Of all the holidays, Halloween is my favorite for making festive treats. There are so many cute ideas floating around the interwebs and I find many of them so irresistibly charming. These spooky Frankenstein Rice Krispie treat pops were no different. I was particularly drawn to them because of the ease and I had romantic ideas of my little rump roast helping me make them. As usual, the reality of situation was far different from my expectation and Smith was more interested in putting his toy tractors in my salad spinner. But I had lots of fun doing it myself and my little laddy enjoyed eating them. It was a win-win situation.
I used melted chocolate chips to dip the pops in and it worked pretty well. However, I recently learned, from my binge-listening of America’s Test Kitchen podcast, that the chocolate chips aren’t the best option for melting and dipping/coating confections because of the addition of emulsifiers in the chips themselves. You see, chips are designed not to fully melt as they are most commonly used in baked goods. In the future I will use a chocolate bar, but I had to use what I had on hand this time around. Just a little fun fact for you.
If you are looking for a last minute Halloween treat, I would highly recommend some spooky Frankenstein pops. If nothing else, you will enjoy the classic flavors of one of the most beloved treats.
Here are some more downright petrifying ideas to get you in the Halloween spirit:
Spider Web Cupcakes
Spooky Marshmallow Ghosts
Chocolate Skeleton Cookies
Harry Potter Butterbeer Cupcakes
Frankenstien Rice Krispie Treat Pops
Yield: 9 3″x4″ pops
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for utensils, pan, and your hands
- 10 oz bag of marshmallows, regular or mini
- 6 cups Rice Krispies
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2- 2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- Green food coloring (I prefer AmeriColor)
- Sugar eyes (available at most craft stores or on Amazon)
- Popsicle sticks (available at most craft stores)
- Grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large pot (I used a Dutch Oven) over medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir and fold gently with a buttered scraper (so the scraper wont stick to the marshmallows). Continue this process until the marshmallows are fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Stir to combine. Add in 2-3 drops of green food coloring and stir well until color is evenly distributed. Add in the cereal and gently fold until well-coated. Transfer the mixture to the greased pan. Use your buttered scraper or your hands (careful it could be hot!) to gently press the Rice Krispies into the pan. Allow to cool for at least one hour.
- After the treats have cooled, use a buttered knife to cut into roughly 3″x4″ rectangles. Transfer to parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Carefully insert a popsicle stick into the base of the rectangles.
- Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave, stirring after 30 second increments until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pick the pops up by the popsicle stick. Turn upside down and slowly dunk top about 1/2 inch into chocolate. Pull straight out and slowly twirl pop as to remove excess chocolate. Place on parchment or baking mat and repeat with remaining treats. Transfer remaining melted chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a plastic sandwich Ziploc bag with the tip cut off. Pipe a mouth onto the treats. Pipe two dots where you want to place sugar eyes and then place eyes onto the dots so that they will stay. Allow chocolate to harden and enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Rice Krispies
A good coffee cake is an underrated baked good. Most recipes are easy to make, they can be fixed ahead of time, they are great for crowds, and best of all they transform a standard cup of joe into a quaint occasion. Our friends from college visited us last weekend and I decided a seasonal version of apple crumb coffee cake would be wonderful shared with some of our favorite people.
This particular recipe is from the gregarious Emeril Lagasse. A brief side note about Emeril: I will always hold a special place in my heart for this man. When I was in middle school, The Food Network was added to our cable package and I became obsessed with Emeril Live. One of the big highlights of my day was watching his show at night after I finished my homework. It was so fascinating watching him entertain the studio audience with his catchphrases “BAM!” and “let’s kick it up a notch!” and I tried to start incorporating a similar narrative into my detailed construction of nighttime snacks. I was a pretty wild child, if you can’t tell. I think even my parents lovingly teased me about my infatuation with my boy, Emeril. I eventually stopped watching his show and replaced it with more age-appropriate social activities; but it was fun while it lasted.
Okay enough about New Orleans’ favorite chef; and back to this coffee cake. I was very pleasantly surprised how well it turned out. I am often so swept up in the pumpkin mania that surrounds this time of year, that I forget how delicious apples are in baked goods. This cake is well-spiced and scattered with generous chunks of apples and then topped with a crumb topping that balances the whole concoction. Don’t be deceived by the homely appearance of it. It really is anything but ordinary. Luckily I sent the majority of the leftovers home with our friends so I wouldn’t end up eating most of it.
If you are looking for a seasonal treat to jazz up your weekend morning, may I suggest this gem from my childhood friend, Emeril?
A few snapshots from Autumn in Amish country:
Apple Crumb Coffee Cake
Yield: 12 servings
For the cake:
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups apples, chopped (I used 3 medium honey crisp apples)
For the crumb topping:
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan with butter and line with a circle of parchment paper. Set aside.
- Cream together the stick of butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition and scrape down the sides. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a third small bowl stir together the sour cream and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the sour cream mixture. Stop the mixer, remove bowl and carefully fold in the apples just until evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread out evenly.
- Next, make the topping by combining the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Mix using your fingers or a fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and carefully press into the batter. Bake until golden brown and set, 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Remove from pan and serve.
Source: Emeril Lagasse
Because I grew up in the country, I didn’t have a large variety of cuisine to sample from. The standard spices in the recipes of my Midwestern region tend to be salt, pepper, and sugar. Lots of sugar. While I love the delicious food I grew up with, and I still make a lot of those traditional recipes, I didn’t really know beauty of other cuisine until Robert and I moved to Columbus. As with most larger cities in America, Columbus is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities. This means there is a plethora of ethnic restaurants just waiting to inspire the taste buds of diners. I was introduced to spices like turmeric, saffron, and garam masala. It was educational and delicious all in one.
Perhaps our favorite discovery, though, was The Olive Tree in Hilliard. It was at this Mediterranean restaurant that we found the magic of chicken shawarma. Shawarma, by definition (thanks to a quick, highly technical google search), refers to the method of preparing meat by roasting it in a vertical, rotisserie-type of device called a spit. It’s also often served with hummus or tahini and eaten with pita. I think I originally ordered this because it reminded me of the post-credits scene in the movie The Avengers, but not even the acting skills or Robert Downey Jr. could have prepared me for the deliciousness that was served. A gorgeous medley of amazingly-seasoned chicken and vegetables were sitting atop a silky swirl of creamy homemade hummus and accompanied by pillowy soft pita. Robert and I were both hooked and there was a fabulous stretch of time when we ordered take-out from The Olive Tree about once a week because we had shawarma fever.
It’s fun and exciting to try new foods. It adds to a richer experience in life and it broadens one’s worldview. Just as we have the ability to evolve and mature as individuals, we have the ability to allow our tastebuds to do the same. Now more than ever, we have access to previously hard-to-find ingredients and there are millions and millions of incredible recipes at our fingertips thanks to the Internet. I’ve happily added this chicken shawarma recipe to our family’s rotation of meals. It’s a great way to shake up the classics and it has actually become a meal that I would classify as a comfort food. It reminds me of many convivial moments dining with friends and family and it nourishes both the body and the soul.
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 bell peppers, julienned
- 1 large red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 teaspoons cumin
- 4 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of cayenne
- Salt and black pepper
- Pita bread
- Feta cheese, optional
- Fresh basil/cilantro, optional
- Make two separate batches of the marinade: in 2 separate small bowls, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon all spice, 3/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken in a zip-loc bag or bowl and pour one of the bowls over the chicken. Ensure the pieces are coated evenly and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Cover other bowl of marinade and set aside to used for vegetables.
- Grill the chicken: heat grill to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover with aluminum foil and allow meat to rest for 10 minutes.
- Sauté the vegetables: Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add the peppers and onion and the other bowl of marinade. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to ensure vegetables are evenly coated. Turn down the heat of the stove to medium and cook until peppers and onions are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Plate and enjoy: After the chicken rests, cut into strips. Swirl a generous amount of hummus on a plate or bowl. Add a scoop of the sautéed vegetables and then a few pieces of chicken. Top with feta cheese and fresh basil or cilantro. Serve with pita bread. Enjoy!
Source: Tori Avey