More Halloween Feasting

Every year I make “FRANKEN-Mummies.” Veggie hotdogs wrapped in Pillsbury original breadsticks (they wrap so much better than the crescent rolls).

I divide the dogs in thirds for more mummies. And don’t forget the mustard and ketchup eyes!

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The rest of the meal: charred bones (spicy oven fries), pirate’s teeth (oven roasted cumin corn), and alien babies (peas).

Spoooooky eats, folks.

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soul cakes

a little soul please

what are soul cakes?  well, they are something i only make once a year for halloween.  the closet relative to a soul cake i guess would be a scone.  but they date back to the middle ages in great britain.  the tradition goes…….soul cakes are baked for all hallows eve, you were to place a plate of soul cakes outside your door or window with a lighted candle and a glass of wine to appease or feed the spirits of the dead that had returned that night.  children often went “souling” or going door to door collecting the cakes, thus the practice of trick or treating began. many times the dough for the cakes were shaped into figures using raisins as eyes, mouth, etc.  while i have never set them out to appease the dead, they do appease my breakfast appetite the whole week of halloween.

RECIPE — SOUL CAKES

makes 1 dozen

1 package yeast

1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp

1/4 cup warm water

1 stick butter (1/4 lb)

2 cups milk — scalded

6 cups flour

1 tsp salt

3 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp all spice

1/3 cup raisins or crasisins

*dissolve yeast with 1 tsp sugar in warm water.  while yeast is dissolving slightly scald milk, meaning boil for a 3-4 minutes

* cream together butter and sugar, stir in milk.  in a large bowl sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice

* combine flour mixture with yeast, add to butter mixture, mix thoroughly.  add in raisins or make people out of dough using raisins for decoration.

*bake at 375 for 30 minutes

the queen city fall whiskey festival

real ladies drink whiskey

i decided to have a whiskey festival this fall.  why?  i wanted to celebrate, the beginning of fall with things i love including good friends, whiskey and pie, and that is exactly what i did along with my friend elise who offered to have the event at her house.  to start things off about a month ago i created 10 different specialty infused whiskies.  the list included:  almond rose, vanilla blueberry, mint, rosemary, spiced cider, pumpkin pie, apple crumb, chocolate mint, lime and pepper, and finally cherry lemonade.  my goal was when someone sampled the whiskey i didn’t want them to feel like they were tasting whiskey i wanted it to feel like they were drinking pumpkin pie or lemonade.  there was lots of testing and smelling and a little tweaking but the patience paid off. the verdict……apple crumb was the #1 whiskey flavor, followed by rosemary and shockingly lime and pepper.  coming in close though was the almond rose and chocolate mint, although i really ended up enjoying the vanilla blueberry, the berries even turned the whiskey purple.

there was whiskey………..

and

more whiskey

we also had a variety of whiskies from tennesee and kentucky varying in proofs 80, 90, and classic moonshine of 100 proof, along with some nice sweet tennesee honey whiskey.

this is the stuff you could run your car on

the next step was the baking.  elsie and i both baked like mad the day before, creating what we called a “homemade pie buffet.”  the buffet had honey pie, apple pie, pumpkin-pecan pie, chocolate-peanut butter pie, sugar cookie pie and pumpkin mouse pie along with my famous whiskey jug chocolate sugar cookies.

pie my favorite food

you can’t eat just one

the night was filled with whiskey, board games, friends, pie and ended around the fire pit in hopes of seeing the meteor shower.  i’ve already started creating  the list for next years infusions and have decided to add a little competition for the 2nd whiskey festival, an infusion competition.  so ya’ll got one whole year to tweak your whiskey creations and compete at next year’s queen city fall whiskey festival!

Hello Kedgeree

So I read on-line that the first meal in the opening scenes of season 1 of Downton Abbey is a breakfast of Kedgeree. Not traditionally a veggie meal, BUT, that doesn’t tend to stop me when it comes to my love of British food.

Trusting my ever faithful Jamie O. I tweaked and twisted his recipe to become a veggie Kedgeree that would make Carson proud.

Serves 4

First, I chopped the veg and tofu:
1 white onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and I used garlic infused tofu instead of mackerel. You see there that I sliced the tofu more than chopped it because I wanted it to flake more like fish.

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I cooked my white jasmine rice -4 servings.

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While my tofu and onion got a little brown and crispy in two tablespoons of olive oil.

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I got out the hard boiled 4 eggs I had prepared earlier in the day. John doesn’t care for soft boiled and though those seem to be more traditional, we went with hard boiled because a happy husband is a happy thing.

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I added the rice to the tofu and onion, then the spices to the mix: 2 tsp curry, 1 tsp turmeric, a shake or two of pepper.

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Because my eggs where hard, I chopped them up. I halved the tomatoes and added them to the pan (which was now cooking on low heat).

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Oh, and don’t forget the “scatter” of parsley when you add the eggs next!

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I stirred it all up into one giant, yummy, yellow breakfast for dinner.

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This is a seriously hearty meal in disguise, so be ready! You’ll want to eat a few helpings, but the heartiness will win in the end.

We also had the last of my Yorkshire puddings from the freezer reheated in oil and butter in a skillet. That worked out so much better than the microwave!

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The customary greens…

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And I had a new-to-me British ale that was left at our house by a friend.

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I have never seen so many instructions on a beer can. They were worth it .

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See, when I blog first thing in the morning it just makes me not want to go into work and cook the meal all over again. Alas, someone had to pay the grocery bills.

Good-bye for now, Kedgeree.

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A Love Letter from a Restaurant Regular

John and I are regulars at two restaurants: Dos Reales on 75th Street and Johnny Cascones on 91 St.

Dos Reales was a happy accident as most “regulars” experience. You just eat there a lot and the staff starts to recognize you.

Cascones is a different situation completely. Yes, I’m just going say it, we’ve worked at being regulars. Nine years ago we were dining there and loved the food and the atmosphere so much we decided to “become” regulars.

How you might ask? We ate there 3 times a month. We always put in a reservation by name. We remembered staff names and tipped like friends not customers. We even had our wedding reception there. Extreme I know…

Here’s the thing though, it was all done with genuine love for the restaurant, the food, and the people and over the years the staff and owners have noticed.

Nine years later, I bring the staff baked goods at Christmas, we get friendly “drop-byes” at our table from long time staff, they note when we haven’t been in for a while, and my most favorite thing – a handshake and warm chit-chat when we arrive and leave. I look forward to the day we’re the little old couple who get a hug when they walk in the door– that is my lifetime goal.
We’ve seen it happen.

But now I’m happy with the fact that they not only recognize us, they really like us. And I can’t help but feel
Iike (in a small way) part of the Cascones family — which is what being a regular is really about right?

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Our Cascones dinner from Saturday night:

Emily with her shells, mushrooms, broccoli and cheese sauce .

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Regular, John Young with his standard cheese ravioli.

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And me with marinara, spaghetti and mushrooms.

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Thanks for loving us back Cascones.

meatless monday — black bean soup

oh yes the soups on monday are still happening.  this time i was seriously craving some black bean soup.  i was shocked to find out at the grocery store, quick and easy black bean soup whether in a can or a ready mix, is actually had to find.  my options were amy’s black bean in a can, wolfgang puck also had a canned black bean, panera now is selling premade soups at the grocery store but i felt their black bean was a little over priced, ortega has a black bean soup mix which for some reason i was really nervous about so avoided it and i finally settled on full circle’s premaid black bean soup mix.

trying something new

it’s always a little nerve-racking trying something new because what if it completely stinks.  however this soup was REALLY good, i may have even said that aloud to myself after i took the first bite.  i topped my soup with a little plain yogurt and cheddar cheese and ate some yummy hint-of lime tortilla chips with it.  this is what i call a black bean soup success!

just a little southwestern feel to it

Pre-Halloween Eats!

Here are some of our Pre-Halloween eats from today.
Breakfast…yes, pumpkin faced donuts again. I had to make two trips to get them this time. Thanks 2nd Krispy Kreme for having them.

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Annual Oreo Pudding Graveyard for book club tonight.

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I make this every year and it’s tied with pumpkin beer as my favorite Halloween treat! You’ll note there are ten graves this year. We read Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” where there are 10 perspective victims.

And then there was none is also the general outcome for the graveyard pudding.

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mexican mac and cheese

an everything but the kitchen sink mac & cheese

the other night i was horribly tired, under the weather and couldn’t breath out my noise.  while the last thing i wanted to do was cook and eat something i knew i needed dinner.  all that sounded good was mac & cheese.  as the pasta was boiling away i started cleaning out the fridge to see what needed to go and what needed to stay.  looking at the items that were taking up space in the fridge that needed to be used up i realized they were all mexican themed and all could go into the mac & cheese.  kidney beans, peach salsa, green pepper, onion, half a tomato  all got mixed in, topped it with the last little bit of guac i had, i know mac topped with guac sounds weird but oh so good, and mexican mac & cheese was born.  now thinking about it i think i was hopping this odd combination of flavors would penetrate my cold and hopefully make my noise run, it was just what i needed that night.

Sneaking in one more summer dinner

Our friend Megan joined us for dinner a few weeks ago. It was Friday night so that usually means homemade pizza, but we had a guest, so I debated a “welcome to fall” meal.

Then I said- “Nah. Let’s have loose pizza.”

As you may remember oven roasted mint and garlic tomatoes are one of my favorite things. I make them all summer long while tomatoes are local and fresh. Putting them on top of fresh pizza crust topped with mini fresh mozzarella balls is just another one of my sneaky ways of eating them more often.

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Oven Mint Roasted Tomatoes:
Pre heat oven at 325.
Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs of cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil
7 cloves of garlic split length wise
A healthy handful of mint leaves trimmed
1 tsp garlic salt
I tsp freshly ground pepper

Wash tomatoes and add to a pottery or ceramic dish in a single layer. Pour oil over tomatoes. Toss in all other ingredients.

Bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes or until skins start to split on the tomatoes.

Spoon on baked pizza dough (or bread) and top with fresh mozzarella.

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Yeah, we had some salad too.

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Megan brought dessert – homemade cookie dough and ice cream. We baked up some right after dinner. Yum.

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It was so much fun to bake together! Good idea Megan.

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Ok– here’s the other great thing about these tomatoes. If say, you make too much (which I always do– very sneaky of me), they are great reheated and mixed into pasta for a whole other meal the next day!

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Yeah, I think I might need to make them again…

meatless monday — split pea soup

a bowl of mmmmmm

yep i’m still on my soup kick.  perhaps its the fall weather, the trees turning and all that squash that is becoming available, but i haven’t gotten tired of whipping up a big pot of soup yet.  although my freezer is now quickly filling up with all the soup leftovers.  for this week’s soup i used a soup mix by bear creek, i highly recommend them.  quick, easy and oh so good. for their split pea i added a few things to it including fresh spinach and some randall northern beans.  with a little french bread and goat cheese this was a meal hard to beat.