Friday, October 30, 2009


We carved pumpkins with the kids last night. ( I agreed just so I can get all of the seeds!)

I love to roast them. It takes awhile to clean them well but after they are clean and dry, I put olive oil (about 2 T.) and then various spices that you like and salt. This year I used chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and cayenne. Roast at 350º for 35-40 min.
I made one bowl less spicey. So delicious and good for you too!

Off to a school Halloween party. I made these brownies with skeletons. The skeleton icing was thinner than I had hoped so they ran a little bit but I doubt the kids will care. The head is a mini marshmallow.

My favorite thing to bring to parties for Halloween is a skeleton crudite platter. A cauliflower scooped out with dip for the head and then celery ribs, carrot arms, tomato joints etc. Always a hit.
These labels are really fun too. The big ones go on soda bottles and the smaller ones are for wine bottles. Instead of buying a terrible wine just for the fun label you can label whatever you like. I got these a year or two ago at maybe Dollar Tree?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Cravings

As soon as the cool weather sets in and you can smell fall in the air I start craving soup. I make a lot of soup through out the fall and winter. This week I made a roasted potato and leek soup. Roasting the potatoes and leeks gives it so much more flavor. So comforting with a loaf of homemade bread.

That brings me to my latest favorite gadget, the immersion blender. I debated whether I really needed another appliance in the kitchen when I had a blender that could do the job. Well it is so worth it, and makes pureeing soup so much easier with less mess and clean up. I will get a lot of use out of it. It also emulsifies dressings with a whisk attachment. I would definitely recommend a cordless version.

Another fall favorite around here is caramel apples. My daughter Maddie asked if we could make some this week, but instead of regular size apples I bought these adorable crab apples.

I think they are the perfect size for a snack or they'd be great for a party.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Family Gathering

We had a warm up for Thanksgiving over the weekend with all of my brothers here. The guys said they would take care of the meat, Mom would do appetizers and I took care of the sides and desserts. We're getting out numbered by the kids these days but our total for Sunday supper was nineteen!
They decided on chicken and here's my brother Jack hacking them up, getting them ready for the grill.

He mixed up some rub from my spice cabinet to put on them.

I made roasted brussels sprouts which I just love. I put olive oil, salt and pepper on them and then roast them @400º for 30-40 minutes. A great fall side dish I think.

Then I did navy beans in the pressure cooker. Added a little salt, bacon (pepper bacon of course) and cumin.

Rounded that out with a baked macaroni and cheese and orzo with roasted vegetables. Everyone really loved the orzo. I've never made it before but it's a definite keeper in the recipe files. And there were delicious White House rolls from Ukrops (in Richmond).

Then there was dessert!! I figured I needed to make two with so many people. First I made a good ole  chocolate buttercream cake which chocolate lovers always dig.
When we were in NYC over the summer a new Magnolia Bakery had opened near us. It's hard not to be charmed by the place, although the prices are a bit high. My daughter wanted to try the
"famous banana pudding" one night. We all tasted it and then I saw that they had the recipe in their newest cookbook. I was shocked to see it's made with jello pudding.I thought it would be pudding from scratch for sure. I've been looking for a time to try it and it was fantastic and so simple to make with vanilla jello pudding, nilla wafers, whipped cream and bananas.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Martha's Market

A friend invited me to the preview party for Martha's Market held at John Paul Jones Arena. I didn't realize it would be so nice!! We headed for one of the open bars scattered around and I zeroed in on the Proscecco. Our first stop was for this gazpacho with avocado and shrimp served in martini glasses. Nice but a little over pureed.

Then there were cheeses, meats and roasted vegetables.

Really nice presentation on the oyster shooters. I don't eat oysters but they looked great.
They had celery puree on the bottom and tomato sauce on top.
There was also a carving station and tiny dessert tarts.

I took time out from all of the eating and drinking to try on this fabulous hat!

The whole thing was catered by the caterer for most JPJ events. They did a nice job! I hope I get invited back next year.

Monday, October 5, 2009

C-ville Piefest

I saw a tiny blip in our local newspaper,The Daily Progress, about an upcoming pie contest. A pie throw down, count me in! What a hoot.
I decided to enter my chocolate cream pie mainly because the family goes crazy for it. I made it about a year and a half ago and then everyone wanted it for their birthday instead of cake. I don't have a ton of pies in my repertoire, so I thought let's go with the well loved chocolate cream.

I registered on their C-ville piefest site and that morning there were 24 people registered. Well many more showed up. I think they were so overwhelmed with the amount of entries.
It was a fun day at the new Mudhouse  in Crozet. The Honey Dewdrops played and they raffled off our second pies to benefit PACEM.

I really felt for all of the judges. They divided them up with about six judging cream pies and six tasting fruit pies. They started with my pie! I couldn't believe it but they sliced it up and took little slices. I thought they would take one bite tops, but they ate the whole little slice. I thought they are in big trouble if they're going to make it through all of those pies.
 They looked seriously ill by the end. It took them the full two hours to get through them all. Their palates must have been so overwhelmed.
The only bummer of the day was that after they finally finished tasting, it took the organizer another hour to add up our scores, so a lot of the momentum of the day was gone. They didn't really announce the prizes with the winners, so it was a bit anticlimactic.
The cream pie winner and best in show was a lemon chiffon pie. The minute it was announced I just said, "Can I get that recipe?!"
There was a nice article in The Daily Progress the next day and it showed them cutting into my pie!!
I'm already thinking about next year...........