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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

FOOD FUN: Strawberry Ghosts, A Better Halloween Snack

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Better for you Halloween treats. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

 

BOO! These white chocolate covered strawberry ghosts are a fun treat, and a better-for-you alternative to traditional candy.

The prep time is 30 minutes, but half of that is making the broomsticks. If you don’t have the time or the interest in the crafts portion, just dip and decorate the strawberries.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY GHOSTS

Ingredients For 20 Pieces

  • 1 package (16 ounces) fresh strawberries
  • 10 ounces white chocolate chips or other white chocolate
  • Candy eyes
  • Fine-tipped black icing tube
  • Decorative twigs from a craft store
  • Broom fibers or wheat bundles from a craft store
  • Black twine
  •  

    Preparation

    1. LINE a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the strawberries and dry them well with a soft cloth or paper towel.

    2. MELT the chocolate by placing it in a double boiler over simmering water. Be careful to keep the water from getting into the pan or the chocolate may seize. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a glass bowl, microwave for 20 seconds and stir with a fork. Repeat microwaving and stirring until chocolate is not quite melted. Shorten the microwave time to 5 seconds and stir. Repeat if necessary until completely melted.

    3. HOLD the berries by the stem or leaves and dip into the melted chocolate. Swirl until coated. Leave about ¼ inch of red showing below the leaves. Gently shake off the excess chocolate and place berry on prepared baking sheet to set. Repeat with the remaining berries. Meanwhile…

    4. CREATE decorative broomsticks by cutting the twigs into 2½ inch lengths and the fibers into 3 inch lengths. Gather the broom fibers into a small, rough bundle. Loop twine around the bundle, but keep it loose. Slip a twig into the center of the bundle. Adjust the twig and fibers to look like a broomstick. Tighten the twine and tie a small knot. Once the chocolate is set…

    5. PRESS the broomstick handles down into strawberries through the top center of the leaves. Pipe a small amount of frosting to the back of the candy eyes and attach them to the berries. Finally, use frosting to add a smile, a spooky mouth, fangs or other fun ideas you have.

     
      

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    HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Day

    harvest-truffles-2014-230sq

    Harvest Truffles. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections.

     

    It’s National Chocolate Day, an excuse for anyone to run to the newsstand to pick up a Hershey Bar or some M&Ms.

    But the chocolate connoisseur deserves something better, and we’ve found it in these delicious Harvest Truffles from Recchiuti Confections of San Francisco, which we received as a gift.

    Each bite of these beautifully flavored bonbons is a bite of heaven. The medley of three new flavors inspired by autumn includes:

    • Cinnamon Malt Truffle, made with cassia cinnamon and barley malt
    • Mandarin Truffle, infused with mandarin orange oil
    • Cranberry Pomegranate Strata, with layered pomegranate and cranberry gelée atop chocolate ganache (strata means layer)

    A nine-piece gift box, three of each flavor, is $26.00. It was all we could do to save some pieces for Day 2.

    Get yours at Recchiuti.com. They are a lovely gift for any lover of fine chocolate.

     

    BONBONS VS. TRUFFLES: THE DIFFERENCE

    It’s easy to get confused when terms like bonbon, praline and truffle are used interchangeably to describe filled chocolates—and all three terms have alternative meanings as well.

    The differences, describing filled or enrobed individual chocolate pieces, are country-based:

    • Assorted Filled Chocolates, the English term.
    • Bonbons, a French word describing a variety of confections including hard candy, chocolates, chocolate-covered confections, taffy and more.
    • Pralines, a word that was originated in Belgium by Jean Neuhaus to describe his molded filled chocolates (but also refers to caramelized nuts in France).
    • Truffle, a word that originated in France to describe balls of chocolate ganache, because they resembled the mushroom cousin, truffles.

    Thus, when chocolatiers immigrated to the U.S., they might be selling pralines, truffles, bonbons or assorted chocolates, depending on their nationality. And, although the name of what they sold differed, the product might be the same.

    In the interest of clarity, it would be ideal to stick with “bonbons” or “filled chocolates” for the filled chocolates, use “pralines” for caramelized nuts and nut patties, and reserve the term “truffles” for the balls of ganache.

    But given all the imported candy, we can’t escape our chocolate Tower of Babel. If you receive a box of candy from Germany or Switzerland labeled “pralines,” for example, will it be filled chocolates or caramelized nuts? You may be surprised!

    Here’s a detailed explanation.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Custard With Maple Pecan Crunch

    As an alternative to pumpkin pie—or perhaps in addition to it—how about some pumpkin custard? It’s eggier and richer than conventional pumpkin pie filling, and because there’s no crust, it’s gluten free.

    This lovely recipe, from Nielsen Massey, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you don’t have ramekins or custard cups, use 6-ounce tea cups.

    How is this custard different from flan and other custards? Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN CUSTARD WITH MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15-ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  •    

    pumpkin-custard-maple-pecan-crunch-nielsenmassey-230

    Pumpkin custard topped with maple pecan crunch. Photo courtesy Nielsen-Massey.

     

     

    nielsen-bourbon-230

    Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Place 8 six-ounce ramekins onto a rimmed sheet pan or a roasting pan; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the half-and-half and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat and stir, just until the mixture is warmed. Remove from the heat.

    3. COMBINE the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly until well combined. Add the pumpkin and whisk until it is incorporated. Slowly pour the heated half-and-half mixture into the pumpkin mixture; whisk continuously until combined.

    4. POUR the custard mixture into ramekins. Place in the oven; then carefully pour warm water into the sheet pan, so custards are surrounded and the water depth is about ¾-inch high (this technique is known as a bain-marie). Bake until done, about 40-45 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan, cool completely on wire rack and place in the refrigerator to chill. You can serve the custard chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • Garnish: coarse sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. COMBINE syrup, vanilla and cayenne pepper in a small bow. Whisk to combine; set aside.

    3. LIGHTLY COAT a large skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add the nuts to skillet and toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. CAREFULLY POUR the syrup mixture over the nuts. Cook and stir until the nuts are coated; then remove from heat. Place the nut mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and cool.

    5. TO SERVE: Top the cooled custards with Maple Pecan Crunch. Finish with a pinch of coarse salt.

    Store any unused Maple Pecan Crunch in an airtight container. You can use it to top anything from baked sweet potatoes to green salad to vegetables to ice cream.
     
    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VANILLA

    Did you know that vanilla beans are the fruit of a species of orchid? Of the 110 species in the orchid family, the vanilla orchard is the only one used for food.

    While the fruit is called a vanilla “bean,” it has no close relationship to the actual bean family. After the plant flowers, the fruit pod ripens gradually for 8 to 9 months, eventually turning black-brown in color and giving off a strong aroma. Both the exterior of the and the seeds inside are used to create vanilla flavoring.

    Check out the history of vanilla, types of vanilla products (including vanilla paste and different terroirs of vanilla extracts and vanilla beans), how to buy vanilla, and our reviews of the best vanilla extracts and vanilla beans.

    Start here.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Harvest Pumpkin, Seasonal Tortilla Chips From Food Should Taste Good

    How delicious are the fall flavor tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good?

    Very delicious! You can enjoy them plain, with a savory or sweet dip, or as “fall nachos.”

    • Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips are as good as eating a cookie. Deftly spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg (and a touch of cane sugar), stone ground corn is mixed with pumpkin, spices, sea salt.
    • Sweet Potato tortilla chips, which are made with a touch of sugar, can be served with fruit salsa, raspberry jam or apple butter; served with ginger snap dip, or instead of cookies with vanilla ice cream.

    The all natural line is certified gluten free, certified vegan and OU kosher. The snack contains 19 grams of whole grains per serving. (The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains daily.)

     
    RECIPE #1: GINGERSNAP DIP

    This recipe, adapted from Taste Of Home, makes a “dessert dip.” For a less sweet dip, cut the sugar in half or eliminate it entirely.

       

    sweet-potato-pumpkin-kaminsky-230

    Sweet Potato and Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
    • 1 carton (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 package (16 ounces) gingersnaps

     
     
    *You can combine equal amounts of allspice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg or adapt the spices and proportions to your preferences.>
     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl until fluffy. Beat in the yogurt.

    2. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.

     

    gingersnap-dip-tasteofhome-230

    Gingersnap dip for cookies or seasonal tortilla chips. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: BISCOFF SPREAD DIP

    Biscoff Spread looks like peanut butter but smells like gingerbread and is nut-free. It is made from spice cookies, called spéculoos cookies in Belgium, where they are the national cookie—a variation of gingerbread. (The cookies are called Belgian spice cookies in the U.S.)

    The name Biscoff is a combination of “biscuits and coffee,” a nod to enjoying the cookies with your cup of java. The spread, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, was the winner of a recipe competition in Belgium that was held by the largest producer of the cookies. The winning concept: Grind the cookies into a “cookie spread” that can be enjoyed an alternative to Nutella or peanut butter.

    Biscoff Spread is available at supermarkets nationwide and onlineonline; Trader Joe’s sells a private label version called Cookie Spread. In Europe, the generic version is called spéculoos spread.

    This recipe, which was originally developed for dipping fruit and cookies, is equally delicious with pumpkin and sweet potato tortilla chips.

     
    Ingredients For 4 To 6 Servings

    • 1/4 cup Biscoff Spread
    • 1 container plain lowfat yogurt (6 ounces or 3/4 cup)†
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Plus

  • Pumpkin and/or sweet potato tortilla chips for serving
  •  
    Optional Fruit To Serve Alongside The Chips

    • 1 red apple, washed and cored, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
    • 1 small banana, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
    • 1 cup whole or halved strawberries, washed and dried
    • 1 ripe pear, washed, dried and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, or other favorite dipping fruit

     
    †Or, use lowfat vanilla yogurt and omit the vanilla extract.
     
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the Biscoff Spread and yogurt until smooth.

    2. WHISK in vanilla and cinnamon. Place in small serving bowl. Serve with chips and optional fruit.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer & Pumpkin Ale

    pumpkin-beer-w-pumpkin-craftbeer.com-230

    Even George Washington was a fan of
    pumpkin beer. He brewed his own, of course.
    Photo courtesy CraftBeer.com.

     

    Thanks to Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com for today’s tip: Pick up some pumpkin beer or ale. In fact, have a pumpkin beer tasting for Halloween (with or without costumes), and bring it instead of wine to your Thanksgiving dinner hosts.

    This seasonal brew is so well liked that in the month of October, it rivals the popularity of India Pale Ale (IPA), the top-selling craft beer style in the U.S.

    The body is richer, thanks to the addition of actual pumpkin into the vat; and brewers typically add hints of pumpkin pie spices. The flavors can vary widely depending on whether the brewer uses fresh, frozen or canned pumpkin (or a related squash).

    But pumpkin beer is no recent craft beer invention. It’s been made since the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock Colony discovered pumpkins (indigenous to the Americas) and added them to their brews.

    Why did they brew with pumpkin?

    There were plenty of them. Since good malt was not readily accessible in the early days of the colonization of America, fermentable sugars had to come from elsewhere. In those early pumpkin beers, the flesh of the pumpkin took the place of malt. (Later, with dependable supplies of malt, both were used.)

    Pumpkin beer remained a staple throughout the 18th century, but its popularity began to wane by the early 19th century as quality malts became accessible everywhere.

     

    Fast forward 200-plus years to the Bay Area in the 1980s. The father of American micro-brewing, Bill Owens, read in a brewing book that George Washington added pumpkin to his mash. Owens thought it was an idea in need of resurrection. The result, Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, is an amber-style ale based on Washington’s recipe (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week).

    Although most pumpkin ale and beer are brewed with pumpkin and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, don’t expect pumpkin pie in a bottle. With most products, there’s no obvious pumpkin taste analogous to the pronounced flavors of fruit beers.

    This season, retailers will sell some 400 pumpkin beers from craft brewers. You can put together a nice selection for a tasting party. Or, pick up a selection for your own personal enjoyment. Just a sampling of what you might find:

     

    buffalo-bill-6pack-pumpkin-230

    Bring a six-pack or two to your Halloween or Thanksgiving host(s). Photo courtesy Buffalo Bill’s Brewery.

    • Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter | Starr Hill Brewery | Crozet, Virginia
    • Flat Jack Pumpkin Ale | Flat 12 Bierwerks | Indianapolis, Indiana
    • Gourd Shorts (pumpkin ale) | Florida Beer Co. | Cape Canaveral, Florida
    • Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale | Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company | Lexington, Kentucky
    • Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale | Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. | Half Moon Bay, California
    • Oak Jacked (imperial pumpkin ale) | Uinta Brewing Co. | Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Potosi Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale | Potosi Brewing Co. | Potosi, Wisconsin
    • Pumking | Southern Tier Brewing Co. | Lakewood, New York
    • Post Road Pumpkin Ale | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, New York
    • Pumpkin Ale | Blackstone Brewing Co. | Nashville, Tennessee
    • Pumpkin Ale | Buffalo Bill’s Brewery | Hayward, California
    • Pumpkin Ale | Rivertown Brewing Co. | Lockland, Ohio
    • Pumpkinfest | Terrapin Beer Co. | Athens, Georgia
    • Punkin Ale | Dogfish Brewery | Milton, Delaware
    • Roadsmary’s Baby (rum-aged pumpkin ale) | Two Roads Brewing Co. | Stratford, Connecticut
    • Rum Punk (Rum barrel-aged pumpkin beer) | Joseph James Brewing Co., Inc | Henderson, Nevada
    • Samhain Pumpkin Porter | DESTIHL Brewery | Bloomington, Illinois
    • Samuel Adams Fat Jack (double pumpkin ale) | Samuel Adams | Boston, Massachusetts
    • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Co. | Hampton, New Hampshire
    • Wick for Brains Pumpkin Ale | Nebraska Brewing Co. | La Vista, Nevada
    • Witch’s Hair Pumpkin Ale | Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits | East County San Diego, California

     
    KNOW YOUR BEER TYPES

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

      

    Comments

    FALL COCKTAIL: Pear & Rosemary Martini

    Pear-rosemary-martini-belvedere-230

    Pear and rosemary add fall flavors to a
    Martini. Photo courtesy Belvedere Vodka.

     

    Pear and rosemary unite as a fall cocktail flavor that works right through the Christmas season. This recipe is from Belvedere Vodka.

    RECIPE: PEAR & ROSEMARY MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 stems fresh rosemary
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • ¼ ounce lemon
  • ¾ ounce pear purée (substitute pear nectar)
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: rosemary sprig, pear slice or edible flower
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the rosemary in the base of a heavy bottomed mixing glass and press gently.

    2. ADD the remainder of the ingredients (except garnish) and shake with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled Martini glass.

    3. GARNISH with a stem of rosemary or other favorite garnish (pear slice, edible flower).

     

    CHECK IT OUT: THE HISTORY OF THE MARTINI.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Seed Chicken Or Fish

    Give chicken breasts or fish fillets a harvest touch with this recipe, which employs a pumpkin seed crust, adding flavor and nutrition.

    It’s a great idea, but we must admit: We have no idea where this recipe came from. We found it in a drafts folder, without the attribution that we attach to all outside content. We searched the web and couldn’t find it; so we apologize to whomever sent it to us. Thanks: We love your recipe.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SEED CHICKEN OR FISH

    Ingredients

    • 2 chicken breasts or 6-ounce fish filets
    • 2 cups of panko bread crumbs
    • 2 cups of pumpkin seeds
    • 4 whole eggs beaten
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon fine chopped oregano leaves
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest
    • 1 cup cooking oil
    • 1 tablespoon black pepper
     

    pumpkin-seed-crusted-chicken-cookforyourlifeorg-230

    Pumpkin seeds-crusted chicken breast with sauteed carrot strips. Photo courtesy EatForYourLife.org, which has a gluten-free variation of the recipe that includes Parmesan cheese.

     

    Preparation

    1. SLICE. Preheat the oven to 350°F for 10 minutes. Slice chicken breasts in half, width-wise. Pound down lightly until they are ¼ inch thick.

    2. FILL. Fill 3 separate bowls with flour, eggs and the dry ingredients: panko, pumpkin seeds, salt, black pepper, chopped oregano and orange zest.

    3. DIP: Coat the chicken breast with flour, then dip into beaten eggs, followed by a dip into the panko mix.

    4. SAUTE. In a sauté pan, heat up the oil at medium heat. Lightly sauté the coated chicken breast until it reaches a golden color—about 1 minute on each side.

    5. BAKE. Place the chicken breasts onto a sheet pan and cook it for an additional 10-15 minutes. If you are using fish, it requires just 5-10 minutes in the oven; or you may finish it in the pan.

    6. SERVE with vegetable(s) of choice and a green salad tossed with whole pumpkin seeds. For a seasonal touch, add some pumpkin seed oil to the vinaigrette!

     

    pepitas-bag-bowl-230

    Pumpkin seeds (called pepitas in Spanish).
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    ABOUT PUMPKIN SEEDS

    Pumpkin seeds (called pepitas in Spanish) are flat seeds that lend themselves to a crust. They have a chewy texture and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor.

    Pumpkins are indigenous to the Americas. Their use in medicine and cuisine traces at least as far back as the Aztecs, 1300-1500 C.E. The name “pepita,” which translates to “seed,” comes from Mexico, where Spanish settlers called them “pepita de calabaza,” “little seed of squash.”

    Pumpkin seeds are available year-round: raw and shelled, raw and unshelled, roasted and shelled, roasted and unshelled. For recipes, choose unshelled seeds.

    PUMPKIN SEED TRIVIA

    • Pumpkins, other squash and gourds belong to the Cucurbitaceae botanical family, along with cantaloupe, cucumber and watermelon.
    • Today, China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country. Other major producers include India, Mexico, Russia, the Ukraine and the U.S.
    • In the U.S., more than 100,000 acres of U.S. farmland are planted with pumpkins, in virtually every state. Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins, followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York.
     
    HOW TO ROAST PUMPKIN SEEDS

    It’s easy and fun to roast your own pumpkin seeds, using your seasonings of choice (salt, garlic salt, chile powder, etc.) You can also buy organic raw pumpkin seeds in bulk.

    1. PREPARATION: If you’re using seeds straight from the pumpkin, first wipe them off with a paper towel to remove excess pulp. Spread them out evenly on a paper bag or paper towel and let them dry overnight.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 160°-170°F (75°C). Place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Season as desired.

    3. ROAST for 15 minutes, but for no longer than 20 minutes. (After then, the heat engenders a negative change in the healthful pumpkin seed fat structure.)
     
    MORE WAYS TO SERVE PUMPKIN SEEDS

    • Sprinkle on salads, grains and vegetables.
    • Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal.
    • Add pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe, carrot or zucchini cake.
    • Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing or bread dipper.
    • Add ground seeds to ground meat for burgers or meat loaf (including veggie burgers).

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Halloween Popcorn Balls

    They’re sweet, they’re fun and they’re whole grain! And there’s a bonus: You make them in the microwave!

    You’ve got time to whip up these Halloween popcorn balls, thanks to busy mother of three Ashleigh, of the blog Bee in Our Bonnet. Ashleigh contributed this recipe to SomewhatSimple.com.

    While the popcorn balls are shaped like pumpkins, the flavor is orange—from orange Jell-O! Jell-O flavored popcorn is a favorite treat at Ashleigh’s home.

    RECIPE: HALLOWEEN POPCORN BALLS

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 box (3 ounces) orange-flavored Jell-O
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 cups popped popcorn (approximate)
  • Tootsie Roll mini candies
  •  

    pumpkin-popcorn-balls-somewhatsimple-230sq

    Popcorn balls for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy SomewhatSimple.com.

  • Green candies: choice of Starbursts, green apple Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffys or anything that can be shaped into leaves (green Air Heads were used in the photo)
     
    Preparation

    1. MELT butter in a large microwavable bowl. Stir in Jell-O and corn syrup.

    2. MICROWAVE again until the mixture reaches a full boil (try 1 minute, then more if needed). Stir. Mix in baking soda. Stir for 2-3 minutes.

    3. MIX in popcorn. The popcorn should be covered evenly with the flavoring.

    4. MICROWAVE for 30 seconds more. You can microwave for longer if you prefer your popcorn balls crispy instead of gooey.

    5. FORM into balls. Kids can help, using plastic bags with a little non-stick spray on them as gloves.

    6. ADD Tootsie Roll minis for the stems and shape the green candy into leaves. Be sure to press the stem and leaves in while the popcorn ball is still warm and pliable.

      

  • Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Cheese & Pretzel Broomsticks

    Who needs candy when there’s a clever Halloween snack like this? It was created by Angie Ramirez of LittleInspiration.com, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

    This healthy Halloween snacks works for kids as well as for adults, with cocktails. The witch’s broomsticks are easy to make and look great on a party platter.

    RECIPE: CHEESE & PRETZEL BROOMSTICKS

    Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks (ideally whole grain)
  • Block of hard cheese to shred
  • Baker’s twine or strips of dry corn husks
  •  

    cheese-broomsticks-naturebox-230

    Halloween fun, no sugar needed! Photo courtesy Little Inspiration | NatureBox.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SHRED cheese the length of the block. (Pre-shredded cheeses are too short to make the broomsticks.)

    2. LAY down a piece of baker’s twine. Add a few shredded cheese pieces and a pretzel stick (see how it’s done here). Add a few more shredded cheese strips to cover the pretzel stick.

    3. KNOT the two ends of the twine.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Trick Or Treat Scotch Sour

    trick-or-treat-scotch-sour-laphroaig-230

    A treat for the candy-hander-outers. Photo
    courtesy Laphroaig.

     

    If you need something spirited to get through an evening of handing out candy, how about a special Scotch Sour? This recipe, from Laphroaig (our personal favorite Scotch—we love that peat!)

    “Sour” refers to lemon juice, which is added to the whisky with sugar to create the drink.

    RECIPE: LAPHROAIG TRICK OR TREAT COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

    • Ice cubes
    • 1-1/2 parts Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, or other Scotch of choice
    • 3 parts apple cider (hard or non-alcoholic—see below)
    • 1 part fresh lemon sour (see below)
    • Garnish: lemon wedge
     

    Preparation

    1. BUILD the drink over ice in a collins glass, in order of the list above. Stir.

    2. GARNISH with a lemon wedge and enjoy.

     

    WHAT IS LEMON SOUR?

    Also called bar mix or sweet and sour mix, lemon sour is lemon-infused simple syrup. Instead of buying a commercial mix made with lemon juice concentrate, you can make it from scratch with fresh lemon juice; it keeps in the fridge for two weeks.

    Recipe: Lemon Sour Mix

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (or half lemon, half lime juice)
    • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon zest

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the water, sugar and zest in a saucepan; heat on low, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved.

     

    sweet-and-sour-bar-mix-sheknows-230

    Homemade sour mix. Photo courtesy SheKnows.com.

     
    2. REMOVE from the heat and add the fresh lemon/lime juice. Strain the mixture into a 32-ounce bottle (a clean wine bottle, 750 ml [25 ounces], will do).

    3. CHILL for at least an hour before using.
     
    APPLE CIDER VERSUS APPLE JUICE: THE DIFFERENCE

    Since Prohibition, which began in the U.S. in 1920, “cider” has referred to the unfermented, unpasteurized apple juice, with “hard cider” used to indicate the alcoholic beverage. In the U.K. it is the opposite, with “cider” indicating the alcoholic drink for which special cider apples are used.

    • Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples. The alcohol content varies from a low 1.2% ABV* to 8.5% or higher—some imported ciders can be up to 12% ABV, an average level for table wines.
    • Fresh apple cider is raw apple juice, typically unfiltered. Thus, it is cloudy from the remnants of apple pulp. It is also typically more flavorful than apple juice—although of course, the particular blend of apples used in either has a big impact on the taste.
    • Apple juice has been filtered to remove pulp solids, then pasteurized for longer shelf life.

     

    WHISKEY VS. WHISKY

    The use of the e, or not, is an Irish vs. Scots spelling choice. Some scholars claim that the Irish were the true innovators of whiskey and that they introduced it to the Scots; others claim the reverse.

    Scholars can’t determine why the “e” was dropped by the Scots. One theory is that the Irish made whiskey first and pronounced it with a broad “e.” When the Scots began to make it, they dropped the “e” to differentiate their product.

    In Ireland and the U.S., the word whiskey is spelled with an “e,” while the British, Scots and Canadians usually opt to drop it.

    At THE NIBBLE, we prefer adding the “e” for visual elegance. Here’s more on the history of whiskey.

     
    *ABV is alcohol by volume. It is doubled to get the proof. For example, a 40% ABV spirit is 80 proof.

      

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