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’.

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’.

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’.

Toffee Wafer Dessert

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Well, the heat wave finally broke. Yet I still find myself finding ways to try and keep cool. Today was no exception.

This cake dessert thingy reminds me very much of the candy bar Butterfinger. Maybe it’s the toffee bits? Maybe it’s the orange tint of the sugar wafers? Whatever it is, the taste is a lighter, cooler version of that crunchy, chocolaty goodness. It’s gooey-er than actual cake, firmer than pudding, and as delicious as… something that’s super delicious.

You’ll need:

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  • 3 cups of vanilla sugar wafers, crushed (9oz package)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 container Cool Whip (8oz), thawed
  • 1/2 cup Heath toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup pecans, crushed
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Steps:

1. Crush your vanilla sugar wafers. Spread about 1 1/2 cups along the bottom of a 13×9 pan. Put the rest in a medium size bowl. If you wish to top the cake with some as I did, save about 1/4 cup and set aside.

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2. In the medium bowl that now has the wafers, add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, melted butter, salt, and eggs. Be sure to beat the eggs in a separate bowl very well before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. Whisk everything together until a pudding-like substance forms.

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3. Crush your pecans. You can choose to toast them before adding if you’d like (bake for about 30 minutes in 1 tbsp of butter at 250 degrees). Or you can just drop them in, as is, as I did.

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4. Using a spoon, plop the mixture onto the wafer coated bottom. Then, using the back of the spoon, spread it out evenly.

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5. Repeat the previous step with the Cool Whip.

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6. If you saved some sugar wafers earlier, sprinkle them onto the top of the dessert at this time. Add the toffee bits also, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.

Grape Goodness

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It’s summer and I don’t know where you are, but here in New Jersey, it’s as hot as my lovin’ oven. We’re going through a brutal heat wave and I’ve been trying to find various ways to keep cool. Today’s recipe is a refreshing, semi-healthy (kind of) snack that is perfect for this kind of weather.

You’ll need:

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  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8oz Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups of red grapes, halved
  • 2 cups of green grapes, halved
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Steps:

1. Wash and cut your grapes in half. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, manually mix together yogurt, cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar.

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3. Add the grapes and fold over gently to coat completely. If you plan on serving it in another bowl, pour the mixture into that now!

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4. In a separate bowl, mix together brown sugar and walnuts. This will be your topping. Sprinkle over the top of the grape mixture and pop in the fridge. I suggest chilling over night, although a few hours will do.

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Try not to eat all of it in one sitting (although I don’t blame you if you do).

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Gimme some oven lovin’.

Coconut Macaroons

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I love the taste of coconut but I don’t eat it nearly as often as I would like. For some reason it always reminds me of summer and that’s when I indulge. Maybe it’s the whole tropical island, paradise, beach connection that my brain makes? Whatever the rationale, I absolutely satisfied my appetite with these tasty macaroons.

You’ll need:

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  • 1 bag of flaked coconut (7oz)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Chocolate candy melts for coating (optional)

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine coconut, sugar, and egg whites in a bowl. Mix the ingredients completely so all the flakes are coated.

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3. Using a spoon, make 1-1.5in balls and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. I was able to make 20 macaroons from this mixture.

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4. Bake in the oven for 13-16 minutes, or until the top layers become lightly browned/golden. Cool completely when finished.

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Don’t be alarmed if the bottom edges oozed over and look overcooked. You can easily scrape those pieces off or even tuck them under if you like the taste.

5. You can either finish now or coat in chocolate. Microwave candy melts for 30 seconds then spoon some chocolate onto the bottom of each ball.

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You can also drizzle over the top for a fancier look. Or do both as I did.

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Mmm.

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Gimme some oven lovin’.

Roll Out Cookies

Well, well, well. Look who it is!

Hello, friends. It’s been quite some time. Happy October! I went on some vacations toward the end of the summer and lost my mojo for this by the time I got back. But here I am! For now…..

Today I decided to do some experimenting and thought it would be a good idea to document it to restart this blog. Life is a little all over the place right now so I can’t guarantee that I will be producing recipes as often as I did, but I will try my best to share at least one per week! I have a few different cookie recipes that I will post within the next few entries, so consider it a “cookie week” type of theme.

Starting off, I recently purchased a set of cookie cutters that I never used so I thought I would change that and make football-themed cookies. Of course it’s football season, so why not? Plus, my Alma Mater is undefeated!! So I’m in ultimate football mode. Love those Scarlet Knights.

Anyway, I can’t decide if these are sugar or butter cookies. I say butter; my parents say sugar. Either way, they are pretty good with tea/coffee (or frappe if you’re like me :)) and don’t require too much.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Steps:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In an electric stand mixer, beat butter until smooth. Then add the sugar until whipped thoroughly.

3. Beat your egg in a small bowl then add to the mixture. Once it is mixed in completely, add vanilla and continue to mix on medium power.

4. In another bowl, combine baking powder and flour. Lower the mixer speed and begin to slowly sprinkle in the dry combination until dough is formed.

5. Divide the dough into two balls. Flour your surface/rolling pin and roll each piece to about 1/8in deep.

6. Using your choice of cutters, make your cookies and place onto cookie sheets.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes then cool.

I also made my own cookie glaze, as you can see from the pictures. All you need for that is 3 ingredients; 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons corn syrup, and 4 tablespoons milk. Combine all of the ingredients and you get a nice white covering (add more milk if you want the icing more liquid-y). You can also add a few drops of food coloring to change the colors. Have fun with it!

 

Enjoy! Gimme some oven lovin’.

Greek Week: Baklava

The day has come! I’m finally sharing one of the world’s most loved desserts’ recipe. Though the traditional baklava is made with layers of phyllo dough, this recipe is much easier, cheaper, and amateur-friendly for all of my anxious and hungry readers. It just finished baking and the smell has invaded my home. My mouth is salivating as I write this. Warning — this is a very sweet and sugar-filled dessert! You’re in the wrong place if you’re someone that’s watching what you’re eating 🙂

I won’t lie, this is one of my sloppiest dishes. Lucky for me, it tastes a lot more delicious than it looks. Practice makes perfect, don’t forget that!

You’ll need:

  • 2 (8oz) cans of crescent dinner rolls (Pillsbury, store brand, etc.)
  • 3 cups walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

glaze:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Note — I like my baklava gooey and very moist. If you don’t like too much syrup, cut the glaze ingredients in half.

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Open one can of crescent rolls and press the dough on the bottom of a 13×9 pan. I used an aluminum one but any kind works. I like this one because I can just throw it away and not have to worry about the messy clean up! Make sure there are no gaps and even push up about half an inch on the side to create a bowl-type crust.

3. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

4. While the crust is baking, prepare the mixture. In a medium size bowl, combine the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well.

5. Spread the mixture evenly throughout the pan.

6. Open the other can of crescent rolls and roll out one big piece of dough. Place it on top of the walnut mixture and press out to the edges of the pan.

7. Using a sharp knife, score out lines length-wise and diagonally to create diamond shaped pieces. Set side.

8. In a small saucepan, bring glaze ingredients to a boil.

9. Poor half of the syrup evenly throughout the pan and set the other half in a small bowl on the side.

10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven and dough. Remove from oven when the crust is golden.

11. Spoon remaining syrup over the cooked baklava to soak in. Refrigerate, cut, and enjoy!

I would love to hear if any of you have made this or any other recipe I’ve provided. Let me know! And be sure to gimme some oven lovin’.

Greek Week: Favorites

As much as I wanted to share a new recipe for each day of Greek Week, today was just not happening. Instead, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite Greek meals. Consider this a go to when you visit your next Mediterranean restaurant.

1. Koupepia

These are very similar to another dish that many are familiar with known as dolmades. While they share most of the same ingredients, koupepia have one unique feature: ground beef! MMM, cows. The mixture of rice and meat with spices and grape leaves is heavenly. This is by far my favorite Greek dish.

2. Souvlaki

I normally like pork souvlaki but chicken souvlaki is also very popular! Pieces of meat on a stick. What’s the problem? You often find this dish served with pita, tzatziki sauce, french fries, rice, or nothing at all. It’s full of flavor on its own so much so that you can just eat it like a corn dog. It’s delicious!

3. Gyro

I don’t like lamb. It’s definitely my least favorite of the meats but I can’t help but love gyros. Something about its smokey yet juicy taste makes it hard to stop eating. It’s usually in a pita sandwich served with tzatziki sauce and a variation of salad (lettuce, tomatoes, and onions). I always get it with just the sauce and it’s YUMMY.

4. Galaktoboureko

Who loves dessert? Definitely this chick. This pie involves phyllo dough that’s flaky and sweet like baklava with a mix of light and creamy custard that is to die for. It’s not too heavy yet filling all at the same time. I don’t have much to say about this choice other than if it’s offered, get it. You won’t be disappointed.

5. Loukoumades

Once again, these are sweet and delicious. Just the way I like it. If it contains a lot of sugar and is unhealthy for you, it’s pretty safe to say that I’ll adore it. Loukoumades are no exception. These dough puffs are deep fried (yum) and soaked in a honey syrup (YUM) then sprinkled with cinnamon on top (AHH!). These taste best when they’re fresh but you won’t go wrong with eating them even hours later.

These dishes are only scratching the surface of delicious Greekness. I will continue to share more recommendations as well as recipes throughout the week so stay tuned and gimme some oven lovin’.