Archive for October, 2011

Halloween chocolate sugar cookies

Instead of decorating the usual sugar cookies for Halloween–what about starting with a chocolate dough? I used this recipe to make my Harry Potter sorting hat cookies, but the intense chocolatey, workable dough is perfect for any kind of cookie cut-outs. I used my Halloween linzer cookie maker to craft my cookies.

I’ve been packing these in my kids’ lunch bags all week.

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate butter cookie dough

*Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion Cookbook

Yield: Depends;)

Prep time: 30 minutes + baking, fridge time

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cocoa (*see note below)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 butter at room temperature (not margarine)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 Tablespoon water

1/2 Tablespoon honey or agave

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Vanilla frosting

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together.
  2. Add the egg, water, honey and extract (if using) to the butter mixture. Blend well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. *Note: to get the dark color try using Hershey’s special dark cocoa at the grocers or order dark cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour.
  4. Gently mix the dry ingredients gently into the batter just until incorporated.
  5. Place dough on waxed paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until solid.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie pans with parchment paper.
  7. Working with 1/3 of the dough at a time and leaving the rest refrigerated, roll out the dough, using flour (or cocoa) and a rolling pin, to 1/8″ thick.
  8. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes and then check on them. You don’t want to overcook them!
  9. Remove the pan and allow the cookies to cool ON the pan.
  10. Decorate with frosting, sprinkles…

Your turn–making any Halloween sweet or meals this weekend?

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Halloween recipe round-up

From savory to sweet, silly to spooky, here are some fun recipes to try for Halloween from MKES and others I’ve found while hunting around for new ideas.

Sweet & Silly

Ghost cookies. These “cookies” are really just melted white chocolate that your kids can make into ghost shapes. This recipe is fast & fun and a Halloween tradition around our house.

Homemade tootsie rolls. Check out Baking and Boys! recipe for from-scratch tootsie rolls. I’m going to have to try these soon.

Orange Jack ‘o Lanterns. Forget carving the pumpkin, have an orange as a stand-in. Thanks to MarthaandMe for passing along the recipe.

Sweet & Spooky

Photo credit: Recipe.com

Ghost brownies. Help your kids create a ghostly graveyard using a brownie, white chocolate ghosts and chocolate-dipped cracker tombstones.

Creepy creature cake. I love any excuse to make a bundt cake–but here you create a freaky scene using the cake as the base. Love it.

Pumpkin seed toffee. Okay, so this isn’t spooky. But for a more grown-up candy, try this mix of roasted pumpkin seeds, ginger, cayenne, all wrapped up in toffee that’s topped with chocolate.

Savory & scary

Meatball mice. These little critters almost look like mice have invaded your spaghetti plate. These are easy to make–and the ham tails add a nice touch.

Chicken leg pot pie. You can thank Roald Dahl of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame for this revolting recipe and more!

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Revolting Recipes from Roald Dahl

Lickable wallpaper, wormy spaghetti, fresh mudburgers, stink bugs’ eggs, there are so many clever, ‘eww’-inducing finds in Roald Dahl’s cookbook, Revolting Recipes. While I didn’t have much luck with the recipes themselves, looking through the cookbook gave me plenty of ideas about what kinds of things you can pull together in the kitchen to create your own revolting recipes. Note: this is the first cookbook my youngest asked to borrow and stayed up late in bed just looking through it–there are illustrations for each recipe.

But here are a few ideas I had after flipping through Revolting Recipes:

Poppy seeds and sesame seeds make for great bug stand-ins. Dahl uses them as ‘mosquito toes’ in his recipe for Mosquitoes’ Toes and Wampfish Roes Most Delicately Fried from James and the Giant Peach and to create Snozzcumbers from  The BFG.

Quick ideas

  • Brush egg white on rolls before baking and put poppy seeds in clumps and tell your kids you’re having ‘bug toe buns’ with dinner.
  • Sprinkle poppy seeds on buttered noodles and explain to your wide-eyed kids that something might have sneaked into the pasta.
  • Make a trail using a clean paintbrush and either mayo or ranch dressing to create a line on a plate then sprinkle little “bugs” (poppy seeds) leading to cucumbers on your kids’ veggie dish. Make sure to shake the excess poppy seeds off the plate so it really looks like the bugs are making their way to the food.

Bird legs can be tasty. In Dahl’s version of Bird Pie from The Twits, he baked a chicken potpie and then fashioned pipe cleaners to look like legs. I wanted a more edible version so I used chard, with its nearly neon pink and yellow stalks. Slice with a knife or cut ‘toes’ into one of the stalk’s ends. You can read more about how I created my own Bird Pie. But bird legs can turn up in other places too.

Quick ideas

  • Use chard ‘bird legs’ in a salad (adhere them to a dollop of chicken salad, if you want).
  • Make bird leg tostadas or tacos and let the chard ‘bird legs’ stick out.

Lickable wallpaper is easy. Another idea from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl suggests fruit strips made from apples, brown sugar and gelatin.

Quick idea

Make a easier, healthier version of lickable wallpaper by making a thick version of fruit leathers. Then stick dried fruit to the fruit leather to create a design in your ‘wallpaper.’

Fruit leather tongue!

You can find more Halloween treat ideas inspired by Roald Dahl at my post at WanderingEducators.com.

Your turn–what’s your favorite food idea inspired from a children’s book?

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Ghost brownies

Let the Halloween cooking…begin! I’ve just been waiting to start posting fun spooky recipes. I’ll have more all week (taffy tongues are up next). But I wanted to start with this recipe that’s easy to pull together fast. AND kids can help you with every step.

Here’s how to create this 3-D Halloween scene:

What you’ll need

1 pan family-sized brownies (boxed varieties are fine)

1 cup white melting chocolate

Handful of mini-chocolate chips or raisins (yup, ghost eyes)

1/8 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 toothpicks

Oval crackers (Flipz work well)

Putting the brownies together

  1. Line a 9×13” baking pan with waxed or parchment paper and then lightly coat it with cooking spray.
  2. Bake the brownie mix according to package directions.
  3. Allow the brownies to cool and then cut them into six to eight rectangular pieces.
  4. Refrigerate the sliced brownies for at least 1 hour (or put them in the freezer for 20 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes on high power. Stir, and then keep heating in 30-second intervals until it becomes smooth.
  6. Let the chocolate cool slightly and create ghost shapes using the back of a spoon on waxed paper (so FUN). Add eyes before the chocolate sets.
  7. Allow the chocolate ghosts to cool completely and then carefully remove.
  8. Dip one end of the crackers into the white chocolate, then cool. Using the tip of a toothpick and melted semi-sweet chocolate write ‘RIP’ on the mini-tombstones.
  9. Working with one brownie at a time, flip it over and then use a fork to create crumbs on top (the soil of your ghostly graveyard).
  10. Carefully press the ghosts into the brownie along with the cracker to create your spooky scene.

Happy Halloween baking everyone!

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Dinnerware tips from socks

Photo credit: Target.com

Sock trend update: mismatches are in. Thank goodness! I know, I’m probably one of the few diligent sock watchers out there. But here’s the deal, with three school-aged squid-eaters around my house socks disappear and reappear on a regular basis. And despite my push that socks come in two colors–white and black, which are easy to mix and match, my kids go for socks with various designs, colors, sizes. Inevitably these socks come in packages with one pair of each design. Once you’ve lost one of the set, the other used to be doomed to either become a sock puppet or a dusting cloth.

No more–mismatched socks are all the rage right now. Watch any episode of iCarly to confirm that not only are clashing socks in, but mismatched patterns with clothes too. (Note to self: I was ahead of my time when I used to wear plaid shorts with striped shirts in middle school.)

So what does this have to do with your dinner table? Time to mix and match. Red plates, green, yellow, white, different patterns, sizes, use ‘em all in one setting. Especially when guests come over. Hey, even the experts at Fashion Week are calling clashing ‘in’: ‘Rainbow Colors: The New Neutral.’ Love it. Not that I’m a style-watcher (did you see the comment about middle school?!), but any excuse to let my kids get creative in the kitchen from the food prep, right down to the plate settings.

Your turn: Do you mix and match your place settings?

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Zucchini quesadillas

Zucchini and Mexican spices were just made for each other. When I saute zucchini, I often add a little ground cumin, ground ancho powder and a dash of cayenne. But around our house a plate of sauteed zucchini does not a meal make. I do like using it instead of meat in enchiladas, but for a quicker meal, I go with zucchini quesadillas.

You can keep it simple, with just sauteed zucchini and Monterrey Jack cheese, or make your own refried beans to slather on the tortilla too. You might even want to try white corn tortillas instead of the usual flour.

To make this meal a stand-out (and when pineapple is on sale, which it is here right now), I’ll take a slice of pineapple, make slits and then stand the quesadilla wedges up in the slits. And yes, if I’m fumbling through my drawer and find a little umbrella, I pop that on too.

*Side note: I prefer green zucchini to yellow, it just seems to hold its shape better when it’s sauteed versus the squishier yellow.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes (including cooking)

Servings: 4-6


Ingredients

1 large green zucchini, sliced into thin quarter pieces

1 small onion, diced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 can vegetarian refried beans (or make your own)

1 ½ cups Monterrey Jack cheese

4 flour or corn tortillas

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Add olive oil to a large skillet and bring to medium-high heat, toss in the zucchini and onion and cook until just barely tender.
  2. Meanwhile, using a kitchen knife add about 1/8-1/4 cup refried beans to each tortilla. Repeat with four tortillas.
  3. Remove the peppers and onions from the skillet and place the bean covered tortilla, uncovered side on the pan.
  4. Place ¼ of the sautéed zucchini and onions along with a generous handful of cheese onto the bean-covered tortilla. Add another plain tortilla on top.
  5. Flip the tortilla over in the heated pan (as you would with grilled cheese) once the tortilla begins to crisp.
  6. Heat the other side of the quesadilla until crisp. Cool for 3-4 minutes before cutting with a pizza cutter.
  7. Serve with salsa for dipping.
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French broccoli soup

Sure my kids ask for seconds of roasted asparagus and whipped purple potatoes, but I couldn’t coax them past a few tries of this recipe for broccoli soup. But I didn’t mind. I wanted the leftovers. Ever since I tried the recipe a few weeks ago, I’ve been having it for lunch nearly everyday since.

I do have hope for my kids–see, this recipe comes from my mom. When she claimed she’d been making it for years, I called her bluff, “But, I’ve never had it?!” I told her. “No, you wouldn’t try it, but I’ve been making it,” she explained. Hum, maybe she wanted leftovers too; and maybe, just maybe my kids will be calling and asking for this recipe someday (although I’m still going to offer it to them whenever I get the chance).

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes, start to finish

Servings: 4


Ingredients

2 cups broccoli, chopped, leaves and stem included (if desired)

1 cup celery, chopped

1/3 cup parsley, torn into pieces

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon cornstarch

3-4 cups chicken broth

Parmesan cheese shavings, for serving

Heavy cream (optional)

1/4 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Placed the chopped broccoli, cauliflower, garlic and parsley in a heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven.
  2. Pour the chicken broth over the veggies (you can add more than 4 cups, depending on your desired thickness; I rarely measure, I just pour until it covers the broccoli about 1/2 an inch).
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the veggies are soft; discard the garlic clove.
  4. In batches, puree the veggies and broth until smooth. Return the mixture to the pan. (I also stir in cayenne pepper or hot paprika at this point to give it a kick.)
  5. In a small cup, whisk the cornstarch with some of the soup, then stir it into the rest, bring it to a simmer, reduce heat and serve.
  6. Top individual servings with Parmesan cheese.

*A note from mom: the original recipe calls for you to stir in heavy cream. When she serves it to guests, she puts warmed cream on the table for those who want to add it in, but she doesn’t use it. I don’t either–it doesn’t need it.

Your turn–do you have a favorite dish your secretly glad your kids aren’t crazy about because then you can have the leftovers?

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