I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


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Greek Honey Cookies, or Finikia

My mom has the greatest Greek cookbook. Any recipes not passed on from family is taken from this cookbook. It’s one of those books that are used so often there are stains all over, notes written in every margin, and it is literally falling apart at the seams. I’ve recently tried to purchase myself a copy, but it is out of print. Out of print?!?! I was so upset. I’ve made copied of recipes, written them down, and now they will be here to share with all of you.

My all time favorite cookie ever is a Greek Honey Cookie, known as Finikia. And the recipe is taken from this sacred cookbook. The holidays are not the holidays without this cookie. Holiday time is not holiday time without the smell of this cookie baking in the oven. As with most Greek desserts, it’s time consuming…but well worth it once you take your first bite.

This cookie recipe was another favorite to watch my mom make. My sister and I would have two tasks. We would help roll out the dough and we’d help sprinkle the walnuts on. I love watching my mom dip these delicious morsels of goodness in the honey mixture before our little hands sprinkled on those walnuts. These cookies disappear quick at every holiday between everyone taking one at dessert time and people hiding some away to take home with them. Everyone loves these cookies. Even people that don’t like cinnamon or honey love these cookies. So, I beg you, take the time to try them.

Honey Cookies

recipe taken from The Complete Greek Cookbook: The Best From 3000 Years of Greek Cooking by Theresa Karas Yianilos, copyright 1970

ingredients

1 egg yolk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 oz whiskey
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 vegetable oil
1/8 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

syrup: (I normally half this part)
2 cups honey
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

directions

In abowl, blend together egg, juice, soda, salt, whiskey and suagr. Add oil and continue blending until thick.

In a bowl, sift flour with baking powder and spices. Mix into batter, and finish by kneading smooth. Place in the refridgerator for about 30 minutes.

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Place a teaspoon of dough in your hand and squeeze together to form an oblong egg shape. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and press top slightly with a fork making a crisscross design. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 350 degress.

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While baking, bring the honey and water to a boil and allow to simmer. Once the cookies have cooled a few minutes, dip the cookie in the honey mixture for a few seconds and place on a cookie sheet to absorb the honey (I dip them twice!). Sprinkle the nuts on top and allow to cool.

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Once cooled, place each cookie in a cupcake liner. These cookies keep very well and taste better after a day. Enjoy!

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Blood Orange and Shrimp Salad

I’ve had a long week, got into a bit of a fender bender earlier in the week. I really should be resting, should have ordered in food again, but all I could think tonight was: “those blood oranges I bought at the market need using” and “my followers are missing me!”

So I created a one pot, two bowl, really quick dish. I’ve already been told as I’m writing this that I should have been resting, but this meal was totally worth it! (Sorry! 🙂 )

Blood Orange and Shrimp Salad

ingredients
6 shrimp, cleaned
1 blood orange, segmented and diced
1 blood orange, juiced
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp paper thin sliced yellow onion
1/4 cup cooked and shelled edamame
Salt and pepper to taste

directions

In a bowl combine the onion, orange segments, juice, oil, salt and pepper. Let sit.

Boil water and cook the shrimp for 4 minutes. Once cooked, pull out of the water and throw in a bowl of ice in the refrigerator to cool.

Once the shrimp is cooked, throw the edamame in the boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Dice the shrimp and toss with the orange mixture and edamame. Enjoy!

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Soft Pretzel Snack

Tonight I was exhausted coming home from work so I just made some chicken soup and plopped in front of the tv. But I was soon looking for a snack. Last week, frozen soft pretzels were on sale at the supermarket and I snagged some.

I love soft pretzels. They remind me of going to NY Ranger games with my dad when I was a kid. My dad and I would take the train into NYC and we’d stop in Penn Station to buy pretzels to sneak into the games since they are so over priced! The frozen pretzels they sell at the supermarket are so yummy and so easy to make. Stick them in the oven according to the directions on the box, serve with a bit of spicy mustard if you like, and enjoy!

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A Day in an Italian Market

Another beautiful day in NYC to end my birthday weekend. My sister, my cousin and I spent the afternoon walking around Eataly. Eataly is a beautiful Italian market owned by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich. I don’t even care that it’s touristy. I love walking around, stopping for a bite to eat, looking at all the unique fruits and vegetables, pastas, etc. So we set off to end our celebrating to eat and drink some more and bring home some goodies to remember with!

We found an open standing table at one of the restaurants, La Piazza, and started with some wine. We also ordered fresh mozzarella, a meat platter, marinated olives and oysters. Everything is so fresh and so good.

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Walking around the market is so fun and relaxing. Even in the crowds. It’s like no one else exists to me. There are different sections for different types of foods. Starting off in the produce section, we were filling up the cart quickly. I find baby vegetables so adorably cute! It’s dorky, I know, but I get so excited over little produce! Baby potatoes, baby zucchini, baby Brussels sprouts, etc. today I purchased baby romanesco and baby kiwi! So adorable! Baby kiwi’s I’ve never tried before but am so excited to! The baby romanesco I’ve bought before and love the flavor. It’s sort of a cross between cauliflower and broccoli.

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I love how markets like these have such beautiful in season produce. I always try to buy something new or different that I’ve never had before or usually can’t get in the supermarkets in the suburbs.

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We tasted and purchased an array of cheeses at the cheese counter (calcagno and rosellino pecorino for me), strolled through the dried pasta and jarred items aisles and kept adding to the cart. Fresh baked breads and fresh made pastas. I brought home a bunch of items for a beautiful dinner.

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Fresh spinach and ricotta filled ravioli with a pepper butter sauce and roasted baby romanesco is what I made for dinner tonight with my beautiful purchase from Eataly!

Easy and simple, the butter sauces is 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil melted down and spiced with fresh cracked pepper. Once the ravioli is cooked, add to the melted butter and toss to coat.

The baby romanesco trim and cut into quarters. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

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“They Say It’s My Birthday!”

So, a new decade is here and I’ve entered my 30’s. I’ve been pretty depressed about it, but hey. It’s a new era. Maybe? Yes? Anything to make me feel better. 🙂

I love love love The Beatles. I play this song (Birthday) every year on my birthday to pump me up. To celebrate the big 3-0, I am in New York City with my sister, her boyfriend and my cousins for dinner and drinks. I love being a 45 minute train ride from the greatest city in the world. I booked a reservation at Fig & Olive in the meatpacking district. A-MAZ-ING. Starting with some sparking wine, a crostini appetizer, paella and ending with a wonderful dessert sampler. Definitely a great start to the night!

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On to drinks at a very highly recommended bar! 🙂


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The First Meal That I Cooked

When I was younger, I would burn frozen pizza.  No, seriously.  I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true! But then my sister started working in a restaurant, and I knew my family was full of amazing Mediterranean cooks, so I knew I had to learn myself.  The years of watching and help my mom, my grandmas, my great aunts in the kitchen needed to transfer into me cooking on my own.  I certainly owe my skills and talent to my family, but I owe Rachael Ray credit for the first meal I cooked on my own. I purchased Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal 2 and Rachael Ray Get Togethers and got to reading and marking off recipes I wanted to try.

My parents used to buy meat from Costco in bulk and freeze portions.  One type of meat they always had on hand was a rib eye steak.  The first meal I made for my family was a marinated steak with potatoes and broccoli on the side.  It seemed so complicated at first! But really the recipe for the marinade which I got from the Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals 2 cookbook was so easy! I literally started making this meal once a week for my family.  I’d come home from school and in between homework and studying (which is ALL I did in college!) and start marinating the steak and slicing the potatoes. I soon started to venture off into new recipes, but steak and potatoes became a go to and my favorite since I didn’t burn it!

No Mystery: Marinated Beef, Chicken, Pork or Portobello Mushrooms

Recipe from Rachael Ray, Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals 2, copyright 2003

ingredients

3 tbsp red wine vinegar1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 gloves garlic, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, a few sprigs
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 rib eye steaks (12 ounces each) (or 4 strip steaks, 4 pieces of boneless chicken breast, 4 center cut pork loin chops or 4 portobello mushrooms)
salt and pepper to tast

directions

Combine marinade ingredients in the bottom of a shallow dish. Season meat with salt and pepper and set in marinade and turn to coat. Allow meat to hang out about 10-30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Broil meat in the oven for about 7 minutes on each side depending on preferred doneness.

 

Sauteed Onions for Steak

ingredients

1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp marinade from steak

directions

In a saute pan, cook onions in marinade until soft. (typically, you should not reuse marinade, but in this case we are cooking off the raw meat bacteria).

 

Slices Potatoes

ingredients

2 medium baking potatoes (1 per 1-2 people), peeled and sliced thin
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic podwer
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

directions

In a saute pan, put 1 tbsp olive oil and layer potatoes with spices.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes until soft and browned.

 

Broccoli

ingredients

1 broccoli bunch, trimmed and cut
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

directions

In a saute pan, drizzle olive oil and cooked broccoli seasoned with salt and pepper for about 10 minutes.

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Once everything is ready, serve and enjoy! Hope this meals becomes a constant in your homes! Tell me about the first meal you every cooked!

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