Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Dinner 2011

Meatloaf Dracula covered in mashed potatoes. His ears and nose and eyes are boiled eggs! His lips are roasted red pepper and fangs are cheese dipped in ketchup.
This year’s Halloween dinner was filled with some very cute and some very disgusting Halloween dishes. We won’t be posting the recipes in this blog, just some photos to share. We will be posting some of the recipes in follow up blogs (and a few are already done) but the rest you will have to ask for if you want to know how we made them!
As some of you may already know, Sue and I love Halloween. Well, to be honest, we love any opportunity to throw a theme/holiday party. Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Groundhog Day, I’m sure you get the idea. My niece, Kenzie, had some pretty elaborate birthday parties let me tell you.

Anyway, Halloween is one of those times that we can just go crazy with food.
What other time of year could you eat puff pastry “intestines” for dessert? Sue and I spend all year searching the internet and cookbooks/magazines for crazy, gross, cute, and just plain cool food to make for Halloween.
Here is what we came up with for this year.....
Medusa Cheeseball. Click HERE for the how to and recipe!

Red Goop Salad. This recipe is from Taste of Home . Click the link for the recipe.
Our friend, Chris, made this fabulous garlic-y dip. His face is bread she dyed orange.

Monster Toes. These are mini sausages wrapped in a Bisquick dough with olive toenails. Delicious!

Mummy Bread. Click HERE for how to and recipe.
Bread Spider. Well, okay, he kinda looks like a sad octopus but he was the best I could do! I used the leftover bread dough from making the Medusa snakes. We filled him with dip for the veggies.
More mummies! These little guys are a sausage and a meatball covered in pesto cream cheese and then wrapped in a linguini noodle. (Click HERE for how to and recipe)
Cool ice tarantula. Thanks to our friend, Kerry, for giving us the mold.

Punch courtesy of our friend, Holly. Isn't the punch bowl adorable?

Taco dip from our friend, Kari. Delicious and spooky!
Kari also made Halloween shape tortilla chips....ghosts, pumpkins, bats...very cool.

Kari also brought some spicy tortilla roll ups. Very Halloween-y with the orange tortillas.

I think these may have been my favorite. Alien worms!! Really, pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon. They looked so nasty :)
(Click HERE for how to and recipe)

Poor doll never saw it coming! Some salsa for blood and guts and VOILA! Nasty and delicious.

Another favorite - Caramel Popcorn . Addicting!

Mmmm...intestines for dessert. Puff pastry filled with cream cheese and cherry pie filling.
(Click HERE for how to and recipe)

Our friend, Steph, was responsible for these adorable witches' hats. They turned out great!

And last, but certainly not least, our friend Holly brought her amazing Peanut Butter Cheescake. Soooooo good! Definitely a favorite of mine :)
There you have it. Halloween Dinner 2011.

Next year (hopefully) Sue will be in her brand hew house and we will be able to celebrate 100%. This year we had to make do with ¼ of the decorations and such. Sue is more of a Halloween freak than I am so she has most of the platters, serving dishes, etc.... and they are (unfortunately) piled in her crawlspace while they are waiting for the new house to be built.
If you are interested in knowing how something was made and we do not post it in a blog, please let us know and we will do our best to get you the information.
Please feel free to comment on our Halloween Dinner and let us know what you think! Any suggestions would be welcomed :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Medusa Cheeseball

We were inspired to create this Medusa cheeseball after we made the SPA MASK CHEESE BALL that we fell in love with from the Hungry Happenings site. Someone commented on our blog saying that their son was having a mythology birthday theme party (how cool is that by the way) and they were going to make the spa mask into Medusa.
We immediately thought of Halloween.
I started thinking of all the things that Sue and I could use for Medusa's snake hair. Weiners cut into strips, jello worms, spaghetti/pasta, bread. 
We decided to go with bread because we had more control over how long and how skinny we wanted the snakes to be.
If you would like the recipe for the bread we used then please click HERE. It is the recipe we used for the MUMMY BREAD and the BREAD CORNUCOPIA.

Medusa Cheese Ball with bread snakes

2 X 8 oz blocks cream cheese, softened
1 generous cup of aged cheddar cheese, shredded
1 generous cup of Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 – 2 Tbsp of Taco seasoning (to your own taste, we used 2 Tbsp this time)
2 roasted red pepper
2 avocados, ripe, mashed
Dark tortilla chips
Recipe for BREAD DOUGH

Take your mask / face mold and fill it with tin foil. Pack it tightly to fit the mold as this is what you will use to bake your bread snakes on. Place the tin foil mold onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Pack tin foil into mask as firmly as possible.

Mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese, and Taco seasons together until well blended.
Press into mask lined with plastic wrap. Chill until firm.

Preheat your oven to 375.
While your cheese ball is chilling in the fridge you can now make up the dough.
After your dough has been made and has rested for 15 minutes you can now start rolling out your snakes. Pinch off golf ball sized bits of dough and roll them into thin ropes. As you roll them place them around the tin foil mask mold you created earlier. You can lay them however you would like around and over the mask, just remember that you need to be able to lift them off the tin foil after they have been baked so your cheese ball can go in there afterwards.

Ready to go in the oven.

I made little balls/bridges of tinfoil and placed them randomly so the snakes would look like they had more movement and dimension. There is no need to let your dough proof. After you are happy with the placement of your snakes just pop it in the oven.
Bake at 375 until the bread is golden brown.

Just out of the oven.

Let dough cool completely on cookie tray. Do not try to remove it from the tin foil while it is still warm - you will end up breaking your snakes. After is has cooled, ( I left mine on the cookie tray, covered with a tea towel, overnight) gently remove tin foil molds and balls/bridges.

After removing all the tin foil.

Now you can invert your cheese ball mask onto the serving tray you are going to use.
Use the roasted red peppers to cut out eyes and lips and place them on the cheese ball.
Spread the mashed avocado evenly over the face, right up to the edges of the eyes and lips. Don't worry about your avocao going brown - the uglier the color, the better your medusa will look!

I used a toothpick and black food dye to give the snakes eyes :)

Gently place your bread snakes onto Medusa's face. You can use a toothpick and black food dye to give your snakes eyes, if you wish.
Surround your cheese ball with tortilla chips/taco chips (preferably dark), and enjoy!.

We would have prefered a darker platter to serve her on but, unfortunately, with Sue just having moved all of her Halloween trays were hidden away. We used my large cookie tray instead. Not as spooky but it got the job done.
I also would have prefered to use a little green food coloring in the bread dough to give the snakes a bit of color but, unfortunately, I found out too late that I ran out of food coloring. Dag-nab-it!

Thanks again to Beth Jackson Klosterboer over at Hungry Happenings for the inspiration. If you haven't checked out her blog, you really REALLY should. She is amazingly creative!!

And thanks as well to our anonymous blog reader who also helped inspire us to create Medusa. :)

Be sure to stop by Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons for some cool food and crafting links!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Scones

You know how on Christmas morning there is always traditional Christmas breakfasts?
Some people make the overnight breakfast bakes and such. Some make the whole toast and eggs and bacon and pancakes.
At our house it is butterhorns and Mandarin oranges. I know, I know....we are a weird family, what can I say?
I think I am going to start a new traditional breakfast....for Halloween.
It’s a cool Holiday and I think it’s time it gets its own holiday breakfast status.
It is not because I just want to eat more Halloween stuff.
It’s not.
I think these Pumpkin Scones are a perfect breakfast to start the tradition off. They are quick and easy to bake, they taste delicious, and you can’t get much more Halloween-y than pumpkin. can make a smiley face with chocolate chips if you really want to :)

2 1/4 cups flour
8 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup sugar
pinch sea salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream

2 Tbsp milk
2 - 3 Tbsp sugar
Chai tea bag, cut open

Preheat oven to 425. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and spices. Using 2 knives (or pastry blender), cut butter into flour until mixture resemble coarse crumbs. Do not overmix.
In another bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, eggs, pumpkin, and cream.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and blend with spatula untilmixture just comes together. Turn mixture onto floured surface and roll or pat out dough to at least 1 inch thickness. Cut dough with floured cookie cutter. Place on cookie sheet about 1 - 2 inches apart.
Mix chai tea bag contents with sugar.
Brush tops of scones with milk. Sprinkle chai tea sugar over top of scones.
Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes. Scones should be lightly brown on top.

*NOTE - I found my batter was too wet to be able to roll out and use cookie cutters. Instead I simply dropped it by the spoonful on the cookie sheet and it worked out great. The only downside - I wasn't able to get cutesy shapes.

I’ve served these with honey butter, jam, peanut butter, syrup, just about everything.
They are really yummy.
Hmmm.... now this has got me to thinking about what else would make a good Halloween breakfast.
You could do a bacon and egg face.... you could make mummy sausages with biscuit dough/crescent dough and sausages with little dots of mustard for eyes..... Jack-o-lantern pancakes in pumpkin shapes with chocolate chips for the eyes and could even just use Halloween cookie cutters to cut out spooky toast shapes...
What would you recommend for a “traditional” Halloween breakfast?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mummy Bread

When you think of Halloween what do you imagine? The first thing that comes to mind for me is the old school monsters and such; you know, vampires, werewolves, mummies, witches.... The whole “scary clown” thing doesn't say Halloween to just says “horrifically creepy”
(Clowns are evil to begin with).
And what is up with the whole “you have to dress like a strumpet if you are a girl” thing. I mean, have you seen the costumes for girls out there?
Seriously – Google some costumes for girls. It’s ridiculous.
Anyway, before I go off on a tangent about the gratuitous sexualisation of young girls, let’s get back to Halloween and Halloween food.
I’m going with mummies today. Mummies are one of the easiest Halloween creatures to make food into. Just wrap something up with strips of something else and...VOILA.....mummy.
This is a calzone type bread mummy that only takes about 30 minutes to an hour from start to finish. Why the big leeway with the time? It depends on how fast you are at mummy braiding and how many mummies you decide to make.
This bread recipe is quick and easy and can be used for a million different things. Sue and I used it to make BREAD CORNUCOPIAS for Thanksgiving. Any bread recipe will do though, even frozen bread dough from the store I would think.

Bread Dough

5 - 5 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 envelopes Rapid Rise Yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup water
1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
one egg, beaten - for egg wash

In a large bowl combine 3 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, salt and baking soda. Heat buttermilk, water and butter until very warm (120 - 130); butter does not need to melt completely. Mixture will appear curdled.
Stir into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic 2 - 5 mins). Cover and let rest on floured surface approx 15 mins.
For your filling you can use any number of things.
You can go sweet if you want and do a cream cheese and (red) jam filling.
Or you could go savory with:
Pizza filling with salami/pepperoni, olives, onions, etc...,
What I used: chicken, mushrooms, onions, and garlic all fried up together and brought down to room temp.
If you are going savoury though you will want to have a pizza sauce/tomato paste and cheese!
 Directions for assembling your mummy: Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie tray with parchment paper.
Roll a chunk of dough out in a large triangle. (How much you want to use will determine how big your mummy is. I used the above recipe and got 5 varying size mummies out of it. You can do as many or as little as you like)

Lightly score a smaller triangle inside the larger one (do not cut through the dough); make sure you leave enough room around the outside to be able to braid.
Spoon spaghetti sauce or tomato paste into smaller triangle and spread out.
Spoon filling into triangle on top of sauce. (Or layer your pizza ingredients)
Sprinkle with cheese. (Your filling needs to stay inside the smaller triangle you have scored.)

Slice a wide strip in the middle of the top of your triangle – this will be the head – and then slice 2 more strips on the top of the triangle – these will be the shoulders.
Slice approx 1 inch strips along each side of the dough, all the way to the bottom.
HEAD: gently tuck the sides of the wide strip under and then roll strip under into a largish ball.
SHOULDERS: fold shoulder strips over so they still stick out a bit, and gently press down.
BODY: Starting from the top, alternately cross the opposing left and right strips over each other until the bread is fully braided, leaving a little of the dough at the bottom for feet.
FEET: roll up dough at bottom of triangle and pinch ends into balls. If you have scraps of dough left over you can add a little to each side to make a bit bigger balls so the feet are more visible.
*Hopefully the photos help you if my instructions aren’t that clear!*

Roll out scraps of dough really thin and cut them into thin strips and lay them over the mummies in random patterns. (I thought this would help make it look more “mummy-ish”.)
Gently move mummy to cookie sheet. If desired, using a pastry brush, brush mummy with milk/egg white.
Bake at 375 for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.

You may have noticed you don’t have to let your bread proof any longer than the 15 minutes after mixing. I popped the first cookie sheet in with 2 mummies on it and let the other 3 sit on a second sheet, covered with a tea towel, while the first ones baked. The second ones turned out fine as well, even after rising for the 30 minutes. If you can fit all of your mummies into the oven at once, go for it, it will save you some time!
 Sue suggested using olive slices for eyes. I think this would make them look even spookier! I didn’t use olives in the photos as I didn't have any on hand. I will be using them when we serve them at dinner though.

Be sure to visit Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and Blissful and Domestic and My Turn (for us) and Six Sister's Stuff for some fantastic links!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Caramel Popcorn

This recipe is probably one of the most often made at our house. At Christmas time we make a bazillion batches of it.
It is the BEST caramel popcorn recipe EVER.
If you don’t agree with’d be wrong.
Why is it the best?
1. It is delicious
2. It is super fast
3. It is super simple
4. There is no need for candy thermometers and all that business
5. It has M&M’s
6. Because I said so
Okay, some of you might have issues with reason #6 (Sue, I am looking in your direction) but I’m sticking with it anyway.
My mother complains about the M&M’s being in it. She prefers plain salted peanuts. (I KNOW! Crazy, right?) So I sometimes just make it with salted peanuts. Sometimes I make it with both (I’m a rebel ...)

Easy Caramel Popcorn

6 quarts popcorn, popped (24 cups) (I use a 2 large microwave bags and 1 mini
microwave bag)
2 cups of peanut M&M's
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Spray 2 cookie trays (or roasting pans) with cooking spray. Set aside. 
Place popcorn in a large bowl (And I do mean LARGE! The bigger the better). Sprinkle with M&Ms.

In medium saucepan, mix butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil.
Stirring continuously, boil for 4 minutes. (I count my 4 minutes from the second I see the first bubbles forming at the surface) Remove from heat.
 Stir in baking soda and vanilla. (Do be careful as it foams up quite a bit and the vanilla sputters when you add it!) Stir until well combined and foamy.
Pour over popcorn. Stir gently to evenly coat popcorn.
Spread onto 2 prepared cookie sheets (or roasting pans).
Bake in 225 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning cookie trays halfway and giving them a stir. 
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Gently stir on cookie sheets every few minutes to keep from sticking in one big clump. The more often you stir, the less it clumps together.
Place in large bowl and enjoy.

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can make it seasonal. For Halloween I only added the brown, yellow, and orange M&Ms. On Valentine’s Day just add pink M&Ms (or red). Easter – well, they have the Easter colors M&Ms. Christmas – Red & Green M&Ms. And so on....
The peanut M&Ms are the best. Plain M&Ms are okay but not as crunchy/tasty. I have used Smarties in a pinch when I realized too late I was out of M&Ms – they were too melty. It worked but it wasn’t as pretty or tasty.
I will attach a warning to this recipe. It is addictive. Once you have a bite you will want more. Seriously. Don’t make it unless you have someone to help you eat it.
**UPDATE** - This is fabulous piled on top of  cake for decoration too:

You can find the recipe for the cake HERE - Caramel Popcorn Cake

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Sweets

So it is nearing Halloween again...One of Sue and I's favorite holidays.
It is a little odd that we both love Halloween as much as we do as we are both HUGE chickens and hate to be scared. Plus, we both do NOT like to be grossed out by things as we both start with the wretching and gagging.
Yup...couple of wussies is what we are.
Yet, here we are at Halloween celebrating with some of the grossest and scariest  looking food you can imagine.
Today's blog is dedicated to some cute, and some gross, and some scary, treats that we made for a Halloween themed bake sale.

Cute, yes? Our marshmallow fondant ghosts are balanced on Tootsie Pop suckers. The pumpkins are made from Orange Tootsie Rolls that were warmed slightly in the microwave and then shaped. The stem is a chocolate jimmy.

Yucky, n'est pas? Our cockroaches are made from a date wrapped in a slightly melted caramel candy with 1/2 an M&M candy for a head. His antenna are more caramel.

Another shot of the cockroaches!

Cute, again... Our monsters are cake balls dipped in colored melting wafers with edible sugar eye balls. We did several different monsters - 3 eyes, 2 eyes, 1 eye, horns, mohawks, fangs....They were simple and turned out so cute!

Okay, so we seemed to favor the cutesy Halloween Sweets this year. How can you blame us though when they are soooooo adorable?

Our Rice Krispie Mummies were probably the easiest to make. Just cut out strips of marshmallow fondant, used M&M's for eyes, and a round cookie cutter to cut out the shapes of the head. These would be a great treat to have the kids help with! 

More Rice Krispie Treats! These were easy, peasy and look really Halloween-y. All you have to do is put a little orange food dye into your marshmallows when they are melting and it works great. We used a Tootsie Roll for the stem. You could turn them into jack-o-lanterns with a little icing or else cut Fruit Roll Ups into eyes and mouths.

Spooooooky!  Our scary rat cupcakes turned out great but were kind of a pain in the butt to assemble. I think our cake was too light. A heavier cake may have held up better. We ended up having to stick toothpicks through the head to hold it to the body.

These scary little guys look great on a plate of Halloween treats. They weren't too hard to make but were the most complicated out of all the treats on this blog today. We didn't have the proper candies for red eyes (was supposed to be colored sun flower seeds, I believe) so we subbed in these little red sprinkles. I thought they looked evil enough!

We hope to post more Halloween food ideas this week as we prepare for our annual Halloween dinner. Sue and I have been scouring the internet and cookbooks for some new ideas.
If you have any questions on how anything was made, please leave us a comment/question and we will do our best to answer you.
If you know of any great Halloween ideas then, by all means, please share them with us! We love anything Halloweeny!
Here is the link to last year's Halloween dinner!

Be sure to stop by Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and My Turn (for us) and Dizzy Busy & Hungry and Mama Buzz and Nap Time Is My Time for tons of fun links!