Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Dinner 2016

Sue and I had so much fun with this year's Halloween Dinner party. 
We can't wait to share some photos with you. Most of the creations are fairly simple but for a few we will link to more complete "how-to's". Sue, once again, gets credit for most of this year's spooktacular food. I did a few things and some of our guests brought a few things but Sue went above and beyond!
We hope you enjoy the pics and we would love to hear what your thoughts are. Simply leave a comment below to let us know what you think. 

First up: Blood and Guts Salad.

A mix of Jello, mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherry pie filling, and Cola makes for a rather scary looking Jello salad that is crazy delicious! 

Our sister, Orra, made these adorable bread stick snakes. So cute!

A few days before the party I made this owl veggie tray for our mom to take to the Seniors' Center for their Halloween lunch. It is a super colorful and healthy way to celebrate Halloween. 

All it takes is a little prosciutto wrapped around a hand shaped cheese ball and *voila* grossest cheese ball ever. Definitely a conversation starter.

If it's something  little simpler you are looking for then all you need is a dollar store skeleton filled with cut up meat and cheese. It looks fabulous and spooky!

Sue made these super cute hot dog spiders. They were definitely one of my favorites of the evening.

Another one from the Seniors' Center lunch - puking pumpkin spinach dip. Another simple and healthy treat that makes a colorful impact on the table.

Shrimp Brain Dip in a mummy. It turned out so cute you almost didn't want to eat it. Almost...
It was shrimp in a lemon gelatin base that Sue simply molded and let set in a cereal bowl that fit on top of our mummy decoration.

These guys were my creations.
Baked new potatoes stuffed with spinach dip to make some puking potato monsters. Gross and cute, am I right?

Each one had it's own personality. So much fun. 

Some super easy but super nasty looking layered shrimp dip. Sue's hubby's favorite. I love the mini bird skeleton we found at the dollar store for decoration. 

Some olive spiders on devilled eggs. Very easy, very inexpensive, and they look fantabulous.

Our mother black widow spider egg. Her legs are are mushroom pieces and her head is a pickled onion. Another easy appie.

Sue made these brains in a jar. Pre-made won-tons mixed with a little Thai chili sauce and BBQ sauce. Soooooo good. And they really do look like teeny brains.

The main event. The Rat-Loaf. Sue's creation was amazing. We will be doing a how to on this guy so be sure to check back. (Edit* - Click HERE for the link!!) He ended up looking a little cuter than we thought he would. We were expecting 10/10 on the grossness scale but he was about a 7/10. Meatloaf stuffed with French's fried onions and cheddar cheese. *So good!*

One of our guests (Steph) brought these terrorific peanut butter cookies with chocolate chip faces. I loooove peanut butter cookies. Even more so when there is chocolate involved.

Sue happened to find some Skeleton puffs on a visit to a friend's house. They were a perfect addition

My contribution to dessert. A dark chocolate cake with marshmallow fondant and edible blood splatter. 

Throw in a knife and *boom* ready for Halloween dinner.

I also made a few sugar cookie tombstone cookies filled with mini M&M candies and mini skull candies. They were a bit fussy but the result was pretty cool!

Of course there was several drink choices available at the party. The above was a non-alcoholic punch with a black skull made of ice.

Our drink cups for this year. Thanks to We've ordered from there the last several years as they have a great selection of Halloween stuff!

Butterscotch pudding shots with Bailey's and butterscotch schnapps. Probably my favorite of the night.

Margarita swamp shots. Very lime-y. I could definitely have had a few more of these!

Baileys and tequila shooters. Who doesn't love Baileys and tequila?

We froze little plastic ants in ice cubes for people to use. Turns out this isn't the best idea. When the ice melts the ants float and people had to pick them out to avoid swallowing them. 
You probably don't want to try this.
Lesson learned.

The dinner table all laid out. 

Looked pretty spooook-tacular.

The dessert and drink table.
Another Halloween dinner done and we can't wait for next year! Let the planning begin! 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chicken Shawarma 7 Layer Dip

I was looking for a dip that would look fancy (and pretty) and that could be served in individual dishes for a party we were hosting. All I could come up with was the Mexican layer dip that I'm pretty sure everyone on the planet has tasted at one time or another. (AND - we did a baked version already - Click HERE for our recipe) 
Not that that dip isn't delicious, it totally is.... but I wanted something different. 
Then, I stumbled across this little gem over at Foxes Love Lemons (HERE)
Turning chicken shawarma into a dip is clearly genius and was just begging to be tried. I mean.... did you see the photos over there? Gorgeous. 
This just may be my new favorite thing ever. The flavors and textures are amazing. 

Chicken Shawarma 7 Layer Dip
(Ever so slightly adapted from Foxes Love Lemons)

Chicken Shawarma
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced small
2 Tbsp oil
8 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
pinch cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch caraway seeds
salt & pepper

Yogurt Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain (I used 0 fat)
1/2 cup shredded cucumber (water pressed out)
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper

Remaining Layers
2 1/2 cups prepared hummus
1 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup purple onion, finely diced
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 large tomato, finely diced

Naan bread, for dipping
(could also use pita chips)

In a large Ziplock bag, combine the diced chicken thighs with the oil, garlic, lemon juice, and spices. Seal and squish to coat well. Marinade chicken for at least an hour, up to overnight.

When ready to cook - heat a large pan over medium/high heat. Add in the chicken from the bag and cook until chicken is done.

Drain off any extra liquid and set chicken aside to cool. Place in refrigerator to cool completely.
Prepare yogurt sauce - In a mixing bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, shredded and drained cucumber, dill, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. 

Chill until ready to use. (Note - as it sits in the fridge a little liquid may be released from the cucumbers if it wasn't pressed completely dry. Simply give the sauce a good stir and it is fine.)

Assemble the dips:

Have all your ingredients ready to go. 
Layers go: hummus, feta, purple onion, chicken, yogurt sauce, lettuce, and lastly tomato. 

This makes about 15 individual dips and can easily be halved if you need less. 

You can also layer this in one large dish if you don't want to do individual dishes. I would say a 10 inch dish should do the trick. 
If you are making this for a party I would go ahead and put the chicken in the marinade the morning before the party then cook it the evening before the party, and make up the yogurt sauce the day before as well, that way, all you have to do is assemble the ingredients on the day of the party. 
Your guests will love how different this is and how absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lemon Coconut Scones

Just when you think there can't possibly be any more scone flavors, along comes another fantabulous one. We've done caramel apple scones, apricot scones, chocolate zucchini scones, Guinness scones, vanilla bean pumpkin scones, strawberry shortcake scones, cream scones, maple bacon scones, and on and on and on.
But today we bring you the lemon coconut scone.
Lemon and coconut go together smashingly well. 
And, as we all know, scones are super easy peasy to whip up so you could be in coconut and lemon heaven in a very short period of time. 
Thank me later.

Lemon Coconut Scones

4 cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
pinch salt
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup butter, cold
2 cups whipping cream (or half and half cream)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper, set aside.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and coconut. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (NOTE - you can also place in a food processor or blender and pulse briefly until you get coarse crumbs.)
In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, lemon juice, coconut extract, and vanilla extract. 
Using a fork, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until dough just comes together. Dump out of bowl onto a floured surface.
Roll or pat out to 1 inch thickness. Cut out with a biscuit cutter or cut into triangles (see photo below).

Place on prepared cookie sheet.
Bake at 400 until lightly golden brown and puffed up, about 15 or so minutes. Remove from oven and set cookie tray on wire rack.
Prepare glaze by whisking the icing sugar and and lemon juice together. Using a pastry or basting brush, coat the tops of the warm scones with the glaze.
Sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

Remove from the cookie tray and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Best eaten the day they are made BUT they do freeze very well. Simply remove from freezer and bring to room temp and enjoy. 
I love them warm but the lemon and coconut flavors really shine through at room temperature.

Be sure to pop over to Carole's Chatter for tons of fun links!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Easiest Bar Ever

Coming up with a name for this bar was so easy. Why? Because they truly are the easiest things on the planet to make. 
Not even lying.
3 ingredients (plus your favorite frosting), no measuring. What whaaaat!
"But what do they taste like?", you ask skeptically. 
They taste like heaven. Sweet sweet heaven in a square. You should probably be making these right now.

Easiest Bar Ever

1 box Ritz crackers
1 bag Chipits Skor bits
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and then lightly spray again. Set aside.
Crush the Ritz crackers using a rolling pin until it is mostly small crumbs. A few bigger bits are okay but you want the crackers well crushed. 
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the crushed Ritz, the Skor bits, and the sweetened condensed milk.

When well  mixed, press into prepared pan. 

Bake at 350 until edges are golden brown and top appears dry, about 15 - 20 minutes. 

Let cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting. I used a browned butter, cream cheese icing - recipe below.

Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1/3 cup browned butter, room temp
1 (8 oz) brick cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. 
Spread on cooled bars. (If frosting seems too thin simply refrigerate for a while to thicken up. 

Cut and serve.

These freeze very well also. When they come out of the oven they are a little crunchy but as they sit they soften and become these magically delicious squares. 
You can use canned frosting if you don't want to make your own but I find the browned butter cream cheese frosting really goes well with the flavors of the bar and it is super simple to whip up.