Archive for the 'Halloween' Category

Recipe: Pumpkins

|September 21, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

And what about the pumpkins??

Halloween is over. Is it the end of your pumpkin as well?

NOPE!

I am a fall baby – it’s my favorite time of the year. I love to grow pumpkins – especially sugar pumpkins – they are great for baking and cooking. Come September – as soon as I have “the perfect pumpkin” – it’s washed and sitting in my kitchen for beauty. It’s cousins in the garden are not so lucky.

Along comes Halloween and you find hundreds and hundreds of pumpkins on porches and decks, lining driveways, etc. all ready to be carved. The pumpkin carvings that some do are absolutely beautiful. We see anything from the traditional pumpkin faces to intricate scenes, crosses, symbols, etc.

What is sad about this is that many just discard the pulp and the seeds.

I remember when I was a kid, we’d get a nickel from out moms and we’d rush to the store to buy a box of pumpkin seeds. Pure salt! And we loved them. Eventually I got away from them and I started enjoying homemade much better.

And the pulp always made a great pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin anything!

Although we would all love to have the world’s biggest pumpkin, I find that the smaller pumpkins that are small to medium in size are the best ones to use for baking and cooking because their flesh has a finer texture than the very large pumpkins. The “heavier” pumpkins that don’t have the hollow sound are perfect – regardless of size.

Select a ripe and firm medium pumpkin. Larger pumpkins can be used, but they begin to take on a grainy texture the larger they get. Cut open the pumpkin and remove the seeds and fibrous strings. Cut the pumpkin into four to eight pieces. Line a large baking pan aluminum foil. Place the pumpkin pieces onto the baking pan. Bake at 375* F. 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until pulp is soft. Remove the pulp from the rind with a spoon and discard the rind. Blend the pulp until smooth using a blender, food processor or mixer. To create a really thick puree, put the pulp into a cheesecloth and squeeze out excess water.

Make and use fresh puree whenever possible for the best taste and freshness. Leftover puree can be frozen for a short period of time. Canning of pumpkin puree is not recommended by the USDA.

You can also wash your pumpkin, remove the fibrous stings and seeds, cut into 2-inch cubes and boil in water till tender; drain very well; allow to cool completely.

To use – thaw in the refrigerator. If it seems a bit watery after freezing, just drain it in a strainer to remove excess liquid.

Please note the you NEVER bake a pumpkin that has been carved and sitting around for several days.

Also, if baking you pumpkin, some will use a large baking pan lined with foil and will add a little water for baking.

And – before using puree – always drain in a strainer to remove all excess liquid. Some pumpkins are very moist.

Pumpkins can be peeled before or after cooking – it’s your choice and it depend on how much you are preparing. If baking, always peel after baking.

To make pumpkin seeds:

After removing the seeds from the pumpkin, wash in warm water and dry. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with oil or melted butter, sprinkle with salt; bake 45 minutes in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted

For seasoned pumpkin seeds:

Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or oil and seasonings
of your choice before baking (some add after baking – experiment and see how you like it done):

Seasoning salt – simple enough
Cheesy Pumpkin Seeds- sprinkle with Cheesy popcorn seasoning.
Tex-Mex Style- Sprinkle powdered Taco seasoning onto the seeds. This is better mixed in a bowl first. Add more red pepper powder for a really hot seed!
Cajun style- Mix seeds in a bowl with a packet of cajun seasonings mix. If you like it really spicy, add extra hot sauce.
Garlic Salt- REALLY GOOD!

Just a tidbit – did you know that the canned pumpkin that is sold in the stores in 95% squash?

FYI:
Are you a pumpkin lover? Whole pumpkins will store well in a cool, dry environment. Never store on the basement floor and never store near apples.

Recipe: Pumpkin Pancakes and Pumpkin Maple Syrup

|August 25, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

'Tis the season!

For pumpkin that is. Since I've got my pumpkin puree done and in the freezer, I decided to start using it.

Let me share this recipe with you –

Pumpkin Pancakes

In bowl, whisk together:
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed (learn to make your own)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (recipe posted on blog)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

Add, stirring until just moistened (batter may be lumpy):
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cups milk

Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with vegetable oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle; cook until bubbles begin to burst. Turn and continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with Pumpkin Maple Sauce and nuts.

Pumpkin Maple Sauce

1 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups pumpkin

Mix together until well blended.

A very tasty breakfast or brunch dish for pumpkin lovers.

BTW – I've finished my e-cookbook – My Two-Week Countdown to Thanksgiving" and it is available for those that request a copy. Just send me an e-mail!

Recipe: Halloween Safety and Adult Goodies

|August 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treating:

Times have changed since back in my day. Back then you had to have your mom check your apples for razor blades and you were warned not to accept pennies in your hand incase they boiled them to burn your hands. Yeah – I guess people have been rotten since the beginning of time – but it has gotten worse as time has gone by.

Some cities/towns will allow you to bring your candy in to be x-rayed to look for foreign objects. You need to check everything thoroughly – pinpoints are so hard to detect.

I feel that trick and treating should only be done by visiting just a few close neighbors (that you know very well), friends and family.

In my honest opinion – Halloween should be celebrated at home with friends and family. Not only is it much safer – but the memories will remain with the little ones for many years to come.

If going out trick and treating be careful when it comes to costumes. A cape can hang to the ground which can be dangerous for walking or running. Also – they can catch on fire if walking buy lit candles or pumpkins that are lighting walkways.

Be sure to have fresh batteries in a GOOD flashlight! The little toy flashlights are good for playing with in the house – but a good flashlight is much safer to carry. Any adult taking little ones should also carry one. Not only do you see where you are going – but others can see you as well. Make it fancy – place a colored plastic tumbler over the flashlight and draw a face using magic markers for a festive look. Children prefer something more “halloweeny” than the regular “boring” flashlights. And different color cups will make them stand out.

When it comes to candy – for the life of me I don’t understand the “greed” to load up your home with candy from others. The day after Halloween all the store put their Halloween candy on sale – but it then if you must to have candy in the house. It’s much safer than having your children accept candy from strangers. If you MUST go to a complete stranger house – give you children a different bag to use for “stranger candy” – better safe than sorry. Don’t allow anyone to eat any of that candy and when you get home – toss it in the garbage. Buy candy for your children – it’s a much better substitute.

When it comes to wearing facial masks – some of them make it quite difficult to see out of and prevent a child from seeing peripherally. Either leave the mask home or cut the eye holes larger using a pair of scissors. Make it easy to see.

You can make your own Halloween Make-Up:

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white flour
Few drops glycerine
Food coloring

Spread on face. Then dust with talcum powder to set.

Children get all excited when it comes to trick and treating. Although they are anxious to go – put on the brakes and review safety lessons with them. Remind them to stay together, not run between cars, stay on the sidewalk, not to enter a strangers’ home, etc.

And don’t forget the household safety tips:

Never leave burning candles unattended or burning if you are not home or sleeping.

Although you may be going to the door every 2 minutes – remember to lock it each time for safety reasons.

The way things are today – you just never know.

How about a good Apple Dip?

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla**
6 oz. bag toffee bits

Combine all ingredients; store covered in refrigerator. Wonderful with Granny Smith apple slices.

A definite adult (although kids love them too!) treat:

Cream Puff Ghosts

6 tablespoons butter (no substitutes)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
4 eggs

PUMPKIN FILLING:

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold orange juice
1 cup milk
2/3 cup packed brown sugar, firmly packed
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Confectioners' sugar

Miniature black jelly beans or chocolate chips

In a saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny. Drop by 1/3 cupfuls 3 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets; spread into 4-in. x 3-in. ovals. Using a knife coated with nonstick cooking spray, make a wavy edge at the bottom of the ghost as shown in photo below left. Bake at 400* F. for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over orange juice; let stand for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and brown sugar; cook and stir over low heat until gelatin and sugar are completely dissolved. Stir in pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Cover and refrigerate for 45-60 minutes or until thickened. Fold in whipped cream.

Split cream puffs in half; remove dough from inside. Set aside 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling for eyes. Spoon remaining filling into cream puffs; replace tops. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Place two small dots of reserved filling on each ghost; top with jelly beans. Serve immediately.

Yield: 9 cream puffs

When the day (and night) has come to an end and the party is over – how about a nice relaxing treat for yourself?

WITCHES BREW TEA
And it doesn’t have to be Halloween to enjoy this! Keep the syrup in the refrigerator to enjoy whenever you want.

Make spice syrup:
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

In a small saucepan bring syrup ingredients to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Cool syrup. Syrup may be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

Brew your favorite tea and add a few drops – to taste.

Recipe: Tired of Halloween yet???

|August 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

 CREEPY CRAWLER PIE

1 ready-made chocolate cookie pie crust
1 quart orange sherbet
3/4 cup chocolate sauce
10 gummy worms

Soften sherbet slightly and spoon into pie shell. Drizzle with chocolate sauce to form "spider web" design. Freeze for at least one hour. Decorate with "worms".

JACK-O-LANTERN BROWNIES
These are a favorite with everyone!

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract**
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder**
1/4 teaspoon salt
Yellow and red food color
2 cups Vanilla Frosting (see recipe posted – continuing-with-halloween – Chocolate Cake recipe)

Garnishes: Mini chocolate kisses baking
pieces, licorice Twizzlers and bits

Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease a 12-inch round pizza pan. If using a disposable pan, place on baking sheet to bake.

Beat melted butter, sugar and vanilla extract with spoon in large bowl; beat in eggs; stir in dry ingredients; beat with spoon until well blended; spread into pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center.

Cool completely. Add yellow and red food color to frosting for desired shade of orange. Frost brownie; garnish to resemble jack-o-lantern. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

SKELETON BONE COOKIES

4 egg whites
1 teaspoon grated orange peel**
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder**
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup salted almonds, slivered or chopped

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites and sugar with orange peel and baking powder until blended. Gradually add nuts and flour, beating until mixture is thoroughly blended. Cover and chill until firm enough to handle, at least an hour or up to a day.

Lightly flour your hands and pinch off a three-tablespoon size piece of dough. On a lightly floured board, use the palms of both hands to evenly roll an 8-inch (20 cm) long rope. Cut rope in half; roll each half out again to 8 inches (20 cm). Fold an inch of each end back onto rope and pinch ends to make bone shapes. Repeat to shape all the dough.

Place bones an inch apart on a buttered and flour-dusted baking sheets.

Bake at 325* F. about 20 minutes until cookies are lightly browned on bottoms.

SPIDER COOKIES

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3 (1 oz.) squares semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder**
1/4 teaspoon salt
Black licorice whips, black jellybeans, black decorating gel, assorted Halloween candies

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg and then melted chocolate. Beat in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt until combined.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a roll about 8 inches long. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350* F. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until cookies are set when lightly touched, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Combine cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Spread about 1 teaspoon of frosting on half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies and spread additional frosting on top.

Decorate the cookies with "spiders," using jellybeans for bodies and licorice for legs.

To make cobweb cookies, squeeze a small amount of black gel on the middle of the cookie. Use the end of a toothpick to draw gel from the middle of the cookies to edges. Then put gel across to connect the gel lines in a cobweb pattern.

Cookies can also be decorated with a variety of ready-made Halloween candy decorations. Once frosted, keep cookies refrigerated.

Yields 32 servings.

JACK – O – LANTERN TREATS

1/4 c. margarine or butter
1 (10 oz.) pkg. regular marshmallows (about 40) OR 4 c. miniature marshmallows
5 c. Kellogg's Marshmallow Krispies cereal

Melt margarine in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Cook over low heat 3 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add Marshmallow Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.

To make 5 Jack-O-Lanterns, divide cereal mixture into five equal parts. Form pumpkin-shaped balls and stems. Decorate with frosting and Halloween candies. Makes 5 Jack-O-Lanterns. (For best results use fresh marshmallows.)

BLACK CAT COOKIES

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup water
2 large eggs
1 boxed chocolate cake mix (use my homemade chocolate cake Just like Duncan Hines Chocolate mix recipe – Kitty Litter Cake recipe – Halloween is coming)

M & M candies
Red hot candies

Beat together peanut butter, eggs and water. Gradually add the dry cake mix. Mix well. Form dough into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten balls with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Pinch out the dough to form two ears at the top of cookie. Add the M & M's for eyes and the red hots for a nose. Press a fork into the dough to form whiskers. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 4 1/2 dozen.

MUMMY DOGS (HALLOWEEN)

2 tubes refrigerator roll of pizza dough
1 cup grated mozzarella or provolone cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Nonstick spray
4 tablespoons pizza sauce or pasta sauce
8 hot dogs
Optional pizza toppings: onions, green peppers, olives, etc.
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning mix

Preheat oven to 300* F. Open package of pizza dough. Grate cheese, and dice vegetables. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Place pizza dough on sheet and cut into 8 squares; press dough thin with fingers. Add pizza sauce to each square. Add hot dogs and other pizza toppings and pizza herbs to taste. "Mummify" the hot dogs by wrapping them completely in the dough and pinching the ends. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until crust begins to brown. Serve with warm pizza sauce or pasta sauce for dip.

Serves 4 to 8

BLACK HALLOWEEN PUNCH

1 (.13 oz.) envelope unsweetened grape soft drink mix
1 (.13-oz.) envelope unsweetened orange soft drink mix
2 cups sugar
3 quarts cold water
1 liter ginger ale
1 frozen hand

To make the frozen hand, wash a disposable glove, fill with water, seal with a rubber band and freeze until hard.

Stir together grape and orange soft drink mix, sugar and water until solids are dissolved. Combine with chilled ginger ale just before serving. Dip the frozen hand briefly in warm water, then peel off the glove. Float the prepared hand in the punch bowl for a ghastly effect.

 

Recipe: Ready for more Halloween recipes?

|August 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Halloween Dinner in a Pumpkin

This is a smashing success, especially if you're hosting a monster bash at your house.

Medium sized pumpkin (4 pounds)
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 can chestnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 4-ounce can mushrooms
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups cooked rice

DECORATION:
Black olives
Steamed carrot
Whole cloves
Fresh parsley

Using a sharp knife, cut lid from pumpkin and scoop out pumpkin seeds and excess membrane with a scraping tool. In a large skillet, combine ground beef, chopped green pepper, chopped celery, chopped onion, and chestnuts. Cook over medium heat until ground beef is browned. Add next seven ingredients to skillet. Mix well and place mixture into pumpkin cavity. Place lid on pumpkin. Place pumpkin on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours.

Just before serving, embellish pumpkin by placing (with toothpicks) black olives to make eyes, a steamed carrot to make a nose, and whole cloves to make a mouth. Use fresh parsley leaves to make hair around like opening. To serve, scoop out part of the baked pumpkin, along with the meat mixture, onto each plate.

If desired, serve with a loaf of warm crusty French or Italian bread.

Yield: 6 Servings

Dinner in a Pumpkin #2

1 medium pumpkin
2 lbs. ground beef, cooked
1 chopped onion
3 sliced carrots
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can sliced mushroom, drained
1 tablespoons garlic salt
1 celery stalk, sliced
2-3 potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Bring all ingredients (except pumpkin) to a boil in a pot. Boil 10 minutes. Place pumpkin in sturdy baking pan. Fill pumpkin with hot mixture. Bake at 350 degrees, for approximately 45 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and brown.

Halloween Snack Mix

6 cups caramel corn
2 cups cashews or Pecans
1-1/2 cups candy corn
1/3 cup raisins

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well.
* Great for a Halloween Party or to package in individual goodie
bags for a school party or bake sale.

Do you think I wouldn’t post a recipe for Caramel Corn?

1-1/2 cups popcorn, not popped for 2 batches
OR 2/3 cup for 1 batch
1 cup margarine or butter
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed**
1/2 cup light corn syrup**
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla**
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250* F degrees. Pop popcorn and set aside (a large roast pan works well, allowing for room to stir).

Bring margarine or butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes. During this period, do not stir AT ALL.

Remove from heat and add the vanilla and baking soda. Mix and pour over popcorn. Put into the oven at 250* F, checking and stirring every 15 minutes for 1 hour.

** Add chopped peanuts, if you want.

Halloween Cookie Pizza

3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE (recipe follows)
ORANGE DRIZZLE (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350* F. Lightly grease 12-inch round pizza pan; set aside.

Beat brown sugar and shortening in large bowl on medium speed of mixer until creamy. Add egg, water and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add to sugar mixture, beating on low speed until well blended. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Spread batter into prepared pan to within 1/2 inch of edge.

Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until set. Remove from oven. Sprinkle marshmallows, chocolate chips and pecans over top. Return to oven. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned. Cool completely.

Drizzle CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE over top. Drizzle ORANGE DRIZZLE over chocolate. Let stand about 1 hour until drizzles set. Cut into wedges. 16 servings.

CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE:
Combine 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter flavor shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred. I melt mine in a double boiler over hot water.

ORANGE DRIZZLE: Combine 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon water, 3 drops yellow food color and 2 drops red food color in small bowl; stir until well blended.

* Cookie pizza can be baked in 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan. Bake at 375* F. 15 to 18 minutes or until set.

What is Halloween without Candy Apples?

6 red apples – I like Mac Intosh for these
6 wooden lollypop sticks
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 splash vanilla extract
Food coloring of choice

Wash and dry apples. Remove stems and insert stick pushing halfway into apple.

In deep, heavy saucepan, combine corn syrup, sugar, and water; place over medium heat, stirring, until mixture boils and sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Continue to cook without stirring until you reach the soft crack stage.

Remove from heat, add extract and food coloring and stir only enough to mix. Place pan over boiling water to keep from thickening while you dip apples, winding in a circular motion until thoroughly covered with syrup. Place on buttered pan to allow to cool and harden.

Of course you will need dips and assorted finger foods:

Dracula Dip

2 cups sour cream
1 packet of dry tomato-vegetable soup mix

Combine dry soup mix and sour cream into a bowl. Stir until soup mix is moist. Refrigerate (covered) for at least 2 hours. Serve with chips or vegetables.

Halloween Snack Mix

1/2 cup blood drops (red hots)
1/2 cup cats eyes (blanched almonds) or (gumdrops)
1/2 cup cats claws (sunflower seeds)
1 cup chicken toenails (candy corn)
1 cup colored flies (M & M's)
1 cup butterfly wings (corn chips)
1 cup ants (raisins)
1 cup earthworms (cheese curls)
1 cup cobwebs (Triscuits) or (Golden Grahams)
1 cup snakes eyes (peanuts)
1 cup bats bones (shoestring potatoes)

Mix together in a large bowl. Serve with several pints of blood (cherry punch).

Halloween Punch

Serving: 24 servings

12 oz orange juice concentrate, frozen
12 oz grape juice, white
2 liter 7-Up
1 pint sherbet, lemon or lime
Green food coloring

Mix together orange juice, white grape juice, 7-Up, lemon or lime sherbet, and several drops of green food coloring.

If desired, serve with large, buoyant, and well-washed plastic spiders on the top!

(For adult party: add rum or vodka to taste, optional)

*Get a plastic witch’s cauldron and put a piece of dry ice in it. Pour the brew over the ice and watch the kids’ eyes with delight! (caution should be taken when using dry ice – you should not touch it)

*Take a rubber face mask; cover the eyes, nostrils and mouth with duct tape to seal all openings. Fill a large bowl with ice or have a cookie sheet covered with cornmeal, to cushion the mask. Place the mask in the bowl/sheet, pour water into the mask. Place in freezer for several hours until frozen solid. When you’re ready to serve your punch, take mask out of freezer and dip quickly into hot water to make the ice separate from the mask. Place the piece of ice face-up into the punch bowl. It will look like a face floating in the punch!

Buy some new latex gloves (without powder). Wash two out and fill with water. Fasten the arms closed with a twist-tie or rubber band. Freeze it. When frozen solid, carefully cut away the glove and place one hand on each side of the “ice face” in the punch before serving. Make sure you place the hands downward.

Eyeballs

½ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 ½ cups peanut butter
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar**
2 teaspoons vanilla**
10-12 oz. white chocolate

Cream together the first four ingredients. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place balls on waxed paper for 30 minutes, and refrigerate.

When the balls are cool, melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler. Partially dip ball into melted white chocolate; leaving an open area on top of ball where you insert a chocolate chip upside down to make the iris, let harden. You may need to reheat the chocolate until all balls are done.

Place eyeballs in little cupcake liners.

“Mud” Sodas

4 cups chilled chocolate milk
4 cups chilled rootbeer
1 pint chocolate ice cream

In glass combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup rootbeer, and top with a scoop of ice cream. Make 8 drinks

Spiderweb Munch

This crispy snack is topped with a layer of chocolate and then decorated with a thin
piping of peanut butter. A candy spider on top would complete the image for a creepy
Halloween treat!

2 cups (12-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 cups toasted rice cereal

Heat morsels and 3/4 cup peanut butter in small, heavy-duty saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth; remove from heat. Add sugar; stir vigorously until smooth.

Place cereal in large bowl. Add 1 cup melted chocolate mixture; stir until evenly coated. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Using small metal spatula, shape into 10-inch circle with slightly raised 1-inch-wide border. Pour remaining chocolate mixture in center of circle; spread to border.

FOR SPIDERWEB:
Place remaining peanut butter in small, heavy-duty plastic bag. Cut tiny corner from bag; squeeze to pipe concentric circles on top of chocolate. Using wooden pick or tip of sharp knife, pull tip through peanut butter from center to border. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. Cut into wedges.

Recipe: Continuing with Halloween –

|August 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

 

Although the Kitty Litter Cake is exceptionally good – there may be some that would prefer to pass on it (although I haven’t had anyone pass it up yet!) and I always make sure I have my traditional “pumpkin” cake ready. Of course it disappears fast too!

I bake a chocolate cake in 8 or 9-inch round tins:

Chocolate Cake

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder**
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter (not margarine)
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla**
1 cup buttermilk**

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two nine-inch cake pans, line bottoms of pans with parchment paper; butter and flour parchment paper as well.

In bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt; set aside.

In separate bowl, cream butter; gradually add sugar and beat at medium speed for one minute; add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Gradually add water and vanilla; beat another minute more.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add ¼ dry ingredients, 1/3 buttermilk, another ¼ dry ingredients, another 1/3 buttermilk, until both are completely added. Blend only until the flour no longer shows, then add the next portion of buttermilk.

Pour into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until done – use the toothpick test for doneness. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes before removing by inverting onto wire racks. Allow to cool completely.

Frost and fill as desired. What I do for Halloween I fill with either a pudding or mousse (chocolate) and I frost with a basic white frosting that I have tinted orange with food coloring. I decorate the cake with a Halloween face to look like a pumpkin using candy corn or other candies.

My basic frosting – A stick of softened butter, sifted confectioners’ sugar, a splash of vanilla and enough milk for a nice spreading consistency. No – I don’t measure. Ad a few drops of orange food coloring or red and yellow until your get orange.

A plate of cookies is always nice to have for serving.

This is my Autumn Cutout Cookies recipe:

½ cup butter (not margarine)
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*** recipe below
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons canned pumpkin (or fresh – pureed)
1 teaspoon vanilla**
2 cups flour
Orange and green paste food coloring

Cream butter. Add sugar and spices. Beat. Beat in egg, pumpkin and vanilla; beat in as much flour as possible – stir in the rest. Divide into 3 portions; tint. Cover and chill 3 hours or till it’s easy to handle. Roll ¼-inch thick. Place 1-inch apart on ungreased sheets. Bake 375* F. 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on racks.

MARBLED LEAVES: Combine doughs; cut leaf patterns; sprinkle with sugar; bake.

PATCHWORK PUMPKINS: Roll white dough. Roll other colors and cut into strips. Lattice strips over pumpkin loosely. With rolling pin, gently roll over strips to gently press down. Cut pumpkin shapes. Use scraps to make leaves. Bake.

POLKA DOT PUMPKINS: Roll a portion of dough ¼-inch thick. Cut with pumpkin cutter. Place on ungreased sheets. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Using small cutter, make smaller cutouts in chilled cookies. Fill each opening with another color of dough. Bake.

You know by now – I insist on making as much as possible homemade!

Need Pumpkin Pie Spice?

1/2 cup cinnamon
1/4 cup ground ginger
2 tablespoons nutmeg
2 tablespoons ground cloves

Combine all. Use 3 1/4 teaspoon per 1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin.

And speaking of pumpkin –

I think everyone gets pumpkins for Halloween. Many just carve and waste the pumpkins completely. That’s a no-no in my book!

Did you know that you can make your own pumpkin puree to use in your recipes? Simple and cheap! My preference is the sugar pumpkins – but the choice is yours.

Begin by selecting a nice ripe and firm pumpkin. Don’t think that bigger is better – the larger pumpkins get “grainy” the bigger they get.

As with everything (I have this “thing” about cleanliness – almost to the point of OC!) – wash the pumpkin off! Dry with paper towels.

Cut your pumpkin open and remove the seeds and fibrous strings. Cut the pumpkin into 4 to 8 pieces (depending on the size of the pumpkin) and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in a preheated 375* F. oven for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the pulp is soft.

Using a spoon, remove the pulp from the rind – discard the rind. Place pulp in a blender or processor and process until smooth. If you want a really thick puree, place the pureed pulp in cheesecloth and twist to squeeze out the excess water.

Use immediately. You can freeze in portions for baking. Label and date. YOU CANNOT CAN PUMPKIN PUREE – it is not recommended by the USDA.

And don’t waste the seeds! As children we used to chomp on pumpkin seeds constantly.

Extract seeds from pumpkin – removing from the fibrous strings. Wash thoroughly in warm water; drain well; dry with paper towels. Transfer seeds to a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle generously with salt.

Bake in a preheated 350* F. oven for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes and adding more salt to taste. Cool before tasting! If the insides are dry – they are done.
Cool completely before serving.

VARIATIONS:

Cheesy Pumpkin Seeds- sprinkle with Cheesy popcorn seasoning.
Tex-Mex Style- Sprinkle powdered Taco seasoning onto the seeds. This is better mixed in a bowl first. Add more red pepper powder for a really hot seed!
Cajun style- Mix seeds in a bowl with a packet of Cajun seasonings mix. If you like it really spicy, add extra hot sauce.
Garlic Salt- REALLY GOOD!

Recipe: Halloween is coming!

|August 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are fast approaching! It seems like just yesterday we were planning our July 4th menu with friends and family.

Soon it will be Halloween – so let’s make it SPOOK-tacular and very BOO-tiful for everyone to enjoy!

Planning a house party? I’ve given many – some very scary and packed with fun things to do – as well as having more than enough to eat!

SPOOKY STORY

For those that are preparing for a Halloween party –

don't forget the spooky tales that can be told –

we used to tell a tale –

everyone sat in a circle on the floor in a darkened room (the darker the better) –

the only light was from the flashlight used to read the story (one narrator who was responsible for handing out each gorey piece as the story was told)

As the story was told (very, very slowly of course) "things" were passed around – such as the rubber glove filled with sand and frozen was the dead man's hand, which came out of the ground (that's when you pass the crushed oreo cookies on a plate around for everyone to feel graveyard dirt – be sure to refrigerate for a better effect), chicken bones were human bones, corn silk was the "hair", jello "mushies" (jello gobs with a bit of water in a bowl) were the guts or the brains, a long balloon filled just about halfway with cold water were the intestines) etc. and at the end of the story every one was handed a HO HO because they had to eat doogie doo – or RING DINGS because they had to eat cow dung!

Spooky sounds were played in the background, the story being read so slow and all the props that were used really gave everyone a good scare for the night!

And don't forget the cauldron of dry ice in the corner – it made a nice prop as well.

With a little imagination – there is so much you can do!

I think just about everyone has made a Kitty Litter cake for Halloween.

Kitty Litter Cake for Halloween

Despite the cake's appearance, it's really delicious. For the proper presentation, use a brand new (and definitely UNUSED) plastic cat litter box and spoon it onto plates with a new (NEVER EVER used) pooper scooper. I like to make this the night before because of all the remaining preparations I need to make on Halloween.

I begin by making a homemade chocolate and a homemade white cake and bake in 13 X 9-inch pans.

To save time I use my own cake mix – this one is Just Like Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake mix:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups baker's** sugar (superfine sugar – a/k/a castor sugar)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

To make the cake you will need:
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

To make the cake mix: Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat in shortening using your electric mixer (on medium speed) until no chunks of shortening remain. Transfer to resealable plastic bag; label and date. This will keep in your pantry for 3 to 4 months.

To make cake: Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease and flour bottom and sides of pans – two 8 or 9-inch rounds or a 13 X 9 X 2-inch pan; or line muffin tins for cupcakes using paper liners; set aside.

Place cake mix in large bowl; add water, oil and eggs. Beat on low speed to incorporate ingredients until moistened; increase speed to medium and beat for 2 ore minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans. Round pans will need approximately 30 to 33 minutes; 13 X 9-inch pan will need approximately 35 to 38 minutes; cupcakes will need 19 to 22 minutes. Do the toothpick test for doneness.

.
For my white cake I used my White Cake Mix:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift ingredients.

I assemble this and place in a plastic resealable bag; label and date. This will keep for 6 to 9 months in your pantry.

When ready to make the cake: Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch baking pans or a 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan; or line a muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

Place the cake mix in a large bowl, add:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs (or extra large)
1 cup buttermilk***
2 teaspoons vanilla extract**
1/2 teaspoon almond extract – optional

Beat on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until done – use the toothpick test! My 13 X 9-inch cake was done in 35 minutes.

Remove pans from oven and allow to cool completely.

**Make it homemade and make it cheaper and healthier.

***When making butter, I always save the buttermilk to use in baking. Much cheaper than buying it at the market!

For this recipe you also need vanilla pudding, which of course I use my homemade Vanilla Pudding and Pie Mix:

Combine the following and store airtight in your pantry:
1-1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

This makes 3 cups.

To make pudding: Using a small saucepan, combine ½ cup pudding mix with 2 cups milk. Place over low heat and bring to a boil; stirring constantly. Boil gently for 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract; mix well.

Pour into serving dishes; chill until thickened. This makes 4 servings.

BUT FOR THIS CAKE RECIPE you will need the equivalent of 2 large boxes of pudding mix – meaning 8 servings – so you will need to use 1 cup pudding mix with 4 cups milk and ½ teaspoon vanilla.

And of course – you will need a large package of vanilla sandwich cookies.

Should I? Why not? Here goes:

Start by making your sandwich filling for your cookies:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups confectioners' sugar**, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract**

Beat all ingredients until creamy; set aside while you make your cookies.

This recipe is for a basic vanilla cookie. The dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.

In large bowl, beat until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes):
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
¾ cup sugar

With mixing running, beat in one at a time, beating well after each addition:
3 egg yolks

Cut a 2-inch piece vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds; add and mix well. If desired, substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract**.

In separate bowl, sift and whisk together:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Gradually add sifted mixture to creamed mixture, beating on low until well mixed. Divide dough into 4 portions; shape each into a ball and flatten into a disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. (This can be refrigerated up to 3 days ahead of time.)

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350* F. Butter 2 large baking sheets. Remove disks of dough from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before rolling and cutting.

Using a lightly floured work surface, roll dough ¼-inch thick and cut with cutters. Gather and re-roll scraps. Place on prepared baking sheets and bake about 8 minutes or until done. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

To make the cookies for this recipe, cut cookies in rounds and place 1 tablespoon filling on the bottom of one round, place another round (the bottom) on top to make sandwich cookies.

If not, this recipe can be used for cookies you like to ice or decorate with colored sugars.

Cookies for this recipe can be made a week ahead of time (they store well airtight for a week).

You made need to double this recipe – they are very good.

NOW do you think you are ready to make the cake? Yes – I get a bit long-winded……………..
Remember to buy some small Tootsie rolls (YES I HAVE A RECIPE TO MAKE THEM!) – you will need 12 for this recipe.

You will also need:

1 new kitty litter pan
1 new plastic kitty litter pan liner
1 new pooper scooper

Now that your cakes have been baked and have cooled, and you have made your 8-servings of vanilla pudding, and your cookies are baked and filled – we are ready to assemble our cake.

Using your food processor, crumble your sandwich cookies in small batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Reserve about ¼ cup of this. If you don’t have a food processor, place cookies in a plastic resealable bag and crush using your rolling pin.

Add a few drops of green food coloring to the ¼ cup cookie crumbs mixing until thoroughly colored.

Crumble your cakes into a very large bowl. Toss with half of the crumbled cookies and half the pudding. You want to use just enough pudding to moisten the mixture. Combine gently. Remember – you do not want this to be soggy.

Line a new, clean and thoroughly washed kitty litter box. Transfer cake mixture to the litter box. Unwrap 3 small Tootsie rolls and place in a microwaveable dish. Heat until you can shape the ends of the Tootsie rolls so that they are no longer blunt, curve them slightly. Repeat with 3 more which you will bury in the cake mixture. Sprinkle with half the remaining crumbled cookies over top; sprinkle with green cookie crumbs (to look like mold in the kitty litter).

Heat 3 more Tootsie rolls in the microwave until almost melted; scrape on top of the cake; sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Place remaining Tootsie rolls on top; roll in the cookie crumbs lightly.

Place litter box on newspaper – adding a sprinkle of cookie crumbs on the newspaper for a more disgusting look.

Recipe: Italian Traditions – from 11/1/09

|June 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

All Soul’s Day

November 2nd is ALL SOUL’S DAY – also know as the “Day of the Dead” – it is the day following All Saint’s Day.

All Soul’s Day is a Roman Catholic Holiday – a day of remembrance for those that have passed on. There are church services and festivals in honor those that have died.

In Italy, they begin selling special cookies starting before November. Ossa dei morti – known as bones of the dead – are cookies that are flavored with cloves (Sicilian), and from other areas they may use almonds, some using hazelnuts. These sweets are to meant to bring cheer, compensating for the sadness of All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.

Different regions in Italy have different recipes:

And may I remind you – these are what Italian babies teethe on!

These are made with cornmeal:

Bring 2 quarts water to a rolling boil; sift in (about) 1 pound cornmeal, stirring constantly, until you have the consistency of soft mashed potatoes. Stop adding cornmeal at that point. Keep stirring. When done, let it rest a couple hours.

When ready to make the cookies: Whip it, adding salt and pepper (a good dose of pepper); work in wheat flour (a good handful) to give it a good consistency; remove dough from pot.

Form into breadsticks – wider in the middle and tapered at the ends. Place on lightly floured baking sheets. Bake in preheated 360* F. oven until hard and cracked – you’ll see fine cracks.

In some regions, bones of the dead are made from risen bread dough, that has butter and oil added to it, as well as sugar and anise seed. These can also be sweetened with honey. When using bread dough, shape into sticks shaped like fingers. These get baked twice. The first time for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on size), cooled and baked again.

You can also find these cookies made with sweet wine, spices, dried fruits, chocolate and pignoli.

Peel and grind ½ lb. almonds until they are half the size of a grain of rice, adding ½ cup sugar as grinding. Add 1 cup flour; work in 2 tablespoons butter and one large egg. Flavor with some lemon zest, or orange zest, or vanilla along with enough sweet liqueur to make a soft dough. Break dough into pieces the size of a fava bean, brush with egg yolk and place on floured baking sheet. Bake at 375* F. until done. Because of their size they bake quickly.

When Carmella made hers:

Cup* flour, half cup sugar, some pine nuts, blanched, peeled and finely chopped almonds**, lemon zest from half a lemon, cinnamon, and a shot glass of grappa. Pull off small pieces, roll and shape with floured hands, place on greased and floured baking sheets, brush with beaten egg, and bake at 350* F. until done.

**be careful not to grind to the point that the oils come out of the almonds

*Carmella didn’t own measuring cups – she used a cup from the dish set. Just like we all did in the family. No measuring cups, no measuring spoons. Our measuring cups were our tea cups, our measuring spoons are our teaspoons and dessertspoons from our silverware. I still use my hands to measure – it’s easier and it hasn’t failed me yet. I was raised to bake and cook by look and feel.

Like I said – every region has their own recipes for these – there are no set rules – it’s the thought that counts.

Recipe: See’s Fudge – Original Recipe

|March 14, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

I enjoy trying various recipes and then using friends and family as "guinea pigs" – LOL.  I make a very good fudge that everyone likes – but I wanted to make this one to see how they liked it.


Of course they did –


Here's the recipe:


4 1/2 cups sugar
3 pkgs. (12 oz. each) chocolate chips*
1/2 lb. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can evaporated milk
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
2 cups chopped nuts


Combine sugar and evaporated milk in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to boil; boil 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often. (rolling boil).  In large bowl, combine chocolate chips,  marshmallow creme, butter. Cream well.  Add add chocolate chips. Pour hot mixture over chocolate mixture. After chocolate has melted, add nuts and vanilla, blend well, pour into buttered pans and chill in refrigerator.

Cut into squares before firm. This recipe makes about 5 lbs of fudge.

 

*I've used milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, semi-sweet chips and white chips.

 

I've also added candied fruit to the white chocolate for a festive look for the holidays.

 

A nice recipe to play with!