Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Let’s talk about trick-or-treating for a minute. Do you only give candy to little kids, or will you also shell out for bigger kids (ahem, cough, adults)? I guess who you give candy to is your business, but I think, in the spirit of Halloween, anyone who takes the time to put on a costume and knock on your door should at least get a bite-sized Snickers. Just sayin.
But maybe I feel this way because I didn’t have normal trick-or-treating as a kid (and because I love Halloween and I’m all about everyone at every age getting festive!). We lived in the woods, down a long driveway, with only about 10 houses within a mile on either side of us. So Amanda and I didn’t really get that door-to-door experience. Instead, my parents would drive us from house to house, hoping our neighbors would be home and would have candy.
We always lucked out at the bottom of our hill, when we hit Hank & Vesta’s house. They were an adorable little old couple, who always bought loads of Girl Scout cookies from us, and always handed out fresh made popcorn balls for Halloween.
Eventually I got “too old to trick-or-treat” (which doesn’t actually exist…that’s like saying you’re too old to believe in Santa… um, also false), and Hank & Vesta’s house sold and became a winery, and I grew up and moved to Seattle, and I developed this weird thing where I like popcorn but thinking about eating it makes my teeth hurt, and I totally forgot about popcorn balls.
That is, until I saw these amazing brown butter marshmallow popcorn balls! WHAT! Guys, we’re talkin’ rice crispy treats, but with popcorn. Genius work here. The brown butter mallow combo is amazing as-is, but I decided to gussy these up a bit for Halloween, with orange and black Reese's Pieces that get all melty and peanut buttery. It's pretty amazing.
And guess what… if you come knocking at my door on Halloween, all costumed up and saying those magic words (minus the smell my feet part), I will definitely drop one of these in your candy bucket, whether you’re 4, 14, or 45. Especially if you’re 45.
Adapted from Love + Cupcakes
Makes about 30 2-inch balls. The original recipe has instructions for popping your own popcorn. I'm lazy, so I used 3 bags of lightly salted, unbuttered microwave popcorn. If you make your own, or use unsalted, just add a bit of sea salt to the mallow mixture. Also, the standard bag of mallows I found was 16 ounces, so I just didn't use the whole thing. One more thing: be sure to not get the unpopped kernels in your mix... they make for a hard little surprise when you bite down (trust).
7-8 cups popped lightly salted popcorn
1- 10oz bag marshmallows
1 stick butter
1.5 cups Reeses Pieces candy
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside.
In a large pot (I used a big stock pot), melt butter over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned. Turn heat to low, add marshmallows, and stir until melted. Remove from heat, and add popcorn. Stir (sort of gently) until all the popcorn is coated. Add about half the Reeses, stir and fold, and add the rest. Stir a few times—some of the candy will stay whole, and others will split and ooze out yummy peanut buttery goodness. Lightly coat your hands with butter or coconut oil, and get busy rolling. Let popcorn balls cool on wax paper.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I'm here to tell you that you don't need a whole chicken carcass to make really good chicken noodle soup.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan and proponent of homemade chicken stock. But, the times I need chicken noodle soup the most, are typically also the times that I don't have the patience, energy, or time to deal with a whole chicken. Like when I'm sick.
I make a pot of chicken noodle anytime Evan or I get even the slightest sniffle. It's so quick and easy, and maybe it's just because we're nostalgic for sick days home from school with mom's chicken noodle soup, but it always seems to do the trick. I came down with a nasty cold this week, and all I wanted was a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. But I wanted it like, instantly… but also semi-homemade.
I use store-bought broth or stock (honestly, Swanson's low sodium is my very favorite, I think it has the best flavor…but use whatever you prefer) and dried noodles. Trader Joe's egg pappardelle pasta is my favorite—when I use that, I'll just boil the noodles directly in the broth, because they make it a little creamy and thick. If I use other noodles, I'll boil them separately. Sometimes I dice up and sauté a chicken breast, sometimes I don't even add chicken. I love the addition of frozen peas and shredded cabbage, but I'll use whatever I have on hand, sometimes just carrots and onions. I always throw in a whole bunch of thyme (fresh or dried), and if I have fresh parsley on hand, I'll add that as well. Go ahead and get creative, or use what you have… it's that easy! And in addition to making me feel warm and cozy, it tastes delicious too!
PS. As you read this, I'm snuggled up on my couch with some cough drops, a glass of hot tea, and a cup of this chicken noodle. Work your magic, soup!
Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1-2 chicken breasts, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
8 cups chicken stock
1-2 carrots, diced
8 oz package egg noodles
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup shredded cabbage
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, and add a swirl or two of olive oil. Add the onion, and cook until translucent. Add the chicken, and cook through. Add garlic, salt & pepper, and thyme, and cook another minute or two, until garlic is fragrant but not burned. Add chicken broth, and turn up heat to bring soup to a boil. Add carrots and egg noodles, and boil until noodles are done. Lower heat to simmer, and add peas, cabbage, and parsley. Simmer until cabbage is cooked. Add salt & pepper to taste, as needed.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
I know that pumpkin and pear month is in full swing, but you know what else just screams fall? Other than, you know… ghosts, black cats, witches, and goblins. Cauliflower, nuts, and lotsa warm spices!
I made this cauliflower couscous a little while ago, and was crazy about the flavors. So good. Like, I just wanted to eat it every day. But, the problem is that my food processor is really small and sucky, so processing a whole head of cauliflower into tiny little couscous-like balls takes forever, is a major pain, and makes a big giant mess. So, I combined that recipe with Gwyneth's roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. OMG GUYS!
This dish is so freaking good, I'm seriously obsessed. I mean... it might be the best cauliflower I've ever had. EVER. I made it last week and ate it all, the entire thing, by myself. That's an entire head of cauliflower in one meal, in case you were wondering. I just can't stop. And it takes like five minutes to prep (plus 40 or so to cook), so it's super duper easy. Please say you'll make it!
Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas with Nuts, Spices, and Raisins
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and lightly dried (with a towel or paper towel)
1 head of cauliflower, cut up into florets
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon za'atar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup golden raisins
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread chickpeas and cauliflower on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, za'atar, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. I use a pretty generous amount of salt, but you can taste the raw cauliflower or chickpeas to get it how you want it. Toss everything together or give it a good shake to mix.
Roast for about 30 minutes, then add the cashews to the tray, and roast another 5-10 minutes, until cauliflower is golden. Remove from oven, and add to a big bowl. Toss with raisins, lemon juice, and parsley. I like a lot of parsley, but that's up to you.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Alright friends, I'm feelin' classy right now. Get this girl a glass of champagne or something in a martini glass already!
But seriously, I just bought two really awesome cocktail-party dresses, so I'd love an invite to your fancy autumn cocktail party. Okay, thanks.
And also, if you invite me, I might bring these fall crostinis with pears, bleu cheese, sage, walnuts, and salted maple caramel. It's all kinds of sweet and salty and nutty in one bite. You get that invitation in the mail, and I'll get these guys on a platter. Let's do this.
Pear & Bleu Crostini
Makes about 20 crostinis
1 large pear, diced small
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped or broken
1-2 tablespoons of crumbled bleu cheese
4-5 large sage leaves, thinly sliced
Spritz of fresh lemon juice
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 baguette, sliced in thin rounds, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Heavy pinch of good flaky sea salt
Toss together pears through black pepper, and top baguette rounds with mixture. Stick under broiler until cheese is melted, for just a minute or so (keep your eye on it).
Add butter, brown sugar, syrup, and sea salt to a small, heavy bottomed pot, and heat over medium-high, stirring the whole time, until everything is melted and bubbly and mixed together. Taste and add more salt if desired.
Drizzle caramel on top of crostini.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
October! You’re here! I love you! I love hot cider at the pumpkin patch. I love pumpkin cakes and cookies and soups and chilis (and beers). I love sunny but crisp days, and orange leaves, and red leaves, and scarves. Guys, I have a serious scarf problem (I have like… 35 scarves. Yikes!). I love cinnamon and nutmeg so, so much.
But what I really love…are scary movies and haunted houses! I know it’s only the first of the month, but… Halloween. Do you guys have your costumes or party food picked out yet? Please tell me your house is covered in fake blood and fake cobwebs.
I’m so excited! I have a major urge to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark right now. Did you watch that as a kid? We didn’t have cable tv, so I only watched 5 episodes that a friend recorded (on VHS) for us. Amanda and I watched those 5 episodes a hundred times. Here are my top 5 (and only 5) favorite episodes:
- The Tale of the Lonely Ghost: By far the best episode! An old haunted house, a creepy-ass child ghost, a bitchy but super popular teenage cousin. All keys to a good story.
- The Tale of the Twisted Claw: “It’s the clor of a vulchah!” Amanda and I know this one pretty much word for word.
- The Tale of the Prom Queen: Um, who doesn’t love a ghost prom queen from the 50s. I know I do!
- The Tale of the Pinball Wizard: The entire mall turns into a deadly pinball game. And there’s obviously a teenage love story in here. Enough said!
- The Tale of the Phantom Cab: Brothers get lost hiking and a creepy old dude in the woods who holds them captive… um. It’s more PG than it sounds.
I may have also spent an entire Saturday a year or two ago watching YouTube recordings of AYAOTD. Just sayin’.
Anyway, that was worthwhile! Also, to celebrate the amazingness of October I made pasta with pumpkin (fall, check), wild mushrooms (fall, check), and sage (yep, check, check, check!). It’s sort of loosely based on a Rachel Ray recipe, but don’t let that stop you from making it.
Adapted from this recipe
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb wild mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
8-10 sage leaves, sliced thin
salt & pepper to taste
truffle oil (optional)
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