Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sweet Halloween Treats

I was inspired by So Yummy's Halloween treat video (which I caught a few weeks ago on Facebook). I decided to dive in with the girls (and few sweet friends) to see how successful we might be at recreating some of the cute ideas. Plus it turned out to be a great way to celebrate a random Monday off from school. Knowing how much sugar I would be sending them home with, I threw in some fruit, veggies, and some (not-so-healthy) chips & dip.
In case you missed it, here's a link to our inspiration: 7 Sweet & Easy Treats to Make for Halloween by So Yummy. We didn't make all seven --but we did tackle FIVE! Most of the ingredients were easy to come by. Purple jimmies (sprinkles) were sold out everywhere so we went with a different shape. And the black licorice laces had to be ordered online. The tall jars that I used for the green melts, I just threw away. :( 

Peanut Butter Cup Bats
Reese's peanut butter cups
Oreo cookies
small candy eyes

Frankenstein Monster HoHos
green candy melts
purple or grey sprinkles
candy corn
small candy eyes
white sprinkle for the mouth

These turned out to be one of the trickiest. We found that when we dipped the HoHo into the melted candy, the heat from the candy pulled the chocolate from the HoHo. There must be a secret ingredient to those candy melts in the video. They were definitely more smooth and workable than what we were using. The girls improvised.

Chocolate Cupcake Spiders
chocolate cupcakes
chocolate frosting
chocolate sprinkles
black licorice laces
Red Hot candies

Creepy Monster Fingers
pretzel rods
green candy melts
sliced almonds

Purple Oreo Cyclops
Oreo cookies (double-stuffed)
purple candy melts
purple sprinkles
large candy eyes
lollipop sticks

Apparently, I didn't capture any pictures of the girls making these. They were certainly the trickiest. The Oreos fell off the sticks or broke because the candy melts didn't get as thin and smooth as that in the video. Using their knives, the girls just frosted them instead.

After the treats were finished, we enjoyed some Halloween Punch that my friend, Trisha, made (including dry ice smoke and frozen hands). It turned out a beautiful purple-red and the floating hands of ice made it especially festive!

Halloween Punch
Equal parts:
100% juice orange juice
grape juice

Each guest left with a tray full of spooky treats.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Recipe Review | PLATED Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Crispy Cauliflower, Tahini Sauce, and Za'atar

One of the best things about this recipe from Plated was the fact that Greg was almost done making it by the time I got home from an outing with Piper on Sunday evening (Ha!). The Middle Eastern spice blend added a smokiness to the dish and the "honeyed" capers were an excellent contrast. The chicken thighs were unbelievably tender and juicy. Plated sent 2 thighs per serving. They were very generous in size so we cooked only 4 total (one for each of us) and it was plenty of food. I look forward to preparing the other four with the same searing/roasting method used in this recipe later in the week.

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Crispy Cauliflower, Tahini Sauce, and Za'atar
Recipe curtesy of Plated
(I've adjusted the recipe to 4 servings)
What you need:
20 ounces cauliflower florets
1/4 ounce parsley
1 lemon
2 yellow onions
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons capers
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons za'atar
4-8 chicken thighs (depending on size, you'll want 1-2 per person)
1/2 cup tahini
6 ounces baby spinach
olive oil
salt and pepper
What to do:
  1. Before you get started: Preheat oven to 450ºF. (Make sure there's enough room in your oven for a large pan and a baking sheet to fit at the same time. Move racks around if needed.) 
  2. Prepare Ingredients: Cut cauliflower to 1/2-inch wide florets and place on a baking sheet. Roughly chop parsley leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemon. Peel onion, halve, and thinly slice. In a small bowl, stir together honey, capers, and 1 teaspoon olive oil to combine, and set aside.
  3. Prepare Cauliflower: Heat butter, za'atar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat. When butter is foamy, remove pan from heat and add juice of lemon. Pour za'atar-lemon butter over cauliflower on a baking sheet, reserving pan for the ext step. Toss cauliflower to coat, then arrange in a single layer. Set aside. 
  4. Sear Chicken Thighs: Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season all over with a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan from butter over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken skin-side town and sear until skin begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and brown on opposite side, about 1 minute more. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. 
  5. Roast Chicken Thighs: Discard almost all excess fat in pan from chicken, leaving behind a thin layer. Place pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until onion is coated, about 1 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons water. Return chicken to pan on top of onion, skin-side up. Transfer to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 18 minutes.
  6. Roast Cauliflower: Transfer cauliflower to oven (with chicken) and roast until golden, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, place tahini in a medium bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Adding 1 tablespoon at a time, whisk in up to 1/2 cup of warm water until sauce is smooth and pourable. Set aside. After 12 minutes of cauliflower roasting, sprinkle over honeyed capers and continue roasting until capers are crisp, 3 minutes more.
  7. Plate Chicken Thighs: Once roasted, transfer chicken to a plate, leaving onions behind in pan, off heat. Stir in spinach to wilt, about 1 minute. Divide spinach and onions between serving plates, top with chicken and serve with crispy cauliflower. Drizzle over tahini sauce, garnish with parsley. YUM!