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Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Dinner

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

So, because I’m a dork, I like to fix a special Halloween dinner. Poor Nick, he knows it’s coming and I think he just tolerates it because he loves me! Spiders and worms. That’s what’s for dinner!
I learned how to make spiders while I was in Girl Scouts. It is a perfect campfire food. Of course, spiders are easy to find by campfire pits- that’s just one reason that makes it perfect. They are tasty too!

I couldn’t bring myself to show a real spider (they are creepy looking!).

Just teasing! Spiders, the ones we are eating on Halloween, are made from hot dogs! All-beef hot dogs thank you very much. And I know you are dying to find out about the worms. Right? Come on, it’s not gross. It’s spaghetti with pesto!

Spiders and worms! Photo courtesy of Nick

Spiders and worms
Makes 1 serving

2 all-beef hot dogs
2 tablespoons pesto (recipe below)
1 serving cooked spaghetti (I used whole wheat spaghetti)

Place your oven on broil (you can also do these over a campfire!).
To make your spiders, make a + on each end of the hot dog, going about  1/3rd of the way up (so the center 1/3rd stays whole and uncut). Place on a  sheet pan and broil till cooked to your doneness (I like some char to mine). You will know the hot dogs are cooked when the legs curl.

Basil pesto recipe:
1 cup packed, fresh basil leaves
3 cloves roasted garlic
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons toasted, and cooled, pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor, add basil leaves, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Start the food processor and slowly stream in the olive oil. *Note: you may need a little more than 3 tablespoons, depending on the consistency you prefer.
When your pasta is cooked, drain (but do not rinse) the pasta. Return the pasta to the pan and add the pesto.
Serve your worms along with your spiders!

Prepping your spider!

Spider close-up!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Made with love, not calories!

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Eye Balls (cake balls)

Ok, I told you earlier that I don’t like scary stuff. And I didn’t lie to you…I really don’t like scary stuff. However, I think making cake balls into eye balls is so gross, it’s cute (I know, I’m weird!). Plus, what else was I supposed to do with leftover cake, frosting, and melting chocolate? You know that just screams cake balls. Sooo, maybe I could have made them into pumpkins, or candy corn, like Jenna did. Nope, I guess not!

I see you!

Eye balls (Cake balls)
Makes 20 eye balls!

Yellow cake (baked and cooled completely)…1 8 inch round pan worth
3/4 cup frosting (your choice of flavor)…you might need more if your cake is a little dry (I used a white frosting)
1 pound white melting chocolate
M&M’s (I used blue and green)
Red and black gel food coloring
20 Gummy worms (optional)

Once your cake has been baked and completely cooled, crumble it into a large mixing bowl. Add enough frosting to make the cake just stick together (I needed 3/4 of a cup to achieve this). *Note: too much frosting and your cake will turn to mush.
Using an ice cream scoop (I used a medium-sized scoop), scoop cake/frosting mixture onto a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Place in freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and roll into balls (or form into whatever shapes you prefer).
*Note: this is where I added the gummy worms. I dipped one end of the gummy worm in melted white chocolate, then poked a hole in the cake ball with my finger and stuck the gummy worm inside the hole.
Once all the balls have been rolled, return the cookie sheet to the freezer for another 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, melt your white chocolate (according to your favorite method). Remove the cake ball centers from the freezer and dip each one in the melted chocolate (if you inserted a gummy worm, you can use this to hold onto). Place dipped cake ball onto the wax paper and top each one with an M&M (logo side pressed into the chocolate). Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes to set chocolate.
After 15 minutes, use a toothpick dipped in red gel food coloring, to create squiggly lines on the eye-ball (cake ball). With a paintbrush, apply the black gel food coloring to the M&M, for the pupil (you could also use a mini chocolate chip, attached with a dab of white chocolate). Let the food coloring dry…and enjoy!

Crumbled cake

Crumbled cake & frosting- will hold a shape

Cake ball- waiting for a gummy worm!

I don't have blue fingers- I'm wearing gloves!

Shake off the excess chocolate

I had to show this picture again! So creepy!

Made with love, not calories!

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Photo Friday

Juliet with Cool Whip on her nose!

Random picture of gummy worms

Ghost graveyard?

Chocolate covered Oreo's

Mmmm chocolate. Used 30 pounds for Halloween candy!

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Looking for a Halloween treat that is sure to please…and not at all scary? Maybe scary treats are fun, but I’m a wimp- a scaredy cat. I don’t do well with scary movies. Actually, I haven’t watched a scary movie since band camp…and that was a LONG time ago!

But anyways, back to the Halloween treat. Chocolate covered popcorn. Sweet, salty, crunchy, chocolatey…all covered in chocolate. What’s fun about this is you can add whatever you want. Those gummy worms or spiders would be cute! I think they even have hard candies in the shape of bones. As long as it’s covered in chocolate, I wouldn’t think that was scary at all!

This is great for a party, or just to snack on while you are waiting for trick-or-treaters (plus, it will keep you out of the candy you bought to pass out!).

Chocolate Covered Popcorn
Makes: a bowl full!

8 cups popcorn: air-popped or microwaved (no oil or butter added)
1 cup M&M’s, divided
1 cup peanuts
1 1/2 cups lightly crushed mini pretzels
1 cup candy corn, divided
1 pound white melting chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, combine popcorn, 3/4 cup M&M’s, peanuts, pretzels, and 3/4 cup candy corn. Set aside.  Melt white chocolate according to your favorite method, then pour chocolate over popcorn mixture. With a large spoon, gently fold everything together, until the chocolate has coated the popcorn and add-ins. Spread mixture, evenly, onto a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup M&M’s and candy corn over the top. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Remove wax paper, break apart, and enjoy!

Popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, candy corn, & M&M's

Coated in white chocolate

Bonus picture: drizzled in milk chocolate!

Made with love, not calories!

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Buckeyes (candy)

I’m not a big football fan. Oh, I’ll watch it, and I’m even getting better at asking intelligent questions, but if it wasn’t on- I wouldn’t miss it. Wait. I would miss the band. I LOVE watching the marching bands. Professional football sucks at this. It’s half-time, and they cut to the Half-Time Report. WHY? Didn’t I just spend the last 2 hours watching the 1st half- now you have to tell me what I saw? I know, the half-time report covers all the rest of the games, blah, blah, blah. I still would prefer to watch the marching bands.

Yup- you might have guessed that I was a band nerd in school. Marched with the bass clarinet or saxophone, depending on the music we were performing. Loved it. Hated being out in the cold, but loved the marching band.

I think I got lost on a tangent there. I actually wanted to talk to you about Buckeyes…candy. Not marching bands (like the Ohio State Buckeyes)! Oh, silly me! (Welcome to my crazy thought process)

Buckeyes, the candy, is a peanut butter center that has been dipped in chocolate. Read that carefully…dipped in chocolate- not covered in chocolate. You still want to see some of the peanut butter center peeking through- so it looks like a Buckeye! I know- cool concept :)

Buckeyes
Makes 30 candies

1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 pound melting chocolate*

In medium size mixing bowl, mix together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. The mixture will be thick.
Using a small-sized ice cream scoop, scoop mixture onto a waxed-paper lined cookie sheet. Roll into balls. Note: if the mixture is sticky (say the weather is warm), place the buckeye centers in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to roll.
Melt your chocolate, according to your favorite method…being careful not to burn it. Stick a toothpick into a buckeye center  and dip it in the chocolate…making sure not to cover the whole thing. Place back on cookie sheet (remove toothpick), and continue. Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator to let the buckeyes set. Serve cold or at room temperature.
*Note: You can use whatever melting chocolate you have on hand. I used Merckens milk chocolate for one batch, than Merckens dark chocolate for another batch.

Enjoy!

Peanut butter mixture

Peanut butter mixture scooped...

and rolled

Buckeyes (milk chocolate and dark chocolate)

Made with love, not calories!

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Photo Friday

I think my gutters need cleaned!!

Chicago skyline

Happy Friday!

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Quick Baked Apples

Can I tell you a secret? Just between us, ok?

Ready?

This isn’t a baked apple at all…you microwave it! How fun and simple! I have been enjoying these as my breakfast this week. I fix it the night before, so all I have to do the next morning is microwave it enough to warm it up, and my breakfast is ready to go. Yummy, warm, and good for you (an apple a day- you know!).

I’m not really going to give you a recipe for these. What I am going to do, is give you a starting point as to what I do, so you have an idea…then I want you to make it your own. Add your own extras, different spices- play with it (yes, you are old enough to be able to play with your food without getting yelled at!).

Here are the building blocks:
An apple
Spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)
Liquid (like water, honey, coconut oil, pure maple syrup)
Add-ins (like dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, dried coconut)

I really like Honey Crisp apples, so that is what I have been using. I peel and cut up the apple into bite-size pieces, and throw them into a microwavable container. Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Then I add spices (I like cinnamon) and a little bit of liquid- I would say between 1/2 and 1 tablespoon, but this will depend on how juicy your apples are. Honey Crisp’s are juicy, so I only add 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil (I like to use coconut oil as it’s a healthy fat, so it makes this dish a little more filling for me). Microwave for another 30-40 seconds. *You are not trying to achieve mushy apples…of course you can do this, then just mash them and you have made applesauce! Another thing to remember- if you are making this the night before, like I do, you have another turn in the microwave- another reason not to take the apples too far.
So, after the 2nd round in the microwave, I stir in my add-ins. Currently, my choice has been about a tablespoon of raisins- but you can add whatever sounds good to you!

The next day, the apples head back into the microwave- one last time. I only heat them for 30 seconds, and then I am ready to dig in!

You should be able to do this with pears also. Maybe one day I’ll try that. For now, I’m liking the apples- as the Honey Crisp (how many times can I tell you I really like these?) seems to have a shorter growing/selling season then some other apples. Hmm, maybe I can get to a local apple orchard this weekend and pick a peck (yes, I typed this on purpose…cause I’m a dork!)!

1 apple- peeled, chopped, and ready for the microwave

The white bits are coconut oil- they will melt when warm

Ready for breakfast tomorrow!

Made with love, not calories!

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Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Fall is here. The days are getting cooler and the leaves are starting to fall from the trees. I am hoping my yard dries up enough that my brother can mow the lawn at least one more time this year. Yes, my brother mows my lawn…please don’t think badly of me (I hate pushing a lawnmower)- plus, I pay him in cookies and beef sticks!

While I don’t like the fact that Fall means colder weather will be coming soon, there are things I appreciate about the season. Ok, now this is going to sound silly, but I’m being honest here. One of the reasons I like Fall, is because it’s like a gradual warning to me to get all my winter stuff ready. Long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, gloves, electric blanket for my car. Yup- you read that correctly. I have an electric blanket for in my car- it plugs into the cigarette lighter! Yes, the heater does work in my car, but I want heat…NOW!!

Another thing I like about Fall is the food! Warm and comforting. Flavors and scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, and my favorite- hot chocolate with marshmallows! Speaking of, a co-worker gave me a gift today- a hot chocolate candle (thanks Dianna!). Smells yummy!

Slatkin & Co. Hot Chocolate candle

Ok, so that was not a good lead in at all for the recipe!

Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes  27 cookies

1 1/4 cups butter (2 1/2 sticks), softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add in the flour and stir till just combined. Stir in the oats and the cinnamon chips. Mix well.

Using large ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, move cookies to cooking rack and cool completely. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Made with love, not calories!

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I’m still here!

Hi all. I apologize for the unscheduled break. The last couple of weeks have been a little difficult, and so my blogging was non-existent. A quick over-view: a doctor’s appointment with some disappointing news, a weekend trip to Wisconsin for a 30th birthday party. A long drive home on Sunday from Wisconsin, cause someone had to work on Monday…yup, that someone was me.

Return trip

Surgery on Tuesday morning, and no running till my follow-up visit in 3 weeks (sorry Nick- you know why). So, that meant I couldn’t run the Columbus half-marathon (the last one I had scheduled for the year).
Oh, and 3 days after surgery, I caught a cold. Gotta love my yucky immune system.

Anyways, a few boxes of kleenex (I could give Rudolph a run for his money), and hours spent under the electric blanket, sleeping, I seem to be getting over my cold. Just in time for the next few days to be chilly and rainy. Boo. I do have a recipe for you- you’ll see it tomorrow. I promise, I made the cookies well before I got my cold…so no cooties!

Talk to you soon!

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Here is recipe number 2 that uses your homemade apple butter!

I have mixed feelings about pound cake. I like it and yet, I don’t. Maybe saying I don’t like it is a little unfair. I mean, it’s not the pound cake’s fault that it is harder for me to eat. See, I don’t produce enough saliva to break down certain foods (yes, this includes steak…even if it “melts like butter”- I can’t eat it), and unfortunately, pound cake is just dense enough that it wouldn’t be my 1st dessert pick.
Now, I have my little tricks that make things easier. Say, adding a glaze to the pound cake, or serving it with ice cream (!), or even the obvious- having something close by to drink. All those things help. Oh- I just thought of another one…taking a warm piece of pound cake and slathering it with butter. Yum!

I’ve been on a little apple butter kick recently, and I’m rather liking the results! Though I am thinking it’s time to move on (and maybe revisit the apple butter a little later in the season), as I am sure my family is getting bored!

But, before I move on, let’s share this recipe!

Apple Butter Pound Cake

Apple Butter Pound Cake with Caramel Glaze
Makes: 1 10 inch bundt cake (12 servings)
Prep time: 10 minutes     Bake time: 1 hour- 1 hr and 15 minutes

3/4 cup butter, softened, divided
1 1/2 cup apple butter, divided
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

*Do not preheat oven. Prepare bundt pan (I used cooking spray, then dusted with flour).

In stand mixer, cream 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup apple butter, and 2 cups sugar, till well combined. Add in eggs, one at a time. Add in cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Stop mixer and scrape down sides. Turn mixer on low speed and alternate adding in the flour with 1 cup heavy cream (ending with flour). Scrape sides one more time and mix till flour is just combined.

Pour half of batter into prepared bundt pan. Top with remaining 1 cup apple butter. Cover apple butter with remaining batter. Place pan into oven, and turn on to 325 degrees. Bake 1 hour and check with toothpick (you might need extra time). Once done, toothpick should come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, make caramel glaze.
In small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Over medium heat, bring to boil. Lower heat and let simmer, stirring continuously. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add in vanilla.

Once the cake has cooled 10 minutes, invert cake onto serving plate. Pour glaze over warm cake.

You can enjoy a slice while it’s still warm, or let the cake cool to room temperature and then dig in! (I had a small piece and gave the rest away to the 2 sets of parents. I think I’m regretting that, as a slice of this, warmed, with some butter sounds like a mighty fine breakfast. Oh well.)

Apple Butter Pound Cake

 

Apple Butter Pound Cake

Made with love, not calories!

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