October 25, 2012

Repurposed Recipes for Halloween

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Margaret's Morsels | Halloween

You don't need special ingredients to make Halloween party food.  Give everyday food a Halloween makeover by repurposing the recipe.  Most of the recipes I'm sharing today can be made ahead of time.  This makes things a lot less hectic the day of the party, because most of the work has already been done.

When I wrote about Sausage Balls, I described this simple three ingredient recipe as a "no brainer."  This term is definitely appropriate because on Halloween this appetizer turns into brains.  The brains can be baked up to five days ahead of time and reheated in the microwave or oven.  If you reheat them in the oven, you may need to cover the pan with foil to keep the tops from getting too brown.  If you want to make them look more disgusting, slightly squish the warm brains with your fingers.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Brain Sausage Balls

Baked Mozzarella Cheese Sticks turn into fingers with the addition of sliced almonds for fingernails.  Unfortunately, you can't add lines for the knuckles because the cheese will ooze out when it's baked.  The cheese sticks need to be assembled and refrigerated at least four to six hours ahead of time.  If you're short on time, they can be assembled and refrigerated the night before.  Unlike the other recipes, fingers are best served hot from the oven.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Baked Mozzarella Cheese Fingers

While the fingers are baking, whip up a batch of fake blood dipping sauce with this homemade pizza sauce recipe.  This easy to prepare sauce only uses five ingredients and cooks in five minutes.  One batch is enough for 18 fingers.

For years, I've used Nutter Butter cookies to make ghost cookies for Halloween.  This year, I decided to turn these store bought cookies into monster toes.  I used a package of spooky green candy melts instead of the usual white.  Monster toes aren't pretty so you don't have to worry if the toes aren't covered perfectly with the candy melts.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Monster Toes

The toenails are made with small pieces of black licorice.  The pieces are too thick to use out of the package so I cut them in half.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Monster Toes

If you want to add an extra ick factor, put a chocolate chip on the toe to mimic a wart.  Normally, when I decorate with chocolate chips, I turn them upside down so the point doesn't show.  To make the wart more disgusting, I put the chocolate chip with the point right side up.  The cookies can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Monster Toes

A festive touch for Halloween is to coat drinking glasses with fake blood made from a mixture of corn syrup and food coloring.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Fake Blood Rimmed Drinking Glasses

Instead of liquid food coloring, I use gel icing -- a concentrated paste -- which is sold in small jars in a variety of colors.  It produces richer, more vibrant colors and, because it's concentrated, a little dab will do!  The most important thing to remember when using gel icing is to use a clean toothpick or knife every time you remove some icing from the jar.  This keeps the contents from getting contaminated with frosting or, in this case, diluted with water.  Once the rim is coated, stand the glass upright on a paper towel or piece of wax paper, letting the excess drip down the glass. It takes at least eight hours for the glasses to dry.  To ensure they dry in time, I coat the glasses a day ahead of time.

With the glasses decorated, you need something to put in them.  I turn my mother's Christmas Kool-Aid Punch into Ghoul-Aid Punch, by substituting two packages of orange Kool-Aid for the cherry and lemonade called for in the recipe.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Ghoul-Aid Punch

The punch can be made a few days ahead of time, but don't add the 7-Up until it's served.  To make the punch more festive, I add some orange gel icing.  

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Ghoul-Aid Punch
The punch on the left doesn't 
have orange gel icing.

To keep with the holiday theme, I make ice cubes using silicone Halloween ice cube trays.  

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Shaped Ice Cubes

I don't use water to make the ice cubes; water will dilute the punch as the ice cubes melt.  If you make the punch ahead of time, you can use some of it for ice cubes.  You can do the same thing with pineapple juice, since it's also an ingredient in the punch.  A 6 ounce can of pineapple juice was just enough to make one tray of ice cubes.

Margaret's Morsels | Halloween Shaped Ice Cubes

If you don't want to fool with ice cubes, an easy way to keep the punch cold is to add orange or pineapple sherbet to the punch bowl.

The repurposed foods mentioned today don't make a well rounded meal. For more ideas, check out the Halloween blog I posted in 2010.  I posted two Halloween blogs last year and they can be viewed here and here.  For the recipes mentioned today, click on the bold words to go to the appropriate page.  Whatever you serve, may your Halloween food be ghoulishly delicious!

© Margaret's Morsels

October 18, 2012

Going Bananas

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Margaret's Morsels | Banana Muffins

As the dog days of summer give way to crisp fall mornings, I like to serve something hot for breakfast.  A quick bread, like banana muffins, is a great way to get the family out of bed on a cool morning.  Quick breads can easily be mixed up right before baking, making it easy to get breakfast on the table and everyone out the door on time.

Not only are banana muffins quick and easy to make, they're a great way to use overripe bananas.  The bananas add moisture to the muffins as do the sour cream and brown sugar used in this recipe.  If you use low-fat sour cream like I do, the muffins will still be moist, but they won't be as firm as when you use regular sour cream.

Brown sugar, the combination of white sugar and molasses, is moister than granulated sugar.  The darker the brown sugar, the more molasses it contains.  Unless a recipe specifies otherwise, you can use either light or dark brown sugar.  I prefer the subtle flavor of light brown sugar over the more robust molasses taste of dark brown sugar.

The addition of molasses makes brown sugar moist, but it also makes it clump together which means it isn't pourable like its granulated counterpart. To ensure you're using the right amount of sugar, most directions call for brown sugar to be packed.  This is easy to do.  Put some brown sugar in the appropriate size measuring cup.

Margaret's Morsels | Banana Muffins

Use a spoon to firmly press the brown sugar into the cup.

Margaret's Morsels | Banana Muffins

Repeat the steps until you end up with this.

Margaret's Morsels | Banana Muffins

When the brown sugar is removed, it will retain the shape of the cup.

Margaret's Morsels | Banana Muffins

Although it only takes a few minutes to mix up the batter, it takes 20 to 30 minutes for the muffins to bake.  If you're pressed for time, combine the dry ingredients the night before and store them in a covered container or resealable plastic bag.

The recipe makes 18 muffins so I always have some left over.  It seems to me the muffins get moister with each passing day.  Of course, I don't know how many days that holds true.  With a teenager in the house, the muffins don't stick around long enough to find out!

Banana Muffins
18 Servings

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add sour cream, eggs, bananas and vanilla; mix well.  Combine dry ingredients and add to mixture; mix well. Pour batter into greased muffin cups.  Bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes until muffins are golden brown and spring back to the touch.

© Margaret's Morsels

October 10, 2012

Cooking Q & A

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I'm sorry my posts have been so sparse lately.  I've been really busy the last few weeks.  Things are beginning to settle down and I'm hoping to post a new blog next week.  In the meantime, I wanted to answer some questions readers have emailed me recently.

"What does it mean to steep tea and how do I do that?"  Zoe

Steep means to put an ingredient in a liquid so the flavor is infused into the liquid.  The longer something steeps, the stronger the flavor.  To steep tea, bring the water to a boil.  Pour it over the tea bags; cover and let sit -- steep -- 5 minutes.  Remove the tea bags and you've got steeped tea.

"What is an offset spatula?"  Rita

Unlike a regular spatula that is straight, an offset spatula has a bend in the blade.  This bend makes it ideal for smoothing batter or icing. 

"Everytime I boil eggs, they end up with a green tinge.  What am I doing wrong?"  Elliot

Margaret's Morsels | Deviled Eggs

The green band around the yolk is a telltale sign that the eggs are overcooked.  The best way I've found to boil eggs is the way my mother taught me.   Put the eggs in a saucepan -- make sure you use a pan size appropriate for the number of eggs you're boiling -- and cover the eggs with cold water.  Put the pan on the stove and turn the burner to high. When the water comes to a boil, put the lid on the pan and remove the pan from the burner.  Let the eggs sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.  Drain the water and cover the eggs with cold water and ice cubes.  When the ice cubes melt, peel the eggs.

"Is 1/2 cup chopped pecans the same thing as 1/2 cup pecans, chopped?"  Meredith

No, it's not.  If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup chopped pecans, chop the pecans before measuring them.  If it calls for 1/2 cup pecans, chopped, measure out 1/2 cup pecans and chop them into smaller pieces.

"I don't have disposable pastry bags.  Can I use a resealable plastic bag instead?"  Courtney

Absolutely!  If you want to use a tip or coupler, snip a small hole in the corner of the bag and insert it before adding the filling.  Otherwise, fill the bag, squeeze out any air and close the bag.  Snip a hole in the bottom and it's ready to use.

If you've got cooking questions, email them to me and I'll try to answer them in an upcoming post.

© Margaret's Morsels

October 3, 2012

National Chili Week

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Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Chili

The first week of October is National Chili Week.  The weather's beginning to turn cooler, so it's a great time to make a pot of chili.  Approximately 132 blogs ago, I posted a crock-pot chili recipe that's chock full of flavor.  In case you missed it, here's the link to the recipe.  The leftover chili is great for taco salad!

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Chili

© Margaret's Morsels