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

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

So good that I had to stop everything and share. I had some Mahi Mahi that needed to be used, so I found this recipe courtesy of the fabulous Alton Brown. My husband and I both loved it. It was fast, easy, and delish!

I really liked the flavor of the macadamia nuts and the light, airy crunch of the Panko.

If you’d like the fish to have a bit more flavor, sprinkle a little lemon juice on top.

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi
Source: Alton Brown

5 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) coarsely ground, roasted macadamia nuts
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for brushing foil
4 (6 to 8-ounce) Mahi Mahi fillets
Kosher salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons coconut milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the nuts, panko, flour, and butter. Set aside.

Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet and brush it liberally with vegetable oil. Place the mahi mahi on the foil and sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper on both sides. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush each fillet with the coconut milk. Divide the nut mixture among the tops of the 4 fillets, patting the mixture to spread and adhere to the fillets. Return to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Ginger Chicken and Broccoli

After all the recent sweet and caloric posts, I thought I’d share a savory, light, healthy option. Serve it without the rice, and you’ve got a delicious, low carb entree–perfect for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet.

This is a copycat recipe for a dish served at P.F. Chang’s that I love.  There are so many items on their menu that I love to indulge in–Mongolian Beef, Crispy Honey Shrimp, Crab Wontons, Asian Lettuce Wraps, the Great Wall of Chocolate…the list goes on and on.

ginger-chicken

Ginger Chicken and Broccoli
by Chef Robert Nance of of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Recipe on mysweetconnection.com

Yield: 3-4 Servings

Marinade for Chicken Slices:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
2 eggs
2 T cornstarch
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Sauce:
1/2 c soy sauce (Note: I used low sodium soy sauce)
2 T rice vinegar
2 T sugar
(Note: I used Splenda)
1/2 c chicken stock

Vegetables & Aromatics:
2 T minced ginger
2 T minced scallions
1 T minced garlic
1/2 pound broccoli, trimmed to 2″ – 3″ florets

Finishing Touches:
4 T (1/4 c) cornstarch
1/2 c water
1 tsp Pure Sesame Oil

Procedure:
Combine marinade ingredients and let chicken slices marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

In a seasoned wok or skillet place 1 ½ pints of chicken stock or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

Carefully place marinated chicken slices into the simmering liquid. Carefully separate with a pair of chop sticks to cook evenly about 2/3 of the way (approx. 2-3 minutes).

Remove chicken from liquid and drain.

At this point you can either cook the broccoli until “tender crisp” in the liquid you cooked the chicken in, or steam the broccoli until “tender crisp” in a steamer. (Note: I steamed the broccoli in my fabulous Pampered Chef Microwave Steamer).

Assemble cooked broccoli in a ring pattern onto your serving plate. Keep warm.

Combine sauce ingredients, and set aside.

Drain liquid from wok, clean thoroughly and heat 3 T. of vegetable oil in the bottom.

Stir-fry the ginger scallions and garlic on medium heat until the flavors and aromas are released, about 5 to 8 seconds.

Add sauce to ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Add the cooked chicken back in while stirring and cooking until tender and cooked through about 2-3 minutes. *Always use an internal thermometer to attain a temperature of 165 F° and higher for poultry.

While sauce is simmering, combine cornstarch and water. Add half of the cornstarch mixture to the sauce to thicken. Cook briefly and check consistency. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon. You can add more cornstarch mixture is needed.

Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.

Drizzle with sesame oil and pour chicken with sauce into the center of the broccoli ring.

Serve with steamed white or brown rice or noodles.

Bruschetta Linguine

Okay, so I really don’t know what to call this dish.

“Bruschetta Linguine” will work, I think.

And, sorry, but this is going to be one of the recipes that doesn’t offer specific measurements. Pretty much everything is “to taste.”

This is a dish that I enjoyed countless times this summer. I love that it is so fresh, so light, so healthy, so easy, and so fast!!! AND it’s scalable. I can easily prepare it for one, for two, or for many more!

Before I share the recipe, I need to endorse Dreamfields pasta. This pasta has changed my life! In my attempts to try to choose “good carbs,” I’ve tried so many brands of whole grain and whole wheat pastas, and I’ve never been impressed. Actually, I’ve been quite disappointed. My experience has been that most turn out mushy and/or grainy. For one who has texture issues, this is a deal breaker.

Fortunately, my husband discovered the Dreamfileds brand about a year ago and we haven’t looked back since. Other pastas, even the whole grain ones, weren’t helping me out on the scale the following morning. Quite the contrary! Dreamfields and my scale are happily compatible, though!

Not only does my waistline appreciate the consideration, but my tastebuds do, as well! YUMMY!

So, if you’re wanting to minimize your carb intake AND not sacrifice taste, this is the pasta for you!

Don’t see it on your favorite grocer’s shelves? No worries! Amazon will be happy to deliver some to your door. Can’t beat that!

Bruschetta Linguine

Linguine
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tomatoes, fresh & diced
Basil, fresh
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
Parmiggiano Reggiano

Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain.

Thoroughly cook chicken breast in a little olive oil. Slice cooked breast.

Dice fresh tomatoes and chiffonade basil.

Toss linguine, oil, tomatoes, and basil together. Place chicken on top of pasta. Liberally grate fresh Parmiggiano Reggiano over the entire dish.

Buon appetito!

Mexican Lasagna

Last month I saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks site. I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand at the time and was trying to figure out how to use them all before they spoiled.

It’s actually a recipe that Pastor Ryan submitted. It was a little hard to follow in spots, but we were quite pleased with the results. Next time, I think we’ll try corn tortillas instead of flour. I’m hoping that will give it more of a tamale feel.

For step by step (mostly) pictures, check out PW’s site.

Notes: My baking dish wasn’t as large as P. Ryan’s (I used a 9 x 13 lasagna dish), so I scaled back on some of the quantities, which means I just had to guess. For example, his recipe calls for 4 c rice & I halved that. In fact, I halved just about everything.

I’ll share the rough measurements below for what I did.

Pastor Ryan’s Mexican Lasagna

from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

2 c uncooked rice (I prefer Basmati)
3-4 c low sodium chicken broth or stock
3-5 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
Butter
Taco seasoning (or chili powder, cumin, & paprika) – to taste
1 can black or pinto beans (I prefer black)
1-2 lbs lean ground beef or ground turkey
1-2 bags grated Mexican cheese blend
1 can corn, drained
Flour tortillas
1 – 16 oz jar Salsa Verde
1 – 10 oz can enchilada sauce
Salt
Sour cream
Cilantro

Prepare rice with chicken stock (instead of water) according to rice package directions. Hold off on adding any salt until after the rice is cooked, and salt according to taste then. Set aside.

Chop tomatoes, onions, and garlic to desired size. Saute these in about 1 T butter til onions are softened. Add about 3 T taco seasoning (or alternate seasonings – 2 parts chili powder to 1 part cumin & 1 part paprika). Stir til combined. Add beans (no need to drain).

Combine rice and tomato mixes. Set aside.

Brown meat & drain excess grease. Add taco seasoning according to package directions (or you may use the alternates with the same proportions listed above & 1/4 c – 1/2 c water).

Assembly:

  • Cover bottom of baking dish with salsa verde.
  • Arrange tortillas, overlapping as needed, on top of salsa verde.
  • Add a layer of rice (about half of the prepared amount).
  • Layer about half of the cheese on top of the rice.
  • Add another layer of tortillas.
  • Spread enchilada sauce evenly over tortillas.
  • Add meat.
  • Pour drained corn on top of meat.
  • Add the remaining rice.
  • Spread the remaining salsa verde.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • If desired, you can sprinkle the top with taco seasoning or cayenne pepper.

Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes or until cheese has melted and browned a bit.

Serve with sour cream and cilantro.