Mar 252013
 

My cooking club theme this month was “My Big Fat Greek Dinner”.  We had a great buffet of Greek specialties including spanakopita, Greek chicken, Greek pasta salad, and baklava.  There was plenty of feta and phyllo dough to go around.

I made these Lenten Koulourakia.  Many traditional recipes featured sesame seeds, but this recipe used almonds which I like better. Plus, this recipe also included wine, always a crowd favorite.

The dough uses oil, not butter, so the texture is dense and the cookies are nice and crunchy.  They are not overly sweet, but still taste like dessert.  They actually remind me a bit of Italian biscotti; they’re the kind of cookie you want to dip in something.  Coffee, tea, wine…your choice!

 

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Feb 042013
 

For me, the Superbowl is all about the food.  And this year was no exception.  I brought two dishes to a party, but let’s start with dessert first.   I made these Gooey Chocolate Chip Sandwich Bars, and they exceeded all expectations!  I received a lot of compliments for making them, but the credit really goes to Recipegirl.

The top and bottom layers of the bars are like chocolate chip cookies, with a rich chocolate layer in the middle.  The recipe is pretty straightforward, but I do have just a few notes.  The cookie dough batter is fairly stiff; I wasn’t able to spread it easily, but it was fine in the end.  The chocolate layer is also fairly stiff once the mixture cools a bit, but that’s OK too.  As long as you get everything into the pan, it will come out fine.

Whether you eat these to celebrate your team’s win, drown your sorrows in your team’s loss, or just because you love chocolate, they’re guaranteed to be a hit.

 

 

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Dec 272012
 

I totally didn’t mean to leave for the holiday without even saying “Merry Christmas”!  It’s been an odd year, and I even skipped the Christmas cookie swap.  Then my family realized that this meant there were no cookies to serve for our family gatherings.  My sister thought it would be fun to make some gingerbread men with my nephews, and a new holiday tradition was born.

 

 

She made the dough using this recipe and brought over some cookie cutters.  We had to let the dough warm up for quite a bit before we could roll it out, but after that, it was all hands on deck.  We rolled, we cut, and we scooped the cookies onto the baking sheets.  Then we pulled up the scraps and rolled some more.  We decorated the cookies with raisins and chocolate chips before baking, and this may have been my older nephew’s favorite part!

 

 

After the cookies were out of the oven, we let them cool, and then decorated them with icing.  The recipe above includes icing directions, but we used store-bought icing tubes which were a good time saver.  Santa still had a lot of things to do!  Even my younger nephew got to play with some cookies and icing.

 

 

This was a fun project, and the cookies tasted really good!  The thin cookies got nice and crispy, and the thicker cookies were a bit softer.  Unless you roll the dough more consistently than we did, you’ll have a variety.  It may be too late for you to make gingerbread men this holiday season, but we’ll come back to this project again next year.

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Nov 282012
 

Thanksgiving doesn’t stop on Thursday.  We have an annual extended family gathering on the Friday night after Thanksgiving that’s just as much fun as the big day itself.  Usually we bring a dessert (probably because we’re almost always late!)  This year, I wanted to make Joy the Baker’s Pumpkin Pie Bars.

The bars have a bottom crust made with butter, flour, oats, and pecans, and this mixture is also used for a crumble topping.  The filling is a rich mixture of cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, and spices.  The recipe has all the right ingredients so we had high expectations.  Sadly, we were disappointed.  But don’t they look pretty?

 

 

The first problem was that the bars took significantly longer than expected to bake in the oven, and it was really difficult to tell when they were done.  The recipe indicates they should be cooked until “the center no longer jiggles.”  It’s pretty hard to see the filling underneath the crumble topping, so we ended up using a toothpick to help.

The recipe also indicates that the bars should be chilled prior to cutting, but even after some time in the freezer, the center was still very soft.  It was difficult to cut them into nice bars.  After more time in the host’s refrigerator, the bars were still messy to eat.  I think this recipe would work much better as a regular cheesecake that you enjoy with a fork.

Of course, no one at the party cared that our bars weren’t up to par.  There were plenty of great desserts, including another dish of pumpkin bars which were excellent.  So I asked which recipe they used.  “Shhhh….they’re from a box mix.”

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Oct 302012
 

After making two pumpkin recipes last week, I had just 1 cup of pumpkin leftover.  I was saving it for these Pumpkin Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies from the ‘a hint of honey’ blog.  I know, I just made Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies a few weeks ago, but these have even more pumpkin, and chocolate.

It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve creamed butter and sugar, and making these cookies was really fun.  I chopped a bar of good dark chocolate which was the perfect complement to the dried cranberries.  And the end result is rich, chewy, and delicious.  I better make these last, because I am all out of pumpkin at the moment!

 

 

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