• Tombstone Brownies

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    Here’s a super fun Halloween dessert adapted from a Halloween cookbook magazine from the grocery store check out.  These turned out so great, and everyone loved them!  For the tombstone writing you can purchase cookie icing in your baking aisle that comes packaged with a fine tip for writing or you can use white frosting.  If you use the frosting for writing, you’ll need to take a zip loc bag and cut a small whole in the bottom corner, then add your frosting and squeeze the frosting out to write RIP.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 packages (10 1/4 oz each) brownie mix plus ingredients to prepare mix
    • 3/4 flaked coconut, tinted green
    • 1 c. chocolate frosting (purchased or homemade)
    • 2 chocolate candy bars
    • White cookie icing or white frosting

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13X9-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil beyond edges of pan; grease foil.
    2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Spread in prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool in pan on wire rack.
    3. To tint coconut, dilute a few drops of food coloring with 1/2 teaspoon water in a large plastic bag. Add 1 to 1-1/3 cups flaked coconut. Close the bag and shake well until the coconut is evenly coated. If a deeper color is desired, add more diluted food coloring and shake again.  Set aside until brownies are cool.  Once brownies are cool, spread the coconut onto your serving platter.
    4. Using foil as handles, remove brownies from pan; peel off foil. Cut brownies into twelve 4X2-inch bars.  Frost with chocolate frosting.  Place brownies onto the coconut grass.
    5. Break chocolate bars into pieces along scored lines. Using white cookie icing, write “R.I.P.” on chocolate pieces. Let stand until set.
    6. On the bottom of each chocolate piece, spread some chocolate frosting (this helps keep it attached) and press 1 chocolate piece into end of each brownie for tombstone.
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    Tombstone Brownies:

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  • Mummy Dogs

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    Here’s a fun Halloween treat that the whole family will enjoy!

    Ingredients:

    • Hot dogs
    • 1 can of refrigerated crescent rolls
    • mustard

    Directions:

    1. Remove rolls from can, and patch the seems together (from the dough I patched 2 triangles together to make a rectangle, so I had 4 rectangles).  Make strips out of each of your rectangles.  You can make thin strips like I did or thicker strips too.
    2. Wrap the strips around each hot dog.  The closer you put your strips, the less hot dog will show.  I liked being able to see the hot dog, but if your wrap the strips so that they touch each other, leave a bit of the hot dog showing, because that’s you’re mummy face.
    3. Bake in a 375 oven for about 12 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown.
    4. Add eyes using drops of mustard.

    Mummy Dogs:

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  • Pretzels

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    Pretzels are not only delicious but the kiddos have such fun making them and eating them!  This recipe is from Alton Brown.
    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 c. warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1 package active dry yeast
    • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 c.
    • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
    • Vegetable oil, for pan
    • 10 c. water
    • 2/3 c. baking soda
    • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 TBSP water
    • Pretzel salt

    Directions:

    1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
    2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
    3. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
    4. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
    5. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve immediately.

    Pretzels:

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  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

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    We love pizza, and in effort to make it a bit healthier, I thought we’d give whole wheat pizza a try.  I love CPKs whole wheat crust, and while CPK reigns supreme, this whole wheat pizza dough from Cuisine Nie is tasty.  The kiddos and I both love it, although -s much prefers his white pizza dough.
    Ingredients:

    • 1 envelope of yeast
    • 1 c. warm water
    • 2 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. sugar
    • 2 TBSP olive oil

    Directions:

    1. Combine yeast and water in a bowl; set aside
    2. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and sugar together; then add the olive oil, and then add the yeast mixture.
    3. Place your dough on a work surface and kneed for 6 to 7 minutes.
    4. Let dough rise in a warm place for a few hours.  After rising you can refrigerate to use dough at a later date.
    5. When you are ready roll out your dough and top with your desired toppings.  Set oven at highest temperature, and cook on a pizza stone until done.

    Note: The Pizza above has a pesto base, topped with fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil.  One of my other favorite pizzas is a ricotta pizza.  Simply brush crust with olive oil, then spread fresh ricotta fres mozzarella, cooked broccoli florets, and basil.

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    Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:

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  • Steve’s Spicy Red Salsa

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    This Steve’s recipe.  It was delicious, but super spicy.  I’ve cut down the number of chiles used, but I would be overly cautious to start out with.  All chiles vary in degree of heat, so there is a bit of trial and error.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 to 1 chile morita (smoked red jalapeno)
    • 1 1/2 lb. roma tomatoes
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp. Mexican Oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • black pepper to taste
    • juice of 1/2 lime

    Directions:

    1. Pan roast chile morita for 15 seconds, then soak in water for 30 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, pan roast tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and cumin; set aside.
    3. In your food processor bowl, add soaked chile morita, roasted tomatoes, garlic, oregano, cumin, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice and process until combined.  Taste.  You can always add more chile morita iff you desire more heat.

    Steve’s Spicy Red Salsa:

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  • Fajita Marinade

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    This marinade is really tasty and works equally as well with beef and chicken.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice
    • 2 TBSP soy sauce
    • 2 TBSP canola oil
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tsp. chile powder
    • 2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 1 lb. chicken breast, flank steak, or meat of choice.

    Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a ziploc bag.  If using beef, especially flank steak, the longer it marinates the better.  I usually marinate flank steak for at least 8 hours.  If using chicken marinate for up to a few hours.
    2. Grill.

    Fajita Marinade:

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  • Los Tios Mexican Rice

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    When we lived in Houston, we lived across the street from Los Tios.  People raved about the restaurant, so we gave it a try.  It was good, but in the land of excellent Tex-Mex, we never made it back.  One thing we really liked, though, was their rice.  Rob Walsh’s The Tex-Mex Cookbook, he recreates the rice.  You can make it spicy or leave out the chiles for a more kid friendly dish.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. chicken broth
    • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1/2 small onion, chopped
    • 1 c. raw white rice
    • 2 serrano chiles
    • 1/2 c. minced carrots
    • pinch of ground cumin
    • pinch of black pepper
    • salt to taste

    Directions:

    1. In a blender, combine the broth, tomato, and garlic.  Puree and set aside.
    2. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the raw rice; saute until it turns opaque without browning.  Add the broth puree, chiles, carrots, cumin, and pepper.  Salt to taste.
    3. Bring the rice to a boil and reduce heat.  Cover tightly and simmer fro 35 to 30 minutes.

    Los Tios Mexican Rice:

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  • Spooky Slow-Cooked Chili

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    Here’s a great dish to get into the Halloween spirit…delicious chili topped with festive Halloween shaped cheese slices.  To accompany the chili, I made my cornbread recipe in a silicone baking pan–shapes were leaves and pumpkins.  Everyone loved the cornbread too…-s even said he liked the cornbread better from the silicone pan.  I’ve never used a silicone pan before, but I was very pleased with the result.  Somehow the cornbread had a crisp bottom, sides, and tops…I’m definitely motivated to buy some more silicone baking pans.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 1 lb. lean ground turkey or beef
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 tsp. chili powder
    • 2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
    • 1 tsp. ground coriander
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
      1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
    • 1 15 oz can spicy chili beans, undrained
    • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    • Cheese and Halloween cookie cutters

    Directions:

    1. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet; add onions and meat; cook for a few minutes, then add spices (chili powder through salt), and continue cooking until meat is cooked.
    2. Meanwhile add the can of whole tomatoes to your crockpot insert and break up the tomatoes with your hands; then add the tomato sauce and both cans of beans.  When the meat mixture is done add the meat to the crockpot and stir to combine.
    3. Cover and cook HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 6 hours.
    4. Slice your cheese and use your Halloween themed cookie cutters to cut out shapes.  Top each bowl of chili with a cheese cut out.

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    Spooky Slow-Cooked Chili:

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  • Halloween Rice Krispies Treats

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    My kiddos went wild over these easy festive treats, and I believe we’ve started a new family tradition!

    Ingredients:

    • 3 TBSP butter
    • orange food coloring (or mix red and yellow food coloring)
    • 10 oz. marshmallows
    • 6 c. rice krispies

    Directions:

    1. Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat; add food coloring to desired color; then add marshmallows.  You may want to add more food coloring once the marshmallows are melted.
    2. Place the rice krispies in a large bowl.  Pour the melted marshmallows over the rice krispies and toss to combine.
    3. Line a sheet pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.  Dump rice krispies mixture onto foil.  Take a sheet of wax paper and spray it with cooking spray; then cooking spray side down press rice krispies mixture so that the entire pan has a thin layer of mixture, about 1/4 inch thick.  Let set for a few hours.
    4. With Halloween cookie cutters, cut out your shapes and decorate.
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    Halloween Rice Krispies Treats:

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  • Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese

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    This is the best homemade mac-n-cheese we’ve ever had!  It is that good!!!  I found the recipe at pimp my dinner, and everyone loved it.  Since my kiddos love hot dogs with mac-n-cheese I cut up some hot dogs and threw them in at the end, but you can certainly leave them out.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 TBSP butter
    • 4 TBSP flour
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • dash of pepper
    • 1 c. milk
    • 3 c. cheddar cheese, grated
    • 16 oz. light sour cream
    • 1 box small macaroni noodles (I used a 13.25 oz. box of whole wheat noodles, but you could certainly use a 16 oz. box)

    Directions:

    1. Start boiling water for your noodles.
    2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour, salt and pepper and stir constantly with a whisk until smooth (it will be a bit grainy); then GRADUALLY add milk and whisk continuously, until all combined with no lumps remaining. By this time your water should be boiling, add noodles.
    3. Once you have added all the milk and the mixture is smooth, add cheese and keep whisking until smooth. Add the sour cream and repeat. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, if desired. Do not let the creamy mixture boil, remove from heat once it starts to do so. When noodles are done, drain and add to skillet and toss to combine.  Add some hot dogs if you’d like.  Serve with steamed broccoli and fruit.

    Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese:

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