Happy Halloween ~ Orange and Black Halloween Crackers

I hope you have a happy Halloween!

I’m all about the treats on Halloween, but I often like to go for savory treats over sweet. These crackers are perfect for Halloween night snacking. 🙂 The cheddar and paprika not only add orange color, but they add a touch of flavor. And the poppy seeds and sesame seeds give added crunch and texture while adding pretty black speckles for the holiday.

The cute little decorations are from a website called Yesterday on Tuesday. They are free to print for personal use, and absolutely adorable! The design is meant to be used as a banner, but I just made them into little flags to add a festive touch. I found many printable treasures over there for decorating. I hope you’ll check out her website. 🙂

Orange and Black Halloween Crackers

1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for (optionally) sprinkling the tops of the crackers

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 tablespoons light olive oil

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, lightly packed

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the flours, salt, baking powder, and paprika until combined. Add the olive oil, water, and cheddar, and pulse until combined. Take the dough out of the processor, and knead in the poppy seeds and the sesame seeds with your hands until everything is evenly incorporated and it becomes a cohesive ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 3 portions. Lightly dust a clean work surface and a rolling pin with all-purpose flour. Roll out one portion of the dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Dust with a little extra flour if it sticks to the work surface or the rolling pin.

Cut out the crackers into desired shapes. (I used a cookie cutter in the shape of a bat for my crackers.) After I used my cookie cutter, I cut the remaining odd pieces into random shapes as a snack for the cook! Repeat with the remaining two portions of dough.

Place the crackers on the prepared baking sheets. If using, sprinkle with a little kosher salt on top. Dock the top of the crackers with a fork to ensure they don’t rise and bubble very much as they bake. Bake each tray individually for about 12 minutes, turning once, until the crackers begin to crisp. They will still have a little chew at this point, so if you would like your crackers to be more crispy, bake a little longer.

Autumn Comfort Food – Korean-Inspired Spicy Kabocha Squash Soup

I have been on a Korean food adventure all year! Ever since I visited a Korean restaurant that piqued my interest in the cuisine, I have tried all sorts of recipes, both traditional and new. Earlier this year I made spicy shrimp and winter squash canapés on sesame crackers that were inspired by my Korean culinary adventure. This soup is another new recipe that was inspired by a traditional soup I recently cooked called hobakjuk. The classic soup recipe is made with kabocha, which is a beautiful squash. If you haven’t tried it before, it is a bit starchier than butternut squash or pumpkin and wonderfully sweet. The traditional soup is sweetened further with a little sugar, and it is garnished with delightful little rice balls. I wanted to add a spicy kick to the soup, and I didn’t want to add extra sugar or rice flour, so I put together this super simple recipe for autumn. I hope you enjoy!

Korean-Inspired Spicy Kabocha Squash Soup

1 small kabocha squash, cut into quarters, seeds and stringy bits removed

Water for thinning the soup (I ended up using about 2 cups for a fairly thick soup)

Fine sea salt, to taste

About 1-inch fresh ginger, grated

Gochujang, to taste (I used 2 tablespoons for a good amount of spice)

Sesame seeds for garnish

In a steamer over high heat, steam squash until very tender when poked with a fork. Remove the squash from the heat. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and cut the flesh into rough chunks.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the squash until smooth. Add the water incrementally until the soup is your desired thickness.

Add the salt, ginger, and gochujang. Process again until everything is well incorporated.

Pour the soup into a medium pot. Heat over medium heat until warmed through.

Garnish with sesame seeds. I chose black to contrast the orange of the soup since we are nearing Halloween!

Happy Halloween ~ Roasted Pumpkin Soup

There’s nothing more comforting than a thick pumpkin soup on an autumn day. This soup can be a sophisticated first course if you serve it with a dollop of crème fraiche, balsamic vinegar, and some chives on top. Or you can play with your food and make it a whimsical Halloween dish! I think this season, more than any other time of the year, is the time to have fun in the kitchen. 🙂 I dressed up my roasted pumpkin soup for Halloween with a sour cream spider web and a witch’s broom made of a pretzel, a thin slice of Swiss cheese, and a chive.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

1 medium sugar pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeded

1 medium onion, cut into approximately 1-inch pieces

3 carrots, peeled, and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces

3 whole garlic cloves, skin removed

Approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (or more for a thinner soup)

Pinch of cayenne

Sour cream, thinned with a little water

Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss all of the vegetables in olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them.

Roast until the vegetables are softened and starting to caramelize, tossing halfway through, approximately 45 minutes.

Remove the pumpkin flesh from the skin and discard the skin. Add all of the roasted vegetables to a soup pot. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.

In a blender, purée the soup in two batches. Strain. Return to the pot to simmer. If you would like a thinner soup, add more stock at this point.

Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of cayenne.

For the spider web garnish, scoop sour cream mixed with a little water into a piping bag fitted with a small piping tip. Pipe a swirl on top of each bowl of soup. With a wooden skewer, drag lines from the center to the outside of the bowl to make the web shape. Add a few roasted pumpkin seeds on top as the finishing touch.

Pumpkin Season! ~ Pimento Cheese Pumpkins

Every October I love to try a bunch of different pumpkin recipes, both savory and sweet. Since pumpkins are not only delicious but also so festive, I even love to make dishes that look like pumpkins, whether or not they have any actual pumpkin in the recipe. This pimento cheese ball is one of those recipes. It is dressed up in a pumpkin costume for the season! 😉

Pimento cheese is a Southern classic, which you can serve with crackers, crudités, or bread. For my version, I made wonton crackers in different autumn shapes. The super simple recipe for the crackers can be found here.

Pimento Cheese Pumpkins

Makes 2 small cheese balls

Approximately 2 cups cheddar cheese crackers (I used Annie’s Cheddar Squares)

2 ounces extra sharp cheddar, coarsely grated

1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

2 tablespoons jarred pimentos, drained and squeezed of excess liquid

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Pinch of cayenne

2 2-inch long pretzel sticks.

Place the crackers in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Smash the crackers with a rolling pin until the crumbs are fine. For an even finer crumb, process the crackers in a food processor for a couple of minutes. Set the crumbs aside in a shallow bowl.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the remaining ingredients, except for the pretzels. Process until smooth.

Cover the cheese in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.

After the cheese is chilled, divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll the chilled cheese in your hands to make a ball. Roll the ball in the cracker crumbs until evenly coated. With the back of a butter knife, indent the sides of the ball to look like the grooves on the side of a pumpkin. Top with a pretzel to make the “stem.” Repeat with the remaining piece of pimento cheese.

Pumpkin Season ~ Pumpkin Whole-Wheat Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner RollsTonight is a blustery and rainy night in Seattle. Perfect for a bowl of hot soup and warm pumpkin dinner rolls!

I transformed my recipe for whole-wheat dinner rolls with dill to make these pumpkin rolls. I love creative and fun pumpkin recipes at this time of the year, so when I discovered different versions of this idea online, I knew I wanted to try a batch with my own recipe. I think they are almost too cute to eat…*Almost.* 😉 They are savory, but they have a hint of warm pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin Whole-Wheat Dinner Rolls

Makes 8 dinner rolls

1/4 cup warm skim milk (about 80 degrees F.)

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 3/4 cups white whole-wheat flour

All-purpose flour for dusting work surface

Approximately 1 tablespoon beaten egg

4 cinnamon sticks broken in half to make 8 pieces

Place a piece of parchment paper on a half sheet pan, and spray the parchment with cooking spray. Make sure you have enough room in your refrigerator for the sheet pan where the rolls will rest overnight.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Let stand until the yeast and milk mixture looks a little frothy, about 5 minutes. Next, add the ingredients from the sugar through the whole-wheat flour to the bowl. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough will be elastic and sticky.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean work surface that is lightly dusted with all-purpose flour. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Sprinkle a little extra all-purpose flour over the dough and on your hands if the dough sticks.

Form the rolls into your desired shape. To make the pumpkin shaped rolls, form each piece into a ball. Gently press each ball into a disc. With a very sharp knife, cut 8 slits all around the sides of each disc, taking care to leave the center intact. Press a small indentation into the center of each roll. Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet. Take care to leave enough space between the rolls to allow them to rise without touching each other.

Spray the tops of the rolls with nonstick cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let the rolls rest in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes, or until close to doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and cooked through. Push the cinnamon sticks into the center of each roll to make the “stems.”Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Halloween Season ~ Barmbrack

BarmbrackIt’s that time of year again for all things Halloween!

For my first treat of the season, I made Irish Halloween bread called Barmbrack. Since the holiday began with an ancient Celtic festival, I thought this bread would be a nice way to celebrate the history of Halloween.

I also love the tradition that goes along with this bread. In the past, different objects were baked into the loaf, such as a ring or a coin. The ring meant that the person who received it would be married within the year, and the coin meant riches. There were also items baked into the bread that were said to signify bad luck. For instance, a piece of cloth meant poverty, and a thimble meant you would never marry. These customs have mostly gone by the wayside, and I didn’t bake any objects into my cake since I didn’t want to chance an unexpected visit to the dentist. 😉 But I still love the tradition!


Based on a recipe from The New York Times

1 cup strong hot black tea (preferably Irish breakfast tea!)

1 cup currants

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon skim milk, slightly warmed

1 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 large egg, beaten

1 2/3 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the loaf pan

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

In a medium bowl, combine the tea, currants, and raisins. Let sit for about 2 hours, or until the fruit plumps up with the tea. Strain, but reserve the extra liquid.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and the yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture looks frothy. Add the beaten egg and 1/3 cup of the strained tea to the milk mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, spices, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients. Then add 2 tablespoons of butter and beat until it is combined into the flour mixture. Add the milk mixture, and beat until the dough forms a large ball. Add the fruit and zests. Beat until well combined, about 5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky.

Butter a nonstick loaf pan.

Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf pan, and spread until it is an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Check to make sure your oven rack is in the center. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the loaf for about 48 minutes. When it is done, the top should be brown, and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped with your finger.

Allow the loaf to completely cool on a wire rack before cutting with a serrated knife.Barmbrack

Happy Halloween! ~ Creole Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Chicken Sausage

Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted PumpkinTo celebrate one of my favorite days, I made a fun and festive dinner – A spicy Creole pumpkin soup served inside of a roasted pumpkin. 🙂

First I roasted a little sugar pumpkin. A friend of mine brought a larger version filled with fondue to a party, and it was a showstopper! I just had to try it! (Thank you for the idea and the tips, Karen!)

Just cut off the top of the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and goop, and then replace the top. Spread olive oil evenly all over the outside of the pumpkin, including the stem. Place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast at 450 until the flesh inside is soft. My little sugar pumpkin only took 40 minutes, but a larger pumpkin would take a little longer.Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted PumpkinYou could use this pumpkin serving bowl with any favorite pumpkin soup recipe. The Creole pumpkin soup I made tonight was based on a recipe from a restaurant in New Orleans called Tableau. The unique soup was a little spicy, and perfect for our Halloween dinner!
Creole Pumpkin Soup in a Roasted Pumpkin

Creole Pumpkin Soup with Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Chicken Sausage

Based on a recipe from Tableau

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved

8 cups water

1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as safflower

12 ounces andouille chicken sausage, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 15-ounce can puréed pumpkin

1 teaspoon mixed Creole or Cajun seasoning

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 rotisserie chicken breast, shredded

In a large stock pot, add the shrimp shells and the water. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain. Reserve the liquid and discard the shells.

Preheat a large stock pot over medium high heat. Once the pot is hot, add the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sausage. Brown the sausage on both sides. Remove the sausage from the pot, and set aside onto a plate lined with a paper towel.

In the same pot, add the onion, celery, and thyme. Cook until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic, and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin and cook until it starts to darken slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp stock, and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring often, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Working in small batches, transfer the mix to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to a pot. Add the Creole seasoning, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken sausage and the chicken breast. Simmer over low heat to combine all of the flavors, about 10 minutes. Add the shrimp, and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through. Serve immediately.

The Witches’ Brew wine bottle printable came from TheGraphicsFairy.com. They are free to use, and oh so cute! I hope you’ll check it out!Halloween Wine Label

National Candy Corn Day ~ Candy Corn Fruit Parfait

Candy Corn Fruit ParfaitThe Halloween countdown is on, and it also happens to be National Candy Corn Day today! 🙂 Here’s a sweet little idea to celebrate – Layer pineapple and oranges with vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt on top.

I hope you have a fun and safe kickoff to the Halloween weekend!

National Pumpkin Day ~ Ghostly Pumpkin Custard

Ghostly Pumpkin CustardHalloween is fast approaching, and today is also National Pumpkin Day. 🙂 To celebrate, I made my favorite pumpkin custards! And because things are starting to get a little spooky around here, I added a little whipped cream ghost with mini chocolate chip eyes.

Have a happy Pumpkin Day!

Everything Pumpkin! ~ Pumpkin Deviled Eggs

Pumpkin Deviled EggsI absolutely love anything and everything pumpkin at this time of the year! (Almost as much as these little squirrels. 😉 ) I love pumpkin muffins, pumpkin custard, pumpkin curry, and now, pumpkin deviled eggs! Mind you, they aren’t pumpkin flavored eggs. That might be a little too much, even for me. 😉 They would be perfect for Halloween or even Thanksgiving.Pumpkin Deviled EggsYou can use your favorite classic deviled egg recipe, or use my lightened version below. The extra paprika mixed in is what gives them their pumpkin color.Pumpkin Deviled EggsPumpkin Deviled Eggs

8 hard boiled eggs, cooled, sliced in half, yolks removed, 1/2 of the yolks reserved

3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for garnish

Salt to taste

1 or 2 fresh chives, cut into one-inch lengths

In a small bowl, stir together the yolks, yogurt, mustard, mayonnaise, paprika, and salt until smooth. With a small spoon, fill the holes in the egg whites with the yolk mixture. (FYI, you will have more whites than yolk mixture if you mound the filling as I did. But no worries, whites are a great snack!) Smooth the mixture with your finger. With the back of a butter knife, make 4 small little lines in each yolk filling to imitate the lines of a pumpkin. Place the cut chives into the yolks to make a “stem.” Sprinkle extra paprika over the top as a garnish.Pumpkin Deviled Eggs

October Teashop Mystery ~ Country Captain

Country CaptainI love a good cozy mystery around Halloween, and right now I am reading the latest teashop mystery from Laura Childs called Ming Tea Murder. It is set in Charleston, South Carolina around Halloween. This is the third book I’ve read in this fun series. (If you’d like, check out the recipes I made to pair with the other two mysteries I have enjoyed from this collection, Steeped in Evil and Jasmine Moon Murder.) In the latest book, one of the characters cooks a dish called Country Captain. It’s a Southern dish, but it uses curry spices, dried currants, and peanuts, which is an unexpected and interesting combination. Just like the book, this recipe combines the East and the West, and it is filled with surprising twists! It’s the perfect pairing. 🙂

I love to learn about the history behind classic dishes, so I dug a little deeper online. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America describes the origin of Country Captain in this way: “Legend has it that a British sea captain who served it in India introduced the dish to locals either in Charleston or Savannah, port cities accustomed to both spices and sailors.”

I used a recipe from Saveur magazine, but I tweaked it a little. First, I used all chicken thighs since they stew beautifully. Make sure to remove the skin or the dish will be far too greasy. I reduced the amount of oil, and omitted the butter and the bacon. I also served it with brown rice rather than white.Country CaptainCountry Captain

Based on a recipe from Saveur magazine

3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons high heat oil, such as safflower

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, 3/4 cup tomato juice reserved

3 tablespoons curry powder

1/3 cup dried currants

2 bay leaves

2 cups steamed brown rice, for serving

Roasted peanuts, for garnish

Season chicken with thyme, salt, and pepper. Preheat a large stock pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken. Sear on both sides until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the celery, peppers, and onion to the pot, and cook until softened. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and juice and cook until the juice thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, currants, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, heat your oven to 325˚.

After the sauce is thickened, add the chicken back to the pot. Spoon the sauce over the meat. Cover and cook in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the meat can easily be shredded off the bone with a fork.

In the meantime, prepare the rice according to the package instructions.

Serve the chicken with the sauce and rice, and garnish with peanuts.Ming Tea Murder

Happy Halloween! ~ Pork Tenderloin and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Halloween DinnerHappy Halloween!

To celebrate, I made a festive autumn dinner tonight of pork tenderloin and squash with a pumpkin seed vinaigrette. I based the recipe on one I found from Bon Appétit. I substituted pork tenderloin for pork chops to make the dish a little leaner. (More room for chocolate Halloween candy later, I figure! 😉 ) I also added more pumpkin seeds than called for, since they are one of the stars of the dish. (And you may have read about my feelings about pumpkin in the last post. 🙂 It’s one of my favorite things!)

Halloween DinnerPork Tenderloin and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit

3 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), plus more for garnish

3 pounds winter squash (such as acorn, kabocha, delicata, or butternut), halved, seeded, cut into 1″ wedges

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

1/2 small garlic clove, crushed into a paste

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread out pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing once, until just beginning to darken, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop; set aside.

Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 25 minutes.

When squash has been roasting for about 20 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and sear until brown on all sides. Finish in the oven until the internal temperature registers 145 degrees. Let rest before slicing.

Whisk garlic, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl to combine. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide squash and pork among plates; spoon vinaigrette over. Top with cilantro leaves and pumpkin seeds.

Halloween DinnerFor dessert, I served pumpkin custard that I dressed up for the holiday. I piped a whipped cream ghost on top and added two mini chocolate chips for his eyes. PS. I wouldn’t recommend eating all the whipped cream, since I made him big and plump! But I love how he looks…He makes me smile. 🙂

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

Whipped Cream Ghost

Halloween Treats ~ Devil’s Food Cupcakes, Updated

Devil's Food CupcakesHalloween is right around the corner!

For the past few years, I have made devil’s food cupcakes to celebrate the season. This year I tried them with whole-wheat pastry flour, and it worked out beautifully! The hearty chocolate flavor stands up to the whole grain, and they are still moist and delicious. I think this will be my new and improved recipe from now on!

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup light olive oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with 14 cupcake papers. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Sift in cocoa and baking soda. Stir to combine. Add flour, and mix until just combined. (Be careful not to mix too much at this point.) Fill each cupcake about ¾ full with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Devil's Food CupcakesI found the little Halloween printables at CatchMyParty.com. They are super cute, and free!

Devil's Food CupcakesCatchMyParty.com also has many other choices for Halloween if you’d rather have a different design. I had a hard time choosing my favorite. 🙂

Devil's Food Cupcakes

Spooky Dinner ~ Chicken Bog

Chicken BogI love to read a good cozy mystery around Halloween. 🙂 Right now, I am enjoying one that takes place in October entitled The Jasmine Moon Murder by Laura Childs. It is another in a series I started this summer, set in a South Carolina tea shop. In the back of the book are recipes that compliment the storyline, including a recipe for a dish called Chicken Bog. Doesn’t that sound spooky and Halloweeny? I learned that the dish is a classic in the Lowcountry, and it is called “bog” because it isn’t a soup, but it is very moist. I thought it would be perfect to make to celebrate the Halloween season!

Chicken BogI based my dish on the recipe provided by Laura Childs, but I made a few tweaks of my own. One of the nice things about this recipe is that you also end up with a few cups of chicken stock to freeze for a future dish. It’s always nice to have homemade chicken stock in the freezer, especially now that the season for soups is right around the corner.

Chicken BogChicken Bog

Based on a recipe from The Jasmine Moon Murder

About 6 servings

6 cups water

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

Salt to taste

3 to 4 pound whole chicken (I used one that my butcher cut up already for ease)

5 carrots, sliced

5 celery stalks, sliced

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

1 cup brown long grain rice

½ lb smoked chicken sausage, sliced

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Place the water, onion, salt, chicken, 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, and peppercorns in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Remove chicken and let cool, reserving the cooking liquid. Let the liquid cool, strain, and skim the fat from the top. Measure 3 ½ cups of the liquid, and pour into a fresh pot. (The remaining liquid can be put into the refrigerator or freezer for a future use.) Remove skin and bones from chicken, and chop into bite sized pieces. Add chicken pieces, remaining 2 carrots, remaining 2 celery stalks, rice, sausage, poultry seasoning, and parsley flakes to the stock. Make sure it is seasoned with enough salt to your liking. Add more if needed. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

The Jasmine Moon Murder

Halloween Dinner ~ Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

I made a pumpkin shrimp curry dish for dinner this Halloween. It is definitely one I’ll keep in my recipe archives to make again and again this fall. The pumpkin and butternut squash with a little bit of spice made it the perfect dish for my favorite autumn holiday. 🙂 Yummy and festive!

The recipe is originally from Bon Appétit magazine. I substituted light coconut milk instead of regular, and brown rice instead of white, but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely.

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup sliced onion

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 plum tomato, chopped

1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup unsweetened light coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup butternut squash, diced and roasted (toss the cubes with olive oil and salt, and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tender)

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Steamed brown rice


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in plum tomato and pumpkin purée; cook, stirring frequently, until pumpkin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and cayenne pepper; simmer for 20 minutes. Add butternut squash, shrimp, and lime juice. Simmer until shrimp are cooked and squash is warm. Serve with a side of rice and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Halloween Celebration ~ Spooky Wine Labels

I have been enjoying the printable freebies on the Elli Blog all year long, and Halloween was no exception. There are some very cute Halloween wine bottle labels to download and print. I used a simple bottle of inexpensive wine, and I cut out and pasted the festive little labels on the bottle. I put one on the front, and one on the back. 🙂

Cheers to a fun and festive Halloween!

Happy Halloween ~ Ghostly Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!

We made devil’s food cupcakes again this year since we enjoyed them so much last year. We tried decorating in a fun and different way this time around, however. My mom gave me some cute little ghost cupcake papers this year, which is what inspired me to make little ghosts on the top. We just used store bought fondant, and don’t plan to eat it ;-). It’s like Play-Doh for adults! We had a really fun evening playing with it. Just roll it out, cut it into circles, and place on top of the cupcakes. Secret: We used a sake glass on top of the cake to keep our little ghost suspended. Wet the end of 2 mini chocolate chips, and stick them on for eyes. So cute!

Here is the recipe for the cakes once again ~

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with 14 cupcake papers. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Sift in flour, cocoa and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fill each cupcake about ¾ full with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Have a fun and spooky Halloween!

Boo! ~ Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!

I was in the mood for something sweet, something chocolately, and something a bit spooky today ;-). Devil’s food cupcakes!

I followed a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, but omitted the frosting. I like them plain or with a little powdered sugar on top. I also made them cupcakes instead of full cakes since I wanted to use the cute little Halloween spider cupcake papers I had :).

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with 14 cupcake papers. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Sift in flour, cocoa and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fill each cupcake about ¾ full with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

They really couldn’t be easier, so this will definitely be a go-to recipe when I am craving chocolate cake! They would be great for birthdays or showers or whenever :).

I also found a website with really cute Halloween labels for everything from wine bottles to beer bottles to water bottles. They can be found at this link from Centsational Girl’s blog. I picked my favorite, printed it on regular printer paper, and stuck it to a bottle of our house wine with two sided tape. So cute!

I hope you have a fun Halloween evening! Now it’s time for the trick or treating to begin!

All Hallow’s Eve ~ Black and Orange Halloween Pasta

Happy Halloween!

We had a fun little Halloween dinner tonight based on the colors of the holiday – Black squid ink pasta and Kalamata olives with orange butternut squash and bell peppers. It not only looked festive and elegant, but the flavors also worked very well together. I would highly recommend it for your next Halloween dinner party if you’d like to try something new and fun :).

The trickiest part of the recipe was finding the black pasta. If you live in the Seattle area, Pasta & Co. has it in stock.  The flavor is about the same as typical pasta, but the look really stands out. I think it’s well worth the hunt for this recipe.

Black and Orange Halloween Pasta

From Epicurious.com

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

2 orange bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound black linguine or spaghetti (squid or cuttlefish ink pasta)

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Toss squash and bell peppers with garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 17- by 11-inch 4-sided sheet pan. Roast, stirring once, until vegetables are just tender and browned in spots, 25 to 35 minutes.

While vegetables finish roasting, cook linguine in a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot.

Remove sheet pan from oven and pour reserved water over vegetables, stirring to loosen from pan. Stir in olives, then add vegetable mixture to pasta in pot and toss to combine.

We paired dinner with a red wine by Owen Roe Winery called Sinister Hand. Ooooh, spooky! 😉 Also yummy! 🙂

Halloween Season ~ Applesauce Spice Muffins

I made a couple of batches of applesauce spice muffins to warm up the house on chilly October days. The original recipe was from Gourmet magazine, and it can be found at Epicurious.com. I used a few tricks to make these treats a little healthier, though ;).  I substituted whole-wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour, I reduced the sugar a little and I replaced the butter with a blend of canola oil and light sour cream.

Applesauce Spice Muffins

Muffin Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs

1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup and 3 tablespoons light sour cream

1 cup unsweetened applesauce (cinnamon or plain work well)

1 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Topping Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ cup sliced almonds (optional)

Put your oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. Grease the muffin pan or line it with cupcake papers.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar, then whisk in the canola oil and sour cream until well combined. Stir in the applesauce. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until the flour is just moistened. Stir in the nuts at this point if you are using them. Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups.

For the topping, stir together all of the topping ingredients with the almonds if you are using them.  Sprinkle evenly over the muffins.

Bake until the muffins are puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted should come out clean.

Happy Halloween!