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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Flavors of Halloween: Favorite Spice Cookies

I love Halloween. It combines two things I love to indulge in: Chocolate and Horror!

I love scary movies and have definitely seen a ton of them this October. So far the leading film was Grindhouse by Tarantino which was surprisingly good! The worst so far has been Flight of the Living Dead (zombies on a plane)... not good.

I love to get into the spirit of things, and this is the first year I decided to share my love for gore with my current coworkers.





There's nothing like a little blood to liven up your day! Ok. ok. This is a foodie blog so let's talk about FOOD.


At my previous place of employment (a few years ago), we always had a Halloween potluck. There was a particular recipe that was always brought in and I just loved the combination - a molassses style spice cookie with a pumpkin dip! I eventually asked for the recipe and saved it in an e-mail backup somewhere, but this year I did an online search to see if I could find that recipe. It's a perfect Halloween treat - bright orange dipping sauce with a chewy brown cookie rolled in sugar.



Here's the recipe so you can try it for yourself:

Spice Cookies with Pumpkin Dip
(as seen on http://www.gardenguides.com/ and many other websites)


1 1/2 cups softened butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon each ground ginger and clove
1 teaspoon salt Additional sugar


Pumpkin Dip

8-ounce package softened cream cheese
18-ounce pumpkin pie mix
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add molasses; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Chill overnight. Shape into 1/2 inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

For dip, beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add pumpkin pie mix; beat well. Add sugar, cinnamon and ginger; beat until smooth. Serve with cookies. Store leftover dip in the refrigerator.
Yield: about 20 dozen (3 cups dip).


They aren't kidding with beating the softened cream cheese - I just mashed it around with a spoon and I had some lumps. Tasted great and made more than enough, though! Although the recipe said to chill overnight, I didn't get around to it so I mixed the dough in the morning. About 4 hours later I started baking and chilled the dough in between batches (it does make a difference), and they turned out just fine. It was an easy recipe to make while my friend Meredith and I carved our jack-o-lanterns and watched cheesy horror films. The house filled up with the smell of cinnamon and cloves as they baked. Yum!


Have a Happy Halloween!



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When you don't know where to start ...

Go back to the beginning.

--- A quote from a great Yooper movie, Escanaba in da Moonlight.

Hi, I am Anne. I've always enjoyed cooking and crafting since a kid, as my mom raised me to be a replica of her. I was told over and over "We are good cooks" and eventually you believe it. Whether or not that's true, doesn't change the fact that I love it, especially trying new recipes, wow-ing people with presentations and creativity... eventually it became a passion. I also love to document all my creations, and those that I sample of others!

This blog is designed to help me organize culinary and craft experiences. I plan to archive old pictures from the past as well as sprinkle in new adventures from present times. I'll mix in some restaurant reviews from travels near and far, and add in notes about some non-culinary crafts from time to time. Combine all that with the goal to improve my photography skills and exercise my web page authoring expertise, and voila --- that is the recipe for this blog. Bon Appetit.

Since I didn't comprehend the idea of Kitchen Bliss until now, many older experiences that I will document may not have exact recipes or great looking pictures. However, a major step toward today was the first ever Cooking Club with Andrea and Kristiana. We made homemade eggrolls, egg drop soup, and from the looks of the pictures -- some kind of stir fry. This was back in 02/2004, and when we consider the Cooking Club to have been founded.




Alas, Andrea went to Germany for school and schedules were busy -- Cooking Club meetings were few and far in between during those times. Honorary members came and went, and we made the most of these post-undergrad years. Yes, we were all still getting our master's (and some PhD's) degrees so please excuse our hand-me-down cladden tablescapes... I'm sure you understand.



On more than one occasion, myself and sometimes Andrea would visit college friends in Ann Arbor and put our culinary skills to the test. The first trial of this amounted in boeuf bourgeois (beef burgundy) and some type of creamy spinach bacon dish (sorry, this was 10/2004).





I hope to scrape up more photos from our adventures in Ann Arbor, but now I digress to a major reason that I cook every day: The wonderful man of whom I married just over a year ago! Luckily with Tim, the cliche saying is true that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach.. especially if it is a warm gooey apple crumble dessert. Having dated for over 4 years prior to getting married, he has been an ever-hungry and willing taste tester, and a reason for me to satisfy my urge to "try something special" for that someone special. From the first time I cooked for him - quesadillas because he likes Mexican, of course - to special occasions like a Valentine's day puff pastry tart - to now, normal every day cooking.





So there you have a touch of the past, with more to follow. I believe this to be as good as a spot as any to conclude my opening post. Ciao.. or should I say, chow!?!!