Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Juice

A couple years ago, we visited Universal Studios in Florida. While we were in the Harry Potter section, we sampled some Pumpkin Juice. At first, I will admit I was a little hesitant even though I am a fan of pumpkin. It tasted sweet like fruit juice. The drink did contain more apple juice than pumpkin. Since I have a few Trick or Treaters, I figured I would sneak in a little more Vitamin C and A with the plethora of candy they are about to receive.
Pumpkin Juice
18 oz. cold water
12 oz. apple juice concentrate
11.5 oz. white grape juice
1/2 cup puree pumpkin
1/4 cup puree peaches

  1. In a large pitcher, mix all the ingredients.
  2. Chill before serving.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.

One year ago............................I made Lobster Chowder.
Two years ago..........................I made Chicken Stir Fry. (What we have on Halloween Night for the vegetables. )
Did you already know...............
-In June 1990, Universal Studios Resorts opened.
-In June 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens. 
-Currently, Universal Studios are expanding the Harry Potter section which is scheduled to open next year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pirate cookies

Have you picked out your costume yet? Are you going to be a princess, superhero, or maybe a pirate? I am going as Dr. Seuss's Thing One in which I like to call myself Wild Thing One. My niece requested some pirate cookies which I happily obliged. These aren't too scary to eat. The kids liked to help decorate which always make it fun.
Pirate Cookies
Sugar Cookies
Red Royal Icing
White Royal Icing
Black Royal Icing

  1. Make a red circle about 1/2 inch from the edge.
  2. Take half of the red icing and add 1/2 tsp of water to thin it out.
  3. Flood the red circle with the thinned out icing. Allow to set for at least one hour.
  4. Once the red icing has set, take the white icing and pipe the shape of a light bulb onto the top 1/3 section of the cookie
  5. Below the light bulb shape, pipe a letter "X" underneath. 
  6. At the edge of each "X", add a little circle.
  7. Take about 1/3 of the white icing and add a little water to think it out. 
  8. Flood the inside of the light bulb shape. Allow to set for at least one hour.
  9. Once the white icing has set, add 3 dots to form the two eyes and nose.
  10. Add a couple of lines for the mouth. 
  11. Add some black icing for decorations and other decorations like an eye patch. Allow to set before serving.
Cookies created by Jen of Sweet Morris. Cookie recipe and icing found at the links.

One year ago.......................I made Chocolate Brownie Cookies.
Two years ago.....................I made Mummy Cake Pops. (Check them out!)
Did you already know.........
-Between 1700 to 1725, the Caribbean had numerous of pirate attacks.
-The famous Black Beard would make put fuses in his hat so he appeared to be on fire to intimidate the ships he was attacking.
-Not all pirates were men during that time, Anne Bony and Mary Read were two female pirates who fought with the men. They were captured but were saved from the death penalty due to pregnancy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chili Mac

Recently, I had some unexpected time off from work so I decided to paint my our bedroom. Since I love the color blue, it was agreed the room would be blue. It didn't matter two other rooms in our house are blue too. Of course, the rooms are all different shades of blue. My husband didn't argue about the color our room that I picked. While we were painting, I accidentally touched the wet wall with my hair. I am talented like that. I turned to my husband and asked him if I actually had paint in my hair. He told me yes so I told him that he could call me Marge Simpson from now on. Don't worry I wasn't painting in the kind of dress she wears. If I had, I would have had paint on the dress too!
Zombie Brains aka Chili Mac
1 lb ground hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

6 oz. dry pasta
1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
1 (15 0z.) can kidney beans, drained
1 (8 3/4 oz.) can sweet corn, drained
1 (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth 
2 cups water
1 cup shredded Colby cheese

  1. In a large pot, brown the ground beef over medium heat for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the onion, red pepper, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, and black pepper. Stir well.
  4. Add the uncooked noodles, tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Stir well.
  5. Add the 4 cups chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until the noodles are tender. If needed, add more water.
  7. Sprinkle cheese on top before serving.
Recipe adapted from 1998 Cooking Light magazine.

One year ago.............................I made Alien Cupcakes.
Two years ago...........................I made Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes.
Did you already know.........................
-The Simpsons have been on the air for 24 seasons.
-It is the longest running animated series on television.
-Mrs. Nancy Cartwright is the voice for Bart Simpson.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Doggie Cupcakes

My sister makes these great cupcakes and sends them into niece's classroom. She also shares with us. Isn't she so nice? My sister even let me share them with you. My son thought these were great because he thought it gave him an excuse to play with his dessert. He didn't play with them long before gobbling them up.
Doggie Cupcakes
12 cooled cupcakes
1 can of frosting
food dye
12 large marshmallows
12 red jelly beans
miniature chocolate chips

  1. Dye the frosting the desired color. Set aside.
  2. Take a marshmallow and cut off 1/4 inch thick off.
  3. Cut the 1/4 inch into half. Set aside for the muzzle.
  4. Cut the other half into 4 pieces. Shape the pieces into the shape of ears.
  5. Frost the cupcake or pipe the frosting onto the cupcake for a more hairy look.
  6. Cover the nose section with frosting and place onto the cupcake.
  7. While the nose sets, frost the ear pieces and place the ears onto the cupcakes near the edge and above the muzzle piece.
  8. With some frosting or chocolate chips, create two eyes. 
  9. Place a red jelly bean or a miniature chocolate chip for the nose.
Recipe adapted from Hello, Cupcake! cookbook.

One year ago...........................I made Peanut Butter Cookies.
Two years ago.........................I made Onion Dip.
Did you already know................
-A dog's muzzle is also a snout.
-The most popular registered breed of dog is the Labrador.
-Dogs sweat glands are located near their foot pads.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Snail Cookies

The snails are coming. The snails are coming. Alright, these snails aren't very fast. They are pretty tasty. The kids had no problems eating these snails. The snails are made up of two types of cookies and chocolate.
Snail Cookies aka Sugar Cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
a couple of drops of food coloring, optional
1 box of Pirouline cookies
10 chocolate candies wrapped in eyeball wrappers.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add one egg at a time. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and the food coloring. Mix until incorporated.
  6. Bake about 10 minutes and the cookies until the edges are golden. 
  7. After a minute, transfer the cookies to a wire rack.
  8. Stick one Pirouline cookie in the center of the sugar cookie and allow to cool completely. 
  9. Place 1 chocolate on top of each Pirouline cookie to make a snails eye.
 Sugar Cookie adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook. 

One year ago.................................I made Pretzel Dogs.
Two years ago...............................I made Chicken Enchiladas.
Did you already know....................
-Most snails have four tentacles- 2 for sight and 2 for smell.
-Snails are nocturnal creatures.
-In the winter, snails hibernate in the soil.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Soup

It is football season. Around this time, we always make buffalo chicken dip but I wanted something that could be a meal too. My husband would disagree and say buffalo chicken dip is a meal. What do you mean that chips and dip isn't a meal?  Throw in some carrots and celery makes it a meal, right? Whether you agree with me or my husband, this soup is really good especially since it is cold outside.
Buffalo Chicken Soup
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the celery and onion. Saute for about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the flour on top and whisk for 1 minute.
  4. Slowly, whisk in the milk and chicken broth.
  5. Add the chicken, buffalo wing sauce, and cheese. Stir well.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium low.
  8. Allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  9. Serve immediately with additional cheese sprinkled on top. 
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.

One year ago.............................I made Crab Rangoon.
Two years ago...........................I made Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.
Did you already know................
-American football evolved from rugby and soccer.
-Walter Camp is known as the father of football since he helped derive the rules for the game.
-In the world, the NFL is the most lucrative sports league according to Forbes. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Witch dunk punch

How do you know someone is a witch? Do they carry wear pointy shoes? Do they wear a pointy hat? Do they chant spells? Do they keep a caldron ready for everyday use? I wouldn't pass any of those tests. I confess I'm not a witch. One year, my sisters and I dressed up as witches. We walked around a caldron with mystical fog (dry ice). We chanted Macbeth. We even remembered the majority of Double, Double Toil and Trouble. My oldest daughter believed we were witches. If we had been on trial on that night for witchcraft, we would have been found guilty since we were that good in our role. 
Witch Dunk Brew
1 (12 oz.) can frozen concentrated orange pineapple juice
1 (12 oz.) can frozen concentrated pink lemonade
2 Liter Ginger Ale
3 Tbsp lemon juice
8 cups water
1/3 cup superfine sugar
apples, plums, carrots, candy

  1. In a large punch bowl, combine the juice, lemonade, ginger ale, lemon juice, and water.
  2. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Chop the fruit for garnish. Add the fruit with the carrots and candy.
(The witch is assembled by the body is an apple, the head is a plum, the hat is an apple, the shoes are Swedish fish, and the broom is a carrot. The pieces are held together by toothpicks.)
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.

One year ago............................I made Fried Sausage Dumplings.
Two years ago..........................I made Pork chops with Garlic and Herbs.
Tasting the Witch's brew
Did you already know...............
-The Salem Witch Trials began with the two young girls.
-The trials began in January of 1692 and lasted until May of 1693. 
-In Salem, there is a memorial to remember the twenty condemned

Monday, October 14, 2013

Two Tone Halloween Cookies

It was dark outside when I prepared the dough for these Halloween cookies. The kids were home so I asked them if my dough appeared orange or red. It was hard to gauge the color. They reassured me that my eyes were fine and the dough was orange. While the kids were at school, I made the cookies. I was happy for the most part with the results. When the kids arrived home, I told them they could have a cookie. My daughter ate her cookie without hesitation. She said they were a little plain tasting but good. (She has since said she really likes them since I keep catching her eating another one.) My son did not eat his cookie but was too busy trying to punch out the center part of the cookie. When I saw him, I told him it isn't going to just pop out like a puzzle. He told me that he figured that out.
Bats, pumpkins, and moon cookies
Two Tone Halloween Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
food coloring

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sugars and butter until fluffy.
  2. Add the milk, vanilla, and egg. Mix until incorporated.
  3. Add the flour and salt to the butter mixture. Mix until incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough in thirds. Set one-third of the dough aside.
  5. Add the other two thirds of the dough into two separate bowls.
  6. Add a few drops of the desired food coloring to each bowl. Mix well. (I used black food coloring to one bowl. The other bowl I added yellow and red food coloring to make orange.)
  7. Wrap each section of the dough separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate over night.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Onto a well floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
  11. Cut out 2 1/2 inch round circles. (I used a large plastic cup.)
  12. Place the dough onto the baking sheet.
  13. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out the center of the dough. 
  14. Replace the center park of the dough with another color dough.
  15. With the rolling pin, gently roll the dough slightly to help seal the two doughs.
  16. Bake the cookies for 4 minutes. 
  17. Rotate and bake the cookies for another 4 minutes or until set.
  18. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Recipe adapted from Pillsbury Bars & Cookies Sept 1998 #211 issue.

One year ago .........................I made Chocolate Cookies.
Two years ago........................I made Sloppy Joes.
Did you already know............
-The only mammal that can fly is the bat.
-The smallest bat is the bumblebee bat and weighs less than a typical slice of bread.
-Vampire bats prick a wound in their prey and lap up the blood with their tongue.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

Have you ever roasted peppers? I use to buy them in the jar but it makes more financial sense to roast them at home. Now, I figured if I was going to take the time to roast the pepper then why wouldn't I do the same for the tomatoes. Also, I hate to make more dishes then are necessary and I don't have an immersion blender so I left the vegetables chunky in the soup. I think it made it more scary since there were weird looking things floating in it which you can see if you serve this soup in a transparent glass. The kids did think the soup was scary looking by the color but they really liked it.
Scary Soup aka Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup
3 red bell peppers
16 plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth 
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper for taste

  1. Preheat the broiler on high.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place the peppers and tomatoes onto the baking sheet.
  4. Broil the peppers and tomatoes about 5 inches from the heat for about 8 minutes.
  5. Remove the peppers and tomatoes from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  6. Once cooled, remove the skins from the peppers and tomatoes. Set aside.
  7. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
  8. Add the onion and stir often for 5 minutes.
  9. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.
  10. Add the roasted peppers and tomatoes into the pot with the chicken broth. Cook for 10 minutes.
  11. Using a potato masher, smash the peppers and tomatoes into chunks. 
  12. Stir in the paprika and lemon into the soup. Cook for 5 minutes.
  13. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. 
Recipe adapted from 2005 Sunset Magazine.

One year ago..........................I made Roasted Vegetable Panini.
Two years ago........................I made Black Forest Cherry Torte.
Did you already know............
-Tomatoes originate from South and Central America.
-Botanically, tomatoes are classified as fruit.
-In the late 1800s, the U.S. classified it as a vegetable so it would be taxed under the custom regulations.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Apple Crisp

Sometimes it is hard to come up with a spooky names for my dishes. So, I take suggestions from the kids. This dish was named by my son. I thought it was pretty clever. I would never have thought of it. Grave dirt? Would you like some ice cream with that grave dirt? My husband said it was the best apple crisp (grave dirt) he has ever had.
Grave Dirt aka Apple Crisp 
6 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly coat 3 small ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  4. Spoon the apple mixture equally into the ramekins.
  5. In the same bowl, combine the brown sugar, oats, and flour. 
  6. Blend the butter into the brown sugar mixture until well incorporated.
  7. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the ramekins.
  8. Bake the apple crisp for 30 minutes or until the apples are tender and the streusel is crispy. 
  9. Allow the apple crisp to cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Chow.

One year ago............................I made Mace Crumb Muffins.
Two years ago..........................I made Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken.
Did you already know..............
-Embalming meant to put on balm.
-Perfume and spices were once an ordinary ritual to use on decaying bodies. 
-In the U.S, funeral services industry make $11 billion in revenue every year. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Homemade Croutons

Since I know October seems to be the month of candy, I try to fight against it with additional vegetables. Salads are always an easy solution. Usually, I do not make my own croutons but I had purchased a baguette and we didn't eat it. It was pretty hard so I had to think of some ideas for the baguette. Some thoughts were using it to hit a pinata. Let the kids use it as a sword. Put it in the freezer which it would have been forgotten until years months later. I figured it would make great croutons which it did. I cut the bread into triangles so they looked like teeth.
Shark's Teeth aka Homemade Croutons
1 baguette, cut up into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp sea salt

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil, oregano,cheese, and salt.
  4. Spread the bread in one layer onto the baking sheet.
  5. Toast the bread for about 5 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.

One year ago.........................I made Brown Butter Funfetti Cookies.
Two years ago.......................I made Stomboli.
Did you already know............
-Croutons are small toasted pieces of bread.
-Croutons are similar to crostinis which are larger. 
-The word croutons derive from the French word croute which means crust.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Meringue Ghosts

Have you ever seen a ghost? Well, I haven't. I have family members who have said they have. Our oldest son house sat one time and he claims our house is haunted. I have never seen anything unusual. My husband has never seen any ghost in our house until now. He saw many hanging out in our kitchen on my baking sheet. He called the kids to the kitchen to show them the ghost. He told them they had to be real quiet. They were quiet as my husband looked out the kitchen window. They looked out the window searching for the ghost. Then he turned and showed them how our kitchen had a few ghost hanging around. The ghost didn't stay around long since the kids ate them. The poor ghost were gone within no time. I'm unsure if they will return again this year. However, I have a feeling they will be back again this time next year.
Meringue Ghosts
9 egg whites
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp sugar 
1/8 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.
  4. Slowly add one Tbsp at a time of the sugar while beating the mixture.
  5. Continue to beat the mixture until stiff glossy peaks form. 
  6. In a large resealable food storage plastic bag, spoon half the mixture into the bag.
  7. Cut one corner of the bag and pipe ghost shapes onto the baking sheet. Form a circle for the head and zip zap lines moving downwards for the body.
  8. Insert two chocolate chips  into the circle head shape to form the eyes.
  9. Bake the meringues for 45 minutes and check the mixture has set. 
  10. Leave the meringues in the closed oven for 8 hours.
Recipe adapted from Pillsbury Easy Halloween cookbook #349.

One year ago..................................I made Vanilla Cupcakes.
Two years ago...............................I made Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies.
Did you already know...................
-If more than one person sees a ghost, it is called a collective apparition.
-According to a 2005 Gallop Poll, one third of Americans believe in ghosts.
-Other names for ghosts are: specter, phantom, wraith, spirit, and apparition.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Swamp Alien Soup

I asked my children if they would like to try asparagus soup. I know they like asparagus but I wasn't sure if they wanted it as their meal. To my surprise, my children said yes. Since it is the month of Halloween, I figured I should give it a cool name. My children liked it. The soup had a stronger smell than it tasted. The soup was pretty mild in taste.
Asparagus Soup aka Swamp Alien Soup
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed off the woody ends
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1 cup evaporated 2% milk
2 tsp lemon juice
Sprinkle of Parmesan for topping

  1. Cut the asparagus tips off and set aside.
  2. The remaining asparagus cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  3. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion and celery. Cook for about 3 minuts.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes.
  6. Add the asparagus, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes covered.
  8. In a smaller pot, bring water to a boil. Add the asparagus tips and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  9. In a blender, puree the soup in batches.
  10. Return the pureed soup to the large pot and add the evaporated milk and lemon juice. 
  11. Cook over low heat just to warm and not simmer.
  12. Serve the soup hot with the asparagus tips and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Recipe adapted from Dashrecipes.

One year ago........................I made Sauerbraten.
Two years ago.....................I made Easy Burger.
Did you already know..........
-The Ancient Greeks grew asparagus.
-Purple asparagus will turn green after being cooked. 
-White asparagus is green asparagus but grown underground.