Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sweet Spooks

2 bags Tootsie Pops
1 box plain, 2-ply, white, non-scented tissues
30 small rubber bands or scotch tape
Black sharpie marker

Place one Tootsie Pop in the middle of one tissue sheet with the bottom pointing towards a corner

Fold the top corner over to the opposite corner

Scrunch the tissue around the "neck" of the Tootsie Pop

Take a piece of tape or a rubber band and wrap it around the neck of the Tootsie Pop...

...like so.  I prefer to use rubber bands as they don't make the neck look so long, but I didn't have any.

With the black sharpie marker, paint on two round eyes

Ooooooo, a Sweet Spook - so simple to make.  Repeat the process with the rest of the Tootsie Pops.


I have made these Sweet Spooks many a Halloween for a couple of decades.   I don't remember where I got the idea from but I have always liked them and I think they're so cute.  Plus I love Tootsie Pops.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Asian Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 lb. lean ground beef
Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 1/2 cup cooked Jasmine white rice
3 medium/large green bell peppers (I only had two), top cut off, veins and seeds removed
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
8 heaping tbsps. honey
14.5 oz. bottle favorite Asian sauce
Sesame seeds

Prepare the Jasmine rice.  To a large skillet on medium heat, add a tbsp. of oil, saute the diced onion then add the ground beef and cook until just about brown.

Add 2 1/2 cups cooked rice to the meat and combine
 Turn heat down to low, stir occasionally

In the meantime, pour the tomato sauce in a small bowl, add four heaping tablespoons of honey.  Combine completely.

Pour the tomato sauce and add it to the meat and rice mixture.  Stir in completely.

Stuff the meat and rice mixture into the bell peppers.  Arrange in glass casserole dish.

Don't be shy in stuffing the peppers

Now take your Asian sauce

and pour the whole bottle over and around the stuffed bell peppers.  Bake at 350F degrees for 1 hour.

I served the stuffed bell peppers with some Soba noodles drenched with some of the Asian sauce in the glass dish.

Sprinkle with some sesame seeds, serve warm and enjoy.

Oh, I've been so craving some stuffed bell peppers and finally had a chance to make them.  Hubby doesn't like them so I had to wait until he was out of town.  I may have made them once before in my life but I really don't quite remember when and how they tasted.  I looked at numerous recipes from several sites to compile my own ingredients to come up with an Asian style stuffed bell pepper.  I had bought a bottle of some Asian sauce on my last trip "into the city" (Wegmans) and was thrilled I finally got to use it.  

This truly hit the spot and thoroughly satisfied my craving for stuffed bell peppers.  Every bite of the green pepper combined with the meat, rice and the noodles and the sauce was so full of flavor, I couldn't get enough of it. I'm so happy.

I hope you're weekend is going well and be sure to savor every moment!
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ina's Outrageous Brownies

by Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa

1 lb. unsalted butter (4 sticks, yes, FOUR sticks!)
1 lb. plus 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. unsweetened chocolates (6 squares)
6 extra-large eggs
3 tbsps. instant coffee granules
2 tbsps. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1" baking sheet, set aside

Melt the butter and 1 lb. of chocolate chips in a medium bowl over simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water)

As I melted the butter and chocolate chips, I came so close to forgetting to add the unsweetened chocolate!  Whew! I'm glad I remembered!  Do you ever "almost" forget to put in an ingredient??  Anyways, once it's all melted, set aside and let cool slightly

In another bowl, add the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla extract and sugar,  Stir (do not mix).

Stir in the warm chocolate mixture,

and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add to the cooled chocolate mixture, stir  until completely mixed.

In another bowl, add 1/4 cup flour and the 12 oz. of chocolate chips and walnuts.  This trick makes the chips from sinking to the bottom while baking.  (I wanted to make half with pecans and half without so that's why you don't see the pecans in with the choc. chips.  I don't like Pecans).

Stir in the floured chocolate chips.

and pour half the mixture in one side of the cookie sheet (it's the half without the nuts).  

 Repeat the step by adding the nuts into the last half of the chocolate mixture and then spread onto the other half of the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.  Bake for another 15 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.  Do not overbake!

Let cool completely (for about an hour and 1/2)

Cut in small pieces or large ones.  I personally prefer the small ones only because these are so so rich, thick and chocolatey!

 YUM!!  Got milk?!

I've been making this recipe for years.  It was one of the first recipes I saw Ina bake and they sounded and looked so good, I just had to make them.  I was not prepared though the very first time I bit into one of these.  The coffee granules definitely bring out the chocolatey goodness.  If anything ought to be called, "death by chocolate", it should be these brownies.  I just had one, and I feel like I have overdosed on chocolate.  I'll be taking some to work, especially the ones with pecans ;) since this recipe can make around 40 bars.
Make sure to have some cold milk on hand!

Hope and pray you had a blessed weekend and savored every moment!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Restaurant-Style Smashed Potatoes

by Ree Drummond - The Pioneer Woman

5 whole large red potatoes, baked
1 stick of butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 cup pepper jack cheese, grated
3/4 cup sour cream
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 whole green onions, sliced and more for topping
Kosher salt
Freshly ground Pepper
3/4 cups french fried onions

This is the only Jack cheese I had.  Salsa Jack.  Sounds intriguing and I'm certain it won't disappoint.

 Here's the cheese after I sliced it and shredded it.  Doesn't it look enticing?

While the potatoes were baking, I shredded the cheese and placed it back in the refrigerator so not to let it soften.  I also chopped up the bacon I had just cooked, set aside.

When the potatoes are fork tender, place in a large bowl and start smashing with a potato masher.

Immediately add the butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon crumbs and green onions.  Combine well.

Fold in the french fried onions with a spatula.  Salt and pepper to taste.

I topped it off with a sprinkle of cheese and some green onions.  Serve warm and enjoy

 We enjoyed ours with Grilled Rib-Eye Steak and Roasted Butternut Squash

I'm seriously making this for Thanksgiving and maybe even Christmas.  It's the best tasting smashed potatoes I've ever had.  I hadn't planned on making them when I watched Pioneer Woman making them yesterday.  I just happened to have everything for this recipe as I was looking what to make with my grilled steak.  Hubby and I enjoyed a quiet dinner together and have plenty of left-overs for tomorrow! Yay!  Hope you've had a wonderful weekend and you've savored every moment.

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