Halloween Dinner

We had our creepy Halloween dinner last night. The girls didn't really appreciate the creepiness, but they ate it right up.

I told them the farfalle pasta was bats. And look at that stringy mozzarella...doesn't it look like spider webs?

I've seen these breadstick fingers made before. Mine rose a bit too much in the oven. The girls didn't think they really looked like fingers. I told them they were the fingers of a nine-month pregnant woman who had been walking around a lot in the heat.

If that doesn't scare them, I don't know what will.

Bats and Spiderwebs

1 lb bowtie pasta
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic clove, minced
2 (28 oz.) can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sugar
coarse salt
1 lb mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; saute about one minute. Add tomatoes, oregano and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer; cook, stirring and breaking up tomatoes until slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt.

Add pasta and half the mozzarella; toss to combine. Transfer to a baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until bubbly and top is lightly brown, 10 to 15 minutes.


1 T. Yeast
1½ cups warm water
3 cups flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
Whole almonds (fingernails)
Dried Rosemary and Coarse Salt (for knuckle hair)

Preheat oven to 350*.
In bowl of electric mixer, combine yeast, water and 1 T sugar. Let sit five minutes. Add remaining sugar, salt and flour. Mix on high for 3 minutes. Rest 10 minutes. Roll out into thin breadsticks. Brush with butter. Cut shallow slices for knuckles. Press almonds on tips. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Rest 10 more minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Slow Simmering 3-Bean Soup with Corn Bread

I would call this a cross between chili and soup. I kind of want to make up a cute little hybrid name for it, but Lindsey frowns on that.

The cornbread is moist and just a bit sweet. Perfect with honey.

3 Bean Soup

1 T olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 can enchilada sauce
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree (I only had a can of whole tomatoes, so I roughly chopped them up and used them...worked fine)
1-1/2 T oregano
crushed red pepper

In large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add peppers. Continue to cook until peppers are tender, 5-7 more minutes.

Add enchilada sauce and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Add beans. Season with oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste. Keep soup at a low simmer for about an hour.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bow. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter in a small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm with a drizzle of honey.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, or "The one where the Bake-aholic finds herself (quite happily) in a rut"

Yes, yes, I know. I remember yesterday's post. And yes, I've heard the saying. Variety IS the spice of life. My problem is the only spices I'm thinking about right now are cinnamon, nutmeg, and maybe a little cayenne. You know, the spices that go with pumpkin.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
adapted from marthastewart.com

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.

Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (double boiler), stirring occasionally until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don't set.

With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.

Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Pumpkin Roll

We eat really well on vacation. It takes a good week to feel hungry again. Well, we're back. And so are our appetites.
We came home to autumn. The mountains are colorful. There is a nip in the air. It makes me want to bake with pumpkin.

Autumn Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Prepare your jelly roll (rimmed cookie) pan: Spray with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray as well.

Prepare your towel: Generously sift powdered sugar over a clean dish towel.

Beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, Combine dry ingredients and fold into mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Turn out onto prepared dish towel. To prevent the cake from cracking, roll towel and cake together while still hot; cool. Unroll and spread with filling. Roll again without dish towel and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

1 cup powdered sugar
6 oz cream cheese, softened
4 T butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat together until well combined.

We also came home to these, resting in our garden at 1:00 in the morning. Apparently the snow storm last weekend washed away the cyclist's "deer repellent". Next time we go out of town we're going to enlist the neighborhood boys (or any of my male viewers who live nearby) to mark their territory around the garden perimeter.

Fried Green Tomatoes

My regular readers (both of you) have probably noticed that I have a small case of "tomato envy" this summer. The deer ate almost every tomato in our garden.

This afternoon, I was wandering aimlessly around my kitchen trying to come up with a dinner idea. My wandering took me out to the garden. I was hoping to find a couple of zucchini's to saute and serve over pasta. I walked through the garden, looking forlornly at the tomato bushes. I noticed several green tomatoes that the deer had not yet nibbled on. (Ask the cyclist about his most recent method of "natural" deer repellent--apparently it's working.) But I knew they wouldn't ripen before the first frost set in.

That's when I thought of my good friend Lisa and her fried green tomatoes.

I try not to eat fried foods. Until tonight, I had never successfully deep fried at home. We don't own a fry daddy, not even a fry baby. We try to eat healthily so that we can splurge on the baked goods.

These are well worth the effort (and grease). If you think about it, how many times are you going to have green tomatoes you need to use up...just once a year.

But I can promise you that next year, even if the deer stay away, I will still nab some tomatoes before they ripen. These little guys are juicy, a little bit tart, with the perfect crispy crust.

Fried Green Tomatoes

3 large green tomatoes
pinch of coarse salt
Enough flour to coat tomatoes (about 1/2 cup)
2 eggs
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 T grated Parmesan (this is one instance when the cheese from the can is perfect)
large pinch cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
hot oil for frying

Slice tomatoes 1/4" to 1/3" thick. Lay on a paper towel to absorb moisture. Sprinkle with pinch of salt.

Get out three shallow bowls (I used pie plates).

Put the flour in #1.
Lightly beat the eggs in #2.
Combine the cornmeal, Parmesan, cayenne, salt and black pepper in #3.

Heat oil to 200 celsius (use a candy/deep fry thermometer).

Dip the tomatoes (both sides) in dish #1, then #2, and then #3. Fry in oil about 3-4 minutes per side (until golden brown and crispy).  Drain on paper towels.

Serve with Ranch dip.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup for the Fall Harvest Smackdown

The doctor-in-law invited us to participate in an iron-chef inspired recipe showdown at his place. The cyclist and I were a team. The D-I-L distributed a bag of fresh produce from his garden (think mostly hot peppers and juicy tomatoes). He then revealed the secret ingredient. Fresh pumpkin. I love to bake and I love pumpkin, however, I had never cooked with it. I always use the trusty canned stuff. My eyes have been opened. Have you ever roasted a fresh pumpkin? (Pie or Sugar Pumpkin, not the Jack-o-Lantern variety). Boy does it smell good!

This was the cyclist's entry in "the soup category".*

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

pinch cayenne pepper
6 cups of chopped roasted or pumpkin (To make pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.) 
or 3 (15 oz) cans 100 percent pumpkin
5 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup milk
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more.

Add pumpkin and 5 cups of broth; blend well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan. Or use an immersion blender in the soup pot.

With the soup on low heat, slowly add milk while stirring to incorporate. Adjust seasonings to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Did I mention he won?

Stay Tuned for more delicious recipes from the Party.

Conference Muffins

This past weekend, we gathered together with my family to listen to General Conference and partake of the feast that is our semi-annual omelet brunch. My sister, sister's-in-law, and I are always in charge of the muffins. This fall I found an especially tasty recipe to try. As Uncle Scott described them, these are "blueberry muffins with attitude".

Orange Almond Blueberry Muffins
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Grated zest of one orange (about 1T)
1/2 c fresh orange juice
1/2 c whole milk
2 large egg whites
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sliced, blanched almonds, finely ground (use food processor, don't over-pulse or they will turn into a paste)
2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted (350 for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally)
2 t baking powder (Hey Dustin, the little "t" means teaspoon)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 c blueberries

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray (or use muffin cups).

In a medium bowl, combine the zest, orange juice, milk, egg whites and butter. Whisk until combined.

In another medium bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, sugar, toasted sliced almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and stir until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.

Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the edges are brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Move the muffin pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remore the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the rack.

Makes 12 muffins.