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Archive for Halloween & Fall

RECIPE: Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Got rolls? Here’s the recipe for these typical soft, white dinner rolls from King Arthur Flour.

For harvest season, add these slightly sweet, light-gold rolls from King Arthur Flour to your bread basket for a tasty change of pace

And why just dinner? Enjoy them at breakfast and lunch, too.


There are many different types of rolls, based on regional, national and other preferences–from the crisp French roll with a crisp crust like a baguette, to the hero roll, long and relatively soft for sandwiches.

The textbook dinner roll is a yeast roll with a soft, pull-apart interior and browned and a crisped exterior. The soft crumb enables sauces and gravies to be sopped up readily. Others enjoy them with butter.

Here’s an explanation of the differences, and recipes for nine types of dinner rolls, from King Arthur Flour.


Prep time is 15 minutes to 25 minutes. Bake time is 24-26 minutes.

Ingredients For 24 Rolls

  • 2-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice; or substitute 1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 3/8 teaspoon ground cloves + 3/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

    1. COMBINE all dough ingredients in a large bowl, mix and knead into a soft, smooth dough. You can use your hands, a stand mixer or a bread machine set on the dough cycle.

    2. PLACE the dough in a lightly greased bowl and allow it to rise for 60 to 75 minutes, until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk). Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

    3. DIVIDE the dough into 24 equal pieces. Round each piece into a smooth ball.

    4. LIGHTLY GREASE two 9-inch round cake pans. Space 12 rolls in each pan. Alternatively, you can place all 24 rolls on a 9″ x 13″ sheet or baking pan.

    5. COVER the pans and allow the rolls to rise until they’re crowded against one another and quite puffy, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

    6. UNCOVER the rolls and bake them for about 20 minutes. Tent lightly with aluminum foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or so, until the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it. A digital thermometer inserted into the middle of a center roll should register at least 190°F.

    7. REMOVE the rolls from the oven; brush with melted butter if desired. After a couple of minutes, turn the rolls out of the pan onto a cooling rack.

    8. SERVE warm. Store completely cooled rolls, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.


    Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
    [1] For pumpkin season: pumpkin dinner rolls (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Classic Dinner Rolls
    [2] Classic dinner rolls. Do you know the 9 different types of dinner rolls? (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Pumpkin Puree

    [3] Stock up on pumpkin purée: We have a month’s worth of non-pie recipes for it. Here’s more about pumpkin purée from The Kitchn.




    RECIPE: Pumpkin Bacon Grits With Poached Eggs

    Pumpkin Grits
    [1] Fall food: pumpkin grits topped with a poached egg and bacon (photo courtesy Running To The Kitchen).

    Egg Poacher

    Egg Poaching Pan
    [2] What’s your favorite way to poach eggs? We like the evenness that comes from a poaching mold (photo courtesy Home Shopping | IE).

    [3] A poacher for the stovetop (photo courtesy Cooks Standard).


    October marks the beginning of “pumpkin season,” and we’ve got everything from pumpkin milkshakes to pumpkin dinner rolls.

    This recipe, for pumpkin grits, was sent to us by Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs—to whom it was sent by Gina of Running to the Kitchen.

    Says Gina: “These grits are filled with pumpkin spice flavor, studded with salty bacon and topped with a perfectly poached egg. When that runny yolk mixes with the grits, it’s pure fall deliciousness. No syrup is required.”

    Prep time is 5 minutes, total time is 20 minutes.

    If you don’t have grits, substitute Cream Of Wheat or Cream Of Rice.

    Serve your pumpkin grits with an assortment of pumpkin swirl toast, pumpkin English muffins and pumpkin bagels. It’s not too much pumpkin: It’s a pumpkin celebration.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup grits
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 pasteurized eggs

    1. COMBINE the water, milk, salt, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sauce pan. Whisk together and bring to a low boil.

    2. ADD the grits and butter to the boiling mixture, reduce the heat to low, and whisk continuously for about 5-7 minutes, until thickened. While the grits cook, poach the eggs.

    3. TRANSFER the grits to two serving bowls; top with bacon and poached eggs.

    Not everyone has good technique for poaching eggs the classic way: in a pan of simmering water with a spoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to help to keep the whites from spreading.

    Ours spread more than we’d like. So purchased a pan specially fitted with poached egg inserts (photo #3). Works like a charm, although without the silky texture of water-poached eggs.

    We’ve also tried using a microwave poacher (photo #2) and an electric poacher, which creates boiled eggs rather than poached.

    Early on, we tried the individual silicone poaching cups, but found that they tip over too easily.

    What’s your favorite way to poach eggs?



    RECIPE: Soft Pumpkin Pretzels With Pumpkin

    Pumpkin Stout Pretzels
    [1] Warm from the oven and ready to dip in the sweet-and-salty coating. photo courtesy

    Libby Pumpkin Puree
    [2] Be sure to use pumpkin purée, not pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar and spices (photo courtesy Libby).

    Organic Pumpkin Puree Libby
    [3] Libby and other brands offer organic pumpkin purée (photo courtesy Libby).

    Glass Of Stout

    [4] Enjoy the pretzels with a glass of stout (photo courtesy American Craft Beer).


    Fall begins at 4:02 today, the autumnal equinox.

    An equinox is the moment in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun’s disk. This means that the Sun is exactly overhead at a point on the equator. It occurs twice each year.

  • The Vernal Equinox occurs roughly around March 20th, when the sun crosses the equator, moving north (in the Northern Hemisphere). It marks the beginning of spring: longer days and shorter nights.
  • The Autumnal Equinox occurs around September 23rd, when the sun crosses the equator, moving south (in the Northern Hemisphere). It marks the beginning of fall: shorter days and longer nights.
  • On a these two days, the length of day and night are equal lengths, all over the planet.
  • The word equinox derives from the Latin equi, meaning equal, and nox, meaning night. Here’s more (equinox information).
    That’s the science lesson; now for the treat.


    This recipe, sent to us from the website of the Brewers Association, is a treat you can serve through the end of the year. Buttery, salty and sweet, the pretzels are enhanced favorite fall spices: cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

    The plain, uncoated pretzels can be frozen. Just wrap them in plastic wrap and place in a zipper-sealed plastic freezer bag. When ready to serve, thaw, brush with butter and toss them in the sugar-spice mixture.

    The recipe was developed by Sandy Smith of Growlers And Prep time is 1.5 hours.

    Serve them with a glass of stout or other favorite beer (the different types of beer).

    Ingredients For 10-12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup stout (ideally oatmeal stout, like Samuel Smith’s)
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 packet dry active yeast*
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (for boiling)
    For The Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick melted butter

    1. COMBINE the stout, pumpkin pureée and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until very warm but not hot (no hotter than 110°F). Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle yeast over the pumpkin mixture. Stir and let stand 5 minutes. At the end of that time, the yeast should be “blooming.”

    2. ADD the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt and spices to the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in the pumpkin-yeast mixture, add the oil and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to moisten the dry ingredients. If the dough is too dry, add another tablespoon or two of stout. Using the dough hook attachment…

    3. KNEAD on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth ball around the hook and doesn’t cling to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes. The dough won’t quite double, but it should have a decent lift.

    4. LINE baking sheets with parchment and spray with pan spray. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 18 inches long. Form each dough rope into a pretzel and place on a separate (non-prepared) pan or the countertop. Cover the pretzels with a clean linen cloth and let rise for 25 minutes.

    5. BRING a stockpot or other large pot of water just to a boil. Add the baking soda carefully (it will bubble aggressively for a moment). Stir to dissolve. Boil the pretzels in batches for about a minute, turning halfway through.
    Remove pretzels from water bath and let drain for a minute on clean towels. While you’re boiling the pretzels…

    6. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Place boiled pretzels on the parchment-lined and sprayed baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Transfer the pretzels to a rack to cool completely. While they’re cooling…

    7. COMBINE the sugars, spices and salt in a pie plate or a similarly-rimmed dish. Brush the pretzels with a very light coat of melted butter, then toss in sugar-spice mixture until coated. Ideally, serve warm.


    *If you buy yeast in 1 pound packages instead of individual packets, the equivalent to a single yeast packet is 2.25 teaspoons.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Stenciled Cheese For Holidays (St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas…)

    Add a little luck of the Irish to cheese and other foods, by creating a shamrock garnish made of herbs.

    You can apply the same technique to other themes: Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day hearts, stars for Christmas, Independence Day and New Year’s, pumpkins for Halloween, and so forth.

    You also can use edible glitter, which provides no flavor but adds gorgeous color.

    Spices allow you to play with the colors of the garnish, for example:

  • For Christmas, make separate stencils for green herbs and red spices.
  • Red spices for hearts: cayenne, chile flakes, kebab masala, paprika, red tandoori spice blend.
  • Yellow spices or gold glitter for stars: coriander seeds, cumin, curry, fenugreek, ras el hanout, turmeric.
  • Orange spices for Halloween and Thanksgiving: Cajun seasoning, tandoori masala.

    Select any cheese(s) that’s moist enough to hold the herbs: burrata, cream cheese log, goat cheese log, feta, fresh mozzarella, paneer, queso panela or ricotta salata.

    Print out the shamrock stencil (or other design) here. Print out a few copies for cutting practice.

    You can make a regular stencil or a reverse stencil, both shown in the photo.


  • Assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped
  • Cheese(s) of choice
  • Paper stencil
  • Small piece plastic wrap
  • For serving: bread, crackers, fruit
    *Blend two or three herbs: dill, chervil, chives, parsley or tarragon, etc.


    Shamrock Cheese

    Herb & Spice Colors

    [1] Shamrock style with a stencil (photo and recipe idea courtesy Vermont Creamery). [2] Spices and herbs provide colors for any occasion (photo courtesy Renegade Expressions).


    1. CUT out the shamrock stencil and press it firmly onto the cheese.

    2. PRESS the herbs into the stencil. You can place a piece of plastic wrap over the herbs for easier pressing.

    3. GENTLY PEEL off the plastic and stencil. Clean the lines with a pointed tweezers, as needed.

    4. SERVE with bread, crackers and fruit (apples, grapes, orange/mandarin segments, pears, etc).

    Instead of coating apples or pears in lemon juice to keep them from browning, coat them in calcium-fortified 100% apple juice.

    Here are more ways to keep fruits from browning.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Black Cocktails For Black Friday

    It’s Black Friday. When you get back from fighting the crowds, it’s time for a black cocktail.

    Trouble is, the well known “black” cocktails, like the Black Russian, actually brown.

    But there are options, including using the first three ingredients to color any clear spirit (clear liqueurs, gin, tequila, rum, etc.):

  • Black vodka
  • Black food color
  • Squid ink
  • Black sambuca

    In some parts of the world, people like black vodka, which is colored with black catechu, an extract made from the bark of a southeast Asian acacia tree.

    Some are flavored, some aren’t.

    The problem is, some brands like Blavod are actually dark brown, not black. Problem #2: You can find black vodkas in Europe and Asia, but not readily in the U.S., unless you’re lucky to track down Blavod, produced in the U.K., and add some black food color.

    We’ve seen a photo of a glass of Eristoff vodka, from Russia, which looks pitch black. We haven’t been able to find a photo of Znaps Black Jack.

    If you live in a state that is covered by, you can order the Eristoff.

    The good news is, we’ve found ample supplies of black sambuca in the U.S.

    Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur. The flavor of anise is reminiscent of fennel and licorice.

    Fans of these flavors have lots of opportunities to make cocktails black with black sambuca. Try a combination of black vodka and black sambucca!

    The best bet is to color your own vodka black.

    Before McCormick introduced black food color to consumers in 2007, black was approximated by combining 10 drops each of blue and red food coloring and 8 drops of green food (this is enough to color a 750 ml bottle of clear spirits).

    The problem with mixing the three colors in a clear liquid, as opposed to anchoring the color in frosting, is that the colors will precipitate out of the spirit, requiring shaking the bottle before pouring a drink.

    Best bet: McCormick black food color. It’s available in supermarkets nationwide, and online.

    You can also find professional black gels and pastes at baking supply stores, or online from companies like Wilton.
    4. SQUID INK

    If you have access to a fish market that sells squid ink or sepia ink (the latter from cuttlefish, a different species), you can use it in a Martini or other savory cocktail. Used in moderation, it has a slight salty tasted.

    Want to try it? Here’s how.

    According to an reader, you can infuse black rice into a bottle of vodka and achieve a good black color, with no added taste. Infuse it in a cool dark place for three days or until it achieves the desired color, shaking the bottle once a day. Infuse in a large jar and strain the vodka into a clean bottle.

    In addition to Black Friday, you can have fun with black drinks for for:

  • Black And White Parties
  • Black Monday*
  • Dia De Los Muertos
  • Goth Gathering
  • Halloween
  • ________________
    *If you’re looking for another occasion to drink, October 19, 1987 saw the collapse of stock prices on Wall Street. The original Black Monday in America was October 28, 1929, when the stock markets began to crash, engendering the Depression. In 1987, the crash began in Hong Kong and spread west to Europe, then to the U.S. There are several other Black Mondays that mark disasters around the world.


    Black Cocktail

    Znaps Black Jack Liquorice Vodka

    Eristoff Black Vodka

    Black Food Color

    Black Sugar Rim

    [1] This cocktail was made with squid ink. Here’s how from Honestly Yum. [2] Black Jack, a “shooter vodka” made by Znaps in Sweden. [3] Eristoff black vodka from Russia (photo courtesy Bev Mo). [4] McCormick black food color (photo courtesy Love From The Oven). [5] You can also use black sugar or black Hawaiian sea salt to make a rim (photo courtesy Martini Drizly).


    Black Sambuca

    Black Licorice Shoestrings

    Black Licorice Wheels

    Black Cocktail For Halloween

    [6] Black sambuca is raltively easy to find (photo courtesy Fine Wine House). [7] Great garnish for a black sambucca cocktail: licorice wheels (photo courtesy Smart Candy Shopper). [8] For a creepy garnish, use black licorice shoestrings (photo courtesy Candy Warehouse) as in this cocktail from Freutcake.



    Use black vodka in your favorite Martini recipe. Unflavored brands include Blavod, from the U.K., Fruko-Schulz from Czechoslovakia.

    If you have a flavored vodka, like Znaps Black Jack, you get a licorice Martini.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2½ ounces black vodka (or color the gin black)
  • 1 vermouth (or to taste)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: cocktail onion, olives or a lemon twist
  • Optional rim: black lava salt†
    †You don’t need to salt the entire rim. The fashion these days is covering only half the rim with the rimmer.

    You can make any this and other recipes as a shot. Proportions provided are for a three-ounce cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce coffee or espresso liqueur
  • Optional: ½ ounce vanilla vodka
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream and/or chocolate-covered espresso beans

    1. SHAKE or stir the vodka and liqueur and pour into a rocks glass over ice. Top with whipped cream and other garnishes as desired.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce cinnamon liqueur
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream cinnamon candies

    1. STIR the vodka and liqueur and pour into a rocks glass over ice. Top with whipped cream and other garnishes as desired.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce black sambuca
  • Optional: black sugar rim
  • Ice

    1. CREATE a sugar rim on a Martini glass.

    2. COMBINE the alcohols in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into the glass.



    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 2 ounces cherry juice
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: maraschino cherry or raspberry skewer

    1. COMBINE the vodka and juice in a mixing glass with ice. Stir with ice and strain into the glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce blue curaçao
  • 1/2 ounce black raspberry liqueur
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: raspberry skewer

    1. COMBINE the alcohol in a mixing glass with ice. Stir with ice and strain into the glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.


    When you mix black vodka with orange juice, the drink turns green. Consider it for Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day or the first day of spring.

    Clever mixologogists layer black vodka with colored mixers for groovy effects. Try it!


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