All posts tagged: baking

Zucchini Bread

You can always tell it’s the end of the summer by the amount of zucchini bread being made or gifted. The motivation to utilize zucchini in different ways is much higher towards the beginning of the summer, and then suddenly it seems like the zucchini production has tripled and we’re all juggling zucchini. That’s when zucchini bread comes into play. Packed with shredded zucchini, chopped walnuts, and all the right spices, zucchini bread is a delicious and quick way to use up any garden zucchini. Plus, this bread freezes well so you can enjoy zucchini the tastes of summer all year long. Ingredients: 3 cups zucchini, grated (skins on) 3 large eggs 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar (compacted) 1 cup vegetable oil 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon vanilla 3 cups flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 3 teaspoons cinnamon 1 cup chopped walnuts *1 cup chocolate chips (optional) Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour loaf pans (batter should make two 8×4 inch pans). 2. Beat …

Georgiann’s Koulourakia

Koulourakia comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Some bakers turn their dough into playful circles, braids, or serpentines, and some twist their koulourakia so precisely it looks like a machine pumped them out. Depending on the baker or family recipe, koulourakia is infused with anise, vanilla, orange or lemon zest. And some are left plain with simply the mixings of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. No matter how they’re prepared, koulourakia makes a perfect companion with a cup of coffee. My cousin, Georgiann Pino Petrogeorge has mastered the art of koulourakia. She and I share the same great-grandmother, Anastasia (Tasia) Patsuris. Our yiayia’s (grandmother’s) were sisters with phenomenal cooking skills. You name it—they could make it. Georgiann spent a lot of kitchen time with her yiayia, Georgia Patsuris Sargetakis, and together the two would bake, cook, and share many laughs. Koulourakia, a Greek Easter cookie is one of those treats that sends Georgian back to her yiayia’s kitchen. Over time, Georgiann has modified her yiayia’s recipe to her own favorite tastes, like using vanilla …

Mom’s Snickerdoodle Cookies

In no particular order, the three best cookies of all time are melomakrona, chocolate chip cookies (still on the hunt for a soft and gooey go to recipe), and my mom’s Snickerdoodle’s. My mom says she has had this recipe for “over 100 years” and although Snickerdoodle recipes are all so similar with just a few variations, my mom’s recipe has always been may favorite and is dangerously addicting. They are easy to make, and come out soft and chewy every single time. If you need to store the cookies, my mom suggests putting them in a storage container with a slice of bread on top to keep the cookies nice and soft. Somehow, it works–science! Enjoy. Save Print Mom’s Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe type: Sweets/Dessert Serves: 100 cookies   Ingredients 1 ½ cups sugar ½ cup margarine, softened ½ cup shortening 2 eggs 2 ¾ cup flour 2 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt For the topping: 2 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoon cinnamon Instructions Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing …

Greek Coffee Brownies

Brownies are my greatest weakness of all—especially the good old fashioned out of the box stuff. When I’m really craving a chocolatey fix, nothing beats the convenience of just dumping all the premixed ingredients into a bowl, stirring in some extra liquid, and sending them to the oven. They come out simple and scrumptious every single time. Because I’m satisfied with the boxed brownies, I hardly make them from scratch, or maybe didn’t care to recognize how easy they are to make on my own. But then one day when my brownie craving hit unusually early in the morning as I was making a cup of Greek coffee, I decided to make my own brownies—with Greek coffee. Coffee and chocolate is a classic combo so it just made sense. My recipe blends the grounds of Greek coffee with cocoa powder for a dark and decadent result that’s just as gooey as the boxed brownies I’ve adored for so many years. Now I don’t have to run to the store at random hours because all the …

Helen’s Oatmeal Cookies

I recently browsed through my late Yiayia Helen Metos’ recipe book, filled with her recipes plus clippings from recipes she found from the paper or given to her by friends. I was told from my mom that her oatmeal cookies were everyone’s favorites, so I had to test for myself. Results: these cookies are amazing–so wonderfully soft and chewy that I just had to share her timeless cookies. Enjoy! Save Print Helen’s Oatmeal Cookies Recipe type: Dessert/Cookie Serves: ~40 cookies   Ingredients ¾ cup shortening, softened to room temperature 1 cup brown sugar ½ cup granulated sugar 1 egg ¼ cup water 1 tsp vanilla 1 cup flour 1 tsp salt ½ teaspoon baking soda 3 cups oats, uncooked Instructions Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Place shortening, sugars, egg, water, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat thoroughly. Sift flout, salt and soda; add to shortening mixture, and mix well. Blend in oats. Drop teaspoons of dough onto greased cookie sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes. Notes For variation, add ½ tsp cinnamon and ¼ …

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m all for simple recipes, especially when it comes to baking. That’s why I love these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies: they only require three ingredients and are ready in 25 minutes. I first tried these cookies years ago at a party, and my friend Lexi gave me the recipe. I’ve been making them ever since and they’ve become favorites at parties I take them to as well. Enjoy these soft and flavorful cookies! Save Print Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe type: Dessert/Cookie Serves: ~   Soft and gooey easy to make pumpkin cookies. Ingredients 1 box spice cake mix 3 cups pumpkin puree (~24 oz) 1 cup chocolate chips Instructions Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. In a large bowl, add the spice cake mix and pumpkin puree and mix together until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips until combined. Drop round spoonfuls of the cookie mix onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minute, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 3.5.3229

Baklava

Everyone knows BAKLAVA. Layers of flaky phyllo pastry blanketed with ground nuts plus plenty of spice (and everything nice), soaked in a sweet honey syrup. Many consider baklava as the gold standard of Greek desserts. I’m not sure if this constitutes a mortal sin against Greek culture but I will say it anyway: I’m not the biggest fan of baklava. I do like lamb though, so hopefully that admission keeps my credibility up. At one point, I honestly considered not including a recipe for baklava on my blog. But then Zeus and his immortal pals conspired to change my mind. Two things happened in one week. I told my Yiayia Saltas, quite casually, that one of my clients wanted to learn how to make baklava. The next day she shows up with her own baklava recipe, handwritten just for me. That same day, I scanned through my late Yiayia Metos’ recipe book for a dinner recipe. Her recipe book is a treasure trove my mom and I hold onto. Many of her recipes, from desserts to main …

Lamb Kleftiko

DISCLOSURE: I don’t condone stealing. There is just one instance, however, where I do pardon a certain group of thieves because their act of stealing eventually gave the world a glorious gift. The thieves I’m speaking of are the klephts, an indigenous population that descended from the Greeks who fled into the mountains to escape—and from which to fight—the Turkish occupiers of Ottoman Greece. The klephts snuck from the mountains to steal grazing lambs or goats, then retreated back to the mountains to cook their stolen goods. The meat was seasoned with oregano and thyme or even wild garlic, placed in an underground pit and covered with soil and branches on top to trap the aromas and the smoke while cooking. Doing so helped to avoid detection from their adversaries. This sneaky style of cooking later became known as kleftiko—the food of the “klephts” or thieves. Over time, the method moved from underground pits to outdoor wood-fired ovens. These days, we make LAMB KLEFTIKO indoors, baked in any conventional oven. The lamb is either assembled …

Festive Blue & White Cookies

Every March 25th my friends and I celebrate Greek Independence Day with a festive get together. We eat a delicious Greek meal that includes all of the favorites from salads to dessert and everything in between. And, when we can find good salt cod, we make bakaliaros skordalia (fried cod and garlic sauce), which is traditionally eaten on March 25th in Greece. We all sport obnoxious amounts of blue and white clothing from head to toe to display our Greek pride. Recently we’ve even added a blue and white theme to our menu. An example are these blue and white cookies. The cookies are made with blue velvet cake mix, some butter and cream cheese for a gooey texture, and finished with white chocolate chips. They are so simple to make that you can task your kids to whip them up—and so they can be the ones stuck with the blue hands when rolling the dough together. Take a break from the traditional recipes and give these fun and festive cookies a try, they’re truly …

Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Cookies)

There are two things that are always on my Christmas to-do list. First, I have to watch Kevin McCallister thwart the “Sticky Bandits” in Home Alone and Home Alone 2. My brothers and I never tire of watching bricks being thrown at the heads of Marv and Harry and other torturous, yet hilarious schemes devised by Kevin. It’s too bad uncontrollable laughter doesn’t burn more calories because the second thing on my list is gorging on Greek treats. Step into any Greek home at Christmas time, especially my yiayia’s, and you can’t miss the sweet scents of baklava, kourabiedes, and melomakarona baking in the oven. Those desserts are made year-round, but yiayia doubles down on them for Christmas. Especially melomakarona. We call them melos at our house, and Christmas is not the same without them. Melos are aromatic cookies spiced with orange and cinnamon and spiked with whiskey. What makes melos really shine is the chopped walnut topping and the warm honey syrup the cookies soak in. Like with all cookies, melos are delicious fresh …