Friday, October 31, 2014

No Tricks, All Treats!

Today's the day, folks!  Happy Halloween!  Heading out to a party tonight?  Or trick-or-treating?  I've got some recipes to get you set up for the festivities!  First up, classic holiday gingerbread skulls! 

Ok, I admit that most people don't think of gingerbread for Halloween, but gingerbread cookies are sooo good, why would you waste 2 months waiting for it?  My answer, I don't.  Gingerbread cookies in October has been a tradition in my house for like a decade.  We can't even be bothered to put icing on them, not to say you can't, but they are so warm and soft and awesome right out of the oven! Plus I don't have that kind of will power to wait until they cool.

First thing's first, allow yourself at least 4 hours before your shin-dig to make these.  Throwing the goods together, cutting, and baking take no time at all, but the chill time of the dough is about 3 hours, so take that into consideration.

Gingerbread Halloween Cookies


1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 c molasses
2-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 Tbls. vinegar


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer for about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking sida, cinnamon, and cloves.  Beat until combined.  

Beat in the molasses, egg, and vinegar until smooth.  Then add in the flour, a little at a time, and beat with mixer until stiff.  Then use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix it the rest of the way.

Divide the dough in half.  Cover and chill for about 3 hours, then remove from fridge and continue.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set to the side.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough until it's about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Using Halloween themed cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes and place about 1" apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 5-6 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. 

Repeat cutting and cooking process with the other half of the dough.  Use any scraps to make your own spooky creations!

You will probably need something to wash these down, not because they're not moist, but because I needed a segue into the next thing on my Halloween recipe list - how about some Hot Apple Cider?

Hot Apple Cider


1 Gallon of apple juice 
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp. whole cloves
3 stick of cinnamon


Now, there are a few ways to do this.  You could disolve the brown sugar and allspice in a 1/2 cup of boiling water then add it to the rest of the stuff.  But in my family, we just toss everything together in a crock pot and let it simmer then serve!

I recomend the crock pot method because you can just throw and go.  You can put it on high for about an hour then on the low or "warm" setting for the rest of the evening.  Put a ladle and some mugs close by and you have yourself an all-night sipper.

And the last recipe to share with you in this post, is full of gooey goodness!

Caramel Apple Crisp


4 medium apples, sliced (granny smith works best, but any mixture of tart apples will do)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 sm. package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
2 Tbls. milk
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1/3 c butter, softened
3/4 tsp. ground allspice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Greese the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with shortening or cooking pray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sliced apples, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Transfer the apple mixture ti your prepared baking dish.  Place as many caramel squares on top of the apples as you would like, then sprinkle the milk over the caramel layer.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, brown sugar, flour, oats, allspice, and butter until well mixed.  Sprinkle the oat mixture evenly over the caramel-covered apples.

Bake, uncovered, for about 35-45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the apples are tender when pierced with a folk.  Serve warm, with a dollop of ice cream, which is of course optional. The ice cream is optional, not the serving the apple crisp warm, just to be clear.  

There you have it folks!  Yummy treats for your Halloween!  Have fun, and have a very happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bevo Sandwiches With 3-Bean Chili

Well, today's the day!  The OU/Texas Red River Rivalry airs live today on ABC!

Excited?  Me too.  I know Sooner Fans already have some special tailgating goodies that are themed for this special event, and are traditionally set out on the watch table every year.  So let me just throw out some additional tailgating munchies that can add to this, and future gameday gatherings.

It's finally feeling a bit like football weather in Oklahoma, and around the country, and the chilled, crisp air makes me crave the classic combo of soup and sandwiches.  Relatively quick to make, and clean up, and can feed large groups on a budget, soup and sandwiches can also be a great tailgating addition without the grill or the mess and time constraints that sometimes comes with tailgating.

Let's start with the soup de jour!  I know I've put out a few different chili recipes, but this one is quick, easy, and very hearty - I call it 3-Bean Chili.  I've added okra and bell peppers in the past, but this one's easy enough that you can just see what you have on hand that sounds good, and toss it in! Here's what you'll need:

You will also need a pound of hamburger.  Today I used onion powder and garlic powder, but you can also use a yellow onion and garlic cloves instead, if you got 'em.  Ok, fry up your burger, adding the onion and garlic powders, chili powder, some dried parsley, and cracked pepper to the meat while it's cooking.  I unusually dice up some sort of green/hot peppers and toss them in at the same time so they can sauté in the hamburger drippings.  If you are using fresh onions and/or garlic, now is the time to cook them up as well - one pot cooking!

Once the burger is done, open a can of Red Gold Diced Tomatoes Chili Ready, and a can of Westbrea Natural Organic Vegetarian Chili Beans.  Don't drain the juices, add them to the chili.  Then add in another round of spices (add okra here if using), and let it simmer while you make the sandwiches.

In my opinion, the part of a sandwich that really determines whether it is awesome or average, is the bread.  I personally like to use hoagie style buns of different varieties, then cut them into bite-sized finger foods for parties.  Now-a-days, you can find many different selections, including pretzel hoagies and my new favorite - molasses buns!

Just look around at all the options at your local bakery or food market.  I frequent Sprouts, as you can tell by the pictures, but there are great varieties of breads everywhere, so try something you've never had reason to buy before, as long as you can slice it up into smaller bites, go for it!

Next, pick out a few different kinds of cold cuts.  I personally go with a combo of sliced turkey breast, ham, and pastrami.  They are really good together, and you can add endless toppings!  But look through the pre-packaged meat section, or go to your deli counter and get whatever takes your fancy, there are tons of options.  Pick up a couple of kinds of slices cheeses.  I always get a yellow cheese (such as co-jack or extra sharp cheddar) and most definitely pepper-jack.

Now's where you get to get creative.  Choose your toppings.  I personally pile mine up with spinach/spring greens mix, alfalfa sprouts, and avocado slices, but there is no limit to sandwich toppings, so go crazy, try new combos, layer it all up and have fun!

After you've built your culinary masterpiece, slice it into equal portions suitable for a tailgating crowd, and put them on a party tray.  Serve along side a piping bowl of chili, sit back, and enjoy the game.

  Boomer Sooner!