Greek Seven Layer Dip

Greek 7 Layer Dip 1

Seven Layer Dip gets a fresh summertime make-over. Or make it with eight layers (pictured above) if you want to really get fancy.

This is a great way to dress up plain hummus. Similar to the traditional Mexican 7-Layer Dip, but lighter and with fresher ingredients. With the huge variety of hummus available these days, you can adapt this recipe to suit your taste. My favorite hummus (after homemade) is the Supremely Spicy Hummus: it has a real kick!

Greek 7 Layer Dip 2

Start with layers of hummus and tzatziki, and then add whatever fresh ingredients you are in the mood for. I usually include most or all of the following layers:

    • Hummus
    • Tzatziki (Homemade recipe HERE)
    • Thinly sliced mini cucumbers
    • Sliced Kalamata olives
    • Chopped artichokes
    • Sliced sun-dried tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
    • Sliced green onions
    • Feta cheese, crumbled

Greek 7 Layer Dip 3

Serve with pita chips, crackers, fresh-cut vegetables, or wedges of homemade Pita Bread. (Pita Bread recipe HERE)

 

RECIPE:

Greek 7 Layer Dip 1

Greek Seven Layer Dip

In a glass pie plate, tart dish or bowl, layer the following:

    • Hummus
    • Tzatziki
    • Thinly sliced mini cucumbers
    • Sliced Kalamata olives
    • Chopped artichokes
    • Sliced sun-dried tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
    • Sliced green onions
    • Feta cheese, crumbled

Serve with pita chips, crackers, fresh-cut vegetables, or wedges of homemade Pita Bread.

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You know you’re old when . . .

Sourdough 1

According to Little J, you know you are old when you meet the following criteria:

1. You can wear all of your birthday presents.

2. More than 90% of those presents are in the gray color palette.

3. You request bread for your birthday cake.

Middle K couldn’t argue with those well-presented facts, but she accepted her ancient age of 19 happily as she bit into the crispy crust and chewy center of her homemade sourdough birthday bread.

While I am not happy about my kids getting so “old”, I am all for homemade sourdough bread as a birthday cake!

Sourdough 2

I am no expert at sourdough bread making, but this recipe has been consistently successful for me. I like to add some whole rye flour to my dough, but you can also use all white flour. Or for whole wheat sourdough, check out this blog by my new friend Lorie who shared her sourdough starter with me. That is one more thing I was really sad to leave behind when I moved!

Here are a few notes that have helped me as I make this sourdough recipe:

  • This recipe makes 4 medium-small round loaves of bread. I usually bake 2 loaves and place the dough for 2 loaves in the refrigerator to bake later. See additional note below.
  • I use a 100% hydration sourdough starter (fed with equal weights of flour and water)
  • I  have much more consistent results when I weigh my ingredients for bread, but amounts will also be influenced by humidity, flour brands, measuring techniques and starter consistency and strength. Dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, but not be too stiff.
  • If you are baking on a stone, don’t skip the steam in the oven- that is what helps with oven rise and creates the thick crispy crust.
  • If you do not have a very strong starter, you can add about 1/2 tsp yeast to the dough when mixing.
  • The bread can also be baked in a covered ceramic baking dish instead of using a stone and steam. You will need to bake a little longer and should remove the lid about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time to darken the crust. (Sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of dish and place shaped loaves of dough directly in dish for their final rise.)
  • For a stronger sourdough taste and great texture: Make the dough and let rise for 2-3 hours. Then cut the dough into 4 pieces, put them in oiled Ziploc bags and leave them in the refrigerator for about a week. The dough will continue to slowly rise (open bags and punch down if needed throughout the week). When you are ready to bake a loaf: remove from refrigerator, shape into loaf and let rise until almost doubled and bake as directed in recipe.

 

Sourdough 4

A very happy birthday to this awesome girl who has grown into an amazing young woman. I will sure miss her when she leaves for college this fall!!

RECIPE:

Sourdough 2

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Sponge:
400 grams (about 2 cups) sourdough starter
600 grams (about 2 1/2 cups) water
600 grams (about 4 cups) bread flour (or all-purpose flour)

Additional Ingredients:
500 grams (about 3 1/3 cups) bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
250 grams (about 2 cups) whole rye flour (or use additional white flour)
30 grams (about 1 Tbs + 1 tsp) salt

DAY BEFORE BAKING:
If you keep your sourdough starter in the refrigerator, remove the starter from the refrigerator in the morning and feed it with equal parts (by weight) flour and water. In the evening, prepare the sponge by mixing listed amounts of starter, water and flour in a large bowl. Stir together, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.

DAY OF BAKING:
At least 5-6 hours before serving, prepare dough: In a large mixing bowl, knead together the sourdough sponge and additional white and rye flours. Knead for about 2 minutes, or until well mixed. Cover bowl and let autolyse (rest) for 30 minutes in the mixing bowl. Uncover, add salt to mixing bowl and knead for 5-6 minutes. Add additional flour, if necessary, until dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl when kneading.

Turn dough out into a large oiled bowl. Let rise until doubled, about 3-4 hours (longer in the winter). For round loaves, cut dough into 4 pieces and shape into loaves. Place each loaf on a square of aluminum foil (I like to use the non-stick foil), cover with a towel and let rise for about an hour or until risen, but not quite doubled. Dough can also be placed in greased loaf pans (I usually make 3 loaves when I use pans), covered and allowed to rise.

Place a baking stone in the center of oven. Preheat oven to 450°F for at least 20-30 minutes. About 5 minutes before baking, place a rimmed baking dish or roasting pan on the lowest rack or floor of the oven.  Fill a glass measuring cup with about 2 cups of water.

With a sharp knife, make 2 –3 slashes in the tops of 2 of the loaves of bread. Place 2 loaves of bread (on their foil squares) on the hot baking stone and pour the water into the baking dish. Immediately close oven door and bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes. If the baking dish still has water in it after the first 20 minutes of additional baking, remove the pan of water and continue baking bread until golden brown. Remove bread to wire racks and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Repeat with remaining 2 loaves (or use 2 stones and bake together).

 

Sourdough Notes:

    • This recipe makes 4 medium-small round loaves of bread. I usually bake 2 loaves and place the dough for 2 loaves in the refrigerator to bake later. See additional note below.
    • I use a 100% hydration sourdough starter (fed with equal weights of flour and water)
    • I  have much more consistent results when I weigh my ingredients for bread, but amounts will also be influenced by humidity, flour brands, measuring techniques and starter consistency and strength. Dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, but not be too stiff.
    • If you are baking on a stone, don’t skip the steam in the oven- that is what helps with oven rise and creates the thick crispy crust.
    • If you do not have a very strong starter, you can add about 1/2 tsp yeast to the dough when mixing.
    • The bread can also be baked in a covered ceramic baking dish instead of using a stone and steam. You will need to bake a little longer and should remove the lid about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time to darken the crust. (Sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of dish and place shaped loaves of dough directly in dish for their final rise.)
    • For a stronger sourdough taste and great texture: Make the dough and let rise for 2-3 hours. Then cut the dough into 4 pieces, put them in oiled Ziploc bags and leave them in the refrigerator for about a week. The dough will continue to slowly rise (open bags and punch down if needed throughout the week). When you are ready to bake a loaf: remove from refrigerator, shape into loaf and let rise until almost doubled and bake as directed in recipe.

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Chicken & Cornbread Casserole

Chicken and Cornbread 2

This is an easy meal to throw together from items mostly found in your pantry, or from ones I keep on hand regularly. And it is one (of very few) casseroles that don’t get complaints from any of my children!

You can use canned chicken, but I usually make a large batch of shredded or cubed chicken every few months, and then store it in Ziploc bags in the freezer to have on hand for meals like this. I buy a large package of chicken from a store like Costco, fill my crockpot with it, and then cook on low until it shreds easily, or I will chop the chicken into larger chunks.

This recipe also includes 1 Tbs taco seasoning. You can use part of a packet, or it is easy and cheaper to make up your own for all of your taco seasoning needs.
Recipe here: Homemade Taco Seasoning.

RECIPE:

Chicken and Cornbread 2

Chicken & Cornbread Casserole

3 cups cooked cubed or shredded chicken
2 cups shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese, divided
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can black olives, drained
1 small can green chilies
1 red pepper, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
1 Tbs taco seasoning

Cornbread Topping:
1 small box Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine chicken, 1 cup cheese, corn, black beans, olives, green chilies, red pepper, soup, salsa and taco seasoning. Spoon into a 9×13” baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven. Remove foil and stir.

Prepare cornbread topping: Mix Jiffy muffin mix, eggs, melted butter and sour cream with a whisk.

Spoon cornbread mixture over hot chicken mixture. Spread with a spatula to cover chicken mixture. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes or until cornbread topping is cooked through (test center with a toothpick). Cover loosely with foil if cornbread browns too quickly. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 2-3 minutes, or until melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired

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7th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies Recap

Here is a quick recap of the twelve new cookie recipes for this year. Time to head to the store to restock on flour, sugar and butter.

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!

Pecan-Sandies_thumb4

DAY 1: Pecan Sandies

 Oatmeal-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies-1_thumb[1]

DAY 2: Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Chip Cookies

 Chocolate Peppermint CookiesThin Mints 2

DAY 3: Homemade Thin Mint Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 2

DAY 4: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Caramel Christmas Chex Mix

DAY 5: Caramel Christmas Chex Mix

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies 2

DAY 6: Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies 1

DAY 7: Cake Mix Snowball Cookies

 Cranberry Orange Bread 1

DAY 8: Cranberry Orange Bread

  Buckeye Brownie Cookies

DAY 9: Buckeye Brownie Cookies

 Marshmallow Blondies

DAY 10: Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies

Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

DAY 11: Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

 Christmas M&M Cookies

DAY 12: Christmas M&M Cookies


I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas season, a season full of lasting memories made with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world.

A Savior is Born

#ASaviorIsBorn

Need more cookie inspiration? Try the links below for some of our family’s other Christmas favorites:

First Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2009)

Second Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2010)

Third Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2011)

Fourth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2012)

Fifth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2013)

Sixth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2014)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Christmas M&M Cookies

Christmas M&M Cookies

DAY 12: Christmas M&M Cookies

Chewy delicious cookies made festive for the Christmas season.

I made these cookies with M&M’s designed for baking called “M&M’s Christmas Baking Bits” which are smaller than regular sized M&M’s. The mini-sized candies are less likely to split when baked.

RECIPE:

Christmas M&M Cookies

Christmas M&M Cookies

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 Tbs cornstarch
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 bag (11oz) M&M’s Christmas Baking Bits (or use regular M&M’s)
½ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat into butter mixture. Set aside 1/4 cup of the M&M’s. Stir remaining M&M’s and chocolate chips into the dough.

Drop by tablespoonsful onto baking sheets. Press a few of the reserved M&M’s into the top of each cookie ball. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

DAY 11: Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

These cute cookies come from Inside Bru Crew Life.

The cookies themselves are not at all sweet, but with the addition of the melted white chocolate and crushed candy canes, you end up with just the right amount of sweetness.

Great cookies for peppermint fans.

RECIPE:

Candy Cane Snowball Cookies

Candy Cane Snowball Cookies
(adapted from Inside Bru Crew Life)

½ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar (don’t pack tightly)
1 egg
½ tsp peppermint extract
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
2 ¼ cups flour
4 oz white candy melts
8 whole candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease baking sheets, or use silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg and peppermint and vanilla extracts. On low speed, beat in flour and salt.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and bake on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Move cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Place white candy melts in a small microwave safe bowl. Cook on high for 30 seconds; stir. Add 20-30 seconds if not completely melted. Dip the tops of the cookies into the melted chocolate and then roll in crushed candy canes. Place on waxed paper to harden.

Makes about 3 dozen.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies

Marshmallow Blondies

DAY 10 : Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies

Blondies are a fast way to make a week’s worth of lunchbox treats for the kids. These have mini marshmallows that melt down and help keep the bars soft and gooey. You could also add some chocolate chips for a Smores-like flavor.

RECIPE:

Marshmallow Blondies

Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies

¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup flour
1 small package butterscotch pudding mix
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini marshmallows
½ cup white or regular chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a square baking dish (8×8”) with nonstick foil.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine butter and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Cook on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Cook for another 30 seconds if not completely melted.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, pudding mix, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in melted butter mixture. Mix in egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in marshmallows and ½ cup white or regular chocolate chips (if using).

Press batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until center is barely set. Cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies:Buckeye Brownie Cookies

Buckeye Brownie Cookies

DAY 9: Buckeye Brownie Cookies

These cookies start with a simple cookie made from a brownie mix (and cream cheese to make them soft and gooey). Then they are topped with a mound of peanut butter fluffiness and drenched in dark chocolate.The topping is similar to the traditional Buckeye Candy, but not quite as sweet and dense (again, thanks to the addition of cream cheese). I think cream cheese is probably the most versatile of ingredients. It is perfectly at home in just about any recipe!

RECIPE:

Buckeye Brownie Cookies

Buckeye Brownie Cookies
———
(adapted from Inspired by Charm)

Cookies:
2 boxes brownie mix
½ cup butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 eggs

Topping:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz dark/bittersweet chocolate (about 1 ½ cups chips)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Topping (Prepare topping before baking cookies):
In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, 8 oz cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.

Cookies:
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the brownie mixes, melted butter, 8 oz cream cheese and eggs.

Use a medium cookie scoop, or tablespoon, to drop batter onto baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Use a small cookie scoop, or teaspoon, to spoon a ball of peanut butter topping onto each HOT cookie. Flatten topping just slightly with the palm of your hand. Allow cookies to cool for 5-7 minutes on the baking pan. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (in 30 second increments). Spoon melted chocolate over the top of each cookie. Allow chocolate to set before serving or storing.

If cookies are not going to be eaten the same day, store them in the refrigerator.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Orange Bread

Cranberry Orange Bread 3

DAY 8: Cranberry Orange Bread

Another non-cookie recipe, but this comes at the request of my brother-in-law. Now he just needs to buy himself a plane ticket from Seattle to Baltimore so that he can eat some with us!

Cranberry Orange Bread 1

Cranberries and oranges are one of my favorite holiday flavor combinations. Which is why I also love these Cranberry Orange Buttermilk Cookies:

Cranberry Orange Cookies 3

Cranberry Orange Bread makes a great neighbor gift, especially when you find these adorable small loaf pans in the dollar section of Michaels!

Cranberry Orange Bread 2

RECIPE:

Cranberry Orange Bread 3

Cranberry Orange Bread

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
½ brown sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup orange juice
1 tsp grated orange peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour, divided
2 tsp baking powder
¼tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ cup buttermilk (or additional orange juice)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
(do not thaw cranberries before chopping)
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or use baking Pam): 1 large loaf pan, or 3-4 small loaf pans, or 6 mini loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Mix in ¼ cup orange juice, orange peel and vanilla. Add 1 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl and mix until just combined. Mix in buttermilk (or additional orange juice). Mix in remaining 1 cup flour until just combined. Fold in cranberries and nuts.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.

Baking times (check doneness with a toothpick in center of loaf):

Large loaf pan: 60-80 minutes
Small loaf pans: 45-60 minutes
Mini loaf pans: 25-35 minutes

**NOTE: If you use frozen cranberries, baking times will be on the higher end of the range. Cover bread with foil if the top begins to brown before center is cooked.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then remove to a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cake Mix Snowball Cookies

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies 1

DAY 7: Cake Mix Snowball Cookies

Cookie Making Simplified. Easy to throw together, and a delicious cookie for those who like their cookies soft and gooey.

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies 2

These cookies are also delicious made with a lemon cake mix, but then you might not want to call them Snowball Cookies. You might not get many takers when you offer “Yellow Snow”ball Cookies.

RECIPE:

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies 1

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 box white or yellow cake mix (or lemon)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and then cake mix. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into balls (about 1” in diameter) and then roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust cooled cookies with additional sifted powdered sugar.

 

Makes 2 ½ – 3 dozen cookies

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