Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

we are going to the home of a friend
who lives in one of those great neighborhoods
one where the kids come from all over los angeles to trick or treat 
because apparently
miley, the jonas boys and several other "celebrities" live there
it is safe
the homes are all decorated
 everyone dresses up

i love it
and i work the door

 those kids who really make an effort
on their costume
get a big candy bar
but the ones who wear a baseball cap
and say
i'm a fan
or a laker jersey
and say
i'm kobe
get candy from the grab bag

for the record
do not believe
that you are ever too old to trick or treat
but if you are in college
and can't get it together to put on a costume
that looks like a costume
 not a tshirt that says
this is my costume
then what you get from me
is a piece of paper that says
this is my treat
i'm all about the effort

hubster and i dress up
i make the costumes
and he does the scary makeup
last year we were
the hunchback of notre dame and a peacock
beauty and the beast, if you will
this year is a secret
have a fun and safe night!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

ice cream and cake halloween style

this is probably my last halloween post 
this year
i'm not promising
but since halloween is tomorrow
it is looking good
these mini cupcakes are a lot of fun to eat
if you are a perfectionist
and don't like it when things don't go your way
don't do the ice cream part
use frosting

make your favorite cupcake recipe and bake in mini-tartlet pan using paper liners.  let cool.  dip each in bittersweet chocolate ganache and let firm up.  top with ghost--and serve.

the ghosts are made from homemade philadelphia style ice cream
freeze the ice cream until it is quite thick and could hold shape. quickly put it into a pastry bag fitted with a tip with a 1/4" round hole.  pipe the ice cream onto a sheet pan, lined with parchment and immediately put it in the freezer for 4 hours.   remove the ghosts and pipe the chocolate eyes and mouth and return to the freezer. let freeze overnight.  just before serving, use an offset spatula to move the ice cream from the sheet pan to the mini-cupcakes. 
take your bow
then eat
* if you choose to use frosting rather than ice can either pipe the ghosts directly on to the cupcake, or you can pipe them on to a sheet-pan, put them in the fridge for an hour or so, decorate with chocolate ganache, and then transfer by offset spatula to the cupcakes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

crazy cocktailin'

so i have this liquor cabinet
that seems to have more going in
than coming out
i have these grand ideas
about having cocktails before dinner
or the two martini lunch
but i just never seem to get around to it
i am extremely well prepared
lets say
there were a disaster
 the best survival tool was a cocktail
we would live forever

i was browsing my google reader
and saw this post from scary mommy
which encouraged me to hit the bottle

i have a lot of candy corn lying about
so it was a natural choice

candy cocktails
1 cup of candy
2-3 cups of vodka or rum
put in a mason jar and let sit for at least 2 days
strain and bottle

one jar with vodka
and the other
with rum

i now firmly believe that
candy corn rum
should be the requisite 
pirate tipple
it is really, really good
get depp on the phone

*i am experimenting with some other flavors and will post them soon (sneak preview...toasted marshmallow vodka)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

chicken and chorizo pot pie

chicken pot pie 
is stick to your ribs goodness
is there anything better
on a cold afternoon
rain puddle hopping
in my case
winterizing the garden

hubster and i are getting ready for a long trip
which means we are eating solely
the pantry and freezer

i was able to put these pies together
with things i have on hand
my fave part of this recipe is

if you don't want to make  pot pie
the filling is great as a stew
leave out the flour and add a bit more broth
and make it a soup
chicken and chorizo pot pie
2 Tbs olive oil
2 chicken breasts--cut into cubes
2 chorizo links (cooked)--cut crosswise into coins
1/2 cup celery--chopped
1/2 cup onion--chopped
2 cloves garlic--chopped
1 yam or sweet potato--cubed
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced tomato
1/2 cup corn (frozen or fresh)
3 Tbs flour
2 Tbs emeril's southwest seasoning (recipe follows)
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
pie crust or puff pastry
heat olive oil in heavy stock pot.  saute chorizo and chicken until the fat is rendered.  toss in the celery, onion  and garlic and continue to cook until the onion and garlic are soft.  throw in the yam, tomato, and corn.  cook for 10 minutes longer.  mix together the flour and southwest seasoning and stir into the pot, making sure it is evenly mixed. stir in white wine and chicken stock (if you don't want to use wine, just increase the amount of stock). add worcestershire sauce.  cover and cook on lowest setting for 35 minutes. allow to cool to warm.  transfer to oven safe dish or dishes and top with crust.  bake in a preheated 375 oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is browned and the filling is bubbling.

Emeril's Southwest Seasoning
2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 Tbs garlic powder 
1 Tbs salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
mix together and store in an airtight jar

i am linking this up to tuesday night supper club

Sunday, October 24, 2010

my favorite treat

i am not totally obsessed with my morning coffee
but i will admit, i am bummed when served
bad coffee

for the longest time i had a percolator i bought on ebay
from the 50's
it made incredible coffee
when it worked

several years ago
my mother discovered a coffee machine
that changed all of our lives
my brother and his wife
gifted one to us
(most likely from annoyance)
i might have said, one too many times
how much i loved it

this is not really a coffee maker
it is an espresso machine
one that will have you dropping your starbucks run
like a bad habit

although expensive
it is a heck of a lot cheaper than a daily pilgrimage
to a coffee shop
you don't have to wait in line
burn your hand with an overly hot cup
give a tip
make eye contact with strangers
get dressed
...would you like me to go on?

3 years in
and i still love it
i give you
the nespresso
it makes espresso, or a 5oz lungo for your favorite fancy drink
there never was an easier way to have
a double half-caff, no foam, 2 splenda, skinny with a twist
or whatever silliness
 you like to drink

*sadly, i didn't receive anything from nespresso to say the nice things i said here. i just thought you should know
because the machine is THAT good
i thought saying something nice about it, was much better than saying something mean about the other machine i have--which is another pod type machine that makes the worst coffee and hot chocolate imaginable. but i won't go there.
 not today, anyway

if you are looking for more reasons to put this on your "i want it" list...i have a few 
including this fabulous cocktail
Vanilla Coffee Martini
In a shaker with lots of ice mix 2 oz of vanilla vodka, 1 oz freshly brewed espresso, 1 oz Kahlua, splash of cream de noya (almond liqueur). Shake, shake, shake. Serve in a martini glass with 3 espresso beans.

update: This summer I made a "slimmed down" version of this drink. 2 oz vanilla vodka, 1 oz freshly brewed espresso and enough splenda to make it sweet for you. Add lots of ice and a splash of milk or cream. Delicious!
this ice cream
Ice Cream in a Pinch
I took about 1 cup of custard and added to it  1 cup of milk chocolate chips melted in about 1/4 cup of cream making it a bit of a ganache. I threw in a shot of very strong espresso and whisked it all up.  The mixture was cool, so I didn't have to chill it in the fridge and I dumped it right into the ice cream machine.  30 minutes later I had a mildly chocolate, minimally coffee flavored, very smooth ice cream.  As I packed it into the tub for future eating, I swirled in nutella...for nutella ripple ice cream. 
Pour 4-5 oz of strong coffee into a martini shaker.  Add a lot of crushed ice.  shake it till you break it. strain it into your glass, then strain the foam on top. the foam looks and tastes like milk, but it isn't.  i had this for the first time in ravenna, italy...and i have been making it ever since.

just sayin....

Friday, October 22, 2010

a bit o' crafting

i do love to craft
but to be honest 
i am usually behind the magic 8 ball
furiously finishing things
at the last moment

i am envious of those
that are organized enough
to have halloween mastered
well before the 31st

mantles decorated
matching wreaths on every door
personalized with "this year's theme"
 halloween costumes finished
which, by the way
have been hand sewn and hanging in the costume closet
for weeks
treat bags
made of homemade paper and hand folded
into perfect packets
by the hundreds
awaiting little ghouls and goblins
who will be treated to a full haunted house
and a framed picture of themselves screaming
at the scary bits
upon exiting

i wish i were describing myself
but i am not
mind you
i do my fair share of  marthanizing
i'm more of the
its due tomorrow kind of girl
which is why
it is so surprising
that i have actually
put together a halloween-scape
that has been gracing our mantle
for almost 3 weeks now
and will probably be there
until new years
i just don't have it in me
to swap it out
in time for thanksgiving
i would be remiss
if i didn't mention
joni over at red couch recipes
she has been posting halloween goodness all month long
and has inspired me to get off my duff
and make some stuff
the candy corn topiaries
that are to die for

Entertain Exchange

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

bobbing for apples

i don't remember my age
on the day of my very first halloween party
but i do remember
costumes were compulsory
(something i still require)
and there were games
bobbing for apples
each apple holding a prize
some had coins
others had slips of paper, wrapped in plastic
naming a prize
and i remember
getting really wet
and laughing 
until my stomach hurt
it is a halloween tradition
that i think has sadly gone by the wayside
so i am bringing it back
with these cupcakes
an homage
to a favorite childhood game
bobbing for apples cupcakes
bake your favorite cupcakes
frost with buttercream (tinted blue)
make small balls out of marzipan
dip the balls in red food color and let dry
poke a hole with a toothpick and insert a chocolate jimmie
wrap with a cupcake wrapper shaped as a bucket
i don't have a template to share, but i took a cupcake wrapper, traced it on silver paper, then added handles
just a little black marker, gave them a bit of depth
so easy, right?
check out more fun stuff over at tatertots and jello weekend wrap-up

Thursday, October 14, 2010

pumpkin spice cocoa on a broomstick

i live under a rock
or maybe
i don't go down the correct aisle at target
it took 2 different posts, from food blogging friends
for me to understand
that there is something in the store called
pumpkin pie spiced kisses
by hershey
and it got me thinking
was a huge crowd pleaser during the cold snap of winter
i should do something similar with the pumpkin pie kisses
so i present to you
pumpkin spice cocoa on a broomstick
(printable recipe)
this is great in a hot cup of milk, but also really lights up a strong cup of coffee
mmmm scrumptious
1 bag hershey pumpkin spice kisses--unwrapped
3/4 cup white chocolate
1/4 cup powdered sugar
additional white chocolate for dipping (optional)
melt the kisses and white chocolate in the microwave for 20 seconds. give it a good stir and then put in microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it is melted and smooth. do not overheat. you do not want the chocolate to get hot.  the heat of the bowl will eventually warm and melt the chocolate. have a bit of will serve you well in the taste and the set up of the chocolate.  add the powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  pour chocolate mixture into small molds, ice cube tray, mini-muffin tins, or paper cups, and insert a wooden stick, or candy stick, or straw. it is really up to you.  place in refrigerator to set up.  once firm, remove from refrigerator and molds and keep as is, or dip in chocolate.  stir into hot milk or strong coffee for a delightful pumpkin spice treat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

turmeric chicken

i love chicken kebab

we live near a large armenian community
 which makes finding great chicken
fairly easy
but it makes for an expensive
dinner out
so i have been playing with this recipe
i used to use saffron
but hubster wasn't a big fan
so i switched it up to turmeric
with all the color, and none of the cost
turmeric chicken
(printable recipe)
3-4 lbs chicken 
(i use a combination of skinless,boneless thighs and breast because we can't agree in my house)
2 cups plain greek yogurt
1 Tbs turmeric
2 large clove garlic--smashed
1 onion--halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp black pepper
juice of 3 lemons
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbs butter--melted
salt and pepper to taste
mix the yogurt, turmeric, garlic, onion, pepper, lemon juice and oregano together.  place the chicken in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade over.  place in the fridge and marinate at least 4 hours, or overnight.  when ready to cook, remove from the fridge and blot with paper towel dry.  discard the marinade.  place enough olive oil in the bottom of a hot pan to cover.  pan fry the chicken until it is browned and cooked through.  when it comes out of the pan, brush a bit of the melted butter and season with salt and pepper (it won't need much if any salt).
i like to serve with tahini, hummas, and tzatziki which i know aren't completely authentic--but they are really tasty

i am linking to

Sunday, October 10, 2010

harvest trifle

i know i have previously mentioned
i lived in england,
for a time
and while there
one of my favorite pastimes 
dissing the food
here is my confession
while  in england
i ate some really good food 
food that i find myself trying to duplicate
and sometimes craving
(jacket potato with baked beans anyone?)

one thing that is indisputable
if you don't count fruit cake
the brits know their sweets
i looked forward to "pud" every night

my harvest trifle 
is a twist on the traditional 
to reflect the colors and flavors 
of fall
Harvest Trifle
(printable recipe)
1 pound cake (batter dyed orange--optional)
1 recipe vanilla custard (recipe follows)
1 recipe chocolate ganache (recipe follows)
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 Tbs Contreau liqueur
whipped cream
shaved chocolate for decorating.
cut the pound cake into large chunks, and set on a sheet pan, allowing to stale a bit. warm the marmalade and then add to it the contreau (you can use a bit more than 1 Tbs if you like). in a trifle dish, or other serving piece, layer 1/2 the cake, 1/2 the custard, drizzles of marmalade, 1/2 the whipped cream and drizzles of chocolate.  repeat, ending with the whipped cream and topping with shaved chocolate.  The key is not to layer like a cake, you really do a layer of cake then, dollops of the other items, then the layer of cake pieces and dollops of the others.  think about each bite and what mix you want to have. the chocolate and marmalade are strong flavors, so you want to use a bit more sparingly.  
to make the custard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
4  large egg yolks
3 Tbs cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs butter
heat the milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan, over low heat. meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch.  when the milk is at a simmer, slowly pour into the eggs, while whisking the eggs constantly.  pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat until it thickens.  do not let it boil, but make sure it just begins to bubble before you pull it from the heat.  pour into a clean bowl and add butter and vanilla.  cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding, and refrigerate until cold
for the ganache
heat 1 cup cream to a simmer, add 1 1/2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate. stir to combine. use while warm, but not hot.  you can use the leftover over ice cream, or roll into truffles.

i'm linking this to

Thursday, October 7, 2010

tortilla soup

our big family vacation when i was growing up
was spending the week after christmas
in mexico
we always went to the same place
and met up with the same families
who gathered together
year after year
from around the globe
it was a blast and a blessing
so much fun
and the food
oh the food
as a kid i always wondered
how it could be that
 the wonderful eats from mazatlan
were so horribly translated once they crossed the border

here's a secret i don't tell many
i tried my very first tortilla soup
in a mexican tourist trap
and it was
brothy and spicy, with large pieces of avocado and hunks of chicken
topped with crispy bits of yesterday's tortillas
because i can't just hop a plane to mexico when a craving hits
i make this
which closely resembles my memory of the perfect tortilla soup
now if i could just conjure up a spell
that could mimic the fresh sea breeze, bring together all the wonderful families, and improve my spanish
life would be perfect!
tortilla soup
3 quarts chicken stock
1 large roasted or boiled chicken (use the one from making stock if you can)
1/4 cup white wine or sherry
olive oil
1 large onion--chopped
1 large pasilla chile--chopped
3 chilies in adobo--finely chopped
2 cloves garlic--finely chopped
large can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbs southwest seasoning (recipe follows)
to taste--salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 large bay leaves
juice of 1 lime
3 Tbs fresh cilantro--chopped
pinch oregano
2 diced avocados to serve
fried tortilla strips dusted with southwest seasoning to serve
Emeril's Southwest Seasoning
2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 Tbs garlic powder 
1 Tbs salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of a stock pot.  toss in the onion and pasilla chili and cook until softened but not browned.  add garlic, adobo chiles, and corn and let cook for 1-2 minutes.  Pour in wine or sherry and stir until it evaporates completely.  sprinkle in the southwest seasoning and cook for just a minute or two. add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, cumin, oregano and chicken stock.  let simmer 30 minutes or so.  meanwhile, remove skin from chicken and shred.  toss the chicken into the soup and cook until warmed through. check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.  remove from heat and add cilantro and lime juice.
add avocado and tortilla strips when serving

linking up to round robin
and submitting to


Monday, October 4, 2010

corned beef and cabbage

one of my food bloggie friends made this a few weeks ago
in celebration of her friend
an actor
and his new show
mike and mollie
which is adorable, by the way
if you watched it
did you happen to notice paula deen's possible future daughter-in-law... as the trampy sister?
bless her heart
back to the point..if i can find one
(she makes a roasted version)
reminded me that i really like cabbage that is cooked with corned beef
soft and buttery, it is truly perfect
the best part?
hubster will eat my portion of the beef in hash and sandwiches

i thought i would be really fancy and corn my own brisket
and found a great recipe from alton brown
but then saw that i had to find saltpeter
 yeah...i thought the same thing
i didn't want to buy it
so i purchased an already corned beef
which probably has some very bad things in it
but i closed my eyes and soldiered on
Corned Beef and Cabbage
(printable recipe)
3-4 lb corned beef or brisket if you are d.y.i.-ing it
1 large head green cabbage--cut into thin wedges, leaving the core intact
7-9 small yukon potatoes
cold water to cover the brisket
little packet of pickling spices that come with the corned beef (optional)
this is so simple. take a large pot, place the corned beef in it and cover with water to about 2" above the top of the meat. bring the pot to a boil and then immediately, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.  the meat will take approximately 50 minutes per pound.  about 45 minutes before the meat is planned to be finished, layer top the corned beef with the cabbage wedges and potatoes. make sure the potatoes get immersed in the liquid.  when the meat is fork tender, remove from the liquid and let sit covered for 30 minutes.  you can continue to cook the potatoes and cabbage if they aren't done to your liking.  
slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with the veggies and hot and spicy mustard.
and perhaps some irish soda bread


had i made my own corned beef, i would link up to
hearth and soul which has some amazing food, you should check it out 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

poetic apples

i love october
mainly because of halloween
but also because of the promise october holds
the promise of dark cool mornings
followed by crisp afternoons
perfect for a walk
down country roads
the crackle of autumn leaves at my feet
and an irish knit to keep me warm
promises are meant to be broken
when you live in southern california

instead of crisp afternoons
i find myself with crunchy granny smith apples
and rather than
 dark cool mornings
i have dark warm chocolate
sometimes a broken promise isn't all that bad

i don't have a recipe for you, as these are quite simple
but i do have a couple of tips

-use good chocolate--bittersweet or milk, whatever your fancy--but make sure it is good.  you can learn how to temper chocolate in the microwave, here
- if you make your own caramel--let it set and then warm when you are ready to dip your apples  i actually make my caramel in advance, let it set and cool, then roll it into round sheets much like you can buy in the store.
i like this recipe from the culinary institute of america
 i find it easier to drape the sheet over the apple than to dip it
-i roll the caramel apples in toasted, salted almonds, but peanuts and pecans are yummy too! i have found that putting the nuts under the chocolate, gives the chocolate something to grab, and also allows for festive decoration
-floral tape on the stick, covers a myriad of sins
and cute ribbon turns it from an apple to a present

you should go to your kitchen right now
and make these
they are delicious
and some might say


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