A Floridian Halloween

I was so excited when I found out that my (very late) summer holiday in Florida was going to clash with Halloween – I mean, come on, America’s pretty much the mothership when it comes to all things Autumn Fall. 

There’s something really weird about visiting a tropical climate around this time of year when everyone’s shivering and slugging around in the drizzle back home.  I mean, I just couldn’t get on board with the Christmas Trees that sprung up between the palm trees on November the 1st, but Halloween was a totally different story.  Floridian Halloweens are weird in the best kind of way.  Because it’s warm in the evenings, everyone sits out on their porch to watch the trick or treaters come and go – grilling, drinking beer and chatting with their neighbours in between. Plus, the costumes are incredible because no one has to worry about bundling coats on top or layers underneath.


Because we were staying in a community full of families rather than a hotel, Sunny and I really got to experience Halloween – from the night itself and the preparations beforehand, including the amazing decorations.  We saw some really creative ones just driving around the neighbourhood; from 6 foot tall inflatable vampire bats and giant spiders, to this crafty pair of skeletons… 😉



Pumpkin Patches sprung up in parking lots everywhere – not just for buying pumpkins but for staging family (and pet!) photoshoots.

Because we were heading to a Halloween party, I decided to bake some holiday appropriate Welshcakes… which turned out to be really, really salty because American butter is way, way saltier than British Butter.  Not the best I’ve ever made, but the Candy Corn ones did look pretty cool!


Oh, and Sunny and I dressed up as Spongebob Squarepants and his Pineapple.  Sunny found the head in Walmart and I just kind of had to fall in line.  I mean sure, eating was almost impossible, doors were a struggle and when I tried to sit down I kind of disappeared into it like a terrified turtle… but I think it’s my favourite thing I’ve ever worn (including the time I dressed up as an egg salad baguette – long story).  Also, because it was inflated by a battery powered fan, I had my own personal air-conditioning, which in Florida is not a bad thing at all.  We were a big hit with the neighbourhood, especially Sunny, who creeped out the older kids just enough to be considered cool, and was completely adored by the smaller kids.  🙂



I was posting on Instagram Stories the whole time I was in Florida, so if you fancy seeing more of what I got up to, swing by my Highlights. Have a great weekend everyone! 🍍

Bloody Beetroot Freaky Fries

Beetroot Filthy Fries

Halloween is upon us! I love getting creative in the kitchen this time of year and serving up spooky recipes. I’m kind of like Monica Geller when she tries to out-cook herself at Thanksgiving; I challenge myself to come up with ghoulish-themed grub that’s never been done before.  There was the year of the pumpkin guts traybake (don’t bin your carved pumpkin flesh!), and how about the ghostly ring doughnuts (Doooooooonuts) I made last year?

This year, I’ve gone for something a little bit different.  There don’t seem to be many halloween inspired recipes for freaky fries out there, so I came up with my own!  These Bloody Beetroot Freaky Fries wouldn’t be out of place at Dracula’s Halloween Shindig or whatever party Hannibal Lecter’s throwing this year; the beetroots are sweet, the bacon’s salty, the sriracha gives everything a little kick, and the cheese… well, I don’t need to sell you on melted cheese, do I?  Also – bonus – cooking these will make you look like you’ve slaughtered someone; handling the beetroot is bloody messy – you’ve been warned!

Beetroot Filthy Fries

Bloody Beetroot Dirty Fries (serves two)

Ingredients

  • 3 large beetroots
  • 250g strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 50g chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp sriracha seasoning
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • onion relish (optional, but this one from Marks and Spencer is the bomb-diggity)
  1. Peel and chop your beetroot into chunks shaped like fries.  Pop them in a saucepan and boil them with some salt for 20 minutes until soft.  Drain them, then leave them to dry out for an hour.
  2. Put the fries in a bowl and coat them with the olive oil, then spread them out evenly on a lined baking tray.  Set the oven to 200°, generously season the fries with some salt and pepper and then bake them for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. While the fries are cooking, fry up your bacon, chop your parsley and grate your cheese.  Once the bacon is cooked, I like to coat it in some onion relish – but frying up some chopped onions is a good alternative.
  4. Once the fries are cooked, load them with the bacon and half of the cheese and pop them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  5. Finish things off with the last of the cheese, and then sprinkle with parsley and sriracha seasoning.  Scoff!  🙂


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Happy Halloween everyone! 🎃

 

Dooooooooonuts

The toughest thing about making these ghoulish donuts was coming up with a name for them.  There are so many great spooky names for food this time of year (I still maintain that Cadburry’s Scream Eggs are even better than normal Cream Eggs), but when Sunny asked what the hell these were and I replied excitedly “Ghost-nuts!” (easy now…) I realised that it just wasn’t going to cut it.  I came up short and just settled on Doooooooooonuts instead.

Anyway, as I was saying, these mini donuts are easy peasy to make  – especially if you’ve got a bread maker at home – and would make a great little Halloween Party treat!  🙂


Dooooooooonuts (makes 9 mini donuts)

Ingredients

  • 125g strong white flour (and a little extra for dusting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 75ml of lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp of softened butter
  • Half a sachet of instant dried yeast
  • vegetable oil for frying (use a small, deep saucepan to save wasting too much!)
  • Black food colouring (I used one Dr Oetker gel tube)
  • Ready to roll white Royal Icing (you could probably make your own, but I wanted that smooth white finish for my ghosts)
  • Piped chocolate for the “eyes”
  1. If you’ve got a bread maker then you’re all sorted; put the water in first, then the dried ingredients and hit the dough program.  Easy!  If you’re a hand baker, then you’ll need to sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and then add the water, butter and yeast – gradually bringing the dough together.  Knead for 5 minutes, then cover with cling film and leave to prove somewhere warm.  Within about an hour the dough should have doubled in size.
  2. Knock back the dough and roll it out on a floured surface.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out your doughnut shape, and a smaller one to cut out the hole in the middle.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep pan on a medium-low heat.  You can use one of the doughnut holes to test whether it’s hot enough; if it puffs up quickly then you’re good to go.  Watch out though, due to the black food colouring it’ll be harder to tell whether your donuts are cooked so you’ll have to be extra vigilant when cooking them.
  4. With a spoon, dip each doughnut into the oil for about five minutes each – tipping  them over half way.  Dry them off on a plate with a paper towel and leave to cool.
  5. Use a large cutter to cut out the rolled icing, then place over each donut like a table cloth.  I used a piping nozzle to poke through each hole to create the “mouth”.
  6. Pipe on the eyes and then try not to laugh every time you offer someone a *spooky voice* doooooooooooonut.

Happy Halloween everyone!  (Calan Gaeaf Hapus!) 🎃

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

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I finally got around to carving up my pale pumpkin today, and I was faced with that annual dilemma; what the hell do I do with all those pumpkin guts?  I’ve been guilty of just chucking it all in the bin many a time, until last year, when I blitzed it all into a puree and attempted to make soup and pumpkin risotto.  But both were a massive flop and ended up in the bin anyway!  So this year I decided to make something sweet instead and settled on this spiced pumpkin traybake with cream cheese frosting and roasted pumpkin seeds on top.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out… which is good, because there’s a whole tub of pumpkin goo in the fridge to get though!  I think I’ll be making batches loooong after Halloween is over with!  🙂

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

Ingredients

  • 100g Pumpkin Puree (just blitz or boil and mash your pumpkin guts)
  • 100g Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (I roasted mine with salt and cinnamon for 10 mins)
  • 100g Brown Sugar
  • 150g Butter
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g Cream Cheese
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  1. Grease and line a deep rectangular baking tray and set the oven to 180°.
  2. Cream together 100g of butter with the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger, then stir in the pumpkin puree.  
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then stir into the main mix.
  4. Add the flour and baking power, then fold in to make a batter.  Spoon into your baking tray and bake for around 25 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).  Once baked, allow it to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  5. To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar and stir until smooth.  Spread over the top of the cake, then cut into equal squares.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped pumpkin seeds.  Yum!

Hope everyone’s having a good week!  🎃

Salted Caramel Macarons

It’s National Dessert Day tomorrow (*shrugs* apparently… When’s National Naming Days Day, I wonder?), not that I need any excuse to scoff sweet things, of course – especially around this time of year.  I’m already on to my second pack of Fiendish Fancies, and today I decided to make some Halloween-ish Macarons.  I’ve made them a couple of times before and they’re a bit fiddily, but there are a few short cuts you can take to make the job a little easier (like buying butter cream rather than making it yourself, shh!).  I mean, alright, they’re not going to win any awards or put Ladurée out of business, but they taste good – and that’s all that matters, right?

Salted Caramel Macarons

Ingredients

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 90g egg whites
  • 110g caster sugar
  • A couple of drops of orange food colouring
  • Pre-made Buttercream icing
  • Salted Caramel Flavoring (yep, you can buy it!)
  • Melted chocolate to decorate
  1. Whisk together the caster sugar and egg whites to form stiff white peaks, then add the food colouring.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar and ground almonds into the mixture, then fold in.
  3. To get a perfect coin shape use a piping bag and nozzle, but you can do just as good a job with a pointed spoon and a steady hand.  Pipe out onto a lined baking tray, then leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Bake at 160° for about 10 minutes.
  5. Sandwich with your flavoured buttercream, drizzle with chocolate, then scoff!

I’m going to carve up my pale pumpkin this weekend (although it’s meant to be really hot here in Wales – very un-Halloween like!).  Have a lovely weekend everyone! 🙂