Strawberry Butter

Recently I read an article that said berries do amazing things for skin.
I was born with a skin disorder called eczema.
I have a very mild version, but it leaves me with dry, itchy skin if I don't lather up with a ton of lotion every day.
In the article that I read, it said that berries, especially strawberries and blueberries can help keep eczema breakouts away.
Yes, please!
I ran out to the store and stocked up on fresh and frozen berries, trying to incorporate them into all of my meals.
Today's concoction yielded strawberry butter.
(By the way, this goes perfectly with my Greek Village Bread!)

1 lb of strawberries
3-4 tbsp of honey
2 tsp of lemon juice
1-1/2 sticks (or the equivalent) of your favorite butter/spread

Chop the tops off of the strawberries, then throw them into a blender. Chop it until there are no big chunks.

Put it into a saucepan, along with the honey and lemon juice. Boil and stir for 5-10 minutes or until it begins to thicken.

Let the strawberry mixture cool while you soften the butter- soften, DO NOT melt it.
Once the strawberries are room temperature, mix the butter into them.

Throw the new mixture back into the blender to make it smooth. Let it chill in the fridge for a while, then serve on fresh out of the oven bread.

This spread is a perfect mix between butter and jam, it's sweet, but not overpowering.
It's mouthwatering when the Strawberry butter becomes a little melty and the aroma fills your nose. 
Enjoy it before it's gone, this won't last long in your fridge!



Cancer Awareness Giveaway

I don't have a million readers, but I am very appreciative of the followers I do have.
This has been an awesome week and I can't help but be walking on cloud nine, so it's the perfect time to do a giveaway!

Two people in my life were suffering from cancer, and I found out yesterday that BOTH are cancer free!
One battled pancreatic cancer two years ago, having a huge, very serious surgery. The survival rate for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is VERY low, but she managed to pull through, and after two long years, her doctors have informed her that she is cancer free.
The other was a teenager when she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had the ovary removed and continued on with life. Last fall, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer again. And earlier this week, she had surgery again to remove the remainder of her inside lady parts. Doctors assured her she is once again cancer free.

To celebrate this amazing news for both people in my life, I want to do a giveaway to raise some awareness of both types of cancers. You're never too old or too young to get screened or share your body changes/concerns with your doctor. Make sure they listen to you, and don't dismiss your worries!

The bracelets are made with Swarovski pearls for the Choose Hope organization. If you win, you just have to promise that when someone asks you about the bracelet, you tell them what it represents. Deal?

Purple is the color for pancreatic cancer awareness and teal for ovarian cancer awareness.

I am giving away BOTH bracelets!
You can enter by leaving a comment on here with your name, city, email address, how you found my blog, and which color your prefer.
Here's the trick, I MUST have at least 25 of my wonderful readers enter the contest before I will ship these little beauties off, so spread the word!

This contest will remain open until next friday.

Good luck! X


Greek Village Bread

My Grandma was proud to be Greek.
She loved the food and she loved her family, she always called me her "little Greek girl".
But when it came to talking about the country itself, she never said much.
I brought up the idea of traveling abroad to visit Greece with a friend, and she practically begged me not to go.
I don't know which town my family came from or what they went through trying to come to America because it was never talked about.
Questions have gone unanswered since I can remember, and now my Grandma is gone, and I still don't have answers.
I know very little about my Grandma's upbringing, except her mother passed when she was a toddler, and in order to work to provide for his family, my Grandma's father had to pass her and her sister off to other family members and, from what I understand, orphanages at times.
I don't care that I'm not sure of my exact roots, I know I'm Greek, and I'm damn proud of it.
Some day I will travel to see the ruins and live like the Grecians do, but for now, this little Greek girl will stick to making their delicious food.

I went for an old, traditional recipe this time. It's Greek Village Bread, also known as Horiatiko Psomi (ho-ree-ah-tee-koh so-me).

It's relatively easy to make, this was my first time baking any bread on my own, and it turned out VERY (surprisingly!) well.

What you'll need:
2-1/4 tbsp dry yeast (one little packet)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
8 cups bread flour
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp olive oil (and a little extra for drizzling later)
2 tbsp honey
2-1/2 cups warm water

1. Stir the yeast packet into about 3/4 cup of warm water.
2. Stir in the whole wheat flour.
3. Let it stand for 20 minutes. It will look like this:

4. In a (very) large mixing bowl, mix the bread flour with the salt, then create a well in the middle.
5. Add the yeast mixture, oil, honey, and milk (in that order, it helps to keep the honey from sticking to the measuring spoon) to the well. It will look like this:

6. Use your hands to mix it all together, adding the 2-1/2 cups of water until it's a thick, gooey lump.
7. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead until it's no longer sticky.
8. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of the bread and rub it all around, making sure all sides have a thin layer.
9. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl.
10. Make a wet towel sandwich (dry, wet, dry) and lay it over the bowl.
11. Let it rise for 90 minutes.
12. For 5-10 minutes, alternate kneading and punching the dough on a floured surface.

13. Divide the dough into 4 loaves, and shape them (long, round, throw it in a pan, it doesn't matter).
14. Place the loaves (several inches apart) onto cookie sheets and cover with the towel sandwich again.
15. Let them rise for at least an hour.
16. Score the tops of the loaves, with an X or a couple slash lines, whatever you fancy.
17. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and place one sheet in the oven at a time, on the middle rack.
18. Bake for 20 minutes (maybe shorter depending on how you make your loaves), keep an eye on them!)
19. Remove from oven, slice, eat while warm.
20. Save some for later to sop up oil or for the morning to toast and enjoy with jam.


Lemon Squares

Nothing says "Spring" to me quite like fresh fruit.
Especially lemons.
I love when restaurants start offering lemonade drinks for the beginning of the warm seasons.
For me, it's like a party celebrating the end of a long winter.
Because it is still January,I also need some comfort in my diet- I couldn't quite go full-blown Spring on you yet.
So I made Lemon Bars.
All the lemon taste I craved, but the warmth and fluffiness of a winter treat.

I wasn't happy about the way they looked while I was making them, but the first bite made my eyes roll back into my head, and before I knew what my mouth was doing I let out an "ohhhmmmm" sound.
These aren't for the faint of heart. If you just want a little lemon taste, this is not your recipe.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (this equals about 1 juicy lemon)
sifted powdered sugar (for later)

Soften the butter in the microwave for a few seconds. Mix the flour, butter, powdered sugar, and salt until it becomes crumbly/crust like. I used a mixer and left it on low for a while. It came out smooth, yet crumbly. Just make sure everything is mixed well.
Smoosh it all down into a greased pan. I used one slightly smaller than a 13x9 in order to make my bars thicker. Use what you'd like. Bake for 20 min (until golden colored) at 350.

While the crust is baking, mix together the granulated sugar, eggs, and lemon juice. I blended slowly at first then turned it up to medium-fast for a few seconds.
When the crust is done, remove it from the oven, and pour the lemon juice mixture on top of the hot crust.

Pop it back into the oven at 350 for an additional 20 minutes or until the edges are golden and the middle looks done-ish.
Let it cool completely, sift with powdered sugar, cut into squares and enjoy

Try not to eat more than two in one sitting.
You will get an upset tummy.
Lesson learned.
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