Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ghostly Meringues




In case you didn't get the memo, let us be the first to tell you that Halloween is tomorrow! Yes, that's right, it's the funnest day of the year! A tradition in our house is to carve our pumpkins a few days before the big day in order to enjoy seeing them lit up all week long in our front porch. Last night we took advantage of an empty evening schedule and carved away. 



Michael went the scary route and carved a skeleton face while Cristy carved a cute "Trick or Treat" message on her pumpkin. Our home is the perfect balance of spooky and nice during Halloween to accommodate both of us. 

Our Ghostly Meringues are also a mix of the best of both of us! They are spooky-looking, but they taste sooooo nice! These meringues are so light and airy that you will mistaken them with real ghosts (but they taste a whole lot better!) They are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. You will love them! They make perfect snacks for pumpkin carving night too!

Ingredients:
4 large egg whites
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch
3 tablespoons of powered sugar
A few drops of water
Black food coloring

Kitchen Essentials:
KitchenAid mixer with whisk attachment (or large bowl with hand mixer)
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula
Oven
Baking sheets
Parchment paper
Piping bag and round tip
Small bowl
Toothpicks

Prep:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Directions:
Beat the egg whites on medium high speed until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Sprinkle vinegar and cornstarch on top of the meringue and fold in with a spatula.

Place the merengue in the piping bag with the round tip already in it and get rid of the air bubbles by carefully bouncing the bag up and down for a few seconds. 

Pipe the meringue in the shape of a ghost by making a 2-inch circle, then a 1-inch circle and then a tip at the end to form the head of the ghost. 


Continue to make as many ghosts as possible with the merengue that you have. You may need to use two baking sheets to fit them all.

Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool completely. Next, mix the powered sugar, water and black food coloring in a mall bowl and mix. It should be as thick as glue. If it is too watery, add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add more water. 



Dip the tip of the toothpick in the frosting and make dots for the eyes of the ghosts. Allow the dots to dry for a few minutes before handling. The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days. 








Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quick and Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe #KraftRecipeMakers

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Kraft.


Last week we had a very busy weekend volunteering a a local charity event and the last thing we wanted to do on Monday after a long day at work was make a gourmet meal from scratch. Although we love to cook and look forward to creating new recipes to share with our fans, we also have days where all we want to do is make a quick and easy meal and relax on the couch with a glass of wine and our reality shows. We're sure we are not the only ones! What we don't want to do is skip on the flavor of our dishes. When we saw the commercial for Kraft Recipe Makers featuring celebrity chefs Rocco DiSpirito and Carla Hall, we knew it had to be good, so we picked up a few boxes of signature sauces at our local Walmart after our event. If you haven't seen the commercials, you could view it online at www.getyourcheftogether.com. They are actually quite funny!



The first one we tried was the Kraft Recipe Makers Sweet and Sour Chicken. It was so easy to make and it delicious! Much better than take-out! This recipe is very versatile because you could substitute the chicken for meat or pork or just add more veggies and make it a vegetarian dish. We added carrots and garlic because we had some on hand. What's great about these sauces is that there are two of them. One to marinate and cook the food in, and another one to add an extra burst of flavor at the end. There is no need to add any salt, pepper or additional spices unless you really want to. We are excited to try some of the other flavors we picked up such as the Tex-Mex Chicken Fajita and the Verde Chicken Enchiladas. Here's the recipe for the Sweet and Sour Chicken. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Kraft Recipe Makers Sweet and Sour Chicken
2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
1 small red onion coarsely chopped
1 can (8oz.) pineapple chunks (we used fresh pineapple)
3 medium sized carrots (optional - we used them because we had them)
2 cloves of minced garlic (optional)

Kitchen Essentials:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Can opener
Vegetable peeler
Stove
Large skillet
Spatula

Directions:




1.Stir-fry chicken in half of the Simmer Sauce in a large skillet until done, about 10 minutes. 




2. Add vegetables and remaining Simmer Sauce to skillet; stir-fry 2 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. 




3. Stir in Finishing Sauce and pineapple; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve over rice.



Monday, October 28, 2013

Connecting With Cousins Over Coffee #loveyourcup

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Nestle.

Even though we have been blogging about all the pumpkin recipes we have made and seasonal decorations in our home, it really hadn't felt like Fall in Miami until yesterday. When we woke up and went outside it was 85 degrees! It is hard to get into the holiday spirit when it is so warm outside, however, as the sun came down we started to feel a cool breeze in the air. Hallelujah! Finally! It was a perfect day to drink pumpkin flavored coffee outside! 




Cristy's cousin Elise had come over with her 3-month-old daughter Audrey for a doggy play date and Halloween photo shoot in the afternoon. We had an amazing time creating memories and just hanging out. Just when she was about to leave, we all looked at each other and thought the same thing: "It's really nice outside." She decided to stay and enjoy the cool breeze in our backyard. Michael brewed some coffee and we sat outside to connect with her as our chihuahua Joey and her yorkie Charlie continued to play on the grass and Audrey napped in her arms. 




Special moments require special touches, so we  added some Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice liquid creamer, whipped cream and cinnamon to our coffee. It was so delicious and comforting that we each had another cup. As one cup lead to the next, we sat and talked for what seemed like hours about our family, the dogs, her daughter, work, our blog, funny memories and more. It was nice to just sit back and relax at home with a cup of coffee without having anywhere to go or anything to do. We've been so busy lately that we haven't had time to enjoy our own yard. 


Earlier that day, we had taken some photos of Audrey in her Snow White costume in our front yard. We think she looks just like a princess with her fair skin and dark hair. She looked adorable. 


We think we'll make evening coffee breaks a tradition in our home starting this week. Even when it's not pumpkin season, Coffee-Mate as enough delicious flavors, such as peppermint, to keep us coming back for more! The pumpkin spice flavor would have been wonderful to have with our pumpkin bread. Perhaps we'll make some tonight!



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kids Halloween Celebration Ideas #SpookyCelebration

We are members of the Collective Bias Social Fabric community. We have been compensated to share our experience with you by Collective Bias and their client, Mars.

When we were kids, we always avoided the houses that gave away the cheap, fruity candy or the leftover pennies. Now that we are adults and have our own home, we want to make sure we aren't on the "do not trick-or-treat" list among the kids in our neighborhood. This year we made sure to stock up on the good stuff! We bought a massive bag of Mars mixed miniature candy that contains 230 pieces of Milky Way, Twix, 3 Musketeers and Snickers at Walmart. We may have gone a little overboard considering that last Halloween we only had about 10 spooky visitors. What to do with all that candy? Why make an ice cream candy pie of course! We will find any excuse to have a spooky Halloween celebration, so we invited our adorable little neighbors and our 6-month-old nephew Lucas over for some frightfully yummy snacks, including a poisoned Halloween punch made with Hawaiian Punch and 7UP. Our nephew Lucas is too young to enjoy the food and drinks, but his parents were more than willing to try them for him!

Here's how we made these Halloween recipes:




Ice Cream and Candy Pie

Ingredients:
24 chocolate sandwich cookies
4 tablespoons of melted butter
2 pints of vanilla ice cream
12 miniature Milky Way candies
12 miniature Twix candies
12 miniature 3 Musketeers candies
12 miniature Snickers candies
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar


Kitchen Essentials:
12-inch pie pan
Cooking spray (or more butter)
Microwave
Small bowl
Food processor
Mixing bowls
Cutting board
Knife
Spatula
Oven
Freezer
Stand mixer
Ice cream scoop
Piping bag
Piping tip (star shaped)

Prep:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the pan with butter or cooking spray.

Directions:
Begin by making the chocolate crust by melting half a stick of butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds. In the meantime, pulse the chocolate cookies in a food processor until they become crumbs. Mix the butter and the crumbs in a mixing bowl until all the crumbs become mushy. Transfer the mixture on to the pie pan and press down and around the sides with your clean hands, forming an even layer. Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes and cool completely before putting in the ice cream filling. That's the most Halloween baking you will do with this recipe!

Unwrap the chocolate candies and chop them as much as you like. We like to keep the chocolate pieces chunky. Reserve about a 1/4 of a cup of the candies to put on the top of the pie as garnish. Take the ice cream out of the freezer and allow it to soften a bit. In a large mixing bowl, place the chopped candy and the ice cream and mix with a spatula until fully incorporated. That's as easy as it gets for the filling. Pour it into the pie pan and sprinkle with more candy. Put in the freezer. Next, whip up the whipped cream and the powdered sugar in a stand mixture until soft peaks form. Take out the pie, put the whipped cream in a piping bag with a star piping tip in it and pipe away. Put the pie back in the freezer. We recommend leaving it in overnight.





Poisoned Halloween Punch

Ingredients:
4 cups of Hawaiian Punch (Fruit Juicy Red)
2 cups of pineapple juice
4 cups of 7up
1 pint of Rainbow sorbet (Lime, orange and strawberry flavors)

Kitchen Essentials:
Large punch bowl
Measuring cups
Ice cream scoop

Directions:
Measure out all of the liquids and pour into a punch bowl. Finish it off by adding as many scoops of sorbet as you like. Serve immediately.







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