Sweet

Halloween is sweet over at The Food Network

What is sweeter than Halloween? And some of our favorite shows are on The Food Network, where I often find inspiration, and they have special Halloween themed recipes…of course they do! Check out these sweet and savory treats. The Food Network has two great October shows that offer more great Halloween recipes and ideas – Halloween Baking Championship (Mondays @9:00pm) and Halloween Wars (Sundays @9:00pm).

You know I’m all about the sweets, and there are some great treats like Wicked Cupcakes 

and

Pull Apart Graveyard Cupcakes

Pecan-Caramel Spiders
Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces thin black licorice strands, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Chocolate curls or jimmies, optional

Directions

Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Mound 30 small clusters of pecans, about 3 or 4 pecans each, spaced a couple inches apart on the pan.

Make caramel: Warm the cream over low heat and keep warm while you cook the sugar.

Put the sugar and corn syrup and in a deep, heavy-bottomed large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, raise heat to medium-high, and simmer until the sugar reaches the hard crack stage, or 305 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.

Whisk the butter and salt into the sugar mixture. Gradually pour in the cream and vanilla taking care since the mixture will bubble up. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees F on the thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Immediately remove from the heat and cool for a minute.

Ladle a couple tablespoons of warm caramel over some of the nut clusters, to make the spider bodies. Then press 6 pieces of licorice into the warm caramel to make the legs. Repeat with the remaining caramel and licorice. (It’s helpful to have an extra hand here, since the caramel can set quickly. If caramel hardens, warm over very low heat. ) Let spiders cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1-inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, 2 to 3 minutes more.)

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each spider. Sprinkle with jimmies or chocolate curls, if desired. Let cool until firm.

Copyright 2007 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved

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But I also love tomato soup with a nice grilled cheese and this recipe is too adorable not to share! Vampire Blood Tomato Soup with Muenster Sammies to fuel us your little trick or treaters before they get all sugared up from Halloween. Plus it’s a rookie move to order a pizza on Halloween night because everyone does and the wait is endless.

For more Halloween recipes and ideas, tune in to Food Network or visit Foodnetwork.com

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

The Best Present and an Easy Resolution to boot

The Best Present and an Easy Resolution to boot.

The short answer is health.

The longer answer includes taking care of yourself and your family, and while there are many factors out of your control, there are a lot of things you can do to keep everyone healthy and not so stressed out. My family had some health issues this holiday season, some minor and some not so minor, and staying healthy and unstressed is my goal for us in 2015.

Obviously – the basics always apply. Eat healthy food. Exercise regularly.

Okay, sure, sounds good. What I wasn’t considering was additional body work that affects your overall heath. So while there is no shortage of options and everyone has a favorite, here are a few suggestions –  yoga for working on your core and calming down, Reiki and/or meditation for even more calming, and stretching and massage for overall wellness.  And I love getting a massage, I just don’t do it very often, maybe it’s the frugal thing I have going, or a concern that it takes so much time. But I learned that it doesn’t have to be expensive and a whole day spa experience, it can be a built in wellness appointment that you make for yourself.

IMG_1462Two weeks ago I received a gift card to Massage Envy on Needham Street in Newton, and I made an appointment. While I drive by it on the way to my usual places (Home Goods, Marshalls or T.J. Maxx), I had never been in. And when they called the day before to confirm the appointment, it occurred to me to find the gift card. Sadly, this thought was not acted upon. Fast forward to the next day (surprise) when I realized that I had no idea where the gift card was – great.

I called Massage Envy and left a possibly frantic voice-mail about not being able to find the card – should I reschedule? They called back while I was still in my driveway assuring me that it was fine and to head on over. I’m so glad I did! Obviously my holiday stressed self really needed a re-set and this was the perfect way to recharge, reflect and slow the heck down.

The waiting room was warm, comfortable, quiet and welcoming with sunlight streaming through the huge windows. While I filled out a Massage Wellness Chart, the wonderful people behind the desk gave me a warm neck wrap and some spring water to keep me hydrated. Not a bad start.

Then my massage therapist and I talked about specific areas in which I might be experiencing pain, or would like to address during the massage. The treatment room was clean and pleasantly lit, and the heated massage pad on the table was an unexpected bonus. But the biggest bonus was how I felt post-massage – terrific, calm and centered and much less scattered and anxious. Also, my neck and shoulders felt completely tension free. Evidently I hold some tension in my neck. Go figure.

Massage Envy in Newton has an extraordinarily lovely group of professionals working there, which is evident  in their kindness, energy, and ties to the local community. From the Toys for Tots donation box in the waiting room to the well wishes cards taped to the wall behind the desk, you can just tell this caring group of people will do their best to make you comfortable. Check out the monthly plans – don’t worry, you don’t pay if you don’t go – the session rolls over to the next month or you can gift it to someone else which is nice, too.

From the Massage Envy website:

Massage therapy helps you relax, re-align and rejuvenate. There are many positive aspects to receiving massage therapy on an ongoing basis, and with the busy lives we lead, we can all benefit from a little stress-management.

There are over 1,000 Massage Envy locations across North America. So, to find one near you, find them on Twitter or Facebook or go to the website. I think I’ll be better served health-wise if I make this a regular stop on my route. This is a prescription for health that’s going to be easy to fill!

Disclosure: I received a gift certificate for a massage to facilitate this review. All opinions are, and always will be, my own.

Crock-pot Love and More #giveaway

Crock-pot® Love and More #giveaway from RedPack Tomatoes®

It’s not that I love my crock-pot more than any other appliance (sorry, crock-pot, I may love my mixer just a little bit more, but we have been together since 1992 and she’s even a bit sickly of late, so…). But this time of year with busy days, late sporting events and activities, I both love and need my crock-pot (I even ponied up for a larger capacity model last year when I couldn’t fit some recipes in my training model (only a one quart).

What do I do with it? Um, everything, really. From beans to sauces to full meals, the crock-pot handles it all. Having a team dinner? Have food allergies/requests? You can have two crock-pots and one meat chile and one veggie. Feeds a crowd – add a big green salad and some cornbread and you are done.

My favorite sauce in general (and it works beautifully in a slow cooker) is from smitten kitchen – tomato sauce with onion and butter.  And I’m always looking for new recipes – I am going to try the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (or Chicken) from Redpack Tomatoes.

So all of you Slow Cooker Lovers, Redpack Tomatoes is running a giveaway of 44 custom crockpots – they are giving away 2 crockpots a day! And here is their Facebook Page where you can enter the giveaway.

 

Disclosure: I received Redpack Tomatoes and a pretty wooden spoon to add to my growing collection. I was not compensated and I have a feeling I can’t enter to win the crockpot either, so you’re welcome.

 

Hood® Sour Cream Meal Makeover Google+ Hangout

Hood® Sour Cream Meal Makeover Google+ Hangout

Hangout with Sarah Walker Caron, Writer, Editor, Recipe Developer and Blogger at Sarah’s Cucina Bella on Friday, October 24th (that’s today!) from 3-3:30 EST while she makes over two classic recipes with Hood Sour Cream from the #HoodMealMakeover series.

I’ll be there, too! A great way to end a busy week and get some new ideas for meals your family will love!

965 HoodSC MealMake Invite_HiRes

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