One of my favorite Greek dishes is tyropita. It is a Greek delite comprised of filo dough, feta cheese and other various cheeses and herbs that is a perfect hors d’oeuvre for the holiday season. My husband, daughter and I recently made tyropita triangles for Christmas. We took it to my girlfriend’s brunch, a Christmas Eve party and a Christmas Day dinner.
1.25 pounds of crumbled Feta Cheese
1 – 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese
1 pound of Small Curd Cottage Cheese
3/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese
3/4 pound of Unsalted Butter
3/4 pound of Filo Dough (thawed under refrigeration)
Gently blend the eggs, Feta Cheese, Cream Cheese, Small Curd Cottage Cheese and Parmesan Cheese and set aside.
Melt half of the butter. Lay out the filo dough on a cutting board.
Cut the dough into four rows. I normally use a pizza cutter but a knife will do.
I stack the strips of filo dough into two rows.
If you have to walk away for any reason, cover the filo dough with a damp kitchen towel so it won’t dry out. Butter the bottom and sides of your pan. Butter the entire strip of cut filo dough. Add about a Tablespoon of Feta Cheese filling at the base of the strip of filo. Pull up the bottom right corner of Filo dough to the left side of the filo dough (about 1.5 inches) to form a triangle, fold straight up once, then fold again from the bottom left corner up to the right (about 1.5 inches). Continue, fold left, fold straight up, fold right until you reach the end. Take the entire triange and place into your pan and butter with the melted butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown and crispy. Let cool and then place on a platter. If you need to cover them, cover lightly with plastic wrap leaving air gaps so tyropita doesn’t get soggy. Can serve hot or at room temperature. You can freeze the tyropita triangles before baking. I make double the recipe and always have extra to freeze. Just pull them out of the freezer, place into a pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes!
Want to add a bit of sparkle to your New Year’s celebration? Here’s a very easy do-it-yourself New Year’s Sparkle Ball that is made from clear plastic cups and mini lights. My sister’s friend Cindy made one and I was amazed! Beautiful and magical and best of all, easy!
This very easy New Year’s decoration comes from sparkleball.com. They use twist ties to connect the cups after hole punching, I think just stapling them together is easier. What you’ll need is…
50 soft clear plastic cups (tumbler style)
100-150 string of mini lights
drill with 1/2″ bit
First, you drill a hole into the center of the bottom of each cup.
Then, you need to line up 12 cups in a circle. Staple the sides together (the picture shows connecting them with twist ties).
Add a second layer of 9 cups. Each cup should be stapled three times (to the first layer cup below and to the second layer cups on each side).
The third layer of cups is comprised of 4 cups total. Fit the 4 cups into the space left at the top of the half ball. Attach the 4 cups to the second layer of cups and to eachother. Each cup should be stapled four times (where the four twist ties are located in the picture below).
Once half of the sparkle ball is complete, insert the mini lights. You will insert one light into each drilled hole.
Set aside the completed half and build the second half just like the first. Once you have finished the second half, insert the mini lights starting with the opposite end of the cord (the plug end). Make sure to finish with an outer rim cup. Make sure the plug end of the cord will hang out.
Now you will join the two halves. Press the two halves together. Line up the first layer of cups from each half and staple. Make sure the cord (plug end) is hanging out. You can connect the plug to an extension cord or to another sparkle ball’s cord. You can use blinking lights to add energy!
My sister’s friend Cindy’s stapled sparkle ball
You can use monochromatic lights (white for New Year’s, red and green for Christmas) or mulit-colored.
Every year I hate to see the holiday season end. To make sure that doesn’t happen too early I love to decorate for New Year’s. Because Christmas tends to empty out my wallet, I don’t want to spend a lot of money. Here are some of my favorite easy DIY New Year’s decorating ideas that are both inexpensive and festive.
What a great idea! Incorporate champagne bottles into your holiday décor. From ideasevite.com comes an easy and inexpensive glitter project. Just use spray adhesive and glitter to add pizzazz to the bottom half of your champagne bottles. Champagne never looked so sparkly!
From Chickabug.com comes another sparkly project: washable glittered wine glasses (above)! Inexpensive and easy. And best of all, they’ll last for many more New Year’s celebrations to come!
Being a wine lover, I adore this wine cork countdown project (above) and paper fan clocks (below) featured on tipjunkie.com! Coordinate the colors of your decorations with paper plates and napkins for an added New Year’s flair!
Add some bling to your New Year’s décor! From momtastic.com comes simple diy New Year’s Eve glitter candles. Transform simple white candles into bling bling New Year’s table top décor!
I love this monochromatic Christmas balls wreath (below) from Initiales GG.com. Using all white, gold or silver balls adds that sophisticated and elegant flair that is perfect for New Year’s.
Une simple guirlande lumineuse (a garland of lights) comes from decoration-de-fete.com. Using miniature white lights, white balls and olive branches, a tablescape is transformed into an elegant yet natural magical New Year’s centerpiece reminiscent of Provence, France.
And again, reminiscent of the Provence style, a simple combination of white candles and olive branches can add an elegant yet natural touch to any New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day celebration.
And, last but not least, one of my favorite easy diy New Year’s décor ideas: Glitter New Year’s Candles from diy-projectss.blogspot.com. Glitz up your holiday décor with this very easy project using only candles, modge podge and glitter. Will definitely do this for our 2014 celebration.
Whether I’m throwing a New Year’s Eve party or a New Year’s Day dinner, for a group of friends and family or for just my immediate family, I love to add sparkle and bling to make things festive and fun. I’m inspired and motivated by these easy and simple DIY New Year’s décor ideas. I hope you are too. Have a wonderful and blessed (and always creative) New Year!
For every special occasion and holiday, our family makes the traditional Greek favorite dessert, Baklava. It is a bit time consuming but well worth it! Here’s Yia yia Theodora’s family recipe…
3 cups of sugar
1.5 cups of water
2 cinnamon sticks (or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon)
8 cloves (or 3/4 teaspoons of ground cloves)
3/4 cups of honey
rind and juice of one lemon
1.5 pounds of chopped walnuts
1.5 pounds of fillo (or phyllo) dough (thawed overnight in refrigerator)
1 pound of unsalted butter
1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
5 Tablespoons of sugar
paper cupcake cups
First, we make the syrup. Mix the sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves and lemon. Bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Then add the honey. Return to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. At first, the syrup will be thin but will thicken up after boiling, simmering and sitting to cool.
Secondly, we mix the chopped walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Melt the unsalted butter in a separate bowl.
Walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and sugar
Take the fillo (or phyllo) dough out of its package. Lay it on a cutting board. If you have to walk away for a bit, cover the filo dough with a slightly damp kitchen cloth to keep it moist. Otherwise, it will dry out very quickly.
I cut my fillo (or phyllo) to fit the size of my pan. You can also just fold any excess fillo once you place it in your pan.
Butter your pan. I use 9 inch x 13 inch glass pans. You can also use a larger foil pan.
Place one layer of fillo into the pan, butter it, and repeat this step 5 more times (you should have a total of 6 buttered layers of fillo). Then spread a light layer of the nut mixture.
After spreading the nut mixture, place another 6 layers of buttered fillo into the pan. Spread a second layer of the nut mixture and follow with another 6 layers of buttered fillo.
Butter the final piece of fillo dough. Place the pan into the refrigerator for approximately 10 minutes to solidify the butter. Once the butter has solidified, remove from the refrigerator and cut through the hardened fillo, first by making 4 vertical cuts. Then, proceed to cut diagonally to form small diamond-shaped pieces.
Once you are done with cutting, bake at 300 degrees for 60 minutes. The Baklava should be a light golden brown. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot Baklava.
I can’t wait to try these simple aluminum ball ornaments made from aluminum wire and ribbon. Such an easy diy project for something so unique and modern, from Le Blog Creatif.
From LaLoLeblog comes this very original Christmas wall art made from sticks! You can keep the sticks natural or paint them white like she did. The white branches really make the colorful ornaments pop. Very unique!
I love these delicate twig ornaments (above) made by michelemademe. A nice way to add a natural yet artistic touch to your décor.
From Philzendia.com, comes this very unique twist to the traditional Christmas tree décor. She made tabletop Christmas trees from newspaper. Very original!
Every year I try to make the presentation of my gifts as personalized as the gift itself. I do this by making my very own personalized gift tags. All you need is a photo, a computer with a graphic oriented software (I use Microsoft Publisher, but I’m sure you could use Microsoft Word or WordPerfect as well), a color printer, a paper cutter (or scissors) and a hole punch. I used a picture of my family that we also used on our Christmas card.
I uploaded it to my computer from my phone (or camera) and inserted it into my Microsoft Publisher document. Once I determined the size I wanted the gift tag to be, I copy and pasted it multiple times to fill an 8.5 inch x 11 inch page. If you use Microsoft Word or Word Perfect, I’m sure you could make a table or grid and insert the picture into each frame by the same copy and paste technique.
I then printed the page out using my color printer.
Using my paper cutter, I cut the sheet into individual tags. If you don’t have a paper cutter, scissors or an exacto knife with a ruler should work just fine.
Then using my hole puncher, I punched a hole in each corner. Just run ribbon through the hole when wrapping your gift.
An easy DIY personalized gift tag. I especially love to use these when I have to ship my gifts to friends and family who live far away. It adds a special and intimate touch to every gift.
In Sweden (and in many other countries as well), the celebration of Advent (the days leading up to the celebration of Christmas) is very important and an integral part of the celebration of Christmas. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25th. The keeping of an Advent Wreath (adventskrans) is a common practice in homes and churches. It is usually comprised of an evergreen wreath with four candles, three purple and one pink and often a fifth white candle in the center. The first three Sundays are commemorated by the lighting of a purple candle (the color of Advent). The final pink candle is illumined on the last Sunday before Christmas and the optional white one is lit on Christmas.
Above, Cranberry Morning incorporates a vintage thrift store find with the traditional greens and candles.
Advent wreaths can be simple and uncomplicated. Better than a box features a simple and elegant do-it-yourself wreath that is both easy and inexpensive.
Natalja Oblonskaja incorporates blue spruce with green colored lichens and hypericum (St. John’s wort). You could use any form of greens. Olive branches or eucalyptus would be unique and beautiful.
My older sister, who is a very accomplished artist and overall creative individual, created her own Advent Wreath about 20 years ago. It is the epitome of En Unik Adventskrans! She began by making her own dough. She mixes 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and 1.5 cups of warm water. Kneed well. You can double or triple this recipe if necessary. She then formed the base of the wreath and the individual figures of the nativity scene. Applying touches of water to the dough helps it adhere when attaching details. Once finished, bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Once completely cooled, she painted her “piece de resistance” with acrylic paint and sealed it with an acrylic spray.
My sister allowed concaved spaces to hold pillar candles.
She added animals and the characters of nativity.
She made the infant Jesus separately so he can be removed and placed in the manger on Christmas day. My two nieces enjoyed placing him in the cradle every Christmas morning. What a wonderful memory for kids.
My older sister’s Advent Wreath is the embodiment of En Unik Adventskrans – definitely unique and creative. I encourage you to always look for your own unique twist when creating something traditional. And, have a very Merry Creative Christmas!
A wine decoration for Christmas? I found the perfect way to combine my love for Christmas with my love for wine!
It all began with the numerous wine corks that I have saved over the years. Ever wonder what to do with them? All you need are wine corks, a drill, twine and about 2 hours.
I took a basic electric drill with a rather large bit (screw head) and drilled a single hole through each cork. It took me about 2 hours total.
I held the cork with a clamp and stood the cork up on a piece of wood while I drilled.
It was a bit messy so make sure to cover your work surface with paper. Once all the corks had holes, I carefully inserted twine through each one. I dipped the end of the twine in the liquid wax of a candle and let it dry beforehand to stiffen the tip.
I periodically had to drill more holes in corks until I got the length of twine I needed to go around my Christmas tree several times.
I made sure to tie large knots on each end leaving a bit of extra twine so the garland wouldn’t be too rigid.
We love Christmas so much in our house that we put a Christmas tree in our kitchen as well as our living room. I love to decorate it with kitchen/food-oriented items. This year I wrapped the tree in a natural looking burlap ribbon, hung artificial apples and cookie cutters. You could get very creative. In past years, I’ve hung utensils, popcorn and curly orange rinds.
I love incorporating things that I love into my decorating, and that includes wine. I hope you enjoyed seeing how I made my Decorazione de Vino per il Natale!