October 31, 2007

Spook-tacular Halloween Contest Winner!

If you’re celebrating Halloween, I hope your day so far has been filled with fun tricks and sweet treats. And if you want to add an extra *scary* kick to your day, you might consider trying some of these *spook-tacular* Halloween recipes!And now, to announce the winner of our Spook-tacular Halloween Recipes Contest….

Congratulations lonewolf!

CONTEST WINNER: Spooky Delights

Ingredients

Cake:
2/3 C. butter, softened
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. milk

Frosting:
12 oz. whipped topping, thawed
1/4 C. confectectors’ sugar
red decorator gel, or desired color

Decorations:
gummy googly eyes
halloween sprinkles
colored sugar

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake in 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. Let cool.

Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, combine all three ingredients and mix well. Cut the center chunk out of each cupcake and set aside. Fill cavity in cupcake with a large dollop of frosting. In the front of the cavity, stand a gummy eyeball. Decorate with halloween sprinkles and colored sugar.Cover leftovers loosely and refrigerate.

Preparation Time
10 minutes

Cooking Time
25 minutes

The choice was tough, as we received a ton of fun and unique Halloween-inspired recipes. So, to give some of our favorite contenders their proper recognition, here’s a list of who came close:
Gravediggers’ Cake
Bloody Delights
Halloween Duo: Five Spice Chocolate Brownies & Orange Glazed Blondies
Creepy Delights
Witch Wanda’s Scary Chili

-Hillary, wishing everyone a Happy Halloween!
Editor, Recipe4Living

October 30, 2007

My Love-Hate Relationship with Giada

Giada De Laurentiis perplexes me. I have a feeling that if we went to high school together or had pledged the same sorority in college, we would have gotten along and could’ve hung out in big groups, but we never would have been bosom buddies. Get it? Bosom buddies? Because she always shows her cleavage?? I crack myself up. (I also cannot get the song “Bosom Buddies” from Mame out of my head now…) But seriously, who says to themselves, “I’m going to spend the day in the kitchen making lots of pasta and I want to wear an impractically low cut shirt”? Not me, that’s for sure.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy her food and I’m often able to recreate her recipes without too much fuss. I do find it difficult to take her seriously when she does things like this, but so far I’ve been able to tolerate it (though this one was pushing it).

I don’t even remember the first time R and I saw Giada make her Tri-Colore Orzo but it became a fast staple in our kitchen. One of the things I love about R is his enthusiasm and fearlessness in the kitchen. If he sees a recipe that sounds good, not only will he actually make it, but he will make it now. So when this salad struck his fancy, we threw it together for a dinner party that same night. We hadn’t even been asked to bring anything and our hosts were quite surprised when we did!

We changed up the recipe a bit – originally because we didn’t have the ingredients on hand and then later because we liked it that way – but I’m sure it’d be delicious with anything you throw in. Orzo is such a fantastic salad pasta because it doesn’t look like pasta. In fact, most of our friends couldn’t even identify the grain-looking pasta whilst heaping it onto their plates.

We continue to make this salad because it’s always such a hit. The flavors are really excellent if you let it refrigerate for a few hours, which makes it an ideal potluck/picnic/make-ahead dish. The key to the flavor is: taste, season, re-taste, re-season. Repeat. The perfect balance of olive oil, salt and pepper is crucial.

Tri Colore Orzo
Recipe inspired by Tri-Colore Orzo by Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

1 lb. orzo pasta
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 C.
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced in strips
12 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 C. toasted pine nuts
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Prepare pasta according to package. When cooked al dente, drain completely. Spread orzo onto a baking sheet and add 3 Tbs. oil. Mix together and let cool completely.

When orzo is cool, put into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Garnish with basil sprigs.

May be refrigerated for hours before serving.


October 29, 2007

Paying homage to Greek food

I just LOVE Greek food. Really I do.

Serve me up a plate of chicken souvlaki (skewers of grilled and seasoned chicken) and greek roasted potatoes with all the extra lemon and tzatziki sauce I could ever want, and I’m a happy, happy girl. Add some feta cheese too and you’ve got yourself a fan for life.

Well, it’s no wonder that when I went to Champaign again this past weekend and decided to hit up the new Greek restaurant again for dinner Saturday night, that that is just what I ordered (well minus the feta cheese.)

But the part of the meal that really made my Greek food experience “light on fire” was actually the appetizer.


I ordered saganaki, a favorite of mine since my grandparents started consistently yelling “opa!” at every restaurant that served it (even when we weren’t the table ordering it.) Intrigued by a dish that literally lights up your table, I just had to have it.


Papa George’s (the Champaign restaurant) did a magnificent job with their saganaki. Served with a lemon, the flavor was magnificently tasty. I was, once again, a happy girl.

At the beginning of the meal (I know, I’m going backward – just trying to keep you on your toes), my friend and I were feeling adventurous and decided to order shots of ouzo since they were on special that night. Neither of us were really sure what ouzo was but $2 was a small enough price to pay to find out.

They served the shot with a small glass of water (that you can see behind it). Flavored with anise (a flowering plant from the Mediterranean region), I actually thought the shot tasted like liquid black liquorice. I wasn’t such a fan but my friend, however, was.

At any rate, the meal was delicious and was just what I needed to remind me just how great Greek food really is.

So go home and make some of these recipes. You’ll thank me later.

Greek Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
Greek Style Burgers with Tzatziki
Tomato with Feta and Herbs

-Hillary, reminding everyone they have 2 days left to enter the Halloween Recipe Contest!
Editor, Recipe4Living

October 26, 2007

Your Weekly Libation: Farewell Edition

Hello there, Weekly Libation fans. It might seem odd to you that, yet again, I’m posting this week’s “Your Weekly Libation” but this time I’m afraid I can’t promise you Jim will be back. Your usual libation mentor has moved on to bigger and better things, and unfortunately that means “Your Weekly Libation” will be retiring.

But, of course, we had to leave you readers with one last offering – one that I thoroughly enjoy and I think you will too.

It’s a classic, and most everyone that’s heard of it knows how to make one, but Your Weekly Libation is not about making assumptions, now is it?

Without further adieu….we present:

The Mimosa

A classy, yet somewhat girly beverage that’s perfect for wishing Jim (who admittedly preferred “girly” beverages) the best of luck.

Don’t forget the champagne flutes!

Ingredients

2 oz. orange juice
Champagne

Directions

Pour orange juice into a champagne flute over two ice cubes. Fill with chilled champagne, stir very gently, and serve.

But as we draw “Your Weekly Libation” to a close, we hope that you keep in mind you can always submit YOUR beverages of choice to Recipe4Living so that others can enjoy them too.

-Hillary
Editor, Recipe4Living

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