Monday, January 31, 2011


So I’m late on the Christmas cookies from this last year…  I forgot about them.  Oops. 

But I remembered eventually, so here I am, posting about them.  This is gonna be one big post, cuz there were LOTS of cookies!!! I’ll link back to the ones I did not change at all, to make it easier on you guys!


First, the I made some brownie covered Oreos from Picky Palate (not shown above).  These were pretty good.  I made them in paper cupcake liners b/c I saw someone else make them on another site and highly recommended using the paper liners b/c they stuck to the pan even w/ cooking spray.  The first time I made them, I used too much brownie batter (huh, too much???) so they were more like brownies surprises, but the second time (and the picture time), I used a lot less batter.  They were delicious either way, really. 



So next around were the red velvet shortbread from Kribie’s Cravings.  I was sooooo excited about these.  I love everything and anything red velvet.  I made them EXACTLY how they were written on the site…  but they didn’t work for me.  I couldn’t figure it out at the time, but I realize now (silly me) that she used 1 cup of butter, but the original recipe only had 1/2 cup of butter.  I am VERY determined to make this, especially b/c they would work so well with Christmas and Valentine’s Day, at least.  And you can change the color to make them work for any holiday...  So I will definitely try them again with the appropriate amount of butter.  I’m sure they will not spreadthe nexrt time around.

Oh and the flavor was EXCELLENT!  They were buttery with a hint of cocoa, so they were PERFECT, other than the increased butter. 


Then there were these pinwheel cookies…  These were really yummy, bujt I think I will use different kind of filling, like Solo pie filling.  Something of more substanance.  But the cookie was delicious.  I would just highly recommend baking them on parchment paper, not foil.  On foil, they spread and stuck.  But they were very yummy! 


I also made some yummy chocolate cookie covered rolos.  Mmmm…  I adapted it from Twol Peas and Their Pod’s recipe for Chocolate Caramel cookies with sea salt.  I used the cookie recipe and made some changes on that too. 

1 1/4 cups of flour

1/4 tsp of baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

5 tbsp butter

4 oz milk chocolate

7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 rolls of Rolos

Preheat oven to 350ºF; line 2 baking sheets with baking paper, lightly coated with cooking spray. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour, soda, and salt; set aside.

Melt butter and milk chocolate in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Wrap the chocolate dough around the Rolos. Place balls on cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.


The cookie was very soft and chewy and the addition of the ooey gooey rolo made it that much better.  This was definitely one of my favorites and LOVED by the security guys in my work building.  They loved these.  I should have included more!!!

The Nocha Buena cookies.  I copied this recipe to a word doc and I forgot to put the website.  I’m so sorry to whoever I copied this from!!!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 ounces fine-quality chocolate, finely chopped, melted, and cooled

About 1/2 cup dulce de leche (I used Trader Joe’s fluer de sel caramel. Yum)


Preheat oven to 350°F with oven racks in upper and lower thirds.

Sift or whisk together flour, cocoa, chili powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl until combined. Set aside.

Combine butter and sugar in a bowl. Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat until light and fluffy.

Add egg yolks, and vanilla, beating well, scraping down the sides after each addition. Mix in the cooled chocolate.

Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until combined well.

Drop batter by rounded teaspoons 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed up and dry looking around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool.

Continue with the remaining dough, making sure to let the baking sheets cool between batches.

A couple of options for the caramel. You can make them thumbprints like I did the second time around.  Or you can make sandwiches like I did the first time (I didn’t take pics of those).  The Trader Joe’s caramel was thinner and not thick enough to handle a sandwich cookie.  the cookies were too heavy and the caramel oozed out…  Oops.  If you choose thumbprints, make a thick disk with the dough and make a little bowl on the top.  Bake them like that, then fill once they’ve cooled.  To make the sandwiches, make thinner disks so they aren’t too huge or fat.  Dust with additional cocoa powder and a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or chili powder.

These cookies are not hard or soft.  They weren’t really crumbly like shortbread…  They were almost a tender shortbread, if that makes any sense?  But the chili makes a really good addition to these cookies, they were not “spicy” at all, more like a kick of something. 

So my FAVORITE dessert for Christmas were these chocolate dulce de leche bars…  I saw them on What’s Cooking, Chicago?

The only thing I changed was that I added 6 oz of cooled melted milk chocolate when I added the eggs and vanilla.  OMG, these were absolutely to die for!  The actual bar was soft and chewy, the caramel was rich and gooey.  The combination of the two was amazing.  My other recommendations would be to spray the pan, line it with foil-enough to have overhand, then spray it again.  Then, let them cool in the pan on a wire rack.  After they’ve cooled most of the way, put them in the fridge to help the caramel set.  Once they are completely cooled, lift the foil out of the pan.  I used a nifty little brownie cutter made by Wilton. It makes three rectangular bars at once.  All neat and the same shape.  I like when things are nice and even.  :)

And it let me have all the scraps, hehe.

DSCF2321 DSCF2320

These are definitely going to be made again and again and again.  They were awesome. 

So thank you for forgiving me my late post on my Christmas goodies.  And enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes


I love apples and cinnamon.  I love cupcakes.  I love cinnamon rolls.  When I saw Andrea of Can You Stay for Dinner? make an apple walnut cinnamon roll cupcake, I was in love.  It was love at first site.  I didn’t need to smell them, eat them, devour them.  I just knew. 

They are soft and chewy, sweet, cinnamon-y, apple-y, gooey, DELICIOUS!!!!

I made the for Thanksgiving dessert (I know, I’m late, sorry!!!) and they stayed just as delicious hours later as they were fresh from the oven, piping hot and super gooey soft.  I could have had them all by myself.  Could have, but didn’t.  I have to be good somehow, right?  I was so good, I split a small, deformed one with my mom straight from the oven (for God’s sake, people, wait 5 minutes!  My tongue still hates me for that one! Hot apple chunks and boiling cinnamon sugar=searing pain…) and I had one more at dessert. 
Deliciousness, seriously. 


as adapted from Can You Stay for Dinner?- original recipe here


2 cups skim milk
1 tablespoon (.5 oz) active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 eggs
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
2 cups finely chopped tart apples


Heat the milk in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for about one minute.  Add the yeast, then sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add two cups of flour and the salt and beat for a full two minutes. Add the softened butter and eggs and beat until the mixture is well combined. Add the rest of the flour, half a cup at a time, and beat thoroughly after each addition.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Knead the dough for five minutes, until it has become soft and elastic.

Put the dough in a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm area for 40 minutes. It will double in size.  You can also leave it in the covered bowl overnight, like I did.  It won’t hurt it. 

Combine the sugars, cinnamon, and apples in a large bowl.DSCF2295


Turn the dough onto the counter and roll it out 1/4” thick into a rectangular shape. Use a pastry brush to spread half of the butter over the surface.  Spread the cinnamon-sugar-apple mix over the dough, leaving a 1” border all around.


This is half the raised dough.  I had to do this in two parts b/c I didn’t have enough counter space to roll out all the dough.


I also didn’t leave 1” the first time around.  Oops.  That was messy. 

Starting on one of the long ends, carefully roll the dough over the filling and roll into log.  Cut the log into 24 pieces and place each inside one of the cups of a muffin tin lined with paper liners.  Cover the cupcakes with a towel and let them rise in a warm place for another 40 minutes.

Before:   DSCF2298

After:    DSCF2300

Preheat the oven to 350º. Brush the remaining butter evenly on the tops of the cupcakes and bake for 20 minutes. The tops will be a light golden brown.




Take them out and glaze.  I made a cinnamon cream cheese glaze.

I just beat one 8oz block of softened cream cheese with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1tsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp of cinnamon until soft.  I added a little bit of heavy cream to thin it out a bit, but not too loose.  I should have added a bit more b/c I literally ran out of glaze for the last two, so I ended up putting less on those two. It’s ok, b/c they were deformed and mom and me split one and dad ate the other.  No one ever saw them.  :)




Okay, so Im not kidding.  Make these, please.  And have five for me…  It’s ok. You don’t gain the calories if they are for me.  I promise. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Annoying little buggers


So we discovered an annyoing little problem in our house this past week.   And subsquently had to throw away all of our food in the pantry.  Yep, we had an infestation of pantry moths. 

I had NEVER heard of pantry moths before.  You see, we started noticing these itty bitty moths flying around and couldn’t for the life of us figure out where they were coming from.   They were so annoying, b/c they were everywhere. 

So finally, last week, mom was looking in the pantry for something anf looked up and saw dark spots all the way up top in the corner of the pantry.  She got on a step stool and realized they were all swarmed there.  Not all of them of course, but a lot. 

So she cleaned out the pantry and found more behind all the liquor (Note, we are not drinkers, but apparently we have more booze in the house than flour!).

So she proceededto take everything out of the pantry and clean it top to bottom.  But she didn’t really look at everything too closely.  She threw away what she thought was expired and then put everything back in, except for my shelf, she let me organize that. 

Well, that night I went to my SnB group and figured I’d just organize everything when I got home.  Then my lovely ladies proceeded to tell me they were in our food, not just hanging out in the corners of the walls!!! 

So I got home and researched them more, to see what food I needed to toss.  OMG.  Everything was tossed pretty much at that point.  They really like grains, so we likely got a batch of flour w/ tons of eggs in it, they hatched and grew to adult form and bam!  we got pantry moths.  Funny thing is, you see one, you will likely see more, so start moving right then!

The life cyle is egg, larvae, pupa and adult.  There is no way to really tell when we bought that bad batch b/c it took sometime to find the adults and mom has a tendancy to buy flour and stick it in the back of the pantry, but not put the old stuff in front of the new stuff.  Btw, we had like 6 things of flour in the pantry when I threw everything away last week. 

So the egg stage lasts about 7 days.  The eggs then hatch into larvae.  Those little wormie things.  They go through 5 stages of development in order to grow and then they leave to find a place to cocoon themselves.  They leave waste behind.  This process takes about 42-56 days.

Then the pupa stage.  This is when they turn themselves into a cocoon.  Thing about this stage is that they will do this anywhere, not just in the grains they feed on.  They will go under the cap of your dried herbs, the rim of a can, ANYWHERE.   Moth pupae are no more than 1/3 of an inch long and may be as small as 1/4 inch.  This takes aprx 20 days to complete.  If you see these anywhere, just toss it!!! 

Next is the lovely, noticable annoying adult stage.  The adult pantry moth has finished feeding and has only 1 mission: TO CREATE MORE MOTHS! Those moths will fly all over the house, looking for a mate. The female moth releases a pheromone to help the male moth locate her so that she can lay her eggs. Adult moths will only live 1 or 2 weeks because they don't feed as adults. But with the ability to lay 400 eggs at a time, they definitely are as gross as the little worms!

An adult moth is roughly half an inch, and is 5/8 of an inch with wings extended.  A Flour moth is grey and buff white with no hint of color.  That’s the most common from what I’ve read.  There are some Indian ones w/ red coloring, but I’ve never seen them. 

Getting rid of them and keeping them gone is a long process.  Chances are, you will have to throw everything away and start over.  I read that some will get into candy too, so all those toffee bits or chocolate chips?  Toss them!  The rims of cans and other jars that they aren’t attracted to could still have cocoons in them.  The eggs and larvae pretty much stay in grains and that’s just gross.  You want a dead worm in your cookies??? 

These guys aren’t harmful to you to ingest, but still, gross!!!! 

So start by throwing out all your grain.  You have no idea how easy it is for them to get into a closed-never opened-bag of flour or rice.  Grains include cereal, all flours, rice, pasta, crackers, etc. 

Then inspect everything else!  Check out the rims of the spice jars, the edges of your cans, EVERYTHING! 

Toss it if it has anything on it.  Rinse of the cans and jars if they look untouched and let them dry completely before putting them back in the pantry. 

Purchase pantry moth traps.  The grains and other items you toss will take care of the eggs and hopefully all of the larvae and pupa, unless they got into cracks and crevices in the walls.  The pantry traps will attract the male moths to keep them from mating with the female ones.  Swat at everything you see that doesn’t go in the traps. 

Don’t spread bay leaves all over, it’s a waste.  No Wrigley’s Spearamint gum b/c they love sugar and will feed off it.  Don’t use pesticides.  Those are bad in the kitchen!  When you clean the shelves and walls, use white vinegar.  Also, use the hose attachment on your vacuum and hold it near the cracks and holes in the walls to suck out anything that might have stashed itself in there. 

Purchase snapware containers.  Or whatever other similar containers you can find for your flour, sugar, cereal, nuts, chips, crackers, EVERYTHING!

I purchased these the very next day and already have newly purchased products in them:

3 Pack - Snapware Fliptop Double Airtight Seal Cereal Boxes

Lock & Lock Storage 21.1 Cup Storage Bin

Kinetic Go Green Premium Nano Silver 7 Piece Food Storage Container Set

This is in addition to the numerous snapware products I already own.   These aren’t all Snapware.  The cereal containers are, the second ones are from Lock & Lock and the third is Kinetic Go Green Premium Nano Silver 7 Piece Food Storage Container Set.  I’ll use those for dried fruit and nuts and such. 

When you are buying the food that these bugs infest, note a few things at the store.  One, don’t buy anything anywhere these bugs are flying around.  And tell the store manager if you see them.  If you see webbing on anything at the store, don’t buy it and tell a manager.  Do not buy these items in bulk!  If you aren’t going to use it that week, don’t get it.  There is no reason to have flour sitting around for nothing.  Especially if you have these things around. 

The last piece of advice I leave you with is to freeze all grains in the freezer for 48 hours.  This may not work well on crackers and cereal, so with those, buy as needed.  Don’t stock up on those things b/c they are on sale.  Don’t worry, there will be a coupon or sale somewhere again.  But flours, sugars, rice, pastas, all in the freezer for 48 hours.  This will kill all of the eggs that are hanging out in there.  But even if you do this for the 5 things of flour on sale, if you have one female moth still hanging around, it will lay eggs in the flour you just froze to kill and potential eggs already there.  So it was all for naught.  And please, put everything in well sealed containers!!!  Even jars can have these things hanging out in the treads. 

Like I said before, these aren’t harmful to your health, but they are annoying and gross.  And to get rid of everything is expensive!!! I threw away hundreds of dollars of flours, sugars, nuts, spices, herbs, rice, pastas, quinoa, couscous, and much more.  And I was very angry about it!!!! 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year all!!! 

As you all know, I promised more posts this new year.  So here I am, in bed (I love you babes!!!), posting about one of my favorite Greek Orthodox traditions on the church. 

Vasilopita.  Vasilopita, literally translated to Basil pie or King pie (the word vasileus means king) is a delicious sweet bread that is served on New Years Day.  The bread is baked with a coin in it and the person who gets the slice with the coin is granted good luck and prosperity all year long.  This year, I was asked at my church to be a special recipient of a slice.  I didn't get it...  so sad cuz I never do, but hey, I don't need a coin to be prosperous right?  Although, I'm sure the luck of the church would be mighty helpful over the next few months... 


The tradition of the Vasilopita is associated with St. Basil, whose namesday we celebrated yesterday.  (Happy Namesday Mom and Uncle Basil!!!)

St. Basil called upon the citizens of a city called Kaesarea in Cappadokia, where he was Bishop, to raise a the taxes for the citizens of the city who were affected by a great famine.  Each member of the city gave whatever they had in gold and jewelry.  When the money was raised, the eparch of the province, who had demanded the taxes, despite the horrible famine, changed his mind and gave the jewelry back to St. Basil.  St. Basil then had to return the items, but since he did not know what went to each person, he baked all the jewelry into loaves of bread, and distributed the loaves to the city.  By some miracle, each family received their exact share back. 

So each year, we bake vasilopita, placing a coin in the dough before baking.  When I was younger, it was a gold coin, although nowadays, you're more likely to find a silver dollar, or if baked in large quantities, quarters. 
This year, my Thea Mary got the coin.  To be fair, I give pieces in order of age.  You don't know where the coin is, so you don't worry much about cheating.  :)
I bought my vasilopita from church this year, but I do have a tried and true recipe to share.  It is a delicious sweet bread that can most definitely be used for bread puddings, french toast, or just to have. 
Btw, this bread is a bread, not a cake.  There are vasilopita recipes that are a cake w/ no frosting, but this is definitely not one of those.  It is for sure a bread. 



1 1/3 cups milk
1 Pkg active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
10 tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
halved and skinned almonds (or slivered) for topping


Mix flour, salt and yeast. Set aside.

Heat the milk and water in the microwave for about a minute and half. 
Beat eggs well and add sugar until incorporated.  Cream egg/sugar mixture with the butter with an electric mixer.  Add the warmed milk and water, mix well. 
Gradually add flour mix. Mix thoroughly, but do not over mix.  This is meant to be a very soft bread. 
The dough should be soft and elastic.  If it is too sticky, add a little more, 1/4 cup at a time. 
Cover the mixing bowl with a thick towel.  Let rise until double, about an hour.  Don't place the bowl somewhere cool. 
Once it has doubled in size, punch it down and knead the dough. Add the coin to the dough***
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10 inch springform pan with cooking spray.  Place the dough in the pan.
Cover the pan with a thick towel and let rise in a warm place until dough has nearly doubled.
Brush the top with the beaten egg. Press the halved almonds on the top of the bread, randomly or in a pretty design. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-60 mins. until top is a nice golden brown color.  Check it after 15 mins and if the top is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for longer.  Keep a close eye on it after 45 mins.  Some ovens are different, so you need to see how your oven works.  Our old oven is a lot different than our new one and I messed this up the first time in the new oven, so pay attention to how quickly your oven bakes.  Cool in pan for 10 mins, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

***So some people may have a concern about placing a coin in the dough.  I will thoroughly clean the coin, and I mean thoroughly, with dish soap.  I usually let it sit in warm water, with dish soap in it before actually scrubbing it down.  Then I wrap the coin in a little bit of foil. I bake the foil wrapped coin in the bread.  It is definitely safe this way; this is how I, and most Greeks have been doing it for years.  :)
Happy New Year everyone!  I hope that every one's year is blessed with good times, lots of joy and love and lots of prosperity!!!  Even if you didn't get the coin!  :)