Category Archives: Halloween

Pumpkin Chocolate Nut Squares

This is an adaptation of a recipe my mom has been making for as long as I can remember.  Here is how the adaptation occurred.  I was waiting on my mom for the recipe, and knowing I would need butter I left a stick (1/2 cup) out on the counter to soften.

On the phone with my mom she is reading off the recipe at which time I realize I do not have the necessary two sticks of softened butter, and I was short on brown sugar…  So, this is what happened…

Mom:  The recipe has 1 cup of butter
Carly: One cup… (sigh) I don’t have a cup of butter,  I’ll use pumpkin
Mom:  No, Carly, you can just follow the recipe
Carly: Mom, I think it will be fine.  I have some pumpkin lying around – it’ll be great.

Pumpkin Chocolate Nut Squares
2 Cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg

1 stick of butter (unsalted)
1 cup of pumpkin
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla

12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp light corn syrup

With my mom on the phone and my neck cradling the phone, in one bowl mix the butter, brown sugar and pumpkin.  If you want to follow the rules, “cream” the brown sugar and butter first so that it is fully incorporated and then add the pumpkin, then the egg and the vanilla.  For the purposes of full disclosure this is not what I did, but again, really, no stress it all works out.

To this mixture add the flour and the cinnamon and nutmeg.  The dough is going to be pretty sturdy and after working it with a large spoon, you’ll find it it most effective to get in there and mix it up with your hands.

Back to mom…
Carly: What is this supposed to look like?  
Mom: Like cookie dough.
Carly:  But, not really like cookie dough, right?  Not like chocolate chip cookie dough (remember we didn’t use all of that butter).
Mom:  Put the mixer down and do it with your hands – you’ll get it right.

She was right!  Okay, so with this dough, press it into a buttered 13 x 9 baking dish (brownie pan/lasagna pan).  This goes into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While this is baking head over to the stove top with a small saucepan and a bag of chocolate chips.  Remove 3-5 chocolate chips for taste testing.  Delicious.
On a low heat begin to stir the chocolate chips, and add the butter.  If you have a silicone spatula, use it.  It is easy to use and nothing sticks to it.  When the butter and the chocolate are incorporated, add the corn syrup a tablespoon at a time.  The corn syrup gives it a glossy finish.
After the cookie bottom is out of the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes and then with that silicone spatula scoop and spread the chocolate mixture.  Here’s the thing, because you spread the dough with your fingers it might have been uneven, and you might see finger indentations.  And then, because you spread the chocolate with a funny spatula it might also be a little wavy/weird.  Not to worry.
Open the can of nuts you have lying around, or maybe the can that you made a special trip to a grocery store for and spread them all across the chocolate. The bumps and weird waves are completely covered with salty deliciousness.  Because, sometime you feel like a nut, and chocolate, and pumpkin, and cookies!!!
My mom says to refrigerate them over night, so you probably should.  I didn’t – sorry mom.
Via text at 10:59 pm
Mom: How did they turn out?
Carly: Pretty good.  Not as good as yours, but I liked it.  
Mom: Good, I am sure they will be well received.  Leave them in the fridge.
Carly: Can they be covered on the counter overnight?
Mom: It says to refrigerate, but if its cold it should be ok
Carly: The pan was still warm so I was afraid to put it in the fridge.

Next day…
Carly: The bars are getting rave reviews, as the best ever
Refrigerate or not, cut them into cute little squares and share with friends.  I am loving this for Thanksgiving, it’s a great way to use pumpkin in something that is not a pie – but just as fun, and way easier to make.  

Thanks mom!  Oh, and enjoy!  And this Thanksgiving make sure you take a minute to thank someone that’s always helping you out!

Roasted Potatoes, Poupourri You Can Eat

To be fair this is not so much of a “recipe” as it is a suggestion.  

I know that this weekend is dedicated to running around for last minute costumes, carving pumpkins, excessive makeup, buying candy, consuming lots more candy, and indulging on some other celebratory vices.  And that is all good.  But, the weekend is long, and eventually you’ll want something that is healthy, and easy.  This is so easy that while you’re setting your hair in curlers and finishing the details of your meat dress this can cook.

Roasted Potatoes is the most homey non-recipe recipe there is.  I like to mix a large variety of potatoes (white, red, purple, sweet, yellow) and chop them all up into chunks that are about 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch thick.

Set the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  And get chopping. 

Ta da!  All chopped.  When all the chopped potatoes are in a bowl drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle on some Kosher salt, crack some black pepper.  
Okay, now here is where you have some creative license.  Are you feeling traditional?  How about some rosemary and thyme.  Want some heat?  Sprinkle on some cayenne.  Want Italian flavors?  Try oregano, parsley, and maybe some  finely grated Parmigiana-Reggiano, or do as we do and go a little crazy with the Old Bay.  There is no right or wrong amount, but you’ll want to see the flecks of flavor on each piece of potato.  This is truly an instance of “flavor to taste”.

Throw in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, the longer it’s in there the more browned the edges will become, again this is a personal preference.  Also, I am going to again recommend mixing up the variety of potatoes, they each have a different flavor and texture and so all together they are like a little (healthy) party in your mouth.
Enlarged to show flavor intensity detail!
Happy Halloween, this year instead of a pre-trick or treating peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or pizza (which are all more than fabulous), mix it up with this!