October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Pina Colada

I got to sample this cocktail at Kitchen Conservatory last night and thought is was a genius idea...refreshing & fruity yet seasonally festive, something a bit different for the holiday season. This was so good that I'll I'm thinking of making a few for an upcoming backyard bonfire. Kudos to Barb Nack, who served this drink in her Girls' Night Out class.

Pumpkin Spice Pina Colada

Kelly's note: I reduced the ice by half for each drink. If you like an icier beverage, use a full cup of cubes.

For each drink:

2 ounces Coco Lopez cream of coconut
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce spiced rum
1/2 cup of ice
dash of pumpkin pie spice, for garnish (recipe below)
cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Mix all ingredients, except the pumpkin pie spice & cinnamon stick, in a blender and whiz until smooth. Pour into a glass, add a cinnamon stick & sprinkle with a pinch or two of pumpkin pie spice.

If you stir the drink gently with the cinnamon stick, you'll create a spicy swirl. Yum.

For the pumpkin pie spice:

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Stir to blend in a small bowl.

October 13, 2012

Halloween Menu Ideas

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Or...at least it used to be. I think I've gotten to the point that I've out-grown it. I used to throw pretty wild "Tarts & Vicars" costume parties, but some resulting drama put an end to that years ago. Plus, I don't have kids to dress up and trick-or-treat with. In fact, I've begun to loathe trick-or-treaters around here...it's usually just a bunch of teenagers sans costumes. I'm now the grumpy old lady who keeps her porch light off and her curtains shut.

This year, I'm hosting a two-person dinner party and monster movie marathon. I'm planning a simple supper: black & orange cheese and fruit platter, green curry, and caramel popcorn.

In thinking about my Halloween menu, I wanted something sophisticated but easy, festive but not childish. As a result of my research, I started a list of grown-up party menus. Then, I asked a couple of my favorite foodie/blogger friends to contribute a round-up of recipes. Here's what we came up with...

Black & Orange Cocktail Party:

The "sinister spread" from Martha Stewart
Black velvet cocktail
Blood orange margarita
Candy corn vodka martini

Black & blue cheese log 
Black olive tapenade with orange & white crudite (endive, fennel, cauliflower, daikon radish, jicama, orange bell pepper, baby carrots)
Deviled eggs with pimento cheese & smoked paprika 
Poppy seed & cheddar cheese ball
Roasted carrot dip
Roasted sweet potato slices topped with black bean hummus

Chocolate caramel marshmallow pops
Chocolate cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting
Chocolate pumpkin pie bars

It's all about the Boos!
Festive cocktails complied by Ruth Sparrow

 Ghostly spirits from BHG

Monster Movie Marathon Munchies:

Zombirella's Frankencake
"Death in the Afternoon" cocktail 
Caramel apple martini
Green olive tapenade with crackers
Garlicky kale salad
Ricotta & chive gnocchi with kale pesto
Grasshopper macarons
(And LOOK...a whole menu inspired by The Bride of Frankenstein!)

Pumpkin Feast:

Nigel Slater's hot, sweet baked pumpkin

Pumpkin juice (recipe below)  
Pumpkin hummus with pita chips
Grilled salmon (or chicken or pork) with pumpkin-molasses barbeque sauce 
Pumpkin & red lentil soup
Pumpkin-pecan pie

Day of the Dead Dinner:

 Sugar skull sugar cookies from Sugarbelle

Pan de muerto (bread of the dead)
Dulce de Calabaza (candied pumpkin)

Autumnal Desserts:

Candied apples from Just a Taste

Bourbon sweet potato cupcakes
French pear tart
Maple cake with maple syrup frosting
Mini cranberry meringue pies 
Pumpkin muffins
Salted caramel sauce
S'mores with maple-bacon marshmallows & dark chocolate
S'more shooters
Spiced apple sorbet

Black & White Bash
 compiled by Laura of Food Snob STL

 Black and white cookies from Smitten Kitchen


Pumpkin Juice
inspired by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series

2 quarts apple juice, divided
1 piece fresh ginger (about 2-inches), sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 28-oz. can pumpkin puree
bourbon or spiced rum, optional
  • Pour 3 cups of the apple juice into a saucepan; add the ginger slices, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add the honey and brown sugar, and stir to dissolve.
  • Add the pumpkin puree & remaining apple juice. Refrigerate the mixture until well-chilled.
  • To serve an adult beverage, add a shot of bourbon or spiced rum to a glass of ice. Fill with the pumpkin juice.
Note: If the mixture is too thick for your liking, strain it through a mesh-strainer before serving.