Monday, October 31, 2011

Frightfully Sweet Leftover Halloween Candy Recipes

Scared_person I can't believe what I heard on NPR this morning: Due to the unexpected and severe snowfall this past weekend, some places in the Northeast are canceling Halloween. Not postponing, canceling.

No! They can't do that! How are the parents going to explain that to their kids? Soccer games, field trips, and pool parties get rescheduled. Why not Halloween?

Plus, think of all the hundreds of pounds of glitter, fake blood, and werewolf teeth that will go unused. We can't tolerate that kind of waste. And what about the potential trauma endured by those children? After all, not all children are as stoic as Linus who has for the past 45 years waited patiently for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Remember what happened to Sally when she found out there was no Great Pumpkin? She's still suffering from Halloween PTSD.

So, please, you thieves of Halloween, give it back! That's what do-overs are for!

Do it. Do it for the children.


Whether or not your kids go trick-or-treating tonight or sometime next week (or in your living room tonight) you're going to need some ideas of what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy. I've got ya covered. Below are some of my favorite leftover Halloween candy recipes that are sure to bring smiles to all the big and little pumpkins in your home.

tootsie roll fudge

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Snickers bread pudding

This recipe is from one of my NPR Kitchen Window pieces entitled, "Grown Up Tricks for Treats." It also includes recipes for Heath Bar Truffles, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting, and Mounds of Joy Custards with Mounds Chocolate Sauce.

Do you have any leftover Halloween candy recipes that you love? Please share them with us in the comment section. And happy hauntings!

Top Photo courtesy of victria1, FCC.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winners Announced!

Many thanks to all of you who left comments and tweeted about the give-aways. Here are the winners:

Congratulations to Janel! You're the winner of the BBQ sauces from Pig of the Month!

Congratulations to Ashley Akee! You're the winner of the cookbook, Big Vegan!

There will be many more give-aways to come, so keep trying!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cookbook Review: Big Vegan by Robin Asbell

It was 1995, and I was in graduate school at Brown University. I was taking a gender studies course that claimed gender (male and female) is a social construct not a biological difference. I was a nice Italian girl who grew up in North Providence in an assertively pink bedroom. My head would throb every time I left this class.

One afternoon several of us gathered for a study session where a few of the students brought vegan snacks and refreshments. I was already a vegetarian, so I was excited about exploring vegan food. They served a disturbingly gray mock chicken salad, carrot and celery sticks, some sugar-free fruit juice cookies, and a funky smelling "revitalizing" tea. Never had I more intensely craved a Dunkin' Donuts hazelnut coffee and sesame seed bagel.

I chose the cookie. It looked good, all chunky and nicely browned. I took a bite. It was chalky and dry. I chewed and chewed. I tried to swallow, but I couldn't. It was glued to the roof of my mouth. I grabbed a cup of the revitalizing tea to try to wash it down. Nothing happened. I thought, I'm gonna choke to death at a study group eating a vegan cookie. Damned vegans. 

Eventually I managed to swallow it. 16 years later, I've learned that vegan food can be delicious, and while I'm no longer a vegetarian, I still love eating vegetarian and vegan dishes. So I'm happy to add Robin Asbell's colorful new cookbook, Big Vegan (Chronicle Books, September 2011), to my shelf.

Asbell has created 350 meat-free, dairy-free, 100% delicious vegan recipes which she organized into categories including Breakfast, Breads, Salads, Soups, Main Dishes, Desserts, and more.

Though Asbell states the benefits of adopting a vegan diet -- it's healthy, it doesn't harm animals, it leaves a smaller carbon footprint -- she isn't preachy. She advocates veganism more for its health benefits than for its political ideals.

Whether you're a veteran, newbie, or part-time vegan, Asbell's book will suit your needs. She covers all the basics of cooking vegan, including special ingredients to buy such as nutritional yeast, seitan, and soy and tips for successful vegan  baking. She also includes a lengthy section on the nutritional components of a vegan diet.

Asbell's recipes are inspired. Who wouldn't want to wake up to an Almond-Apple-Date Breakfast Burrito or a bowl of Fruit-Sweetened Chai-Spiced Granola with Pecans? How about sitting down to a dinner of Harvest Vegetable Stew served in Mini Pumpkins or a dish of Corn and Cauliflower Stir-Fried Noodles with Peanuts?

Asbell pays homage to many global cuisines. From Greek Beet and Orange Salad and Tuscan Potato Gnocchi to Tibetan "Beef" Fried Noodles and Szechuan Eggplant with Peanuts, you'll find bright, tempting worldly flavors. Some ingredient lists are long, but most are short, and all recipe instructions are lucidly written and easy to follow.

The book's design reminds me of a Mollie Katzen book, clean, simple, and inviting. Kate Sears's photographs are beautiful; I only wish there were more of them.

Give-Away Time!

In the comment section below, tell me why you'd like to win a copy of Big Vegan. Tweet about it and mention @foodblogga, and I'll count that as another entry. I'll announce the winner on Sunday, October 30th.

Photo courtesy of Kate Sears.

I adore this zesty Mango Jicama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas. It's a symphony of colors, textures, and flavors that leave you refreshed and satisfied.

Mango Jicama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

8 ounces jicama
2 large mangoes, peeled
1 small red bell pepper, slivered
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large jalapeno, chopped
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1. Peel and thinly slice the jicama, then stack the slices and slice them into 1/2-inch sticks. Put them in a large bowl.

2. Slice the mango flesh across the grain and add it to the bowl, along with the bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, sugar, and oil. Pour the dressing over the mango mixture.

4.  In a small frying pan over high heat, dry-toast the pumpkin seeds, swirling and tossing them in the pan. When the seeds start popping and are toasted and fragrant, pour them onto a plate to cool slightly.

5. Serve the salad topped with the crunchy seeds.

*Click here to follow Big Vegan's virtual potluck.
*To learn more about Big Vegan, check out Robin Asbell's YouTube video.
*Below are more recipes from other bloggers participating in the virtual potluck:

Baguette French Toast with Cream "Cheese" and Apples recipe from Vegan Good Things
Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins recipe from San Diego Food Stuff
Maple-Barley Granola with Pecans recipe from Robin Asbell
Armenian Red Lentil Apricot Stew with Sesame Rice recipe from Notes from the  Vegan Feast Kitchen
Korean Miso-Tofu Soup recipe from Nancie McDermott
Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jicama Salsa recipe from The Veggie Queen

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Product Review: Pig of the Month BBQ Delivered Straight 2 U!

Guys, this post is for you. You get home from work starving, and you open the fridge to find exactly two half-empty containers of ketchup and mustard and a six-pack of beer. You grab a beer, open it, take a swig, then start searching through the couch cushions for any remnants of last night's chips. Oh, you know you have.

Pig of the Month BBQ Ribs

Wouldn't some hot-from-the-oven authentic BBQ baby back ribs be better? Or a a mammoth pulled pork sandwich? Of course. Which is why you should know about Pig of the Month. They deliver real BBQ directly to your door.

Pig of the Month BBQ Ribs

Pig of the Month offers personalized BBQ packages. You choose the meat and the sauce you want, and they'll deliver it to you.

I was sent a package of fully cooked Key West Ribs, a bottle Key West BBQ sauce, and a container of fully cooked, frozen pulled pork.

Pig of the Month BBQ Ribs

Pig of the Month gives you simple cooking instructions for both the microwave and the oven. Microwaved ribs take 4 to 7 minutes, oven roasted takes 1 hour for thawed and 1.5 hours for unthawed ribs. The pulled pork cooks in 30 minutes in the oven.

But how do they taste? Really good.

If you like sweet BBQ sauce, they'll you'll enjoy the Key West ribs. The ketchup based sauce also includes brown sugar and a medley of sweet fruit juices. They were satisfyingly sticky and surprisingly tender.

Pig of the Month Fully Cooked Pulled Pork

The pulled pork is great for last-minute dinners and left-over lunches. You simply plop the frozen pulled pork in a dish and cook for 30 minutes, or until heated through (I cooked my for 40 minutes.) It was soft and moist with just  a few chewy flecks of roasted meat mixed in. It was mildly sweet and not at all spicy; so if you like spicy foods, I'd recommend dousing it with either your favorite hot sauce or a spicy sauce from Pig of the Month.

Pig of the Month Fully Cooked Pulled Pork

And now it's time for a saucy give-away! 
Pig of the Month will send one lucky Food Blogga reader a 4-pack bbq sauce sampler. To win, simply tell me something tasty about BBQ -- why you like it, your favorite style, your secret sauce, etc.  Tweet about the give-away and mention @foodblogga, and I'll count that as an extra entry. I'll announce the winner on Monday, October 24th. Sunday, October 30th. Good luck! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cookbook Review: Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair

Growing up with an Italian grandmother, desserts usually meant full-bodied, booze-spiked, often savory treats including tiramisu, Italian pizzelle cookies, pignoli cookies, and pepper biscuits. The only thing I knew about Scandinavian desserts was, well, nothing. Thumbprint cookies didn't count since I thought Mrs. Claus invented them.

Not anymore. Thanks to Pat Sinclair's lovely new cookbook Scandinavian Classic Baking, I now know how to make Swedish Pepparkakor (spicy gingerbread cookies), Sandbakkels (miniature butter cookies shaped into a cup and filled with jam or cream), and Spritz (classic Swedish butter cookies made with a cookie press).

Sinclair organizes her 42 recipes into five chapters: Coffee Breads, Cakes, Cookies, Tarts, Fruit Desserts & Pastries, and Traditional Favorites. Recipes are highly detailed, so even a novice baker can feel confident attempting a new recipe. You'll find sublimely simple recipes such as orange bundt cake next to more sophisticated ones such as Scandinavian apricot almond bars.

Swedish Kringle

Each recipe is accompanied by engaging historical facts and a beautiful, full-colored photo from Joel Butkowski. Did you know, for example, that Scandinavia is called the "Land of the Midnight Sun" during the summer since the sun never sets at higher altitudes? How about that on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) it's tradition to eat rich, buttery "Shrove Tuesday Buns" as an indulgence before the coming lean days of Lent? Sinclair also sprinkles useful tips and advice throughout the book such as how to properly beat egg whites and how to grind cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle.

Whether you're an accomplished baker or baking newbie, you'll find many sweet spots in Pat Sinclair's Scandinavian Classic Baking.

Now, it's give-away time!
One lucky Food Blogga reader will receive a copy of Scandinavian Classic Baking. To enter, simply tell me why you'd like to win the book. The winner will be announced on Monday, October 17, 2011. If you tweet about it and mention @foodblogga, I'll count that as another entry!

Swedish Kringle

Swedish Kringle
Makes 2, 10-servings each
Printable recipe.

Warm-hearted thanks to Janet Russo, my mom, for baking this Swedish Kringle with such love.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon water

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or whole milk

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the crust. Place the flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. With the machine running, add water and process until the dough is formed. Put dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Divide the dough in half. Press each half into a strip about 3 inches wide and 10 inches long on a ungreased baking sheet.

2. Make the topping. Heat the water and butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and the liquid is boiling. Add the flour all at once and whisk until a thick paste forms and leaves the sides of the pan. Cook about 1 minute longer, stirring constantly to evaporate excess moisture. Remove from the heat and cool at least 5 minutes to prevent the eggs from cooking when you add them.

3. Using a hand mixer or whisk, beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Each egg should be completely mixed in before the next egg is added. Stir in almond extract.

4. Spread over the pastry strips, spreading almost to the edges. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool on wire cooling rack. As the pastry cools, it will collapse. Cool completely.

5. Make the frosting. Mix the confectioners' sugar, butter, almond extract, and 2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk until smooth. Add more whipping cream or milk if needed for spreading consistency. Spread over pastry. Cut into slices before serving.

UPDATE: The winner was announced in the comments section, but I'm adding it here for those of you who didn't see it. Congratulations to Nicole Antoinette! You're the winner! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Do You Say Green Beans or String Beans?

farmers' market string beans

What's the vegetable in the picture above?

Did you say "green beans," "string beans," "snap beans," or something else? I hope you didn't say broccoli. Then we'd have a real problem.

I grew up in New England where we called them "string beans." Despite the fact that I've lived in California for eight years now where I seem to be only one who calls them "string beans," I just can't bring myself to call them "green beans." And I certainly never called them "green beans" or "snap beans" when I lived in the South either. What kind of Yankee would I have been?

Apparently, it's just a geographical preference -- no right or wrong answers here. So how about you? What do you call them, and where are you from?

I not only like saying "string beans," I really like eating them. Here are four of my favorite string bean or green bean recipes:

rainbow carrots n beans orange mat

Green beans with prosciutto, pinenuts, and Meyer lemon

string beans and tofu in Thai peanut butter sauce


Here are five more tempting string bean or green bean recipes to try:
Pickled Green Beans recipe from The Cilantropist
Green Beans with Balsamic Brown Butter recipe from Pinch My Salt
Spicy Green Beans with Ginger and Garlic recipe from The Perfect Pantry
Green Beans with Caramelized Red Onions recipe from Andrea's Recipes
World's Easiest Garlicky String Bean Stir Fry recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen