Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chocolate & Caramel Covered Popcorn Balls

Popcorn balls have always been a part of Halloween around these parts. 
I've only made the boiled sugar version once - and they were very tasty, don't get me wrong - but this version is soooooo much easier!
This is basically like making a Rice Krispie square but with popcorn instead. 
Be prepared for some ooey gooey deliciousness!

Chocolate & Caramel Covered Popcorn Balls

3 bags of microwave popcorn (about 12 cups popped)
1/4 cup butter
1 small bag mini marshmallows (about 4 cups)
1 tsp vanilla

2 bag caramels (about 200)
8 Tbsp cream
2 bag chocolate chips (about 4 cups)

Chopped Salted peanuts (about 1 cup)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper/wax paper/or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium/low heat, melt the butter and mini marshmallows with the vanilla, stirring until smooth.
Remove from heat and drizzle over the popped popcorn, stirring to coat well. 
Spray your hands with cooking spray - or coat them lightly with butter - and scoop out about 1 cup of the popcorn mixture with your hands. Roll into a ball and place on prepared cookie sheet. If you are using sticks then insert a stick now, pressing the ball firmly around the stick.

Place in fridge to chill until firm, about 30 minutes or so.  
When firm - in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the caramels with the cream until smooth. 
Remove from heat and dip the balls into the caramel, rolling to coat all over and then lightly shaking to remove excess caramel. Place back on cookie sheet.

Chill until firm again, about another 30 minutes or so. 
If you don't have enough caramel to coat all the balls you can just drizzle some over the remaining balls. 
When they are firm, in a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly, until smooth.
Dip the balls into the chocolate to coat entirely (be sure to gently shake off any excess) OR you can just dip half way for a different look.
While chocolate is still a bit sticky, roll the popcorn ball in the chopped nuts.
Optionally - if you don't have enough chocolate to coat all the balls you can just drizzle it over them too.
You can sprinkle the peanuts over the balls if you you don't have enough to roll them in. 

Let chill until firm.
I noticed these are better when they sit in the fridge and then remove them to serve about half hour before eating them so they can warm up a bit. I found when they sit out at room temp for long periods the caramel and chocolate tend to pool a bit at the bottom of the ball. 
This isn't too big of  a deal - it just means they don't look quite as pretty.  (P.S. - this makes 12 balls!)
Overall, a teeny bit fussy to make, but they sure do look impressive on the treat table at Halloween (or anytime for that matter) and they taste AMAZING!! 
So crunchy and chewy! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Mummies

Sometimes you want to go spooky for Halloween and sometimes you want to go cute.
You can't get much more cute than these little guys.
They are also super easy to whip up.
You can have a tray of them made in about an hour. Okay, they may be a teeny bit fussy (you will want to wear gloves when handling the jalapenos) but when you end up with such a tasty, adorable treat we think it is well worth it!
If you have kidlets at your house that love spicy (like at our house) then this may just become the new favorite Halloween treat.

Jalapeno Popper Mummies

12 jalapenos
1 - 8oz brick Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temp
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp onion, finely diced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
sprinkle of onion powder
sprinkle of garlic powder
48 candy eyes

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Cut the tops off the jalapenos and then cut the jalapenos in half, lengthwise, and scrape out seeds. Place the halves face up on the prepared cookie sheet.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, garlic, onion, Parmesan cheese, and spices until smooth.
Scoop approximately 1 Tbsp or so of the cream cheese mixture into each jalapeno half and spread to fill the cavity. (**FYI - if you still have the gloves on you can do this with your fingers and - we found - it makes spreading the filling easier.)
Place filled peppers back on cookie sheet.

Unroll the crescent roll dough onto a work surface. Gently pinch the seams together, flip dough over, and pinch seams together on that side too. (OR, if they are available in your area, you can buy the seamless crescent rolls and save yourself this step!)
Cut the dough into very thin strips - about 1/2 to 1 cm (or 1/4 of an inch).

Wrap the strips of dough around the jalapenos, being careful to leave a little space between the strips as you wrap them. Place wrapped jalapenos back on cookie sheet, leaving about an inch or so between the peppers. 

Bake at 350 until crescent dough is nicely browned, about 15 - 20 minutes. 
Remove from heat and let sit about 10 minutes. Place 2 of the candy eyes on each pepper. (For a total of 24 mummies). Serve immediately.

I know it seems weird to use candy eyes on a savory item but they look so cute (and are super easy).
If you don't want to use the candy eyes then you could pipe a teeny dollop of cream cheese or sour cream and then top with an even teenier bit of a black olive for a pupil. 
Spice up your Halloween party with some simply spooktacular jalapeno mummies.
Fun + delicious = win!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Dinner 2014

Woohoo! Halloween party time has arrived.
Sue and I had a dinner for family and friends this year and, once again, went a little crazy with the food!
It is just so much fun coming up with fun, spooky, and just plain gross Halloween food. 
Sue really outdid herself this year. 
She took on most of the projects herself with me just being her assistant. 
I am posting photos of the dishes and - where available - I am posting links to the individual posts that include the instructions and/or recipes.
Starting with the above Guacamole Witch. She looks super cool and is surprisingly easy to put together. (Check back for the link and how to soon!)

We took our popular Brain Dip from a previous post (Click HERE for the recipe) and made it in a skull mold this time. A little black pasta hair, some mozzarella and olives for eyes and *voila* Spooky Skull Dip!

These little guys take about 5 minutes to cut out. Just like carving a pumpkin!
They sure make a veggie tray look Halloween-y.

Speaking of veggie trays....
How cool is this cauliflower skull? Our guest, Kari, brought this to the party. 
Love how creepy it looks.

I made some deviled eggs a little more Halloween-y by boiling them, gently cracking the shells and then soaking the cracked eggs in water dyed red with food coloring. 

These little guys were definitely a big hit for the night.
Jalapeno Popper Mummies! (Click HERE for the how to and recipe!)
So cute and so easy too!

We found this guy in a Woman's World Magazine and decided to put our own spin on the recipe. (Check back later for recipe and how to!) He is a Mummy Pizza Dip with Crispy Ravioli Dippers.
Something a little different than the usual chips and dip!

Sue made these Cheesy Macaroni Pumpkins and they were to die for! (Definitely check back for the recipe very soon!)
We were going to make them jack o' lanterns by painting them with some of the black ketchup in the background but ran out of time. They were every bit as tasty without their faces though. 
Sue said she might make this her new go-to macaroni recipe!

Here's a Jack O'Lantern Cheese Ball that definitely is better with a face. Our sister, Orra, brought this to share. Very cheesy, very Halloween-y.

Moving into the realm of grossness...
Can we offer you a finger on a bun? That is - a hot dog carved to look like a finger...
Very quick and easy and certainly made an impact on our guests!

Speaking of gross....
This Meatloaf Mummy was a huge hit. We simply mixed up our meatloaf with our usual spices and chopped onion and a little red pepper, then pressed it into a face mask mold to shape it, then used onion for the eyes and teeth, and then wrapped it bacon before cooking it. 
So much eeeewww.... (but delicious!)

The Meatloaf Mummy was the topper for our Gruesome Meat Man.
Disgusting, right?
But so tasty. 
He consists of the meatloaf face, BBQ ribs (for the ribs, obviously) and then some cooked sausages brushed with a little BBQ Sauce (for the intestines). 

Another idea for deviled eggs, in case you don;t want to make eyeballs...
I made these for Thanksgiving but they work equally well for Halloween!

Another pumpkin treat I made at Thanksgiving but works for Halloween too - Cheesy Pumpkin Biscuits. 
All you need is some Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, paprika, cheese, a little dill, and a pumpkin cookie cutter.
You could even make a jack o' lantern face with some chopped black olives if you wanted to!

Pretty fancy schmancy looking spread!
But, of course, it wouldn't be a party without dessert!!

And tons of desserts there were.....

My Chocolate & Caramel Covered Popcorn Balls were pretty addicting. 
(Click HERE for recipe and how-to)
Plus they looked pretty.

Our guest, Steph, brought some Witches hats to share. They are made with a chocolate cookie, Hershey's kiss and some orange frosting. Simple yet very cute!

These guys just crack me up.
Killer Bees.... 
Too funny. Sue gets credit for putting together these murderous beasts but, in my defense, I came up with the idea. Just sayin'...
They body is a raspberry filled marshmallow cookie (such as Viva Puffs) with some yellow frosting for the strips and a marshmallow for wings. We used edible candy eyes for the eyes, and plastic food pics for the machetes. 

Sue made some traditional Caramel Apples that were amazing.
Ooey gooey, sticky, and a few peanuts for crunch! 

And it just wouldn't be a party without some homemade chocolate cake
Topped with some adorable marshmallow fondant ghosties of course.

But, if pie is more your thing then you might want to try some Pumpkin Hand Pies! (Click HERE for recipe)
You could even make then jack o' lanterns by cutting out little triangle eyes and a mouth before baking them to make them more Halloween-y.

Thanks to Oriental Trading we had some spooky glasses to drink out of...
This one is filled with my attempt at a Shirley Temple.

Looks pretty nasty but this was our Apple Juice and Fireball Whiskey "Specimen" Shooters.
They taste just like apple pie!! So good.

Sue and I wish everyone a happy Halloween!!
(That's me on the white, covered in blood - and Sue is the Coke can!)
We hope you enjoyed our dinner ideas for this year and would love to hear and comments, questions, or suggestions you have.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coconut Apple Crumble Balls

Do you guys want a recipe for a super quick and easy, NO BAKE, delicious, gluten free, dairy free treat?
Of course you do.
Well, you are in luck. 
I was inspired by those no bake oatmeal haystack cookies that everyone always makes and decided to try something a little different. I love that these really taste like bites of apple crumble!
You don't want to eat too many of these - they are pretty high in calories and carbs - but one or two is a real energy boosting treat PLUS they are ready in about 10 minutes. Not even lying. 

Coconut Apple Crumble Bites

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 large apple (I used Granny Smith)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup Quaker Quick Oats
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap or a silpat mat, set aside.
In a medium saucepan stir together the coconut oil and sugar over medium heat. 
When coconut oil is melted stir in shredded apple, cinnamon, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in oats and coconut flakes.

Let mixture cool for about 5 minutes.
Using a small cookie scoop, scoop balls of the mixture onto prepared cookie sheet. You can either leave the scoops as is OR you can then roll them in your hand so you have a nice round ball shape. (See photo - top of the pic is rounded balls, bottom is the scoops, not rounded)

Chill for a few minutes to set up.
Just like that.

A couple of notes....
I get 28 balls out of this using the small cookie scoop.
You can use butter instead of coconut oil if you want to.
Make sure your oats are marked gluten free - some oats aren't. 
I didn't peel my apple - I like the peel - but you can peel it if you want to.
I used the big flakes of coconut but you can always use toasted, shredded coconut as well. 
Be sure to visit these fab sites for tons of great links - The Chicken Chick, Ms enPlace

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Spicy Spaghetti Squash Soup

I couldn't believe how tasty this soup was for how easy it was AND the nutritional count blows my mind.
For 1/10th of the recipe (approx a heaping cup) it is 58 calories, 11 carbs, 0 fat, and 3 protein. 
Crazy, right?
58 calories. NO fat. 
I checked it on Myfitness pal twice. 
I'm dying from happiness over here. I had a serving of this for lunch and it was very filling - I actually had to go looking for something else to eat to bring up my calorie count for the day. (P.S. - I ended up having half a toasted whole wheat bun with the soup to up my calories another 80)
You can, of course, throw in other veggies than the ones I've chosen but that will change your nutritional values. 

Spicy Spaghetti Squash Soup

3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeded & diced
3 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
1 large spaghetti squash, roasted
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup 0 fat Greek yogurt, plain

Place large pot over medium high heat. Add in garlic, onion, and jalapeno.

Cook and stir until veggies soften. Stir in the curry powder, cumin, and salt & pepper. 

Take your roasted spaghetti squash and shred it with a fork.

Reserve about 2 cups of the shredded squash to add to your soup at the end. Add the rest of the squash to the pot with the other veggies.
Stir in the vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Blend, in batches, in blender until smooth.
Pour back into the pot and place back over medium high heat.
Add in the reserved spaghetti squash.

Bring to a simmer and then stir in the Greek yogurt.

Remove from heat and serve. 
(I topped mine with a little spoonful of Greek yogurt)

A couple of notes - If you have an immersion blender then this is even easier. No need to remove it to a blender, you can just blend it right in the pot.
If you don't want to roast your spaghetti squash (it takes about an hour) them microwaving it will work just as well (this only takes about 10 - 15 minutes).
Want it spicier? Add more jalapeno, curry and cumin. It's a very forgiving recipe. 
This also freezes very well. I simply scooped it into muffin tins (my muffin trays are 1/2 cup volume) and froze them then placed all the frozen "pucks" into a Ziplock bag. 2 "pucks" is one serving. To reheat you can microwave it for a few minutes or in a small pot on the stove top.