Greek Holiday Baklava

My stepfather’s family is Greek and since I was raised in his household, I grew up with amazing Baklava that we had every holiday season. Every year, it was always traditionally the same. As I have adult children of my own now, I have made Baklava myself for many years and have tweaked the syrup some from how my mother taught me to make it. I hope you enjoy! This recipe is way easier than you’d think!

Bakalava fresh out of the oven – before syrup

Ingredients

Baklava

  • 1  pound of raw, unsalted nuts (I use walnuts)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 pkg phyllo dough
  • 1 cup butter melted
  • Whole cloves for middle of each piece

Instructions

Baklava

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  • Chop the nuts very fine. You can do this by hand or in a food processor.
  • After the nuts are fine, mix the ground spices into them.
  • Unroll the phyllo and place it on a cookie sheet. Cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and then with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out quickly.
  • Place 5 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of your baking dish. Brush generously with the melted butter.
  • Sprinkle 5 to 6 tablespoons of the nut mixture evenly over the phyllo.
  • Add 2 more sheets of phyllo dough and brush with butter after every layer.
  • Continue to layer the nuts and phyllo sheets, brushing the sheets with butter as you go, until you have used all of the nut mixture.
  • For the top layer of phyllo, use 6 to 8 sheets, buttering each one.
  • Now, using a very sharp knife, cut the Baklava all the way through, into 4 long rows. Then cut diagonally to make diamond shapes.
  • Place in the preheated oven ad bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown.

Baklava still very hot with fresh syrup poured on

Syrup

  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon or orange juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • peel from 1 lemon or orange washed, cut in strips, and pith removed

Instructions

Syrup

  • Combine the brown sugar and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add the honey, cinnamon sticks, cloves and citrus peel and return to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the cloves, peels and cinnamon sticks. The peel is “candied” now so you can use it in other recipes.
  • Add the lemon or orange juice and the vanilla and mix well.
  • Remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • After removing the Baklava from the oven, immediately pour the syrup over the top (It will absorb all of the syrup as it cools).
  • Allow the Baklava to cool completely before serving. *My family always put one clove in the middle of each piece of baklava. It holds the top layers together & its a Greek thing!

Lemon Cream Cheese Pie With Strawberry Glaze!

Ok, so initially the plan was to make a strawberry cream cheese pie, but then I couldn’t get lemon curd out of my mind! I love lemon anything and the idea of lemon and strawberry together was irresistible!

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Typically, you see graham cracker crust with cream cheese pie, but with lemons dancing through my mind already, I decided to use some of my favorite Trader Joe’s cookies that my son brought to me the week prior. Here they are in all of their glory:

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They are so amazing on their own…light and slightly lemony. Yum.

 

CRUST:

I put 2 sleeves of cookies in my food processor and pulsed it until they were fine crumbs, then drizzled in 3 tbsp of melted butter and pulsed that until combined. I then pressed the mixture into a pie plate and popped it in the fridge while prepping the cream cheese filling.

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FILLING:

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened, not light
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla powder
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar

Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. While continuously beating, slowly add sweetened condensed milk and then vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Pour into the cool crust, then tightly cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

LEMON CURD: 

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I use Ina Garten’s recipe, because she’s a genius and everything she makes is perfection. Here’s where I am getting the recipe: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-curd-recipe-1941910

Ingredients

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

STRAWBERRY GLAZE:

glaze

  • cups ripe strawberries, hulled
  • 1cup sugar
  • 1tsp cornstarch, dissolved in
  • 1cup cold water
  • tbsp butter
  • tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Crush enough strawberries to make 1 cup pulp.
  2. Place pulp in medium saucepan; add 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch mixture.
  3. Cook and stir over medium heat 2 minutes or until mixture boils, thickens and is clear.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in 1 tablespoon butter and lemon juice.
  5. Cool to room temperature.

TIP!

I give the filling in the crust about 30 mins at least to sit in the fridge before topping with the lemon curd, then another 30 mins before I put the strawberry glaze on too! So good!

Any questions, shoot me a message!

-Mia 

 

Baking crazy!

I’ve been so busy baking orders for the holidays as soon as my fall courses ended that I took the entire day off yesterday and didn’t even decorate a single cookie! 🍪

<<
gar cookies are a pain in the butt, but they sure look cute when decorated!

I’ve made so many Ewoks this year, I’ve lost count!

<<
d snowflakes…

<<
.and Samoa Truffles

<<
even made my own sprinkles for my Spritz cookies!

After an entire day off, it’s time to get back at it and bake for my family. Now that makes me happy! ❤️

Happy Holidays!

Mia

Homemade Sprinkles!

It’s easier than you think!

After you’ve colored & divided the frosting into several bags, spread wax paper out and make lines! You can use different tips for different shapes if you’d like, but for most I like to use no tip and just snip the end of the bag to mimic a small round tip. (Way easier!)

Let these dry overnight! I flip one half over the other…

Then I take my kitchen scraper and “cut” the lines vertically. You can make the sprinkles tiny or longer-whatever you want!

They always turn out cute, unless you don’t let them dry all of the way!

I store mine in super small mason jars to keep them fresh. You can keep them for a few months all air tight!

Here’s my royal icing recipe:

1c powdered sugar

1tsp merengue powder

1tsp water

Seriously- that’s all. For these, I quadrupled the recipe- adding just a teeny bit more water. Sometimes as you are coloring, the frosting starts to dry up before you can get it sealed in bags. Just add a little more water. So simple!

Happy baking!

Mia

Love A Great Organic Chocolate Chip!

Especially if I can find them at my local grocery store!

I’m not kidding! They have such a rich flavor and they’re organic! I found them at Fred Meyer (Kroger). I shop there all of the time because I adore their Simply Organic line! Great pricing too!

Just had another cookie. CAN’T STOP! 🍪

Happy baking!

Mia

Amazing Zucchini Cake Donuts!

Now don’t get me wrong…I adore traditional zucchini bread. I grew up with it and I still make the same recipe- although with mine, I use cake flour and no oil. Applesauce is my secret ingredient.

I’m thankful for my food processor, but you can totally grate your zucchini. Zucchini is soft, thank goodness.

I love this recipe with allspice. It adds to the cinnamon and creates such a great taste!

It’s really important in this recipe to whisk all of the dry ingredients, then add the eggs, applesauce & zucchini.

This sloppy mess is destined for greatness!

Donut pans are cheap! Make sure they’re non stick and even then, you need to butter or spray.

I made a simple cream cheese frosting and frosted these simply by drizzling light icing on them. My son loves them!

 

I made a simple cream cheese frosting and frosted these simply by drizzling light icing on them. My son loves them!

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp powdered vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

 

Instructions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray two donut pans with cooking spray.

 

  1. In a mixer, or with a whisk and a strong arm, combine applesauce, eggs and vanilla, mix until creamy.

 

  1. Add flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. mix until almost combined and add shredded zucchini.

 

  1. Mix until combined and pour evenly into the greased donut pans. Depending on the size of your pans, you may need a third donut pan. Never fill a donut pan higher than ⅔ full.

 

  1. Bake at 325 for about 16-18 minutes, being careful not to over cook.

 

Remove from oven and cool on cooling racks. I like to remove mine from the pan immediately. It can be tricky to get the donuts out without damaging them or leaving half of them in the bottom of the pan….so you can use your judgement on whether or not you want to leave them in the pan to cool or not. Let cool completely and store in a Ziploc bag.

These are delicious morsels. Prepare yourself! 🙂

 

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 stick butter

1/4 c cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp powdered vanilla

3-4 tbsp milk

Mix together and add into pastry bag. Drizzle!

 

The Case Of The Missing Blue And Green M&Ms


We are not Cleveland Brown fans at our house. Really. We're Hawks fans. I went to bake homemade chocolate chip & M&M mini cookies today and not a single blue or green M&M to be seen. 💙🏈💚


Being that I as fixing for a cookie, I made them anyway. Poor me.


They always turn out perfectly. It's not my recipe- it's the original Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe. Only butter though, none of that margarine crapola. 😜 No nuts either. Not in my cookies!


I found the Blue & Green M&M's. They're all in a Seahawks cup ready for game time in about
an hour & a half. Hahaha, 💚GO HAWKS! 💙

Mia

Applesauce Drop Donuts

My teenaged daughter recently had all 4 of her wisdom teeth removed. A couple were hard for the dentist to remove, so she’s had some lingering pain and hasn’t ventured into eating more than about 5 different foods. Now that she’s finally experiencing a little relief, she bugged me to make her some applesauce drop donuts. I have made these for my kids, usually in the fall, every year since they were little. I thought it was so cute that even after she asked me last night and I agreed to make them, she left me a note on my desk too. 🙂  So cute!

donuts1

I made the dough in my Kitchen Aid. You can make it by hand, it doesn’t matter. I am all about speed and ease these days. I’m getting old, you know!

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These ALWAYS turn out the same, every time. They’re fool proof! Don’t worry, yours will probably look even better. They never last long enough to worry about how they look! I don’t use a cake pop pan or anything, just drop them in to cook!

Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients-
3 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
1 cup Applesauce (I used cinnamon flavor)
1 tsp Vanilla
4 1/2 cup Flour
3 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 cup Milk
1 Apple, chopped
Oil for frying
Sugar or Powdered sugar to coat
Directions-
In a deep-fat fryer heat oil to 375° F
In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and spices; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Beat in applesauce and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in chopped apple.
Drop teaspoonfuls of batter, a few at a time, into hot oil and fry until golden, about 1 minute each side. Drain on paper towels, and roll in sugar while still warm. You can cool these and store them in a large ziploc bag to keep them soft for a couple of days. (If they last that long!)

 

Enjoy!
-Mia 

Organic Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

Yes, you can bake these with organic only ingredients. Thank goodness you can find great organic baking products in your local grocery store. Well, somewhat local. I have to go about 35 mins to get to a bigger grocery store with more selection, but I have noticed that even our small town grocery store is picking up with adding in organic brown sugar, organic vanilla, etc. Sweet!

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So, here’s the story. It was super early in the morning when I received a text from the pregnant daughter of my wonderful mail carrier. We have a rural route, so we’ve really gotten to know our mail carrier and even have become friends with her. She’s WONDERFUL! Anyway, her daughter was having her ultrasound that morning in Seattle and since she wouldn’t be able to share the news in person with her Mom on whether she was having a boy or a girl, she asked if I could bake something to put in my mailbox to surprise her Mom with the correct color. I immediately said yes, although I also had to be in a neighboring town close to the same time, so I got to work. I knew I didn’t have enough time to frost sugar cookies, since I had an appointment, but I made Sugar Cookie Bars instead, using pink and blue on half of each of the bars.

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I enlisted my son to run the cookies down at the time we knew our mail carrier would be at the mailboxes 4 miles down our driveway. He was on alert as to whether he needed to bring blue or pink, depending on when I communicated the news to him. He was so cute about it! I ended up arriving just close to the time Sam, our mail carrier was supposed to arrive, so I had my son Jace meet us down there with blue sugar cookie bars.

We are so grateful to have been able to help make this day very special and surprise the soon to be new Grandma with the news of a baby grandson! She is used to girls, so this was a great surprise for her. So many tears of joy! I am thankful for the frosting help of my daughter, whom frosted while I got ready for my appointment. Talk about family badassery!

Sugar Cookie Bar Recipe:

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) leveled all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (80g) rainbow sprinkles

Vanilla Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (270g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Optional

  • food coloring for frosting (I used 1 drop of pink gel food coloring and one drop of blue food coloring for this frosting.)
  • extra sprinkles for decorating on top

Directions:

  1. Make the bars: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil, making sure to leave enough overhang on the sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick. Once combined, gently fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles using a rubber spatula (or by mixing on low speed).
  4. Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-26 minutes or until very lightly browned on top. You want the cookie bars to be extra soft, so careful not to overbake. Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting. The center will slightly sink – that’s normal.
  5. Make the frosting: If you don’t want a super thick layer of frosting as pictured, halve the frosting recipe. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I usually add anywhere between 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat in food coloring, if using.
  6. Remove cooled bars from the baking pan using the aluminum foil overhang on the sides. Frost the bars with a thick layer of frosting and decorate with extra sprinkles if desired. Cut into squares. Use a very sharp knife and wipe off with a paper towel between each cut to make neat, even cuts. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5.

Make ahead tip: You can make these bars and the frosting 1 day in advance– store the bars, covered, at room temperature overnight and store the frosting, covered, in the refrigerator. Frost before cutting and serving. You can also freeze the unfrosted bars for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, frost, cut, and serve. I would have totally done this, had I enough advanced notice. Sometimes you have to just roll with the punches! 🙂

 

-Mia

Molten Lava Goodness

I love good chocolate. I wouldn’t say I’m super picky, but a good chocolate makes a difference. It’s a little more spendy, especially if it’s organic. Well worth it though! We took Erin to a restaurant last week and after gorging ourselves on Bacon Cheeseburgers, she wanted to order a Molten Lava Cake for dessert. I told her that the ingredients used, as well as how they are not cooked fresh did not justify ordering them that day, but I promised to make her some this week.

I decided to bake these in cupcake pans to control size portions because they are so rich. What a success!

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Finished product. Woweeeeeee. Paired with a scoop of espresso ice cream…amazeballs.

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They may not look too gorgeous when they are ready to chill for an hour or so, but the messy cocoa/chocolate goodness really firms up in the fridge, making the center stay gooey when you bake them.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 2 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 12 oz of chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c of heavy cream
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2/3 c of flour

Prepare cupcake pans by coating the inside of each with melted butter by swirling it around or brushing with a pastry brush. Then sprinkle the insides with cocoa, coating completely.

To make the batter, place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, then top it with butter and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth. When chocolate has cooled slightly, stir in eggs, sugar and flour. Pour into prepared cupcake pans. Refrigerate for 1 hour (at least) and up to a couple of days.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes for regular 12/pan size and 15-18 for jumbo 6/pan size, just until the outsides and most of the top have set, and the centers are still slightly runny. You can insert the tip of a knife to test. You just want a bit of the very center to be a thick pudding like texture. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then place a sheet pan on top of the muffin pan and invert them.