Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Extravaganza!

Hi everyone.  First off, there is a slight chance that I might have misled you when I called this a Halloween “extravaganza”.  I really only have a few cute ideas for you.  So maybe just a “vaganza”.  There really isn’t anything “extra” about it.  But I do have a lot of pictures, so let’s start this thing…..

My first recipe/idea won’t surprise any of you after reading about me and bourbon.  Apparently, I have taken up drinking because I am going to show you how to make Halloween Jell-O Shots.  Maybe I will put down the bottle after the holidays. 

I realize that Jell-O Shots aren’t anything new and exciting.  We all drank them in college, right? The difference is that I make them with champagne instead of vodka.  I totally prefer the taste of champagne….how about you?  Plus, I make them cute and Halloween-ish.


I made two versions.  My “adult” version uses a 3 ounce box of orange Jell-O and champagne.  My “kiddie” version uses a 3 ounce box of orange Jell-O and club soda.  You will notice that I am using the best champagne I could find;)  Don’t you judge me.

Let’s start with the adult version…..

I start by boiling one cup of champagne.  I add that to the Jell-O and mix for 2 minutes.  Seriously, 2 minutes.  This will keep the Jell-O from being grainy.

Then, I add a cup of chilled champagne to the mixture and stir that.  I pour this into a 9x9 pan and pop it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  I would recommend doing this in the morning.  I don’t pour the Jell-O into shot glasses yet.  I am using plastic glasses and if it sets in the glasses, it would be hard to get the Jell-O out at eating/drinking time.  I like to cut it into small chunks before I put it into the glasses.

The kid’s version gets made with one cup of boiling water and one cup of chilled club soda.  This will make the Jell-O fizzy and bubbly.  It is way cooler than plain water.

This is the big “ta-da”. I serve these in little plastic glasses that are supposed to look like jack o’ lanterns.  If you are making an adult version and a kid version, I would recommend only drawing faces on the kid’s cups.  This will help everyone know the difference between kid and adult. 

Aren’t these the cutest thing ever?  How cute would these be at a Halloween party?  Or a pre-Trick or Treating party?  My kids loved these.  The club soda ones….of course.  I loved the champagne version.  But I am sure that doesn’t surprise you.

My next idea/recipe is also a beverage.  I made a “fall cider.”  I am obsessed with apple cider.  Not just apple juice, but the spicy version you can only buy in the fall.  I also love Starbuck’s Caramel Apple Cider.  I came up with my own recipe that cooks in the slow cooker.  It is perfect for a Halloween party.  You can keep it warm in the slow cooker and your guests can serve themselves. 

I use apple juice, cranberry juice, pear nectar, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, ginger and a couple of clementines.  You could use regular oranges too, if that is what you have. 

This is so easy….I literally just throw everything (ok, not literally…that would make a mess), in the slow cooker and let it go for about 3 hours.  The flavors will all meld together over that 3 hours.  The spices, clemetines and ginger will all release their flavors.  Then, I pull the big chunks out and it is ready to go. 

I serve this with whipped cream on top.  I love this stuff.  It tastes like fall in a glass.

The grown-ups might like it with a shot of Apple Jack in it.  Man, I am a drunk;)

For a yummy and super cute Halloween party appetizer….I will show you how to make my Halloween cheese ball….This is the perfect appetizer to serve to everyone whether you are carving pumpkins, handing out candy, or fuelling up for the trick or treating.  Let me give you a sneak peek of the finished cheese ball…..

It’s a pumpkin!

This recipe starts with 2 bricks of cream cheese that have been left out at room temperature to soften.

I also use mayonnaise, a splash of half and half, Worcestershire sauce, cheddar cheese, dry ranch dressing mix, green onion, pimientos, and chopped pecans.  This is basically my pimiento cheese recipe gussied up a bit.

I start by blending the cream cheese with mayo, the dry ranch mix, Worcestershire and a splash of half and half.  I beat this until smooth.

Then, with a spatula, I stirred in the green onion, drained pimientos, and chopped pecans. 

Two cups of cheddar cheese also gets stirred in.  And what’s that at the top?  That is the bacon that I forgot to tell you about.  It was in the oven so it didn’t get its picture taken with the other ingredients.  Sorry to leave you out, bacon.  Anyhoo, I stir this until well blended.  This is hard work at this point.  Use your muscles…this stuff is thick!

It is hard to tell from this picture, but I dumped the mixture onto plastic wrap and formed it into a ball.  This ball will sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Don’t worry about your ball shape yet.  Once it is chilled, it will be easier to form it into the perfect pumpkin shape.

When the ball comes out of the fridge, place it onto its serving platter.  Then, take your last bits of cheddar cheese and press it gently into the cheese pumpkin.  Cover the ball completely. 

I used a piece of zucchini for the stem.  I served my pumpkin with slices of baguette and celery.  Crackers would be great too!  If you are super creative, you could make a jack o’ lantern face with bell peppers, black olives, etc.  Not only is this the cutest thing ever, it also tastes amazing.  The pecans and bacon give it smokiness and crunch.  I easily ate half;)

My final recipe isn’t for you at all.  It is for your dog.  They always seem to get the shaft at Halloween.  Not only do we dress them up in ridiculous costumes that you can tell embarrass them….they also get the pleasure of freaking out every time the doorbell rings for a trick or treater.  At least my dogs do.  I swear Halloween ages them 5 years.  My dogs hate the doorbell;)

I came up with a recipe for dog treats that lets your dogs share in the fall spirit too.  This recipe has pumpkin and apples in it.  My dogs thought they were the best things ever!  Not that they told me that.  I could tell by their expressions;)

The treats are made with flour, peanut butter, salt, eggs, apples and canned pumpkin.  You might want to use whole wheat flour if you have it.  I didn’t, and my dogs didn’t care.

With a hand mixer, I beat together the flour, salt, pumpkin and peanut butter.  Be careful, this is a dry dough so it will shoot flour out all over.  Just don’t wear black.  Once that was blended, I added the eggs and beat some more.  Finally, I stirred in the apples.

This dough gets rolled out on a floured board.  And when I say “floured” I mean more flour then you would ever think necessary.  This is a sticky dough.

I used a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter because my dogs totally care about appearances.

These bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.  The cookies won’t rise or spread out as they contain no baking soda or baking powder.  They will come out super hard, which is exactly how they are supposed to be.

See how the cookies still have flour on them after they are baked?  Don’t worry about that.  Just dust it off and reward your doggies accordingly.  Maybe these will decrease the terror of Halloween for your dog.  All the people in hats, scary costumes, etc. can really do a number on the poor little guys;)

Ok, was that long enough for you?  I hope you hung in there.  Normally I don’t like to throw so much at you, but Halloween kind of snuck up on me this year.  All of a sudden, I had a bunch of stuff to show you and only one post.  Next year I will try to be more prepared.  Again, I blame it on the bourbon.

See you next week!  Have a safe and fun Halloween!  Did I just wish you a “safe” Halloween?  I am such a nerd.

Champagne Jell-O Shots*

3 ounce package Jell-O

2 cups champagne

In a small pot, boil one cup of the champagne.  Stir the boiling champagne into the Jell-O mix.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Add one cup of chilled champagne.  Stir.  Pour into a 9x9 pan and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 

*you can replace the champagne with club soda.

Fall Cider

3 cups apple juice

3 cups pear cider

3 cups cranberry juice

4 cinnamon sticks

8 whole cloves

3 inch piece of peeled ginger

2 clementines, cut in half

Place all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook for 3 hours.  Remove sticks, cloves, ginger and clementines.  Serve warm.

Halloween Cheeseball

2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons half and half

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 pack dry ranch dressing seasoning

1 small jar pimientos, drained

½ cup green onions, diced

4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

½ cup pecans, chopped

3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

One small zucchini end for garnish

In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, mayo, half and half, Worcestershire and ranch mix with a hand mixer.  Stir in pimientos, green onions, bacon and pecans until mixed.  Stir in 2 cups of cheddar. 

Shape mixture into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. 

Once chilled, remove plastic wrap and place ball on serving platter.  Cover ball with remaining cheddar by pressing the cheese into the ball.  Press zucchini end into top for stem.

Serve with crackers, bread or crudité.

Pumpkin Apple Dog Treats

2 ½ cups flour

2 eggs

½ cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons peanut butter

½ teaspoon salt

1 apple, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together flour, pumpkin, peanut butter and salt with a hand mixer.  Once blended, stir in apple.  Roll out dough on a floured board.  Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes out of dough.

Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Makes about 24 treats.

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