Archive for October, 2009

Halloween Food Ideas

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
My Halloween Spread...

My Halloween spread...

Although I have only thrown one Halloween party in my life, it has got to be one of my favorite holidays.  I love all of the creative things you can do to celebrate this gory, creepy time of year. 

In 2007, when Joe and I were living in the Isle of Man, we decided to invite everyone over for a real American Halloween celebration; full dress was of course required.  I was shocked at how “in to it” everyone got.   There were some creative costumes that year to say the least – a lot were handmade, as the Isle only has one costume shop.  But, the handmade costumes were some of the funniest.   We went as Bacon & Eggs…me being the Egg and Joe was of course Bacon.

I decorated by changing out all of the pictures around the house to gory images.  I simply printed images off the computer and cut them to fit the size of each frame.  I hung skeletons and cob webs everywhere.  I also printed off “Best Costume” forms for people to vote for their favorites.  The winner took home the coveted plastic “Best Costume” trophy – yep, it was plastic. 

Halloween decorations

Just some of the Halloween decorations...

The Halloween themed food had to be the best part. Here are a few of the items I created:

The Infamous Kitty Litter Cake ( I love this one)

Those really are just tootsie rolls, I swear...

Those really are just tootsie rolls, I swear...

I plan to post the recipe for the Kitty Litter Cake in the next post.  Kitty Litter Cake is always a hit.

Bleeding Heart

To make this more "bloody" sit it on top of strawberry jelly.

To make this more "bloody" sit it on top of strawberry jelly.

The Jello Bleeding Heart was made from a heart shaped mold I ordered online.  To get the jello to have an opaque color simply add sweetened condensed milk to the jello. 

Important Note:  Probably wasn’t the best idea to a red jello heart sitting out with a bunch of intoxicated people – it actually ended up inside my friends Fendi bag, then on my living room floor.  Lovely.

Brittle Bones

 

Crispy, crunchy, brittle bones

Crispy, crunchy, brittle bones

These Brittle Bones were made out of meringue.  Once the meringue was just about at “stiff peak”, I placed it in a piping bag and piped it into a bone shape on top of parchment paper.  Not the most flavorful treat, but certainly cute.

Monster Toes

 

Who wants some toes?

Who wants some toes?

These Halloween inspired Monster Toes are easy to make, and taste pretty good.  They are made out of mini hotdogs or sausages that are wrapped with a thinly sliced tortilla strip. I cut a small notch out of the top of each sausage to form the nail bed, which I then filled with ketchup.  

Cheese Brain Dip

The original brain food...

The original brain food...

Another one of the molds I purchased online was this brain shaped mold, perfect for Halloween dips and desserts.  I used a recipe for southwestern cheese dip, the main ingredient of this Cheesy Brain Dip was cream cheese.  The cream cheese helped the brain hold its shape.

Deviled Eyeballs

Deliciously deviled eyeballs...

Deliciously deviled eyeballs...

Deviled eyeballs are really just deviled eggs, but dressed up for Halloween.   I used a sliced green olive for the eyeball, which I filled it with a tiny piece of pimento.  I put ketchup into a small piping bag to make the eyes appear bloodshot.

Road Kill Kabobs, Breaded Eyeballs & Rat Brains Wrapped in Philo Dough

A gross assortment...

A gross assortment...

My need for something easy took over here.  This gross assortment of Road Kill Kabobs, Breaded Eyeballs & Rat Brains Wrapped in Philo Dough are your typical freezer section appetizers.   I dressed them up with Halloween inspired names.  

Most ideas were found online.  With the internet, you will be amazed at the plethora of Halloween party ideas you can find for your next Halloween party. 

Here are some of my favorite sources for Halloween food ideas:

Britta’s Halloween Recipes - Britta goes the extra mile with her attention to detail.

Disney’s Family Fun – Full of Creepy Cuisine ideas for your next party.

Allrecipes.com – A good selection of Halloween cakes and cupcakes.

Skip to my Lou – She has some cute ideas in her latest post.

More Cool Pictures – These are some realistic edible “body parts”.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Imagine the PAWSibilities

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

pawsibilities-humane

Pawsibilities is a live 3-hour telethon

SAVE THE ANIMALS:
“Imagine the PAWSibilities”

Originating LIVE out of the Akron Aeros Stadium

Time Warner Cable Channel 23
November 8, 2009, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

For more information, click here to visit the Humane Society of Greater Akron today.

If you live in the Northeast Ohio area, please tune in!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

amiel_weisblum_pinkribbon

Sadly, each year over 210,000 women and 1,700 men learn that they have breast cancer.  To put that figure in perspective, a shocking 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer.  Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in US women.  So what can you and I do?

1.) Know Your Risks, Reduce Your Risks

Risk Factors can include age, personal history of the disease, family history, certain breast changes, gene changes, reproductive and menstrual history, race,  weight, physical activity level and alcohol consumption to name a few.  Read up on your risk factors and talk to your doctor about reducing them.

2.) Regular Breast Self Exams, Clinical Breast Exams and Mammography

Early detection is key here. Regular screenings and mammograms can help detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable.  Schedule regular clinical exams and perform monthly breast self exams.

This is important…here is your reminder… do your self breast exam today.

Helpful how to’s:

BreastCancer.org walks you through the five steps of a breast self exam.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists self breast exam guide.

The Breast Self Examination (BSE) Website will show you how to examine your breasts step by step with photographs, audio (sound) and the printed word.

3.) Promote Awareness

October has gone pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is responsible for educating both men and women on the detection, treatment and diagnosis of breast cancer.

Just look around, everywhere you look this month people are displaying their pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Large retailers have stocked their shelves with “pink ribbon” items to support breast cancer research.  Sports Illustrated showed their support by donning pink lettering on the cover of their latest issue. The NFL’s “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign got underway a few weeks ago with several teams sporting pink sweatband, towels, socks and shoes.   Now, LifeWithCake would like to “display our pink” too.   

Our pink flag is flying high with the creation of the Perfectly Pink Pom Cupcake for Breast Cancer Awareness

Cupcake for Breast Cancer Awareness

Cupcake for Breast Cancer Awareness

We have also made a donation on behalf of LifeWithCake to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  The Breast Cancer Research Foundation uses 91.5% of your donation towards supporting the cause. You too, can show your support. 

Here are some of the top organizations that support breast cancer research, provide mammograms and care for needy women, and raise awareness through educational efforts. 

Show your pink today, too.

Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcake

Friday, October 16th, 2009
Perfectly Pink POM Cupcake to support Breast Cancer Awareness

Perfectly Pink POM Cupcake to support Breast Cancer Awareness

Recently, when on my way to check the mail, I was pleasently surprised to find a package waiting at the front door.  Had I purchased something online and forgot about it?  Was it a package for my husband or possibly something for the kids?  After careful review of the box, I came to realize it was from POM Wonderful.  POM Wonderful had written LifeWithCake a week ago asking if we would enjoy a care package of their POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, to which we replied – heck yeah!  We rarely will pass up anything free.

Now, I have tried POM before, mainly for its health benefits, but I have never enjoyed “cooking” with it.  This is our mission – to find some interesting and unique ways to incorporate POM Wonderful into some tasty dishes and drinks.  The first being our Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcake, the Perfectly Pink POM Cupcake. 

Along with the juice samples, the people at POM kindly included some interesting information regarding the health benefits of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice.

Did You know?

  • Only POM Wonderful products are backed by $32 million in medical research.
  • POM Wonderful is the only brand to contain 100% authentic pomegranate juice.
  • POM Wonderful grows, picks, and squeezes their own fruit along with manufacturing their own bottles.
  • All Pomegranate orchards are located in sunny California.  Their juice is never imported.
  • POM juice is the only juice to be made exclusively from the “Wonderful” variety pomegranate.
  • The “Wonderful” variety is known for its deep crimson color, delicious taste, and most importantly its unique combination of super antioxidants.
  • Hundreds of scientific tests show POM to be a superior source of antioxidants, with more and better antioxidants than red wine, grape juice, blueberry juice, cranberry juice, green tea, vitamin C and Vitamin E.  That is something to drink to indeed!

These are just a sample of facts about POM Wonderful 100% juice. More health information along with recipes and products can be found at their website POM Wonderful.

To create the Perfectly Pink POM Cupcake to support Breast Cancer Awareness, I looked through countless recipes on the internet, trying to find one that captured that clean delicious pomegrante taste.  Most comments left about  pomegranate cupcakes said basically the same thing, ”good tasting but not much like pomegranate”.

I decided to cheat a bit with this cupcake by using a store bought cake mix.  This allowed me to maxamize my use of POM Wonderful by omitting the water and replacing it with POM Wonderful.  The result was a moist sweet cupcake with the tang and distinct flavor of pomegranate.

Add POM in place of liquid...

Add POM in place of liquid...

Of course, I couldn’t leave it at cake alone, I whipped up a pomegranate buttercream by making a classic buttercream and using POM Wonderful in place of milk. The POM Wonderful gave the frosting a light pomegranate flavor and a beautiful pink hue.

I also did some experimenting my adding a few pomegranate seeds (arils) into a few test cupcakes before baking.  The seeds added a bit of crunch, but did not enhance the flavor. 

October being Breast Cancer Awarness Month, along with the health benefits associated with POM Wonderful, prompted me to top this cupcake with a pink ribbon made of fondant – The Perfectly Pink POM Cupcake is born.

I want to say thank you to Kristen Cavanaugh for the genorous gift of POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice!  Megan and I are tickled PINK. We will continue to use your products in good health! We are now working on a POM Wonderful martini to celebrate.

Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcake

Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcake is Perfectly Pink

Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcake
(aka Perfectly Pink POM Cupcake)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • POM Wonderful juice

Follow box directions omitting water and replacing with POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice. 

Pink Pomegranate Frosting

 Ingredients:  

  • 1 stick unsalted room temperature butter
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice

Directions:

1.) Whip butter until smooth.  

2.) Slowly add powdered sugar.

3.) When the mixture becomes to stiff, add POM Wonderful.  Then add remaining powdered sugar and blend until smooth.

Milk and Cookies Cupcakes

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Milk and Cookies Cupcakes

Milk and Cookies Cupcakes

Classic food combos are the topic for today.  So many foods which are great on their own become something spectacular when paired with their perfect partner.   What’s a burger without fries?  If you are going to eat a burger you simple need a mound of fries.  Eggs seem lost without their salty, savory friend baconBuffalo wings and blue cheese…yes, I’ll take some!   PB & J, strawberries and cream – the list goes on and on.

Milk and Cookies is the combo that inspired this cupcake.  It never fails that if you’re eating cookies, especially chocolate chip cookies, you are gonna need a cold glass of milk…right?  

I’m sure you’ve seen this cupcake before as there are a few versions of it on the internet, but I just had to give it a try.  I started by using a new cake recipe courtesy of Martha Stewarts’ Cupcakes (thanks Megan).  This cake recipe is a great basic for any baker, and can be altered with different frostings and fillings to fit any palate.   This particular cupcake, the Milk and Cookies Cupcake, is filled with ooey, gooey cookie dough

Nestle Toll House Refrigerated Cookie Dough was my cheat in this recipe, but feel free to whip up a batch of your favorite cookie dough instead.   I simply rolled small balls of the cookie dough and placed them directly on top of the cake batter.  Refrain from pushing the cookie dough down into the batter, it will drop down on its own. 

Cookie dough is placed in the center of the batter...

Cookie dough is placed in the center of the batter...

After the cupcakes where baked and cooled, I gave them a generous dose of my old friend, Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  I decided on Swiss Meringue Buttercream because of its lightly sweet velvety texture. 

Finally, I baked off a couple mini chocolate chip cookies for the top of each cupcake.  The flavor was exactly what I expected, and very reminiscent of the classic pairing – Milk and Cookies.  My boys, who have become some of my official taste testers, gave these a big thumbs up.  So I guess I’ll have to add them to the keepers list!  Enjoy.

Ingredients:

Makes 36

  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

milk-cookie-cupcake

From Martha Stewart Cupcakes, June 2009

Mascarpone Chocolate Cookie Bars

Monday, October 5th, 2009
Quick and Easy, Mascarpone Chocolate Cookie Bars

Quick and Easy, Mascarpone Chocolate Cookie Bars

Longing for something chocolaty and decadent?  Of course you are.  These Mascarpone Chocolate Cookie Bars are ripped off, I mean “inspired” by Giada’s Mascarpone Chocolate Toffee Bars and they are addicting.  I mean it…seriously addicting.  My father took a few for the road after Joe’s birthday party.  The next day he called to ask if I would deliver some additional chocolate cookie bars to the house – apparently he needed his “fix”.  Sadly, he was out of luck…I had just devoured the last one. 

I adapted Giada’s recipe slightly, simply because I couldn’t find one of the key ingredients – the old school Skor Bar.  Remember the Skor Bar?  Made by Hershey’s, it was a combination of tooth shattering toffee covered in an extremely thin layer of chocolate.  I don’t know why, but the Skor Bar seems so 80’s to me now – maybe because that is when they were at their peak of popularity.  Now you can’t seem to find them – at least not where I live.  

To keep with the toffee chocolate theme of the recipe, I purchased another Hershey’s product instead of the Skor, a bag of Hershey’s Nuggets. They consist of both chocolate,  toffee pieces and almonds without the risk of a trip to the dentist.  They worked well in the recipe, perhaps even better than the Skor would have done; the bars ended up  more chocolaty – and I love chocolate!

Mascarpone Chocolate Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 pound refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 2 (1.4-ounces) chocolate-toffee candy bars, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s semi sweet)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey roasted sliced almonds

Directions:

1.) Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.) Spray a 7 by 10 3/4-inch nonstick baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Lay a 6 by 18-inch piece of parchment paper in the pan, allowing the excess paper to overhang the sides. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray.

3.) In a medium bowl, combine the cookie dough, 1/2 of the chopped chocolate-toffee candy pieces and vanilla extract. Using damp fingers, gently press the dough into the prepared pan. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the crust is lightly browned. Cool for 15 minutes.

4.) Place the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate has melted. Cool the chocolate mixture for 10 minutes. Whisk in the mascarpone cheese until the mixture is smooth. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate mixture over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate-toffee candy pieces and sliced almonds over the chocolate mixture. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the chocolate layer is firm.

5.) Peel off the parchment paper and cut into 1 1/2 by 2-inch bars. Serve at room temperature.

Admit it...you want one now.

Admit it...you want one now.


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