Friday, October 29, 2010

Candy "Eyeballs"

It's been far too long since I made peanut butter balls (I think the last time I made them was Christmas! The very idea sends shivers down my spine!) So when I saw the idea for peanut butter eyeballs on I was so excited to break out the jar of peanut butter and make little eyeballs for work. I'm actually not very "into" Halloween to be honest. The only thing that appeals to me are the cute treats that I get to make. But besides that, my husband and I really don't do anything to celebrate. Not to mention we live in a very rural area and haven't gotten a trick or treater, well, ever.

But everyone at work certainly appreciates my treats so I knew they'd get a kick out of these little eye balls. And not only did I make Peanut butter eyeballs, but cake eyeballs as well! These went over so well. Not only did they taste great, everyone thought they were hysterical! These would be so great for a kid OR Adult Halloween party!

Happy Halloween!

Oh yeah - and since I probably won't be posting on Sunday, happy 2 year bloggiversary to Le Petit Pierogi! Thanks to everyone who still reads, despite the fact that I don't get to post as often as I'd like to anymore!!!

Peanut Butter Eyeballs

Adapted from

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 lb confectioners sugar
White candy melts
Aprox 1 tbsp. shortening

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add peanut butter and stir until mixture is very smooth. Add vanilla. Slowly stir in confectioners sugar until desired consistancy is reached. When mixture is cooled, form into balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in refrigerator at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile over a double boiler, melt white chocolate candy melts with a small dollop of shortening and stir until white chocolate is melted. Dip peanut butter balls in chocolate and place back on cookie sheet. To make the "iris" and "pupil," add some white chocolate into small, separate bowls. Add a bit of gel food coloring (in desired color) to the white chocolate and stir to combine. With a small paintbrush, glob on colored white chocolate to complete the "eye!"

Cake Eyeballs

Cakeball Recipe from Bakerella

1 box cake mix
1 can frosting
white chocolate candy melts
1 tbsp shortening

Cook cake according to package directions in a 13 x 9 pan. After the cake is done baking, allow it to cool completely. Then crumble it into a large bowl (I use my kitchen aid stand mixer - it makes combining the cake and frosting SO much easier). Add the entire can of frosting and stir by hand, or using the paddle attachment of you mixer. Form into balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and cool in the refrigerator. Meanwhile over a double boiler, melt white chocolate candy melts with a small dollop of shortening and stir until white chocolate is melted. Dip peanut butter balls in chocolate and place back on cookie sheet. To make the "iris" and "pupil," add some white chocolate into small, separate bowls. Add a bit of gel food coloring (in desired color) to the white chocolate and stir to combine. With a small paintbrush, glob on colored white chocolate to complete the "eye!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spooky Sugar Cookies

I made these cute little cookies in honor of Halloween. They are simply sugar cookies (my favorite recipe) cut with a round biscuit cutter, and iced in royal icing. Making black icing is a bit tough (because you have to use so much coloring) so a tip I learned is to first 'dye' your icing with cocoa powder. Then add in as much black gel food color as you need.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Grandma's Molasses Cookies

First let me preface this by saying this is not my grandma's recipe. I have no idea who's grandma's recipe this is to be honest. I found this recipe in a local church cookbook that my mom gave me, and all this recipe said was "Grandma's Molasses Cookies." This is just a simple cookbook, so there were no photos or descriptions. Just a compilation of some good ole' tried and true recipes.

I have to admit, halfway during the mixing process I had serious trepidations about the recipe. When you add the water to the batter, everything just starts looking weird. The shortening separates from everything else and it just looks, well, not normal. But I kept on with the recipe because I was sure that grandma wouldn't steer me wrong.

And I was right! These cookies came out great! They were wonderfully spiced, big, thick, soft cookies. My husband and I really enjoyed these - and they'd be great on a Christmas cookie tray!

Source: Local Church Cookbook

1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup molasses
1 cup cold water
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt
5 cups flour

Cream sugar and shortening together. Add eggs, molasses, baking soda and water (this is when the mixture got weird). Mix together. Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and flour and mix. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicken Noodle Casserole

I decided to make this for dinner last week because my husband had a cold. You know, the change of weather sniffles, sneezing, sore throat, etc. Don't worry, he's doing better now. Maybe it was this casserole that helped him out!

This was a really comforting meal that tasted like chicken noodle soup in a casserole! It was easy to make with ingredients that you probably have on hand. Although my husband said he couldn't really taste it (poor thing!) he said he liked the texture. But I'll vouch on the taste - it was great!


2/3 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried savory
3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
8 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked and drained
1/2 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers (I added this)


In a large nonstick skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add chicken; cook and stir until no longer pink. (I cooked the chicken first, then added the onions and garlic). Add the broth, carrots, celery and savory. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in cheese until melted. Pour over chicken mixture. Add noodles; mix well.

Transfer to a 3-qt. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle crushed crackers over entire casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Caramel Apples

Back in high school my two worst subjects were math and science. But today we're going to talk about science. Not like I hated it (math was far worse), but all those symbols and equations and was just too complicated for me.

But as I age, I'm finding that I love making things that are, well, science-ey (Don't worry, I was an English major in college so I'm allowed to make up words). I love when one thing transforms into another, I LOVE my candy thermometer, and I love making big sticky messes. And since I have an influx of apples from the orchard, I decided to make caramel apples for my coworkers (and myself. And my husband.)

These came out SO cute! I loved making the caramel and decorating the sweet little apples. Some toppings I did were: Chocolate, Chocolate with Peanuts, Toffee bits, Halloween Sprinkles, and pecans (my personal favorite is the chocolate with peanuts)! These are impressive, adorable and a huge hit with kids and adults alike!!!

Source: Martha Stewart

1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 to 12 small apples, stems removed (I only got 9-10 out of the recipe)
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
Round wooden skewers


Heat sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until butter has melted. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan, and continue to cook until mixture reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and coat with cooking spray. Insert a skewer into stem end of each apple. Dip apples in caramel, and place on sheet. Let stand until set, at least 1 hour. Apples can be stored airtight for up to 1 day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Veal Patties with Chives

The other day when I was at the store and ground veal was on sale, so I picked up a pound. Then I got home and I realized I had no idea what to make with it.

So I searched online a bit and found this recipe which I thought looked pretty interesting. So I decided to give it a whirl, with some changes of course (aka did NOT use mushrooms)!

My husband and I both had the same word to describe this meal - different. Not BAD different- just different! We both really enjoyed it very much and it was a great diversion from the normal chicken or beef dinner.
Adapted from, originally from Gourmet, February 2006

2 slices firm white sandwich bread, coarsely crumbled
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 1/4 lb ground veal
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs - not seasoned (I used Panko Breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and cut into sixths (I omitted)


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200°F.

Soak bread in cream in a large bowl 5 minutes. Stir in egg, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon chives until blended well. Add veal and mix with your hands until combined well. Form veal mixture into 4 (4-inch) patties. Spread dry bread crumbs on a sheet of wax paper and coat patties all over.

Heat oil with 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then cook patties, carefully turning over once, until golden brown, firm to the touch, and thermometer inserted into center of each registers 148°F, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer patties to an ovenproof platter and keep warm, covered with foil, in oven. Do not clean skillet.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté mushrooms (I actually used onions), stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons chives and salt and pepper to taste. (I also added 2-3 tablespoons of cream to thicken it up a bit.)

Serve veal patties topped with mushrooms (or onions!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Minestrone Soup

Since the weather started cooling off, I've been in the mood for SOUP. Every lunch and dinner, all I want is soup, soup and more soup.

Minestrone has always been a favorite of mine, but I've never made it! I finally decided it was high time that I did.

So on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I made a batch of this for work day lunches. It is SO delicious and I know that it freezes beautifully. Make a few batches for your fridge, and then put a few more in your freezer. To thaw from your freezer, just put on your countertop overnight. In the morning, just put it in your refrigerator to store until you are ready to heat it up. This soup is hearty, flavorful and just so comforting.

So get yourself a slice of fresh Italian bread and a bowl of this hot soup and watch the bright red-orange leaves float to the ground outside your window.


Adapted from, originally from Gourmet Magazine, March 1993

1/2 pound (about 1 1/4 cups) dried white beans such as Great Northern, picked over and rinsed 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound pancetta (Italian cured pork belly, available at Italian markets and specialty foods shops) or sliced lean bacon, chopped (I used bacon)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 rib of celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice (I used one very large zucchini)
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound boiling potatoes
4 cups shredded green cabbage (preferably Savoy) (I omitted)
1/2 pound kale, rinsed, drained, stems discarded, and the leaves chopped (about 6 cups)
a 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped coarse and drained well
4 1/2 cups chicken broth (preferably low-salt)
2-3 springs rosemary, chopped (I added this)
2-3 springs thyme, chopped (I added this)


In a large bowl let the white beans soak in enough water to cover them by 2 inches overnight or quick-soak them. Drain the white beans, in a saucepan combine them with enough water to cover them by 2 inches, and simmer them, uncovered, adding more water if necessary to keep them barely covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are tender. Add the salt and simmer the white beans for 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the white beans stand, uncovered.

In a heavy kettle cook the pancetta in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and pale golden, add the onion, and cook the mixture, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the carrots, the celery, and the garlic and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, the green beans, and the potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the cabbage, kale, rosemary and thyme and cook the mixture, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted. Add the tomatoes and the broth and simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour.

Drain the white beans, reserving the liquid, in a blender or food processor purée half of them with 1 cup of the reserved liquid, and stir the purée and the remaining white beans into the soup. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for 15 minutes, thin it if desired with some of the remaining reserve liquid, and season it with salt and pepper. The soup may be made 3 days in advance and kept covered and chilled, or frozen. Reheat the soup, thinning it with water as desired.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Caramel Corn

When I first told my husband I was making this he gave me a weird look. I asked him if he liked caramel corn and he replied "not really." I gave him a surprised look and asked why, if he like caramel, and popcorn, he didn't like caramel corn? And he just shrugged.

Well, never mind him, I thought it would be fun to make.

After it was finished, I made him try a piece. Then he asked if he could have another. Then he asked if he could have a bowl. Success! My husband is now a caramel corn convert.

I do have to warn you though - this stuff is SERIOUSLY addicting. You simply cannot have just one piece. I daresay it's worse than potato chips. Something about the sweet salty crunch just makes you want to have it more and more (and more). Enjoy!


Source: Christie's Corner

1 cup popcorn unpopped (makes enough to fill a Dutch over or about 6 quarts)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 250F.

Pop popcorn using your preferred method (I just popped it with a little oil in my dutch oven over medium heat). Place popped corn in a very large bowl. If you don’t have a big enough bowl, use two bowls. You will need lots of room to toss the corn when coating it.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the sugar mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes without stirring.

Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will foam and become frothy.

Pour the caramel sauce over the popped corn and toss to coat thoroughly. Don’t worry about clumps as the caramel will turn much more spreadable while cooking and the coating can be evened out.

Spread the popcorn evenly onto 2 large cookie or baking sheets lined with foil and sprayed with non stick spray. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, tossing every 10-20 minutes or so.

This makes for a lovely gift bag for Halloween parties, Office parties, or even for your trick - or - treaters. Simply put in a cellophane bags and add a bit of candy corn and some M & M's. Everyone will love this sweet little treat!


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