Monday, October 26, 2009

October 2009 - A Gathering of Ghouls! - Sunny & Stacie

Sunny & Stacie hosted our "Ghouls Night Out!". They went all-out on the decorating (as usual!) and it looked adorable. I don't think I've ever seen so much glitter for Halloween, and I loved it! The place-settings were fabulous, with these little pumpkins covered in glitter and our names in vinyl lettering. I wish photographs could do it justice, but unfortunately they just don't!
Here's just some of the decor...

(Super tasty & colorful appetizers)

Tangy Pepper-Pecan Brie:

- ½ cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped

- ¼ cup apricot preserves

- 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

- 1 4” round (8 oz.) Brie cheese with rind, room temperature

- 1 loaf (16 oz.) French baguette

- Vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coarsely chop ¼ cup of the pecans using Food Chopper. In small bowl combine chopped pecans, apricot preserves and jalapeno; mix well.

2. Cut Brie in half horizontally. Place one half of Brie, cut side up, onto center of a large stone. Spread half of the sugar mixture evenly over bottom half of Brie. Top with remaining half of Brie, cut side up. Spread remaining sugar mixture over Brie.

3. Using a bread knife, cut baguette on a bias into 24 1/4” slices. Arrange baguette slices around Brie; spray with oil. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until baguette slices are golden brown and Brie begins to soften. Remove from oven; let stand 5 min. before serving.


Makes 30-35

- 1 baguette (6 ounces), cut diagonally into ¼-inch thick slices

- 2T. olive oil (I needed a bit more)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly brush each bread slice on both sides with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet; toast until light golden, 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Avocado and Green Sauce Crostini

1 small garlic clove

¾ C packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish

¾ C packed fresh basil leaves

¼ C plus 2T extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons red-wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Avocados, peeled and pitted

1T fresh lemon juice


Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse. Add the parsley, basil, 5T olive oil, and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper; puree. (Can add 1T. of capers if you like.) Set the sauce aside.

Cut the avocados into ½ inch chunks. Toss with the lemon juice, and the remaining olive oil.

Spread the green sauce on each crostini. Arrange the avocado chunks on the bread, sprinkle with a pinch of ground pepper, drizzle with a little more sauce and garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

- 1 head of cauliflower

- 2 cups water

- 1 medium onion

- ½ tsp. salt

- Dash of ground nutmeg

- 1 T. lemon juice

- 2 T. flour

- 1 ¾ cups of broth (6-7 bouillon cubes)

- 1/8 tsp pepper

- ½ cup heavy whipping cream

- ½ cup Butter

1. Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces.

2. Heat water to boiling in 3 qt. saucepan. Add flowerets, celery, lemon juice and onion. Cover and heat to boiling and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are tender and drain. Set aside.

3. Melt butter in 4 qt. saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

4. Stir in cauliflower mixture, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Heat to boiling. Stir in whipping cream just until hot and serve.

They made two different kinds of biscuits--pumpkin & buttermilk, served with cinneberry and orange-pecan butters. I'm totally going to have to steal this idea for a dinner party. The biscuits melted in your mouth. And the butters had just the perfect amount of flavor. Sunny also mentioned that the biscuits are great alternatives to rolls for Thanksgiving dinner (and you don't have to wait for them to rise!).

Pumpkin Angel Biscuits

***Use a light hand when working with this dough to ensure that the baked biscuits will be tender.

Makes about 24 biscuits. Prep time: 30- min. + chilling. Baking time: 12 – 13 minutes.

- 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast, room temperature. (1 pkg.)

- ½ cup warm water (105 degrees – 115 degrees)

- 5 cups all purpose flour

- ¼ cup sugar

- 1 T. pumpkin-pie spice

- 1 tsp. baking powder

- 1 tsp. baking soda

- 1 tsp. table salt

- 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cubed

- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree

- 1 cup buttermilk

- Melted, unsalted butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the 1 stick cubed butter into the dry ingredients until butter pieces are the size of peas.

Stir together pumpkin puree and buttermilk; add to the flour mixture along with the yeast mixture. Stir just until ingredients are moistened. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough lightly 4-5 times to incorporate the flour.

Roll dough to a thickness of ½ inch. Cut dough with a 2-inch floured cutter to form 12 biscuits. Place biscuits in one of the prepared pans. Gather remaining dough scraps, then gently roll out dough again. Cut 12 more biscuits and place in second pan.

Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter. Bake biscuits until lightly golden, 12 – 13 minutes.

Turn biscuits out of pans and serve warm.

Make-Ahead Directions:

This dough will keep for 2 – 3 days stored in the refrigerator. You even can cut the dough into rounds and place the rounds into the prepared pans. Cover biscuits and chill them up to 1 day before baking as directed.

Buttermilk Biscuit Option:

You can replace the cup of canned pumpkin puree with an extra 1 cup of buttermilk. Omit the pumpkin-pie spice. No matter what version you choose to make, these biscuits taste fabulous as a base for mini leftover turkey sandwiches!

Cinnaberry Butter:

Combine 1 stick unsalted butter (softened), 2 Tbsp. chopped dried cranberries, 2 tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, and ½ tsp. kosher salt in a bowl. Scoop mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap; roll wrap around butter to form a log. Twist ends of plastic wrap tightly to seal. Chill log in the refrigerator until butter is firm. Store butter, sealed, up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or freezer.

Orange-Pecan Butter:

Combine 1 stick unsalted butter (softened), 2 Tbsp. chopped toasted pecans, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. minced orange zest, ½ tsp. kosher salt in a bowl. Scoop mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap; roll wrap around butter to form a log. Twist ends of plastic wrap tightly to seal. Chill log in the refrigerator until butter is firm. Store butter, sealed, up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or freezer.

This is a recipe from Stacie's grandmother (who is German). I'm seriously in love with this salad. It had the most amazing flavor! I agree with Sunny who said that it just looks like an ordinary salad, but tastes anything but ordinary!

German Family Salad

- 2 bunches of Romaine lettuce, chopped

- 1 large Gala apple cubed

- 1 ½ avocado cut up

- Caesar or Garlic croutons

- Pine nuts

Dressing for German Salad:

o ½ cup olive oil

o 1/3 cup rice vinegar

o 2 T sugar

o 2 cloves garlic

o About ½ - 1 Tablespoon of “Season All” salt. (I use 1 + even a little more. It’s what makes it.)

o Pepper to taste


- 1 well-trimmed 5-6 lb. whole boneless brisket

- 1 cup dry sherry

- ¾ cup soy sauce

- 1 6 oz. pineapple juice (Dole makes this size)

- 1/3 cup brown sugar

- 1/3 cup chopped onion

- 1 tsp. ground ginger

- 1 tsp. Knorr Swiss Aromat seasoning

- ½ tsp. garlic powder

- ½ tsp. lemon pepper

Soak overnight with the fat side up. Bake uncovered @ 300°F for 4-5 hours.

Sweet Potato Pie

(tastes like candy! :)

- 4 cooked yams

- ¼ cup milk

- ½ cup Butter

- 2 eggs

- 1 cup sugar

Bake yams and mash. Mix ingredients and pour into pan.

Sweet Potato Pie Topping:

o 1 ½ cup Butter

o ¾ cup flour

o 1 ½ cup sugar

o 3 eggs

o 24 oz. of canned crushed pineapple, well drained

Cream butter, sugar and flour. Beat in egg and then stir in pineapple. Spoon over yams. Bake at 350°F and cook until slightly browned; about 30 minutes.

Green Beans with Honey Cashew Sauce

1 lb fresh green beans
1 ½ to 2 T. butter

½ cup coarsely chopped cashews
2 T. honey

Steam green beans until just tender. Drain and set aside in saucepan. In a small skillet, sauté cashews in butter over low heat for 5 minutes. Add honey and cook 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. (I sautéed on medium heat until the cashews were golden and the sauce was frothy.) Pour sauce over beans and toss until coated.

Divine Chocolate Cake (...and it was DIVINE!)

- 1 Devil’s food cake mix

- 1 cup sour cream

- ½ cup vegetable oil

- ½ cup water

- 4 large eggs

- 1 ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Lightly spray Bundt pan with Pam and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cook at 350°F for 50 – 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and turn over.

Frosting for Divine Chocolate Cake:

o 1 cup white sugar

o 5 T. butter

o 1/3 cup whole milk

o 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Boil sugar, butter and milk. Take off heat and pour chips in to melt.

Orange Almond Wassail

*This wassail had such an amazing flavor. It's such a perfect drink for the holiday season. Sunny said the key is the almond extract. I've never had almond extract in wassail before. She said she added even more than the recipe called for, and will add even more next time, so use a heavy hand with the almond extract for a little more tastiness!

Makes 12, 6-oz. servings

- 2 cups water

- 1 cup sugar

- 1 large cinnamon stick

- ½ tsp. whole cloves

Boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Then add:

- 6 cups water

- 1 6 oz. frozen orange juice

- Juice of 1 lemon

- ½ tsp. almond extract

Pour into crockpot and keep warm

Orange Blossom Punch

- 3 cups orange juice

- 1, 10 oz. can of peach or strawberry daiquiri mix.

- 2 cups cold water

Mix all three together with Ginger Ale.

The take-home gifts were an adorable feather-covered black cauldren and these yummy cake-pops. They were more than just pretty to look at, they were delicious. I was wishing my husband had never laid eyes on it, because it disappeared way too quickly when I had to share it with him! My mouth is watering just thinking about them. And they looked so cute presented on a cupcake stand. I'm loving the idea for a baby shower or birthday party.
Cake Pops

Bake a regular cake-mix cake in a 9x13 pan. After it is cooled, crumble it in a bowl and mix it with about ½ tub of cream cheese frosting. Form cake and frosting into golf ball size balls and arrange on a cookie sheet. Freeze for about 3+hours. Pull out of freezer and let defrost about 10 minutes. Use cookie cutter to form into desired shape (options are endless here). Dip in chocolate and insert sucker stick. Let dry on stick on a floral-Styrofoam block. Decorate as desired before the chocolate melts.

Hope you can enjoy some of these fun ideas for the upcoming holidays!
Thanks, Sunny & Stacie for all the amazing ideas!