Thursday, October 27, 2011

Strawberry Ghost Treats

Sorry about the photo quality.  My camera is broken and this is taken with my phone

Adam is 3 today! Happy Birthday, my big boy!  I can't believe it's been 3 years already since you entered our lives.  Love you so much!

I wanted to make something for Adam's birthday treat for preschool party.  I didn't know if I should do a traditional brownie or cookie.  I know they had restrictions on cupcakes, so that was out.  The teacher mentioned "... and they will even eat fruit", so I ran with it.  I found this on a website and thought it was the perfect little bite since Adam's birthday is so close to Halloween.

They were so easy to make.  The only thing I would suggest is maybe using melted chocolate with a toothpick to draw on the face.  The icing I used was easy to apply, but doesn't dry completely and can smudge easily.  Another suggestion I got was to use edible decorating pens.

Your kids will love helping you make these and even the littlest ones can help.  The real trick is to make sure the strawberries are super dry and room temp when you start, so I'd suggest washing them the night before and letting them dry.  Even then, I dabbed each strawberry before dipping. 

The shortening is crucial to get it to be smooth and shiny, so don't skip it.   And you might need to re-nuke the chocolate once or twice as you're going through the strawberries since it can get a bit clumpy.  I'd stick it in for another 10 seconds when it does that.

Adam's teacher and class loved them!  He did too and looked so proud when bringing them in.  I am for sure going to make them each Halloween.

So, grab some strawberries, some chocolate and get to making some yummy ghosts for this Halloween! 

Oh and the best part is someone has to lick the chocolate bowl clean..... might as well be you!

Strawberry Ghost Treats

1 carton of strawberries
1 11-ounce bag of white chocolate baking chips
1 1/4 teaspoon shortening
Black icing tube, melted milk chocolate chips or edible decorating pen

Put white chocolate in a microwavable bowl with shortening.  Microwave for 10 seconds and stir.  Microwave another 10 seconds and stir.  Continue until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Dip dried strawberry in melted chocolate 3/4 the way up. Set down on a cookie sheet that has been covered with waxed paper.  Let the chocolate trail off to make the ghosts tail.  Freeze 5 minutes or allow to air dry. 

Paint on face. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

20 Dinners, 1 Day: Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas

Photo courtesy of Rachael Ray Magazine

I typically am not a chicken salad kind of gal.  Nothing against them, but my family just doesn't beg for them, so they never come onto the menu.  After making this one, I definitely can see adding chicken salad sandwiches to my attempt to switch up the same-old , same-old lunch.

Abe really enjoyed this, while Jimi was so-so on it. It had the dreaded roasted pepper in it, so I'm surprised he even tried it (he did pick out every single pepper, just to let you know).

Pocketless pitas are different than pita bread, which is thinner and has a pocket (I know, I know, I'm such a smarty one, aren't I).  It's similar to a flat bread... thicker and fluffy.  Yumminess.  I find mine in the baking section of the grocery store.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad Pitas

4 pocketless pitas 
3 cups Pulled Chicken 
1 cup chopped Roasted Peppers, chopped 
1 large tomato, seeded and diced 
1 cucumber—peeled, seeded and diced 
1/4 cup minced red onion 
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar 
Salt and pepper 
4 romaine lettuce leaves

Place pitas in stack in 350° oven to warm. In large bowl, combine chicken, peppers, tomato, cucumber, onion, olive oil, vinegar and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Toss well. Top each pita with a lettuce leaf, fill with chicken salad and fold to enclose.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

20 Dinners, 1 Day: Rigatoni with Apple and Squash

I had been looking forward to doing this one.  I love pasta, even though I don't make it nearly as much as I should.  Plus, add butternut squash to the mix and I'm there.

The bacon was tricky for this vegetarian.  I was originally going to make the recipe and add bacon just to Abe's portion.  But a recent cholesterol check made adding it maybe not such a good idea (he's had high cholesterol since his 20s, even though he's pretty fit).  So I improvise with using a bit of liquid smoke in olive oil to add some smoky flavor.

If you're not dealing with high cholesterol, I'd recommend using the bacon, though.  :)

The dish was very yummy and it was extra good the next morning for breakfast.  Hey, it was Adam's idea.  He did balance things out by having waffles and syrup for lunch that day.

The butternut adds a bit of sweetness and the apples and onions add the savory.  But I think the cheese makes the dish delicious, so don't skip it.  Not that I thought you would.

I didn't do the sage leaves this time because I didn't have them.  So, I sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon of dried sage into the butter.  The idea of fried herbs intrigues me, so I will try it next time.

Rigatoni with Apple and Squash
1 lb. rigatoni pasta 
8 oz. bacon, thinly sliced 
10 sage leaves 
2 shallots, minced 
1 tart apple, sliced 
3 cups Roasted Squash, chopped 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
Salt and pepper 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water. In same pot, cook bacon until just crisp; transfer to paper towels. Add sage to hot bacon fat and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add shallots and apple and cook, 5 minutes. Add pasta, squash, cooking water, bacon and parmesan; season with salt and pepper and toss. Top with crumbled sage and parsley.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

20 Dinners, 1 Day: Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

Photo courtesy of
Boy, time slipped away from me (an entire month, to be exact!).  I've been doing the cooking part, but the sitting down to blog part has been evading me.  I do apologize!

I cooked this one up after Jimi's football practice when he was cold and wet.  He's not much of  soup kid, but he did like it.  Abe ate his portion (and the left overs from Jimi's bowl) and declared it to be a tasty treat. 

I'd say this would make an especially good lunch.  It seemed a bit light for a dinner, so if you make it, maybe pair it with a hearty salad or as a first course for your Mexican dinner.

I can see making this the day after you have any leftover chicken and some extra rice (I'm going to start freezing my extra rice for things like this).

Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

1 qt. chicken broth 
1 cup tomato salsa 
1 1/2 cups Pulled Chicken 
3 cups Rice Pilaf 
1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack 
1/4 cup sour cream 
1 avocado, thinly sliced 
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus 4 lime wedges

In medium pot, bring broth, salsa and lime juice to boil. 

Divide chicken and pilaf among 4 bowls. Fill each bowl with hot broth. Top with cheese, sour cream, avocado and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.