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A Couple of Treats from the Crypt….

I only have a couple of pics done, and don’t have time to write the recipes yet, but here are a couple of tonights icky treats…the Baked Intestines are puff pastry filled with guacamole, then painted with beaten egg and a little food coloring for effect…the purple fingers are the same recipe I posted before, but purple instead of green…stay tuned for more! :)


purple fingers

Tending the Cauldron….

Hi everyone! :)   I’m going to be a busy little devil in the kitchen over the next couple of days, hopefully I’ll be posting as I go, but just in case I don’t get time, I wanted to say, Happy Halloween!  I will definitely post pics of this years goodies and goblins and ghouls for all to see. :)   In the meantime, if you’d like some Halloween party food ideas you can scroll down or click here: Monster Mash, and here are a couple of pics from last year’s celebration…..

nik and a

That would be me and da hubs—–^


Punkins! (yes, I know I spelled that wrong…I was trying to be cute, ok? lol)

punkin boy

Punkin Boy!

spooky canary family

Spoooooky canaryfamily!

Kevin’s Croque Monsieur

Recently, I was visiting Closet Cooking and came upon the most delectable looking sandwich. Seriously, folks…this goes above and beyond a mere “sandwich.” It’s more like a feast. Don’t think that you can pick this one up, either–a knife and fork are required. lol Kevin’s addition of pear slices to it made it just that much better. From the minute I saw it, I knew I had to try it, and try it I did. This one is going to be a regular around here. I made a few slight changes from his original recipe (click the link to find it), and couldn’t have been happier with the results.

croque monsieur

Since I basically copied Kevin’s recipe almost exactly, I’m just going to note the changes I made here:

I added a generous squeeze of lemon over the pears, and substituted artisan cured goat cheese for the gruyere.

Hearty Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto

Risotto…what can I say about it that you probably don’t already know? Not much, I’m guessing. Creamy rice mixed with a touch of wine, a bit of parmigiano-reggiano, and whatever ingredients suit your fancy at the time. It’s all about the technique I suppose…a proper risotto must be cared for and tended to for it to come out perfect. I’ve found that the only way to get perfect results is to add the liquid little bits at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed, then repeating until desired “creaminess” is achieved. This makes it difficult to nail down the exact quantities of liquid, but, as I always say, each person’s tastes are different, some prefer their rice more al dente, others prefer it softer, and yet, others prefer it downright soupy. I’m not judging anyone’s tastes, I’m just saying that you’ll need to take your desired result into consideration when preparing risotto. :) Cooking is all about being creative, letting your inner Julia Child or Rick Bayless come out to play…I’m a firm believer that a recipe is just the starting point to creating a dish that your own family will love. :)

pumpkin and mushroom risotto


2-3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 cups diced pumpkin
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups arborio or other rounded short grain rice
4 cups (about) chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)
1 cup dry white wine (about)
thyme to taste
sage to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
fresh chopped parsley (about 1/4 cup)


In a large, fairly deep sautee pan, sautee garlic in butter until golden.
Add onions and continue sauteeing until translucent.
Add mushrooms and sautee for about 10 minutes, until soft.
Add pumpkin and sautee another 10 minutes over medium high heat (we want the pumpkin to brown just a bit).
Add rice and stir to combine.
Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add a good pour of wine, stirring constantly, until absorbed.
Repeat with broth, adding a good pour, stirring until all broth is absorbed.
Repeat alternating wine and broth, check your rice after adding about 4 cups of liquid for doneness.
I find the amount varies, depending on the ingredients I’ve chosen, so you’ll need to keep an eye on it to make sure the rice cooks to your satisfaction.
When rice is done the way you like it, add in parmigiano-reggiano and parsley and stir through.
Serve immediately.

Fresh Pumpkin Pumpkin Pie

MMMMM What says Fall more than pumpkin pie? As I mentioned in an earlier post, Fall is the time of year when we celebrate all of our kids’ birthdays. Each chooses the “cake” they want, of course…this time Adriana chose pumpkin pie rather than cake. Works for me! :) It’s funny sometimes, the things I took for granted in the US…canned pumpkin is just such an example. Here, I need to buy fresh and pre-cook and drain the pumpkin, because canned is unavailable. Turns out? I like fresh WAY better than canned anyway. Fate has a way of showing us things that perhaps never would have occurred to us otherwise. I say, good for Her (and good for us, too!)!

pumpkin pie

Ingredients (for 2 pies):

2 pounds (1 kilo) fresh pumpkin, halved
2 pie crusts (use your favorite recipe, or cheat and buy pre-made ;) )
1 can (16 ounce/410 grams) evaporated milk
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice to taste…I like a spicier pie, so I add quite a bit (2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon allspice *approximately*)


Heat oven to 390ºF/200ºC.
Line a baking sheet with foil and place pumpkin cut side down on sheet.
Bake about 30 minutes or until tender.
Line a sieve with a tea towel, and place pumpkin in sieve over a bowl, covered.
Allow to drain in fridge 24 hours, or, if you’re in more of a hurry, just twist the tea towel and squeeze out excess liquid.
You should have about 2-2/12 cups pumpkin after draining.
Heat oven to 390ºF/200ºC.
Prepare pie plates with crust, poking with a fork.
Puree all ingredients in a large bowl or blender.
Divide mixture between the two pie plates.
Bake at 390ºF/200ºC for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375ºF/175ºC.
Bake about an hour to an hour and a half, checking center of pie until no longer “jiggly” (that is a highly technical cooking term, and I’m sticking by it. LOL). (Ok, ok, until center of pie is set. sheesh! :P )
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Chill any leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have them) in the refrigerator.

Quinoa Tabouleh…Tabbouleh…Tabouli…Tabuli —look, spell it however you want to! :P lol

As you’ve probably realized from my posts, Middle Eastern food is one of my favorites. There is such a rich variety of dishes, and many of them are easily converted to a gluten free lifestyle (if they’re not already naturally so). Tabouleh salad is one of those easily converted dishes. By substituting Quinoa for the bulgur wheat, you have a delicious alternative. Quinoa when cooked properly has a very similar texture to bulgur, and tends to absorb the flavor of the dish it’s incorporated in, much like bulgur.

quinoa tabouleh


2/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1 medium onion, minced
2 cups chopped parsley
1 cup chopped mint
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
salt to taste


In a small saucepan, heat quinoa and water to boiling.
Boil 2-3 minutes, then cover and reduce heat to low.
Allow to cook about 12 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed, trying to avoid lifting the lid as much as possible.
Remove from heat and allow to rest untouched for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and allow to cool.


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