Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween treats, part 1!

In preparation for Saturday's Halloween party, I have made tasty things.
First, the ingredients for Bakerella's new Spider Bites. We have (clockwise, from middle-left bottom): red raspberry gumdrops, black sugar, liquorice, brownie balls, and not pictured is melted chocolate. I still haven't assembled everything, but that's up for tonight!

Pumpkin pecan raisin bread. Recipe from a recipe swap that I must share- it's delicious!!

And I taste-tested a candy corn martini. I think this become an annual tradition- it's delicious!
combine 1/2cup candy corn with 1.5cups vodka in an airtight container, let sit for 3 hours (I did 6- btw, the candy corn dissolves.), then discard candy.
combine: 4oz candy corn vodka, 2oz triple sec/cointreau, and the juice of one lemon (2-3T) with ice, shake, strain into a martini glass. Garnish with candy corn.

Lots of deliciousness happened at my house last night.

ETA: I'm about 3 months late for this... here are photos of my Halloween party spread!

The main table, with a half-dead flower arrangement. Cheeses, crackers, cheese balls (they're orange), swampy spinach quiche, spicy kettle corn, chicken satay skewers with peanut dipping sauce, veggies, homemade tortilla chips, hershey's caramel kisses, and ranch dip.
Close-up of the tortilla chips. I cut flour tortillas with a cookie cutter, brushed with lime juice, sprinkled with chipotle powder (spicy) or cumin, baked for about 15 min at 400oF. The finished spider bites.
Ladies' fingers
The dessert table: jelly candies from Sweden (wine flavored), pumpkin bread (also pictured above, recipe still unposted), apple tart, apples and caramel fondue (recipe as yet unposted, but I'll fix that)Mummy sausages (super easy, but I left out the cheese)

Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm working on a menu for my Halloween party this weekend. It needs a lot more thought... so far, we have:
caramel fondue (served with apples)
apple cheesecake tart
pumpkin bread
chicken skewers with peanut sauce
cheddar cheese muffins

One issue I take with the draft of this list is that the foods are not especially Halloweeny- with the exception of the first three. I feel rather sad that I don't have any cupcakes on the list, but I thought the cheese muffins might be a nice savory substitute. I also completely lack cookies of any type, which would be easy to do with some Halloween flair- that shouldn't be hard to find.

I need to spend some more time recipe browsing- hopefully in time to start preparing food on Wednesday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkinny weekend

My weekend included (among other things): apples and pumpkins.

1 peck of Mutsu apples for eating and for caramel apple fondue (passed along in a recipe swap, I'll share after I make it)
1/2 peck of Millenium apples, for general enjoyment
4 pumpkins: 1 orange one for my parents, one orange for us (for carving), one green one for us, and one small-ish white one for us.
One loaf pan of Harvest Bread Pudding- this is bread pudding that uses not only typical yeasted bread (looks like white or wheat), but also pumpkin bread. Yum! The next time I make a loaf of pumpkin quick bread, I'm using a portion of it for bread pudding. And I'm considering making a bananas foster bread pudding, using banana bread (which I never really like once it's cool)
Turtle cheesecake: from the banquet facilities at the Marriott in Rocky Hill, CT, but I've been thinking about cheesecake lately, and the perfectly decent piece of cheesecake hit the spot. Also, layer of chocolate ganache, yum.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Experimenting with apples

At least my experiments in the kitchen (as opposed to lab) are successful!

Clint brought me some apples (per my request) from NH about a month ago, and this past weekend, I realized I really should finish off the bag. Since I'd had such success with those danishes from a few weeks ago, I proceeded with round 2.

This time, however, I tossed the super thinly-sliced apples (4 or 5) with a mixture of about 1T brown sugar, about 2-3T apple cider, and a healthy dose (maybe 2t) cinnamon, before arranging them on top of the puff pastry square with a dollop of cheesecake mixture. The result?

(please pardon the oh-so charming used parchment paper/cookie sheet background). However, while the apples were perfect, the puff pastry didn't puff up- I'm not sure why this happened. Unlike the previous round of danishes (and every other time I've used puff pastry), when I thawed the pastry on the counter, this time I thawed it for the whole day in the fridge. This is what Ina Garten recommends, though, so I doubt that's the problem. I baked them at the same temp, for the same time. Any ideas? I'm totally willing to try this again, now that I've perfected the apple filling.

After making 18 danishes, I still had 5 apples left, and I happened to have enough crust for a single crust pie in the fridge. So!
scrappy apple pie, apple cheesecake tart thing, apple dumpling.

The dumpling was: one peeled and cored apple dusted with cinnamon and filled with 2t brown sugar, then wrapped in pie crust. I baked as I would a pie- maybe a little shorter.

The apple cheesecake thing.... this was an experiment, and it worked. The tart pan is lined with pie crust, and then filled with the rest of the cheesecake filling from the danishes- however, I didn't have enough, so I made another half batch- this time adding cinnamon and substituting brown sugar for white. Then I placed the thinly-sliced apples (again, coated in the brown sugar/cider/cinnamon mix) on top, and drizzled the remaining brown sugar/cider/cinnamon mix on top. I baked.My pictures lately are lousy- it's been so rainy that there's no good natural light in the kitchen. But as you can see, it's flat like a tart, and the cheesecake portion is just slightly thicker than the crust. It's good, though- just a little sweet, allowing the apple flavor to dominate the tart. I'm definitely making this again.

Finally, the scrappy apple pie was the leftover apple slices and remaining pie crust stuck in a tiny pie dish. I really just wanted everything used up. Since I ate the apple dumpling, I told Clint this one was his- only 4 days later, he still hasn't eaten it.... so I just might. ;)

In non-food news, I am ill (in a non-contagious way, at least) and feeling very run-down. I had a very busy and productive day at work planned for today, but wasn't able to complete it- I had to go home and rest and apply some hot compresses. But! As I was making a pot of tea (well, ok, cookies- nothing stops me from baking), the UPS truck just happened by, and delivered these lovelies, to cheer me up...and lest you, dear reader, think I'm terribly frivolous and irresponsible with my money, please note that these three pairs of shoes, and the shipping thereof, cost me less than $40. Yay huge shoe sales!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A domestic, TDL weekend

TDL = to-do list.

We had one, and we did things on it. I wish I had photos, before/after style.

1. We cleaned/unpacked. At the top of the list was bedroom, guest room (guest coming tomorrow), kitchen. Also on the list was to clean (vacuum, dust, bathrooms), and unpack the office, and maybe the dining room. And... success!
Bedroom: completely unpacked, just needs some more furniture (not sure what just yet- but there's a ton of empty space)
Guest room: contains 4 boxes of craft supplies, otherwise unpacked! It also needs furniture, a bureau is on its way
Kitchen: all unpacked! some cabinet reorganization is necessary, and to purchase a free-standing cabinet or shelf thing
Dining room: unpacked! Requires 3 pieces of furniture, one's on its way, the other 2 still need to be purchased
Office: well... it'll be done by the end of the week- the new desk's not due in til friday anyway.
Living room and den: they'll get there. We seriously need bookcases to finish off the living room, and small tables. The den currently serves as wedding/shower gift storage.

2. We cooked, in the style of a married couple. This will sound odd, coming from me, but all of a sudden, on Saturday, the idea of cooking dinner completely terrified me (I was also sick). I bake all the time, and I love to cook, but when I cook dinner, it's a big, gourmet production. I don't cook simple things that can be done on any normal old weekday night. And I thought, what happens when I have kids?!? Kids actually have to eat, they can't get by with a bowl of cereal or cheese and crackers and a piece of pie for dinner. So I got out my only Rachael Ray cookbook, and made, with reasonable success (we didn't have enough couscous to soak up the liquid, so it was soupy), sweet and spicy chicken and couscous pot. And it was good- we both had seconds, and looked forward to lunch the next day. Yesterday I then made a cashew chicken and sweet potato curry with curried quinoa. We lacked a green food item, tonight I'll add some steamed asparagus when we finish off the leftovers. Both of these dinners took us about 1.5 hrs to make, but most of that time was spent thawing the chicken or waiting for it to cook, so if we can get a little more stream-lined, I think we're good. (and now we're both looking forward to lunch and dinner today :) ) So I think I need to get another RR cookbook (how strange is it that, with all the cooking I've done, I've never made a 30 minute meal?) and peruse my Everyday Food mags, all with sticky tabs in hand, and mark the heck of these books so I can get some good, quick recipes. We'll work on making them kid-friendly (i.e. kids probably won't like the kind of flavors we like) when we actually need them to be.

3. We worked hard on the wedding thank you notes. I hate that we're not done, 5 weeks after the wedding, but finally, we're nearly there. I have 1 more and Clint has 10 more, and we have to address 90 or so of them. But since I wrote about 75 of the notes, Clint will address more than half of them (he also has much better handwriting than I do).

And I hardly knit at all. I did the kitchener stitch on 16 stitches to finish a sock, and cast on and knit 8 rows of a baby sweater. but the best part of the weekend was that I slept in, wore sweatpants and no makeup, and didn't set foot out of the house (except to get the mail on Saturday) the entire weekend. I haven't had a weekend like this in at least a year.