chocolate peanut and pretzel brittle

chocolate peanut and pretzel brittle

Does anyone remember Garbage Pail Kids? Can I go predictably off-course here and admit, as I just did to my husband, who is now cracking up, that I was kind of scared of them when they came out? It was 1985! I was young! I was super into Cabbage Patch Kids and definitely did not have a grasp of parody and was this… something that could happen to a Cabbage Patch Kid? I mean, was it going to happen to mine? Why did everyone find them so funny? Ahem, right, so of course I now find them dark and brilliant, which should be no surprise given that they were co-invented by Art Spiegelman, something I learned exactly five minutes ago from Wikipedia but will now pretend I knew all along.

what you'll need

cooking the sugar

I bet you’re thinking, as per usual, “What on earth does this have to do with cooking, Deb? Focus, please!” But what I’d wanted to tell you is that for nearly eight years now, I’ve an item on my Halloween To-Cook List called “Garbage Pail Brittle,” which I’d hoped would invoke the chaos of the cards but in a less haunting to elementary school kids format. My theory was that, sure, peanut, almond and fancy seed brittles are lovely and elegant, but you know what would be even more awesome? Rice crispies. Potato chips. Pretzels. Because everyone knows that salt, crispy snacky stuff is aces against caramel, butter and chocolate.

pretzel-only brittle

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to chocolate peanut and pretzel brittle | 8 comments to date | see more: Candy, Chocolate, Photo

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Halloween and Hammocks by Ree

DSC_2330Todd couldn’t decide if he wanted to dress up as an “Army man” or a unicorn, so he might choose both.

DSC_2335Hi, Todd. Please never stop dressing up for Halloween. Because once you do, it means I’m ninety.

DSC_2298I need to say one thing about Todd.

DSC_2299He makes me laugh everyday. I think he’s going to carry a light saber as part of his uniform, and he mentioned attaching a long beard he wore last year to his unicorn mask.

You have to give your children space to be creative. Ha.

DSC_2317At first, when Todd walked out on the porch wearing his mask, Lucy growled. Then she barked. Then she whined.Then she sniffed him.

DSC_2319Then she tried to take a little nibble.

Have I mentioned how fun it is to have labs around the homestead?

DSC_2353We love Lucy! She is pretty much the sweetest creature in the world.

Well, unless one of the kids walks out on the porch wearing a unicorn mask.

But most of the time, she’s pretty much the sweetest creature in the world.

DSC_2373She loves to snuggle with Paige in her hammock. Duke gets a little jealous sometimes.

But you know what Confucius always said: Two labs in a hammmock is never a good idea!

Smoky BBQ Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Smoky BBQ Spiced Pumpkin Seeds – a healthy, low-calories snack recipe.

Pumpkin seeds are such a healthy, low-calorie snack, so if you're carving those jack-o-lanterns this week, rather then tossing them, roast them in the oven for a high-nutritive snack.

You can simply toss them with salt (Madison loves them with garlic powder and salt) and use this recipe as a guideline, but if you want something with more flavor, try seasoning them with this smokey, spicy, savory combination that mimics the flavor of BBQ potato chip seasoning.

Smoky BBQ Spiced Pumpkin Seeds – a healthy, low calorie snack

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…

oven fries

oven fries

I am staunchly of the belief that if you really really crave something — I mean, if you’ve tried very hard to move on or distract that part of your brain/belly that rather rudely interrupts into your thoughts most days at 4 p.m. and screams “CHOCOLATE!” or “CAAAAAKE!” and it’s just not working — you should indulge it. I have no patience for baked doughnuts or sugar substitutes, and you can probably already guess that I cannot abide anything but cream in my hot coffee. Have a salad for lunch the day before and the day after, eat the steel-cut oats for breakfast, make hearty soups a regular part of your dinner rotation, but FTLOG, if you really want that chocolate cake, please, have that chocolate cake and then enjoy every last buttercreamed crumb of it.

scrubbed slicedbatons into cold watershort simmer quick drain

For me, said indulgences most often come in potato format. My love of french fries knows no bounds; they are, along with artichokes and bourbon, my desert island foods. Golden, crisp, glistening, glittering with a dusting of fine salt, heaped in a pile, I would eat a mile of baby field greens to have a single plate of the fries we used to get at a restaurant I was convinced used to use horse fat to fry them because I’m a monster and they were otherworldly. And so help you if you serve them with homemade mayo — so help you, because I love you and you will never get rid of me now.

ready to roast

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to oven fries | 16 comments to date | see more: Photo, Potatoes, Vegetarian

Thai Peanut Pumpkin Turkey Curry

Thai Peanut Pumpkin Turkey Curry

Pumpkin is always fun to use in savoury dishes and I really enjoy using it with Thai flavours like in this Thai style curry! I start the curry out with a base of the red curry paste and add to that the standard ingredients for a Thai curry including the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to create a nice balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Up next is some peanut butter which is so amazingly good with both the red curry paste and the pumpkin and it makes the curry nice and creamy. The pumpkin comes in the forms of both pumpkin puree and diced pumpkin for maximum flavour and texture! This curry continues with the fall flavours using turkey as the meat adding pureed apples to the sauce and some dried cranberries just for the fun of it! This fall harvest Thai style peanut pumpkin turkey curry is the perfect way to enjoy the bounty of the harvest!

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Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Moroccan Spices

Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Moroccan Spices

Pork and apples are a classic combination, so naturally an apple stuffed pork loin makes perfect sense – especially apples that have been sauteed with onions and a fragrant blend of Moroccan spices.

Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Moroccan Spices

This recipe is from Mark Bittman’s new book Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix. The book is based off his New York Times Magazine Matrix series, where he prepares one ingredient/dish several ways.

Stuffing the pork was easier than expected. You start by inserting a thin knife into both ends of the pork loin, then you use the handle of a wooden spoon and push it through. Once the hole is made I used a wooden spoon with a wider handle to make the hole larger.

Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Moroccan Spices

The pork was delicious, actually even better than I expected. The spices were so perfect with the apples and onions, I will certainly be making this again. A great dish if you're entertaining and also perfect for the holidays.

Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Moroccan Spices

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…

Seattle Sunshine Bowl

Seattle Sunshine Bowl – a bowl of goodness – quinoa, grilled chicken, white beans, chopped veggies, pumpkin seeds, feta, and scallions, all topped with a yellow Sunshine Sauce.

A bowl of goodness – quinoa, grilled chicken, white beans, chopped veggies, pumpkin seeds, feta, and scallions, all topped with a yellow Sunshine Sauce. Please welcome guest post and my dear friend, Heather K Jones.

Seattle Sunshine Bowl – a bowl of goodness – quinoa, grilled chicken, white beans, chopped veggies, pumpkin seeds, feta, and scallions, all topped with a yellow Sunshine Sauce.

Hey there, I’m Heather K. Jones. I’m a registered dietitian, a nutrition consultant for Skinnytaste, and the founder of Smaller Size Bigger Life, an online coaching program for women who struggle with emotional eating, binge eating, overeating, or body image issues.

I’m so excited to guest post on Skinnytaste today (thank you, Gina!), because I’m sharing a recipe from the streets of Seattle… literally!

My two sisters and I live in the Seattle neighborhood of Queen Anne, and every Thursday we meet at the local Farmers Market. It’s the best place to get the freshest organic produce, as well as local meat, cheese, honey, flowers and more.

Seattle Sunshine Bowl – a bowl of goodness – quinoa, grilled chicken, white beans, chopped veggies, pumpkin seeds, feta, and scallions, all topped with a yellow Sunshine Sauce.

The market is also a Seattle street-food dream – tons of local food trucks and carts gather at the market each week, and it’s so much fun sampling all of the wonderful dishes. One of our favorite food carts, I Love My GFF (Gluten-Free Food), also happens to be the healthiest.

Their signature Sunshine Bowl is a delicious (and nutritious!) mix of quinoa, grilled chicken, white beans, chopped veggies, pumpkin seeds, feta, and scallions, all topped with a yellow Sunshine Sauce.

The secret to this bowl is definitely in the sauce—a yummy combo of almonds, lemon, honey, and basil. It took my sister Lori (she’s a wiz in the kitchen) and I a while to re-create the Sunshine Sauce at home, but after a few tries I think we finally nailed it. I hope you enjoy this Sunshine Bowl as much as we do!

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…

My Purse Shopping Experience by Ree

shutterstock_111189209I went to New York City last week without a purse. This wasn’t unintentional: I carried along my computer bag as I always do, and it held not only my computer, but also my wallet, my makeup, my Bible, and various cords, packs of gum, and snacks. And in my everyday life, I’m content not to carry a purse. But once I got to New York and started tootling around with my daughter and sister, I realized that I didn’t want to lug a big computer-sized bag around. And all the women in New York City have a purse.

So then I got it in my head that I needed to get a purse in New York City. I didn’t really have any shopping plans or goals during my stay, as I had the tops and jeans and Spanx camisoles I needed for my trip, and everything fit pretty snug in my suitcase—not to mention that I was there to launch my cookbook, appear on a couple of daytime shows, and have a book signing! But once I got it in my head that I needed to buy a purse, I was a woman on a mission. I had to have a purse, or my whole life had been without meaning. I had to have a purse, or I was a nobody. I had to have a purse, or I wouldn’t have anywhere to put my Burt’s Bees lip balm. So one evening, when I had a couple of hours to myself, I took off to procure myself a purse.

I decided to go to a well known department store on a well known street in New York City. I’m not going to name the store, but it rhymes with Baks Mifth Gavenue, and as I breezed past the awe-inspiring St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which sits right next door, I felt confident I would find the heavenly purse I’d been waiting my whole life—well, the past two or three hours—for.

When I walked into Baks, I entered the cosmetics department and was immediately intoxicated by the scent of 1,000 different perfumes…and was temporarily tempted to spend my evening sniffing sample cards instead of shopping for purses. But I reminded myself that I didn’t need perfume, I didn’t go to Baks to buy perfume, I could just use Paige’s cotton candy scented body spray if I wanted a spritz of perfume, and I couldn’t carry my lip balm inside of a perfume bottle. So I began wandering around the perimeter of the cosmetics department, which houses several mini-stores featuring different brands of designer handbags. I knew I was getting into pricey purse territory, and I wasn’t even that sure I would find anything to my liking, considering my life and my tastes are rather casual, and New York City purses—particularly those found at Baks Mifth Gavenue—are decidedly smart, dressy, and fabulous. But I surged on anyway.

Halfway around the perimeter of the first floor, I was both discouraged and encouraged: Discouraged, because as I had suspected, most of the purses I found were, while beautiful, way too much purse for me. Gorgeous, luscious leathers and beautiful, flawless fasteners, smooth and perfect wonders in shades of navy, black, white, taupe, and grey. I could see none of them working in my life, whether in New York City or on the ranch. As such, I was encouraged, because I suspected this dearth of options was going to wind up saving me a lot of money; while the price tags on the purses were not easily accessible (most were buried deep within an internal compartment), I suspected (and confirmed, on a couple that I investigated) that they were not cheap. And while I would never describe myself as frugal or penny pinching, I will say that I just don’t have a lot of experience with buying high-priced handbags. Camera lenses? Yes. Stand mixers? Yes. Old building renovation? Gulp. Yes. High-priced handbags? No.

I was about to throw in the towel and head back to my hotel and order doughnuts from room service…and then it happened. I saw the purse. The purse. It was the purse of my dreams, sitting right on a shelf in front of me. It was so gorgeous, it actually glowed. It was so perfect, it actually blinded me. It was the most phenomenally beautiful and relevant (to me) purse I had ever seen in my life, and while I couldn’t possibly do it justice with my limited grasp of the English language, let me try to paint a picture for you: Light brown leather, with darker brown edges—almost an ombre effect, but more complex than that. The color of the light brown center was like a delectable caramel, and the color of the dark brown edges was a rich chocolate…and the whole thing was made even more gorgeous by an embossed pattern on the leather. It was both dressy and casual, and it was neither dressy nor casual. It was a category all its own—and at the risk of being hyperbolic, I’m going to say it: I have never seen a more transcendent, more lovely, more irresistible purse in my entire life. It was glorious, and it had my name written all over it.

A clerk noticed that I noticed the bag, and she made her way over to me. Before she reached me, though, I had already made the decision: I was going to buy myself this purse. I have worked hard this year, after all. I finished filming all my Food Network shows for the year. I finished my cookbook. I launched my product line. I got a kid off to college, I completed a season of volleyball transportation, and Marlboro Man and the boys’ football team is undefeated so far this season. And okay, the football thing isn’t really my accomplishment, but I’m just trying to convey to you the extent of the justification that was churning around in my mind as I stood in front of that perfect purse. Because I knew this bag wasn’t going to be cheap. I knew it was going to be like all the other handbags I’d seen so far—probably three times the price of my computer bag, maybe four times. Yikes, who knows: Maybe five. But my rationalization was strong and the handbag was awesome. And that, my friends, is a lethal combination.

“Isn’t it exquisite?” the clerk asked. I should have known to run right then and there. “Exquisite” is always a warning sign. But I didn’t. I played along. “Yes,” I answered, my eyes rolling back in my head. “It’s the most fantastic thing I’ve ever seen.” I clasped the handles together, and carefully lifted it off the shelf. And as perfect as it had been on the shelf, it looked even more perfect in my veiny, pale, unmanicured alien hand. And you know you’re dealing with a pretty purse when it makes my hand look pretty, too. Ha. I turned it around, inspecting both sides, peering underneath, lightly stroking its side. “I love it,” I said dreamily, giving it one more little pat before asking, as if it we had already discussed it and were longtime friends, “What is the price again?”

“It’s forty thousand,” the clerk answered.

You know that Pace picante commercial? When they guy says the salsa is made in New York City?

“NEW York CITY??!!??!!??!!??”

That’s the same tone I used when I repeated the price back to her in the form of a question:

“FORty THOUsand??!!??!!??!!??!!”

After my initial reaction, I regained my composure, had a brief internal laugh with myself that the one purse I’d finally decided to buy cost a thousand dollars for every year of my younger sister’s life, and thanked the clerk very much for her help. I carefully handed her the purse, scared to death I’d drop it or breath on it or something, then I left Baks and made a beeline for my hotel, where I planned to watch Real Housewives of Wherever and live vicariously through their purses.

It was almost closing time as the retail stores in the area, but I actually stopped at one final store on my way back…and guess what? I found the perfect purse for me.

betsree2This is me carrying it around the next day. I love it, and I’m gonna give one away later this week to celebrate! And what’s funny is that I would not describe this purse as cheap. Not at all. Only after I had a close call with a $40,000 purse did I actually consider paying for this bag a welcome relief. Ha.

Thank you for letting me share my adventure with you.

Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip

With all of the pumpkin recipes these days I could not help but think of one of my favourites, this caramel pumpkin cheesecake dip! Yes, that's right, all of the flavours of a caramel pumpkin cheesecake in the form of a dip that literally only takes 10 minutes to make! Cheesecake has to be one of these best desserts around and it only gets better when you add the flavours of pumpkin pie but lets face it, a nice cheesecake takes a bit of time and effort to make, and this dip takes almost no effort so you can whip it up on demand whether for last minute guests or just for yourself for some late night comfort cravings! When I make a pumpkin pie or a pumpkin pie cheesecake I like to use a gingersnap crumb crust because the ginger flavour goes so well with pumpkin so when I make this dip I add that gingersnap flavour either by using the ginger snap cookies for dipping or just crumbling them on top! If you're looking for a snack or appetizer for halloween or Thanksgiving, or for any time for that matter, you really can't go wrong with this caramel pumpkin cheesecake dip!

Read the recipe »

Skinnytaste Dinner Plan Week 3

Skinnytaste Dinner Plan Week 3
I've gotten such great feedback since launching The Skinnytaste Meal Planner and sharing a sample of my weekly dinner plan for the week, this is now going to be a Sunday ritual. I do all my food shopping on Sundays, but you can do what works best for you. 
We are a family of four, so leftovers usually get packed for lunch. This is just a guideline, you can choose just a few dishes or make them all. I am always testing out new dishes for the blog which I cook during the day (you can follow along on Snapchat, username Skinnytaste) so that is usually what I eat for lunch, and leftovers never goes to waste because I either freeze them for the month, pack them for lunch, or share with family, neighbors and friends (come on over!)

Please leave me your comments and tell me if this is working for you, or suggestions on how I can improve it. And if you bought the Skinnytaste Meal Planner, please share and use the hashtag #skinnytastemealplanner

Skinnytaste Dinner Plan (Week 3)

Monday: Slow Cooker Blissful Butternut Soup (Meatless Monday!)

Tuesday: Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps (I use tortillas for Madison)

Wednesday: Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Salmon

                      with Zucchini Noodles (from The Skinnytaste Cookbook)

Thursday: Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken (OMG!)

                   with Fiesta Lime Rice

Friday: Date Night!

Sunday: Leftovers!

Happy cooking!

Click Here To See The Full Recipe…