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Monday, October 31, 2011

Meal Plan Monday~ Halloween , 2011

Happy Halloween everyone!!

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This is one of our family's favourite Holidays and we've been celebrating all weekend. We started off with a Halloween Spooktacular at the Barrie Farmer's Market. The kids, my Mom and I enjoyed a morning full of games, face painting, wagon rides and treats. Sunday was Pumpkin Carving day and we managed to carve 4 of our six pumpkins. I'm hoping to be able to carve the last two today, while Queenie is napping. I also decided to make my final Halloween themed cupcake creation, to finish off our Sunday dinner. The kids totally loved the Graveyard Cupcake Cake that I surprised them with.

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Graveyard Cupcake Cake

12 unfrosted cupcakes
1 C butter
1/3 C cocoa
3 C powdered sugar
2 Tbs vanilla
2 Tbs whipping cream
Halloween themed candy- cats, skulls, pumpkins
2 Tbs chocolate cookie crumbs
6-8 head stone shaped cookies
green and black decorator frosting

In a bowl, cream the butter and cocoa; until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add in heavy cream, 1 Tbs at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Beat 3 minutes, until fluffy.

Line the cupcakes in four rows of three. Frost with chocolate frosting, making sure to extend frosting slightly, to make a rectangle. Using the black decorator frosting and a fine tip, pipe RIP onto cookies. Insert cookies randomly into cupcakes. Sprinkle cookie crumbs in front of  some of the graves.

Place candies randomly onto cupcakes, using frosting to adhere them to the grave stones. To make pumpkin vines, use green decorating frosting with a leaf tip.

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With all the Halloween excitement I really haven't thought of our meal plan for the week. I think I'll be sticking with easy family favourites, using what I have in the freezer and pantry. Here is my tentative plan for the week

Don't forget to pop in at OrgJunkie.com, for tons of other meal plans!

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Marbled Banana Loaf

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    Are you like me? Do you buy bananas, only to find out they are super ripe a few days later? That's what's been happening in our house lately. I buy my bananas with a slight green at the top and a few days later, they are covered in large brown spots. Now, I may be one of those weird people who prefer their bananas on the not so ripe side; so I end up with tons of bananas in the freezer. They're pretty much over taking the freezer right now, which prompted me to make some banana loaf.

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    I've had many different versions of banana loaf and though I have my favourites, I'm always ready to try something new. So, I decided to separate my batter into two bowls, add chocolate chips to one and melted semi sweet chocolate to the other. I wanted to layer the batter to create a marbling effect. Plus it would give me two of my favourite versions of banana loaf, in one pan. I used Paula Deen's recipe for her banana loaf and the result is so moist and delicious. The only change I made, was sub in 1/2 C of brown sugar, instead of the white sugar. Also Mom thought 4 bananas wouldn't produce enough flavour, so we added in 2 more small bananas. The kids absolutely loved this one, as did the rest of the household.

    Marbled Banana Loaf
    Adapted from Paula Deen
    printable version
    1. 1 cup butter, softened
    2. 1 cup sugar
    3. 1/2 C brown sugar
    4. 4 large eggs
    5. 3 cups all-purpose flour
    6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    7. 1 teaspoon salt
    8. 2 1/2 cups ripe, mashed, bananas
    9.  1 C semi sweet chocolate chips
    10. 1 C semi sweet chocolate, melted
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
    2. In a medium bowl and with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring well. Add bananas, stirring just until combined. Pour half of the batter into a second bowl. Add the chocolate chips to one bowl of batter and stir well. Add the melted chocolate to the second bowl of batter, stirring to ensure it is thoroughly mixed.Spoon batters into prepared pans, by alternating them. Insert a butter knife, upright, into the batter and slowly draw swirls into the batter, to create the marbling.
    3. Bake for 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans, and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

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    This post linked to

    Fat Camp Friday
    Foodie Friday
    Friday Favorites
    Bake with Bizzy
    Sweets for a Saturday

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    New 2011 Betty Crocker Cookbook Winner!!!

    Thank you to everyone who entered the Betty Crocker Cookbook giveaway. I'm super excited about this new revised version of the Big Red Cookbook. It is full of amazing photos, recipes and tips. Our lucky winner today is

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    Congratulations Jackie! I hope you enjoy this new cookbook! I'll be getting in touch with you, to get your mailing info.

    And don't forget to enter the 50 Simple Slow Cooker Soups giveaway, for a chance to win another awesome cookbook

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Crock Pot Apple Sauce

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    I love homemade apple sauce. Well, I love my Mom's homemade apple sauce. I'm not sure how she makes it, but it just comes out so smooth, with the right amount of sweetness. You knew it was a special dinner, when Mom made apple sauce, to go with our pork chops. Now a days, we eat apple sauce more often. I often top my pancakes or waffles with it. Or, I like to top some apple sauce with nice crunchy granola. So, when we came home with tons of apples, from the orchard, I knew I wanted to make some apple sauce, to have on hand, whenever we'd like it.

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    I decided to let the crock pot do all the work with this one. That way I didn't have to babysit the sauce all day. I based the apple sauce on one of my favourite apple pie recipe. I recently started adding vanilla to my apple pie filling and I've just fallen in love. Since my apples were on the tart side, I did have to add quite a bit of sugar; but I will include a base amount of sugar and feel free to add as little, or as much as you'd like. This smooth apple sauce just reminds me of my Mom's and those special Sunday night dinners.

    Crock Pot Apple Sauce
    printable version

    12 large apples, skinned ,cored, and cut in quarters 
    3 tsp lemon juice
    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
    3/4 tsp nutmeg
    1/4 tsp ground cloves
    2 tsp vanilla 

    1/4 C brown sugar 
    1/4 cup water

    Place apples in a 6 quart crock pot. Add in lemon juice, water, sugar and spices; stir to coat apple the apples. Cook on low for 6 hours. After 4 hrs of cooking, mash the apples and continue to cook for remainder of cooking time. While hot, place into sterilized jars; leaving 1/2 in head space. Screw on lids and process in hot water for 5 minutes. 


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    This post linked to

    Made it on Monday
    Hearth and Soul
    These Chicks Cooked
    Turning the Table Thursday
    Full Plate Thursday
    Friday Potluck 
    Slow Cooker Sunday

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Meringue Ghost Cupcakes

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    I've been seeing these cute little meringue ghosts over the Internet. I totally fell in love with them and thought they would look super cute on a cupcake. I just love how whimsical and very airy they look and knew that they would be the perfect topper for my next Halloween inspired cupcake. And this is also a first for me. I've never made a baked meringue before, so I was a little apprehensive about this part.

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    These ghosts are so simple to make and are pretty addictive, LOL. I found a great recipe/video on how to make them over on the Joy of Baking. I used my spice/coffee grinder to turn my sugar into super fine sugar. You want it fine, but not so fine that you make powdered sugar. I really love how the video suggests to touch the meringue and rub it through your fingers to see if all the sugar has dissolved properly. I do think that I should have baked these on the top rack of my oven, since the bottoms did get a little brown, but they are yummy non the less. The only change I made was use almond extract, since I did not have any clear vanilla. I really liked the almond flavour in them. I also piped the eyes on using some black decorator frosting, but feel free to use candy eyes or even mini chocolate chips.

    Meringue Ghost Cupcakes
    printable version


    1 box white cake mix
    3 egg whites
    1/2 C raspberry/blackberry puree (strained of seeds)
    1/3 C vegetable oil
    1 C water
    1 lb butter
    6-7 C powdered sugar
    2 Tbs vanilla
    2-3 Tbs whipping cream
    green Wilton food colour gel

    Meringue Ghosts

    4 egg whites
    1/2 tsp cream of Tartar
    1 C super fine sugar
    1/2 tsp clear vanilla or 1/4 tsp almond extract

    In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, egg whites, berry puree, oil and water according to package directions. Place paper liners in cupcake try and fill them 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until set in center. Cool completely.

    For Meringues: Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (105 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) plain tip. 


    In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract. Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.
     
    Before placing the meringue ghosts on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding.  Transfer the meringue to the pastry bag and, holding the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe, with even pressure, about 2 inch (5 cm) high mounds of meringue. Carefully press two candy eyes, edible silver degrees, or two miniature chocolate chips into each meringue ghost.

    Bake the meringues for approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until they are dry and crisp to the touch. Turn off the oven, open the door, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying several hours, or even overnight.
    The Meringue Ghosts will keep several days at room temperature.
    Makes 20-24 Meringue Ghosts

    For Frosting: In your mixer bowl, beat the softened butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time and beat until incorporated. Add in whipping cream, vanilla and a bit of the colour gel and beat until well combined and fluffy. 

    To Assemble: Transfer frosting into a large pipping bag, fitted with a leaf tip. Pipe small amounts of frosting on the cupcakes, to resemble blades of grass. Gently place a meringue ghost onto the center of each cupcake.


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    This post linked to

    Cupcake Tuesday
    Tasty Tuesday
    Delicious Dishes
    Cast Party
    What's Cooking Wednesday
    Foodie Friends Friday

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Meal Plan Monday~ Oct 24, 2011

    Happy Monday!

    Boy what a beautiful day Sunday was! The sun was shinning, and the temperatures seasonal for a change. We took advantage of it, by going to a near by park and going for a walk in the woods. I just love walking amongst the trees that have started loosing their colourful leaves. The crisp crunch beneath your feet, the crisp fall air and the reds, oranges and yellows just make my soul smile. I wish Fall consisted of more days like that, rather than rainy cold and dreary days.

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    I am super excited today! My Mom is coming to stay for about a week and will be here through Halloween. I haven't seen my parents since the beginning of the Summer, so having Mom stay for a while is going to be great! I also love that we get to treat her to many foods she loves, but rarely eats. My Dad eats very simple foods, so Mom really enjoys the different meals we make when she's here. She's already requested a few dishes and I am more than happy to make them for her. So, here's the plan

    • Ham, Indian Fry Bread and roast cauliflower/broccoli
    • Creamed Cauliflower soup with bread machine garlic bread
    • Porcupine Balls with brown rice and sauteed green beans
    • Perfect Fall Pork Chops (new recipe)
    • Homemade Cheese Manicotti with a salad
    • Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes with Honey Roasted Squash Rings (new recipe)
    • Leftovers

      Head on over to OrgJunkie.com, for more meal plans for the week.

      Saturday, October 22, 2011

      Honey Apple Muffins

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      Recently Mr.B brought home a library book titled The Beeman by Laurie Krebs and Valeria Cis. It is a story about a little boy whose grandfather is a bee keeper. The book tells about bee keeping, bees and how they make honey. In the story, the boy goes on to tell us about how much he loves the Honey muffins his grandmother makes. To our surprise, there was a recipe for Honey Apple Muffins, on the last page of the book. Mr.B excitedly asked me if we could make these together. So, this past weekend, we got into the kitchen and decided to make a short video for all of you. Enjoy!



      While making the muffins, I really didn't know if they'd be any good. I mean the addition of dry cereal into the batter.... plus we substituted Cheerios for the bran cereal. Was it a total disaster? Thankfully it wasn't!! The muffins were actually pretty good. They were moist, with a great warm apple taste. The cereal was a bit odd in it, but that may just be because of the kind we used. Regardless, they were pretty tasty and we will probably make these again..... minus the cereal, LOL.


      Grandma's Apple and Honey Muffins
      Adapted from The Beeman (children's book)
      printable version

      2 C flour, sifted
      3 tsp baking powder
      1 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp cinnamon
      1/4 tsp nutmeg
      1 C whole wheat or bran cereal flakes
      1/4 C finely chopped walnuts (optional)
      1/2 C raisins
      1 C grated apple
      2 eggs
      2/3 C honey
      1/2 C milk
      1/4 C vegetable oil

      Sift flour with baking soda, salt and spices. Add cereal, walnuts, raisins and apple. Beat eggs well; add honey, milk, and oil. Add liquid mixture all at once to the flour mixture, stirring just to blend. Grease muffin cups and fill 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

      Makes 18 muffins

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      This post linked to


      Friday Potluck
      Fat Camp Friday
      Friday Favorites
      Foodie Friday
      Bake Bizzy
      Sweets for a Saturday

      Thursday, October 20, 2011

      Shrimp Creole

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      I recently decided to take my need to loose weight more seriously. It's not like what we eat is unhealthy, it's just that we love to indulge in a lot of high fat cheeses and cream sauces. Then one day some ladies were talking about Skinny Taste, over at Cooking for your Family. I was intrigued, so I went to check it out and found a god send. Gina has tons of lower fat, Weight Watcher friendly recipe. I didn't know where to begin. Then this recipe caught my eye and I knew that we would all enjoy this. I am always amazed that the kids will sit down and eat shrimp without a complaint.

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      I made a few modifications to the recipe. First I only used a small amount of Cajun seasoning in the sauce and to season the shrimp. The kids aren't very fond of spicy food, so I wanted them to enjoy this dish as well. Second, I used a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with peppers, onion and celery; which I pureed in my food processor, instead of tomato sauce. Once the sauce had reduced and the shrimp were cooked, I set some aside for the kids, then added some additional Cajun spice and the hot sauce. The kids servings was mild enough for them, while the remainder was nice and spicy for the adults. I do have to be honest and say that we ate everything in one sitting. It was fabulous! The sweet shrimp tamed some of the spiciness of the sauce. This dish was so full of amazing flavour, we didn't even feel like it was diet food!

      Shrimp Creole
      Adapted from Skinny Taste
      printable version

      2 tsp olive oil
      1 medium onion, chopped
      1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
      1/2 cup celery, chopped
      2 cloves of garlic, minced
      14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
      8 oz tomato sauce
      1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
      1/4 tsp Cajun Seasoning such as Slap Your Mama (more or less to taste)
      1 bay leaf
      1 tbsp of all purpose flour (leave out for gluten-free)
      2 tbsp water
      1 lb of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
      2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
      2 tsp hot sauce, to taste
      1 medium scallion, sliced
      2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
      salt to taste

      In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, green bell pepper, garlic and celery and saute until tender. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, cayenne pepper, Cajun spice, bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes.

      Make a slurry of the flour and water and stir into the tomato mixture. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Lightly season the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning and add immediately to the tomato mixture. Add Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce; stir together. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes, or until shrimp is opaque and cooked through, adjust salt if needed.

      Add chopped green onion and parsley and serve

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      This post linked to

      Hearth and Soul
      Made it on Monday
      These Chicks Cooked
      Full Plate Thursday
      Turning the Table Thursday

      Tuesday, October 18, 2011

      Witch's Hat Cupcakes

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      This week's Halloween themed cupcakes are some of my favourites, by far. I just love how beautifully and elegant they turned out. When I had planned these out in my head, they looked no where as impressive as they have turned out, LOL. When I think Halloween, I think witches; so I knew these would be a perfect way to celebrate one of our favourite holidays.

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      When thinking of how to make the hats, many ideas came to mind. All fondant, molding chocolate, mini sugar cones. Since I didn't want a big ole honkin' piece of fondant on top of the cupcakes, I decided to go with some Rice Krispie Treats, that I made then shaped into small cones. I let them set up over night and covered them with fondant in the morning. One good thing about Hubby making custom cakes, is that there is always fondant available. And I lucked out, in having the perfect shade of 'witch' green coloring gel, to add to the frosting. My neighbour and good friend was over the moon, when I brought her family some and said they were ALMOST too beautiful to eat. I agree, they are almost too beautiful to eat, but we ate them anyway, LOL.

      Witch's Hat Cupcakes

      1 box French Vanilla cake mix
      3 eggs
      1/3 C vegetable oil
      1/2 C vanilla yogurt
      3/4 C milk

      Butter Cream Frosting

      1 lb butter (4 sticks)
      1 bag (1 kg) powdered sugar
      4 Tbs vanilla
      4 tbs water
      juniper green Wilton colour gel

      Rice Krispies Square

      3 Tbs butter or margarine
      1 bag large marshmallows or 4 C mini marshmallows
      6 C Rice Krispies cereal

      Assembly

      Black fondant
      purple fondant
      white fondant
      brown Wilton colour gel
      yellow Wilton colour gel


      For the cupcakes: In your mixer bowl, add cake mix, eggs, milk, oil and sour cream. Mix at low speed until incorporated. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Line muffin tins with paper liners and fill them 2/3 full with the batter. Bake at 350 degrees, for 18-20 minutes. Cool completely.

      For Butter Cream: Beat softened butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 C at a time. Add in vanilla, water and a bit of the juniper green colour gel, and beat at high speed for 3-5 minutes; until fluffy. Store covered, until ready to use.

      Rice Krispie Treats: In a large microwave safe bowl, heat butter and marshmallows for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add in rice cereal and mix to coat evenly. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with margarine. With buttered hands, press cereal mixture evenly into baking dish. Let cool completely. Once cooled and set, cut into 24 equal squares. Take each square and press it together to form a small cone. Let set for a few hours, to over night.

      Assembly: Lightly sprinkle a clean surface with powdered sugar and roll out some of the black fondant to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, cut out 48 circles. Take half of the circles and cover the rice cereal cones (to the bottom, but not covering the bottom). Lightly brush the remaining 24 circles with a damp brush. Gently press the fondant covered cones onto the circles, making sure they are centered. Set the hats aside.

      Lightly sprinkle a clean surface with powdered sugar and roll out some purple fondant, to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 1/3 inch wide strips. Lightly brush one side of the strips with a damp brush and wrap around the base of the cone, so that it lays flush with the brim.

      Colour some white fondant with brown and yellow, to achieve a golden copper colour. Roll out to 1/8 thickness and cut into 24- 1/4 inch squares. Brush one side of each square with a damp brush and gently adhere to the center of the purple strip.

      Fill a piping bag, fitted with a large tip, with the butter cream; or use a large zip top bag and cut a large hole in one corner. Pipe frosting in a circular motion, starting from the outer edge, to the center of each cupcake. Place a witch's hat on top of each frosted cupcake.

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      This post linked to

      Tasty Tuesday
      Cupcake Tuesday
      Delicious Dishes
      What's Cooking Wednesday
      Cast Party Wednesday

      Monday, October 17, 2011

      Meal Plan Monday~ Oct 17, 2011

      Happy Monday!!

      Anyone out there have an ark? It's been raining pretty much since last Wed..... looks like we might have a few rain free days this week. Which would greatly be appreciated, LOL. It's rough on the kids, to be stuck in the house. This past weekend included some baking with the kids, fort making and plenty board games. I'd love to enjoy playing outside more, before the "S" word gets here. Yes, I'm that superstitious... I will not even write the "S" word, LOL.

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      Well, this week should be quiet. I do have a dentist appt for a crown fitting, which I am super nervous for. Mr.B has a field trip to a Ranch on Wed, that he is super excited about. And we still have to go to one last store, in hopes of finding him the Halloween costume of his dreams. Queenie decided to be a Fairy Princess this year (yay I get to do her make up and curl her hair!) and Mr.B has hopes of being a Wizard (white beard and all). I've also started on a 1500 calorie diet, so dinners will be healthier, lower calorie options (with the occasional splurge, here and there). Here are my plans for the week
      Head on over to Orgjunkie.com, for tons of more great meal plans, for the week!

        Thursday, October 13, 2011

        Creamed Corn

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        This summer, we decided to buy a huge amount of corn, so we could shuck it and freeze it for winter. There is nothing better than sweet corn, frozen at the peak of summer. As I was talking to some of my girlfriends about the corn, Jeanine from The Baking Beauties mentioned that her mother in law made the best creamed corn. Well, she totally peeked my interest and her mother in law was nice enough to share her recipe with me. Let me tell you, this corn is phenomenal. Hubby and the kids practically inhaled the first bit that I made for dinner one night. I love that you can freeze it and it re heats beautifully and tastes delicious.

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        The recipe is super unbelievably easy. And I must say I like this homemade creamed corn better than what we usually buy in a can. There is bigger kernels of corn throughout and it has a wonderfully creamy buttery flavour. Nothing goes better with corn than butter, in my opinion! I froze 2 bags and we had 3 cups to go with our dinner. It's a perfect side dish for those comforting, down home, cold weather dishes.

        Frozen Creamed Corn
        Submitted by Jeanine via her MIL
        printable version

        8 cups corn (raw) about 13 cobs
        1 1/2 tsp. salt
        2 Tbsp. Sugar
        1/2 cup Butter (yes butter not margarine)
        1/4 – 1/3 cup Whipping Cream

        Cut corn off the cob. Scrape cob to get all juice. (I don’t cut really deep so there is bits of corn left on the cob when you scape it.)

        To cut the corn off the cob I use one a serrated steak knives. To scrape the cob I use a plane knife.

        Melt butter in Dutch oven pot, add cream, salt and sugar. Stir to mix, then add cut corn and stir. Heat over medium heat, stirring
        occasionally. Be careful not to burn it. Heat till it is bubbling, not boiling, just good and hot.

        Plunge pot into sink filled with ice water. Stir & cool till warm. Put in containers or freezer bags and freeze immediately.

        I used the small Ziploc Freezer bags and put in about 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups. Yield approx. 6 – 7 pkgs.

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        This post linked to

        Hearth and Soul
        Made it on Monday
        These Chicks Cooked
        Full Plate Thursday
        Turning the Table Thursday
        See ya in the Gumbo

        Tuesday, October 11, 2011

        Spider Cupcakes

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        This week's Halloween themed cupcakes are spider cupcakes. I decided to make these, after finding the always growing stash of candy, all our relatives buy the kids when they come visit. I stumbled upon a few bags of licorice laces and thought they would make the cutest spider legs. I wish I would have had some black licorice laces, but I had to make due with pink, LOL. I think it makes the spiders that more interesting.

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        These are super simple to make. The hardest part it guessing how long to cut the legs. If you make them too long, then you'll run out of licorice; if not, well then your spider will look silly. I really don't think the kids would mind though. Mr.B and Queenie were delighted to see the candy adorned cupcakes. I mean cake, frosting AND candy??!?!


        Spider Cupcakes
        printable version


        1 box white cake mix
        1/2 C bittersweet chocolate, melted
        3 eggs
        1 1/4 C water
        1/3 C vegetable oil
        2 Pkg licorice laces, any colour (There was about 6-7 laces in my bag)
        73 black M&Ms
        1 roll of red fruit leather
        1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
        1/4 C Oreo crumbs

        Frosting:
        1/3 C butter or margarine
        3 Tbs cocoa powder
        3 C powdered sugar
        3-4 Tbs strong coffee

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, using eggs, water, oil and melted chocolate. Pour into paper lined muffin tins; only pour to fill to about halfway up. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

        For Frosting: In a bowl cream together the butter and cocoa. Slowly beat in powdered sugar; mixture will be very crumbly. Add in coffee, 1 Tbs at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

        To Assemble Spiders: In a soup bowl, mix together the graham crumbs and Oreo crumbs; set aside. Cut licorice laces into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Frost each cooled cupcake with frosting and carefully dip into the crumb mixture. Gently press 3 M&Ms into the lower half of the cupcake; to resemble spider eyes. Carefully insert 8 of the licorice pieces into the outer edge of the spiders, on either side. Cut fruit leather into tiny triangles, to resemble fangs. Carefully insert the fruit leather triangles into the front edge of the cupcake, just below the eyes.

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        This post linked to

        Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday
        Cupcake Tuesday
        Delicious Dishes
        Tasty Tuesday
        Tuesday Night Supper Club

        Monday, October 10, 2011

        Meal Plan Monday~ Oct 10, 2011

        Happy Monday and Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers! I hope this weekend has been full of family, love and laughs. And don't forget fabulous food!!

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        We are having out big Thanksgiving meal today, for lunch. Hubby is scheduled to work at 4pm, so lunch is a great way to make sure he can partake in the yumminess. We've had such a beautiful weekend here, with above seasonal temperatures. I hope they last a bit longer and that we can enjoy Halloween, without having to bundle up too much.

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        This week I'll be using the leftover turkey in a few meals. Making some of our favourites dishes, that use turkey. I think I look forward to the leftovers, more than the actual meal, LOL. These dishes are nothing fancy, but they hit the spot and the kids love them (which is always a small victory now a days). So, here is my plan for the week

        Head on over to OrgJunkie.com for more great meal plans!

          Friday, October 7, 2011

          Cauliflower Creme Brulee

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          I bet you are all wondering what the heck I'm talking about, right? That's exactly what I thought, when I read the title to this recipe, this past Spring. This recipe was submitted by my friend Elise from LuvCrumbs, to the Real Women of Philadelphia contest. This recipe quickly caught the interest of the judges and snagged Elise a spot in the finals. Not only did she make the finals, but her recipe won her the spot as Side Dish Host, over at RWOP. And I can't blame the judges for picking her. This side dish is so different and fabulous! I first had the chance to try the creme brulee in Toronto, at the RWOP Gala. Let me tell you, it was one of my favourite dishes from the night. Elise had mentioned that the Chef had made a few changes to her recipe, so when I found half a head of cauliflower in the back of the fridge that desperately needed to be rescued, I immediately thought of this recipe.

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          Photo Courtesy of Cathy Bray

          Elise was right, the Chef at the Thompson Hotel had modified it, but the original recipe was just as good as what I remembered. I love how quick this comes together and how you can assemble it before hand, waiting until the last minute to broil and crisp the top. The combination of savory cheeses with a hint of sweetness and heat is intoxicating and almost addictive. Since I didn't have individual souffle cups, I made this in a small casserole dish and served it family style. By the end of dinner, there was only a tiny portion left, which I claimed for lunch the next day. It truly is a recipe, that is so unique and creative; I hope you give it a try.

          Cauliflower Creme Brulee
          Submitted by Elise Copps-Smith via RWOP

          Breaking away from boring side dishes can be a challenge, but with this simple spin on a favourite dessert in your recipe arsenal, vegetables will soon be taking centre stage at your dinner table.

          1/2 to whole head cauliflower
          1 tsp. of butter
          1 small onion
          1 tbsp. of brown sugar
          3 tbsp. of raw brown sugar
          1 tbsp. of Parmesan
          1/2 cup(s) of Philadelphia cream cheese
          1/8 tsp. of cayenne
          1/4 tsp. of salt
          1/4 tsp. of pepper

          Preheat your broiler. (500 degrees)
            
          Depending on the size of your cauliflower, you will need to use between 1/2 and a whole head. Remove the leaves and core, and chop the florets and stalks into small pieces until you have roughly 4 cups. Place 1 tbsp of water and a pinch of salt into a casserole dish, add your cauliflower, and steam in the microwave for 5-6 minutes until tender.
            
          Heat butter in a pan over high heat. Roughly chop onion and add to pan, stirring until covered with melted butter. Reduce heat to med/med-low and add 1 tbsp brown sugar. Stir until combined. Remove onions from heat when they are translucent and lightly browned.
            
          In a small bowl, combine raw brown sugar and Parmesan cheese. Stir until completely mixed.
            
          In a food processor, combine steamed cauliflower, quick caramelized onions, Philadelphia cream cheese, cayenne, salt and pepper. Blend for a few minutes, scraping sides, until mixture becomes a smooth purée.
            
          Divide mixture evenly among 4 ramekins, and smooth the purée to create a flat surface. Sprinkle a generous portion of your sugar/Parmesan mixture onto each serving, coating the cauliflower completely. Give the ramekins a little shake to level out the sugar.
            
          Place under the broiler on a baking sheet for 1-2 minutes until the sugar has created a hard, brown candy coating. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. To prepare this side dish in advance, refrigerate your ramekins after filling them with purée. Right before serving, add the sugar topping and broil. Whether you are making it for a simple supper, or an elegant dinner party, you will be stunned by how easy this recipe is to prepare. With veggies this delicious, who needs dessert?


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          This post linked to

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          Wednesday, October 5, 2011

          Blue Cheese Potato Soup and a Giveaway

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          Recently, the lovely people at Andrew McMeel Publishing sent me a copy of Lynn Alley's new cookbook-50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker. I was super excited to receive this cookbook, since I love soup and anything I can make in the slow cooker, is a dream come true. I quickly skimmed through the book, only to bookmark many recipes that caught my eye. This potato soup was one of the first recipes I bookmarked. I mentioned it to Hubby, who agreed that this should be one of the first soups we try.

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          When Lynn says simple, she means simple. The soup took about 10 minutes to assemble and after the potatoes were done cooking, it literally took a few minutes to finish off. The flavor was fabulous. The pungent and tangy blue cheese made the soup so creamy, despite the absence of cream. I loved the garnish of rosemary at the end, though Hubby would have loved if the rosemary would have cooked with the potatoes, to infuse them with the flavour as well. This is a perfect savory soup for those cold winter nights, that make you want to put on fuzzy PJs and sink into something warm and comforting.

          Blue Cheese Potato Soup
          Adapted from Lynn Alley's 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker
          printable version

          2 Tbs butter or ghee
          1 medium onion, chopped
          2 celery ribs, sliced
          1 1/2 lbs small red or white potatoes, skins on
          6 C water
          8 oz blue cheese (domestic, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, or your favorite)
          4 cloves garlic
          Salt
          Freshly ground black pepper
          Chopped fresh rosemary, for garnishing

          In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the onion for about 10 minutes, or until slightly browned. Add the celery and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the onion and celery to a 7 quart slow cooker and add the potatoes (but no water). Cover and cook on LOW for about 4 hours, or until the potatoes are very tender.

          Add the water and blue cheese. Using a garlic press, mince the garlic into the soup. Add the salt to taste.

          Using a handheld immersion blender, puree some of the ingredients to give the soup thickness and texture. For a more rustic feel, you can simply mash some of the potatoes with a potato masher. I like to leave it very lumpy and rustic looking with plenty of skin intact.

          Ladle soup into bowl. Grind the fresh pepper over the tip and serve garnishes with rosemary.

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          Since I was so excited about the cookbook, I contacted Andrew McMeel Publishing to thank them for sending it to me. When I mentioned wanting to purchase a copy, to offer to my readers, they generously offered to send one lucky HWFD? reader a copy of this awesome cookbook. With recipes like Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Crust and Spiced Apple Pie Soup, who wouldn't want to win a copy!

          So, I am giving you all the chance to win a copy of Lynn's brand new book, which was just released on Sept 27th. All you have to do is leave me a comment, telling me your favourite thing to make in your slow cooker*. The giveaway will run from now, until Oct 31st. I will announce the winner on November 1st.
          *If you'd like an extra entry, become a fan of Hun...What's for Dinner? on Facebook and leave me a comment saying you have or already are. 

          This post linked to


          Cookbook Sunday
          Hearth and Soul
          Full Plate Thursday
          Turning the Table Thursday

          Tuesday, October 4, 2011

          Skull Cupcakes

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          Halloween is in less than 3 weeks and I've been getting us into the spirit with some fun Halloween themed cupcakes. I plan on posting a Halloween inspired cupcake, every Tuesday, until Halloween. The kids are loving it, and so are the neighbours, since I love to share my creations. These skull cupcakes are a combination of fun and creepiness. Slightly spooky, but too yummy to pass up. The perfect Halloween goody.

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          These cupcakes are so simple to make. I first saw them on the Family Fun website. I was so curious to see how they had extended the cupcake, to make the jaw of the skull.The original recipe called for half of a large marshmallow, but I only had mini ones, so I used two (end to end). Once frosted, they really give these cupcakes a jaw like shape. The kids thought they were super cool, as did Hubby. (And it's hard to impress him with cupcakes, since he's not a big fan of them). I made a homemade white icing, so I will include the recipe for that as well.

          Skull Cupcakes
          Adapted from Family Fun Magazine

          12 marshmallows
          Confectioners' sugar
          24 unfrosted cupcakes (white or yellow works best)
          White frosting
          Junior Mints, chocolate chips, and slivered almonds

          Cut the marshmallows in half widthwise using kitchen shears dipped in confectioners' sugar (this keeps them from sticking).

          Sweet Skull - Step 2 Carefully pull each cupcake liner partially away from the cake and tuck half a marshmallow between the paper and the cupcake to create the skull's jaw.

          Frost each cupcake and marshmallow, then add Junior Mints with white frosting dots for eyes, a chocolate chip nose, and slivered almond teeth.

          White Frosting

          1/3 C shortening
          1 tsp almond extract
          2 C powdered sugar
          2-3 Tbs half and half

          Mix the shortening with the almond extract and powdered sugar, until well combined. Thin to desired consistency with half and half; starting with 2 Tbs and adding more if needed.

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          This post linked to


          Make a Food-'e'-Friend Monday
          Delicious Dishes
          Cupcake Tuesday
          Tasty Tuesday
          Made it on Monday
          These Chicks Cooked
          Sweets for a Saturday
          Bake with Bizzy
          Foodie Friends Friday

          Monday, October 3, 2011

          Meal Plan Monday Oct 3, 2011

          Happy Monday!

          Well, we are now in October and the start of a new month has also brought the cold weather. We are just getting a glance at what the next few months will bring, LOL. I don't mind one bit, I'll take cold and rainy, over cold and snowy any day, LOL. We are slowly gearing up for the excitement the month of October brings. Next week will be Thanksgiving, here in Canada. Hubby will be working, as usual, so it'll be just me and the kids again this year. Although I'd love to celebrate with the rest of my family, I'm OK with having a small dinner here with the kids. Maybe we'll have a Thanksgiving lunch, rather than dinner, so Hubby can enjoy some of the yumminess. Special occasion lunches seem to be turning into a tradition, LOL.

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          Not a whole lot going on this week. Hubby will be off Wed-Thurs, so we'll take that time to clean out the garage, so we can get one vehicle in there, during the winter. I have a few new recipes planned for the week and am excited about cooking some of our favourite cold weather foods. There is nothing better than a bowl of soup or chili, when it's cold and rainy outside. So here is out menu for the week

          • Lemon, Broccoli and Chickpea Pasta (new recipe) with garlic bread
          • Peameal Bacon sandwiches with roasted squash
          • Potato and Blue Cheese Soup (new recipe) with homemade rolls
          • Chili with Honey Corn Bread (new recipe)
          • Chili cheese fries with a salad
          • Shrimp Creole (new recipe)
          • leftovers
          Head over to OrgJunkie.com, for more great meal plans!

          Saturday, October 1, 2011

          Apple Cider Donuts

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          On our recent trip to Avalon Orchards, the kids got to try apple cider for the first time. They absolutely loved it, so when they asked if we could bring some home, we happily agreed. I immediately thought of making apple cider donuts, one of my favourite donuts. All year I anxiously await the Fall season, for the return of apple cider donuts, at our local coffee shop. So, when I found this super easy recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, I knew that I just had to make them.

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          Making donuts is way easier than you'd think. Especially these 'cake' donuts as you would call them. While this recipe calls for deep frying, there are a ton of recipes out there that bake the donuts. I however, do not have a donut pan, so deep frying is my alternative. Plus, if you're going to indulge in something like a donut, why not do it right?? These donuts are amazing!I really liked that it uses reduced apple cider, so the results are tender slightly chewy donuts with a nice subtle apple and spice taste. Now you can choose to glaze them, like I did, or toss them in cinnamon sugar (like the donut holes). Either way they are a perfect cold weather treat, that you family is sure to love! ( I did not refrigerate all the cut dough, after cutting the donuts out. The dough was still plenty cold and easy to work with, but I put the 2nd half of the cut dough into the fridge, while I fried the first donuts. I also used brown sugar, rather than white, for a deeper flavour)

          Apple Cider Doughnuts
          Smitten Kitchen Adapted from Lauren Dawson at Hearth Restaurant
          Makes 18 doughnuts + 18 doughnut holes

          1 cup apple cider
          3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
          2 teaspoons baking powder
          1 teaspoon baking soda
          1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
          4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
          1 cup granulated sugar
          2 large eggs
          1/2 cup buttermilk
          Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying

          Toppings (optional)
          Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)
          Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)

          Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
          Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
          Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

          Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Pull the dough out of the freezer. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)

          Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F*. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

          Make your toppings (if using): While the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside. (when glazing dip the warm donuts completely into the glaze and transfer to a cooling rack, that is on top of a cookie sheet. That way the excess glaze will run off and leave you with gorgeous donuts!)

          Fry and top the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

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          This post linked to


          Baking with Bizzy
          Foodie Friday
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          Friday Favorites
          Sweets for a Saturday
          Country Pot Luck