Melomakarouna for the Decapentavgustos! (Greek Honey cookies for the August 15th Holiday!)

ImageImageHappy 15th of August to all of my Greek friends! For those of you who aren’t of the Hellenic persuasion, the 15th of August is a big religious summer holiday that celebrates the Ascention of the Virgin Mary or “Panayia”. She represents Mother Earth to the mainlanders, and Mother sea to all of the islanders. All Greeks named after the Virgin Mary with names ranging from Mary to Mario to Panayioti celebrate this special day along with her and are given many presents, asked advice, and considered closer to God on this day. This even includes the name Despina, or the ancient version of how they addressed the Panayia (woohoo it’s my name day too! So, if anyone wants to surprise me with a really nice, lavish present today, please, by all means, feel free! ) On this day, which is the third holiest aside from Christmas and Easter, the Virgin Mary, or Panayia, is asked to preform miracles on Earth, ranging rom solving family feuds to playing matchmaker. Whatever the miracle, Greeks can be sure of a couple of things: the day(s) off from work surrounding the Holiday (those Greeks and their excuses to take off work and party, right?), a Panigiri or festival will take place, and lots of good food, wine, and merriment. Maybe even a miracle or two. 

In commemorance of this special day, I decided to make one of my all-time favorite Greek desserts to share. Melomakarouna, or “Honey Cookies”, are a delicious treat that always reminds me of the holy holidays: Easter, Christmas, and hey, why not Decapentavgoustos as well? These are super easy to make, and the orange and cinnamon flavors really evoke the warm feeling of celebrating a holiday with friends. There is nothing better than enjoying a Melomakarouno cookie with a steaming cup of coffee or tea and chatting with friends and family. On a side note, yet another perk is that these are Vegan-friendly, as there is no egg or dairy in these cookies! I hope you enjoy, and add these to your holiday favorites as well, though they are delicious any time of year you want to feel that warm holiday feeling.

 

 For the Cookies:

-4 cups flour

-3/4 cup olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)

-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-1/3 cup sugar

-zest of 1 large orange

-1/2 cup orange juice

-5 tbs brandy

-1/2 tsp salt

-small pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

-1 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, for topping

– ½ tsp cinnamon

 

For the Syrup:

-1 cup honey

-1 cup water

-1/4 cup sugar

– 1 cinnamon stick

-3 whole cloves

-1 small 1” piece of lemon rind

-1 small  1” piece of orange rind

-1 tsp lemon juice

-cinnamon for sprinkling on top

 

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a small bowl, lightly press together the orange zest and sugar until they form an orange colored sugar, and the orange oils have coated the sugar well.

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Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and blend in the oils, brandy, and orange juice.

In the mixing bowl, slowly add in the dry ingredients, pulsing and mxing with every ½ cup or so of added dry ingredients until all is blended and a dough forms. The dough should be moist, but not sticky.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, place 1 tbs rounded dough balls, spacing evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cookies are a light golden brown.

While the cookies are baking, begin making the syrup immediately.

In a large saucepan, whisk together all of the syrup ingredients, and bring to a boil. Now reduce the pan to a simmer on medum low, and simmer for about 25 minutes.

ImageOnce the cookies are done, immediately submerge them in batches in the syrup, dunking them on all sides for about 30 seconds. Remove from the oil, and line on a serving platter. Sprinkle with walnuts, lightly pressing the walnuts into the tops of the cookies to stick.

Repeat this process with the rest of the cookies. To serve, serve warm with coffee. To store, keep them at room temperature, so that they stay soft.

 

 

 

 

 

One-Pot Monday presents: Mama D’s Mushroom Risotto

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This risotto is one of my favorite one-pot meals to make, because it’s SO EASY, and you would never guess that there weren’t a million steps involved to create such flavors.  Whenever I go out to a new fancy restaurant and spot a mushroom risotto dish on the menu, I always have to compare it to my mom’s version. And, usually, it never really matches her simple, yet satisfying version. It can very well serve as a stand-alone meal with a little simple side salad, or it’s a really great side dish to serve with a main course. One thing to keep in mind when you are cooking with very few ingredients is that the ingredients have to speak for themselves and really shine, so the fresher and more high quality the ingredients, the better your end product will be! That being said, I’ve even brought this dish to a Pot Luck or two, and gotten rave reviews…Mama D really nailed it with this one!

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Gorgeous & Delicious: Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

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I know, I know… it’s been waaay to long since I’ve blogged any recipes. The truth is, Andy and I had a magical, wonderful whirlwind wedding weekend. (Try saying that three times fast).  We had family and friends fly in from all over the world to celebrate. The whole weekend was brimming with such a positive, happy energy, it’s carried over to real life. Yay!! But now, it’s back to the blog, and this week, I wanted to post something special. After a week of literally eating giant slices of wedding cake multiple times a day, I knew it was time to put down the cake fork and get back on the healthy track. I’m not one to normally take notice of the negative effects of too much sugar and gluten, but after eating so much cake, my body has definitely revolted, leaving me feeling ill and craving all things nutritious and healthful. But who’s to say healthy can’t still be yummy and sweet-tooth satisfying? After doing quite a bit of research online, I came up with my own perfect recipe for a no-bake, gluten free, chocolate peanut butter dessert that’s so decadent you would NEVER guess that its-SURPRISE!!!- healthy!! The bananas work really well as a binding ingredient for the bottom “dough” base, and are a perfect, creamy swap to butter. I didn’t go the extra step and buy vegan chocolate, but if you substitute vegan chocolate for the chocolate here, you will have a delicious VEGAN dessert as well! Just make sure to refrigerate at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight, so that it will firm up. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.  You can cut them into large, desert-style pieces, or little tiny bite-sized snackable squares . However you slice them, I promise you will LUURVE them! Man it feels good to be back in the kitchen….

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Easy Shiitake Asparagus Couscous

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Hello beautiful. It’s been a while. With the wedding almost two weeks away now, and moving to a new house THIS weekend!!!, I haven’t had much time for blogging. However, I DID receive this gorgeous food photography book from some sweet friends for my birthday, and I can’t wait to utilize its techniques for this blog after the wedding. Once everything is settled and the wedding is over, I look forward to blogging multiple times a week again. For now, I wanted to post a quick and easy recipe for just these times in your life, when cooking may seem like the last thing you even have time for, but know you can’t eat out every night of the week. My shiitake and asparagus couscous is a great side dish, but can also work as a main with a little side salad. You could add a little grilled chicken in the mix as well. My recipes are all about giving you ideas on what to make for dinner, where you can make your own adaptations or versions. This is what I refer to my stack of cookbooks for: inspiration. On that note, I hope this recipe inspires you, and I promise I will post a LOT more in a couple of weeks after all this excitement 🙂 Have a wonderful Tuesday!!

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Go for the Bubble Tea, Stay for the Buns… Veggie Heaven Review | Austin, TX

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As a student at the University of Texas, I remember walking by this tiny little restaurant nearly every day, the garlicky smells flirting with my nose buds (nose buds are real, right?) until my friend Amaranta eventually coaxed me inside after having tried it and fallen in love herself. Walking in, I discovered the place really IS tiny, with funny little lucky cat decorations and wood paneling on the walls. But the smell!! I knew if the food was as good as it smells, this was the beginning of something beautiful. And it was love at first bite. I can’t remember exactly what I ordered that day, but I CAN attest that every dish I tried after that was just as amazing as the first.  

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Greek-Style Lentil Stew

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Hi all! I took this week to do a little plotting on how to better organize my blog so that my readers could enjoy every post that much more…After some consideration, I’ve decided to do a few “theme” days throughout the week, to give you guys something to look forward to. I’m going to kick off the week with One-Pot Mondays. After going out all weekend, the last thing any of us want to do is spend even MORE money come Monday, but we also may not necessarily want to put too much effort into cooking.  I figure Mondays are a good day for one-pot or very simple meals that don’t require a lot of planning ahead or thinking too much, but will still save us the guilt of eating out again after playing all weekend.

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