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Festive Halloween Charcuterie

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 we’re always looking for ways to celebrate. I pulled together this easy, cheesy, festive Halloween charcuterie a few years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite posts.

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.

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 accouterments, 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. The 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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Decadent Grilled Cheese

dinnerparty_ppp_6

Is there anything better on a fall day than sitting down to nosh on 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. Meet the decadent grilled cheese.

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.

You can also cut these into quarters and serve them as an appetizer or finger food. How fun is that?!

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.

Decadent 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 Fall Dessert:: Pumpkin Cupcakes

_FRJ5082 This is the season of all things pumpkin. In fact, you’re probably seeing it everywhere right now, but the truth is, I love pumpkin. I also love cupcakes, and everyone loves butter. With that in mind, I love to whip up these pumpkin cupcakes each year.

These cupcakes are moist, rich, and decadent. The decadence comes from the thick, creamy brown butter frosting. Trust me, it’s as good as it sounds. ‘Tis the season to put pumpkin in and on everything. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll love these.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
You will need:
– 1 cup of sugar
– 1 stick butter softened
– 3 eggs, room temperature
– 1/2  teaspoon vanilla
– 1 1/2  cups flour
– 1/2  teaspoon baking powder
– ½ teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup milk
– 1 cup of pumpkin puree

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Fill two, 6-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, place butter and sugar and combine until creamy. Approx. 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture on low speed, finally add milk.

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, 3/4 way up the liner. Bake for 20 minutes until inserted knife comes out clean, cool for 30 minutes.

Brown Butter Frosting
You will need:
– 1 1/4 sticks butter
– 5 cups of powdered sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1/4 cup milk

To prepare:
Brown butter on medium heat until lightly toasted. Pour sugar, milk and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer. Turn the mixer on slow and add browned butter slowly until the frosting comes together.

*note this frosting has a tough consistency so you will need to apply to the cupcakes with a firm yet gentle touch.

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Fall is here, so soup is on!

veggiesoup

Hi All! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. While Annette has been enjoying gorgeous weather in Italy, I’ve been swealtering in Atlanta. However, this weekend, it finally took a slight, cooler turn, and I am officially ready for soup season. In my opinion, there is nothing better than preparing a big pot of soup, smelling it simmer, and enjoying it throughout the week.

Of course, when looking for a great fall soup, I turned to Annette’s archives. And of course, I found exactly what I was looking for: butternut squash soup.

 

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 8

You will need:

– 1 cup cubed butternut squash
– 1 cup rough chopped yellow onion
– 1 cup cubed carrots
– 1 cup cubed celery
– 1 cup cubed parsnips
– 1/2 cup cubed baby red potatoes
– 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
– 2 cups kale, shredded
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 15 oz can of white beans
– 1 quart organic vegetable stock
– salt and pepper

To prepare:

Peel and cube squash, onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, and red potato into 1-inch cubes.

Put the vegetables in a heavy cast iron pot, except the kale and white beans.

Saute all the vegetables in the olive oil until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent  (about 15 minutes). Then add the kale, beans and stock, and stir until blended.  Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Simmer on low heat for 1.5 hours.

To serve:

Serve this soup with crusty bread and a spinach, apple, walnut salad with blue cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette.  This perfect for a tummy-warming fall supper with family and friends!

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Apple Crisp

gluten free apple crisp

In honor of the first week of fall, how about another amazing autumnal recipe?! I love anything apple, and baked apples are my favorite this time of year because they’re in season, so why not use them as much as possible? This is an especially great dish if you’ve been apple picking and are not quite sure what to do with the abundance of apples. Make this apple crisp!

Full disclosure: I love this dish for breakfast with a frothy cappuccino. It’s simply YUMMY! Or serve it as an easy, quick, and great last-minute dessert with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream. Enjoy fall and enjoy the harvest!

Apple Crisp

You will need:

– 8 organic apples, cut into 2 “cubes
– 1 tablespoon flour
– 1 cup oatmeal
– 1 cup flour
– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
– 3/4 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for apples
– 1 stick chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut apples into cubes and place them into a bowl. Toss with the 1 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoons sugar, set aside.

In a bowl, combine the oats, remaining flour, butter, and salt with your fingers or a fork.  Combine the until it becomes a mixture of large crumbs.

Place the apples in a ceramic,10½” x 7″, baking dish and cover with oat crumb mixture. Place dish in the oven on the middle rack for 1- 1 1/2 hours, or until the top is golden brown and the apples are bubbling.

To serve:

Serve warm with ice cream or whip cream topping if desired.

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