Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ghastly Meringues

When I saw these in Food Network Magazine recently (October issue) I knew I had to try them out. I'd never actually made meringue cookies before but figured it would be easy enough.

It was!  They only take about 5 minutes to whip up (literally) and another 5 to pipe the shapes onto the cookie sheet.  It's the baking that takes a while.  And frankly, I'm not sure if it's because they're still a little warm, but my ghosts aren't completely solid the whole way through.  So, as the recipe says "bake until dry, 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes" - you should do it!

Anyhow, here's the recipe:



3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until frothy.  Beat in the sugar; increase the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form, 5-6 minutes.

2. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.  Pipe 8-10 swirls on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until dry, 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes.  Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let cool completely.

3. Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave on 50 % power until melted, about 1 minute, stirring halfway.  Transfer the melted chocolate to a zip-top bag and snipa corner. Pipe the chocolate on the meringues to look like eyes.


Keep the meringues in the oven for the time specified!  My batch made closer to 16 cookies (about 40 calories per cookie).  I guess the piping tip was smaller than what the folks at Food Network used.

But they are yummy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Corn Muffins

I've used a few different recipes for corn muffins over the years.  Last year I had a good one that used Bisquick.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to locate it.  During the winter months I would substitute Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake Mix for the Bisquick.

Since I have neither the pancake mix nor the old recipe, I went trolling online for a new one that would give me pumpkin corn muffins. has a recipe that just worked out wonderfully. The whole place smells delicious.  I took a muffin for a test drive about 5 minutes after it came out of the oven and I have to say this recipe is a keeper!

Here's their recipe:



  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1-1/4 cups canned pure pumpkin

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • Preparation:

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or paper-line 12 muffin cups.

    Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Beat eggs, pumpkin, milk and vegetable oil in medium bowl until combined. Add to flour mixture; mix thoroughly. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve muffins warm.

    Yield: 12 muffins
    The recipe doesn't call for it, but I used a heaping teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. I felt it just added a little something extra special.
    Also, I like big muffins so I made only 10.  Aside from tasting yummy, each muffin is only 164 calories!

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Halloween Butter Cookies

    This is a terrific standby recipe.  If I don't know what to bake, I can always rely on butter cookies.  They work for all occasions.  Since Halloween is coming up in the next week, I decided on these fun shapes and colors to dress up the cookies.  They taste wonderful with or without the icing.  If I had more time I'd add some trim or something... but I think they look fun and I know they taste great.

    This recipe is handed down to me from my mother.  It's pretty easy to follow.



    1 lb. butter
    1 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    4 1/2 - 5 cups of flour (not a full 5)
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. vanilla


    3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
    1/4 cup milk
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    Dash of salt


    Mix well.  Taking one or two handfuls at a time, roll out the dough.  Cut with cookie cutter, or use a juice glass top to cut.  Just press rim of glass into dough and form circles.

    Bake at 325 for approximately 5-6 minutes.  They shouldn't be too brown on the edges.  I check the bottoms to make sure they are golden before taking them out. 

    When rolling the dough, use a sheet of wax paper for the surface, sprinkle with flour, place the dough and sprinkle that with some flour.  Cover with a second piece of wax paper.  Use the rolling pin over that.  It just makes for easier rolling.

    For the icing I use skim milk and it always comes out great.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

    These are YUMMY!  I found this recipe last year when I was looking for something different to make for Thanksgiving dessert.  It was a big hit - people keep asking for it!

    No personal notes to add; I make it as-is...

    Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
    Makes 16 | Prep time: 25 minutes | Total time: 5 hours

    For the Crust:

    20 chocolate wafer cookies, (half a 9-ounce package)

    2 tablespoons sugar

    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

    For the Filling:

    2 packages bar cream cheese, (8 ounces each)

    1 cup sugar

    1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree

    3 large eggs

    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

    282 calories per serving (16 servings)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.

    In a food processor, blend cookies with sugar until finely ground (you should have about 1 cup crumbs); add butter, and pulse until moistened.

    Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and press gently into bottom. Bake until fragrant and slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, flour, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; process until combined. Set aside.

    Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Add 1 cup pumpkin mixture; stir to combine. Set aside.

    Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture; swirl. To create swirls, drag the blade of a paring knife through the chocolate and pumpkin mixtures several times to make a marbled pattern.

    Bake until cheesecake is set but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes.

    Cool in pan. Cover; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days). Using overhang, transfer cake to work surface. With a knife dipped in water, cut into 16 squares. Serve.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese

    This has been a favorite of mine since I found it last year.  As you will come to know, I am a BIG fan of pumpkin-squash-sweet potatoes so this fits right in. 

    It's easy to make.  The recipe does call for some dairy, and the taste is mild, but I find it a hearty dish.

    You can find the recipe here.  I found it on - it's yummy.


    1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and diced (about 3 cups)
    1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
    1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
    Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    Pinch of cayenne pepper
    3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1 pound whole wheat spirals
    4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
    4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
    1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    Olive-oil cooking spray, to grease baking pan


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (for pasta). Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. (Dicing reduced this time to 10 minutes.) Remove from heat.

    Add noodles to boiling water; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

    Drain pasta, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.  Scatter breadcrumbs on last. 
    Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover the casserole dish and continue baking for 20-40 minutes (I only put it in for another 20 min).
    Personal notes:
    It is MUCH easier to use frozen butternut squash - unless you can get the butternut squash already cut up.  Cutting up winter squash is one of my least favorite things to do (even though the end result is worth it!).
    For the pasta, I typically use a quinoa pasta.  It's gluten free and simply delicious.  It tastes no different than regular pasta.  Otherwise, regular or whole wheat pasta works just fine.
    Finally, I don't use parmesan.  Basically it's because I don't keep that stuff in the apartment.  Tastes fine without it.  I omit olive oil and just use Pam spray for the baking pan.
    282 calories per serving, 8 servings total