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

A Weekend Recap… A Day Late

Hi there! How are you? How was Halloween? What did you do? Did you go trick-or-treating? Did you sit home and watch movies? Do nothing?

I had class until late on Friday, so I showed up to our friends’ house (and Halloween maze extravaganza) a little bit late (and a lotta bit cranky) and indulged in some wine, some pastichio (Greek lasagna), and some good conversation.

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Oh and some homemade chocolate lava cakes (please excuse the blurry photo – I was trying to grab a photo before devouring the whole thing in 2 bites). Paired with the ability to boss people around in the maze with a megaphone, it was the perfect ending to a long and exhausting day.

This weekend was all about getting work done and relishing the extra hour of sleep we received on Sunday… but all work and no play is never a good thing.

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Which makes coffee breaks with a good friend all the more important. Cappuccinos, anyone?

My weekend eating ended with our traditional big Sunday dinner, which was composed of grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, and brown rice.

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Along with leftover stuffed acorn squash! This dish is probably my favorite fall dish because it truly has all the flavors of fall. My mom and I adapted the recipe from one I found on food.com. We left out the celery, mushrooms, and sage, used honey crisp apples, didn’t top with cheese at the end, and only used about ¾ of the stuffing in the squash and made the remaining stuffing into stuffin’ muffins! Super delicious, a great way to highlight acorn squash, and a perfect meal for a cold winter night.

 

This weekend was full of good eating – what a way to start off November!

Your food lovin’ friend,

C

Happy Halloween 2014!

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Happy Halloween, everyone! Wishing everyone a fun (and safe!) holiday full of friends, family, festivities, and food.

This year I will be manning the candy bowl at my family friends’ maze (far away from the clowns, snakes, dolls, etc. that are lurking in the maze), dressed as the exhausted (yet deliriously happy) RD2Be that I am, and will be consuming massive quantities of food. I am very excited!

 

What are you guys up too?

Trick-or-treating with the kids? Throwing an elegant, adults-only soiree? Just hanging out with your sweetie in your PJs with pizza and a horror movie marathon?

Let me know – I want to hear all about it!

 

Love your Halloween candy obsessed, RD2Be friend,

C

 

P.S. – If you need quick and easy (and last-minute) desserts to bring to your Halloween parties, check out these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and the Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark I previously wrote about. They are oh so festive and perfect for all the Halloween revelers in your life.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Happy Last Monday of October! Can you believe that Halloween is on Friday? I may need to get more candy… *burp*

Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.

Despite to proliferation of candy in my house, Halloween (to me at least) means pumpkin baked goods. And my favorite pumpkin baked good is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

My parents discovered these nuggets of happiness during a winter festival in our downtown many, many years ago. They loved them so much and actually bought the muffin recipe book so that they could make them for the rest of their lives.

And they have. These pumpkin chocolate chip muffins have become insanely popular amongst our family and friends. They have become fixtures during our elementary school playdates, become a bonding moment with college roommates, and midnight snacks for dietetic interns.

All in all, they are pumpkin perfection. Here’s my adaptation of my favorite holiday treat.

In a skillet heated over medium heat, toast up some sliced almonds. Watch them carefully, or they’ll burn!

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A note about the type of almonds to use. My dad prefers sliced almonds. My mom prefers slivered almonds. My sister prefers no almonds. I prefer whatever gets the muffins into my mouth the fastest… and since I only had sliced almonds, that’s what I used. But feel free to use slivered almonds if you want. Follow your bliss!

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

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Stir to combine.

Then in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can do this by hand if you want!), dump in some pumpkin puree and two eggs.

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Beat them together until combined.

Please excuse the dark, grainy photo…

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With the mixer on low, pour in some melted butter.

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Then slowly add in the dry ingredients.

When the dry ingredients are just combined, remove the bowl from the mixture and dump in the toasted slivered almonds and some mini chocolate chips.

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Stir to combine and then portion out into mini muffin tins.

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I used a tablespoon but a mini ice cream scooper would be the best to get each one the same size.

Then bake them up!

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And dig in!

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As much as I love them room temperature, they taste even better frozen (but that’s just me!). A spectacular treat for after-school snack, dessert, or midnight snack by the light of the fridge.

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Enjoy the last bit of October, kiddos.

Your pumpkin lovin’ friend,

C

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • Servings: 40-48 mini muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

½ cup of raw almonds, slivered or sliced

1⅔ cups of all-purposed flour

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground allspice

1 teaspoon of baking soda

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of salt

1 heaping cup plain pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a skillet heated over medium heat, toss in the almonds and toast until golden brown.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you want to work out your arm muscles, you can mix the batter by hand!), add in pumpkin puree and eggs. Beat together until combined.
  5. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Stir until combined.
  6. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Remove from stand mixer.
  7. Fold in toasted almonds and mini chocolate chips. Using a tablespoon or a mini ice cream scoop, portion out the batter into the greased mini muffin tins.
  8. Bake the muffins for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Cool completely before serving… but they taste even better when frozen!

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Muffins by Elizabeth Alston.

Nutrition Information (1 muffin):

94 calories • 13gm carbohydrates • 1gm fiber • 1gm protein • 5gm fat • 2gm saturated fat • 63mg sodium • 17mg cholesterol • 1mg iron • 12mg calcium

Happy Halloween!

Hi kiddos, how’s it going? I have some awesome news – I got a new computer!! My new-fangled spaceship-like laptop is super awesome but I’m still getting used to it (and trying to keep it away from all food products – I think scrambled eggs played a part of the demise of the last one). Since I needed a new laptop, E and I went home for the weekend so my dad could come with me. And what a weekend it was! We decided that it was so close to Halloween, we should celebrate. So we did.

We drove down to home Thursday and we celebrated my birthday a little bit early – nothing says welcome home like cake! It was delicious and I appreciated all the birthday love.

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My cat was very enthusiastic to see us again too.

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Right.

 

Friday was full of running errands (like putting the dreaded snow tires on the car), doing a little yard work, and shopping like crazy. It was the perfect low-key day that helped me recharge my batteries and reconnect with the family.

 But Saturday was Halloween Day! Actually it was Laptop Day first. After a teary-eyed morning at the electronic store (my first blog was written on that old laptop!), my father suggested that we should have lunch at a favorite family burger joint.

 And they are known for this.

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Onion rings are my weakness… especially these onion rings. They are crisp and crunchy, while the onion is still sweet and tender in the middle. The French fries aren’t half bad either.

Another reason why I love this burger joint is that they have big bowls of homemade pickles. They are lightly brined and super crunchy, which is a perfect complement to the earthy burger – if a kosher dill pickle and a fresh cucumber had a baby, this would be a result. They are amazing and I probably eat more of them than the onion rings.

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Those are the only ones left on my little plate before I remembered to snap a photo. Then they were gone too!

I had to steal this photo off of my sister’s phone – she has such a way with food photography (and her burger building skills are pretty awesome too).

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After being fortified with burgers, onion rings and French fries, and pickles, we headed off to our family friend’s maze – or shall I say, their “Loops and Traps” maze (I don’t know what that means). They do it every year for Halloween and it is always great fun to try to get through the exceeding difficult maze and then gorge oneself on Halloween candy. It is the highlight of my fall to-do list.

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The thing is that I am a ‘fraidy cat. Horror movies, haunted houses/hayrides, and clowns FREAK me out. I went to a haunted maze as a freshman in college and freaked out two “zombies” conducting crowd control at the entrance by bursting into tears and SITTING DOWN on the ground. Yes, I am an embarrassment to my family and friends (but by now, they should know about my aversion to all things frightening). So I made my sister go first! 

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In all seriousness, the “maze creatures” (high school and college kids hired to wear scary masks and jump out at people in the maze) only are present at night, which means that I am usually okay going through by myself during the day. But it is always good to have some one in front of you. 

Plus E has much better directional sense.

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See, she’s leading us to victory! (I think).

All in all, it took us about 45 minutes to get through the maze once – a very impressive time (it usually takes 1+ hour). We went inside to warm up and chow on some sugar.

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These cute little cupcakes were waiting for us – the perfect end to the perfect day.

 

Sunday was church, packing, and nap time before heading back up to school. It was the perfect weekend to cap of the Halloween season and put me in the Thanksgiving mindset.

 

What are your Halloween plans this year? Lasagna and trick-or-treating or a costume party with fancy finger food? Let me know!

Your ‘fraidy cat, Halloween-candy lovin’ friend,

C