Saturday, October 17, 2009

salty caramel apples

The perfect caramel apple!!
6 Granny Smith apples
6 wooden sticks
1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Insert wooden sticks 3/4 of the way into the stem end of each apple. Place apples on a cookie sheet covered with lightly greased aluminum foil. Combine caramels and water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until caramel melts and is smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Dip each apple into the caramel and gently run apples around insides of saucepan to scrape off some of the caramel. Scrape excess caramel from the apple bottoms using the side of the saucepan. Place on the aluminum foil. Sprinkle lightly with the coarse salt and chill. Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Drizzle over the apples and return them to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

roasting pumpkin seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds have a nutty flavor and are packed with protein and fiber. Pumpkin seeds are delicious toasted and salted, but they're even better flavored with sweet and savory spices.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (This is easiest just after you've removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp has dried.) Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

Why Carve Pumpkins?

The story of the Jack o'Lantern comes from Irish folklore. Jack was a crafty farmer who tricked the Devil into climbing a tall tree. When the Devil reached the highest branch, Jack carved a large cross in the trunk, making it impossible for the Devil to climb down. In exchange for help getting out of the tree, the Devil promised never to tempt Jack with evil again. When Jack died, he was turned away from Heaven for his sins and turned away from Hell because of his trickery. Condemned to wander the Earth without rest, Jack carved out one of his turnips, took an ember from the devil, and used it for a lantern to light his way. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern."

My FAVORITE roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Cinnamon and Salt

4 cups pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
vegetable oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet and spread the seeds out in an even layer. Lightly sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Bake for about 5 minutes, then stir the seeds. Season with salt and cinnamon again. Continue baking, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until seeds are toasted.

spiderweb cheesecake

This cheesecake is elegant enough for grownups, but fun for the kid in all of us!!

1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) prepared chocolate crumb crust
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand for 1 minute. Heat gelatin; stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat; cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in cream, vanilla and gelatin mixture until smooth. Pour into crust. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth. Transfer to a heavy-duty resealable bag; cut a small hole in a corner of bag. Pipe a circle of chocolate in center of cheesecake. Pipe evenly spaced thin concentric circles about 1/2 in. apart over filling. Beginning with the center circle, gently pull a toothpick through circles toward outer edge. Wipe toothpicks clean. Repeat to complete web pattern. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting.

Friday, October 16, 2009

wicked cupcakes

Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday so I like to do fun kid friendly cooking projects to make it fun for my kids too! These are cute, fun and so are your little goblins will LOVE them!!

24 brown mini M&Ms plus , more for filling (optional)
Hershey's Chocolate Cupcakes
Dirty Green Simple Buttercream
12 chocolate sugar cones
1 pound black licorice laces, cut into 1/4-inch, 1/2-inch and 2-inch lengths
12 candy corns

Using a melon baller, scoop out the center of each cupcake, and fill with mini M&Ms, if desired. Cover the tops of each cupcake with a generous mound (about 1/3 cup) of buttercream. Insert one candy corn into each cupcake to form a nose. Using brown mini M&Ms, insert two into each cupcake to form eyes. Place two short lengths of licorice above the eyes to form eyebrows for the witch. Place the shorter licorice lengths above the eyebrows to form bangs. Place an inverted cone on top of bangs, pressing gently into buttercream to adhere. Place the longer licorice lengths under the cone hat to form the hair.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

mulled cider

Mmm... the smell of fall!
4 c. water
2 tsp. ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 dash ground cloves
1 gallon of cider or apple juice
1 can (12 oz.) frozen lemonade, thawed
3/4 c. orange juice
1/3 c. honey
1 tea bag (we use herbal tea)
Cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)

Combine the water, allspice, cinna-stick and cloves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and return to a boil. Turn off heat and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 12-18

I got this recipe back east in Charlottesville, where we spent some of our fall days at the top of the grassy rolling hills of Virginia at the apple orchard.

Enjoy this fall infusion throughout your home!

pumkin pot pie

6 sugar pumpkins or acorn squash (1 to 2 pounds each)
Salt and ground black pepper
6 tablespoon butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups canned chicken broth
8 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
8 ounces frozen pearl onions or chopped onions
4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried leaf sage
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice tops off pumpkins. Remove seeds and pulp. Sprinkle insides of pumpkins with salt and pepper. Place pumpkins cut side up on a baking sheet. Cover pumpkins tightly with foil. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or just until skin is easily pierced with knife. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until well blended, about 1 minute. Add broth and stir constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add vegetables, onions, chicken and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and divide mixture evenly among cooled pumpkin shells (approximately 1-1/2 cups per pumpkin). Unwrap pie dough and place on lightly floured work surface. With a sharp paring knife, cut (12) 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-wide strips, and roll dough to resemble tendrils. Cut small leaf shapes, and with back of knife, gently press lines into leaf to resemble veins. Use egg wash as glue to attach dough strips, twisting gently to form coils. Attach leaves. Brush all decorations with egg wash. Return pumpkins to oven and bake about 30 minutes, or until pie dough is golden and filling is hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

to carve a pumpkin...

This is the best pumpkin carving kit I have found. It has all the tools you will need to make your pumpkin their spookiest!!

dinner in a pumpkin: creamy spiced sausage stroganoff

This recipe is delicious and fun to make for dinner parties!

1 medium sized (10-12" diameter, basketball sized, ~10 lbs.) pumpkin
1 pound ground beef
1 pound (a chub.) mild sausage (we use Kielbasa at our house)
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons oil

1 head broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 large green apple, diced

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar/mozz/jack cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
dash red pepper
dash pumpkin pie spice

6 cups cooked hot rice, for serving

Remove top rack from oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
Cut the top off the pumpkin and remove all the seeds and stringy pulp inside. Season inside pumpkin with a little salt, pepper, and pumpkin pie spice.
Heat oil in a large saute pan and bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add beef, sausage and onions into saute pan and cook until browned. Add broccoli, carrots and apple into boiling water and cook for 8 minutes to soften (skip this step if you like a little bite to your veg). Drain vegetables. In your biggest mixing bowl, whisk together the softened cream cheese, milk, cheese, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper. Stir in meat and onions and veggies. Carefully pour into prepared pumpkin and replace pumpkin top. Place pumpkin on a heavy duty cookie sheet or in a casserole dish. Carefully put in oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours at 375 degrees. To serve, scrape sides and bottom of pumpkin to get bits of pumpkin with stroganoff. Serve over hot rice.

* recipe may be halved and prepared in a small pumpkin for a cute little family, or use individual sized pumpkins per person(cooking may vary).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

graveyard pizza

16 Halloween OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 pkg. (19.5 oz.) brownie mix
1-1/4 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
White decorating icing and assorted Halloween candies (worm-shaped chewy fruit snacks or bugs)

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Chop 8 of the cookies; set aside.

PREPARE brownie mix as directed on package; spread batter into greased 14-inch pizza pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until done.

SPRINKLE marshmallows over top of hot brownie; bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned. Immediately sprinkle chopped cookies over marshmallows. Cool on wire rack.

DECORATE remaining 8 cookies with white decorating icing to resemble tombstones. Stand "tombstones" around pizza, pressing gently into brownie. Decorate with assorted candies.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

mummy dogs

Wrap up this easy and fun dinner for your little goblins!!

Hot dogs
Ready-made croissant dough
Mustard and ketchup

Cut the croissant dough into strips. Wrap hot dogs to look like mummies. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. You can make faces with ketchup and mustard.