Halloween Recipe Roundup

Hi, kiddos!!!

Can you believe that it’s the last Monday in October?

And that Halloween is on Saturday?

Which means that Halloween can be an all-day affair!! (so invite all your favorite people over and let the festivities begin!)

In honor of Halloween falling on the weekend, I have rounded up some of my favorite recipes that you can serve throughout the day to your costumed, candy cravin’ crew.

For Breakfast:

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Pumpkin pancakes are a simple breakfast that can be whipped up in no time, feeds a crowd, and highlights the star of the season – definitely a family friendly Halloween breakfast!

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If you want something pumpkin-free for breakfast, these Banana Walnut Pancakes are a sure-fire hit (plus they still have all the delicious fall spices inside).

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Pumpkin bread may not seem like breakfast fare for many people, but there is nothing better than having a slice with a cup of coffee or tea before all the Halloween craziness begins…

For Lunch/Dinner:

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This Spicy Butternut Squash soup is simple to throw together earlier in the day, pop into the fridge, and then reheat for lunch or dinner. This soup is spicy, so if you’re serving it to people who are sensitive to spice, pull back a bit on the cayenne pepper.

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If you want to fuel up your little trick-or-treaters before a night of candy hunting, these Stuffed Acorn Squash Halves fit the bill. They are full of the flavors of the season and are absolutely delicious.

For Dessert (because candy can’t be the only thing sweet!):

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Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are my go-to, absolutely favorite dessert for Halloween. Pumpkin + Chocolate = Friends Forever.

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If you want a fancier dessert for your Halloween table, Apple “Jack” Donut Cake is not only delicious but beautiful as well. Bonus? You can make it the day before – it gets better as it sits!

 

Have a great week leading up to Halloween, everyone!

oxox,

C

Of Mazes and Muffins

Happy Saturday, kiddos! And Happy Two Weeks Until Halloween!!!

Can you believe how fast October is flying by? (me either!)

As I watched the days passing by, I decided to dedicate one day to “Halloween Activities” this week. It was going to be a day full of my favorite Halloween-related things and it was going to be awesome.

The first order of business was to make my absolutely favorite pumpkin recipe EVER, Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

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Seriously obsessed with these little morsels of fall goodness… they are the perfect combination of pumpkin, spice, chocolate, and almonds. Plus, their little cute size makes them easy to package up in clear bags as Halloween hostess gifts for all your Halloween (or any fall) gatherings.

After a morning of Halloween baking, I dug into my Halloween candy stash (shhh!), grabbed my mom, and we headed out to our family friend’s house. As some of you may know, every year around Halloween, our family friends create a huge loops-and-traps maze in their backyard and allow the public to come and try to solve it.

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It is a large undertaking for our friends, but it truly is a fun Halloween tradition that I have been enjoying for the past 18 years. It is never the Halloween season without a trip to the maze…

… in the daytime, of course! As I have recounted previously, I am a HUGE ‘fraidy cat so I decided to save myself the embarrassment of bursting into tears by only doing the maze in the daytime when all the scary elements of the maze are washed in bright sunshine.

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Like this witch (which I know is technically not IN the maze) is completely terrifying at night, but kind of adorable during the day!

Since it was a quiet break in the afternoon, I was allowed to grab my camera and snap some photos as I went through the maze. Which was great because then I could text pictures to my sister E and my family friend T (who built the maze!) about my progress/show them scary things in the maze/tell them to come from their respective work places to save me because I was lost (kidding about the last part).

So after grabbing my camera and phone, I approached the maze.

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And saw that they were very encouraging at my attempt to complete the maze in an hour or less…

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Ready? Set? Let’s go!

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When I tell my other friends about the maze, they all initially assume that it is either a corn maze or a maze made out of hedges. When I tell them that it’s actually burlap panels with hidden doors and passageways (AKA a loops-and-traps maze), they are very impressed (and want me to take them ASAP). It’s definitely a different kind of maze, one that I prefer to any other kind! (Plus, look how groovy it is!).

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While getting lost in the maze is my specialty, it is always reassuring that there is someone around to ask for help/hints. While I can’t seriously text T for help (because T is actually at work and I can’t just text him pictures of random burlap walls saying “Help me, I’m lost!”), I can always call up to the upper deck and have his mom (Mrs. S) give me hints. She and my mom are the best of friends and love to gab while I flounder around in the maze. Having the camera was helpful though – I was able to raise it up to ask for help (this is when they were telling me that I was hopelessly lost… big surprise!).

BUT, after that photo was taken, I actually got through the maze successfully (only two tries this year!) and in UNDER thirty minutes (cue happy music). I was absolutely thrilled by this development and encouraged my mom to try going through the maze too!

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Not sure if she appreciated having someone follow her around the maze, snapping photos, and giving non-verbal hints. Yet, even with all those distractions, she was able to get through it too! It was definitely a Halloween win for the family!

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And we celebrated at home with a Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin.

 

So, kiddos, how are you planning the weeks up to Halloween? Are you going to visit a Halloween maze or haunted house? Let me know!

Your pumpkin muffin obsessed, Halloween maze conquering friend,

C

Pumpkin Bread

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It has been officially October for over a week and all I can think about is pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins. From picking the perfect pumpkin for a Jack-o-Lantern to finding armloads of mini pumpkins to place all over my house to whipping up our favorite pumpkin recipes, the orange fruit is forefront in my mind.

Of all the pumpkin-related activities that you can do this fall, my favorite thing to do is make pumpkin baked goods. You all know that my absolutely, positively, #1 go-to pumpkin baked good is Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, but today I’m sharing my family’s ultimate pumpkin treat.

Good Old Fashion Pumpkin Bread.

I always notice that around Labor Day, boxed pumpkin bread mix starts appearing on store shelves in anticipation of the holiday baking rush. As much as I love and use boxed bread/muffin/cake/brownie mix, I think that some things taste better when you make them from scratch… and this pumpkin bread is one of those things. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked (promise!).

This bread has three teams of ingredients and comes together very quickly in the stand mixer. You can also use a hand mixer if that’s what you have.

The first team is the dry ingredient team.

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Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Blend those together and set aside while you get the second team together.

The second team is the wet ingredient team.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, vegetable oil, and pumpkin puree. If you have homemade pumpkin puree, you are my hero and please use it here (and can you please send me some?). I always have canned pumpkin puree in my pantry from September thru January, so that’s my go-to. Beat the eggs and pumpkin together until combined.

Then, get together the third team… which is water. Yep, measure out ⅔ cup of water into a measuring cup with a spout.

And now you’re ready to make pumpkin bread (and yes, I may have forgotten to take photos but it’s easy!). With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients and water alternately, starting and ending with the flour.

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Mix the batter until just combined and pour it into two greased loaf pans with a sheet of parchment on the bottom (for easy removal). All that’s left is to bake them at 350 degrees for about 45-60 minutes.

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Divine!

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All that’s left is to let it cool slightly in the pans, turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, and then slice up for your family to enjoy.

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Or you could keep it all to yourself (I won’t judge!).

 

So, kiddos, what’s your favorite pumpkin baked good?

Your pumpkin obsessed friend,

C

Pumpkin Bread

  • Servings: 20 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

3½ cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1-15oz can of pumpkin pureed – about 1⅓ cup homemade pumpkin puree

⅔ cup water

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray and place a rectangle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan. An easy way to measure a piece of parchment that will fit is to outline the bottom of the loaf pan on the parchment and cut it out.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat together eggs, vegetable oil, and pumpkin puree. With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients and water alternatively, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and pop the pans into the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to allow them to cool completely.

Enjoy!

 

Nutrition Information (1 slice):

274 calories Ÿ• 39gm carbohydrates •Ÿ 1gm fiber Ÿ• 4gm protein Ÿ• 12gm fat Ÿ• 1gm saturated fat Ÿ• 313mg sodium Ÿ• 37mg cholesterol Ÿ• 2mg iron •Ÿ 29mg calcium

American Flag Cake

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Happy Monday, kiddos!

How’s it going? How was your 4th of July? Did you have a great weekend with your family and friends?

I had a wonderful holiday full of family and good friends. E came home to celebrate, her godparents stopped for a visit as they were driving home from vacation, and we had two good friends come for dinner/dessert/fireworks. That’s exactly how I like my Independence Day celebrations – friends, family, food, and fireworks.

While dinner was all about the traditional cookout food, we decided to rebel and not serve pie for dessert (gasp!). I saw a really cool concept for a layer cake in Instyle Magazine and I had to try it out.

It starts with boxed cake mix – one box on red velvet and one box of white vanilla cake (not the yellow cake, the actual box that says “white”, or else the colors will get wonky).

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I made the red velvet cake according to the package in two eight-inch pans that were sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper (for easy cake removal). For the white cake, I prepared the batter according to the directions and pour half of the batter into a sprayed and parchment-papered eight-inch cake pan. With the second half, add some blue gel food coloring into the batter until you reach the perfect shade of blue (this is about a third of a 1oz jar of food coloring).

Now, it’s all about the assembly. I cut the perfectly risen vanilla layer in half, so I had two vanilla layers. Since my red velvet cake and blue cake layers didn’t rise very much (!), I ended up having less layers in the cake than the Instyle cake. But it all worked out fine!

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Place one red velvet cake layer on a plate lined with wax paper (I’m a messy icer!).

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Spread on a thin layer of vanilla icing… and yes, I am using icing from a can (two and a half cans of the stuff in total).

Then place a vanilla layer and add another thin layer of icing… and yes, I forgot to take a photo of these steps.

Then plunk another red velvet cake layer onto the growing cake stack and add more icing.

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Finally, it’s time to deal with the blue layer. Take the blue layer and cut a four-inch circle out of the middle of the layer.

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Place the blue ring layer on top of the cake.

Then grab the second vanilla layer and cut out a four-inch circle. Pop the circle into the middle of the blue ring.

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Tada!

All that’s left is to frost the cake!

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I usually pile a bunch of icing on the top of the cake and push it to the edges and let it fall over the sides. Then it’s easy to spread the frosting on the sides.

It’s important to pop the cake in the fridge for a little bit to let the frosting set up.

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Then cut into it and show off your American pride!

Enjoy, kiddos!

Your cake makin’ friend,

C

 

Grab this recipe from Instyle Magazine’s website at http://www.instyle.com/news/fourth-of-july-flag-cake-recipe-video!

Fourth of July Recipe Round-Up

Happy July 3rd!!

Do you know what that means?

JULY FOURTH IS TOMORROW!! (I’m a little excited, if you can’t tell)

I love this holiday so much – BBQs, fireworks, parades, red-white-and-blue outfits, family/friends, and awesome cookout food. Everything I love wrapped into one big, celebratory day.

If you are still trying to figure out what to serve to your guests tomorrow, I’ve gathered my favorite dishes that are super simple and can be whipped up in time for your celebrations.

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If you are tired of serving the same old hamburgers and hot dogs, Greek Grilled Chicken is a great alternative. Serve it alongside some Caprese Pasta Salad for a hearty dinner!

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Or, if you want an all-green pasta salad, Pesto Pasta with Spinach is a picnic-friendly side for your Fourth celebrations!

But pasta salad shouldn’t hog all the side dish spotlight!

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French Potato Salad is just as easy, just as delicious, and just as picnic-friendly (hello, no mayo!).

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If you want a healthier alternative to french fries, Basic Roasted Potatoes are for you. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and 100% delicious.

And lest we forget the amazing veggies that are available this time of year!

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Panzanella salad (sans salmon) is an easy side to whip up and highlights the season’s best tomatoes and fresh baby greens! Plus who doesn’t like bread salad?

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Or if you want something that is even more simple, throw on some fresh summer veggies onto the grill next to your main meats and have dinner together in a snap!

 

Ultimately, Fourth of July is all about the dessert (at least for me!).

Ice cream, popsicles, s’mores, strawberry shortcake, regular cake, etc., etc., etc.

It’s all amazing and endless!

Of all those options, this is still my #1 choice for dessert on America’s birthday…

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Classic Blueberry Pie with a festive topping!

 

Those are some quick ideas for tomorrow! So, what are you making? I’d love to hear/see all about it!

I hope you enjoy your holiday weekend with your family and friends!

C

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Hi there! How was your weekend?

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Today is the commemoration of the Mexican Army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. While this holiday is a minor celebration in Mexico, it’s a big  here in the US, it is a big deal.

What I love about Cinco de Mayo is that its celebrations usually revolve around delicious food! I’ve gathered some of my favorite recipes that are quick, easy, and are perfect for any fiesta.

 

Every Cinco de Mayo party needs something with avocado.

IMG_6121Tex-Mex Bruschetta Dip is a great way to start off any party… It’s all the Tex-Mex ingredients with an Italian twist!

 

IMG_3992Grilled veggies are an easy (and colorful) side dish or can be the vegetarian/vegan filling option for burritos/tacos/enchiladas! The possibilities are endless.

 

IMG_3901My go-to grilled chicken recipe may have a Mediterranean spin but it is still a delicious (and quick) way to get chicken ready for your taco bar – just slice and let your guests load up.

 

IMG_3594Hands down, my favorite Tex-Mex side is refried beans. Ellie Krieger’s lightened-up version is just as tasty with a lot less fat and calories.

 

RICE AND BEANSRice and beans is a great side dish, plus can serve as a vegan menu option for your guests. With make-ahead brown rice and canned beans, dinner is on the table and you are ready to party!

 

I hope these recipes provide a little help and inspiration for your Cinco de Mayo fiestas today!

Are you celebrating today? What are you making? I would love to hear all about it!

Your Cinco de Mayo lovin’ friend,

C

Moustokouloura

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Happy Thursday, everyone! How’s your week been going?

Today is Holy Thursday, which means that we are three-quarters through Orthodox Holy Week – I cannot believe how quickly time has passed! It has been a whirlwind of clinical rotations, paper writing, and watching my mom whip up spectacular vegan dinners and one amazing vegan dessert that satisfies my late-night-paper-writing sweet tooth. With three days left until Easter, I’m sharing my parent’s adaptation on my Thea Goldie’s moustokouloura.

Thea Goldie was my godmother’s mother – I met her briefly when I was little so I don’t have any concrete memories of her. According to my mother, Thea Goldie was a feisty woman who could cook and bake like no body else… this cookie recipe is a testament to those baking skills.

It starts out with combining sugar and vegetable oil in the bowl of your stand mixer.

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Then comes the “mousto” part of the moustokouloura…

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WINE! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, wine. Mousto is the leftover residue of the grapes after they are crushed to make wine – since we don’t have any leftover grape bits, wine is a great (and easy) substitute. Crack open a bottle of your favorite red wine and pour some into the mixer (and maybe pour some for yourself!). We use a basic pinot noir but a merlot will work too! Just a word of warning – wine makes the color of the cookies… interesting. I’ll talk more about it in a minute, but if you are expecting totally brown cookies, you’re in for a surprise.

All that’s left is to combine the dry ingredients – flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

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And gently mix them into the wet ingredients.

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Toss in some walnuts for crunch, mix, and you’re ready to go!

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Form into two logs. Score the logs by making several shallow cuts ½-inch apart in the top of each log – this will help with ease of cutting later. Chill them for an hour and then stick them in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the tops of the cookies are set.

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Yummy! Let them cool completely before proceeding.

As you can see in this photo, the wine turns the cookies blue-green! They are perfectly fine to eat – they just look a little different!

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Then cut the logs into pieces (like biscotti!) and lay them on a baking sheet flat-side down. Bake the cookies again for 12 minutes, flipping the cookies over halfway through the baking process.

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All that’s left is to dig in!

Enjoy these Lenten, vegan treats, everyone!

Your friend,

C

Moustokouloura

  • Servings: approximately 30-40 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup red wine

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup oat bran

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Steps:

  1. In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine oil and sugar and mix to combine.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir in the chopped walnuts.
  4. Form the dough into two equal logs, score the top of the logs ½-inch apart and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  5. Bake the logs in a preheated, 350° for 30 minutes. Let the logs cool completely.
  6. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into pieces on the score marks. Lay the cookies flat-side down and bake in a 350° oven for 12 minutes, flipping the cookies over halfway through.

Serve with your morning coffee or as a midnight snack – enjoy!

Palm Sunday Recap

Hi there, everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend!

We celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday (we’re on a different calendar, so our Easter falls a week later this year), which is one of my mom’s favorite religious holidays to celebrate with family and friends. So we had a dinner party with my grandma (The YIA) and our good family friend S.

Palm Sunday is usually a traditional fish supper and my mom whipped up an amazing Asian-inspired feast.

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Ina Garten’s Asian Grilled Salmon and Ellie Krieger’s Aromatic Lime Peanut Noodles… delicious, nutritious, and absolutely beautiful when served on my favorite blue plates.

But it wasn’t only Palm Sunday yesterday – it was also The Cat’s 11th birthday!

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So we had a huge dessert bar with chocolate cupcakes, sorbet, and a vegan Greek biscotti (recipe coming this week!).

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A sweet end to a festive day!

How was your weekend, kiddos? What did you do/eat/see? Let me know!

Your blue plate lovin’, cupcake makin’ friend,

C

Happy Greek Independence Day!

Today, March 25th, is Greek Independence Day! It celebrates the day that the Greeks began their War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire… a historic day for the Greek people!

Now, we celebrate Independence Day with lots of food, music, food, stories, food, and parades… and food.

In honor of this special day, I am sharing my favorite Greek recipes!

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Like my Greek grilled chicken. Indoor grill or outdoor grill, it doesn’t matter. This chicken is the perfect example of simple Greek cooking, enhanced by the amazing flavor of charcoal and smoke.

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And you cannot have Greek grilled chicken without lemon potatoes! Creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside, they never stay on the plate for long.

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Tzatziki is the traditional dip that is served with grilled meats, so it’s the perfect addition to this meal.

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If you want a Mediterranean vegetarian option (like me!), zucchini fritters and spanakorizo are the way to go. Easy, delicious, and quick!

 

I hope you enjoy these easy Greek recipes in honor of Greek Independence Day 2015! Enjoy, kiddos!

Your Greek friend,

C

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

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You all know that I don’t really do the whole Throwback Thursday thing, but I’m throwing it back to this weekend when I whipped up some amazing chocolate molten lava cakes.

Chocolate cake + molten center = a happy Grad School Foodie

And this recipe by Emeril Lagasse is super simple to whip up!

It starts with a bunch of ramekins that are liberally greased with butter and flour.

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I actually used baking spray (because I’m lazy) and the cakes didn’t come out of the ramekins easily (very frustration). Please don’t be like me… butter and flour them (well)!

The chocolate mixture of this cake is super simple.

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Butter, powdered sugar, some heavy cream, and semi-sweet chocolate chips (Emeril uses bittersweet, so use whatever your heart desires!). Yum, yum, yum! They get melted slowly over a double boiler until the chocolate and butter melts.

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Perfection. Please resist the urge to grab a spoon and dig in as it cools. And can you please marvel how shiny this chocolate is? You can see my kitchen curtains in it!

Now we just need to whip up the “cake” part of these babies and then it’s time to bake!

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In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Whip the mixture on medium-high speed until it becomes light, pale yellow, and forms thick ribbons.

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Sift in some flour.

Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture…

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… and portion them into the ramekins. The recipe says that it makes 4 cakes but I think it actually depends on what size ramekin you used.

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For me, this recipe makes four ½ cup ramekins, one 1-½ cup ramekins, and one size-undetermined heart-shaped ramekin. So I really can’t say how many cakes this will make – it’s totally individual to you!

Then all you need to do is bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

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And then dig in!

Enjoy, kiddos!

Happy Thursday,

C

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon of table salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Butter and flour to grease the ramekins

 

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 450°. Grease and flour your ramekins very well and place them on a baking sheet.
  2. In a double boiler (a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water), melt butter, chocolate, heavy cream, and powdered sugar together – stir continuously until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat to cool.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes light, pale yellow, and thick ribbons form – about 3 minutes.
  4. Sift in the flour into the egg mixture – fold to combine. Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and fold in gently.
  5. Divide the batter between each ramekin. Place ramekins into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the sides and top are just set but still soft. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly before unmolding onto a plate.

Serve the cakes by themselves or with a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Recipe slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse.