Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Koulourakia

I was so excited to finally participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! This is the third year of this event, but the first year I have been able to participate. First I need to mention that Lindsay and Julie were amazing, they always responded fast to any questions, and they sent emails along the way to make sure everyone was on track. The idea is that you make 3 dozen cookies and send 1 dozen to 3 different bloggers, and you receive 1 dozen cookies from 3 other bloggers. If you want to participate next year sign up here to get on the mailing list! Side note: that is what I did after I realized I missed the 2012 deadline because I didn’t want to miss it again!

Second, when you registered you donated $4 to Cookies for Kid’s Cancer with those fees, extra contributions, and the contributions from the brand sponsors who generously matched the donations the Food Blogger Cookie Swap raised over $13,000. What a wonderful thing! The amazing sponsors are: Oxo, Dixie Crystals, Gold Medal Flour, and Grandma Molasses.

cookieswaplogo2013

Now onto the cookies!

IMG 3802

This is a traditional Greek cookie, Nick’s mom gave me the recipe, and she got the recipe from his Nouna (Godmother). I will warn you, they are addictive, and this recipe makes an obnoxious amount of cookies.
They are great for dipping in your coffee or just eating as a dessert. I have to pat myself on the back this year, even Nick’s mom said they taste just like hers. And that is quite the compliment.

IMG 3803
Packed in cute little Gingerbread House themed boxes!

Before I get to the recipe, I want you to know this really does make a lot of cookies, roughly 7-8 dozen depending on how big you make your cookies. This is great for a large cookie swap, to bring to work, or to put into gift packages. If you are making for a smaller group, I highly suggest halving the recipe.

Ingredients:

8 Eggs + 2 more
1 lb Sweet Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
3 Tb Crisco
1/2 cup Mazzola (corn) Oil
3 tsp Vanilla
5 tsp Baking Powder
1 Tb Orange Zest (I zested one large orange)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
8 – 10 cups of Flour

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat the 8 eggs, butter, sugar, crisco and mazzola oil until well mixed.
3. Add vanilla, baking powder, orange zest*, nutmeg and cinnamon until just mixed.
4. Add 8 – 10 cups of flour*.
5. This is the most tedious step, the braid. Roll into snake and twist twice*.
6. Crack 1-2 eggs and brush the tops of all the cookies*.
7. Decorate with fun and festive sprinkles.
8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. The cookies should be light brown on the bottom and gold on the top.

Notes:
1. I used one large orange to zest, and that was the perfect amount, last year I only did a half an orange and you couldn’t really taste any of the orange notes.
2. I usually only use 8 cups of flour, use your best judgment. Add the flour one cup at a time until each cup is just mixed.
3. My mother-in-law is a pro at the braids, they all look the exact same. As you can tell, mine are not. Honestly, it is tiring and I am still new at this. It comes with practice, don’t worry if they aren’t all perfect.
4. I forgot the egg wash this time, which is why the sprinkles are lacking, whoops.

I sent these cookies to Lynsey, Jill, and Megan!

I received gingerbread madelines from Jen, Red Velvet Cookies from Alison, and Chocolate Pinwheel Icebox cookies from Catherine. They were all so different, and all so good, I liked that I was able to try so many different flavors. I put them out at my cookie swap and they were all gone before people started leaving! Thank you ladies for sending me such wonderful cookies! Make sure you check out their blog posts for the recipes!

Have you ever had any type of Greek cookies?

Elf4Health and Other Fun Stuff!

My blogging is never 100% on point around the holidays, frankly it is the easiest thing for me to step back from and just take a break from in order to not feel (super) overwhelmed and stressed.

Just to give you an update on what’s going on/what’s coming up, I thought I would throw together a fun picture post!

550x110xelf4health-headerY2.png.pagespeed.ic.I8dqZ8NcRZ

I am participating in the Elf4Health again this year!

Here are the list of everyday “activities”. Yesterday was meatless monday. Usually this isn’t a big deal, I had my usual oats and peanut butter for breakfast and eggs with avocado and tomato for lunch, but because of the holiday Nick and I are in the mode of “use everything in the fridge” so I made a steak & cheese sub with peppers and onions for Nick and was planning on making a veggie sub for myself but there was too much steak, and I didn’t want to throw it out. It’s the thought that counts right?

550x550xchallengesquare_edited-1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.kUC_ApYx9i

Today, I unsubscribed from a lot of emails, I get a lot of duplicates between my blog email and my personal email. Tomorrow is a new workout, I think I will try a Pinterest one, Thanksgiving is to make a phone call and Friday is to track water intake, both are things I like to do and will hopefully be easy! Saturday is Treat YO SELF, Nick and I are going to a dinner dance at church, so definitely treats ;) and Sunday is 100 burpees…that last one looks fun ha!

Another fun item on the horizon is the Swanson 30 Day Giveaway. 30 Bloggers are working with Swanson Vitamins and each day one blogger will have a giveaway on their website, giving away $100 to Swanson, the only catch is that each giveaway is only valid for 24 hours. It started yesterday, so make sure to check the list here to see which blog is hosting the giveaway each day. Mine will be up on December 4! I can’t wait to show you what I got with my $100, it will surely come in handy for holiday cooking and baking!

cookieswaplogo2013

Speaking of holiday baking…I finally put my cookies in the mail (yesterday) for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I am so excited to be able to participate this year!

Come back on December 11 and I will share with you the family recipe Nick’s mom passed down to me that I made and sent to my recipients!

1426137_453517228093670_1774906682_n

Now with all this baking, I am glad that Achieve is holding a competition to get our butts in the gym. Basically we get points for every class, vacation workout, check-in, smoothie, etc… A lot of these things are ones I already do but this is a great way to stay on top of things during the holiday season!

I am going to take a break until after the holiday, but tell me what exciting things do you have going on?