are a couple of differences. I think either mixture can be put into the shells to make something quick and easy for your next gathering.

You’ll need:

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  • 1 package of mini fillo shells, thawed
  • 1 can of mushroom pieces
  • 1 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small-medium onion
  • salt/pepper/spices for seasoning

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and space out your fillo shells.

2. Cut your onion into thin slices, about 1/4in. Then cut the rounds vertically so they create little pieces, again about 1/4in.

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3. In a skillet, combine olive oil and onions over medium-low heat (4 out of 10 setting on mine).

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4. Once the onions start browning, drain your mushroom can and add the pieces to the skillet. Season with salt, pepper, or any other spices you enjoy. Cinnamon. MMMM.

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5. When the combination is soft and golden, remove from heat and transfer the filing into a bowl. Take a heaping tbsp of ricotta cheese and mix it in the bowl so everything is coated evenly.

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6. Fill the fillo shells with the filling. Bake for 6-8 minutes.

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Remove when the shells are golden and flaky.

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Feel free to sprinkle with additional cheese. I had feta crumbles that really created a great taste when combined with the other flavors. Other yummy options are grated Parmesan or Asiago.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

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Chocolate and peanut butter go together like Ben and Jerry, mac and cheese, Romeo and Juliet, salt and pepper.. need I go on? They are the perfect match and always so delicious in any form. With that being said, today’s recipe combines some salty peanut butter goodness with the sweet chocolate fudge to create bite size happiness that you won’t be able to resist.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I like to use short cuts. The making of this delight is no exception. While you can use your own favorite brownie recipe if you have one, I used a regular box mix that is much faster and, in my opinion, just as delectable.

You’ll need:

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  • 1 brownie mix box (and whatever ingredients it calls for)
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

Serving: 48 brownie bites

Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and follow the directions on the box. If you choose to use your own brownie recipe, create the mixture now. My recipe called for 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil, and 2 eggs.

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2. Once the mixture is ready, I greased a mini cupcake pan and filled each cup about 2/3 of the way. Then I popped it in the oven and baked for about 12-15 minutes. To test, stick a toothpick into a brownie and see if it comes out clean. I always take mine out when the inside is a teeeeeny uncooked because they still bake from the hot pan even when they are out of the oven. Overcooking will make the brownies dry and not as yummy.

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3. Once the brownies cool, take the bottom of a spoon and create a little crater in the middle of each bite. You want to make a bowl-shaped hole so that you can fill it with deliciousness next.

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4. Microwave the peanut butter for about 30 seconds so it becomes a liquid. Then spoon a small amount into the middle of the brownies. You can put as much or as little as you want.

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5. Your last step is to sprinkle the chocolate and peanut butter chips. Again, you can add as many or as little chips as you prefer.

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As you will see in my pictures, I put each brownie in a small cupcake holder. You can choose any color or design paper and decorate your event with these scrumptious goodies in style.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.

Fourth of July Cupcakes

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Happy Birthday, America!

Okay, so I lied. I said I wasn’t going to post any more holiday desserts, and I had no intention of doing this, but since I made these bad boys for today’s BBQ I figured I would at least share what I did.

They’re mini, and adorable, and yummy, and cheap, and easy.

You’ll need:

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  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • Frosting
  • Gel food coloring
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Follow the directions that are on the back of the cake box. If you really wanted to do a red, white, and blue theme then I suggest actual white cake and not funfetti like I did.. but funfetti is my favorite, and that’s what I chose, so buzz off!

Anyway, once you mix all of the ingredients, evenly distribute the mixture into two other bowls (three in total). Add blue gel to one, red gel to another, and leave the third one untouched. The darker you want your cake, the more gel you add. It’s simple.

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3. Line your cupcake holders. I used mini molds but you can use whatever size you like. Take a small amount of each color and fill the liners 2/3 of the way. I used about 3/4 of a teaspoon of each color and layered them.

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4. Take a toothpick and swirl the colors a little to give the cupcake a cool, marble effect. Don’t mix too much! You just want to blend the edges of the colors together.

5. Bake until the cupcakes are cooked. For my minis, I put them in for about 13 minutes. If you are using other molds, follow the time on the back of the box.

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6. Once the cupcakes are out and cooled, it’s time to frost! I whipped the frosting then piped it on. Some cupcakes even got some festive sprinkles. This last part is completely up to you. Have fun with them.

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Have a wonderful, safe Independence Day! Gimme some oven lovin’.