31 October 2010

Halloween Countdown Day 2: Frightful Food!

I know, I know... this should have been posted yesterday. I'm sorry. I can explain! Stewart and I went to a halloween/birthday party on friday night, and were up super late. So, we woke up pretty late yesterday (saturday), and after getting showered and looking up a few things online we went straight out grocery shopping for this food post. When we got home I literally cooked for the rest of the day- it was dark out by the time everything was finally done. Stew and I quickly ate and then I spent the next 2 hours finishing my costume! I was planning on at least posting a few pictures on here before going off to a second halloween/birthday party, but before I knew it it was 10pm, I was rubbing green glitter glue all over myself, and two of our friends were there to pick us up and take us to the party! By the time we got home at like 3:30 am, I was too exhausted to even think about doing a whole post.

I think I can make up for it, though, because not only are there now going to be two posts today, I personally feel like this post should rightfully be split into 3 different posts, because it's so jam-packed full of awesomeness and delicious recipes.

Let's not waste anymore time and just get straight to my halloween-themed treats!

Now, I know a lot of people like to make seriously creepy food for halloween. You know, like jello brains and witch finger cookies and other gross stuff like that. I know the title says "frightful" food, but I've never been one for making food that looks like disgusting body parts. SO, I went with a less gross looking and probably yummier approach. Here's what's on the menu today:

Savory Sun-dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Spiderweb Cheescake

Pumpkin Seeds 3 Ways

Caramel Apple Witches

Let's start with the cheesecake, cause it was my favorite!

Some people might think the idea of savory cheescake is weird, but these people are wrong. It's a delicious idea. Besides, who decided cheese in desserts is totally normal? Anyways, this is a really simple and REALLY delicious appetizer that's sure to impress.

Savory Sun-dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Spiderweb Cheesecake
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup goat's cheese
1 egg
1 tsp dried sage
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes 
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 string cheese or cheese stick- I used a monterey jack one from trader joe's
 food coloring (optional)
pita chips, bread, veggies, or blue corn chips for serving

alright, here's what you do:

1.Start by roasting garlic. cut the ends off of the 3 cloves (but leave the rest of the skin), wrap them in foil, and stick them in the oven. I roasted them at about 450 degrees for 20 minutes or so, but you should really do it for longer- like 45 minutes. I just didn't have time but they were still nice and tender.

2. Combine the three cheese in a bowl. Stir, trying to get rid of all the lumps.

3. Add the egg and stir again

4. If you're using the sun-dried tomatoes that are kept in oil, pat them dry with a paper towel. Chop finely.

5. After you've roasted the garlic, remove the skin and mush the cloves up into a paste/chop finely if the cloves aren't soft enough. Lower the oven temp to 350. Add the sage, garlic, and tomatoes to the cheese mixture and stir to combine. For a more dramatic effect, you can add a few drops of food coloring at this point to make the spider web stand out more in the end.

6. Slice or pull the string cheese/cheese stick into thin strips- about 16 from one stick. Take a small (about 5-6 inch) baking dish (I just used a small saucepan because I have no baking supplies) and line with two layers of foil. arrange the slices in the shape of a spiderweb in the bottom of the dish.

7. Pour the cheese mixture in the dish, being careful not to dislodge the string cheese "web". place the dish in a larger baking dish and fill the large dish with 1-2 inches of hot water (half the mixture in the smaller dish should be submerged while the other half will be above the water)
8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-45 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and barely jiggly in the center.
9. Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours. When ready to serve, carefully remove the foil and cheesecake from the dish. peel away the side of the foil from the cheesecake and then take a serving plate and flip the cheesecake over onto it. slowly and carefully peel away the top layer of foil, revealing the spider web pattern. Decorate with fake spiders and serve! Eat as a spread on veggies, bread, and chips.

Yummmm. Alright, now onto the second dish, which is technically three dishes in one. Pumpkin seeds! Some people just throw out pumpkin seeds with the rest of the stringy gunk inside, but I always save them to make a yummy snack. When I was younger we just roasted them with oil, salt, and pepper, but I thought it would be fun to mix it up this year. Below are recipes for a sweet, a savory, and a spicy seed! You can eat them alone or combine with dried fruit, chocolate chips, and nuts for a homemade trail mix.

Pumpkin Seeds Three Ways
about 3-4 cups pumpkin seeds (I didn't measure but it felt like I used just a little over a cup of seeds for each type)
- 1/4 cup honey 
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 tbsp sugar
- canola/vegetable oil
- olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp Italian dressing
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp curry
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

1. Start by rinsing your seeds out in a colander. Try to get rid of as many orange stringy pieces as you can find.

2. Divide the seeds into three mixing bowls. Basically just combine the above listed ingredients with each individual bowl, testing often and adjusting amounts to your tastes. The first two pictures are sweet, the third and fourth are savory, and the last one is spicy.

3. Roast on a large baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Toss with a fork, and then roast another ten minutes or until the seeds are slightly browned and crispy. Sprinkle the savory and spicy with a little extra salt and the sweet with a little extra sugar. Toss again and then serve.

sweet is on the left, savory on the right, and spicy at the back.

Last but not least, I made some caramel apple "witches" from homemade caramel and the apples stew and i picked last weekend. If you don't want to make your own caramel you can just melt some of the candies in a double boiler, but I had a bunch of leftover heavy cream from those candy corn cocktails so i went for it.

Caramel Apple Witches
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup 
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
6 medium sized apples
6 sugar cones
1 pkg chocolate chips
6 candy corns
12 sour skittles or other candy to decorate

1. Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Stir to combine. Heat over medium high heat, stirring frequently until sugar has dissolved.

 2. Once the sugar ha dissolved, continue cooking and swirl the pan frequently (don't stir). When the liquid becomes a light amber color, remove from heat.

3. Slowly and CAREFULLY whisk in the heavy cream. The cream is cold and the sugar liquid is VERY hot, so it will steam and bubble and mess with the texture, so go slowly and be sure to incorporate all of it. Add the butter, return to heat, and whisk until smooth. Add salt and vanilla, stir, and let cool.

4. Put the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl and melt in the microwave by heating for 20 second intervals and stirring.
5. Use a knife to coat the sugar cones with chocolate to make them look like little witch hats. I got this idea from Danielle over at Sometimes Sweet. Put the cones on a foil lined plate and stick them in the freezer to harden.
6. Wash and dry your apples and cover a plate/baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
7. insert a knife into the top of the apple (where the stem would be) and wiggle it a little to make sure it's secure enough that the apple wont fall off, but won't be too difficult to dislodge. Stick the apples into the caramel sauce and coat, letting excess drip off. Place on the foil lined sheet and remove the knife. Dip the edge of a chocolate covered cone in caramel and stick on top of the apple like a hat. Make sure the cones stick straight up, or else they will fall off.

8. While the caramel is still nice and sticky, use candy corns to make little witch noses and skittle or other candy to make eyes. The caramel can be a little finicky, so decorate quickly and put the witches in the freezer for about thirty minutes to harden up. Then serve! I decided to take the cone off mine and eat the apple separately, but stewart flipped it over and ate it like an ice cream cone, which worked too. They were sooo yummy, especially with the homemade caramel, but definitely very sweet too!

There you go, three relatively quick, easy and NOT icky looking halloween treats. I'm exhausted from the last two nights of parties so I'll probably be staying in this halloween night, but I hope you all enjoy your parties/trick or treating adventures. I'll be back later this evening with another post. Happy Halloween!


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