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’.

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’.

Breakfast Parfait

I have to give my mom credit for this new breakfast obsession of mine. It is super delicious and SO easy to make. It reminds me very much of a parfait without the fanciness and technicality. It’s also healthy!! You can substitute with your favorite flavors and stay super full until lunch.

To be honest, you don’t even need pictures and steps. But since I like to think that I spoil you, I have provided them.

You’ll need:

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  • 3 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup cereal
  • 1 handful blueberries

Steps:

1. Combine.

Ha ha. It really is that simple! Mix the yogurt, cereal, and walnuts until blended, then sprinkle with blueberries and gently fold them in.

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TA DAAAAAAAAAAA!

As I said, you can use whichever cereal you like. My recommendation is something with honey so you have that extra hint of sweetness without adding any extra calories. I use Honey Nut Cheerios and it’s delicious.

You can also use a different fruit. Strawberries, blackberries, or really any kind of berry would work. Mmm.

Happy eatings! 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’.

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’.

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’.

Devil’s Paradise

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I think it’s only fair that Oreo start sponsoring me. I mean, I eat these cookies almost daily and include them in a recipe at least once a week. I could probably do an Oreo themed month, post multiple recipes per day, and still need more time before I run out of ideas. How can you go wrong with chocolate and cream? Trick question — you can’t!

Anyway. Despite some past posts of mine, I’m actually not the biggest fan of cake. Brownies? I can eat all day, everyday. But cake? Ehhh. And even though I love chocolate, devil’s food is my least favorite flavor. Since Oreos make anything and everything better, these two ingredients are coming together to make a delicious, super rich dessert that will more than likely satisfy any chocolate craving you could imagine.

The name of this dessert is odd. It is called Devil’s Paradise for no reason other than because of my brother. He came to visit this weekend so I gave him a bite and asked what name came to mind. This was his response. I gave him a weird glance and he reciprocated with a look of confidence. I rolled my eyes, said okay, and, well, here we are.

You’ll need:

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  • 1 box of Devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 18 Oreos
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14oz)

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Now you can also line the inside of a pan with foil and spray with nonstick baking spray.

2. Combine cake mix, egg, and butter in a big bowl. Use a fork, or even your hands, to mix these completely until they turn into a soft dough-like texture.

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3. Spread out the mixture then evenly knead it so there are no empty spaces.

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4. Crush up your Oreos and layer them on top of the cake.

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5. Pour the milk over the Oreo layer.

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6. Top with chocolate chips. Even though the recipe calls for 1 cup, you can always add more (or less). I won’t judge you.

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7. Bake for about 22-25 minutes. Let it cool then whip out a fork.

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Gimme some gooey 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’.

S’more Pops

Yes, another s’mores recipe. Problem? I didn’t think so.

I think I will be doing “Pop Week” this week and showing you all how to do various bite size desserts. I figured since I have the ingredients for s’mores (and trust me, they won’t last long in this house), I should start off with another variation of this sweet yummy time (a synonym for “dessert” according to my brother).

You’ll need:

  • 8 Jumbo marshmallows
  • 24 Wilton’s candy melts
  • 1 Graham cracker
  • 1 Plastic zip-lock bag
  • Styrofoam board or other lollipop holder
  • Lollipop sticks

Steps:

1. It’s a little morbid to start off this way, but go ahead and stab your marshmallows with the sticks 🙂 Go all the way to the other end and then place in the board or holder until they’re all ready.

2.Take your graham cracker and put it in the zip-lock bag. Crush it thoroughly and set aside.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 second increments, stirring well after each session.

4. Dip the marshmallow stick in the chocolate and use the back of a spoon to even it all out. Then put the stick in the graham cracker bag and shake it around to make sure crumbs attach to all parts of the melted chocolate. Set back on the board and repeat the process for each of the pops.

You can either put them in the refrigerator when you’re done or allow them to cool by themselves. Once you’re sure the chocolate has hardened, you can serve and/or enjoy!

These make great gifts or favors, also! Put them in a lollipop bag (easily found in Michael’s or a candy making shop), tie off with a small piece of ribbon that matches your theme, and you’re done!

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’.