The trials and tribulations of a scatter-brained kitchen junkie.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Candy fueled chaos

This is kind of a long one. Better bust out the reading glasses.
I started this blog a little over a month ago and managed one measly post. I know, I know, sheesh.

Life has been comprised mostly of chaos and Halloween candy as of late (one most likely fueling the other), so there has been very little serious cooking/baking on the table. 

I did however manage to throw a somewhat successful Halloween party in the midst of my madness, Yes, I am still missing food pictures (I am terrible at this bit, but I'm working on it) I figured I could at least share some of the recipes, stories and adventures from my kitchen. 

And, since I don't have pictures of the food, here's my new favorite party picture of all time; Barack Obama, Eccentrica Gallumbits, and the gay cowboy. 

My life is actually pretty awesome sometimes, I need to remember that. And also to stop making stupid faces.
So gettin' down to business, party food. I had to repeatedly scale back the menu as people's yeses started turning into maybes. Even after that I wound up with way to much food. 

The Menu (in no particular order):
  • Hummus
  • Sugar cookies w/ royal icing
  • Cheesy mashed potato bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers
  • Vanilla & chocolate cupcakes
  • Back bone pinwheels
  • Queso bean dip
  • Spooky booze punch
  • Dark chocolate espresso truffles
  • Dark chocolate peanut butter crunch truffles
  • ...and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting (since I'm writing this post a little over a week late. *whoops*)
Naturally, not all of this deliciousness was from my own concoctions; a girl's gotta rest sometimes. I broke the recipes out below with links for what I borrowed, and recipes for what I didn't. 


 Hummus from one of my new favorite blogs; Budget Bytes. Seriously, that woman is amazing, she puts me to all sorts of kitchen-related shame. 

Sugar Cookies w/ Royal Icing

Sugar cookie recipe came conveniently from the back of the pan I used to bake them in. The recipe is one from Wilton, and pretty much everything they do is awesome. These were the sweetest, butteriest sugar cookies I have ever had, yum! The royal icing is from Wilton as well; what can I say, I'm loyal.

Jalapeno Poppers

The jalapeno poppers were a mixture of a few recipes I had found. Basically what I did was take this recipe, and wrap it in bacon instead of croissant dough. I also eliminated the bacon crumbles inside on account of the full on bacon toga they were sporting on the outside. So, really, I guess I only used ingredients 1-4 and then hoped into DIY mode. In the future, I'll probably make these puppies with homemade mashed, but for a place to begin the recipe was a hit. Only about 4 pieces out of 2 dozen managed to make it to the food table; they were devoured by hungry party guests on the way.

The rest of the recipe I more or less slung together myself. I had a variety of sources I used for inspiration, but in the end it was kind of a play-it-by-ear(mouth) adventure. 


The cupcakes were box mix, Duncan Hines knows where it's at for quick cupcakes anytime anywhere...that uh, has an oven. 
Some were frosted with canned chocolate frosting. (I looooove canned chocolate frosting. I know there's no real food in there, but it's delicious none the less.) The rest were covered with basic buttercream. The only differences: I use water instead of milk, and all shortening, not butter. I'm a decorating instructor and that's our go-to shelf stable frosting. (I know we're missing both the butter and the cream; so it goes.) I decorated the cupcakes using a a small portion of my epic sprinkle collection. I'm boarding on hoarder territory at this point. They were cute, nothing fancy, but delicious fun treats. Seriously, who doesn't like cupcakes?

A lot of fancy bakers out there file grievous complaints against boxed cakes, but in a pinch they were great and guests never seem to complain.  

Pinweels recipe(ish)
  • 2 - 10 in. tortillas
  • Approx. 1/2 lb. turkey lunch meat sliced thin
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Neufchatel veggie spread (recipe below)
  • Wax paper
Backbone pinwheels were just basic pinwheel sandwiches pieces, stacked vertically to resemble a backbone. It was a cute idea I read somewhere, but in the end, I think I'm the only one who knew why they were setup that way. 

  1. Lay tortillas on a flat surface, make sure they are good and pliable so they don't break/split when you're rolling.
  2. Smear veggie spread across entire tortilla, being sure to hit the outer edges so you can seal up the wraps.
  3. Add turkey across the surface, leaving about 1" - 1 1/2" on the outer edge, again so we can seal these puppies up.
  4. Sprinkle lettuce over the top of turkey.
  5. Roll 'em up good and tight. This is a skill I still need to work on. The tighter they are the prettier I think they look.
  6. Wrap the rolled log in wax paper tightly to keep it all together, and let rest in the fridge for 30+ minutes.
  7. Take out, remove wax paper, cut in 1" sections; this is tricky as well, the looser the roll, the bigger the sections will need to be so you don't just crush them.
  8. Stack vertically if you're going for the backbone look, or put them on some sort of fancy dinnerware, whatever your heart/stomach desires.
Neufchatel veggie spread
  • 1 8oz pkg Neufchatel softened
  • 1 pkg Italian seasoning dressing mix
  • 1 medium to large carrot
  • Additional spices to taste
  1. Grate carrot.
  2. Stir together the Neufchatel, dressing mix, and carrot shavings.
  3. Mix.
  4. Taste.
  5. Add spices until delicious.
  6. Enjoy.

Queso Bean Dip

Now I really feel ridiculous calling this one a recipe as this is something I've been mixing together since I was a kid, but for those of you not in the know, here goes:

  • 1 can refried beans, (I prefer the ones with jalapeno, yum.)
  • Some Velveeta cheese. Let's pretend I measure things in my kitchen and say...umm... 1/2 pound.
  • Some salsa. 1/2 cup to 1 cup depending on taste.
  1. Seriously, just put the ingridients in a microwaveable bowl. 
  2. Nuke it for 1 1/2 minutes. 
  3. Stir.
  4. Repeat until cheese is melted.
  5. Add more salsa to taste.
  6. Dip it with some multigrain tortilla chips and feel the love. Cheesy cheesy love.
Spooky Booze Punch

The name came from nowhere, I just like to make stuff up sometimes. The basic recipe came from here. My changes were as follows:

  • 4 cups water/4 cups vodka. We're making grown up punch, no pussy-footin' around
  • 4 cups ginger ale = 4 cups Fresca on account of that's what I had in the house
The punch was a huge success. It was neon green and the taste was fruity but not crazy over the top sweet. Success for certain, and one to be repeated.

Getting into the good stuff, truffles.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles
  • 1 lb. Ghiradelli Intense Dark Espresso Escape
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 tsps coffee powder (I use the Mexican Nestlé powder, it is by far the best instant coffee I have ever had.)
  • 1 cup give or take, cocoa powder
  1. Finely chop the chocolate. If you choose to attempt this with your food processor, do at your own risk. Apparently chocolate is too viscous even solid for mine, and I burned out the motor. #$!*$!%*$#%&$
  2. Combine the chocolate, cream, and coffee powder over a low heat flame or double boiler, stirring often.
  3. Remove from heat as soon as chocolate is completely melted and ingredients are combined. Do not over stir.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 4+ hours, or freeze for 2.
  5. Remove from fridge, let stand at room temperature until pliable, 20-40 minutes.
  6. Scoop by generous teaspoon, or be lazy and do what I do.
  7. Dip your (clean & dry) hands in cocoa powder and roll, forming a ball, adding more cocoa powder  to your hands as needed.
  8. Set in lined pan, or place in small fluted baking cups for decoration. 
  9. Repeat. 
  10. Refrigerate until approximately 15 minutes prior to serving. Though they'll keep fine if left out for the evening's festivities.
This should yield about 40 truffles.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Credit where credit is due, this is where I got the original idea for these truffles, and I tweaked accordingly. I added sugar because these were too dark/bitter without it. Perhaps with the semi-sweet the original recipe called for this would not be an issue. I also omitted the salt since the butter, peanut butter, and peanut coating provide more than enough of that.
  • 12 oz dark chocolate -your choice here
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp salted butter cut up into tiny pieces
  • 3/4 c chunky peanut butter
  • 1/4 c  sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c approximately chopped peanuts
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients over low heat or double boiler, stirring as needed, just until chocolate is melted and chocolate/peanut-butter is mixed well.
  2. Remove from heat. 
  3. Add vanilla.
  4. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate for 4+ hours, or freeze for 2.
  5. Scoop by generous teaspoon, or be lazy and do what I do.
  6. Make sure your hands are clean and very very dry. Roll into ball, these will be slightly sticky but that's a good thing here.
  7. Drop into chopped peanuts and roll/push about until completely coated.
  8. Set in lined pan, or place in small fluted baking cups for decoration.
  9. Repeat. 
  10. Refrigerate until approximately 15 minutes prior to serving. Though they'll keep fine if left out for the evening's festivities.
This should yield about 40 truffles as well. These recipes are easily halved for more manageable consumption.

Whew, well there you have it, the good the bad, the not so inventive: Halloween 2011. Next stop, Thanksgiving!


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