Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Hosting

I love Halloween parties! My birthday is in October and my parents liked to throw Halloween birthday parties. Now that I am older I still love a good Halloween party. I get most of my decorations from the Dollar Tree. I loved doing different types of crafts and painted quite a few wooden plaques and signs a few years ago. I always put fake spider webs up across the porch and I have some headstones I put out. I usually rake up some leaves and shape them into graves in front of the headstones. This year because of Sandy my graves were blown away. I also have two blow up ghosts that I hang on either side of the front steps.  I try to make it "gently" scary for the kids in the neighborhood. We have little kids next door and they still freak out a little over some of the decorations.

This year one we had some fun activities for the Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador program.  I made caramel corn which everyone loved! Pizza pockets and chocolate filled crescents.  As part of our party we carved pumpkins. Some of our friends brought "witches fingers" it was the orange peanuts with a half of jellybean "glued" on the end. Another did the witches hats made using a cookie and hersheys kiss. We replaced bobbing for apples with making candle apples. Boy were those good!!! It's been years since I've eaten one and I had never made them before. 

There are so many ideas I have seen from other AR-ers and I can't wait to use some of the ideas or the recipes they have shared!

The hurricane disrupted some of the plans we had for Halloween. Our city postponed trick or treating until next week! Boo! It will give me time to get some discount candy!! lol.  We were without electricity for a few days, and my church postponed the food pantry scheduled for Oct 31 until Friday Nov. 2. I am thinking I would like to make some treats for the people who come. Maybe more of that caramel popcorn, but also I am thinking some granola bars. 

Everyone had a pretty good time this year. I enjoyed making all these things, and I got the bonus of getting to buy new cups with spiders and webs on them to add to the Halloween supplies.

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I am not compensated for my work with Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on Bundts n' Bowls. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of T. Graham.

Pumpkin Carving First

Every year we buy pumpkins to carve.  We live in an area that for whatever reasons kids do not trick or treat. We have tried over the years to sit out there with our bowl of candy expectantly waiting for all the little cowboys and princesses.. and nothing! Although we did have a woman about 50 years old try to get some candy. She had a bag and everything, no kids or grand kids  When my husband told her to "get outta here" she just shrugged and said, I had to try.

This year we were able to find pumpkins for less than $3. My daughter is usually pretty picky. She really likes the Mini pumpkins, which she is unusually good at carving. I can hardly see to do something so small.  They come out looking so cool! I'm not sure if anyone else even carves these mini pumpkins but if not, you should give it a try.  My hubby has to find the biggest, roundest pumpkin he can. I prefer tall, thin, smooth skinned pumpkins. It also has to have a nice long stem. Ooh.. that sounds like a personal ad for a picking up a pumpkin! This year C (daughter) and I had to settle on pumpkins that weren't our typical choices. E (hubby) of course was able to find one that fit his definition of a perfect carving pumpkin.

We put off carving the pumpkins for a couple weeks. It has rained what seems like every day this month! I'd guesstimate out of the 31 days, it has rained 22 of them.  We did have one 80 degree day, that broke records!  Anyhow, I was not feeling well on the day we decided to carve the pumpkins, so I decided I would take pictures of them carving. It's been a couple of years since we had a camera, so E's new phone has become my new camera. It is so cool! I can take a picture and immediately email it to myself. I can even take video on it, although I haven't figured out how to send that yet.  I'm no techno nerd, so this is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

C turned 16 this year - so she's all independent (sometimes) and she wanted to carve her pumpkin "herself" ( I usually cute the lid and help clean out the middle. )

We stopped buying those pumpkin carving kits a couple years ago, they are always so flimsy and the knife always bends or breaks.  So we use the weapons of destruction found in my kitchen.

This stopped my heart, and I held my breathe the entire time she was cutting. I couldn't say anything or it would have sent her into a teenage hissy fit. So I just took pictures and worked out the fasted route to the hospital in my head.

Love the face! Sure am I glad I got out of this slimy  duty this year!

More heart palpitations for mom. Why do they have to grow up? There is still a lump in my throat! 

Her finished product! It's a Cat!! She added whisker holes after the pic was taken.

Let me tell you about my husband. He is an over achiever when it comes to carving pumpkins. He grew up in a household that did not celebrate Halloween and he had never carved a pumpkin until he was with me. The first few pumpkins sported the traditional jack o' lantern face but over the years he has started to design his own faces.

I don't have a lot of pictures of him carving his pumpkin. I took quite a few of him sketching out the design and carving. But his camera is racist! I can't get a good picture of him for anything. We have black cats and can't get a picture of them either!

This is after he sketched and traced the design onto the pumpkin. Cheesey grin. 

This is the last picture I could get that was good enough to see him doing the pumpkin. Looking pretty cool.

Had to get C to hold the pumpkin for a pic.

As I said, I wasn't feeling so hot. I thought it would be quick and easy to put some big ol' alien eyes and a tiny nose. It came out really blah.. so I ended up adding a mouth to it. Now everyone tells me it looks like Jack from "Nightmare before Christmas". I had to look it up, I have never seen the movie before.

This is my finished Jack O' Lantern.

Hubbys finished Jack O Lantern

C's finished Jack O Lantern

All three (taken before I added my mouth)

We always have fun carving the pumpkins together.  Even though I did not feel well this years was good too.  My pumpkin smelled funky when I opened it, but I decided to carve it anyway. It's going outside so it didn't really matter. Well... Hurricane Sandy decided to make a little visit to Cleveland and it was crazy windy and rainy. They sat on my dining room table until I had to take them out last night. My pumpkin was already "dying" and had attracted fruit flies. Where they hell do they hang out? and how do they show up so quickly?  My poor pumpkin has made it to Halloween day. Glad it got here before his complete demise. Now he looks like a monster zombie pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

He's a deadman!... meatloaf.

Really trying to get into the Halloween spirit I have been looking and making recipes that I think represent the day.  Of course, I had originally planned to make everything for Halloween. but I become impatient and need something for dinner so I make it.  This was a fun recipe to make.

His legs became dismembered somehow and I have joked that it was a mob hit and they took out his knees. This was really good meatloaf, but I will admit I didn't really use the recipe. I made it as I always make it. It was delicious, of course! 

There's really not much I can say about this, other than just want to show off the pics.  I forgot to take pics of the ingredients before I started mixing them.

I used ground sirloin from my favorite butcher. I added garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. I also added some Worcestershire sauce to it and some Italian breadcrumbs. Because the meat is so lean I don't have to use an egg or anything to hold it together. I use the breadcrumbs out of habit really and it has Italian herbs in it that I don't have to measure out.

Pretty and it smelled good! 

Starting to take shape.

My daughter insisted that we take pics of each step of making him. I think it was her Frankenstein moment. Here is his head.

His body.

First Leg

Yep, second leg.

She actually made me take pictures of putting each arm on, but I will skip ahead for you. It was already later than usual when I was making dinner, and I wanted to get this sucker in the oven.

Here he is. Officially a deadman! 

If you are looking for something fun for Halloween dinner or even something a little different when you have dinner guests. I think this would be it.  Make it with the kiddos, they'll have a blast. My daughter's 16 and she had fun!!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Angry Cookin' ~ Yucky Cookin'

Sometimes, I just am not in the mood to cook. I resent the fact that everyone in the house looks to me for dinner. I have a 16 year old daughter. I'd be more than happy for her to try her hand at cooking. I have probably 75 cookbooks. Have at it! Honestly sometimes I just don't know what to make, or I have no taste for anything. When I ask them what they might want they never have an opinion, I give them 3 or 4 choices to chose from (unless it's something I like and they don't)  I make a lot of dishes I don't like, or even eat because the hubby and daughter love them.   Sometimes I am on the go ALL day and I just want a break. Sometimes, there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day.  Sometimes, I just want a break. Why am I the keeper of the fork? Who designated me the Queen of the pots and pans? I know that I am not feeling any different that anyone else. 

What ends up happening is what the hubby calls Angry Cookin'. I can make a recipe that I always make and it tastes bad according to him. Apparently my frustration seeps into the ingredients and taints the dish.  Now, my husband doesn't normally make comments on any of the dishes I make. (he knows where his next meal is coming from) but I can tell by the way he pushes the food around on his plate, and always seems to be "not as hungry as he thought" that he didn't like it.  Which just seems to be one more thing that makes me and upset, fed up cook! 

We don't eat fast food or take out. I don't understand what's wrong with a bowl of cereal! Or a night of breakfast for dinner! Or fend for yourself!  Then with those sad puppy dog eyes on me, I feel guilty. Grrr.  Pots and pans.. some days I am tired of looking at them! 

Let me say this, my husband will cook. He will offer to cook. The problem here is that there is NOT one dish he makes that I WANT to eat. I don't care for garlic, he uses enormous amounts of it. I don't like ginger, he has to put it in EVERYTHING. I find Chinese 5 spice absolutely disgusting. I have a delicate nose, and ever more delicate stomach. I do not like things that have strong smelling spices, I don't like the tastes. And I definitely do NOT like anything that will eventually work its way out of your system through the pores in your skin.   He is one of those people that will smell like garlic (strongly) for days, sometimes a week. I even looked it up. Garlic is one of those things that really does come through the pores of the skin and even after you brush your teeth you will still smell like it. YUCK!

 I understand many ethnic dishes of other countries depend on their spices. I understand. It is personal choice to not eat these things. and I abhor when he blatantly disregards my feelings and my taste buds and makes a dish he knows I will not eat. I have to retreat to the basement so the smells don't make me gag. I can't be around him for days until the smells work its way out of his skin.  He thinks its funny. 

There are a lot of dishes I love that I do not make because neither he nor my daughter will eat. I've decided I am not going to cheat myself any longer.  I'm not going to be the one eating a bowl of cereal for dinner because he cooked. 

I defend my right to be an Angry Cook! 

* I read a posting on the Allrecipes Recipe Buzz from someone calling themselves an angry cook. (my blog has nothing to do what that post is about but I thought it was funny) I immediately thought of myself and my angry cooking. So this post is my vent and admission that I cook while angry. 

Do you cook while angry? Can you taste a difference? Do others complain?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bacon and Provolone YUM

While shopping last month I spotted a new spaghetti sauce on the shelf. Bacon and provolone Prego. Oh my goodness!!  This is so freaking good. My family loves this. Which means just like everything else, it will soon be pulled off shelves. Seems like every time we find something we really like, the manufacturer discontinues it.  

I don't know if I am allowed to put that picture on here, and I really hope I don't get in trouble.  If you see this in the store, buy it! Try it! You'll love it! 

I'm going to tell you people, this is good! I make homemade pizzas usually once a month, this is going to be the sauce we use this month.   I am thinking of dishes to use it in.  Meatball subs, baked pasta dishes, pizza.. 

My mouth is watering, I am hungry and it is lunchtime.  Guess what I'm making!   If you're lucky I  will save some to take a picture! 

The case of the Iron Clad Stomach

*This is a copy of the blog I wrote on Allrecipes and wanted to post here on my personal blog as well.

I had 2 butternut squash that I've had a couple of weeks. They've been sitting on the kitchen counter staring me down. Daring me to do something with them. I've never cooked or eaten butternut squash. Clueless I searched AR.  Recipe after recipe I read, and finally I decided on making a soup. I love soup! Give me a nice crusty bread and a bowl of soup and I am in heaven! It doesn't get much better than that. The only problem was that I didn't quite like any of the recipes. So I wrote down a general list of ingredients and decided I would try my hand at an original soup.

I followed some suggestions I read on some of the recipes and cut the squash in big pieces and coated them in olive oil and salt and pepper and crushed garlic and put them in the oven for 30 minutes. It smelled so good! So afterwards I melted some butter and added some onion then added some peeled cubed sweet potato and chicken stock. I boiled that til the sweet potatoes were soft. I added the squash and adjusted the salt and pepper. I added some garlic powder and some onion powder (which I add to EVERYTHING). I added some thyme and allspice.

Do you ever think to yourself that you should "stop while you're ahead" as my grandmother would put it?  I had that feeling, deep in my gut. She was telling me and I wouldn't listen. I tried the soup and it was delicious!! I pulled out my favorite french bread and tore a chunk off and didn't even sit down. I enjoyed a bowl of my butternut squash soup creation standing there at the counter.

Enter husband... "Hey what's that?"  So I give him a taste. He scrunches his nose and says that its missing something. No, it's perfect I say. Do I listen to myself? No! Do I come back to AR and look at the recipes again? yes.... and I see that one of the recipes has cumin.   Hmm, I like cumin, my husband loves cumin. Let me try that. Now here is the mistake I made. I thought to only add some to a bowl and try it, but at the last minute I just tossed some into the pot. I put that spoon to my lips and I knew right away I had ruined my yummy pot of soup!! UGH  I hate that!!

Now, understand I like cumin, in spanish/mexican/latin food. I personally think it has a pretty strong flavor. I did not add much. But it is all I can taste. The taste of squash is gone. And would you believe the hubby LOVES the soup now! He can't stop going on about how awesome this is and how he will eat the whole pot!! Well have at it bub. It's all yours!!!

Here is the moral to my sad tale. If your tongue and your tummy tell you one thing... don't listen to someone else.  My tummy and I have been together for a long time. We are pretty close she and I. I try not to do her wrong and she in turn doesn't get too upset with me.  I should have known not to listen to someone who eats a concoction of ramen noodles, ketchup, vinegar, boiled eggs, and a couple other ingredients that combined create a putrid smelling bowl of bleh!  He'll tell you that he has an Iron Clad Stomach and he can eat anything. And believe me when I say... I have never been that hungry!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Missin' Fishin'

I moved to Cleveland, Ohio from Virginia Beach, Va. 9 years ago. Everyone who learns this asks me why the heck I would do something like that.  I just explain that I lived on the beach (well not like a beach bum).. but actually across the street from the beach. Walk over the dune and you were staring at the water! There was a hurricane named Isabel in 2003 that wasn't so nice to Virginia Beach and the Tidewater area.  

The area I lived in was flooded, the fishing pier ended up a few blocks inland.  We came up to Cleveland before the storm hit, at that time it was predicted to make landfall being a category 5.  Now, I'm sure some of you have experience a hurricane or 2 so you might know what I'm saying.  I definitely wasn't waiting around to see it. 

My family was originally from Cleveland, and I still had a few relatives in the area. So we came here, ended up being here for 3 weeks. My husband decided to look for a job here, and took a job making a considerable less money. We've never regretted moving. I think it was the right time in our life to get out of Virginia. We had been discussing it for a year or so at the time and I believe if we hadn't had the push from the hurricane we would still be in Virginia Beach, miserable and wanting out.

I miss the beach, fishing from the shore, eating fresh caught croaker, puppy drum and going crabbing. Nothing like eating some crab you just pulled out of the sea!  I actually caught a shark one night. Yep, I was standing there with my feet in the water and the bell on my pole just started jingling like crazy. It was a fight! At first I thought it was an eel, til I got it almost right up to me. It was just a baby, but about 2 1/2 - 3 feet long ( that's no fish tale!). That was some good eating!! I'll have to tell the funny story of my husband trying to get that shark off the hook one day. It still cracks us up to think about it.

I miss the smell of the ocean and the roar of the surf. I laugh when people here in Cleveland say they are going to the beach. The itty bitty tiny stretch of sand they've laid down next to the lake. They have no idea what a beach is!  I tried freshwater fishing. There is nothing exciting about it, and I doubt I would ever try it again.  No dinner that night! 

Chocolate filled crescents

Chocolate filled crescents

This is another recipe for the October requirements.  If you are looking for a super fast, super easy recipe this is it! I honestly think it takes more time to gather the 2 ingredients than it does to put them together!

I had a bag of Heath baking "bits" I have had for a while and decided to make half the recipe using them and half using milk chocolate chips.  I personally liked the Heath ones better then the chocolate, but they are both pretty good.

This is one of those recipes that you can make with the children.  

Note: I wish I would have put more chocolate chips in. The pastry puffs up and the chocolate kind of gets lost.

Heath was a crumbly mess to work with. (sure was tasty though!) Again, I wish I would have used more. 

Time to roll them up! Start with the wide end and work your way down to the point. I pressed it down a little to keep it tight.

I added a little of the Heath on top. (mainly cuz it was already everywhere) 

Goes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15- 20 minutes.

You can serve them plain, or with powdered sugar. I've seen where some people have drizzled melted chocolate over the tops.


I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I am not compensated for my work with Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on Bundts n' Bowls. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of T. Graham.

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn

I made this recipe as part of the activities for October. I have never thought to attempt to make caramel or caramel corn. Let me tell you, if you like caramel corn you have to try this!! It is better than anything you could ever buy from a store. And very easy to make.  I guess that's something that surprises me the most at times, how easy things are to make.   Here, let me show you...

First you pop your popcorn. You will need 4 quarts of popped corn. This was 1 cup of the unpopped kernels, and it measured perfectly to 4 Qts. 

Your ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 c Karo Syrup (I used dark)
1/2 c Butter or Margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Vanilla extract

For the picture I had put the salt and the baking soda in the same bowl. Do NOT do this. You will need to add them at different times. Luckily I reread the recipe before I started adding ingredients to the pan.



Make sure you stir constantly like the instructions tell you. It took a few minutes for the butter to melt completely.

You get to relax and let it boil 5 minutes without stirring! 

Now you add the baking soda and the vanilla extract!

This is what it looks like after you add the last 2 ingredients.

Now it's time to pour over the popcorn and stir to coat.

Looking good!  
Bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You will note that I used a disposable aluminum pan. I followed the suggestions from some of the other reviewers on I am glad I did! The directions say to use a shallow baking pan.  I just don't see how that would have worked out.

When it the time is up. Take it out of the oven. You are supposed to spread it out on foil sprayed with cooking spray. I left it in the pan, Added some dry roasted peanuts.   As it cools it starts to harden up. You will end up having to break it up. 

This is a pretty easy recipe to make. It tastes great. I am really looking forward to making this again.

 Happy Eating!

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I am not compensated for my work with Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on Bundts n' Bowls. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of T. Graham.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Crescent Pizza Pockets

 I decided to make 2 recipes this evening for my October activities. I chose Crescent Pizza Pockets and Chocolate filled crescents. Both recipes are simple and pretty quick to put together.

This is my first time getting to post pictures using the new camera. Fingers crossed that they look good!

These are the ingredients. Simple, 4 ingredients.

Be sure to press the seam together well. Mine separated when I baked it.

I used one of my favorite pasta sauces.

Some shredded mozzarella cheese!

Gotta have the pepperoni. Thinking you could add some onion and bell pepper.

Fold it over and seal the edges.  Top with some parmesan cheese.

Bake em. They smell good!

Be sure to let them rest for a minute before you bite into it!  YUM!! Enjoy.

Okay. My husband, of course, refused to try this. I've pretty much given up on asking.   My daughter like it. It tastes just like the biscuit pizzas I make, without the pepperoni getting crispy.   

If you are looking for a quick and easy snack the kids will love. This is definitely a keeper. 

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador(a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews on Bundts n' Bowls. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of T. Graham.