Just Here for the Boos

Sticking with my barely-once-a-month theme for posts, here’s one just in time for Halloween! I’ve always loved Halloween. In addition to being the unofficial kickoff to actual cold weather in Texas, any holiday that makes punny costumes, ridiculous amounts of candy, and super-cheesy jokes (vampires are a pain in the neck!) acceptable is OK in my book.

For some reason Neal and I have been super lazy about cooking as of late, and have relied way too frequently on eating out. Papa Johns delivery people are almost family at this point. I love all the flavors that show up around this time of year though, and I’m looking forward to getting back in the swing of things with all my winter favorites: soups, chili, squash, pomegranates…basically all things good and savory.

No cooking means no new recipes, but my HOA had a neighborhood block party and I thought white chocolate peanut butter ghosts would be a fun snack to bring. It is widely accepted that craft-related food items (heck, anything crafty period) are a struggle for me, but these were really simple to make.

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Nutter Butter army ready for a dip in the chocolate pool. My first couple attempts at dipping them, the ghosts fell completely apart in the warm chocolate. We stuck them in the freezer for about 10 minutes and tried again with much better results. Chilling the cookie works great, but you still have to work fast before your peanut butter filling heats up or the chocolate dip hardens.

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Chocolate-dipped ghosties, now with edible candy eyes! I will disclose that any of the smooth ghosts pictured are all Neal. The lumpy guys are mine, I never quite managed to get the “swirl” technique down (see above: struggle).

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They’re far from perfect but they were actually tasty, and I think they ended up being pretty cute!

Nutter Butter Ghosts

INGREDIENTS

  • Nutter Butter cookies
  • Lollipop sticks
  • White Chocolate- I used Wilton Candy Melts
  • Edible candy eyes
  • Food Writer edible colored marker
  • If needed: creamy peanut butter for bonus filling

DIRECTIONS

    1. Insert stick in lower half of cookies. If stick is too wide, carefully pry apart cookies, cover one side with peanut butter, place stick, and reassemble.
    2. Chill cookies in freezer or fridge until filling is hardened.
    3. Swirl cookies in melted chocolate, working quickly.
    4. Add candy eyes to cookie while chocolate is still soft.
    5. When chocolate has hardened, draw on mouths with edible marker

Have a Happy Halloween!

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BLT Chopped Salad

Summer is drawing to an end, and as much as I love and anticipate fall, I will miss the refreshing, crisp bites of summer fruits and veggies. To send em off properly, we decided to make what has become one of my favorite salads, which incorporates some of summer’s all stars: creamy avocado, fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and a citrus-y lime dressing. This salad is great as a side, or hearty enough to stand alone as an entree thanks to the addition of bacon and feta.

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I love that a lot of the “work” in this dish is chopping, making it easy to prep a lot of it ahead of time if you are having guests. You can cook and crumble your bacon, grill and de-cob (making words up as we go here) your corn, make your dressing, and get the tedious tomato-cutting behind you. It may be slightly time consuming, but the “chopped” factor means that you get a little bit of everything in each forkful, making for a crunchy, crisp bite of goodness every time.DSC_0049

I put the salad together right before serving so it doesn’t get too soggy. I like to toss the lettuce with the lime dressing before adding all the toppings so that all the leaves get a little coating.

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If you’re like me, you look at recipes and try to figure out how you can better-faster-cheaper it up. Go for it, but if you’re tempted to skip grilling fresh corn, you are cheating yourself. The char of that summer corn is So.Good.

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BLT Chopped Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 hearts of romaine, chopped
  • Up to 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes (I use about 3/4 a pint each of NatureSweet Sunburst and Cherubs, I like the sweetness of the yellow guys), quartered
  • Bacon. Depending on what cut you use and how much shrinking you have going on, this could be anywhere from 4-8 pieces
  • 3 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 5 oz container of crumbled feta or 5 oz of mild goat cheese
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • About a teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground pepper (season to taste)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook bacon until very crisp, drain on paper towel until cool, crumble and set aside.
  2. Shuck corn and grill over medium direct heat approx 25 minutes, or until slightly charred. Turn frequently.
  3. To make dressing, combine lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I like to put it in a mason jar so you can give it a good shake, but you can also combine in a bowl with some aggressive whisking.
  4. In a large bowl just before serving , drizzle chopped lettuce with dressing. Add tomatoes, bacon, corn, avocados, and cheese, stir gently to combine.
  5. Dish out to your favorite people and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

 

Gone Fishin’

One of our very favorite things in the whole world is to go up to the  Little Red River and go trout fishing with my family.  Being out near the water is so relaxing, catching fish is a bonus. I was so excited to get to go this weekend.

We usually do catch-and-release, but were excited to try out some new grilling recipes. Luckily for us, it was a great day and we (with my parent’s help) caught plenty for dinner. After the fish were cleaned, we rinsed them in cold water and let them soak in salt water all day. That night, we mixed up the mayo caper sauce, and filled the cavities with it. After slathering it on the outside and seasoning well, we popped em on the grill.

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Can’t beat that backdrop!

The best part about trout is they require so little prep work-you can cook them skin and all, and it peels right off for easy eating. They do have some tiny pin bones, but you can eat around them no problem. They cooked for about 10 minutes total, flipping em halfway through.

DSC_0038We loved how they turned out. They did not taste fishy at all, and the sauce added a ton of flavor.

For a side ( and in case we didn’t catch any fish!) we brought some potatoes to grill as well. Tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper, fresh rosemary, and a little bit of truffle salt, they turned out even better than in the oven. Crispy on the outside and warm and soft in the center- just right.

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Since it was technically vacation, we decided to go for dessert as well. We cut up some pears, tossed them in a butter cinnamon sugar sauce, and grilled those babies too.

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The sauce melted and glazed the pears as they grilled. It smelt so good when it was cooking, we attracted some friends from the cabin next to us and ended up sharing.

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the finished product

MMM.. so good. These would be great with a dollop of ice cream, but were just fine by themselves!

 

Grilled Trout With Lemon-Caper Mayonaise

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 rainbow trout, cleaned with heads removed

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a bowl, mix together scallions, capers, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, and mayo. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Fill body cavity of fish with mayo mixture, and coat outside well. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill fish, turning once, until meat is flakey, approx 10 minutes. Serve with any remaining mayo.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine-June 2010

 

Grilled Pears with Cinnamon Sugar Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Bartlett Pears
  • Stick of Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut pear into 4 thick slices around the core.
  2. Melt butter over low heat. Add sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir until well combined.
  3. Toss pears in a large bowl with sauce until well coated.
  4. Grill over medium heat  cut-side down about 5 minutes. Flip, then spoon remaining sauce over pears. Grill until slightly soft, approx 5 more minutes.

Recipe adapted from Joshua Bousel @ Serious Eats