Friday, October 30, 2009

Three Little Ghosties

Three little ghosties sat on their posties, eating burnt toasties, telling big boasties.

Said Ghostie Number One, “I went to scare ghoulsies, sitting in their schoolsies, learning spelling rulsies. I went WOOOO, WOOOO, WOOOO, WOOOO, BOOOO!”

“And they all dropped their booksies with silly frightened looksies, then ran away home to bed.”

Hee, hee, hee," laughed the three little ghosties.

“Well,” said Ghostie Number Two, “I scared some mean witches, sitting in dark ditches, lipsticking their lipses, plotting evil trickses. I went clank, clank, clank, shiver, shake, BOOO!”

“And they jumped with the frighties, then flew off in their nighties to hide in the deep dark wood.”

Hee, hee, hee,” laughed the three little ghosties.

Ghostie Number Three said, “I scared a huge ogre, as big as six treeses, standing in the breezes, picking at his fleases. I spooked him with a moan, groan, BOOO!”

"He galumphed through the woodses, the fastest he couldses. "I want my mommy," he said."

"Hee, hee, hee," laughed the three little ghosties.

Then the three little ghosties, all sitting on their posties, had finished their burnt toasties. Said Ghostie Number One, "Now what shall we do for a bit of fun? Let's go haunting and scare some girlsies!"

"Yeah, and boyses too!"

So they flew off their posties and came wailing, sailing, flailing down to my house. WOOOO, WOOOO, WOOOO!"

They ghostie slither slid through the window cracksies and creak-pushed opened my door. They thought I was asleep so they started to creep, Creepy, creepy, whisper, whisper, closer, closer!

They opened their mouths and...

...I sat up in bed and shouted. "BOOO!"

yelped the ghosties. They tumble-tangle fled out from my bedroom and into the night.

Quivering like jellies, those three little ghosties wobbled to their posties, sucking on their thumbsies, waiting for their momsies, who came and caught and scolded them and sent them home to BED!

From the children's book "Three Little Ghosties", by Pippa Goodhart

Ghostie Cupcakes
1 cake mix of your choice, plus ingredients as needed on the box
24 cupcake wrappers
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
½ cup Crisco
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
Dash of Popcorn salt (fine salt), to taste
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
About 3 pounds powdered sugar
Warm water until fluffy to taste (About 5 to 6 Tablespoons)
Wilton Black Cookie Icing, in the ready to use container (Optional)
48 mini chocolate chips for eyes

1. Prepare cupcakes according to package directions. Cool completely.

2. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, except the black cookie icing and mini chocolate chips, in a stand mixer and beat for about 5 minutes or until fluffy to taste.

3. Using a piping bag with a round Wilton tip 1A, drizzle the black icing inside the bag in one or two stripes. Then stuff the bag with frosting.

4. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes in a spiral motion. Press in mini chocolate chips backwards for eyes, and draw the mouths on with the black Wilton icing using a toothpick. Dot the eyes with the black icing for pupils.

Recipe and picture by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Microwavable Monster Munch in Minutes

I’m running out of time! Soon I won’t get to make silly food and use fun Halloween props. This makes me sad. When else can I get away with something as crazy as pumpkin shaped calzones and alcoholic punch in skull goblets?

I better make the most of these two very short days. I have so many ideas on my brain-storm sheet I never got to. There is always next year I suppose, if I can remember where I put it by then!

This fall style Chex Mix is heading to my daughter’s school Halloween party tomorrow. The recipe is from one of those holiday magazines that sit temptingly next to the checkout of my grocery store. I just can’t help myself, every year I buy and hoard all the Halloween publications. I become a kid again, and spend tons of time plotting out juvenile gory goodies to make during the month of October.

I hope the kids will like this one. My husband was pilfering it off the tray as it was cooling, but I’m guessing 7-year-olds will be eating cupcakes long before they dig their hands into this!

Speaking of which, I need to go make those. Vivarin. I need Vivarin. Or a triple shot espresso.

Monster Munch
4 cups Chex Cereal (I used corn Chex)
4 cups popped popcorn
1 cup honey-roasted cashews (Honey-roasted peanuts were much cheaper)
1 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds (They were shelled in the picture, so I bought raw ones from the bulk isle).
¼ cup butter or margarine
6 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup candy corn

1. In a 4-quart microwavable bowl, mix cereal, popcorn, cashews and pumpkin seeds; set aside.

2. In a medium microwavable bowl, microwave butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla uncovered on High about 2 minutes or until mixture is boiling; stirring after 1 minute; stir in pumpkin pie spice. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.

3. Microwave 5 to 6 minutes, stirring and scraping bowl after every minute. Spread on waxed paper to cool, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up.

4. Stir in candy corn. Store in airtight container.

Recipe from Pillsbury’s Halloween magazine, 2009. Pictures by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Calzones and a Mystery Solved

I solved the mystery of the missing meatloaf! Ok, so that isn’t true. My detailed-obsessed friend Dishboy Scott, found the now rancid meaty loaf inside a large cottage cheese container tucked way back inside my refrigerator.

I seriously thought I was going crazy. Now I know I’m just senile. I can’t even remember putting the darn thing in there.

You wanted to know all this didn’t you? No? Ok, well moving on then.

These charming/silly pumpkin calzone sandwich thingies are all natural. The dough is light orange from pumpkin infused dough, and then finger painted with a paste mix of unsweetened cocoa powder and water. The paste tastes surprisingly good baked into the dough, not at all like sweet chocolate. This pocket sandwich is savory and a touch garlicky, as opposed to a normally sweet pumpkin creation.

I found that the fuller I made the calzones, the more pumpkin-shaped they became. The dough itself is delicious, and my new favorite. I’ll be using it for pizza, rolls, and other savory breads in the future.

Pumpkin Calzones
1 recipe Savory Pumpkin Pizza Dough (Below)
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple in pineapple juice
4 Provolone cheese slices
Thinly sliced deli ham, torn into pieces
Thinly sliced onion slivers
Thinly sliced bell peppers
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Olive oil for brushing
Salt & Pepper
Crushed red pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon water or enough to make a thick paste
Warm marinara sauce
A few small basil leaves for decoration (optional)

1. Strain the juice from the pineapple in a colander, pressing the juice out with the back of a spoon.

2. Divide the dough into four equal sized pieces. Then divide those pieces in half.

3. Roll out each piece until quite thin and place four of the pieces on two cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Brush the 4 pieces of dough all the way to the edge with olive oil.

4. Then top each with a slice of provolone, then top with ham, onion, bell peppers, some pineapple, ½ cup shredded mozzarella, a little salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste leaving a ¾” boarder.

5. Top calzones with the other dough pieces, pinching well to seal. Then pull the top up into a stem shape, and give it a little divit on the bottom. Brush tops with olive oil.

6. With your fingers, paint the stem brown with the cocoa paste. Then paint four lines down the pumpkins, smearing in the paste.

7. Cover the pumpkins with another sheet of parchment or a clean towel and rest in a warm place for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

8. Uncover the pumpkins and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until done. Poke a small hole near the stem with a knife and tuck in a piece of basil for a leaf.

9. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping or smothering calzone.

Makes 4 large calzones.

Savory Pumpkin Pizza Dough
½ cup barely warm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
3 ½ cups bread flour
1 cup canned pumpkin, (Not pumpkin pie filling)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Measure water in a wet measuring cup and stir in the honey and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. In a stand mixer with a dough hook add all the ingredients including the yeast mixture and knead for several minutes.

3. Turn the dough onto a clean surface and knead with your hands for a couple more minutes. Coat a large bowl with a little olive oil, toss in the dough turning coat once to coat, and cover in plastic wrap.

4. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until large and poufy.

Recipes by Laura Flowers

Monday, October 26, 2009

Savory Pumpkin Pizza Dough

I snuck in some real pumpkin for the cute pumpkin shaped calzones I'm attempting this evening. I don't know if they'll be very pumpkin shaped after baking, but they should taste good at least!

This dough isn’t sweet like most pumpkin recipes. Its savory and a touch garlicky. Use it for pizza, calzones, bread sticks, focaccia, or savory rolls.

½ cup barely warm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
3 ½ cups bread flour
1 cup canned pumpkin, (Not pumpkin pie filling)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Measure water in a wet measuring cup and stir in the honey and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. In a stand mixer with a dough hook add all the ingredients including the yeast mixture and knead for several minutes.

3. Turn the dough onto a clean surface and knead with your hands for a couple more minutes. Coat a large bowl with a little olive oil, toss in the dough turning coat once to coat, and cover in plastic wrap.

4. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until large and poufy.

1. Three cream sauce recipes for pizza here.

2. Fast and easy red pizza sauce recipe here.

3. Pizza grilling information can be found here.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bloody Apple Cranberry Cocktails

Hiccup. I think this punch has been thoroughly tested for Halloween.

For a kid friendly version, ditch the alcohol and add an extra bottle of chilled sparkling apple cider.


1 (12 FL OZ) container frozen 100% cranberry juice, thawed
1 (25.4 FL OZ) bottle Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider, chilled
1 cup apple flavored vodka
1/2 cup cranberry schnapps
4 cups very cold water, or ice water mix (For more intense cranberry flavor in the non alcoholic punch, use less water.)


Stir everything together in a pitcher and serve.

Note: This cocktail recipe makes for a comforting warm drink on a cold day. Pour punch into a Crockpot, warm on the stove in a large pot, or microwave individual portions. Serve in mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick if desired.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jack O’ Lantern Hand Pies with Pumpkin Date Filling

I'm having a big creative stream of conscious day. One thought lead to another and these delicious hand pies were born. I can’t stay and chat for long though, I have several other ideas I want to get started on before Halloween!

You’re going to have about two cups of leftover filling. Make more pies if you wish, bake it into a tart, use it as a dip for cookies, or spread it on buttered toast. I’m going to try it on a pizza with brie, walnuts, dates, and honey this evening. I’ll write that down too if it goes well.

The pumpkin stencil cookie cutter comes in a holiday set made by Progressive.

1 package pie dough for a double crust
1 1/3 cups roasted or canned pumpkin puree
5 large whole fresh Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup regular cream cheese, softened and slightly warm (fat free will not work)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten together for egg wash
Raw sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a food processor puree the dates and granulated sugar together until mainly smooth.

3. Add the dark brown sugar, salt, cream cheese, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, and vanilla extract and puree until smooth. Scrap down the sides as needed. Set aside.

4. Gently roll out the pie dough just until smooth between two pieces of wax paper. Make 7 cuts with the pumpkin cutter outline very close together going around the pie dough in a circle, and then an 8th cut right in the middle. Take the stencil part of the cutter, and press faces into 4 pumpkins. Repeat with second dough.

5. Place the pumpkins without faces on the cookie sheet. Brush the edges lightly with egg wash. Take 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of filling and spread it around the pumpkin leaving the edges clear. Too much filling will ooze out so be careful here.

6. Press the faces gently on top of the puree and seal the edges with your fingers. Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with a little raw sugar.

7. Bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 8 hand pies

Recipe and picture by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Candy Corn Cookies

Thanks to Betty Crocker I made cute little candy corn cookies. Err, strike that. Thanks to a neat idea by Betty Crocker and 97 reviews I was able to make these cookies without having to throw out two pouches worth of sugar cookie dough.

Over the years I must have saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars from reading reviews that real recipe users write on food sites. If you’re one of those people, my wallet and sanity thank you.

Candy Corn Cookies
Please scan the instructions before getting started.


2/3 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 egg
2 pouches (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
Wilton’s yellow paste food color (Found at Michael’s)
Wilton’s orange paste food color (Found at Michael’s)

Pick one set of extracts for flavoring cookies.

½ teaspoon coconut extract
½ teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon orange extract


2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract

1. Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with waxed paper, extending paper over sides of pan.

2. In a stand mixer beat the eggs until mixed. With the mixer on low speed pour in the butter. *If adding the vanilla and almond extracts do so after adding the butter* Then stop the mixer and add the sugar cookie mix. Beat until just combined.

3. Divide the dough into three equal parts. Put 1 section back into the mixer and add ½ teaspoon coconut extract if using. Beat until combined, then set dough aside.

4. Next, add another section of dough to the mixer with ½ teaspoon lemon extract if using and a very small amount of yellow food color paste until desired color. Beat until combined and set aside.

5. Add the last dough section to the mixer with ½ teaspoon orange extract if using and a very small amount of orange food color paste. Mix until combined.

6. Pat the yellow dough into the wax paper lined pan. Press gently with the back of a dry measuring cup to even out the dough. Next, add the orange dough and repeat. Then spread the plain dough across the top.

7. Fold the wax paper over the cookie dough and refrigerate overnight, or freeze for 1 ½ hours, and thaw on the counter for 20 or so minutes until workable.

8. Once chilled, dump the dough out into a cutting surface. Pry the dough apart from the pan with a spatula between the wax paper and pan if needed before turning out.

9. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

10. Cut dough into ¼ inch thick slices. Then cut slices into triangles as shown. You’ll have some edge pieces left over. These can be kneaded together gently and made into marbled drop cookies or rolled and cut with a cookie cutter later.

11. Place cookies on sheets 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes until very lightly golden on the sides. *To make candy corn shape: working quickly after cookies come out of the oven, take two spatulas and gently move the 2 sides back into shape.* If the cookies harden before you can finish the sheet, stick them back in the oven for two minutes to soften.

12. Cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Makes many dozens of little cookies.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker. Pictures by Laura Flowers

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Case of the Missing Meatloaf, Its 1950s Replacement, and a Goat

I lost my meatloaf last week and can’t find it anywhere. How does one lose a meatloaf? I thought I placed the leftovers in a small container. Did I actually do this? Am I going crazy? No one claims to have touched it, and Rocky the Dogapotamus is much too short to reach the counter, and hasn’t yet figured out how to open the refrigerator.

This has left me particularly on edge and paranoid. My running shoes went missing too, but then I remembered tripping over them in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom. I’ve lost my keys as usual, but they somehow turned up as well. So where is this missing meatloaf? Even the container is gone.

I think I’m losing my mind.

Anyway, I decided to replace the missing meatloaf with a recipe out of the 1950s The Family Home Cookbook I purchased from Evalois, a woman in Lewiston, Idaho who's purging her life-long cookbook collection.

When I open this book I can’t help myself, I start to laugh and can’t stop. Every savory recipe in this nutty text is seasoned with enough salt to make your eyes twitch, and don’t forget the Accent! Accent is a seasoning product consisting of MSG and a few specks of spices. No wonder everyone who lived through the 1950s has such fond food memories. I would too if everything I ate had MSG in it, including the water for all those boiled vegetables. Of course I would have also had a killer headache.

I wonder if enough people smoked that they could no longer taste food without the excess salt saturation. Or maybe people were accustomed to more salt back then, and our food today is too bland. Or just maybe we spice our food today instead of salting it to the hilt all the time. Who knows, I’m just guessing here, but I can see why physicians used to tell their patients to cut back on the salt!

I’ve copied the recipe for you in its original form, including the bold of the ingredient list and their spacing. I left notes in parentheses the way I made it, but feel free to follow the original recipe. Just don’t complain I didn’t warn you.

I’m still missing my meatloaf. I’m afraid that I’m going to find it in a cupboard five years from now. I wonder if one can smell rotting meatloaf through an airtight plastic container.

This might be further proof I’m going nuts, or perhaps it might prove I’m not as crazy as I think I am. Driving down a main street in the city of Clarkston, Washington last week I spotted a man walking his goat on a leash. I thought I must have been seeing things, and decided to turn around and stop my car.

Whew, I wasn’t seeing things. This guy was taking Scooby Doo the Goat, his beloved potty trained house pet for a walk. All I had on me was my lame camera phone, but I had to grab a shot anyway. I didn't catch the man’s name, but he looks identical to the "Miner 49er" from the old Scooby Doo cartoon. So Miner 49er he is.

Miner 49er asked me not to call Scooby a goat, as he believes himself to be a dog. And you thought I was crazy? Although I admit, a pet goat might be a lot of fun to walk down a city street.

Meat Muffins
(Heh. I like the words, "meat muffins".)

Grease twelve 2 1/2–in. muffin-pan wells. (These grease grenades do fine in a nonstick pan without any extra grease)

Combine and mix lightly
1 ¼ lbs. ground beef
½ lb. ground pork
2 cups (2 slices) soft bread crumbs
(Ground up in the food processor for me)
1 cup milk (way too much, I added a ½ cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

and a mixture of
2 teaspoons salt (Holy cow, cut this in half unless you really really like salt)
1 teaspoon accent
(Does this really need an MSG bomb on top of too much salt?)
½ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon pepper

Divide mixture into 12 equal portions. Pack meat mixture lightly into muffin wells.

Bake at 350°F about 40 min.

Meanwhile, blend together and set aside
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup

After 20 min. of baking time, spoon about 2 teaspoons ketchup mixture on top of each meat muffin and continue baking. Unmold.

12 Meat Muffins

UNMOLD MEAT LOAVES-With spatula, gently loosen meat from sides of pan. Pour off excess juices; invert onto platter and remove pan. For meat loaves with topping, pour off excess juices and lift loaf onto platter with two wide spatulas.

Recipe from “The Family Home Cookbook” by the Staff Home Economists at the Culinary Arts Institute. Melanie De Proft, Director. Copyright 1956 & 1963. Pictures and write-up by Laura Flowers, cartoon still from Scooby Doo.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hijacked by Man Food, Dishboy’s Hostile Takeover

So if you haven’t already figured it out, this blog post is not coming to you from Laura. This is Laura’s friend Scott, otherwise known as “the Dishboy”. It is Saturday morning, and I didn’t feel like eating another bowl of cereal, by myself, at my house. So, as Laura was running around, busily preparing to leave town for the weekend, I invited myself over to make breakfast for myself in her kitchen. She said, “sure, come on over” (I think she was just too preoccupied to protest much).

I had a thought in mind as to what I might like, and upon questioning, it turns out that she had all the ingredients (except the one “secret ingredient” that really makes this sandwich) that needed to be used up anyway, as she was going out of town. Knowing that I abhor the thought of food (of all things) going to waste, I figured that I’d do her the favor of hijacking her kitchen, and using her stove/equipment/dishes to MAKE SURE that food didn’t end up getting thrown out. I’m sure that she appreciated that…as no one wants to live with wasted food weighing on their conscience, right?

So, I went to my freezer and got out a couple of frozen hash brown patties, hopped on my motorcycle and sped over to her house with the patties in the pocket of my coat. Upon arriving, I immediately made myself at home in her kitchen and started to cook. Okay, so it’s time to come out of the closet: Yes, ladies, I’m more than just a pretty face standing at the dish sink…I can cook too! (Although I try not to let that secret get out as then people won’t have as much sympathy for the “poor single guy” and invite me to dinner)

I’ve been making these occasionally for a few years now, and they are commonly referred to as “bagel sandwiches” at my house. You can vary your gastronomic experience by changing the meats in the sandwiches to suit your taste and what you happen to have on hand. At my house, I usually have some kind of sliced ham lunch meat on hand, and I like the contrasting taste of a good quality sliced roast beef from the supermarket deli counter. These particular sandwiches were made with Laura’s bacon left over from pizza night and the expensive sliced deli chicken she feeds to her dog (yeah, I know…it’s a long story). I’ve also previously used, with success, things like: Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, Canadian bacon, etc. However, to be authentic, you should always use two different meats, sliced American Cheese, and definitely frozen hash brown patties. (Yes, I also know that American Cheese barely qualifies as “cheese”. I’m a GREAT LOVER of cheese, but these sandwiches just seem “right” with American.)

You should have seen Laura’s face when she came into the kitchen and got her first glimpse of this monstrosity. Once she stopped laughing, of course she had to take a picture! I decided that since I’d hijacked her kitchen this morning, I may as well hijack her blog for the day as well. The picture you see is the result of my creation. These are not for the faint at heart! The calorie load on one of these things weighs in at a whopping 1186 calories, so warning: you may not be hungry for lunch. I hope you enjoy them.

1 bagel
2 large eggs
3 pieces bacon (or thin breakfast sausage patties)
2 slices deli-counter sliced lunch meat
1 slice American Cheese
1 or 2 pre-prepared frozen hash brown patties

1. If you are using uncooked meats (such as breakfast sausage or bacon), you should cook them first, according to your normal practice. Set aside when done.

2. Add approximately 1-2 tablespoons oil to a nonstick skillet, and fry hash brown patties over medium-high heat (or per package instructions).

3. While the hash browns are cooking, I briefly add the pre-cooked style meat(s) to the pan briefly, to sear/brown both sides of the meats (which enhances the flavor). Set these aside after they are browned.

4. As the hash browns near doneness, fry the eggs. I like my fried eggs over hard, with the yolks broken. Do yours however you prefer. If you are making these in small quantities, then I use a single frying pan, and fry these right in the pan next to the hash browns as they finish up. If you do that, it is a good idea to turn down the temperature during this last stage so you don’t overcook the fried eggs. If you are making larger quantities, then you can cook the eggs concurrently in another pan. Optimally, your eggs and hash browns reach doneness at around the same time.

5. Slice and toast your bagel (watch out for nasty cuts while doing this…has everyone sliced the heck out of their hand once while cutting bagels?)

6. Assemble your sandwich. I like to use this order: bagel, egg, hash browns, meats, cheese, and bagel.

7. Add salt/pepper to taste. Note that the pre-prepared hash browns already have quite a bit of salt in them, as do the meats that I generally use. So, consequently, I don’t typically add salt to mine.

1. These work equally well using only pre-cooked lunch-type meats. If you are not using uncooked meats, you can skip Step #1 above.

2. There is a lot of heat-mass stored in those hash browns. If you’ve been halfway successful at having the bagel come out of the toaster at around the same time the hash browns and eggs finish cooking, your sandwich will be sufficiently hot to melt the cheese and make up for the fact that the meats you cooked at the beginning have cooled significantly. In fact, more than once I’ve bit into one of these and had the burning hot hash browns literally glue themselves to the roof of my mouth using the American Cheese as a type of “hot glue”. Its not fun…watch out.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled food blog…

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers with Vintage Cheddar

Some cool guy I don’t know reposted this picture of mine. He must have gotten it off Flickr where I keep my images for people to enjoy. A few people look, sometimes if I’m lucky I even get a comment or two.

Well, when this extremely cool guy placed my image on Disqus he got hundreds of comments! Or comment looking things. I can’t really figure out what they are. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful this extremely super cool guy exposed my shot to others, and he even gave me credit which is awesome! Without him, this photograph would have stayed in the food photography black hole of never viewed images.

However, what I’ve learned from all this is: I’m. Not. Cool. This is somewhat difficult to accept. Although it shouldn't be, my mother has been telling me this for years. Affectionately, I've been assuming. Wait, shouldn't my own mother think I'm cool?

So what if I talk to my dog, and call the orb weaver on my porch a pet and will mourn her wintery death? How is it that I’m not cool riding my bicycle around town with a big metal basket bolted on front in my old lady glasses?

So what if I dress like I’m from 1990s Idaho! This is Idaho and we’re ten years behind. I have to dress this way to fit in or I’d get lynched by local trendy hating wild elk. Have you ever been dragged and beaten by an elk? They're bigger than me!

And my getting all school-girl excited when I fry things in the fryalator, this one doesn’t make me cool? How about my grilling all winter in my big rubber snow boots? Or how about losing the meatloaf from last night’s dinner and still not being able to find it?

Facts are facts I suppose. I’m a nerd. So, if you're cooler than me, which likely you are, please feel free to get others excited about my food. I apparently don’t have the glam factor. That’s alright by me, I can handle it.

Right now I just want to find that meatloaf. I’ve been looking everywhere for it. Well, everywhere except the laundry room that is. Although I’m certain it's been carried off by hungry leftover-loving poltergeists.

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers with Vintage Cheddar
You’ll need a jalapeno griller for this recipe. I bought mine at Cabela’s.

Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar or other favorite cheese, shredded
Salt & freshly cracked pepper
Sliced Bacon cut in half, not thick cut
Beer, for drinking during assembly

1. Heat up the grill to medium high.

2. Toss the shredded cheese with a little salt and freshly cracked pepper. Set aside.

3. Wash and cut tops off jalapenos, reserve tops. Carefully scrape out the seeds and membranes with a jalapeno corer or small spoon type scraper. Next, poke a hole in the bottom of each jalapeno with a toothpick. Drink beer. *Warning! You might want to wear gloves while doing this, and don't touch your eyeballs.*

4. Stuff each jalapeno with cheese. Then wrap the bacon halves around the jalapenos and secure with a toothpick through the top third completely though the jalapeno. Drink beer.

5. Place the jalapenos in the metal griller holes, balance the caps of the jalapenos on top of their bodies, and place on the grill. Cook until the skin has some black spots, the bacon is cooked through, and the cheese is melted.

6. Wait a few minutes before serving and enjoy with more beer.

By Laura Flowers

Monday, October 12, 2009

Copycat Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Yummmm yum yum yum! I love these things dipped in chocolate glaze and sprinkled with coconut. I also love them with a little bit of huckleberry puree in the dough. Oh heck I just love these things!

For the huckleberry doughnuts I took the dough and divided it in half. With half the dough, I added ¼ cup of huckleberries I’d ground in the food processor and then kneaded in enough flour to make it the consistency of the plain dough. After frying the huckleberry doughnuts I dipped them in vanilla glaze. I think I might use a little less vanilla extract next time. It overpowered the flavor of the delicate huckleberries a bit.

With the plain dough I made chocolate glazed doughnuts and top them with sprinkles and coconut. My daughter claimed the sprinkled ones and my husband the coconut. I think the two of them ate most of their calories in doughnuts this past weekend. I'm feeling a tad guilty about this.

You might find it easier to just run to your local donut shop, but there is a benefit to making your own. Because they get fried so quickly and drained well on paper towels they are not greasy. Granted I didn’t say healthy! Just not greasy.

Oh, and my friend Krista says doughnut holes have no calories. I think her logic makes perfect sense. So don't forget to fry those up too.

Mmmm Doughnuts

2 (1/4 ounce) packages yeast
1/4 cup water (105-115)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
Canola oil

Creamy Glaze
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (I'll use less next time, this amount overpowered the flavors)
4-6 tablespoons hot water

Chocolate Frosting
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4-6 tablespoons hot water
4 ounces milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Top with your choice of sprinkles, coconut, nuts, bacon, Fruit Loops cereal, or anything you think should be on top of a doughnut.

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in 2 1/2-quart bowl.
2. Add milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 2 cups flour.
3. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.
4. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
5. Stir in remaining flour until smooth.
6. Cover and let rise until double, 50-60 minutes.
7. (Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched.) Turn dough onto floured surface; roll around lightly to coat with flour.
8. Gently roll dough 1/2-inch thick with floured rolling pin.
9. Cut with floured doughnut cutter.
10. Cover and let rise until double, 30-40 minutes.
11. Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350°.
12. Slide doughnuts into hot oil with wide spatula.
13. Turn doughnuts as they rise to the surface.
14. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side.
15. Remove carefully from oil (do not prick surface); drain.
16. Dip the doughnuts into creamy glaze set on rack then when slightly cooled spread chocolate frosting on top.
17. Dip in sprinkles or other toppings after chocolate if desired.
18. Creamy Glaze: Heat butter until melted.
19. Remove from heat.
20. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
21. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.
22. Chocolate Frosting: Heat butter and chocolate over low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.
23. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
24. Stir in water 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

Makes about 24 doughnuts and 24 doughnut holes.

Recipe from Roosie on RecipeZaar. Pictures by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cake Mix Lemon Ricotta Drop Cookies

Thursday night was chaotic. In the middle of dinner and baking and decorating cupcakes for a school bake sale, I still needed to make cookies for my husband to take to work the next morning. Instead of turning to a recipe I could depend on, I decided to add more work to my crazy evening by inventing a new cookie. Hey, why not right?

With a large tub of ricotta about to turn I threw part of it into the mixer with a lemon cake mix and a few other ingredients. After the cookies cooled, I beat a can of lemon frosting with some leftover icing from the cupcakes and quickly piped a dollop on the tops with a large round Wilton tip 2A.

I think the can of lemon frosting whipped well is all that would have been needed. I was attempting to pass these suckers off as homemade, which they were sort of! Soft, moist, cakey, and lemony these gems disappeared in a hurry.

Frosting is probably optional here. I happen to like frosting, but these cookies were quite good without it too.


¼ cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 cup ricotta (not non-fat)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
Canned or homemade lemon frosting (optional), whipped well

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Position rack in the middle of the oven and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Parchment can be reused one time.

2. In a stand mixer beat together butter and ricotta until fluffy. Add egg, lemon extract, and lemon zest and beat until combined and fluffy. Add the cake mix and beat until combined.

3. With a mini or standard size cookie scoop drop dough onto parchment two inches apart. Dunk scoop into a glass of hot water and shake well after every few scoops when the dough gets difficult to release.

4. Bake a sheet at a time for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. I used a mini cookie scoop; it might take a minute or two longer for standard sized cookies.

5. Let sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes and move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

6. Once cool, whip frosting until fluffy and pipe a dollop on top of each cookie.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tomatillo Salsa, Tomatillo Grenades, and Dodging Kamikaze Yellow Jackets

My friend Julie and her family are coming to pizza night this evening and I was looking through the freezer for pizza ideas. I spotted her frozen container of exploding tomatillo salsa and suddenly burst out into a peal of giggles. I had almost forgotten the crazy day we made that stuff.

About a month ago Julie had the brilliant idea of making her delicious salsa with me. Our daughters were back in school and we were ready to play in the kitchen together. Expecting a fun quiet day of play and talk, we had no idea we’d be racing around town in our aprons. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

After washing the sticky film off a million tomatillos we head out to her grill to begin cooking. Well evidently, two intelligent females are not capable of getting a BBQ started. Aprons on, we walk next door to her parents house and attempt to use their grill.

Trying to be courteous, I gently move the grill away from the house to prevent the fire truck from visiting. Next time I won’t worry about a fire, because out dropped a yellow jacket nest with very angry inhabitants instead! So inside we go. Julie runs out bravely with some bug spray and shoots towards the nest. With yellow jackets dying everywhere the ones previously flying around turn and face the glass door. Yellow Jackets evidently turn into kamikaze pilots when their brothers die in the heat of battle, by furiously throwing their bodies against the glass in an angry protest to our mass killing.

With 35 minutes to spare before I needed to bike back and pick up my daughter from school, we run full speed with our aprons on and Julie’s 4-year-old-who-needs-a-nap in tow. Jumping in her car with a bowl of uncooked tomatillos we race across town to my house. Ahh finally! Grill on, tomatillos on, we can do this. Yeah right! I open the lid and the tomatillos begin to explode! These things are dangerous little grenades that spew hot liquid all over their victims. Of course this is when Julie’s 4-year-old-who-needs-a-nap wants to hang out right by the grill. We pull him out of the battle zone and I proceed to take the rest of the grenades off and somehow save my flesh at the same time.

Aprons still on, we rush back to her house and I jump on my bike and race to the school. Grabbing my 7-year-old-who-needs-a-nap we ride back to Julie’s house and finish the salsa. This time everything went well, and I have tomatillo salsa to laugh at and use in fall soup.

I would recommend that you roast or boil them according to this recipe from Simply Recipes if you don’t want little grenades, but then again that wouldn’t be nearly as exciting or dangerous.

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 JalapeƱo peppers OR 2 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

Roasting method Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Boiling method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, and sugar in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Makes 3 cups.

Recipe from Simply Recipes. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shepherd’s Pie with Accidently Hidden Vegetables

There are veggies in there. Really. I might not have proof but I remember putting them in this casserole. They are hidden amongst the huge mounds of meat and potatoes. I briefly thought about pulling some of them out as confirmation before I photographed this food blob, but with threatening forks in the way of getting a picture at all I decided to pick my battles.

So, I snapped away quickly and let the starving lions at it. Um, I mean I allowed my family and friend to eat the rest of their meal without my interference.

Mashed Potatoes
6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sour cream
Milk or buttermilk (Enough to make potatoes creamy)
Salt, pepper, onion powder, & garlic powder to taste

Meat Mixture & Cheese
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef (Or lamb if you can get it)
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
Garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper for seasoning
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon good quality tomato paste (from a tube)
1 ¼ cups beef stock
1 to 2 (15 ounce) cans peas and carrots, rinsed and drained (Add the extra can if you like veggies)
About 1 to 1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese (Preferably Irish Dubliner Cheddar)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes or so. Drain and mash, (I used a potato ricer). Mix in butter first until melted, sour cream next, and then just enough milk or buttermilk to make creamy. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking dish.

3. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until softened and begin to brown. Add about 2 Tablespoons of water toward the end of cooking time or if the onions stick to the pan to deglaze. Place the onions in a bowl and set aside.

4. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large frying pan. Add ground beef and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Break the meat apart with a spoon and cook until well browned.

5. Strain off excess fat, then stir in flour and cook for 1 minute over medium heat. Add Worcestershire Sauce, ketchup, and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Next add beef stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the peas and carrots. Salt & pepper to taste.

6. Spread the ground beef mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the 9x13 inch pan. Add the cheese, and then top with the mashed potatoes.

7. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Open Face Sour Cream Apple Pie

I’m excited about this pie and really want to share it with you! I had a single dough from a double crust pie dough box that needed to be used, a ton of apples, part of a container of sour cream, and a little half and half. This pie is what I came up with.

Seriously, this is good pie. It’s sweet from the apples and sugar, with a bit of tang from the sour cream, and custardy from the half and half. I hope you’ll try this one. Or you can just nod your head and back away slowly from the crazy leftover lady.

Maybe I should call this leftover pie. No, that wouldn’t be good. Then you’ll never want to make it.

One pie dough for a 9” pie (I bought mine)
1 egg white for brushing pastry
5 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced crisp sweet apples (Apple peelers are the best!)
A sprinkle of Fruit Fresh (Found by the canning section)
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup half & half
½ cup regular or light sour cream (Non-fat won’t bake correctly).
1 ½ Tablespoons of butter

1. Place the oven rack in the lower third and preheat to 350 degrees.

2. Lay the pastry in a 9” inch Pyrex dish, (not the 9 ½” deep dish). Brush the bottom and sides of the dough with a little egg white. Flute the edges of the pie dough.

3. Place the sliced apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with fruit fresh.

4. Place the flour and sugar in a small bowl and toss to combine. Don’t skip this step or you might have flour clumps in your finished pie. Toss the sugar mixture in with the apples.

5. In another small bowl stir together the half &half and sour cream. Toss the mixture in with the apple mixture.

6. Pour the apple mixture into the pie dish about 1/3 at a time arranging the apples nicely as you go. Move the apples around a bit to even out the liquid. Dot the top of the pie with the butter.

7. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the top apples are lightly browned on the edges.

8. Move to a cooling rack and cool until barely warm to the touch or completely cool. Can be served warm or cold.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bread Machine Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns

I often use my own blog as a way to catalog many of the recipes I make on a regular basis. This is one of those recipes I use all the time. Instead of pulling it out of another post attached to a Sloppy Joe recipe, I’ve decided to give these buns their own page.

I’m just saving myself some time. Especially since I usually can’t remember where the heck I’ve tucked it away. Am I getting old? Maybe just busy. I’ll keep telling myself that. I’m just busy… I’m just busy… It’s not really early onset Alzheimer's.

Wait, what was I talking about?

1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons non-fat milk powder
4 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups all-purpose & 2 cups white whole wheat or whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons shortening
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

Add all the ingredients to the bread machine pan except flour and yeast. Top the ingredients with the flour, and put the yeast on top of the flour. Set the dough cycle and push start.
When cycle finishes, turn out onto a floured board and punch down. Knead 4 or 5 times; add a little more flour as you knead if necessary to keep it from sticking.

Cover dough with a clean dishcloth and let rest for about 30 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal or flour.

For hamburger buns: Press dough into a circle and cut into 8 even wedges; form each wedge into a ball then flatten into a smooth and fairly even circle.

For hot dog buns: Shape these into long somewhat narrow snakes. (Makes about 12 or so.)

Place dough shapes on the baking sheet and let rest for about 30 minutes (cover with a clean dish towel or parchment paper).

Bake at 375 for about 17 to 18 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Makes 8 hamburger buns or about 12 hot dog buns.

Bun recipe by Diana Rattray from with rewritten instructions for clarity purposes. Picture by Laura Flowers.

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