Halloween Dipped Marshmallows

My kids were the taste testers for these dipped marshmallows and my 6 and 8-year olds gave their approval on them.

Not only are they cute, they’re super easy to make.  I melted down 50 pink and 50 yellow Wilton’s melting chips to get the orange color.  Insert a lollipop stick into the bottom of each one, dip in the melted candy coating, then add sprinkles on top……voila, a cute Halloween treat!  The Halloween sprinkles add color and a crunch to each bite too.

These are also really cute as gifts.  You can buy lollipop wrappers at your local craft store and tie them off with a ribbon and a tag.  What little vampire wouldn’t want to sink his teeth into these?

I used glass cups filled with rice and decorated with ribbon to stand the marshmallows up.  I also die cut the spiders on my Cricut machine and glued it on some printed sticker paper I designed and now the three containers are cohesive.  These three are destined for my Halloween party dessert table tonight!

Caramel Apples in Orange Spider Webs

I had my friend Valeria come over, so I decided to put her to work.  Isn’t that what friends are for?  Neither of us have ever made caramel apples before, so today was as good a time as any to try.   They were easier than I expected.

I had to make some with nuts and some without because my son has a peanut allergy.

The no nut apples got the green spider rings and the rest got orange.

 

 

Dip the apples into the melted caramel and right into the nuts before it has a chance to harden.

 

 

If you have peanut allergies in your family too, make sure you brush the chocolate onto the apples with no nuts first. The nuts do end up falling off into your chocolate bowl or sticking to the brush.

 

 

The orange spider web is actually melting chips.  I got creative and melted pink and yellow together to get orange.  The drizzle reminded me of spider webs, so they are aptly named.

 

 

Caramel Apples

12 small granny smith apples

12 wooden sticks

2 packages traditional caramels (Kraft brand)

4 Tbsp water

2 cups melted milk chocolate (Hershey brand)

2 cups mixed nuts, chopped

30 pink melting chips

30 yellow melting chips

Wash and dry the apples and remove stems.  Stick the wooden stick through the top, making sure the stick is straight.  In a small pot, add the caramels and water and melt on medium heat.  Cover a sheet pan with wax paper and butter the paper well so the caramel apples do not stick to the wax paper.

Once caramel is melted, dip the apples in, making sure you shake it to get all the excess off.  Roll in chopped nuts. Place on buttered wax paper.  Once caramel is hardened, use a pastry brush to brush on the milk chocolate.  Let sit until chocolate is dry.

Combine the pink and yellow melting chips in the microwave and stir to get the orange color.  Spoon into a piping bag and drizzle onto the apples.

 

 

Layered Chicken Enchilada

 

I love Mexican food and one of my favorite items is the enchilada.  Until I tried to make them myself, I didn’t realize that each one of those tasty rolled-up tortillas was dipped into hot oil so they don’t crack when being rolled.  Wow, talk about unnecessary calories!

This is why I decided to lay the tortillas flat and remove oil from the list of ingredients altogether. This layered style is just as tasty and you really get the same flavors and I bet you won’t miss the oil one bit.  Over time, I decided to add the beans and corn for some more color and texture.

My kids love enchilada night, except their plates are dotted with the  beans and corn when they’re done eating.  That’s what I get, trying to hide something nutritious in their food!

 

Layered Chicken Enchilada

1 package white corn tortillas

3 chicken breasts, shredded

1 large can (28 oz) green enchilada sauce

1 small can (4 oz) diced green chiles

1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained

shredded cheddar cheese

 

Toppings

shredded lettuce

chopped tomatoes

sour cream

salsa

 

Bake chicken breasts in the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.  Allow to cool, then shred and add to a bowl with 1 cup of enchilada sauce, salt and pepper.

Pour enough enchilada sauce into a 9×13 glass baking dish to coat the bottom.  Pour half the can of sauce into a bowl and dip each tortilla into the sauce to coat.  Layer the bottom of the dish.  Next, add some green chiles, chicken, corn, beans and then cheese.  Repeat the layers until the dish is full or you run out of ingredients.  Finish the last layer with tortillas and the remaining enchilada sauce and cover the top with cheese.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and warmed through.

Let sit for about 10 minutes.  Plate with your choice of lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and salsa.

 

 

Cranberry Orange Scones with Devonshire Cream

One of the best parts of baking these scones is the way it makes my house smell.  My kitchen is perfumed with the scent of sweet and tangy oranges.  The second best thing is, of course the taste.  The cranberries also add a nice sweetness along with the orange glaze on top.  These scones are crumbly and perfect with devonshire cream and orange marmalade.

I brought these to a brunch potluck and they were a hit.  The cream compliments the dense texture of the scones and the marmalade just drives home the orange flavor.  They are a nice brunch treat and would be even better with a cup o’ tea (imagine me saying that in a British accent!).

 

Cranberry Orange Scones

from Ina Garten

 

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 cup dried cranberries

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 4-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

 

 

Homemade devonshire cream and orange marmalade.  I used the Knott’s brand marmalade.

 

Devonshire Cream

4 oz (1/2 pkg.) cream cheese, softened

4 Tbsp (½ stick) butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

 

Wisk together the first four ingredients.  Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and fold into cream cheese mixture.

 

Lion Head Meatballs

Don’t let the name of this dish scare you. There is no lion meat in this recipe! Lions head refers to the look of this dish. As you can see here in my wok, the meatball would be the head of the lion and the napa cabbage, the mane. Do you see it?

These flavorful meatballs are about the size of baseballs, swimming in a rich meaty broth with the cabbage.  The broth is great over steamed rice and it’s basically a one pot dish. There’s just something really homey about one pot dishes, don’t you think?

This is definitely a comfort food for me.  My mom wouldn’t make it often because we really didn’t eat much ground beef, so it was always a treat.  And, if you eat these meatballs, you ‘ll be as strong as a lion………….maybe!

Lion Head Meatballs

from Ching-He Huang

Meatballs

1 pound 2 ounces ground beef

2 ounces Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch white pepper

Assembly

3 1/2 ounces oil

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

11 ounces Chinese cabbage, quartered lengthwise from leaf to stem end

3 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch, blended with 2 tablespoons cold water, optional

salt and white pepper

2 large green onions, sliced

For the meatballs:

Put the ground beef, rice wine, garlic, spring onions, egg, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, salt, and white pepper into a large bowl to combine, stirring in the same direction.

Using wet hands, scoop a large mound of the ground meat mixture, and mold it into a ball. Transfer the meatball to a plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.

For the assembly:

Pour the oil into a large deep pan, and heat over a high heat. Using a metal ladle, carefully lower each meatball into the oil, and spoon some of the oil over the meatballs. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned.

Pour all but 2 tablespoons of oil into a heat-proof bowl. Add the vegetable stock to the pan. Arrange the quarters of Chinese cabbage around the meatballs, curving them lengthwise around the sides of the pan, then add the mushrooms, and soy sauce. Bring everything to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce its heat, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Add the blended cornstarch slurry, if using, and stir until the sauce thickens.

Remove the pan from the heat, and season with salt, and white pepper, to taste, and sprinkle over the spring onion slices. Transfer the dish to a warm serving platter, and serve immediately.

Caprese Salad Skewers

I know, technically this isn’t cooking.  It’s more like arranging of food.

This dish came to be, due to the abundance of basil in my herb garden.  The caterpillars were having a feast on my basil plant this spring, so I figured I’d fight back and use up some of it.

The beautiful cherry tomatoes are from a friend’s garden.  She had tomatoes overgrowing and was more than happy to share with me.  And being the good friend, I took them.

 

I love how even in their food, Italians are so patriotic.  Can’t you see the Italian flag colors in this dish?

This is a great appetizer or salad.  It’s refreshing and just tastes like a spring garden.  All it needs is a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bring out the richness and tang of the fresh ingredients.

The presentation is the most fun for me.  I like how the bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) and tomatoes are the same size and just lends itself to be skewered.  Either that or you end up chasing these round little things around the plate with your fork.  I figure I’d be kind to my guests and make it easy on them.  I try to be a good host, you know!

 

Pork Potstickers

 

Italians have the ravioli, Argentina the  empanada, Poland the pierogi, and the Chinese have the wonderful POTSTICKER or guo tie/jiao zi (for my Chinese friends out there).

 

Here is the classic potsticker I grew up eating. Whenever my parents would make these, our kitchen would turn into a Chinese potsticker factory. Because it was such a task, they always made more than we were going to eat that day.  My parents would freeze extras on trays and we would always have a stockpile in the freezer, ready to go. Our freezer was not your typical American freezer with frozen waffles and ice cream. No…….we had whole fish frozen in mid swim, fish balls, Chinese sweet sausage, and of course bags and bags of potstickers.

I remember learning a new part of the process each year as I got older.  When I was really little, I was only allowed to be the water dabber (that step comes later).  I graduated to spooning the filling onto the wrapper and when I was a teenager, my dad took we under his wing and showed me the art of folding the potsticker.  It was an exciting day!  Of course my sad, long, flat looking dumpling looked nothing like his stately plump ones.  But, as you’ll see from the following pictures, I mastered it at last.

 

This the filling.  Notice the ground pork has a good marbling of fat.  My local grocery store has prepackaged ground pork that is too lean and has no fat.  I make a special trip to the Asian grocery store to stock up on my ingredients when I make these potstickers.

This filling is succulent and turns out so juicy after they’re cooked because of the cabbage in it. Of course the pork fat doesn’t hurt either.

 

This is my mini-potsticker factory. Everything is strategically placed for ease of wrapping these delicious bundles of meat filling.

 

Dab your finger into the bowl of water and make a wet ring around the potsticker wrapper.

 

Pinch the center points together.

 

I start from the right side and fold and pinch for a puckered effect.

 

Fold and pinch the left side.

 

Here’s the cute puckered back side.

 

If you’re counting, there are 60 potstickers on this tray.  I had to use another tray to fit the rest.  Two packages of wrappers make about 100 potstickers.

 

 

 

Here they are getting pan fried.

 

I tipped them over to show you their lovely brown, crunchy bottoms. That’s the best part.

They’re all nice and juicy, just ready for a swim in my dipping sauce.

 

Pork Potstickers

2 pounds ground pork

1 head cabbage

4 green onion, chopped

2 Tbsp grated ginger

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp pepper

2 packages of dumpling wrappers

vegetable oil

 

Dipping sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp pepper

chili sauce (optional)

sesame seeds (optional)

 

Start by cutting the head of cabbage into quarters and boil in a pot, with enough water to cover the cabbage.  When leaves are wilted and cooked through, drain it and let cool before handling. Squeeze all the excess water out and chop into fine dice. It’s very important to get all the water out, or else you’ll have a watered down, loose filling.

Add cabbage to a large bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix well until incorporated. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of filling into middle of wrapper.  Dab a ring of water around wrapper and begin wrapping.

To cook the potstickers, start with enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your pan.  Place potstickers in flat side down. Wait for bottoms to brown. Add a quarter cup of water to the pan and quickly put a lid on the pan to allow the potstickers to steam until all the liquid is gone, about 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.

Mix dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and dip the potstickers.  Enjoy!!

Neopolitan Ice Cream Cake

My son’s favorite ice cream is neopolitan.  He loves the 3-in-1 combo of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  So for his birthday, I decided to make him a neopolitan ice cream cake.  I made chocolate cake, used strawberry ice cream and vanilla whipped cream.

 

This was much easier to make than I thought.  Store bought strawberry ice cream helped a lot.  The chocolate cake is the same recipe as from my daughter’s birthday cake, except I baked it in a square pan this time.

Can you tell my family loves this cake recipe?

 

Just remove the cake and slice in half, horizontally.

 

 

Layer on the strawberry ice cream (that’s been sitting out for about 10 minutes, to soften).  Place the top layer of cake on the ice cream and put it back into the freezer to harden.

Meanwhile make your vanilla whipped cream.

 

Fill a piping bag, fitted with a star tip and pipe away!

The best part of this cake is when you remove a slice of it and you can see the layering effect of the ice cream and cake together.  The colors are also glorious together! The flavor, well………..even better!

 

If nothing else, I’ve made this little man plenty happy!

Open Face Egg Salad Sandwich

 

I saw this recipe on Foodnetwork’s, The Best Thing I Ever Ate show.  This recipe had me at “soft boiled egg.” Call me crazy, but I love runny egg yolks.  It’s also one of the reasons I love eggs benedict.  I’d never seen an egg salad sandwich look so gourmet, so I had to give it a try.

It delivered on so many levels. The crunchy whole wheat toast and greens and of course my runny yolks.  This is packed with flavor and texture beyond any egg salad sandwich you’ve had as a kid. This is what egg salad sandwiches want to be when they grow up!

 

Open Face Egg Salad Sandwich

2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

2 Tbsp sundried tomato pesto

1 cup mesclun salad mix

3 eggs, soft boiled

1 Tbsp chives, chopped

salt

pepper

 

Put your eggs in a pot and add enough water to cover them.  Bring water to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium and allow to cook for 6 minutes, they will be soft and runny. Toast your bread and spread with sundried tomato pesto on each slice. Top with mesclun salad greens and add the eggs on top.  Add salt and pepper to taste and finish with chopped chives.

Ciabatta Turkey Burger

 

The first time I had this burger was at my friend Cindy’s house.  I was surprised when she told me what she was serving, because I automatically think of turkey burger as healthy, which equals no flavor.  Boy was I wrong!  The addition of all the aromatic ingredients really made the burger pop.  She also cooked it just perfectly, not overdried, which is easy to do with lean turkey.

I came home and decided to make it, but with a ciabatta bun, not a regular burger bun.  I really love the chewiness and crisp outer crust of the bread.  It adds another layer of texture to the whole thing. It also doesn’t hurt that the ciabatta makes it look a little fancier too! I love fancy!!

 

Ciabatta Turkey Burger

2 ½ pounds ground turkey

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 egg

½ cup red pepper, diced

¼ cup red onion, diced

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp ketchup

1 Tbsp chile powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

pinch cayenne pepper

 

For sandwich

8 ciabatta buns

mayonnaise

mustard

8 slices cheese

8 leaves of lettuce

1 tomato, sliced

1 avocado, sliced

Put ground turkey into a large bowl.  Add all other ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  Form into 8 burger patties.  Grill on panini press about 7 minutes or until done and juices run clear.  If you don’t have a panini press, you can pan fry them in a hot pan with 2 Tbsp of cooking oil for about 4 minutes a side.  Either way, do not overcook. Turkey burgers can dry out very quickly.

I serve the turkey burgers on a ciabatta bun, with mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and avocado.