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.
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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.
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Add a layer of apple pieces.
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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’.

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.
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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’.

Rolo Pretzel Bites

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I figured it was about time I made a dessert again. I haven’t made any in so long and my pantry needs an update. I found a couple (literally) things lying around and put them together for this really easy 2 ingredient snack that combines all of my favorite things: salty pretzels, sweet chocolate, and gooey caramel. Brian doesn’t usually like desserts (don’t even get me started!), so when he tried these and said they were delicious, I knew it was worth sharing.

You’ll need:
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  • 24 pretzel snaps
  • 12 Rolo candies

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place half of your pretzels. You can make more or fewer, but just remember that you need double the amount of pretzels in all.
fullsizerender_1Step 3:
Put one unwrapped Rolo chocolate in the middle of each pretzel. fullsizerender_2Step 4:
Bake for about 3-5 minutes. You want the chocolate to be tender without it actually melting.fullsizerenderStep 5:
Place one pretzel on top of each chocolate and gently squish it down. Be careful! It may ooze hot caramel.fullsizerender-1

If you don’t want to top it off with a second pretzel, you can always be creative and add other ingredients instead. I had some peanut M&Ms so I added a couple of those. Pecans are also a good idea!fullsizerender_4

It doesn’t get much easier than this. Gimme some oven lovin’.

Reese’s Cookie Dough Dip

photo 3It’s a rainy, gloomy day here in NJ and all I want to do is eat and watch movies. There’s no better treat than this dip to satisfy that desire and really make me feel productive in life.

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I am obsessed with Pinterest. I feel like I have gained so much knowledge and insight by browsing through the different categories. Not to mention, my creative juices have been on super mode. Today’s recipe is a rendition of a post that I saw that I am soo happy I found. It’s absolutely delicious and can be eaten with a variety of sides.

You’ll need:

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  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Reese’s PB Cups, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Steps:

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, whisk in brown sugar until completely dissolved. Remove from heat right away and add the vanilla. Set it aside and let it cool completely.

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2. In an electric mixer (or big bowl with hand mixer), beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and powdered sugar until creamy. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.

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3. While you’re waiting for the butter/sugar mixture to cool, you can chop your Reese’s. You can also choose to buy the mini cups and save yourself from this step. You still have to wait until the newly formed caramel cools, though!

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4. Once it’s ready, add the caramel mixture to the bowl and mix on low speed until combined.

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5. Fold in the chocolate chips and Reese’s cups.

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You can eat it immediately if you want it as a dip, or chill if you want to eat it alone.

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photo 2Dip pretzels, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, teddy grahams, animal crackers, etc, or just use a spoon like I did.

photo 4I can’t guarantee that yours will come out as good as mine since I had help from my wonderful little cousins, but you can try. While you’re at it, gimme some oven lovin’.

Trip Recap

Hello friends. I am back from the cruise and have some pictures to share with you. I love exploring new places so I had a great trip. I ate more this time than I did last year, but I won’t lie; I forgot to take pictures of soo many meals. It’s okay! I did photograph food that we never had before (alligator fritters and frog legs, AHH!), so you’ll be able to get a small glimpse of what our week was like.

Warning: the quality of these pictures isn’t the best because of all of the crazy lighting. Womp womp.

Breakfast:

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A croissant and bacon every morning with a beautiful view. Doesn’t get better.

Appetizers:

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Delicious bread with every meal.

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Shrimp, seared ahi tuna, and salmon tartare. YUM.

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Steak quesadilla with black beans, cheese, corn, sour cream and guacamole.

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ALLIGATOR FRITTERS!!!

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French onion soup.

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Frogs’ legs. UGHHH not a fan.

Entrees:

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Panko fried jumbo shrimp with curly fries.

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Pasta carbonara with chicken.

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Jerk chicken and fried rice.

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My favorite meal of the whole trip: bacon mac and cheese with chicken.

Desserts:

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Chocolate lava melting cake with vanilla ice cream.

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Baked apples and cream on puff pastry with caramel sauce.

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Cheesecake with strawberry topping.

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Fruit plate.

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Creme brulee; the best!

And now some pictures of me being silly during one of our days.

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I told you I had fun. 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’.

Monsters’ Inc Cake

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My little brother is not so little anymore. We celebrated his 19th birthday this past weekend with family, presents, and of course, food. What did you get him, Christa? Great question, made up reader, but I didn’t get him anything; I MADE him a surprise birthday cake.

Let’s face it; it doesn’t matter how old you are, Monsters’ Inc is a fantastic movie. One of my brother’s favorites, in fact, which is why I made him a Mike Wazowski cake. I had never done a cake boss-style dessert before, and it took soo much longer than I was expecting. It’s nowhere near perfect, but everyone, especially my brother, loved it. I was super relieved!

The cake itself was funfetti with Nutella buttercream frosting (and a secret layer of Nutella by itself, mmm), while the legs and arms were made from fondant. Boy, that fondant was exhausting to mix. My forearms were burning for hours. And for the record, my sister was the best taste tester I could have asked for, so thank you for your help, Elena!

I took some pictures throughout the process. I’ve already gotten requests for other cakes and I look forward to practicing and getting better with each one!

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Happy birthday, Yianni!

Gimme some oven lovin’.

Mini choc-oat-balls

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I’m a teacher. Yes, that means I have summers off. What better way to spend a few days of this long vacation than to visit my sister? I got to play with their puppy, laugh with my brother in law, and cook with my best friend. She was really excited to make her debut on here so today’s recipe is a tribute to her.

Elena first found this treat through another blogger, who called them “energy bites”. I’m so glad she introduced me to these because they were DELICIOUS. I literally went straight into the kitchen when I came home and made them so I had breakfast ready for the next morning. They are very easy and quick to make, and they’re one of the healthiest recipes I’ve posted. A+ all around.

You’ll need:

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  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey

Steps:

1. Combine all of the ingredients until everything is coated evenly. Pop it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

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2. Once the mix has hardened a bit, take a small chunk and mold it into a ball. The amount varies based on how big or small you want them. We made ours mini and yielded about 45.

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That’s all! They’re super yummy when chilled so I suggest putting them back in the fridge and eating one or two or five whenever you’re craving a bit of sweet goodness.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.

Double Oreo Peanut Butter Brownies

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I love Pinterest. So much. I find myself spending hours pinning all kinds of food, clothes, and teaching resources.. among other categories. Today’s recipe is one of the lucky pins I saw a picture of and thought: “YUP. GOTTA DO IT.”

For the record, I’m still waiting on getting sponsored by Oreo. I told you I cook with these babies often. OREO, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, HELP A SISTA OUT!

Anyway.

You’ll need:

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  • 24 Oreos
  • 1 box of brownie mix (and the ingredients it calls for)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • Cupcake liners

Steps:

1. Follow the directions that the brownie box has. Mine said to mix 1/2 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of water, and 2 eggs with the brownie mix. Set aside.

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2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then line your cupcake tray with the liners.

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3. Take about half a tsp of peanut butter and smear it on one side of an Oreo. Place another cookie on top of that and put more PB on the top of the set. Place in the liner.

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4. Pour 2 tbsp of brownie batter onto each Oreo clump. Allow the batter to drizzle down the sides and fill the cup. Do not use more than 2 tbsp or they will spill over while they are baking!

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5. You should have a good amount of batter left over. You can either bake it as one big sheet in a pan, or pour into mini cupcake trays for individual cups. Top with any flavor chips or even make these if you haven’t already!

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6. Bake for about 15-18 minutes.

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The Oreos will get soft and the combination of the cookie, peanut butter, and brownie is heavenly.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.