Tuesday, October 19, 2010

{Halloween Table} Yogurt Filled Chocolate Cups

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  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • White chocolate chips
  • 2 cups vanilla yogurt
  • Food coloring paste in two colors of your choice.

Either purchase pre-made chocolate cups, or make your own using a chocolate mold. Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir and continue in 15 second intervals until smooth. Pour into chocolate molds and allow to harden completely, then remove from molds. Melt a few ounces of white chocolate chips in a small  plastic baggie. Cut off just the tip of one corner of the baggie. Pipe in all different directions, drizzling the white chocolate over the chocolate cups giving them a spiderweb effect. Allow to cool completely again.

Set aside a small amount of vanilla yogurt for the design in the center. Color it with desired paste. Color the remaining yogurt with a varying paste. Divide the larger portion of yogurt equally into prepared cups. Drop 1 teaspoon of the remaining color in the center of each yogurt cup. With a toothpick, swirl it around to create a design. To get the spiderweb design, swirl it heavily, but not so the colors are completely blended. Then cut through the color as if cutting a pie, dragging the color out slightly, creating the strings of a web.  

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{Halloween Table} Layered Sherbet Potion

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  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
  • ½ frozen blackberries
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 quart orange sherbet, softened
  • ½ cup orange juice

In a blender, combine vanilla ice cream, blackberries, and milk. Cover and blend until smooth. In a bowl, combine sherbet and orange juice. Layer berry and sherbet mixtures into each of 6 chilled glasses. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

{Fall Table} Pumpkin Butter

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I give all credit for this delightful recipe to Miss Gina from Skinnytaste.com. {Gina, we love you!!} I LOVE her healthy choices and this one is not only healthy but OH SO GOOD for mock pumpkin pie on your toast, a delightful topping to your pancakes, crepes, you name it. If you haven’t checked out her site, you NEED to. Go now, I’ll wait….

See what I mean? She’s fabulous! This is her recipe:

  • 3 ½ c. pumpkin puree or 1 (29 oz) can pumpkin
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • ¾ c. apple cider or juice
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-2 t pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

Combine pureed pumpkin, vanilla, apple juice, spices, cinnamon sticks, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to your taste.

It’s me again. I got about 5 (½ pint) jars from this recipe. These would be heavenly and welcome gifts for the holidays. Something healthy and yet delightful to the taste is always so fun to get and use during those sugar logged weeks of festivity. Find these darling ½ pints at Target. Stir up a batch for yourself and gift a few. You’ll be in pumpkin heaven for weeks!

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{Fall Table} Pumpkin Cakelettes

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This is a treasured family recipe I learned when I married my husband. He is a dyed-in-the-wool pumpkin lover and this is the go to recipe for all holidays falling after Labor Day when everyone seems to crave that quintessential fall ingredient. Here I’ve given it the mini treatment, once again, using my mini cheesecake pans with the lift out bottoms. These work WONDERFULLY for this recipe!

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ½ c. + ¼ c. butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb can pumpkin (2 c.)
  • 1 ½ t. cinnamon
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 6 oz. can evaporated milk

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and taking a cup of the cake mix and setting it aside for later.

For the Crust:

Spray your pans with cooking spray and place on top of a cookie sheet to catch any drips and keep you from having to clean your oven.

Mix remaining cake mix with ½ c. softened butter and 1 egg until combined. My pans make 12 mini cakes and I wanted 24, so I divided this crust ‘dough’ in half and then divided each half amongst the 12 cups. Press down into the bottom of the cups as evenly as possible to keep pumpkin mixture from running out the bottom.

For the Pumpkin:

Combine pumpkin, 3 eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon and EVAPORATED milk until smooth and creamy. Once again, divide your mix, and then carefully spoon pumpkin mix into the 12 cups over the crust, filling almost to the top.

Crumbly Topping:

Crumb together ¼ c. butter, white sugar and reserved cake mix. Sprinkle on top of the pumpkin mixture. It will be messy. Press down a bit into the pumpkin mix. Messy, but SO worth it, just you wait!

Now that you’ve layered this yumminess together, pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes. Your cakelettes will be done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean of pumpkin.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the countertop for at least an hour before attempting to remove from the pans. When they are good and cool, they come out like a dream and look like the most adorable little pumpkin goodies you’ve ever seen. Take a bite and you’ll be using this recipe all winter long. Put some on a plate and send them to the new Mommy in your neighborhood or your husband’s co workers. They’ll thank you.

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{Fall Table} Moose Bites

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I heard about this simple recipe from my sister-in-law and had to give it a try. I call these little treats Moose Bites. Once you’ve had one, you’ll be reaching for more and making up these supremely easy snacks for teacher gifts over the holidays.

  • Square Butter Pretzels
  • 1 bag Rolos
  • 1 6 oz. bag Pecan halves

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Lay out pretzels, unwrap Rolos, and top pretzels. Pop into the oven for 4-6 minutes. Pull the cookie sheet out and quickly press pecan halves into the softened chocolate.

Allow to cool for a moment or two and then place the pan in the fridge to cool completely and set. This takes about ten minutes. Now give ‘em a try and then come tell me what you think!

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{Fall Table} Caramel Apple Hand Pies

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Inspired by Jenny from Picky Palate

  • 1 pkg (2 shells) refrigerated pie crusts (in a box, not in a pan)
  • 3 large apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 4 T butter
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Caramel dessert topping

I’m kind of picky about my apple desserts. I’m not a sauce person…but I don’t like huge chunks of apple either. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fresh apples. We stock up on a dozen a week around here and keep them in a huge bowl in the fridge for easy pickings. Yet when we come around to the cooked variety, I get picky. I like my apples finely diced and tender but not mushy.

Before you start, preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove pie crusts from the fridge.

To begin, you will need three large apples. I used Galas, but I bet these would be great with many different varieties. Core and peel and then dice these babies into tiny pieces. Melt butter into a skillet or pot. I used my trusty cast iron skillet. LOVE it for stuff like this. When butter is melted, add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon and stir over medium heat for about fifteen minutes until apples are fork tender.

Roll your room temperature pie crusts out onto the counter and use a paring knife to cut out about ten hand sized circular shapes. These don’t have to be perfect by any means. That’s what makes this recipe so easy and fun. Get the kids in there cutting out the dough. When you get as many as possible from both your shells, mush it all together and roll it out for more. These shells are super easy to handle.

Place your shell shapes on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper to catch any spills. Use your fingertips to press a ring around the center of your pie shell circle where you will put your apple mixture. Your apples should have a delicious brown sugar sauce from the butter, cinnamon and sugar. Scoop up about a ¼ to 1/3 cup of apple bits into the pie shell. Once all shells are filled drizzle apples with about a Tablespoon of caramel sauce. If you’re a fan, you could also add a sprinkle of roasted roughly chopped pecans or walnuts on top. Let the culinary artist in you come out as you fold up the edges in a rough and rustic way, gathering them together like a ruffle around the pie, closing in the apples all the way around. This was the most fun I’ve had with a pie in ages!

You should have about ten little hand pies by now, all ready for the oven. Pop them in and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust grows golden brown and filling is bubbling. Allow to cool for about fifteen minutes. These would be heavenly with a mini scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Alone, they are delicious and just the right size for a sweet bite!

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{Fall Table} Salad Sliders

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Nothing says Fall like this delicious combination of cabbage, parmesan shavings and pine nuts. This recipe is extremely versatile and should be used as a guideline for your creativity. Switch out lettuces, toppings and dressings to your hearts content. I can’t wait to try a few other varieties myself!

  • 1 head purple cabbage
  • Wedge of parmesan (I found mine in the deli area of my local grocery)
  • Orange Bell Pepper
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Pine nuts (I found these shelled and roasted at WalMart in the baking aisle with the other nuts)
  • Bottle of your favorite Italian Dressing

Tear off a palm sized cabbage leaf. I used a sharp knife to trim the leaves to a good size for my tray. Use a sharp knife to shave off slender curls of Parmesan. Lay on top off cabbage leaf. Slice and dice the bell pepper and sprinkle it, a few cranberries and pine nuts atop the cabbage and parmesan. Now, do your best Master Chef imitation and drizzle about one teaspoon of dressing across each leaf. Pick up your new salad creation, fold up the leaf a bit to keep from losing goodies and bite into a little bit of heaven! I can’t wait to hear how you put this to use. Keep me posted!

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{Fall Table} Cheesy Potato Soup

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Cheesy Potato Soup in Bread Bowls

These bread bowls are from the local grocery. I’ve yet to venture into the field of bread bowl making, though I have many good roll recipes that might translate nicely. Once you have a few bread bowls, you’re ready to make this delicious soup for a crowd!

  • 6 large potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • (can also add zucchini, broccoli, etc.)
  • 6 chicken bullion cubes or 6 tsp. granules
  • White Sauce:
  • ¾ c. butter
  • ¾ c. flour
  • 1 qt milk
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Dice your potatoes, celery, and carrots into small pieces. This makes for easier mashing later and quicker cooking. Put all veggies into a large pot and just cover with water. Add the chicken bullion and bring to a boil until veggies are tender. Remove from heat but DO NOT DRAIN!! Mash with a potato masher. Meanwhile, in another pot you’ll be making a white sauce. In the second pot, melt butter. Remove from heat and whisk in flour. Gradually whisk in milk. I like to use my stash of powdered milk in recipes like this, but you can use regular milk from a jug as well. Return this second pot to heat and stir in cheese until melted. Your sauce will gradually thicken. When you’ve got a nice thick cream sauce, combine the two pots, stirring the mashed veggie mix into the cream sauce. If your soup seems too thick, feel free to stir in some more milk.

Cut off bread bowl tops and hollow out bowl. Use these yummy bits for dunking in your soup if you like. Ladle in hot soup and enjoy, scooping out bites of bread with your soup. Talk about a warm dinner! Yum!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Caprese Salad with Parmesan and Oregano infused Oil

I needed to bring a salad or an appetizer to my last book club meeting, and I decided to go with a Caprese salad because it fits both categories, and it is downright yummy! But as I was making it I got a little bored with the classic recipe, so I decided to embellish a little. I infused the oil with parmesan, fresh oregano, and fresh garlic. I loved the result and thought I would share. Here's the recipe:

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  • Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella (approximately 2 lbs.)
  • Vine ripened tomatoes (approximately 6)
  • Fresh basil (1 bunch)
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh oregano (4 or 5 sprigs)
  • 1/4 cup Fresh grated parmesan
  • Fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • Freshly grated course ground pepper
  • Salt

Slice the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer onto a plate placing a basil leaf in between each slice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Put the oil, parmesan, oregano, and garlic into a blender and frappe until completely smooth. Drizzle the oil over the tomato and mozzarella plate. You may not use all the oil, depending on the size of the plate. Garnish with extra basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Try this and tell me if you like it. Ciao!

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Monday, October 11, 2010

{Halloween Table} Spooky Brownie Bites

I don’t know if you are anything like me, but I love tasty and SUPER easy bites to add to a dessert table or any occasion really.  And, because you asked nicely, we are going to share another recipe from our Halloween table last week.

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Spooky Brownie Bites

Bake a pan of brownies and let cool on a rack. When cool enough to handle, turn upside down and spill onto waxed paper. Cut the hard outer edge of brownies off and discard (if you have the willpower… I ate ours, he he).

With a large round scoop, spoon scoops of brownie out of the soft inside. Use your fingers to shape into a ball while pushing the crustier parts into the center.

After all the brownie is formed into balls, roll them into colored sugar or sprinkles. Store in a sealed container in the fridge. These can be made up to three days in advance, and they are still soft and yummy!

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

{Halloween Table} Monster Mash

By popular demand, here are some of the tasty treats from our Halloween table that we posted on Monday.  We promise all the “spooks” at your party will gobble up every bite of this delicious treat!

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Monster Munch

  • 7 Squares almond bark, divided
  • 1 ½ cups pretzel sticks
  • Orange food coloring
  • 2 cups graham cereal
  • ¾ cup Halloween M&M’s
  • ¾ cup mini marshallows
  • ½ cup chocolate sprinkles

Melt 2 sq. almond bark in small microwave bowl for 1 minute. Remove and stir. Repeat for intervals of 15 seconds until melted thoroughly.

Stir in pretzels until coated. Spread out on wax paper to set.

Repeat the melting instructions for the final 5 sq. of almond bark. Stir in orange food coloring until it’s a  bright orange.

Place cereal in a large bowl and cover with half the orange almond bark. Stir until coated evenly. Add chocolate pieces, marshmallows, and remaining bark. Stir in pretzel sticks. Spread out on waxed paper in small clusters. Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles. Let set.

After it’s partially set, it can be divided into cups, or drizzled with melted chocolate or colored almond bark for a beautiful effect.

Makes about 5 cups.

Happy Munching!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

{Halloween Table} Spooky Pear Ghosts

For more Halloween fun it doesn’t get much cuter than these ghostly haunts…

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Ghoulish Pears

  • 4 wooden skewers or craft sticks
  • 4 medium pears
  • 9 sq. almond bark or white chocolate chips
  • Mini Chocolate chips or melted chocolate

Insert wooden sticks into the stem ends of pears. Melt bark according to package directions. Dip pear into bark. Spoon over the top to cover completely. Remove excess by scraping the pear bottom across the bowl rim. Place on waxed paper and allow to set for 1 minute. Decorate with mini chips. Repeat with remaining pears. Chill until firm.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Lemon Curd Cheesecake

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It would seem that lemons are made from sunshine. They soak up the rays until their skins turn a bright cheery shade that radiates warmth and happiness. These delightful pucker-fruits add a bright flavor to every dish. An All-Star pair, lemons and sugar combine to heavenly deliciousness in lemonade and lemon bars to name just a few enjoyable concoctions. There’s no end to their adaptability. Consider them stirred together into yummy cheesecake batter and infused in the crust. They transform this luscious cake with their lemony-sweet goodness into a treat so good you have to share! Yeah, it’s that good! Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s get started…..

Lemon Curd Cheesecake {click here to print the recipe}

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Crust

  • 1 box Lemon Cake Mix
  • ½ c. butter, softened
  • 1 t. grated lemon peel

Filling

  • 2 (8oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 3 (3.5 oz) containers ready to eat lemon pudding (from 4-pack container)
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c. frozen (thawed) whipped topping

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

You’ll begin with a lemon cake mix. Before you start, reserve ¼ cup of the mix for later. Now mix in the butter and lemon zest until crumbly.

Spray your pans with cooking spray and then scoop some of the crust mix into each of your pans. We used these fun 3-inch cake pans with a lift out bottom. They’re awesome! Press the crust mix down into the bottom and up the sides a bit. This recipe will make about ten 3-inch cakes. Reserve the remainder of your crust mix in a small bowl while you stir up the cream cheese batter.

Combine reserved cake mix, softened cream cheese, pudding, sugar and sour cream on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until mixed. It will look heavenly and it will taste even better. Resisting the urge to dip your fingers in the batter, spoon the mixture in on top of your crusts, filling each cake up about two-thirds of the way. The filling will rise and then sink back down as it cools.

Bake in a preheated oven for about thirty minutes. Begin checking around 25 minutes. You want each cake to be firm around the edges but still a bit jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven.

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Cool on the counter for about twenty minutes and then refrigerate for twenty more before loosening and removing from the pans. You’re going to want to pop them out before then, but trust me, it will only end in tears! Let them firm up completely in the fridge before working your magic. During this time, keep your batter in the fridge, lightly covered until your pans are free to make the remaining cheesecakes. Then repeat the process until you’ve used up all your batter.

Once removed from the pans, cover and refrigerate your cakes 4 hours or overnight…if you trust your husband not to sneak in and “taste test” them for you. It’s your call.

When you’re ready to serve, top with one tablespoon each of lemon curd. Pipe on whipped cream and top with a half slice of lemon. Now call your girlfriends over for lunch and wow them with this little nibble of sunshine that will have them raving! Enjoy!

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