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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: October 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I made this recipe as part of a fall-themed recipe exchange, and boy was it the perfect recipe for the theme. This bread tastes like fall. Even Eric likes it, and he doesn’t even like pumpkin. Although I’m starting to think he actually does like pumpkin, just not pumpkin pie. He’s liked both pumpkin things I’ve made so far. I think I’ll try this recipe with mini chocolate chips next time or maybe even walnuts. It’s a great recipe, and it can definitely be adapted to your liking. Plus, this is a super easy recipe. Just mix, pour and bake!

Also, you’ll notice when you look at some of the ingredients that this is a light recipe. Don’t tell anyone; they’ll never know from tasting it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding (or fat-free plain yogurt + 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
4 large egg whites (or 2 eggs)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

-Preheat oven to 350°.
-Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
-Lightly spoon flour (one cup at a time) into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.
-Add flour to a medium bowl and repeat previous step until all three cups of flour are in the bowl.
-Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
-Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist.
-Stir in chocolate chips.
-Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
-Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
-Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans.
-Cool completely on wire rack.

Source: Food alla Puttanesca

White Chocolate Strawberry Ghosts

As soon as I saw a picture of these online, I knew I had to try them for Halloween. Some recipes I saw used shortening, but I had never tried it that way. I figured the safe thing to do was stick with what I know. After all, these were for a party, and I did not want to mess them up. I originally planned on making a hollow “mouth” on the strawberries, but I ended up liking the solid version much better. Be careful when handling the dipped strawberries. You don’t want the white chocolate to melt in your hand while you’re adding the eyes and mouth. I melted way too much chocolate when I made these, so I ended up making chocolate covered strawberries, too. I used red gel icing to add faces to the chocolate strawberries.

After the Halloween party, all that was left of these was the platter they were on and a fake bug. Nice. :)

White Chocolate Strawberry Ghosts
about 2 dozen strawberries
6 0unces (1 box) white baking chocolate
about 1/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

-Wash and dry strawberries. Make sure you dry them well. You don’t want your chocolate seizing up because water gets in it.
-Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler (or in the microwave, if you prefer).
-Dip each strawberry in the white chocolate and twist to prevent drips.
-Immediately add the “eyes.” I had to have Star do this for me so that I could keep dipping the rest of the strawberries, so use a friend if you need to.
-Once finished, freeze the strawberries for 5 minutes.
-Meanwhile, melt the rest of the semi-sweet chocolate chips.
-Remove strawberries from freezer.
-Use a toothpick to paint on the “mouth.” You can make an open or closed mouth.
-Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutella Ravioli

These are by far the easiest dessert I’ve ever made. Thankfully, they can be made in small batches (unlike some other desserts), which means you can make just as many as you want. I know they seem quite simple, but the flavors really burst. Not to mention, it’s one of those desserts that looks like you spent much more time on it than you actually did. Gotta love those! Eric and I enjoyed these immensely, and we will definitely be making them again in the near future.

I posted the original recipe in case any of you want to make a full batch. Giada got all fancy by adding sugared mint leaves. Eric and I didn’t need that for just the two us, but I think it would make a great touch when making these for a party. Since we only made six, we made all the wonton wrappers at once and then fried them a couple at a time. If you just make a few like we did, you won’t have to worry about keeping the extra ones warm in the oven.

Nutella Ravioli
16 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
Vegetable oil, for frying
16 fresh mint leaves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Granulated sugar, for dredging
Powdered sugar, for dusting

-Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
-Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface.
-Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg.
-Spoon 1 tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of the wrapper.
-Fold the wrapper diagonally in half over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal.
-Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet.
-Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers, egg, and chocolate-hazelnut spread.
-Preheat the oven to 200° F.
-Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches.
-Heat the oil over medium heat to 350° F.

-Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side.
-Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
-Then, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while frying the remaining ravioli. (The fried ravioli can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool them completely, then cover and refrigerate. Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.)

-Spray the top side of the mint leaves very lightly with nonstick spray.
-Working with 1 leaf at a time, dredge the coated side of the leaves in sugar to coat lightly.

-Arrange 2 fried ravioli on each plate.
-Dust the ravioli with powdered sugar.
-Garnish with the sugared mint leaves and serve.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, I know I can’t really make the claim that I made in the title of this post. These cookies are just so good. I’ve been trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe for quite some time. There’s a grocery store in Dallas called Central Market. I’ve never been to such an awesome grocery store, and I don’t think I ever will again (as they are only in Texas). They had these amazing chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies. They were the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. A few months ago, I tried a recipe I thought would be close. While the cookies were good, they weren’t what I was looking for.

I can’t say enough how delicious these cookies are. The flavor is spot-on. I only modified the recipe slightly, by omitting the toffee pieces and substituting macadamia nuts for hazelnuts. If you are looking for a go-to chocolate chip recipe, this is it. Just blogging about these cookies is making me want to eat one (or several, ha)!

Just as a note – I suggest refrigerating the dough before putting it on the cookie sheets. If the dough gets too warm while your mixing it together, chances are it will spread more than it’s supposed to when you go to cook it. My first batch of cookies came out slightly flat (but still oh so delicious). The second batch, after being in the refrigerator for a few minutes, came out much better.

Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
-Preheat the oven to 325°.
-Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
-Finely chop the oats in a food processor.
-Transfer the oats to a medium bowl.
-Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
-Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy.
-Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
-Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended.
-Stir in the macadamia nuts and chocolate chips.
-For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough).
-Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes.
-Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes.
-Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. (The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead.
Store airtight at room temperature.)

Source: Very slightly modified from Giada De Laurentiis

Slow Cooker Four Bean Chili

Let me start off by saying that it is hard adjusting to weather in Florida. I know fall should be here by now. I see pumpkins everywhere. Our fall decorations are out. Football is on all weekend. All these things scream fall; the warm weather here does not. This chili is my way of rebelling against the weather. Sure, it doesn’t change anything, but it does help me feel like it’s actually fall (until I walk outside).

Eric and I have never really made chili before. I scoured the Internet trying to find one I thought I’d like. I couldn’t find one that seemed to fit exactly, so I just kind of pulled from different recipes. For our first try, I’d say this recipe was a success. We already know that we’d like to add another can of Rotel next time we make it. Other than there being too few tomatoes for me, this recipe was fantastic.

UPDATE: We just had the leftovers with an extra can of Rotel, and it was definitely much better. Not that the chili wasn’t good before, but the Rotel really gave it some extra oomph.

Slow Cooker Four Bean Chili
1 pound ground, white meat turkey
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can chili beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes (We used original, but you can use whatever heat level you want.)
1 package chili seasoning

1 teaspoon cumin

-In a large skillet, brown turkey and onion until turkey is cooked through.
-Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Do not drain the canned ingredients.
-Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
-Walk away and enjoy yourself while dinner cooks itself.
-To serve, top with shredded cheese, onion or whatever you like.

But wait! There’s a surprise in the bottom of my bowl of chili:

Does anyone else do this? Most people I know haven’t heard of putting noodles in the bottom of chili, but I was raised doing just that. Is it a northern thing? My mom was raised in Indiana and my dad in Alabama. My dad swears that my sister and I learned this from my mom’s side of the family. Can anyone clue me in?