Friday, October 31, 2014

Dracula's Revenge: A Cheesy Garlic Spinach Artichoke Dip

Is it just me, or is October 31st one of the busiest days of the year??

The "trick" is  getting everything done... the clock is moving so much faster today than usual... and I am hurriedly trying to tie-up loose ends for a third-grade Halloween party, getting costume details in order and making sure I'm in order!

 No matter how much prep work I seem to do, Halloween day is a flurry of activities and a race to the starting bell at 6 PM sharp when the real fun begins...  

The treat will be seeing all the cute kiddos on our door step.  This year I'm planning to present them with a basket of shiny apples...APPLES!?? Not really, the treat will be when I show them the real candy-- I have full-size candy bars to pass out!  I'm so excited...I hope they will be too!!

It's going to be a chilly Halloween night, with haunting winds and possible snow flurries!!  
 Brrrr... I will need something to warm up those frosty trick-or-treater's and their trusty chaperon when they return home!
Once they sink their fangs into this Dracula's Revenge, a gooey-cheesy dip; they will be sure to thaw out.

Quick, easy and marvelous for a bevy of hungry bats, or starving kids and husbands...

 Cheesy Garlic Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 box or bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and all the water squeezed out.
1 can of artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (5-7 in the can I used)
1/2 red bell pepper chopped fine
1 garlic clove minced
1 cup of mayo- We use Hellman's or Dukes
1 cup of shredded Parmesan
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese for the top
Mix the first 8 ingredients together.  Spread dip into a baking dish.  Top with a sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese. Pop into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and everything is melted and bubbly.

What to serve with Dracula's Revenge?? 

 I like sliced french bread, tortillas, or celery... but for Halloween night... bat chips!!

For fun I added bat shaped tortillas to scoop up the cheesy goodness.
Take your favorite tortillas and on a cutting board, cut out the bat shapes with a cookie cutter.  Of course, you can use whatever shape you like...ghosts or pumpkins would be cute too!

***If you like the tortillas crisped, lightly spray batty tortillas with cooking oil, lightly salt and pepper and bake on cookie sheet, in a 350 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes (keep a watchful eye...the tortillas can go from crisp and toasty to burned and gross in two seconds)  
The toasted bats can be made ahead.

Wishing you and yours a hauntingly good Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cheers!! Bourbon & Cinnamon~Apple Cider Cocktails

As promised, a delicious apple cider cocktail that is perfect for any autumn party or just for fun on a Sunday afternoon!  We enjoyed these "grown-up" apple cider cocktails at our 
Sunday afternoon get-together.  Click here for the story: A Fall Gathering
Here are the cast of characters:
Apple Cider
Bourbon, we use Maker's Mark
Apple Schnapps
Ginger Ale, we used Vernor's
Cinnamon Sticks
optional for fancy drinks:
Cinnamon/Sugar  and one orange for rimming glasses
 Honey Crisp apples for garnish
For a crowd, if you plan to use a punch bowl, beverage jar with ladle or a beverage dispenser like I did... below is the recipe for a large portion:
1/2 gallon of apple cider (8 cups)
2 cups bourbon
2 cups apple schnapps
2 cinnamon sticks
Add together and let chill for 2 hours to overnight.
Just before guests arrive, add 1 two-liter of Ginger Ale (8 cups)
Add apple slices and garnishes
Rim glasses with cinnamon/sugar 
Add ice to a glass and pour.  

1 part apple cider (3 oz)
1 part ginger ale (3 oz)
1 shot bourbon
1 shot apple schnapps
If you care for a stronger cocktail, add additional bourbon to taste.
Pour over ice, garnish and enjoy.

For garnish, slice apples across the middle to get beautiful full circles.
 To remove seeds, use a small decorative cookie cutter.
 Press and remove seeds, discard star shape, to reveal apple round with a star cut-out.
 For additional garnishes, use the fleshy good part of the apple and make additional star shapes.
 Feeling adventurous??  Try using other shapes, like acorns, pumpkins or other seasonal cut-outs.  Too cute!!
If using apples for garnish, remember to soak them in lemon water so they don't turn brown.  

Get ready to rim the glasses!!

Use a cut orange or lemon.  Lightly rub the mouth of the glass or rim with the citrus juice.

Gently press glass into a cinnamon-sugar mixture and then stand the glass upright.

If you have an empty cinnamon container, add sugar to it and add a teaspoon of your favorite cinnamon, shake...
and with a sharpie marker- note the new contents of the spice tin. 
It's not fancy--but it works!  
This way you'll always have homemade cinnamon-sugar at the ready. 
 Just refill the tin as needed.

Add ice.
 Pour the Bourbon-Cinnamon Apple Cider cocktail over ice and garnish with apple slices!
 How cute are those little star-shaped apples!?
 Easy and delicious!!  

Linked to:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Fall Gathering

Some parties need a great playlist, and some may need a signature party needed a couch!

...A few weeks ago I purchased a couch... not just any couch... it was a beautifully shaped, camel-back, in near perfect condition... kind of couch. The only problem?...well, it's plaid to be exact.

Red plaid like a wool Christmas blanket, or red plaid like a Scottish kilt.  Not everyone can pull off a red plaid sofa, and not every home needs one either... as my husband could probably argue... However...
Almost immediately, I knew I loved this sofa (at least the shape, anyway) ...and having it re-covered is not a big deal.

I had visions of this plaid beauty sitting near an autumn fire, with apple cider... leaves falling all around... are you still with me??... Can you see where I am going with this project???

I also envisioned the sofa and all it's plaid glory nestled by a charming country Christmas tree...
...we will just have to wait and see how the next part of the story goes...
Since I had the perfect couch, I thought it would be the perfect weekend to host a fall gathering and drag my beautiful red, plaid sofa out to the party...

It was quite the topic of conversation... It's not everyday you get to rescue a red plaid couch from the clutches of an uncertain future...

This past weekend was the kind of amazing October weekend we always hope for, just warm enough, breezy and colorful... just look at the gorgeous photo below...the sunlight through the trees in the back yard = perfection.
I invited our neighbors over for a little Sunday get-together.  I like Sunday afternoon, it's a nice time to slow the whole weekend down...

 Having the neighbors over, it's a perfect time to catch up and spend a little quality time, with some quality people.
Having a Sunday afternoon cocktail is never a bad idea!  In fact, I think we should do it more often.
Tomorrow, on the blog I will share the recipe for this delicious Bourbon Cinnamon~Apple Cider Cocktail... It's easy (simple and easy is always the first ingredient to becoming a keeper around here) A perfect drink to share with a crowd... by dusk, we were out of this delicious drink, --not a surprise. We served this cocktail at Thanksgiving last year, it was a hit then too. 
 We served popcorn and pretzels.  Of course we had cinnamon cider doughnuts, fresh from the fruit farm... a little pumpkin fudge too...
 2 Minute Pumpkin Fudge Recipe, it's easy and a keeper too! Click here for more info:
 Yes, It says : Grown Ups on the tag!  We had regular cider for the kiddos.

Photo credit: Kayla Pitman
 The boys got to play a last game of football before the chilly November winds start to blow...

 ....and all because of a couch.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blue Ribbon Baking Class | Best of Show Desserts 101

Are you ready to bake your best Thanksgiving desserts ever??  

It's time to get your apron on and meet me at:

 The Blue Ribbon Baking Class this November 11, 2014!!

 I have made more than my fair share of baking the time I forgot to put sugar in all of my competition chocolate cakes...the judge spit her bite out!!  Really.
or...How about the time I was checking the bottom of a piping hot pecan pie for doneness and I flipped the whole molten pie onto the kitchen floor??  (Gasp)

Over-filled a pie?

Water from a bain-marie seep into a cheesecake?

Start a small kitchen fire with a lemon meringue pie?

Kill yeast with too warm of water?

 Have to start completely over because you could not remember if you added baking powder?? Check.

It happens... mistakes happen.

So, why am I telling you about these baking
"horror" stories??
What would be the point of coming to Blue Ribbon Baking Class??

An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field. 
-Niels Bohr

I can honestly say, while not an expert, more like an baking enthusiast...I have made some of the worst baking mistakes along the way and I have corrected them all and learned from them all...and this is where the benefit of making all those mistakes comes in:

 When it comes to baking, knowing what to do, is every bit as important as
 knowing what not to do.
-Karri Perry

I will be spilling all those hard earned secrets about this year's TWO,
BEST of SHOW winning desserts!!  Pumpkin Cake & Apple Pie
If you live the the greater Cincinnati area, and would like to attend I will be teaching at the The Ohio State University extension of Butler county.
Details are available below:
I will be teaching the two-time Best of Show winning: 
Pumpkin Cake 
which is an outstanding, make-ahead dessert and a great alternative to pumpkin pie...
 I will be sharing exactly how I made those adorable, gold-gilded, edible pumpkins too!
And as if that were not enough... I will be sharing the
Best of Show and 3-time contest winning, first place:
Apple Pie
The class will cover a very special holiday version: Cranberry Apple Pie...
 I will be covering the finer points of pie dough and all the dos and don't to making award winning desserts for your holiday table.
I will show how to make a gorgeous leaf-topped's not as hard as you might think...and I promise to give all the details!

Additionally, a fellow baker and competitor of mine, Art Chatfield, who specializes in yeast baked goods will be demonstrating 60 minute rolls... a perfect addition to any special meal!

The cost for the class is $20. Reservations are required.
It is a demonstration and tasting class, a recipe booklet will be provided. All proceeds from this class go to the Ohio State University extension -- and not to me.

Happy Baking!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014


We have lovely neighbors. The kind of folks who are good to our children, keep an eye on our home while we are away, and even shovel our driveway in the winter.  We live on a street that is brimming with outstanding people.  I know we are beyond blessed to live in such a wonderfully friendly and "old-fashioned" neighborhood; the kind of neighborhood where everyone waves hello and still stops to chat when they's a simple pleasure that makes home --extra special.
At the beginning of October, a knock at the door brought us a unique opportunity.  Our neighbor Jane had been collecting Monarch caterpillars from her garden and she brought us two!  Jane stood on our doorstep with two jars of chubby and very hungry caterpillars in hand.  The caterpillars were busy crawling about and eating everything in sight.  Jane also brought along a hand full of milkweed leaves and a book all about what we could expect to happen over the next two weeks.  The kiddos were overjoyed.

It wasn't too long before the caterpillars made their cocoons.  It was magnificent to watch.  I loved keeping an eye on them probably even more than the kids.  In just about two weeks our chubby caterpillars had turned into gorgeous Monarch butterflies.

It was so thoughtful of Jane to share her caterpillars and ultimately the experience of watching a caterpillar become a butterfly... it was something that I hope everyone gets to do at least once in their life... It was that amazing --absolutely stunning.  We plan to grow milkweed in our garden next spring. We understand the Monarch butterflies are dwindling in numbers...and milkweed is what they milkweed we will grow!
Simply beautiful.
One last time to hold hands before they fly away.
Ready for take-off!!
As a thank-you we made a batch of ginger cookies, the fancy kind--first place, blue ribbon ginger cookies. Making cookies was a great way the kids could participate in making something special to give to Jane as a thank-you.

1st Place Sparkling Chewy Ginger Cookies
Karri Perry, Blue Ribbon Kitchen
½ cup shortening
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened (1/2 stick)
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ground ginger 
¾  tsp ground cloves
4 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup medium and large crystal sanding sugar (for coating cookies)

Combine the dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Set aside
Cream shortening, butter, brown sugars, molasses and egg in a large bowl.

TIP: Creaming can take 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy

Gradually add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture; mixing until dough begins to come together.
Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger.
Shape the dough into balls (about 1 inch in diameter).

TIP: Use a small ice cream scoop to keep cookies uniform in size.

Roll cookie dough balls in granulated sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake 9-11 minutes at 375 degrees on the middle oven rack.
Let hot cookies rest on baking sheet for one minute before transferring to a cooling rack.
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

Tip: Using 2 sizes of sanding sugar, large and medium, gives each cookie an amazing sparkle and crunch on the outside of the cookie.

Chopped crystalized ginger

I love to use a small ice cream scoop --all the cookies are uniform in size and therefore bake evenly.
Roll cookie dough in sugar before placing on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Space about 2 inches apart.
Cookies cooling and the paper trays that I love so much.
We wrapped the cookies up with cellophane, twine  and a thank you clip.  The paper tray we used for the cookies is one of my favorites.  The trays can be baked in, but they are also perfect for delivering sweets and baked goods --because the tray is lined with a wax coating --there are never any oil spots. Most craft and cooking stores carry them, I picked mine up at Michael's.
A proper thank-you
The twine, wooden clip and other goodies came from the Target $1 spot.  Target really had a fabulous selection of Halloween odds and ends... I snapped a photo of some of the great things I picked up.
To accompany the delicious cookies, a hand written, heart-felt "thank-you"-- the best kind of thank-you in my humble opinion.
The best kind of thank-you.
For Jane.
 We hope Jane liked the cookies, because we certainly liked the Monarch butterflies!!