Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Treat Just for You

Leftover Halloween Candy Blondies
Cook's Notes: Got leftover Halloween candy? Whether you trick-or-treated your heart out, “borrowed” from your kid’s loot or bought the bulk bags, chances are there are a few stray Snickers, orphaned Whoppers or partnerless Peanut Butter Cups laying around. And now you have an excuse to do more than just tear open those packages and nibble.
Recipe makes 16 blondies and slightly adapted from

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1- 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups assorted Halloween candy, roughly chopped
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to hang over the sides. Coat the paper with cooking spray.
  • Whisk together the melted butter with the sugar and light brown sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon  and salt just until incorporated. Stir in 1/2 cup of the assorted Halloween candy.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top, then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Halloween candy over the top of the batter.
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

  • Let the pan cool 10 minutes and remove to a wire cookie rack to finish cooling. Remove the blondies using the parchment paper overhang, cut into 16 squares and serve.
Cooking Tip: A GROCERY STORE DISCOVERY:Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Pan Lining Paper
One side is parchment paper and the other side is foil. Line your pan with parchment side toward food. The foil side helps it mold to any size pan perfectly and the parchment side lets you remove food without tearing. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Seafood Chowder Pot Pie

All Hallows’ Eve
The pumpkin grinned from ear to ear, “The moon is bright, the sky is clear. This is the night we’ve waited for, when elves come knocking on the door. When witches ride their broomsticks high and ghosts and goblins fill the sky. Then Jack and Jill, with fairy queen, will dance and sing: it’s Halloween.”
by Constance B. Osborne

Seafood Chowder Pot Pie  A twist on the classic pot pie with a hearty seafood chowder filling that's served topped with a puff pastry or pie crust.
Recipe makes 3-4 pot pies depending on the size of ramekin. I used a 5.4 ramekin so the recipe made 3 pot pies. 
Cooking Tip: The chowder filling can be made the day before. Reheat on medium low 4 minutes. The pot pie can be topped with a pie crust or puff pasty. One single prepared pie crust makes 3-4 toppings (you might have to reroll pie crust to get 4) and 2 puff pastry sheets makes 4 toppings. Cut the circles a little larger than the ramekin. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill until ready to use. 
Advance preparation: cut celery, onions, peppers and potatoes ahead and refrigerate.
  • 1 package (17.3 oz. ) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, 2 sheets, thawed or 1 single prepared pie crust
  • 3 Tb. butter
  • 1 cup each diced onions, celery, potatoes and mini sweet peppers 
  • 1 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3-1/4 cups chicken broth (low sodium-fat free)
  • 1 TB. Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp. each herbs de Provence and parsley flakes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked salmon, cubed
  • 1 cup cooked shrimp or fish diced
  • 1/4 cup each white wine and heavy cream
  • Optional 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • Grease ramekins (8 oz. each) or 1 quart size ramekin.
  • In a large fry pan melt 3 TB. butter. Add in diced onions, celery, potatoes and mini sweet peppers. Sprinkle spices over the mixture and stir fry for 8-10 minutes until veggies are  tender-crisp. You can also sweat veggies by covering and turning heat to low. 
  • Add in 1/3 cup flour and stir for 3 minutes until flour is golden. Slowly add in chicken broth and stir until it boils and thickens. Whisk in mustard.
  • Add in seafood, corn, wine and cream. If adding in wild rice add in at this step. Cook on low for 6-8 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured wax paper surface, unfold pastry sheets and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Use the ramekin as a template. Cut out 4 pastry tops for pies or 1 large one depending on size of ramekin used. Use a pizza cutter to trim pastry tops. Make sure filling is cooled before placing the top on. Pinch the crust around the rim so as to form a seal. 
  • Whisk one egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the pastry tops with egg wash and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Make an x in the center for vents.

  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes. Watch carefully the last 5 minutes so it doesn't get too brown.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Marcello's Promise

Jane Coletti Perry has a passion for preserving family history and showing how the past can shape who we are today. Marcello's Promise is Perry's first novel. 
Perry grew up hearing stories about her immigrant grandparents from Italy who settled in the rough and tumble life of coal mining Cumberland,Wyoming in the early 1900's. Perry's father was part of their story.  
In this novel she has created a historical fictional story of her grandparents' lives to honor her family. Perry feels strongly about the importance of telling stories about those who've sacrificed so others would have a better life and to whom we owe a debt.
Cumberland, Wyoming 1912
Her grandparents' stories have stayed with her since hearing them at a young age. She has treasured them over time. Perry has previously written a memoir, Finding Sara Jane and a variety of articles for a Kansas City periodical, The Best Times. 

In 1915 Marcello leaves Italy, his homeland, to pursue the American dream, a better life with more opportunities. He promises his wife Luisa and young son he will send for them as soon as he gets established with a job. Three years pass by before Marcello is able to make that dream a reality bringing his family to America for a new life. The young couple settle in Cumberland, Wyoming, a mining town operated by Union Pacific Coal Company. The town is defined by the backbreaking life in coal mines, bitter labor disputes, realities of a harsh frontier life, fighting cowboys, Prohibition, bootlegging, and extended family skirmishes. Luisa bravely endures her new life while Marcello remains steadfast in his goal to provide a better life for his family living in America. A series of climatic events threaten Marcello's family and their dreams. It becomes imperative for him to reevaluate his life's goals.
Miners' Quarters, Cumberland Wyoming
Perry has created relatable and believable characters in plausible situations. The story line is more character driven as Marcello wants to create his own destiny and Luisa wants to be his helpmate. What is best for the family is the driving force for each of them but eventually the provider vs the protector clash. Luisa's character becomes stronger as the story develops. She is not afraid to stand up to her husband and express her fears as Marcello becomes more involved in his brother's bootlegging operations.

Clear and concise writing moves the story's action along at a steady pace. The reader easily is drawn into the story and its drama. Perry's extensive research for historical accuracy gives the story an authentic tone. Her description of steerage conditions for immigrants, processing at Ellis Island, coal miming history, equipment and hazards, moonshine, and the history of Southwest Wyoming all give the story a real feel.

Perry's grandparents were ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Their everyday courage, sacrifice, determination, faith and love are stories worth sharing. I applaud the author on writing such a wonderful story that truly comes from the heart to honor her ancestors. You know it's a good solid story when you wish it wouldn't end. One can't help wonder what will happen next to the Corsi family as they embark on a new adventure.

Check out Perry's blog/ historical tidbits related to the background of Marcello's Promise
The book is available for pre-order on Amazon with a publication date of December 2019.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Creative Uses for Leftover Halloween Treats

Take your leftover Halloween treats to the next level with some sweet creative treats. 
27 Amazing Desserts to Make with Leftover Halloween Candy
Kit Kat Bars
Almond Joy Cake Bars 
M&M Oat Bars
Candy Bar Cookies
Monster Toast

October gave a party.
Autumn wore her finest gown
a kaleidoscope of colors
golden, crimson, yellow hues.

Leaves swirled, fluttered, whirled
dancing to woodland tunes.
Trees swayed, kept time to music
under a moonlit sky.

A blustery wind howled
the uninvited guest blew through
brought party to a screeching halt
the revelers swept away.

by Sue Ready

Sunday, October 27, 2019

What's Your Favorite?

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, U.S. consumers are expected to spend $2.6 billion on candy or more than $25 on average.Believe it or not, Skittles is the most popular candy for Halloween according to September 2019 data from, Americans purchase an average of 3.3 million pounds of the chewy rainbow candies every Halloween. They’re also the most popular candy in the most populous state, California. Reese’s peanut butter cups came in a close second with 3 million pounds—and the love of the second-most populous state, Texas.
Check out the most popular candy by state'
Here in Minnesota
1st place Skittles
2nd Place Tootsie Pops
3rd Place Candy Corn

A link to 25 most popular Halloween candies -at least my favorite Almond Joys
got #23 on the list
It seems to me Americans have a love/ hate relationship with candy corn. In 2012 it was the top selling Halloween candy but the general public seems to voice an opinion it's the worst. According to the National Confectioners Association, more than 35 million pounds (or 9 billion pieces) of candy corn will be produced this year.
Candy corn is one of the better-for-you candies of the Halloween season. It contains roughly 28 grams of sugar and only 140 calories per heaping handful -- and it's fat free.
What's Your Favorite? 
Check back tomorrow for some delicious recipes that use left over Halloween candy. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

One Pan Skillet Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice

An easy meal that goes all together in one skillet capturing your favorite Tex-Mex flavors.  It's creamy, satisfying and delicious. Pair the meal with your favorite cornbread.   
Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice
Cook's Notes: Recipes serves 4-5 and was adapted from publication BHG Ultimate Casseroles. Spices can be increased depending on tastes. I went the moderate route. To reheat the next day add more water or broth if needed. 
  • 1 box Rice a Roni Chicken flavor  

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced 
  • 1/2 cup each mini red and yellow sweet peppers and onion, diced
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1- 14.oz can chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 medium tomato, diced and drained on a paper towel
  •  2 TB. canned diced green chiles, drained on a paper towel
  • 3/4 tsp. each chile powder and dried crushed basil 
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • In a large skillet cook onions and peppers in oil. Heat until tender. Stir in rice and vermicelli mix including seasoning packet.Cook and stir fry on medium low heat 2 minutes. Stir in broth and water. Bring to a boil  and reduce heat. Simmer covered 18 minutes. Liquid will not be fully absorbed. 
  • Stir in tomatoes, green chiles and spices. Cook covered on a low heat 15 minutes. Add in cheese, cook a few minutes longer until cheese is melted. 
Honey Cornbread 

Cook's Notes: Do not over mix the ingredients, stir just until blended

  • 1 box of honey cornbread (15 oz.)
  • 1 can creamed corn (8.5 0z.)
  • 1 TB. honey or Agave Nectar
  • 2 TB. diced canned green chiles, drained 
  • 2 TB. chopped green onion
  • Follow directions on the box of cornbread mix except substitute 1/3 cup melted butter for the cooking oil.
  • Fold in creamed corn, honey, chiles, and onions
  • Bake in a skillet @ 400 for 22 minutes or a 8 inch glass pan 22-25 minutes.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Apple, Cranberry, Pear with Gingersnap Cookie Crumble

As colors fade and slip away from the landscape, trees stand bare.
We rely on words to keep the memory alive. 
Holly Mathers-Shuemaker
The Colors live
Between back and white
In a land that we
Know best by sight.
But knowing best
Isn't everything,
For colors dance
And colors sing,
And colors laugh
And colors cry-
Turn off the light
And colors die,
And they make you feel;
Every feeling there is
From the grumpiest grump
to the fizziest fizz.
And you and you and I
Know well
Each has a taste
And each has a smell
And each has a wonderful
Story to tell...
ending page from Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O"Neill
Pear, Apple, Cranberry with a Gingersnap Cookie Crumble 
An irresistible autumn dessert that stands out with seasonal fruits baked with a gingersnap  cookie crumble crust.
Cook's notes: Anjou and Bartlett pears are the best for baking because they remain firm and smooth when cooked. When choosing pears for baking, select those that are firm but not rock hard, have a good fragrance, and are smooth and unblemished with stems still attached. Autumn is the best season for Anjou and Bartlett pears.
Recipe adapted from

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 TB. dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup gingersnap crumbs (about 16 cookies) 
  • 1/2 tsp. apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 5 TB.butter, melted and cooled
  • 3-4 large ripe pears (I used Anjou) peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 Granny Smith apples. peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1- 1/2 cups fresh cranberries ( if using frozen no need to thaw) 
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • 1 TB. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 2 TB. cornstarch
  • Preheat the oven to 350°degrees.
  • Use a cuisinart to crumble cookies, then proceed with crumble part of the recipe.  
  • Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, spice mix cinnamon and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.
  • Place crumb mixture in freezer while cutting up apple and pears for about 20 minutes.
  • In a 2 quart baking dish or a 9 x 9 glass baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, apples, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan.
  • Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. 
  • Bake the crumble for about 45 minutes or until it is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs.

    Tuesday, October 22, 2019

    Let the Ghoulish Times Roll

    45 Halloween Appetizers from Country Living
    Monster Meatballs
    Witches Fingers

    Witch Guacamole 
    Mini Bat Bites
    Only 4 ingredients!
    Vampire Ice Cream Float
    55 Halloween Goodies from Good Housekeeping
    Banana Mummies
    Graveyard Mousse
    and some Ever Ready Halloween Specials
    Party Ideas
    includes Tombstone Taco Dip
    Spear a Healthy Halloween Kabob
    Fruit Kabob

    Monday, October 21, 2019

    Chicken Soup for the Soul

    I live on good soup,
    not on fine words.
    Moliere-French playwright, director, actor
    Each time I make chicken soup I think of Maurice Sendak's little book Chicken Soup with Rice. The tiny volume was first published in 1962. The book has 12 rhymes and illustrations for 12 months of the year all with chicken soup as the universal theme. The rhythmic verses and repetition make the book perfect for ages 4-6. Each page ends...Happy once, happy twice, happy chicken soup with rice.
    With a cold, rainy forecast for the week I declare its time for some homemade chicken soup with Orzo, for a warm satisfying meal. The following recipe was made with chicken meatballs but shredded chicken pieces can be substituted. Both recipes are included. Recipe serves 4-6 depending on the size of the bowl. 

    Note: Orzo (Italian rice) does absorb a lot of liquid so an alternative would be cooking the Orzo separately and adding cooked orzo in at the lemon juice step.

     Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup with Spinach
    3 large pieces of cooked chicken, shredded or diced chicken (Chicken Meatball recipe at the end of the posting)
    1 cup each sweet onions, celery, carrots, diced
    2 garlic cloves, diced
    1-1/2 TB. olive oil
    1/2 tsp. each parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon  
    1 container 48 oz. chicken broth (low sodium) 
    1 cup dried orzo
    1 small-medium lemon (zest and juice) 
    3 cups torn spinach leaves, stems removed 
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Garnish: chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese

    Heat oil and saute carrots, celery and onion until soft (cover and simmer on low, about 8 minutes).
    Add in garlic and spices, cook about a minute.
    Add in broth and orzo and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer just until orzo is al dente, about 5 minutes.
    Season with salt and pepper, mix in lemon juice and zest. Add in cooked chicken pieces or meatballs with spinach leaves. Heat until spinach leaves are wilted.
    Optional adding  in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese right before serving.  

    Chicken or Turkey Meatballs 
    Recipe makes 15 small meatballs 
    1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
    2/3 cup diced onion
    1 TB. minced garlic
    2/3 cup Crispy Panko Italian Crumbs
    1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
    1/4 tsp. each oregano, thyme and basil 
    1 large egg

    Mix all meatball ingredients and shape into 1-1/2 inch balls.
    Place on parchment sheet or a silicone pad.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Turn once during the baking time.
    Place cooked meatballs on a paper towel lined plate until needed. 

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