Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ghastly Ghosts ~ Halloween S'mores with Peeps®

As shared from the kitchen of Mari @ Once Upon a Plate
With many thanks to Mary @ Home is Where the Boat is

Package of Peeps® Ghost Marshmallow (you'll need 12)
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs, finely crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 Tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
8x8-inch baking dish
Generous amount of butter for baking dish

Your favorite Brownie recipe (or boxed mix)
1/2 cup Chocolate chip morsels
36 Mini chocolate morsels (3 for each ghost, for eyes, nose/mouth)

Preheat oven, center rack 350ºF

For the Graham Cracker Crust: Generously butter baking dish and set aside. In a medium bowl mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, blend in sugar and salt until completed mixed. Press mixture into bottom of buttered baking dish, as evenly as possible. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. 

In the meantime, prepare brownie batter. When graham crust is baked, remove from oven and pour brownie batter over crumb crust and spread evenly. Bake according to recipe/boxed mix directions. Scatter the chocolate morsels over the brownies during last 5 minutes of baking (this will help the marshmallow 'ghosts' adhere to the brownies.)

Remove the baking dish from oven and arrange 3 rows of 4 Ghost Peeps®
over the chocolate morsels, pressing lightly.  Place pan a few inches from hot broiler element in oven, do NOT walk away (these will burn in an instant once they begin to turn golden.)  When the marshmallows are the color you like remove from oven, you'll notice the chocolate for eyes/mouth have all but disappeared. Remove from broiler, cool a bit then place chocolate mini-morsels to represent ghosts' eyes and mouth. These are easiest to cut neatly when completely cool. Cut as desired and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Smoky Cheddar Cheese Spritz Crackers

As shared by Mari of Once Upon a Plate
These are really good for snacking, on a cheese/fruit tray, or served along with soups or salads.

Special equipment needed: A cookie press and disk/s of your choice


  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese (finely shredded)*
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika** (to make them 'smoky', see below)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper **

  1. Center rack in middle of oven, preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) cream the Cheddar cheese, butter and Worcestershire sauce together until smooth and well combined.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients, mixing until a smooth dough is formed.
  5. Fill cookie press with dough and press dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet. 
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are a light golden brown.*** (See special tips, below)
  7. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to one week.
* For best results always shred your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains additives that preserve it and prevent it from clumping, it can adversely affect end results. 

Don't refrigerate dough, use at room temperature. Press crackers onto
un-greased cookie sheet (cookie sheets should also be at room temperature.)  Wash cookie sheet/s between batches and make sure they are cool (room temperature) before pressing next batch. If your room is very cold, you might want to bring the
dough to a warmer part of the house to soften it up a bit, the cookies/crackers will release from the press more cleanly if the dough is not too firm/cold.

I always add the following to these cheese crackers (optional):
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
May use part smoked paprika instead of plain
May increase cayenne if you like spicy crackers

***For crispy crackers:
I like my crackers to be crispy, yet just very faintly colored (not too brown), so they retain their pretty color.  Bake and cool the batch ofcookies.  When they are cool, place in single layer on shallow rimmed baking sheets. Allow to crisp up in a preheated 175ºF oven for 7 to 14 minutes, they should barely color. Remove to cooling racks, crackers will crisp further as they cool.
Alternately, follow directions above but instead place in oven set to 'warm' for several minutes until they crisp up, then turn off oven and leave ajar until crackers are cool.

Store in airtight containers for a week or so.  These methods also work well in re-crisping crackers that are a few days old, if they need it. (Makes a fine gift from the kitchen, too!)


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Herb Batter Bread ~ Quick and Easy

Herb Batter Bread ~ Quick and Easy
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Makes one 8" or 9" round cake pan (or equivalent)

This is a recipe that dates back to at least 1970, I first began making it while in high school. I cannot tell you the number of times I have made it since then! It's an easy, friendly dough to work with that produces a good little bread that smells wonderful as it bakes, and it's delicious warm, or toasted the next day. You can use any herbs that you like; fresh or dried, (or a combination of herbs that pleases you.)  I sometimes make this with half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour.

You can mix this by hand, or use your stand mixer.

1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons butter or margarine
1 package yeast, (or a scant 1 tablespoon dry yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1 tablespoon dried/instant minced onion
1/2 to 1  teaspoon dried herbs, or more (your choice; dill, rosemary, etc.)
        OR 1 to 3 teaspoons minced fresh herbs
Melted butter
coarse salt

Heat milk in a small pan over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge of pan
(don't boil), remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer), dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add cooled milk mixture. Stir flour into yeast mixture. Add dried/instant minced onions and dill or
other herbs, stir all together until well blended, about 2 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until tripled in bulk; about 45 minutes. Stir down and beat vigorously about  30 seconds. Turn into a greased 8-inch cake pan, or 9-inch pie pan. * Bake in a 350ºF oven center rack about 1 hour. Brush top crust with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with salt (salt is optional).

* Once batter is in the pan, before putting in the oven, I always allow it to rise another 45 minutes. This step is NOT necessary, but I like the texture the extra rise produces.

Just wait until you smell this bread baking in your own kitchen ~ YUM.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Maple Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari

Makes a 9 x 13-inch pan

I usually make half a recipe (baked in a 9-inch square baking pan) unless we're having company

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature
2 tablespoons good, pure maple syrup (no substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners sugar
Optional: Toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350ºF (rack in center of oven)
Combine cake ingredients, EXCEPT butter. Whisk until combined, when mixed add melted butter and
stir until smooth. Pour batter into a 9x13-inch baking pan.  Bake until cake springs back when touched
lightly, about 40 minutes.

Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add remainder of ingredients and mix well. Spread on cooled
If desired sprinkle toasted, chopped pecans over frosting.  (I serve the chopped nuts in a small bowl with a spoon so each person can add nuts if they like and those that don't want them can pass.)

Bon Appetit!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Butcher's Pasta Sauce ~ Slow Cooker

The Butcher's Pasta Sauce (Slow Cooker)
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Makes about 10 cups

Special Equipment:
Electric Slow Cooker

Use any of the following raw meats (or any combination)~ half a pound ground beef, a pork chop, an extra sausage, or a chicken breast (chop meat up in food processor.)  This sauce is usually served on a chunky pasta; cavatelli, orecchiette, etc. I used perciatelli (bucatini).

1 large onion, chopped
2 medium celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine (may use red)
2  28-ounce cans Italian peeled tomatoes, packed in tomato puree, chopped

Optional (I always add): 
Dried oregano, crumbled
a sprig or two of fresh rosemary


Cook vegetables in the oil over medium heat in a large skillet,  cook until tender, but not browned. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Add a little water if the onion begins to brown, and lower heat just a bit.

Add the meats and cook, with the back of a spoon, break up any large lumps of meat. Cook until lightly browned, stir in the tomato paste, salt and pepper and herbs if you are using them. Add wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Pour the tomatoes into the cooking container of a large slow cooker, scrape the meat and vegetables from the pan into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours, until the sauce is thickened.  Adjust seasonings and serve. After cooling, it keeps covered in the refrigerator for about 4 days. This freezes beautifully.


Recipe adapted from Michele Scicolone's "The Italian Slow Cooker"