Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Caramel Apples

Autumn is our favorite time of year and nothing says fall like caramel apples...

Salted Caramel Apples
Stick twigs into small apples, dip in caramel, and roll in sea salt.

Inside Out Caramel Apples  
3 large Granny Smith apples
1 large lemon
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs butter
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Chocolate sauce (optional)

Cut your apples in half and use a melon baller to scoop out the insides, leaving the walls intact at about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon onto the apples and allow to set. This will keep them from turning brown right away.
In a sauce pan over high heat, add the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream and corn syrup. Stir until the brown sugar has dissolved. Then leave it to boil, untouched (don’t stir), until it reaches 230 degrees, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, stir until it stops bubbling. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
Using a paper towel, wipe your apples down, removing the lemon juice as much as possible. If the inside of your apple is too wet, the caramel wont stick.
Pour the caramel into the hollowed out apples until just below the top.
Sprinkle with pecans.
Chill in the refrigerator until the caramel has set, about 20 minutes.
Cut into slices and drizzle with chocolate sauce if desired.

Mini Caramel Apples
2-3 Apples (I like Granny Smith and Red Delicious)
Wooden Skewers or lollipop sticks
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Water
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp Karo Syrup
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
10 oz bag of Soft Caramels
1.5 tbsp Heavy Cream
Toppings of your choice (optional)

Using a melon baller, scoop out bits of the apples.  Go ahead and put your sticks though the apple balls and then place in the refrigerator to keep from turning brown
Next add your water and granulated sugar to a decently heavy pan and place on low heat. Mix well.
Add butter, Karo Syrup, and vanilla to the mixture and bring to a boil. Swirl the pan to mix the ingredients, do not use a spoon until the mixture is all formed together.
Remove the pan from the heat and dip your apples into the mixture, swirling the tips as you remove them. Stand them up on a tray and place back in the refrigerator for about 30-45 minutes or until the candy coating is hard.
While waiting for the apples to harden you can prepare your caramel. Place the unwrapped caramels and cream into a bowl and microwave until melted (use 30 second intervals so that the bottom portion of the caramels don't burn). Stir and and let cool until the mixture is no longer hot to the touch.
Next grab a few apples out of the fridge and dip into the caramel, and then into a topping of your choice (nuts, coconut, sprinkles, etc). You'll have to work in batches because once the caramel cools you won't be able to dip the apples into it, so it may need an additional few seconds in the microwave in between batches to soften it up. Be careful not to make it too hot though or else it will end up melting the candy coating off.
Stick in mini cupcake liners to contain any sticky messes and place back in the refrigerator to allow the caramel to set up.

Caramel Bacon Apples
12 medium, tart apples
    12 wooden sticks
    Crisco® Butter Flavor No-Stick Cooking Spray
    3/4 cup butter
    1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
    1 cup dark corn syrup
    2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 cup finely minced cooked bacon (about 12 slices)
    Or 3/4 cup toffee baking bits

    WASH and dry apples. Remove stems. Insert wooden sticks into stem end of each apple. Line cookie sheet with wax paper. Coat with no-stick cooking spray.
    MELT butter in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and brown sugar. Stir until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low.* Cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, or until candy thermometer reaches 225°F. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
    DIP each apple into hot caramel, spooning caramel over apple to coat evenly. Allow excess caramel to drip off. Scrape bottom of apple on edge of pan. Place on wax paper. Sprinkle immediately with bacon pieces. Chill 30 minutes. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
    *Adjust heat as necessary to keep mixture at slow rolling boil. Stir constantly so that mixture does not stick to bottom of pan.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Million Dollar Property Monday

This week's million dollar property comes with a spooky twist...it's the house from "American Horror Story."  The Alfred F. Rosenheim mansion, used for the filming of the pilot of the show, is on the market for $17,000,000.  Located in Los Angeles, the mansion has 6 bedrooms, 5 baths, and is over 10,000 sq ft.  If your looking for a creepy property that also boasts a ballroom and Tiffany glass doors and display cases then this home is for you.

Visit this listing here  - Joe Babajian

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Banana Nut French Toast

 1 1/2 cups walnut halves
 6 large eggs
 1 1/2 cups half-and-half, or milk
 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 Pinch of ground nutmeg
 Pinch of salt
 6 ripe but firm bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
 1 1/2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
 12 slices of bread, (1/2 inch thick), such as brioche or challah, preferably day old
 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
 Pure maple syrup, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place walnut halves on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Set aside. When cool, chop walnuts coarsely.
Whisk together eggs, cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside. Combine bananas, dark-brown sugar, and toasted walnuts in another bowl. Lay out 6 slices of bread on work surface. Top each slice with 1/3 cup of the banana mixture. Top with remaining bread slices; press gently to seal the sandwiches.

Place sandwiches in a shallow baking dish (or two dishes) large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour egg mixture over bread, and soak 10 minutes. Carefully turn sandwiches over, and soak until bread is soaked through, about 10 minutes more.

Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet; set aside. Heat remaining banana mixture in a small skillet over medium-low heat until sugar is melted and bananas are soft and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons butter, and stir to combine; keep warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry half of the sandwiches until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to wire rack, and place in oven while cooking remaining sandwiches. Wipe out skillet, and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and bread. Keep in oven until ready to serve. Cut into triangles, and serve with warm banana mixture and maple syrup, if desired.

Recipe and Image via Martha Stewart

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Cocktails

Ghost in the Graveyard
Serves 1
2 ounces black vodka
2 ounces creme de cacao or coffee-flavored liqueur
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Pinch of finely grated nutmeg, for garnish
In a glass, combine vodka and creme de cacao, and set aside. Place a scoop of ice cream in a highball glass, and slowly pour vodka mixture over ice cream. Garnish with nutmeg; serve immediately.

Screwed-Up Screwdriver
Serves 1
1/4 cup ice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
1 1/2 ounces black vodka
1 black licorice twist, for serving
Place ice in a tall glass. Pour juice into glass. Pour vodka over the back of a cocktail spoon into glass so it sits on top of juice and creates a layer of black. Slice 1/4 inch off each end of licorice, and use as a straw. Serve immediately.

Berry Scary Martini
Serves 1
1 cup ice
1 ounce black vodka
2 ounces cherry juice
Fresh raspberries and blueberries, for garnish
Combine ice, vodka, and cherry juice in a cocktail shaker; shake vigorously. Pour into a martini glass. Thread raspberries and blueberries onto a cocktail skewer, and place in drink. Serve immediately.

Recipes and Images via Martha Stewart Living

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gourmet S'mores

Autumn is here and it's the perfect time to indulge in these adult gourmet s'mores. Make a party around the fire pit and show your friends that s'mores are not just for kids.

Ultimate S'mores
 Chocolate and Peanut Butter S'mores
Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter (at room temperature, for easy spreading) onto a thin, crisp chocolate water (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Waters).
Slide 1 skewer-toasted marshmallow onto peanut butter. Top with a second wafer and squish down gently. Eat, licking fingers.
 via Sunset

 Strawberry and Chocolate S'mores
 Take the classic campfire dessert up a notch by adding strawberry slices to Graham crackers, dark chocolate, and roasted marshmallow.

Ginger and Caramel S'mores
 Give s'mores a kick with gingersnaps, a caramel-filled chocolate square, and marshmallow.

Caramel-drizzled S'mores
 Fill peanut-butter cookies with bittersweet chocolate, caramel sauce, and marshmallow.

Nutella and Banana S'mores
For all-out indulgence, try peanut-butter cookies with Nutella, sliced banana, and marshmallow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn

via Bon Appetit


1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 ounces bacon, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews (one 2.5-ounce package)
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 oolong tea bag
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup


Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat popcorn and oil in covered heavy large pot over medium-high heat until kernels begin to pop. Using oven mitts, hold lid on pot and shake pot until popping stops. Pour popcorn into very large bowl. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain; cool. Add bacon and cashews to bowl with popcorn. Sprinkle with coarse salt and cayenne; toss to coat.

Bring cream and tea bag just to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; let steep 15 minutes, occasionally pressing on tea bag with back of spoon to release flavor. Discard tea bag.

Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; coat with nonstick spray. Coat 2 wooden spoons or heat-resistant spatulas with nonstick spray; set aside. Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high; boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 13 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir until blended. Immediately drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture; toss with sprayed spoons until evenly coated. Transfer to sheet.

Place caramel corn in oven and bake until caramel is shiny and coats popcorn, tossing mixture occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on sheet on rack, tossing occasionally to break up large clumps. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight in refrigerator.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Million Dollar Property Monday

Jigsaw Ranch is located on 80 acres in Aspen, Colorado.  On the market for $ 48,500,000, this property features 12 Bedrooms, 15 Bathrooms and 4 Partial Baths. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ghosts Meringues


3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
16 to 24 miniature semisweet chocolate chips or pieces semisweet chocolate

1. Line 2 baking sheets (each 14 by 17 in.) with cooking parchment, or butter sheets and dust with flour.
 2. In a deep bowl, with a mixer at high speed, whip egg whites and cream of tartar to a thick foam. Continuing to beat, add sugar, 1 tablespoon every 30 seconds, then whip until meringue holds very stiff peaks.
 3. Beat in vanilla. If using cooking parchment, smear a little meringue on the underside of each corner to make it stick to baking sheets.
 4. Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (or spoon into a gallon-size heavy plastic food bag, then cut off 1 corner to make a 1/2-inch-wide opening). Pipe meringue onto baking sheets into ghostly shapes about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, 2 to 4 inches wide, and 4 to 6 inches long, spacing about 2 inches apart. To make eyes (noses and mouths, if desired) press chocolate chips lightly into meringue.
 5. Bake in a 200° oven until meringues begin to turn pale gold and are firm to touch, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (1 to 1 1/4 hours in a convection oven); switch pan positions halfway through baking. Turn off heat and leave meringues in closed oven for 1 hour.
 6. Slide a spatula under meringues to release.

Recipe and Image via www.myrecipes,com

Friday, October 19, 2012

Grand Royale

Recipe via Saveur
2 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
2 oz gin
½ tsp Maraschino liqueur
2 tsp heavy cream or half & half
seltzer water

Shake all ingredients but seltzer water with ice and strain into ice-filled highball glass. Top off with seltzer water, garnish with maraschino cherry, if desired, and serve. 


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Decor

Bleak Birdcage Decoration
 This easy-to-make Halloween decoration looks like it came straight from an Alfred Hitchcock film -- just take a clip-art birdcage image, make an oversize print at a copy center, and spritz with coffee to give it an aged appearance before hanging. Add to the poster's eerie effect with a few well-placed crow or raven decorations.
Tangled Web
 Customize plain candles for Halloween. Use a pencil to draw a spiderweb design into a pillar candle (be sure to use a candle that is colored all the way through -- some inexpensive candles don't have any color in the middle). Once you've completed your design, pour a little bit of rubbing alcohol onto a paper towel and dab the excess wax off the candle surface. Using white paint and a small brush, paint inside the grooves. Wipe off excess paint with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel.

Spooky Still Life
 Make ordinary objects a little creepier with a coat of black paint. Just a few simple steps and this discarded tree branch becomes a scary perch for menacing ravens. Find a tree branch (the more twisted and gnarled, the better) and spray-paint it black. Once dry, insert the branch in an urn or pot. Finish by placing a few black ravens on the branch.

Terrifying Towels

Wash and dry in Halloween style with these kitchen hand towels. Print copyright-free clip art onto iron-on transfer paper. Following the manufacturer's instructions, transfer the creepy images onto white flour sack dish towels. These towels will get the dishes bone dry.

Haunted Chair Covers
 Create a spellbinding seating arrangement with a few simple, inexpensive materials - Tulle netting and ribbon.

Webbed Chandelier
Recycle an old umbrella as a haunting light fixture. Remove the fabric covering, then stretch spider webbing over the frame. Decorate with plastic spiders and battery-operated lanterns attached to the wire with S hooks. Tie rope around the handle and hang from the ceiling with a plant hook.

Images and ideas via Better Homes and Gardens.