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Victim Cookies

Adapted from Baking Bite’s Vampire Cookies, these victim cookies are fun to make and popular with hungry guests!


Victim Cookies

3/4 cup butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
red food colouring

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and extracts.

Add flour and salt to the bowl and mix them into the butter-sugar mixture at low speed until dough is just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Divide dough in half and keep the portion you are not using in the refrigerator.

Roll out the dough directly onto the baking sheet liner.

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out human shapes and place them on a baking sheet. Or, if you are lucky enough to have a Silpat or other non-stick baking sheet liner, roll the dough out right onto it, cut out your cookies and then peel away the unused dough. I’ve found this means much less wastage because the delicate cut-outs don’t need to be moved.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are starting to brown.

Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pour out a small amount of red food colouring into a shallow dish. Dip a toothpick in the food colouring and drag across the cookies making injury-like marks.

Cookies will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

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These little ghosts are adorable, easy to make and super-tasty! Credit for the recipe goes to SkinnyTaste.


Meringue Ghosts

Makes 36

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Place rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip.

The little beauties!

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar (or put sugar in food processor for 30 seconds until fine)
1/2 tsp pure white vanilla extract
miniature chocolate chips for the eyes

In your mixing bowl, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until you get very stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla extract.

Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Before placing the meringue ghosts on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper to prevent the paper from sliding.

Transfer the meringue to the pastry bag. Holding the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe with even pressure, 2 inch high mounds of meringue.

Carefully press two miniature chocolate chips into each meringue ghost for the eyes, and a third chip for a mouth.

Bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours or until they are dry and crisp to the touch and easily separate from the parchment paper. Turn off the oven, slightly open the door, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying several hours, or even overnight.

Keeps for several days at room temperature.

Nutritional Info: Size: 1 ghost
Old Points: 1 pts
Points+: 1 pts
Calories: 27.5
Fat: 0.3 g
Protein: 0.4 g
Carb: 6.1 g
Fiber: 0.1 g
Sugar: 5.9 g
Sodium: 6.4 mg

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Introduction
You do not need to be an accomplished chef to attempt to construct this dish. In fact, you do not need to know anything about cooking at all. It would probably be better if you were a simple bricklayer. Just follow the instructions, stay true to your quest, and you shall be rewarded with the finest lasagne in all the land. Good luck.
Ingredients
6 sheets fresh lasagne
1 aubergine
1 bag spinach
300g asparagus
1 large red onion
100g sun-dried tomatoes
300g mozzarella
200g mexicana cheese, or substitute cheddar with chilli flakes
1 large jar white lasagne sauce (700g)
1 bag fresh basil
1 bag fresh coriander
3 cloves garlic
soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Tools
ovenproof rectangular dish – 12″ x 8″ x 2″ deep
a second dish of similar size for holding hot water
large non-stick frying pan
small shallow pan
plastic potato masher
garlic press
steamer, grill or microwave for softening asparagus
colander
spatula
kettle
knife and chopping board

Preparation
These can be done simultaneously depending on your competence and number of helpers. When each bit is done you can simply set it to one side until needed. If you are really motoring this can all be done in 30 minutes. Give yourself 40 and enjoy a nice glass of wine while you do it.

1. Press the garlic into a small shallow pan. Chop the onions and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pan. Add a bit of olive oil if your tomatoes are not already drenched in it and fry on a low heat until the onions are soft but not brown.

2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat. Slice the aubergine into half-centimetre slices and add to the pan in a single layer. Douse with soy sauce and after a few minutes press the aubergine using a plastic potato masher, being careful to hold the pan steady. You should be looking to gently crush the aubergine so that it gives up its moisture and starts to fry in its own juices. Flip the aubergine slices as necessary and fry until browned on both sides. Continue until all slices are done.

3. Steam the asparagus for 5 minutes to soften it up. Alternatively, put under a grill for 10 minutes. As a last resort, microwave for 3 minutes. If you have bought fine asparagus then this step is not necessary.

4. Wash the spinach and place in a colander. Pluck the leaves from the basil and mix with the spinach. Pour over a litre of hot water from the kettle and mix gently with a spatula so that all of the spinach wilts.

5. Slice the mozzarella and mexicana – the mexicana needs to have enough area make a single layer in your dish and the mozzarella, two. You might find the mozzarella doesn’t look enough – don’t worry, you can leave gaps and it will melt.

6. Roughly chop the coriander.

7. Fill the second shallow rectangular pan or dish with hot water from the kettle, and dunk your fresh lasagne sheets in there to make them malleable.

8. Preheat the oven to 180C.

Construction
This is from the bottom up. At each stage you should be looking to minimise the amount of air in the dish by packing the ingredients tightly together. After each layer of lasagne you can even press down evenly across the whole dish to squish everything together. Shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
2 sheets of fresh lasagne side-by-side but overlapping
spinach and basil
1/2 of the mozzarella
generous black pepper
1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
2 sheets of fresh lasagne side-by-side but overlapping
tomatoes, garlic and onion
coriander
aubergine – lay slices flat, try to fill the available space
other 1/2 of the mozzarella
generous black pepper
1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
2 sheets of fresh lasagne side-by-side but overlapping
asparagus
1/4 jar of white sauce – spread evenly
mexicana cheese

If you have any ingredients left at this stage, you have failed. Go back to “Introduction”.

Cooking
Put it in the oven for 40 mins at 180C. If you like the top layer a bit browner and crispier, turn it up to 200C with 10 minutes to go.

Serving suggestion
Trust me, you do not need chips. A nice green leaf salad with a simple balsamic and olive oil dressing, and maybe a halved tomato or two should be ample.

Variations
Try adding any of the following:

  • pan-fried courgettes or peppers
  • broccoli
  • black olives
  • sliced artichokes in oil
  • stir-fried Mexican chicken (caution: may not be strictly vegetarian)

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This dessert is perfect for dinner parties because you can do all of the preparation work earlier in the day or even the day before. Some people like to get the panna cotta out of the ramekin for serving, but I don’t see the point – it might fall apart, and the ramekin needs to be washed anyway.

Panna Cotta with Raspberry and Blueberry Coulis

Serves 4.
Preparation time: Can be done in 20 minutes if you make both at the same time. Serving time: 2 minutes.

For the panna cotta
300ml double cream
300ml milk
60g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
2g agar agar

For the coulis
200g blueberries
200g raspberries
50g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
40ml water

Preparation – Panna Cotta

1. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds. You could probably substitute vanilla essence for the seeds.

2. Put the vanilla seeds, double cream, milk, sugar and agar agar in a pan and warm on a medium heat until the mixture is hot. Simmer for 5 minutes – do not let the mixture boil. You can tell when it’s boiling because of a) the bubbles and b) the noise, which sounds like a kettle.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then divide the mixture between 4 ramekins. Remember to leave enough room for the coulis! Leave to cool for a further 5 minutes and then put in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Preparation – Raspberry and Blueberry Coulis

1. Find a pan with a lid.

2. Put the blueberries, sugar, cinnamon stick and water in the pan and cook on a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Reduce the heat to low, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4. Remove the lid, turn the heat back up to medium and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. At this point you should have something that looks like a sauce and the berries should have collapsed slightly. If it is very thin you might want to leave it for longer until it thickens up.

5. Remove from the heat, retrieve and discard the cinnamon stick, add the raspberries and stir well.

6. Transfer the mixture to a suitable bowl or dish, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then put it in the fridge next to your panna cottas.

Serving

Simply retrieve everything from the fridge and spoon the coulis on top of the panna cottas.

Nutritional information: if you care, you should not be making this dish

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If you love pecan pie and pumpkin pie, this is the pie for you! Great for Thanksgiving or any time you want sugar hit!

I made this fabulous pie for Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend. It’s based on Libby’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie, but with a few modifications.

First things first.. the pumpkin… In the past when I’ve made pumpkin pie, I’ve always cooked the pumpkin myself and then pureed it. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the resulting pies were often soggy. When researching pie recipes this year, I found a great tip from Keri Fisher:  after pureeing the pumpkin, put it back in the oven spread thinly on a cookie sheet and roast it until it gets drier and thicker.  My pie was not in the slightest big soggy.. I think this tip made all the difference.  And before we start, I’ll admit that I didn’t make my own crust. I bought all-butter frozen shortcrust pastry from Waitrose. 🙂


Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Preparation time: 20 mins + 50 mins cooking time (assuming you already have the pastry and pumpkin prepared).
Makes one 9-inch pie.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

1 (9 inch) unbaked (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
250 g pumpkin puree (see note above)
65 g brown sugar
1 large egg
2 g pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)

160 ml honey
100 g brown sugar
2 large eggs
45 g butter or margarine
3 ml vanilla extract
120 g pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

1. COMBINE pumpkin, sugar, egg and pumpkin pie spice in medium bowl; stir well. Spread over bottom of pie shell.

2. COMBINE honey, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla extract in same bowl; stir in nuts. Spoon over pumpkin layer.

3. BAKE for 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Serve with freshly whipped cream and enjoy!

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Another great recipe from delicious Magazine..

Mom, I think you’ll like this one.. yummy roasted garlic and beets. Two of our faves!


Roasted Garlic, Thyme and Beetroot

I made this recipe a few months ago but it was so good I have been meaning to add it here for ages. I thought the flavours worked really well, and a bit of roasted garlic never goes awry.

I hadn’t used beets in quite a while and had forgotten how wonderful they look on the inside. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of them before I cut them up. Since I had the camera out, I thought I’d document the pan before and after it went in the oven. Unfortunately, they looked so good when they came out of the oven that I completely forgot about taking a picture and served them up immediately.

Click here for recipe @ delicious

Beets with magical colours.

Beets with magical colours.

All ready to go in the oven.

All ready to go in the oven.

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This is one of Rob’s all-time favourites. It’s always a joy to watch his eyes light up when we’re on the way home from work and he asks “what’s for tea?” and I get to say “Seafood Risotto”. I usually make it with Sainsbury’s Seafood Collection which is a mixture of cooked mussels, king prawns and squid rings, because its easy and relatively cheap, but I’m sure it would be wonderful with lots of other seafood too.

I’ve been experimenting with this recipe for ages. Sometimes I add a bit less lemon or a bit more cheese. I’ve also used red wine as a substitution for white, which I don’t recommend. Apart from turning it a wierd colour, it just didn’t taste right. The parsley isn’t essential, and could be curly rather than flat if that’s what you have. If I have some asparagus on hand, I like to grill it with some olive oil, salt and pepper, cut it into one inch pieces and stir it in at the end.


Seafood Risotto

Serves 2.

Seafood Risotto

2 1/2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
150g arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 to 3 cups of stock, chicken or vegetable
235g (or more) mixed seafood, cooked
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted add the chopped onion and cook until almost translucent. Add a few grindings of black pepper and the minced garlic.

2. Just before the garlic starts to brown, add the rice and stir well. Keep stirring until the rice has absorbed most of the butter and the pan is almost dry.

3. Add the white wine and turn down the heat a notch. When the wine is almost absorbed, add 1/2 cup of stock. Stir frequently adding the rest of the stock in approximately 1/2 cup portions until the liquid is almost all absorbed. If the rice is still a bit hard, add any seafood juice from the packet or some hot water and cook until it is absorbed.

4. Add the lemon juice and stir for a few more minutes. Add the seafood and a bit more pepper.

5. Just before serving, stir in the parmesan and the parsley.

6. Serve up in bowls with some extra parmesan and a bit more parsley as a garnish.

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