Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!!

I hope everyone has a delightfully frightful night with lots & lots of sweet treats!

Here, it's raining, and following family tradition, we made a big pot of homemade chili - vegetarian chili with Bulgar wheat, pinto beans, and lots of tomatoes. Yum!

When thinking of the menu earlier this week, I suggested having Frito's with the chili. There used to be an old, local pharmacy and food counter, Chandler's, that served 'real' vanilla Cokes and Frito's Chili Pie, chili served over a bed of Frito's chips. Like oyster crackers in clam chowder, it's a perfect combination!

twd: Rewind to Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake

April at Short + Rose picked Cherry Fudge Brownie Torte as this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. To check it out, head over to her lovely blog.

The reason you don't see it here is that Cherry Fudge Brownie Torte sounds like something my high school best friend would LOVE, and I would HATE. Maybe hate is too strong a word, but my stomach lunges at the name.
So instead, I'm hitting rewind and making a recipe chosen before I joined TWD. To decide, I looked for something seasonal. Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake hit it on the nail. It's essentially apple pie, with an incredibly good, sweet dough.
It's Halloween month so I wanted to make it a little festive.

Enter purple decorative sugar and wah lah, festive.

The Grit Split Pea Dal & Old-Time Grit Buns

This weekend was exhausting. It was fun with a trip to the pumpkin patch, decorating, and shopping. But one of those where you're more tired on Monday morning than Friday afternoon.

Comfort food was called for, and I had been thinking of Split Pea Dal all afternoon. Not just any, but the one my sister makes from The Grit Cookbook.

The Grit is a fabulous little vegetarian restaurant on the edge of downtown Athens, GA. It has great atmosphere, delicious food, great brunch, and beautiful cakes and desserts. Athens was the first place I lived that had a range of vegetarian-friendly eating places, and I loved it.

In order for it to be a real comfort meal, it had to have carbs. Thumbing through The Grit Cookbook, the Old-Time Grit Buns caught my eye. These are lovely, easy yeast rolls with regular flour, whole-wheat flour, and cornmeal. Even the cat couldn't get enough!

Bloody Brownie Eyes

Say hello to my little friend...and his bloody brownie eyeballs!

I've been searching online for Halloween food ideas. Some are very scary and not at all appetizing. A pumpkin puking something I'm supposed to dip a chip into does not appeal to me. I prefer much sillier fright factors.

I saw many eyes. Made of eggs, made of olives, made of bread. Why not brownies? Dipped in white chocolate, with chocolate chip irises and red food coloring veins? Move over Van Morrison, here comes Brown-Eyed Ghoul.

To the peanut butter and jelly kids song:

First you take the brownies and you roll them, you roll them, you roll them roll them roll them.

Then you take the balls and you dip them, you dip them, you dip them dip them dip them.

Singing, Bloody, Brownie eyeballs with veins! Bloody, Brownie eyeballs with veins!

These are super easy to make. Just bake your favorite brownie recipe and almost completely cool. Cut into squares and roll each square into a ball. Let these cool completely. You can even let them sit over night in a sealed container. When ready, dip the balls into melted white chocolate, leaving a circle on top free of chocolate. Let these cool completely before marking them with red food coloring. I used a skewer to dip in the coloring and then draw on the chocolate.
They can be scary all together - or really cute on a pumpkin head!

twd: Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet potato biscuits anyone? Yes, they are in the shape of pumpkins for Halloween/Fall. But they really are sweet potato. If you don't believe me, head over to Erin's blog - Prudence Pennywise - for the recipe and a very fun blog. I'm still listening to the song list on her page. It'll definitely get you in the mood to bake!

I liked these best smathered with a little apple butter. Some of the batch actually lasted until the next day, and unlike regular biscuits, these were equally delicious and we could taste more of the sweet potato. They stayed soft instead of hardening up into baked missiles.

twd: Allspice Crumb Muffins

Muffins are always a treat. Like their cupcake cousins, there's something very charming about having a little something all to oneself. The Allspice Crumb Muffins this week are a pick from Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table. Head over to her blog for the recipe.

These surprised me. First because they use all-spice, the other spice, and it stands alone perfectly. Secondly because they were very good. I halved the recipe and substituted half of the flour with whole-wheat. I also used agave instead of brown sugar in the muffins. It worked. They were sweet and still light and fluffy.

These are topped with a streusel. Or pre-baking they were. The streusel melted into the muffins a bit, but it remained a nice crunch on top with each bite, which was another nice surprise. I think perhaps I over mixed the streusel.

The only downsize was that the muffins were a little too buttery for me. I would definitely reduce the butter content to make them less greasy.

Personal Pizza

Saturday night was movie night. My sister and I decided to watch the same movie, Coraline, on the same weekend...only 7,600 miles apart. The afternoon was so beautiful that I took the puppies to the Riverwalk and returned home starving and craving pizza. I found several easy pizza dough recipes on-line that were basically the same. I used these as a basis and crossed my fingers. On top I threw a plum tomato, some veggies, cheese, salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. The pizza went in a 500 degree F oven for twenty minutes. It came out piping hot and delish. It was perfect for movie night.

Pizza Dough

1/2 cup flour
1 ounce yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup hot water

  1. Combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk.
  2. Add hot water gradually until the flour comes together.
  3. Stir in oil.
  4. Knead for five to ten minutes until the dough becomes elastic.
  5. Cover and put in a warm place for 20-30 minutes until the dough doubles in size.
  6. Shape and top. Cook 20 minutes at 500 degrees F.

The pizza was a decent size for one (I was stuffed). The movie was cool visually. I'm curious now to read the book it's based on. It seemed to have a lot of messages, some conflicting. The point that you can't judge things on face value was obvious. But there also seemed to be a theme about accepting things, even when they are obviously not ideal. This sounds like a mirror image in itself, but it quite subtly restricting.

But not so my personal pizza. It was whatever I wanted at the moment, which really is a great thing about cooking.

twd: Split Level Pudding

This almost didn't get made. I've been out of town all weekend visiting family and had a busy Monday. Then today I remembered that I didn't make last week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe, which looked delish. So I decided that I would have to do it, even if it was last minute. Thankfully the pudding has common ingredients so I had everything. It was much easier than I had first thought it would be. The chocolate layer is simply chocolate melted into cream. A ganache layer topped with creamy vanilla pudding. It really was lovely with the vanilla.
Dorie has many variations in her cookbook to try in the vanilla half of the pudding - cinnamon, peppermint. I just stuck to plain old vanilla and it was perfect. I had much, much more vanilla than chocolate, a ratio of about four to one. I think I would like a two to one next time.