Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Treats

 

We did a cookie exchange for Christmas, but I also made these treats to give to people that I wasn't able to take cookies to. The problem was that we were going to deliver these on Christmas Eve, but everyone was riled up and crazy, so we didn't get a chance to deliver these on Christmas Eve. So, we were going to deliver these on Christmas Day after we visited family...and then my baby came down with the stomach flu and was throwing up all evening...and the next day. So, we ended up eating these all ourselves.

 

Pretzel M&M Peppermint Kisses

Ingredients:

70 square pretzels
70 Hershey's peppermint kisses, unwrapped
70 red and green M&Ms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Place pretzels on the cookie sheet in a single layer and then top each pretzel with one Hershey's peppermint kiss. Bake in preheated oven for 4-5 minutes, or until the chocolate is shiny and soft, but holding its shape and not completely melted.

Remove from oven and carefully place on M&M in the center of each peppermint kiss and press down gently. Place in refrigerator to allow chocolate to set.

Source: I have gotten this from neighbors and friends for years now. It's pretty self-explanatory, but I found a recipe for it through Pinterest. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: Oh, these were good. I made more than 70. I just filled my jelly role pan as much as I could. I didn't keep track of the final count. You can make these at any time of the year. Use pink, red, and white M&Ms for Valentine's Day. Or use regular colors of M&Ms for any time of the year.


Pretzel M&M Rolo Treats

Ingredients:

70 circular or square pretzels
70 Rolos, unwrapped
70 red and green M&Ms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Place pretzels on the cookie sheet in a single layer and then top each pretzel with a Rolo.

Bake in oven 1-2 minutes, or until Rolos are softened, but not completely melted.

Remove from oven and place one M&M in the center of each Rolo. Place in refrigerator until set.

Source: Again, this is one I have gotten from family and friends for ages, but I found some instructions on Allrecipes.com. You can find it here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Not Fall Without Pumpkin

 

So, apparently my mom hates pumpkin. However, I just have to have something with pumpkin in it around this time of year. It's just a flavor that says "autumn" to me.

Here's a great cake to help you take care of your pumpkin cravings this fall.

 

Pumpkin Layered Magic Cake

Ingredients:

Cake Layer:
1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Pumpkin Layer:
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup half-and-half
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Pumpkin pie spice, for sprinkling

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat Cake Layer ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Scrape bowl; beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Spread in pan.

In another large bowl, mix Pumpkin Layer ingredients with whisk until smooth. Carefully spoon pumpkin mixture over cake batter in pan.

Bake 48 to 53 minutes or until cake is set when touched lightly in center. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 4 hours to chill.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until smooth. Add whipping cream; beat until smooth, and stiff peaks form. Spread over chilled cake. Sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice. Store covered in refrigerator.

Source: Betty Crocker. You can find it here.

Notes: I was worried after I baked this that the pumpkin layer hadn't sunk to the bottom. I really couldn't tell from the outside of the pan, but once I cut into it, it had turned out perfectly. This dessert is so easy to put together and will take care of your pumpkin craving for sure.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Turning Cereal Into Dessert

 

I know, I know. Most cereal is sweet enough that it could be considered dessert, but if you want to turn it into a technical dessert, these recipes are for you.

 

Cookie Cereal Marshmallow Treats

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
10 oz. marshmallows (1 large bag)
6 cups cookie cereal
1 bag white melting chocolate/candy coating wafers
Mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large pot and add the marshmallows. Stir the marshmallows until completely melted and smooth. Add cookie cereal and stir to combine.

Press cookie cereal into a buttered cookie sheet (you can line the sheet with foil to make for easier removal).

Press flat and let the cookie cereal treats sit until completely set and cooled.

Cut treats into squares. Melt the white chocolate according to the package directions. Dip half of each treat square into the melted white chocolate. Tap off any excess chocolate.

Place dipped treats on a sheet of waxed paper and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Let treats sit until chocolate has set.

Source: Big Bear's Wife. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: We didn't melt the white candy coating wafers and dip the treats into the melted chocolate. We simply sprinkled the candy coating wafers on top along with the mini chocolate chips. We did this to cut down on time, but still incorporate the white chocolate flavor.

 

Honey Nut Cheerios Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Honey Nut Cheerios
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a large pan, melt sugar and corn syrup over medium heat until it barely comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Add Cheerios, 2 cups at a time and stir until fully coated.

Press mixture into a 9x13-inch dish.

Optional: Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute and drizzle chocolate on top of the bars.

Store leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Source: I Heart Nap Time. You can find it here.

Notes: These were quite tasty!

 

Cookie Butter and White Chocolate Cheerios Marshmallow Treats

Ingredients:

7 cups Honey Nut Cheerios
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup Biscoff cookie spread
1 (10 1/2 ounce) bag miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter and Biscoff cookie spread. Add in the marshmallows and stir constantly until completely melted. Toss in the white chocolate chips and stir.

Remove pot from the stove and fold in the Cheerios cereal until evenly coated with the melted marshmallows.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and press into pan.

Cut into squares after mixture has fully set and cooled.

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Source: Belly Full. You can find it here.

Notes: I would increase the cookie butter next time. It was a very subtle taste and I would like to make the cookie butter flavor more prominent. I would use at least 1/2 cup next time.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Treats, Part 2

The parade of Halloween Pinterest ideas continues! These are the last of the Halloween treats I made this year.


 

Above: These mummy juice boxes were a little sparse on their wrappings. I had two rolls of white duct tape and I could only find one--the one that was almost out of tape. I used a glue gun and glued googly eyes on the juice box and wrapped it in strips of white duct tape. The verdict: I wish I had more tape to fully cover the juice boxes. The kids loved these. They thought they were so fun.

 

Above: Cheese and pretzel witch's brooms. I cut cheese sticks into thirds and then cut the bottoms to look like broom bristles. Then I stuck a pretzel in the top carefully (to avoid splitting the cheese, which was really easy to split). The verdict: this was one of my boys' favorite Halloween snacks, and one of the easiest to make. However, another night, I just cut cubes of cheese and gave them a pile of pretzel sticks and they stabbed the cheese with the pretzels themselves and ate it that way just as happily.


 

Above: Hot Dog Mummies. I cut the hot dogs so it looked like they had arms and legs and then I wrapped them in strips of refrigerated crescent roll dough. I baked them according to the package directions for the dough until they were nicely browned. Then I gave them little dots of mustard for the eyes. The verdict: I have made these before without cutting the hot dogs to give them arms and legs. Honestly, it is much faster and easier to do it that way and they still look just as cute. Of course, my boys just unwrapped the crescent strips, ate the hot dogs, and discarded the crescent rolls.


Above: Halloween Sharpie magic!

 

Above: Fruit cup Jack-o'-Lanterns. These can be made with mandarin oranges, mangoes, or peaches. These were cute and easy. The verdict: of course, my kids refused to eat them, so I ate them!


Above: Easy cheese ball Jack-o-Lanterns. Plastic bags decorated with a black Sharpie and filled with cheese puff balls. The verdict: my kids actually ate these. Wow! Ha ha!

 

Above: Popcorn ghosts. Kettle corn popcorn (just popped from a store bought package) mixed with mini marshmallows. The verdict: one of my boys ate only the popcorn and the other picked out only the marshmallows.


Above: Ghosts in the Graveyard Cake. I made this for a neighbor when I took dinner in to her and her family. I used Peeps ghosts, candy pumpkins, Milano cookies decorated with black gel frosting, a yellow cake mix, and a can of store bought chocolate frosting. Easy peasy.

 


 

Above: Those ghost Peeps sure are cute.


Above: English muffin mummy pizzas. I used canned pizza sauce spread on split English muffins and I sprinkled a little shredded mozzarella cheese on top. I then used strips of string cheese to create bandage strips on the mummies and finally topped them off with two olive eyes. I lightly broiled them in the oven until the cheese was melted. When my oldest boy was really little, I made these for him and for the longest time, he would call sliced olives "mummy eyes." He would ask me for months after that if he could have some mummy eyes to eat.

  


Above: Octopus mini pot pies. By the way, I realize that this octopus pot pie has only 7 legs. One of my boys pulled off the eighth leg and ate it before I got a good picture. I also made a mini Jack-o'-Lantern pot pie, but all of my pictures of that one turned out blurry. It was a cute one though!


Above: Here's my full-size mummy pot pie. I used this recipe for the filling and used strips of puff pastry for the topping...oh, and of course, two olive eyes. I baked it until the strips of puff pastry were nicely browned (which took longer than I expected). This turned out delicious. My kids, of course, wouldn't eat it.
 
   

Above: Spider cheese and crackers. Ritz crackers, Easy Cheese (sprayable cheese), and sliced olives cut and placed on the cheese to look like spiders. The verdict: my boys did not eat these either. Ha ha!


  

Final verdict: Well, I learned that my oldest son is creeped out by food that looks spooky. He wouldn't even eat some gummy eyeballs that I had bought. My younger son loved helping me make these. Ultimately, my boys just wanted snacks when they got home from school and they didn't really care much what those snacks looked like as long as it sounded good to them and filled their hungry stomachs quickly. So, while all of these Halloween treats were adorable, it wasn't really worth the time for me to make them..for me, at least. Maybe they would feel differently about snacks like this next year. Maybe if I had girls instead of boys, they would have loved them. Who knows? Kids are unpredictable that way. Oh well. I had fun making them and I thought they were cute! I probably won't go to the time and expense to make all of these (or so many of them) next year...unless my kids actually ask me if I can do it for them.

Halloween Treats, Part 1

This year, the call of Pinterest was just too strong. I decided to make some fun Halloween goodies for my boys. Here are some of the things I made this season.



Above: All it takes to make "Monster Toes" is Circus Peanuts candy and Runts candy. Press the Runts into the Circus Peanuts and voila. The verdict? My kids just pulled the Runts off and ate those and left most of the Circus Peanuts behind. Sacrilege! I love Circus Peanuts! My kids, not so much.
 


Above: Olive spider deviled eggs. I bought some prepared deviled eggs at Harmon's and cut up some black olives to make the spiders. The verdict: Those spiders are actually quite time consuming to make. My boys were grossed out by them. One of my boys picked off the olive pieces and ate those, but discarded the egg. My other son pulled off the olive pieces and ate a bit of egg, but not the whole thing. Their friend who was over for a play date happily ate the rest of them all by himself and loved them!

 

Above: I saw two versions of this on Pinterest. One version had "blood" filled syringes and the other had bloody vampire fangs. I opted for the vampire fangs since it is a lot easier to find vampire fangs in the store than syringes. All this consists of is lemon lime soda and grenadine syrup, to taste. Oh, and some vampire fangs. I thought this was cute, but honestly, the fangs just got in the way and made it hard to drink. My kids just pulled the fangs out to wear them and ignored the drink. I'm always a fan of Shirley Temples though. I think I would like the syringe version better just because I think the syringe wouldn't get in the way of drinking your drink as much as the fangs did.



 

Above: This was really easy. I got one of those spray containers of white frosting (Betty Crocker), some mini powdered donuts, and some candy eyeballs (you can find them in most grocery stores around Halloween, or you can buy them online). The verdict: these were so cute. I mean, look at those donuts! They have so much personality! However, everyone just picked the eyeballs off because they thought they were too crunchy and hard to chew.


Above: This was a little more time consuming than the ghost donuts. It took awhile to break the pretzels just right to make the spider legs. I used a can of sprayable black frosting, mini chocolate donuts, and candy eyes. The verdict: these were so cute! However, again, my kids didn't like the candy eyes. They pulled out the pretzel legs and asked for a bag of pretzels and then just ate some chocolate donuts plain.

 

Above: You can't go wrong with simple hot cocoa topped with ghost Peeps. These were cute and everyone liked it.


 


Above: These Swiss Roll Frankenstein monsters were really cute. They were made with sprayable black frosting, black gel frosting, Swiss Rolls, and candy eyeballs. The verdict: everyone picked the candy eyeballs off of these and ate the rest.

 

Above: Mummy Twinkies. You could either dip some Twinkies in white chocolate or white candy coating or you could use pumpkin cake Twinkies that were already coated in white chocolate. For the bandages, I used sprayable white frosting. Of course, I also used more candy eyeballs. The verdict: again, these were so cute. The kids picked off the candy eyeballs and they didn't like the pumpkin Twinkies. I liked them though. It would take a lot longer to dip your own Twinkies in white chocolate, but I think it would be more kid-friendly.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Oktoberfest Find

 

For Oktoberfest this year, we just made some tried and true favorites that we have already previously posted on our blog. You can find some of our favorite Oktoberfest recipes here, here, and here. However, we did make this fantastic new discovery. My mom was reticent to make it because she worried that a lot of us wouldn't eat it because some people in our family aren't huge fans of cherries. Oh, I'm so glad she did make this though. It is fantastic!

 

German Black Forest Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) pitted tart cherries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons cherry brandy or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:

3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottoms of two greased 9-in. round baking pans; grease paper.

In a large bowl, beat milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla until well-blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into milk mixture.

Transfer to prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, for filling, drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. In a small saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch, and reserved juice; add cherries cook and stir over low heat 10-12 minutes, or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in brandy or vanilla. Cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until stiff peaks form.

Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Top with 1 1/2 cups whipped cream. Spread 3/4 cup filling to within 1 in. of edge. Repeat twice. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped cream, reserving some to pipe decorations, if desired. Spoon remaining filling onto top of cake. Refrigerate until servings.

Yield: 12 servings.

Nutrition information: 1 slice: 659 calories, 34 g fat, 136 mg cholesterol, 329 mg sodium, 84 mg carbohydrate, 7g protein.

Source: Taste of Home, submitted by Stephanie Travis of Fallon, Nevada. You can find it here.

Notes: This is fantastic and completely worth using your calories on! Don't be tempted to substitute cherry pie filling for this recipe. The pitted tart cherries add so much to this cake.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Greek Night 2016!

 

We love doing our theme nights, and one of our absolute favorite theme nights is our mini Greek Festival. Salt Lake City, Utah has an absolutely fantastic Greek Festival at the beginning of every September with the most amazing Greek food imaginable. However, I haven't been in years because we can't go as a family because my oldest son is allergic to tree nuts (and Greek food, mostly desserts, have a ton of tree nuts in them...I'm looking at you, Baklava). Also, my husband and I just never seem to be able to get away that first weekend in September for a date night to the Greek Festival. However, We have our fantastic family Greek Night and it really satisfies that craving for Greek food.

I'm including the recipes we made on this particular night as well as some of our tried and true favorites from other nights (just so we have them all in one place). You can also check out these other Greek food posts that we have made in the past: original post for Greek Meatballs, Greek Lemon Potatoes, and Avgolemono Soup here, Slow Cooker Greek chicken here, Pastitsio here, Greek Quinoa Salad here, first version of Chicken Souvlaki here, second version of Chicken Souvlaki here, Chicken Gyros (kind of the third version of Chicken Souvlaki) and Lemon Rice here, Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros here, Meat Loaf Gyros here, Greek Orzo Salad here, Greek Tacos here, and Galatoboureko (Greek Milk Pie) here...that's all...for now, at least! Yeah, we're not Greek, but we love our Greek food!


Baked Feta

Ingredients:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound block Greek feta
4 scallions, sliced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, for serving
Bell peppers, sliced, for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, garlic, 2 tablespoons parsley, oregano, olive oil, and a few grinds of pepper.

Place the block of feta in the middle of an 8x8-inch baking dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has softened and melted.

Remove from the oven and garnish with the remaining parsley and scallions and serve immediately while still warm. This can be placed back in the oven to melt if the cheese starts to firm up again. Serve with peppers and grilled shrimp.

To grill the shrimp: Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and grill for 2 minutes per side, or until shrimp is opaque. Serve.

Recipe Notes: This dish is best served hot, warm, or room temperature.

Source: The Chew, recipe by Michael Symon. You can find it here.

Notes: We did not serve this with the bell peppers and shrimp. We served this with homemade pita chips. Baked feta is a fantastic, wonderful thing. I highly suggest you try it!

 

Spicy Baked Feta (Feta Psiti)

Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) block feta cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes, or as needed
1 pinch dried oregano, or as needed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the feta in an ovenproof baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover liberally with pepper flakes, and sprinkle with oregano.

Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven until feta is soft, about 10 minutes.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Diana Moutsopoulos. You can find it here.

Notes: This was so, so good. It's hard to say which baked feta I liked better...you might just have to make both of them like we did! Again, we served this with homemade pita chips.

 

Pita Chips

Ingredients:

12 pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried chervil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place triangles on lined cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, salt, basil, and chervil. Brush each triangle with oil mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn easily.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Dawn. You can find it here.

Notes: These were fantastic. They were delicious topped with the baked feta and they were awesome all by themselves. The kids particularly loved these. They kept asking for more "slices of little pizza."


Grecian Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 lb. lean, finely ground beef or lamb
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
olive oil, for brushing

Directions:

Put the ground beef or lamb in a bowl. Grate in the onion, then add the garlic, bread crumbs, mint, and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well, then add the beaten egg and mix to bind the mixture together.

With damp hands, form the mixture into 16 small balls and thread onto 4 flat metal skewers. Lightly oil a broiler pan and brush the meatballs with oil.

Preheat the broiler and cook the meatballs under medium heat for 10 minutes, turning frequently, and brushing with more oil if necessary, until browned.

Source: From the cookbook "Perfect Greek," published by Parragon in 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4054-8858-7. You can find it here.

Notes: These are awesome. They are very similar to what you can get at the SLC Greek Festival.

Red Sauce for Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (8 oz) can tomato puree
1 (4 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes

Directions:

In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Cook, stirring well, until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add oregano and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add tomato puree, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and whole, peeled tomatoes. Break up whole, peeled tomatoes with the back of a spoon or cut up with kitchen sheers.

Simmer on low while meatballs cook (at least 30 minutes).

Source: I came up with this recipe on my own.


Greek Lemon Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 lbs potatoes, unpeeled, washed, and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and zest grated (see notes)
4 Tbsp. water
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 bay leaved
2 rosemary sprigs (see notes)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped (see notes)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a 9x13 baking dish with tin foil. Place the cut potatoes into the baking dish.

Drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water over the potatoes. Place the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper on top of the potatoes.

Stir well to coat.

Bake the potatoes for 1-1 1/2 hours or until they are cooked through, tender, and slightly crispy.

Stir every now and then during cooking to coat with the herby oil.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.

Source: Darn it, I found this online at least four years ago and now I can't remember what recipe site I found it on. Sorry!

Notes: I didn't have fresh lemons on hand, so I used a liberal amount of bottled lemon juice (to make up for not having lemon zest). The dish was still yummy, but honestly, lemon is the star flavor of this dish. Don't substitute the fresh lemon for bottled juice! If you really love the flavor of lemon, I would recommend using the juice of two lemons and the zest of one. Also, in addition to peeling the garlic, I halved it as well.

As for the herbs, substituting dried herbs works just fine in this dish. I didn't have fresh rosemary, so I used 1 teaspoon dried and crushed it between my fingers as I sprinkled it over the potatoes. I also didn't have fresh thyme, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme.

 

Basic Greek Salad

Ingredients:

1 large bunch Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cucumber (you can either peel, thickly slice, and quarter this, or simply slice it into rounds with the peel on)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, optional
1/2-1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata olives
Whole or sliced banana peppers, optional
Favorite bottled or homemade Greek salad dressing (see notes)

Directions:

Combine and toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Note: If you would like to make your own Greek salad dressing, here's a simple recipe found in the South Beach Diet cookbook:

Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing (Large Batch)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 quarts olive oil
1/3 cup garlic powder
1/3 cup dried oregano
1/3 cup dried basil
1/4 cup pepper
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 quarts red wine vinegar

Directions:

In a very large container, mix together the olive oil, garlic powder, oregano, basil, pepper, salt, onion powder, and Dijon mustard. Pour in the vinegar and mix vigorously until well-blended. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Danielle M. You can find it here.

Notes: The recipe on Allrecipes says, "This is the 'secret' Greek dressing recipe from the pizzeria that I work at. The recipe makes almost a gallon, but can be scaled down easily. It can be used for picnics and travels very well, since it doesn't need to be refrigerated. This is the best dressing I have ever tasted, people offer to buy it constantly, but if we sold it, we wouldn't be able to make enough to use in the restaurant!" This was, indeed, good stuff.

Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing (Smaller Batch)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp, plus 1 tsp olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 3/4 tsp. pepper
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 tsp. onion powder
1 3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup, plus 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Directions:

Mix all ingredients, except vinegar, together. Add red wine vinegar and mix vigorously until well-blended. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Danielle M. You can find the original (big batch) recipe here (and above). 


Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Soup)

Here is the recipe. I got it from a book Clint gave me, but I have modified it...

Ingredients:

3 pints chicken broth ( 3 16 oz cans)
2 eggs
2 Tbs lemon juice (or more depending on taste, I like things extra lemony)
about a cup of cooked rice or orzo pasta
one cooked chicken breast, shredded
parsley, chopped about 1/4 cup
salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring broth to a boil, reduce to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Add a small ladle of the soup to the egg mixture and whisk until well combined, then slowly add this mixture to the pot of the cooking broth. Whisk constantly until texture is smooth and egg is well integrated. Add chicken and rice cook on low for a few minutes, then add some fresh parsley. Yummmmmy!

Happy cooking!

Note: It is important to add a small ladle of soup to the egg mixture before adding the egg mixture directly to the soup. It tempers the egg mixture so that it doesn't cook immediately once it is added to the soup. If you add the egg mixture directly to the soup, it will end up more like Chinese egg noodle soup with string of egg throughout the soup rather than a silky, creamy texture as intended in this recipe. 


Greek Festival Lemon Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

1/4 lb. butter
2 cups uncooked rice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
5 cups hot chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Heat butter in a heavy skillet. When it is hot, add the rice and, stirring constantly, sauce over medium heat until transparent, but not brown.

Add the lemon juice, chicken broth, and salt.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let pilaf stand uncovered for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: I found this on food.com. You can find it here.

Notes: This isn't a fluffy rice pilaf, it is more of a sticky rice. It is so good. It is spot on with the Greek rice that you can get in a Greek restaurant. The recipe provides this note: "Every September, Salt Lake has an amazing Greek Festival. Back in 2001 I got a pamphlet of Greek recipes from the festival. This rice pilaf is very similar to the rice pilaf served at my favorite Greek restaurant. Opa!" This really does taste like the rice from the Greek festival. Good stuff!

The only change I made was to use half of the butter that the recipe called for. It was still fantastic.


Herbed Greek Roasted Potatoes with Feta Cheese

Ingredients:

5 pounds potatoes, cut into wedges
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1 (8 ounce) package crumbed feta cheese

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly oil a large baking dish.

Stir the potatoes, garlic, olive oil, water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a bowl until the potatoes are evenly coated; pour into the prepared baking dish.

Roast in the preheated oven until the potatoes begin to brown, about 40 minutes. Season the potatoes with the oregano and mint. If the dish appears dry, pour another 1/2 cup water into the dish. Return to the oven and bake about 40 minutes more. Top with the crumbled feta cheese to serve.

 

Greek Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 cup French (du Puy) lentils
1/2 cup quinoa
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small/medium zucchini or 1 large, cubed
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved and pitted
4 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Rinse and drain the lentils. Place in a saucepan and cover by 2 inches with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 20-25 minutes, until tender. Strain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, make the quinoa. Place quinoa in a small sauce pot with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.

Remove from heat, keep the lid on and let sit another 2-3 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Once the lentils and quinoa have cooled, place in a bowl with the tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, and olives.

Whisk together the oregano, salt, ground pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss with salad and serve.

Source: Delish Knowledge, recipe by Alex Caspero. You can find it here.

 

Greek Tzatziki

Ingredients:

1 (32 ounce) container plain low-fat yogurt (Greek yogurt can also be used for a thicker tzatziki)
1/2 English cucumber with peel, grated
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Stir together yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Add lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper; whisk until smooth. pour into a serving dish, cover tightly, and refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Leelee Cooks. You can find it here.

Notes: This is one of many tzatziki recipes on our blog, but it is a great one. It's always fun to try new combinations. We served this with our smoked lamb and it was fantastic. I need to hunt down the smoked lamb recipe from my brother and add it to this post.


Milk Pie aka Galatoboureko

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup fine semolina
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough, thawed
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 large lemon

Directions:

In a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot, bring the milk to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Sprinkle in the semolina, whisking constantly. Add the sugar, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, whisk in 2/3 cup of the butter, and add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. The mixture will be thick, but pourable, like a soft polenta.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom with 8 sheets of phyllo, layering them one at a time, and brushing each sheet with butter. The sheets will be larger than the baking pan. Be certain that the bottom is covered by pressing the dough into the corners, and allow the excess to run up the sides of the pan. Phyllo sheets not in use should always be covered with a damp towl.

Pour the milk filling over the sheets. Cover with remaining 12 sheets of phyllo, repeating the layering process, and brushing each sheet with butter.

With a very sharp knife, trim the dough around the edges of the pan, and score the top diagonally in two directions to make diamond-shaped slits on the surface. Sprinkle the top with a little water, and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check after 45 minutes. Pie is done when top is light brown and the filling is set.

As soon as the pie is in the ove, begin to make the syrup. Combine water and sugar in a 4 quart saucepan. Squeeze the halved lemon in the sugared water, and drop the juiced half in the liquid. Simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Discard the lemon. Very carefully, because syrup can boile vigorously, pour the hot syrup over the pie as soon as it is removed from the oven.

Let the pie cool completely, and then serve by cutting along the diagonal scores made prior to baking.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Kenmore featured chef, Cat Cora. You can find it here.

Notes: This is one of my favorite Greek desserts. It is so delicious. It is also wonderful with almond flavoring added in (in place of the vanilla).


Greek Honey Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts (we used almonds because my son isn't allergic to those)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and orange rind. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts (or almonds).

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. Pour honey syrup over the cake.

For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Source: Food.com by CaliforniaJan. You can find it here.

Notes: This was really good. Plus, it was beautiful with the diamond shapes on top.