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Archive for Food Fun

HALLOWEEN: Custom Chocolate Bars

Scrumptious fun: custom-decorated Belgian
chocolate bars for Halloween. Photo courtesy


Some of our favorite, affordable gifts are customized chocolate bars from, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week and ongoing favorite.

The base chocolate bar, excellent Belgian chocolate in your choice of dark (72% cacao), milk (34% cacao) or white, is $4.50 (the bar is 3.5 ounces). You can add toppings for about 70¢ apiece, which are then embedded in the top of the bar (some choices are more expensive, some are less).

There’s a seemingly endless combinations of candies, fruits, herbs and spices, nuts and decorations—it’s actually 300 million possible combinations, according to Chocomize.

But for Halloween, you can limit your decision-making to these fun toppings:


  • Candy Corn, +70¢
  • Bloody Candy Bones, +60¢
  • Candy Bats, +85¢
  • Apple Caramel Candy Corn, +$0.70¢
  • Halloween Sprinkles, +70¢
  • Cherry-Filled Gummy Skulls, +70¢
  • Halloween Chocolate Rocks +$70¢

    The bars are made fresh to order and arrive within approximately four business days.

    Head to and design a few for yourself or for gifts.


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    HALLOWEEN: Bat Cookies

    You need a bat cookie cutter to make these cute cookies, but they’re worth it. If you can’t find one locally, buy a bat cookie cutter online and make bat cookies an annual tradition.

    The recipe is courtesy California Raisins, whose delicious raisins are used in the cookies. There are many more recipes on the website.


    Ingredients For 16 Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into small
  • 1 cup raisins, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coarse-grain sparkling white sugar
  • Raisins and mini M&Ms for decoration
  • 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

    How cute are these? Photo courtesy
    California Raisins.



    1. MEASURE flour, sugar and baking powder into bowl for food processor with steel blade, and pulse a couple of times to combine. (*If mixing by hand, see footnote.) Then add cold butter and pulse until crumbly. Finally, add vanilla and ice water, a little at a time, and pulse until dough comes together and cleans sides of bowl.

    2. KNEAD in chopped raisins. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.

    3. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment; set aside.

    4. PLACE dough on lightly floured work surface, one piece at a time, and roll into a 10×12-inch rectangle about 3/8-inch thick. With bat-shaped cookie cutter, cut into 16 cookies. Arrange on cookie sheet close together.

    5. BEAT egg with pinch of salt and brush lightly onto cookies; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Remove to cool on a wire rack.

    6. DECORATE. When cookies have cooled, melt semisweet chocolate and use a small amount to attach raisins for ears and M&Ms as eyes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.


    You can use the cookie cutter to make iced
    shortbread or sugar cookie bats. Photo
    courtesy Old River Road.



    Bats are furry mammals, not birds. Their forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. Other mammals said to fly can only glide for short distances.

    Bats look like flying mice, screech when scared, and get a bad rap for being dangerous. While some species consume animal blood, most do not, and are not harmful to humans.†

    Bats live throughout most of the world, performing the vital ecological roles of pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds. They are also important for consume insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides.

    Their “evil” reputation came from the Dracula stories.


    †They can spread disease if they bite—so don’t provoke them.

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    FOOD FUN: Oreo Cake

    If you eat the filling from an Oreo separately from the cookie, will you do the same with this cake?

    Meant to emulate a giant Oreo cookie, you can make this recipe from Kraft as is, with a creamy filling, or turn it into an ice cream cake with Oreo ice cream.



  • 1 package (2-layer size) devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 package (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping
  • 12 OREO cookies, coarsely crushed

    A cake for Oreo lovers (and who isn’t?). Photo courtesy Kraft.


    1. HEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. PREPARE cake batter and bake in 2 (9-inch) round pans as directed on package. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks; gently remove pans. Cool cakes completely.

    3. MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in small microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Gently stir in whipped topping and crushed cookies.

    4. PLACE 1 cake layer on plate and spread with cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top with chocolate glaze*; let stand 10 minutes or until firm. Keep refrigerated.
    *If chocolate glaze becomes too thick, microwave on high 20 to 30 seconds, or until desired consistency is reached.


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    FOOD FUN: Secret Forest Corn Muffins

    Surprise: a little tree (OK, it’s a broccoli
    floret) is inside. Photo and recipe courtesy
    Betty Crocker.


    Even George H.W. Bush could be convinced to eat broccoli, when it’s tucked away as a surprise in a delicious corn muffin. Make them for brunch or lunch, with soup or a bowl of chili.

    And, you can adjust the recipe to mild, medium or spicy!



  • 1 pouch Betty Crocker cornbread & muffin mix
  • Milk, butter and egg called for on cornbread mix pouch
  • 1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese or Pepper Jack or jalapeño Cheddar cheese (for spicier muffins)
  • 6 broccoli florets (thawed if frozen)
  • Optional: chili flakes for more heat

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 6 regular-size muffin cups with paper baking cups.

    2. MIX muffin batter as directed on cornbread mix pouch. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Spoon about 1 tablespoon batter into each muffin cup. Place 1 broccoli floret in each, stem side down, trimming stem if necessary for floret to fit in muffin cup.

    3. SPOON remaining batter over florets, covering completely.

    4. BAKE 15 minutes; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 1 to 3 minutes longer or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

    Find more of our favorite muffin recipes.


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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Guacamole Day

    Dating back to Mayan times (pre-Aztec), guacamole sauce was made the avocado, onion, chiles, fresh tomato, and salt—a recipe that is still made today.

    The ingredients were mashed in a molcajete (mol-cah-HET-tay), a Mexican pestle carved from volcanic stone, although today granite is an easier-to-clean option.

    The name of the dish comes from the Aztec language, Nahuatl: ahuacamolli (ah-waka-MOLE-ee), which literally translates to “avocado sauce” (ahuacatl is avocado, molli is sauce. In Spanish, guacamole is prounounced huac-ah-MOE-lay.

    Over time, different regions of Mexico began mixing local ingredients, creating thousands of variations. In American cuisine, it is used as a dip and condiment.

    Progressive Mexican restaurants often offer a tasting appetizer of three or four different recipes.


    Try guacamole with different garnishes and mix-ins. Photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico.


    At Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria in New York City, Chef Richard Sandoval does exactly that, offering options that include:


    A regional guacamole recipe from the south
    of Mexico. Photo courtesy Maya | NYC.

  • Traditional, made with avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and serrano chile
  • Baja, with flavors from Baja California—kiwi, jicama, strawberry, mango, mint, arbol chile, lime and sea salt
  • Norteno, with signature ingredients from the North—chicharrón (fried pork rinds), pickled onions, salsa fresca, Serrano ham, queso fresco, roasted corn, lime and sea salt
  • Pacifico, with grilled beet, roasted walnut, queso fresco, diced orange, citrus chipotle salt and lime juice
  • Sur, incorporating flavors from the South including grasshoppers (uh…fried grasshoppers are a popular snack in Mexico and you can buy them online), tomatillo, cotija cheese, onion, cascabel chile, cilantro, lime and sea salt (see photo at left)
    But perhaps the best way to enjoy National Guacamole Day is to create your own signature recipe. To the mashed avocado, lime juice and salt, add:


  • Tomato group: tomato, tomatillo, salsa, sundried tomatoes
  • Onion group: chives, onion, green onion/scallion, pickled onions, red onion, shallots
  • Heat: chili flakes, minced chiles, hot sauce
  • Cheese: blue cheese, cotija, queso fresco, grated cheddar (try jalapeño cheddar) or jack
  • Creamy: crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Fruit: dried fruits, mango, melon, papaya, pomegranate arils, strawberry
  • Herbs: basil, bell pepper, cayenne, cilantro, garlic cloves, mint, parsley, sage, tarragon
  • Vegetables: asparagus, corn, jicama, radish/daikon
  • Wild card: bacon, crab meat, minced pork or ham, olives, toasted nuts
    Check out this fusion recipes from California Avocado Growers for Cajun Guacamole, French Guacamole, Greek Guacamole, Italian guacamole, Japanese guacamole.

    There are 21 pages of guacamole recipes on the website.

    Here’s a Cranberry Guacamole recipe for the holidays.


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