Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Stew

I loooooove Halloween.  Like a lot.

I think I love it so much because the spooky holiday is just the perfect excuse to decorate my house with cobwebs and witches hats, dress up in absolutely whatever I want, watch scary movies all day and night long, and eat one too many fun-sized Snickers bars... 

Oh, and eat stew out of a pumpkin...

That's right.  Stew.. out of a pumpkin...

Now, don't be afraid... I know you are probably thinking I am crazy. Stew in a pumpkin?! How can that be good? 

But people let me tell you... it is the best stew you will ever taste. 

My mom used to make this dinner for my brother and I every Halloween night before the trick or treating festivities began.  And I mean, kids are food's biggest critics, and if we ate this meal as little ghosts and goblins, it HAS to be absolutely delicious, right?!  


The familiar flavors of a hearty stew are all present in this new twist on the classic.  The only thing different is the delicious pumpkin flesh that you can peel away from the pumpkin, itself, and eat right along the meat, veggies, and potatoes.  (It tastes JUST like squash so if you like squash this is the best of the best- believe me.) 

This meal is a stick-to-your-rib meal and will keep you up and running all throughout the exciting night of costumes, candy, and whatever mischief you find yourself in..

So Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you have the best night full of love, spooks, and scares with family and friends! (And pumpkin stew, of course...)

Now, excuse me while I go indulge in some right now.. :)

1 12-18 lb. pumpkin
4 large red potatoes, cut into 1-in. pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, 1/2-in. diced
1/2 bag mini carrots, halved lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs extra lean stew meat
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 TBS instant beef bouillon
1 14 1/2-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
Vegetable oil

Chop potatoes, onion, green pepper, and carrots.

In a large dutch oven or pot, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and add stew meat.

Cook meat over medium-high heat and brown.

Add all of the veggies to the pot.  Mix together.

Add water, salt, and pepper.  Mix together!

Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 2 hours!  Stir the stew throughout the 2 hours.

While the stew has cooked for at least 1 1/2 hours,  preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  You can also start working on your pumpkin!  Cut a 6-8 inch circle around the stem of the pumpkin.  Cut off the excess flesh hanging off of the lid and remove the seeds.  Set aside.  Now, roll up your sleeves and remove all of the seeds from the inside of your pumpkin like you are 5-years old again! Scoop out the stringy pulp, but don't remove all of it!  (You want some of that pulp when you serve yourself a nice, big scoop when it is done cooking!)  Place your pumpkin in a baking dish.   Your pumpkin should looks as mine does, below.

Once your stew has cooked for the full two hours, remove the lid and stir once last time.  Now, I know the stew is not the prettiest (sooo dull in color :( )... but c'mon now stew never is!  And boy, does the taste make up for it..

Spice up the stew mix, and add the beef bouillon and canned tomatoes with juice!

It's pumpkin time! Carefully scoop all of the stew into the pumpkin. 

Once all of the stew has been added, place the lid back on the pumpkin.  Pour a little vegetable oil on to a piece of paper towel and give the outside of your pumpkin a good rub down.  This will keep your pumpkin from burning in the oven.

Add pumpkin to oven and cook for 2 hours!  

Once it has cooked for 2 hours, carefully remove from the oven.

Carefully remove the lid of the pumpkiny cauldron and jump for joy...  are you in for a treat! ( No tricks here, people!)  Remember to scoop out a little pumpkin pulp with each serving! (The pulp on the lid is my favorite part! Tastes just like an acorn squash!) Serve with a hearty piece of bread to dip in the juices and enjoy!! Happy Halloween everyone! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Caramel "Heavenly" Brownies

Caramel Brownies are probably the best invention in the brownie world.

Seriously...  I don't think there is a brownie out there that could beat this delicious piece of chocolatey, caramely, ooey gooey goodness.

A couple years ago, our family friend introduced us to these absolutely amazing brownies and I am pretty sure my whole family died and went to heaven when we first tasted them.

Although they aren't your typical chocolate fudge brownie that you may be used to, they have every single scrumptious ingredient that you could ever dream of and will change your views on brownies forever.

Chewy, buttery caramel and melt-in-your-mouth milk chocolate chips are layered in between two fluffly, light German Chocolate Cake brownie layers... can you say decadence?

I know I can. :)

1 box German Chocolate Cake mix
1 1/2 stick butter, melted
1 small can sweetened condensed milk
1 bag caramel drops/mini balls (you could use wrapped caramels but I have found the balls make a much better caramely center)
1/2 bag milk chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine German chocolate cake mix, butter, and half the container of sweetened condensed milk.  It will be a very thick batter!

Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and add half of the German chocolate cake batter.  It is a thick dough so you may have to use your hands and push it in.  (To make sure you cut batter evenly in half, press the batter down into the bowl and using your finger, draw a line down the center.  Cut down the line with your finger and there ya have it- half of the dough!)

Bake for 6-8 minutes until it is set.  (It doesn't have to be done completely because it is going back in the oven, but make sure it is set up enough to hold some delicious fillings and other half of batter!)  While it is baking melt caramels and the other half of the sweetened condensed milk in the microwave.  Microwave in 30 second increments and make sure to stir in between.  Microwave until caramel balls have turned into a rich creamy caramel sauce.

When first brownie layer is set, take out and top with chocolate chips.. and don't worry if you use the whole bag... I mean, it wouldn't hurt anybody ;)

Pour caramel sauce ALL over the top of the chocolate chips.

Gently, top the caramel with the rest of the brownie dough.  This is easiest done by flattening pieces of the batter in between your hands and placing them on top of caramel.  Think of it as a puzzle and cover the caramel as best as you can.

Put brownies back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until done!!   Make sure brownies are completely done before taking them out of the oven.  Let them cool completely before cutting into them....

I know, it's asking a lot... but the caramely-chocolatey ooey gooey goodness center must set up and cool before indulging... so be patient and I promise it will be worth the wait :) ENJOY!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Rice Krispies

Fall is FINALLY here!

And as you all know, pumpkin is my absolute faveeee Fall ingredient... So, I am extremely excited because now I have even more the excuse to try and throw it in every recipe out there. 

Rice Krispies are obviously a delicious, fun treat that pretty much everyone pretty loves, so when I saw this idea of Rice Krispies + Pumpkin, I almost fell off my chair.

These chewy, ooey-gooey treats not only bring you back to your childhood of unwrapping those shiny blue packages of deliciousness stuffed away in your elementary school lunchbox, but they also pack a punch of pumpkin flavor that totally defines Autumn in one large, chewy bite.

They are extremely simple to make and because of the addition of pumpkin, they stay very moist and surprisingly soft... of course, making them that much more scrumptious.

With only a few ingredients and a quick preparation, you will have the best little treat to enjoy on a cool, breezy Autumn day! Believe me they are sooo worth making!

So I encourage (demand) you to go make some apple cider, put your Fall decorations up, and make these absolutely delicious krispie treats...

Just try to get them out of the pot before they're all in your mouth ;) Happy Autumn!

3 TBS butter
1/4 cup pumpkin, canned
10 oz bag marshmallows
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of all-spice
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
5 cups Rice Krispies, cereal

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.

Add pumpkin once butter is melted.  Stir. (It may look like the butter evaporates when you stir, but you want it to look that way.)

Add whole bag of marshmallows.

 Consistently stir until all of the marshmallows are almost melted.

Add in spices, and stir until combined.

Let mixture sit for about 20 minutes, until room temperature.  This will help the rice krispies not become soggy when added to the mixture.

Once mixture has come to room temperature, add the rice krispies, folding them in one cup at a time.  Make sure the rice krispies are throughly incorporated.  You may have to use your hands to fold them in!

Line a 9x9 brownie pan with wax paper and press rice krispie mixture into the pan.

Cut and serve! I even cut mine using a pumpkin cookie cutter! Soo cute and soooo scrumptious!