10 October


Ghost Peeps Cupcakes

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October 31:Halloween

Get into the Halloween a”spirit” and decorate devil’s food cupcakes with marshmallow ghost Peeps and pumpkin candies. They are a simple, cute and quick treat to make with the kids and they sure beat store-bought desserts. Plain cupcakes can be transformed from boring to “boo-tiful” and can be a festive food for Halloween.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Devil’s food cupcakes (or other favorite flavor)
  • Chocolate frosting (canned or homemade)
  • Marshmallow Peeps ghosts
  • Pumpkin candies (Brach’s brand)

Directions

Bake cupcakes according to the package directions. Cool completely. Spread or pipe frosting on the cupcakes.

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Separate the marshmallow Peeps ghosts in the package by cutting between them. Stick a toothpick on the bottom of the Peeps ghost. Insert into the top of a cupcake. Finish decorating by placing a pumpkin candy next to it.

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Notes

  • Change the cupcake paper colors to orange, purple, green or other Halloween liners.
  • Vanilla can be substituted for the chocolate frosting.
  • Search our blog for other Halloween recipes.

 

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

In Hawaii during fall and Thanksgiving, pumpkin crunch cake is the most-searched recipe on the Internet. As an alternative to pumpkin pie, this dessert holds up well in a tropical climate, can serve lots of local people, is relatively easy to prepare and complements the other ethnic dishes served at potlucks. We have made pumpkin crunch cake for autumn-themed parties and Thanksgiving get-togethers on the mainland and it is a crowd-pleaser. This favorite fall dessert is especially perfect for celebrating National Pumpkin Day!

Recipe

(From Phyllis S.)

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and lightly cooled
  • whipped cream (optional frosting)

Directions

Line the bottom of a 9×13” pan with waxed paper. Mist the bottom and sides with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the canned pumpkin and canned evaporated milk. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt.

Mix in the pumpkin pie spice. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the yellow cake mix evenly over the entire top of the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Pour the melted/cooled butter all over the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (test the cake for doneness with a toothpick). Cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate to set. Invert the pumpkin crunch on a tray and cut into squares. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (optional).

Notes

  • Smother whipped cream on the cooled cake as a frosting before serving.
  • For potlucks, we omit the whipped cream, cut the cake into 48 pieces and place them in cupcake papers for easy self-serve.
  • Thanks to our friend, Phyllis S., a Hawaii expatriate now living in Texas, for sharing this recipe with us. She served pumpkin crunch cake when she and her husband Pat S. entertained us and other people at their home and it was nostalgic for the locals!
  • Search our blog for other fall favorite foods or pumpkin recipes.

 

Queen Elizabeth’s Drop Scones

October 12, 2018: The Royal Wedding Day of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank

Those who live on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean and are planning to follow the second British royal wedding of the year must wake up really early to watch any news reports due to time differences. A simple British-inspired breakfast with tea and scones would make still-sleepy fans rise and shine for the celebration of marriage between Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank (a low-key event compared to her cousin Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on May 19).

We have made many royal recipes for our blog before and are now including Queen Elizabeth’s own drop scones for this occasion. Also known as Scotch pancakes (which are basically like American-style “silver dollars”), Her Majesty served these to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower when he visited her at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in 1959. Her old family recipe is included in the National Archives.

Drop scones/Scotch pancakes/silver dollars are a perfect option for celebrating the royal wedding early in the morning or for a tea time breakfast or brunch. Congratulations to Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank on their wedding day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Town and Country magazine)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (superfine preferred)
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (we used European/Irish style unsalted butter)

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add half the milk. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.

Mix in the remaining milk and melted butter. Drop by tablespoonsful on a greased griddle/skillet/pan on medium high heat. Do not overcrowd the pan if cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flip the scone on the other side when bubbles appear. Cook until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm with jam, jelly, clotted cream, butter or syrup.

Notes

  • Queen Elizabeth’s original recipe uses teacups for measurements. We have converted them to modern cup measurements above.
  • Search our blog for other royal recipes filed under the British/English/Tea Time section of our Theme Menus.

Homemade Chocolate Candy Bars

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October 28: National Chocolate Day

Giving out free candy on Halloween isn’t exactly cheap. So it is quite understandable that some people opt to buy the generic brands or bulk variety packages of assorted candies to distribute to trick-or-treaters on Fright Night. Yet somehow the neighborhood children still seem to know which homes hand out their favorite candies! We were thought to be the one of the houses that gives out the good stuff! But there is an ulterior motive—if we still have candies left over, we eat them ourselves! So we buy what we like and they are usually the miniature chocolate candy bars (Hershey’s Special Dark, Mr. Goodbar and Krackel*).

With special candy molds, chocolate bars can be made at home very easily. Just melt the chocolate in a bowl, stir in rice cereal or nuts, place in the molds and let set. We replicated the recipes for Nestle Crunch and Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar for a homemade treat that is terrific on National Chocolate Day, on Halloween and whenever one wants to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Recipe

For the Crunch chocolate bar

  • Chocolate chips or wafers (we used Ghirardelli dark chocolate melting wafers)
  • Rice cereal

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a bowl (in a microwave or over a double boiler), according to the directions on the package. Stir in the rice cereal and coat with chocolate.

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Spoon the mixture into the wells of a chocolate bar mold. Tap the mold on the counter to even out the surface. Place in the refrigerator until firm. Unmold onto a paper towel. Serve the rice cereal chocolate bar at a cool temperature.

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For the Mr. Goodbar chocolate candy

  • Chocolate chips or wafers (we used Nestle Toll House milk chocolate chip morsels)
  • Roasted peanuts, chopped

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a bowl (in a microwave or over a double boiler), according to the directions on the package. Stir in the chopped peanuts and coat with chocolate.

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Spoon the mixture into the wells of a chocolate bar mold. Tap the mold on the counter to even out the surface. Place in the refrigerator until firm. Unmold onto a paper towel. Serve the peanut-covered chocolate bar at a cool temperature.

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Notes

  • The equivalent of Hershey’s Krackel is Nestle’s Crunch chocolate bar.
  • We also like M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, KitKat bars and other candies that do not stick to our teeth (sorry, caramel, gummies and chewy nougat).
  • We make homemade chocolate candy bars for ourselves and do not give open/unwrapped candies out on Halloween to trick-or-treaters for safety and sanitary reasons.
  • Purchase candy bar molds from a local hobby and craft shop or cake decorating supply store.
  • Substitute real chocolate for chocolate-flavored confectioner’s wafers, like Wilton’s Candy Melts.
  • There are several “chocolate holidays” throughout the year. Search our blog for other chocolate recipes.

 

Brisket Soft Tacos

October 3: National Soft Taco Day

Just one day before National Taco Day, National SOFT Taco Day is observed as a food holiday. Highlander prefers the latter but Islander likes her tacos crispy. Tacos are a versatile dish. The filling could be beef, pork, chicken or seafood and the shells could be soft (flour or corn tortilla) or crispy. Toppings could include cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, avocados, jalapenos, sour cream and salsa.

For this particular post, we used soft low-carb flour tortilla shells in which to wrap the meat filling and toppings. We used leftover shredded beef brisket made from our slow cooker (it yielded a lot of meat for just the two of us). And we filled it with toppings as colorful as the Mexican blanket in the final food photo above.

Switch up the tortillas for tacos today and go specifically for the soft shells on National Soft Taco Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • SOFT tortillas (flour, corn or a combination of both)
  • Shredded beef brisket (or other meat or seafood of your choice)
  • Shredded cheese (we used a Mexican blend of cheeses)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped cilantro leaves
  • Salsa or taco sauce
  • Lime wedges or slices (optional)

Directions

Warm the soft tortillas in a skillet or microwave according to the package directions to make them warm and more pliable. Lay a soft tortilla on a plate. Place hot shredded beef brisket on top. Layer with cheese on the hot brisket (it will melt slightly to bind the meat together).

Sprinkle with shredded lettuce. Top with tomatoes, onions, cilantro leaves and salsa or taco sauce. Roll and secure with toothpicks. Serve with lime wedges or slice to squeeze the juice to flavor the filling in the soft tacos (optional).

Notes

  • National Soft Taco Day on October 2 falls near the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month.  This month is a great opportunity to try some of the Latin American recipes posted under the Theme Menus on our blog.
  • Cook crispy tacos tomorrow for National Taco Day on October 3.

 

Sinigang na Baboy

(Filipino Tamarind Pork Ribs Soup)

October 2: World Farm Animals Day

Islander’s grandma had a farm. E I E I O! And on that farm, she had some poultry and pigs. E I E I O!

When Islander’s family visited the Philippines occasionally during her youth, her late maternal grandmother lived on a farm (now inhabited by her relatives). When her parents went to market, to market (not to buy a fat big or hog, because there were at least two already on grandma’s farm), Islander and her brother would help her with the chores. City slickers/suburbanites that they are, feeding the chickens and pigs did not seem to be such an unpleasant task. They once ventured beyond the boundaries of the farm and into the rice paddy and were frightened by a huge carabao (water buffalo)—and the “chicken” siblings quickly ran back to the chickens!

Islander’s late paternal apong (grandmother) also lived on a property with chickens and goats. Islander was always annoyed when the rooster crowed at the crack of dawn, interrupting her beauty sleep—definitely not a morning person!

Both grandmas would serve us chicken and pork dishes with the staple rice and we often wondered if one of their farm animals sacrificed their lives so that the family could be fed. We only knew of the chicken’s fate from its crazy-then-silent clucks. Chop, chop! But pork pieces were purchased by the parents when they went to market, to market after all!

In observation of World Farm Animals Day, we made a classic Filipino tamarind soup with pork ribs. Sinigang na Baboy is one of the many dishes that reminds us of our time spent in the Philippines with our beloved grandmothers.

Recipe

(Adapted from Filipino Village)

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1 ½ pound pork ribs, individually sliced
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 packet sinigang mix
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 tomatoes, diced
  • bunch of spinach leaves, baby bok choy or other green vegetables

Directions

In a large pot, boil the ribs in water then simmer for about 1-2 hours to tenderize the meat. Skim off the scum. Mix in the sinigang packet. Chop the onion and dice the tomatoes.

Stir in the onions and tomatoes and cook for 15 more minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the green vegetables. Serve hot with rice.

Notes

  • We usually add only half the packet of the sinigang mix as tamarind tastes too sour for us.
  • Search our blog for other Filipino food recipes.

 

Kālua Pua’a

(Hawaiian Pulled Pork)

October: National Pork Month

Let’s luau, everyone! Whenever we have get-togethers with ‘ohana (family) and friends and need to feed the crowd, we make kālua pua’a (Hawaiian-style pulled pork). Pigs represent a “bounty of blessings” at a buffet because the animal is big and can feed plenty of people, so they are served at many huge celebrations around the world.

In Hawaii, traditionally (and touristically), kālua pig is prepared in an imu, a type of underground oven. A pit is dug in the earth and heated with rocks from fire using sandalwood/mesquite. Meat simply seasoned with sea salt is wrapped in taro or banana leaves and placed in the pit. Then it is buried in a layer of sand or soil and left to cook-steam for several hours until the meat is tender, smoky and juicy. Mmmmm…’ono!

Obviously, it is impractical for us to build an imu without ample space, fire-safe facilities and permission from the strict homeowners’ association to do it in our backyard. A crockpot has become a handy and convenient substitute to cook kālua pig at home for a smaller group. We take a piece of pork shoulder/butt, rub Hawaiian sea salt all over it, place it in a crockpot with liquid smoke flavoring and leave it to cook slowly for several hours. It is so easy to “fix it and forget it”—and the result is tender, smoky pulled pork that tastes almost like the ones served at luaus.

Cook kālua pua’a in a crockpot for a little luau and celebrate National Pork Month. Aloha!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5-7 lbs. pork butt or shoulder (boneless)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt (or coarse salt)
  • 2-4 tablespoons liquid smoke (depending on taste)

Directions

Line crockpot with slow cooker bags for easy cleanup (see Notes). Rinse the pork in water and pat dry. Cut slits in the pork (or pierce with the tines of a fork) then rub the sea salt and liquid smoke all over.

Place in a slow cooker/crockpot. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender all the way to the center. Shred with fork. Drain off some of the fat and liquid and serve over rice or between slices of Hawaiian bread.

Notes

  • Lining the bottom of the crockpot with clean banana leaves will impart a nice tropical flavor, too.
  • Adding more liquid smoke to the recipe depends on one’s preference for a smokier flavor.
  • Instead of kālua pig at parties, we sometimes serve a whole roast pig.
  • Our Texas friends like to add barbecue sauce on our Hawaiian pulled pork for a Southern-style sandwich (served on Hawaiian sweet bread/buns).
  • Saute some sliced onions and chopped cabbage with leftover kālua pig and serve with steamed white rice for a filling meal.
  • Search our Theme Menus for more Hawaiian and local recipes.

 

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