Halloween Party 2011 Menu

This year, we planned a somewhat impromptu Halloween Party for a few of my daughter’s friends. We had some yummy treats…Pumpkin Krispy Treats (see recipe below), Candy Corn Sugar Cookies (I used my favorite recipe for the dough and just doubled the vanilla and almond flavorings since there is no frosting on the cookies. At a minimum, I also recommend dipping each cookie in the coarse sugar before baking. The white candy melt or almond bark on portions of some of the cookies was quite tasty, too. I’ll do more of these next time), and No Bake Cookies transfigured into cute spiders.

There were Mummy Dogs and Candy Corn Pizza for our main course. We agreed that hot dogs wrapped in crescent dough are WAY tastier than hot dogs in a bun. We’ll be having these more often. I didn’t get around to dotting the eyes on the faces, but I think everyone still got the point.

Boo Brew. One of the comments on this recipe suggested using Peeps Ghosts instead of creating your own using whipped cream and mini chocolate chips as the recipe instructed. I went with the time saving tip and was happy with the outcome.

I also made this Caramel Toffee Dip and served with Winesap and Granny Smith apple slices from our apple picking trip the previous day. Somehow missed getting the photo. It is seriously so incredibly delicious. We made it again over the weekend, and it vanished quickly.

Pumpkin Krispy Treats
Modified from Little Family Fun

  • approximately 6 cups of crispy rice cereal (white or brown puffed rice cereal)
  • 1 package of marshmallows (I think minis are easier to melt)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 (3 oz) envelopes of orange Jell-O or Kool Aid (I used Jell-O)
  • Tootsie Roll midgets or large pretzel sticks
  • baking spray
  • wax paper
  • green icing, optional

Directions:

Melt the marshmallows and butter in microwave or on stove top. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the Jell-O or Kool-Aid. If it is not “orange enough” for you, you can add some red and yellow food coloring to enhance the color. (I didn’t need to do this). Add the crispy rice cereal and stir well.

Spray your hands with baking spray and roll the mixture into balls and place them on wax paper. Make a dent into the top of the pumpkin and insert pretzel or tootsie roll. Mold pumpkin around the stem. Cool before piping on leaves.

Yield: approximately 2 dozen pumpkins

Ellen’s Famous Apple Crisp

I’ve been on a semi-quest, sort of, for the past couple years to find “the best” apple crisp recipe.  To be honest, it’s been a half-hearted effort, but it’s at least been on my mind during apple season.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to try the recipe that my fabulous SIL Becky loves. It comes from a friend of hers named Ellen and is apparently THE go-to apple crisp recipe amid some Bostonian circles.

At the time, we were visiting family in the DC area, and we weren’t able to find non-instant butterscotch pudding. Since Ellen’s instructions specifically state that instant is NOT to be used, we had to go with another recipe, which was good, BUT I felt compelled to try this one.

I’ve since been able to procure the proper pudding mix. It was so worth the wait. I made it for my family while visiting TN a couple weeks ago, and it rapidly disappeared amid lots of “mmming” and “yumming.”

TO. DIE. FOR!!!!!

I’ve never been one to crave apple crisp–except during apple season. Now that I’ve found this little gem, though, I’ll be craving apple crisp year round–and frequently.

Ellen’s Famous Apple Crisp

Mix the following ingredients together and pour into ungreased 9×13-inch pan.

8 cups peeled and sliced apples
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 T flour
½ cup milk
1 cup water

Topping:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 cup oats
½ cup sugar
1 cup margarine, melted
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 packages dry Butterscotch pudding (not instant)

Mix topping ingredients together and crumble on top of apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, approximately 45-50 minutes. (I accidentally only baked for 35 minutes, and it seemed to cook throughout, so take that for what it’s worth).

Apple Cranberry Spice Cake

I’m visiting family in TN this week, and yesterday I went to see my 92-year-old grandma. She is a great cook and still enjoys trying new recipes. She always offers more food than we can eat, and this day was no exception.

Our favorite item on the menu was a new recipe–Apple Cranberry Spice Cake. It is so moist, so flavorful! We enjoyed some cake during our visit and then took the rest home with us. The entire cake was devoured well under 24 hours later. I managed to get a picture of the very last slice of cake–seconds before I ate it, so it isn’t the prettiest picture, but it’s all I’ve got.

apple-cranberry-spice-cake

Apple Cranberry Spice Cake
from The Tennessee Magazine, Dec 2008, page 26.

Cake:
1 (18.25 oz) package Spice Cake mix
3 eggs
1 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c water
1 c apples, peeled & diced
1 c dried cranberries

Glaze:
1 T butter
1/4 c water
2 c powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat over to 350.

Spray or grease & flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

Combine cake mix, eggs, applesauce, butter, and water. Beat on low speed for 1 minute to blend, then on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in diced apples and cranberries.

Spread batter evenly in bundt pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for 25 minutes in pan on wire rack and then remove cake and cool completely.

In a saucepan, make glaze by combining butter and water over low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and gradually add powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Pour warm glaze over top of cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Apple Crostada

My husband and I have a favorite restaurant that we used to frequent when we lived in the DC area called Maggiano’s. It’s a family-style Italian restaurant, and we’ve yet to find anything that we don’t like on the menu. One of our favorite favorites is an item on their dessert menu called an Apple Crostada.

Peeling, Slicing, and Coring

Peeling, Slicing, and Coring

While I was searching for apple recipes, I began fondly remembering this treat and wondered if I could find a copycat recipe for it anywhere. I found a couple options that looked promising, so I thought I’d give one of them a whirl.

Foamy butter & sugar - lightly browned

Foamy butter & sugar - lightly browned

The two recipes were almost identical except one used about twice as much butter as the other. I’m sure the extra butter version is divine, but I’m still trying to lose baby fat, so I opted for the “lighter” recipe. 🙂

Seasoned Apple Mix

Seasoned Apple Mix

I used my food processor to mix the crust, which worked like a champ. And my apple peeler/corer/slicer also made the job pretty simple, and it ensured that my apple pieces were all pretty uniform in size, which results in more uniform baking.

Crostada - shaped & brushed with cream and sprinkled with raw sugar

Crostada - shaped, brushed with cream & sprinkled with raw sugar

We were very happy with the result. I didn’t think it was exactly like the Maggiano’s version, but it was close enough & a very yummy imitation. The pastry is very much like shortbread, which happens to be my favorite type of cookie. My husband even repeatedly made comments afterward about how good these were.

Mine certainly weren’t as pretty as Maggiano’s either. Oh well, I’ll just have to try again, huh?

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

The original recipe was unclear on how many crostadas the recipe would make, so I just tried two. Even with the division, they were still huge, so next time I’ll divide the dough into thirds or quarters.

Below is the recipe the way I made them. We will definitely be making these again.

Apple Crostada

Recipe adapted from Rocky Mountain News
Yield: 3 – 4 Crostadas

Pastry:
1 c butter, cold
2 c all-purpose flour

1/3 c superfine sugar (Note: I didn’t have superfine sugar, so I ground some regular sugar in my food processor)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c ice water

Filling:
3 Granny Smith apples — peeled and diced
1/2 c superfine sugar
1/4 c butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
Heavy cream (optional)
(Note: I definitely included the cream)
Crystalized sugar (optional) (Note: I used Turbinado raw sugar)

Pastry:

  1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt together.
  2. With a knife, cut the butter into 1/4″ cubes and keep cold. Add the butter to the dry ingredients, using a food processor (using the flat paddle attachment), if available; otherwise use a pastry cutter or two knives. Pulse until butter is in small pieces.
  3. Add the ice water and mix. Stop before it is a solid mass. (It’s better to leave it a little crumbly.)
  4. Press the dough together and form into one mass. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Filling:

  1. In a large saute pan, over Medium heat, melt the butter until foaming.
  2. Add the sugar. Cook about 5-7 minutes until light brown.
  3. Add the apples, and cook until apples are slightly soft, giving up their juices.
  4. Add the spices, mixing well.
  5. Mix cornstarch and water together until fully dissolved. Add to apples and mix well. Cook for 1 minute and allow juices to thicken.
  6. Remove filling from heat, and cool completely.

Assembly:

  1. Divide dough into 3 or 4 equal parts.
  2. Roll each section of dough into a 6-8″ round circle and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Scoop the apple filling in the center of the dough.
  4. Free-form dough around filling, using 8 folds to result in a 3-4″ opening in the middle.
  5. Brush the top of the dough with heavy cream. Sprinkle the top of the crusts with the raw sugar.

Bake in a 350°F preheated oven until lightly brown, about 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm with caramel sauce and/or vanilla ice cream.

Peanut Butter Dip

This is another of my Grandma M’s recipes and is a family FAVORITE! Even my hubby, who claims he’s “allergic” to apples & isn’t a “sweets guy,” couldn’t get enough. I’ve finally found a way to get him to eat an apple! It’s a miracle!

Peanut Butter Dip

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 – 1/2 cup milk

Mix together until smooth.  Dip your favorite apple slices and ENJOY!!!

Caramel Apple Bars

This is another new apple recipe I tried this weekend. They were quite sugary, gooey, & yummy! I served them warm with vanilla ice cream. I think they’d also be good with Cool Whip.

Caramel Apple Bars

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe

Crust
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup  brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup nut flour*
1 large egg

*Almond (toasted or plain), hazelnut flour (toasted or plain), and pecan meal are all good choices. Or grind 1 cup nuts in a food processor; be sure to stop before the mixture becomes pasty. (I couldn’t find nut flour, so I ground up some almonds in my food processor).

Filling
4 to 5 medium tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 5 cups)
2 T brown sugar
2 T boiled cider, or substitute an additional 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Topping**
1 cup (10 ounces) caramel, from a block, or about 30 caramel candies
2 1/2 T milk or cream
(I used fat free Half and Half)

**Or use our prepared caramel sauce.

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan or 10″ x 10″ bun pan.

To make the crust: Beat together the butter, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, sugars, and vanilla till smooth. Add the flours, mixing till crumbly. Set aside half the mixture (about 3 generous cups); add the egg to the remainder, beating to combine. Press the crust with egg into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 17 minutes, till it’s barely starting to brown around the edges. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

To make the filling: Slice the apples about 1/4″ thick, then chop into 1/2″ to 3/4″ pieces. An apple peeler/corer/slicer gives you a great head start on this task. Combine the apples with the remaining filling ingredients, and distribute over the crust. Spread the reserved crust mixture over the apples.

Bake the bars for 45 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and after 15 minutes cut them into squares, leaving them in the pan. Cool completely, then place the bars on a rack set over a piece of parchment.

To make the topping: Place the caramel and milk in a microwave-safe measuring cup, and heat till the caramel is very soft. Stir (reheating if necessary) till the mixture is smooth and pourable. Drizzle it over the bars.

Yield: 16 to 24 bars

Apple Jacks

Have I mentioned it’s apple season here? That translates into LOTS of baking. I’ve never baked a lot with apples (apple pie and apple turnovers being the exceptions), so I didn’t have a huge arsenal of must-bake apple recipes on hand. After spending some time on the internet, though, I’ve found plenty of tempting options to keep me busy.

This recipe comes from BakingBlonde’s Weblog. I’ll share it here as I made it. Next time I’ll probably add more Toffee bits (I used 3/4 c in this batch). I LOVE them so!

I really liked these cookies and will most likely make them again. The bits of diced apple spark a juicy & delicious bite.

Apple Jacks

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup apple chopped (about 1 small or medium-sized apple) (Note: I used 1 McIntosh & diced in about 1/8 – 1/4″ thin squares)
3/4 c – 1 c Heath Toffee baking bits

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheet with Parchment or lightly spray with PAM.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

Beat the butter with a mixer and add the sugar, vanilla and egg and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Mix in the Toffee bits. Fold in the apple pieces (and any other add-ins).

Drop the dough onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart (these spread a bit).

Bake for 9-12 minutes or until light brown and edges are set. Allow to cool slightly on baking sheet and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Note: BakingBlonde suggests that you NOT store these “completely covered or they will be very very soft and not hold up well due to the moisture in the apples. I find storing loosely covered in the fridge helps them keep their texture….These really are best the day you bake, especially after they have cooled a bit but are still warm!” HOWEVER, I didn’t find that to be the case. I stored mine in a container with lid on my kitchen table, and the next morning they still held their shape and were still soft and YUMMY!

*May serve with cinnamon ice cream and hot caramel sauce.