May 31, 2016

Mario Mushroom Pinata

Mario was the very first video game I ever played and he's still my favorite after all these years. As I prepare a little Mario themed party, I am making Super Mario Brother themed pinatas. The first one, is the Super Mushroom, which allows for Mario to get bigger and break blocks. Making him was pretty easy. Here I show you step by step how to make the Super Red Mushroom pinata.

First, cut two identical mushroom tapes out of cardboard. I flatten a large box, use a pencil to make the shape, and then use a box cutter to cut it out.

Next, cut long pieces of cardboard. The width depends on how thick you want the pinata to be. In this case, this mushroom will not be used as a real pinata, but as a decoration. 

Next, using the strips tape the two identical pieces together. Tape the strips all the way around.

Starting at the bottom of the mushroom, using a cream color paper mache, I glue strips at the bottom, so that the bottom of the cardboard is not seen.

Gathering long lengths of paper mache, I cut small slits to make the fringe.

Next, I glue the fringe strips around the entire mushroom cardboard, until I get half way up. Next, we must start the red top of the mushroom.

Using red paper mache, I cut small strips and glue around the top half, so that all areas of the cardboard are covered.

Using red paper mache, I gather long strips and wrap it around my hand and then cut small slits to make the fringe.

Using glue, I glue the fringe around until I get to the very top.

Lastly, Using white and black cardboard paper, I cut out circles for the mushroom and eyes.

And that's all you have to do to make this super cute Super Mario Mushroom. 

May 1, 2016

Greek Koulourakia Cookies

While I celebrated my Easter last month, the Greek Easter is in May this year, so I am sharing these traditional Greek cookies, which are called "Koulourakia", and they can be found at special Greek celebrations like Easter. And if I am lucky I get to eat these about 2-3 times a year, usually when I go to a Greek festival or a celebration with Yanni's family. When I told his grandmother how much my mother and I love these cookies, she shared with me her recipe.


4 cups of flour
1 tablespoons of baking powder
1/2 a cup of orange juice (optional)
2 sticks of butter, melted
3/4 cups of sugar
3  eggs beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or maple syrup
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Sesame seeds (optional)

Oven: 350 degrees

- In a large bowl add flour and sugar and combine.

- Next, mix the baking powder in a little bit of orange juice until it dissolves and add to the flour and sugar. The orange juice is optional, if you do not have orange juice, simply mix the baking powder in the flour mixture.

- Add the slightly beaten eggs to the flour mix and combine a bit.

- Next, add the melted butter. Make sure the melted butter  is not very hot. You don't want to cook the eggs :)

- Lastly, add the vanilla (or syrup).

- Make sure your hands are washed, clean and dry and use both hands to combine all the ingredients in the bowl. The texture of the dough should be soft, yet firm, as you will be pinching off pieces to form the braid shape. 

Getting the texture just right is the key to a good cookie. It takes a little practice, once I am still trying to get right. If you feel that the dough is too soft, add a little more flour until the dough feels firm enough to mold something with.

- Sprinkle some flour on a clean counter or large board.
    1. Pinch a piece of the dough, about an inch, and roll the dough under both hands to make a snake shape. 
    2. Next, make an upside down U shape.
    3.  Overlap the end pieces,
    4.  Wrap the left left over the right leg to make a small braid.

- Brush egg wash (1 beaten egg with a tablespoon of water in a bowl)  and sprinkle sesame seeds on it (sesame seeds are optional).

- Put on parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Once finished put on a cookie tray to cool off.

I made a few dozen of these for Easter.

Enjoy as a breakfast treat or in the afternoon with some milk, or like the Greeks do, with a strong cup of coffee.