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Pumpkin Spice Ghost Munch Caramel Corn

Hi guys! Are you over the pumpkin spice craze yet, or do you have room for more? I hope you’re still into it, but if not, it’s super easy to leave it out of this recipe. In fact, this is super customizable. You can really make it for any holiday or special occasion. But more on that in a minute.

Do you all know what Moose Munch is? It’s a caramel corn by Harry and David that is typically coated in chocolate. It is delicious. This is my take on it, all dressed up for Halloween. And it’s super easy, even with homemade caramel corn. Yes, I said homemade. I promise it’s not hard to make, and you probably have all of the ingredients you need in your pantry right now. Yes, you need a candy thermometer, but they aren’t expensive and it is sooooo worth it.

I love this caramel corn. My mom has been making it for as long as I can remember. She always adds salted peanuts, which I think add the perfect salty component. You can, of course, use whatever nuts you like. But make sure they are salted and roasted. If you don’t use salted nuts, give the caramel corn a heavy sprinkle of sea salt before baking. You’ll thank me later. You can certainly stop once the caramel corn is made, and you would have an absolutely delicous snack. But if you want something special for a holiday or party, or just because, go ahead and add some chocolate. I used chocolate almond bark and pumpkin spice chips, but you can use any chocolate that sounds good to you. Chocolate chips, white chocolate, almond bark, peanut butter chips. Like I said, anything you want.

Candy melts also work well, so it’s super simple to customize the colors. Go for red and green at Christmas. Or red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July. How about some pretty pastels for Easter? Or use your teams colors for a fun tailgating snack. And the sprinkles are optional, but there are so many fun varieties out there, you are sure to find some that will work for whatever event you’re making this for. Put out a big bowl for everyone to much on and it will be gone in no time. Or divide it into individual bags with matching ribbons or tags for a fun party favor. However you decide to customize this, you should definitely give it a try!


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Pumpkin Spice Ghost Munch Caramel Corn
Homemade caramel corn coated in chocolate.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pop popcorn. You can do this in an air popper, a stir popper, in a pan on the stove, or even in the microwave. You can use a small amount of butter or oil, but you don't wanted seasoned or salted popcorn. You will need 10 cups of popped popcorn.
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a medium to large saucepan and cook over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Cook and stir until butter is melted and mixture begins to boil. Insert candy thermometer and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, without stirring, until mixture reaches 248 degrees, or firm ball stage.
  4. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will foam up, which is why you want a larger saucepan than you think you need.
  5. While caramel is cooking, combine popcorn and nuts (if using) in a large greased baking pan. I'm talking about a sheet pan, preferably with 2-inch sides. If you don't have a pan this big, the bottom part of a large broiler pan may work. Or divide evenly between two 13x9-inch cake pans.
  6. Pour caramel mixture (after baking soda has been added) over the popcorn and nuts. Stir well to coat all pieces. If you do not want to use nuts, sprinkle the coated popcorn with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
  7. Move to a 250-degree F oven and cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The caramel corn is done when no "loose" caramel is pooling in the bottom of the pan. Everything should be coated onto the popcorn and it shouldn't be too sticky. It will firm up the rest of the way once cooled.
  8. Once caramel corn is cool, melt the chocolate in a large bowl. Toss with 6 cups of the caramel corn until completely coated. Spread onto parchment- or waxed paper-lined baking sheet and let harden. I placed mine in the fridge for a few minutes to help it set.
  9. If using more than one type of chocolate, like I did, melt each type separately. I used 1/2 cup each of pumpkin spice chips and chopped chocolate almond bark. I mixed each type with 3 cups of the caramel corn.
  10. If you want to add sprinkles, add them to the chocolate-coated popcorn before it sets,
  11. Combine coated caramel corn with uncoated and mix well to distribute. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Recipe Notes
  • You can use any type of chocolate or chips that you want. Dark, milk, white, peanut butter. Colored candy melts also work great and make it easy to customize for any holiday or event.
  • Try red and green for Christmas; red, white, and blue for Fourth of July; team colors for tailgating; school colors for graduation.
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Zucchini Bread – Made with Spaghetti Squash!

Hi Everyone! I know I’ve been pretty absent here this summer, but I promise I am getting back to baking and will be bringing you lots of new recipes soon! I am so ready for fall – fall weather, fall flavors, fall color. It’s my favorite time of year. 🙂

But for those of you still clinging on to summer, and the bounty of your vegetable garden, I have one more summer recipe for you. Actually, with the cinnamon, it tastes like the start of fall, but it’s a great way to use up your squash.

This was originally my mom’s zucchini bread recipe, and people LOVE this bread. It’s got a nice strong cinnamon flavor and is super moist because of the zucchini. I was gifted a spaghetti  squash from a co-worker, and of course I was immediately challenged to bake something with it. I wondered if I could use it in place of zucchini in baked goods. So I did a little research, crossed my fingers, and went for it. 

This is the second recipe I’ve tried using that substitution, and I can’t tell the difference between the original and the spaghetti squash version. Yes – it works! The only difference is that you have to cook, and shred, the spaghetti squash first, whereas the zucchini is shredded and added to the batter raw. Also, you need to measure the squash by weight, since it is much more dense than shredded zucchini. 

Yes, you can absolutely use zucchini as originally intended. And while I used walnuts in mine, as always, the nuts are optional or changeable. Pecans are always delicious in sweet breads. Hazelnuts or macadamia nuts would be really interesting too.  This recipe uses only cinnamon, but you could change that up too. Add in a little bit of nutmeg or cloves for more of a fall flavor. And you can absolutely bake this in standard 8″x4″ loaf pans. I couldn’t resist trying out this beautiful new swirl pan I just got. And I have to say that I am loving it.

Serve this warm or at room temperature. Or toast it and spread on a little butter. Or cream cheese. Or, if you want to go all out, drizzle on some cream cheese icing for a decadent treat. I think I need to go make another batch of this and do just that….


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Zucchini Bread - with Spaghetti Squash!
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and very light yellow in color.
  2. Whisk in oil and vanilla until combined.
  3. Stir in shredded zucchini or squash.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and stir into batter along with nuts, if using, just until combined.
  5. Pour into two 8"x4" greased loaf pans.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes. (See notes).
  7. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or room temperature.
  8. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature or a week refrigerated.
Recipe Notes
  • Zucchini should be grated raw, with or without the peel.
  • Spaghetti squash should be cooked (steamed or baked) and shredded before adding to batter.
  • If you are using larger loaf pans (like the pan I used, or a 9"x5" pan) the bread will cook faster. Start checking after 35 minutes.
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Coffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking you don’t need another chocolate chip cookie recipe. But you’re wrong. Because not only is this cookie delicious and different than most of your chocolate chip cookie recipes, this one doesn’t have to be a chocolate chip cookie.

This recipe is based off of a recipe we made all the time as kids. We always had homemade cookies in our school lunch. Always. (My mom is the best. 🙂 ). The oatmeal chocolate chips cookies were a regular and a favorite. I was thinking about them the other day, and I thought they might be improved with a bit of coffee. (I was right). I made a few other changes (took out one egg white, used all brown sugar, melted the butter) to make them even chewier. Also a good idea.

But as I said, these don’t have to be chocolate chip cookies. In fact, the original recipe called for either chocolate chips OR shredded coconut. You could absolutely make that substitution here. Or add chopped nuts. Or dried fruit (you know, like raisins, if you’re in to that kind of thing). Or any combination of the above. The coffee is not an overwhelming flavor, but it really does add an interesting element to the cookie. Yes, you can leave it out. Or, if you want a real coffee punch, use up to twice the amount I’ve called for.

One thing you shouldn’t do is skip the chilling the dough step. Especially when using the melted butter, you really need to chill the dough to get a thicker, chewy cookie. Unless you want a thinner, crispier cookie. In which case, you should bake these as soon as they are mixed. (But seriously, why would you want that??) Whatever way you make these, you should definitely make them soon. I was informed that these are “husband approved”, and that I didn’t need to bring these in to the office to share. (Sorry guys!) 🙂

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Coffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine melted butter and brown sugar and mix well.
  2. Add egg, egg yolk, coffee (dissolved in water), and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips or other mix-ins.
  5. Refrigerate dough at least 30 minutes.
  6. Scoop chilled dough by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheets.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and just set. Do not overbake.
  8. Cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container up to a week.
Recipe Notes
  • Use any flavor chips you like.
  • Substitute chopped nuts, shredded coconut, and/or dried fruit.
  • Use any combination that sounds good to you!
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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ladybug Cookies

I promised you more spring treats, so here you go! As some of you may know, and many of you probably don’t, I have adored ladybugs my whole life. I have collected ladybugs in any form for as long as I can remember. And I have to tell you, most of the year there aren’t many ladybugs to be found in the stores. My sister collected pandas, and you could find those almost anywhere. I’ve known people who collect pigs or roosters – also pretty easy to find. Ladybugs – not so much. Around Valentine’s Day and Easter you see a few more around, but even then they are pretty scarce. Even so, I have amassed a pretty impressive collection, if I do say so myself. Towels, jewelry, wall art, soap dishes (that one in the picture above – I use it for a spoon rest on my stove!), toys, figurines, etc., etc. But I’m pretty sure it all started with this lovely lady right here.

These cookies are an adaptation of a cookie we started making when I was pretty young. My mom had saved a pull-out section of a Good Housekeeping magazine from the 1980s. It was a special Christmas cookie section for “Christmas Toy Cookies”. One of the recipes was for a ladybug cookie. What that has to do with Christmas or toys, I don’t really know. But I do know I loved making and eating those cookies. The original recipe was for a vanilla cookie with maraschino cherry, or red hots, spots. I decided to go more true-to-life, and make a red body with chocolate chip spots. And if I was going to add color, I figured I might as well add flavor!

The recipe as I have written it adds strawberry flavoring, which I’m sure many of you will enjoy. I, on the other hand, do not like strawberries. I know, I know. I told you I was a picky eater. I did have a bottle of pomegranate flavoring in my cabinet, begging to be used, though, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. You can use either of those flavors, or go with cherry or raspberry. Ooohh, or cinnamon….that would be fantastic, too. You could even leave the flavoring, and the color, out if you wanted to. This is a soft, slightly cakey cookie full of flavor. And they are pretty darn cute, too. 🙂


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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ladybug Cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs.
  2. Add salt, baking soda, and flour; mix well.
  3. Remove 1/4 cup of the dough, and stir the melted chocolate into that portion.
  4. Add the extract and food color to the plain dough. I used enough food color to make a bright red, but adjust to your tastes.
  5. Divide the red dough into 36 pieces, each approximately 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Shape each piece into an oval and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Divide the chocolate dough into 36 pieces, about 1/2 teaspoon each, and push into one end of each oval.
  7. Use the back of a butter knife to make a deep line down the center of each cookie, to define the "wings".
  8. Push mini chocolate chips into each wing. I use 2 or 3 per side, but use as many as you'd like.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are set. If you don't use the food coloring, there will be very light browning, but you cannot see this on the red cookies.
  10. Cool completely on wire racks and store in an airtight container up to a week.
Recipe Notes

Use any flavor extract, and food coloring, you like. Raspberry, cherry, pomegranate (like I did), even cinnamon would be good if you want to keep them red. Or leave out the extract (use some vanilla),  and food coloring if you prefer.

I used flavoring oil, from LorAnn, which is much more concentrated. If you use those, start with 1/4 teaspoon and slowly add from there. I used about 1/2 teaspoon of the pomegranate flavor.

For an extra hit of chocolate, dip the bottom of cooled cookies into melted dark or milk chocolate and set on waxed paper until chocolate sets.

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