Tag Archives: halloween

Comfort Food:: Fancy Fall Grilled Cheese

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Is there anything better on a fall day than sitting down to nosh on a grilled cheese? Honestly, I’m not sure there is. Grilled cheese is one of those comfort foods that is always good, but it can be made even better if you gather top notch ingredients. I like to use unexpected cheese and unique condiments. Oh, and bacon…because everything is better with bacon.

This sandwich would be perfect with a bowl of soup or chili on a crisp fall day. If you have guests over, set-up a station allowing them to create their own sandwiches mixing and matching ingredients while you man the grilling station. Interactive foods are always so much fun for a party.

This recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and the photo on this post is from a fabulous party that Design Sponge threw a few years ago using Picture Perfect Parties as a guide. Head over there even more recipes and a complete guide to throwing an easy Halloween soiree.

Grilled Cheese with Brie, Crispy Bacon, and Apricot Jam
serves 6

You will need:
– 1 loaf challah bread
– 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
– 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
– 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
– 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich

To prepare:

Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut sandwiches into quarters.

Serve at room temperature.

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Easy Halloween Decor:: Creepy Cloche

IMG_9418 copy Having a little Halloween around the house is always super fun, and it doesn’t have to be just for the kids. Adults can get in on the Halloween action, too. The best part is that making a big Halloween impact doesn’t have to come with a big decorating budget.

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Here’s a quick, easy, and budget-friendly idea: create a creepy cloche. Your local craft store is probably filled with all sorts of items just waiting to be used. I found these awesome neutral skulls hanging out with the Halloween decor at my favorite place – Michaels. My love affair with all things natural made me think these could be perfect stacked up in a cloche. After all, it’s always good to think outside the box…or in this case, inside the cloche.

This little project is a pinch scary and a lot Halloween-y without being overkill. Simply gather all of your skulls in a cloche; it’s that easy!

How are you decorating this Halloween?

xx Annette

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Balsamic Vinegar, Halloween Treats and More: It’s the top 4

4 for October

October’s blog posts have been all about embracing the fall season. I’ve shared some of my favorite fall recipes, some of which are perfect for Halloween.

As you’re reading this, there’s a chance I’m either on a plane, or already in Italy for our next workshop. I am excited to get back and see the progress. Be sure to stay tuned for renovation updates as well as all the details on our very first olive workshop. Follow along on Instagram for the scoop. I cannot wait to meet all of our attendees and enjoy all things olives. It’s going to be a great workshop.

Top 4 for October:

A Special Place for Balsamic Vinegar

Fall Side Dishes

Scary Good Halloween Cocktail

Decadent Demonic Dessert

xx Annette

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Spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween

SpookyCharcuterie4 I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches' fingers.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am taking over the blog today to bring you a spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween. Annette and I both love Halloween, and every year, I am lucky enough to get to put together a festive post for the blog. You might remember my skull floral arrangement from last year (and if you missed it, go check it out!). Basically, I love any excuse to get a little creative in October.

One of the things that I enjoy doing every year is hosting my friends for a Halloween gathering. My birthday is just two days before Halloween, so it’s perfect timing for a soiree. Here’s the thing about my friends: every party we have, big or small, involves a charcuterie of some sort, and with Halloween right around the corner, I decided to put an eerie twist on this classic appetizer.

Over the years, Annette has done some pretty phenomenal charcuterie spreads, and she even has a step-by-step guide to creating one yourself. I used her post as a starting point for my grocery shopping. It was so nice to be able to make a shopping list directly from her post.

SpookyCharcuterie1 The "cauldrons" are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the "witches broom" breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

To add a spooky spin, I picked up a few treats from World Market. When I saw this piece of slate, I knew it would be the perfect creepy base for my meats and cheeses. From there, I settled on a copper, chrome, and black color scheme. I grabbed a few tiny bamboo utensils because they reminded me of bones. I also picked up a few Halloween-inspired containers to hold all of the goodies, and a few little decorative pieces like the skull, rat, and tiny spiders to add some pizzazz.

One pro tip is to make sure that you get food-safe containers for your own spooky charcuterie spread. The “cauldrons” are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the “witches broom” breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

SpookyCharcuterie3 The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party!

As I shopped for remaining accoutrements, I kept the Halloween theme in mind. I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches’ fingers. I added dried apricots (a tip from Annette’s post) because they are a lovely shade of orange. I decided on prosciutto because it’s so fatty and veiny.

The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party! If you really want to carry the theme throughout, add some festive bottles of red wine. Prisoner is one of my favorites and quite on-theme, too!

Thanks for having me, Annette, and Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!

xo, Nicole

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A Decadent Demonic Dessert

My Devil's Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They're a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s so festive and fun, and it’s essentially the start of the holiday season. There’s so much fun to look forward to from now on.

My Devil’s Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They’re a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Devil’s Food Cake is an alternative to a basic chocolate cake that is absolutely delicious. Get kids involved by encouraging them to add cute toppers like gummy worms or tombstones made with cookies. Halloween cupcake wrappers make them extra fun for kids of all ages.

A few years ago, Design Sponge used the recipe for a full-blown Halloween shin dig, and it turned out so cute.

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Find this recipe and other fabulous party ideas in my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

Devils Food Cup Cakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

You will need:

For the cupcakes:
– ½ cup water
– 1 cup high quality cocoa powder
– 3 sticks butter softened (1 ½ cups)
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 eggs beaten
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– ¼ cup canola oil
– 1 cup sour cream
– 3 cups all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Frosting:
– 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 7 tablespoons high quality cocoa
– 1 stick of butter softened
– 6 tablespoons evaporated milk

Cake Preparation:

In the microwave, place water, then place cocoa powder in hot water, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle blade place butter and sugar combine until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, add vanilla and oil and sour cream add cocoa mixture, beat on medium speed until combined.

In a bowl mix flour and baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture on slow speed until combined, and add chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin tins, lined with cupcake liners fill liner until ¾ full. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until a pick is inserted and comes out clean. Cool and then frost.

Frosting Preparation:

Sift sugar and cocoa together in a bowl set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter, add sugar cocoa mixture slowly to the butter alternately with the evaporated milk, until fluffy.

xx, Annette

Photos via Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn & Design Sponge

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