Kraft™ Skeleton and Brain Dip

Make no bones about it, this appetizer idea from Kraft™ is a healthy option for your Halloween party.

Yield: 8 Servings

Kraft "Skeleton" and "Brain" Dip

Serve a delicious alternative to all the sweets at your Halloween party.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 leaf lettuce leaf
  • 1 cup KRAFT Lite Ranch Dressing (or make your own: Click here for the recipe.)
  • 4 cups assorted cut-up fresh vegetables (red and yellow bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, snow peas, mushroom slices, celery sticks, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets)      

Directions: 

  1. Line half of small bowl with lettuce for the skeleton’s hair; fill with dressing. Place at one end of large tray or baking sheet for the skeleton’s head.
  2. Arrange vegetables on tray to resemble skeleton’s body.

 

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“Toxic Waste” Mac and Cheese

Recipe by Lisa Johnson for the blog Cooking with Curls©

 

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Cups milk or half & half (I used unsweetened cashew milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dry mustard powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 8 Ounces Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese
  • Package frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • green food coloring (optional)
  • 1 Pound box pasta, cooked and drained (I used medium shells)
  • 1 head fresh caulflower (steamed**)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large pan/Dutch oven over medium to low heat.  Add the flour and whisk to combine.  Simmer, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Pour in milk. Whisk to combine in order to remove all lumps.  Then add salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, cayenne and mustard. Stir to combine.  Continue cooking until mixture starts to simmer, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add the grated cheese.  Stir until melted.
  4. Add the drained spinach and stir.  If desired, add a few drops of green food coloring.
  5. Add the drained pasta.  Stir until completely coated.  Then add the steamed cauliflower. **
  6. Serve immediately.

NOTE

**Lisa left the cauliflower in large chunks and waited until the very end to add them so they would stay whole, and so they would look creepier sitting near the top.

Pumpkin Pie Punch from Delish©

Love the Autumn season?  Enjoy the taste of pumpkin?  Well, this adult beverage is for you!

Recipe by Lena Abraham

Pumpkin Pie Punch

Knock their socks off with this tasty cocktail, Pumpkin Pie Punch, at your Halloween party!

 

Yield: 10-12 Servings

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 gallon Apple Cider
  • 2 cups Ginger Ale
  • 1 can Pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 cup Vanilla Vodka
  • 2 cups whipped topping (i.e.: Cool Whip®)
  • Pumpkin Pie spice for garnish

 

Directions: 

  1. Combine cider, ginger ale, pumpkin pie mix and vodka in a pitcher. Stir until fully combined.
  2. Pour into glasses, top with Cool Whip®, sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, and serve.

National Coffee Day – Sept. 29, 2017

NATIONAL COFFEE DAY

Whether getting one to go or lingering over a second cup, on September 29 be sure to observe National Coffee Day!

Ah, the perfect cup of java.  According to an expert cupper (a professional coffee taster), there are four components of a perfect cup: aroma, body, acidity, and flavor.

From the moment the average coffee lover opens a fresh bag of coffee beans, the aroma beckons, percolating the senses. Even those who don’t drink coffee tend to enjoy the fragrance a roasted bean casts.

 

When determining the body of a coffee, the bean, the roast, and the brew are all factors. The bean affects the texture of the coffee, whether its silky, creamy, thick or thin on the tongue and throat. However, the darker the roast and how it is brewed will alter the feel of a coffee’s body, too. Grandpa’s motor oil blend versus the coffee shop around the corner’s silky smooth, well-practiced grind have entirely different bodies.

The region a coffee is grown determines its acidity. The higher the elevation the coffee grows, the higher the quality and the acidity. These coffees are considered brighter, dryer, even sparkling by cuppers.

When it comes down to it, coffee lovers cherish the flavor as well as the caffeinated boost this roasted bean gives morning or night, black or with cream and sugar. Hot or cold it provides enjoyment even when decaffeinated!

 

There are many legendary accounts of how coffee first came to be, but the earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking or the knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi monasteries around Mokha in Yemen.  It was here coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed, much like they are prepared today. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland from Ethiopia and began to cultivate the seed.

In 1670, coffee seeds were smuggled out of the Middle East by Baba Budan, as he strapped seven coffee seeds onto his chest.  The first plants grown from these smuggled seeds were planted in Mysore.  It was then that coffee spread to Italy, to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia and the Americas.

Brazil produces more coffee in the world than any other country followed by Colombia.  More than 50 countries around the world grow coffee, providing a delicious variety for the indulgence of steamy cups of the black drink for connoisseurs to consume.

 

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HOW TO OBSERVE.

Enjoy a cup or two of your favorite coffee. Use #NationalCoffeeDay to post on social media.  Here is a list of National Coffee Day Specials.

Frappe Mocha Recipe

Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. instant coffee granules
  • 1/4 c. boiling water
  • 1 c. fat-free milk
  • 4-1/2 tsp. chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 c. crushed ice
  • Whipped topping and additional chocolate syrup (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee granules in water. Pour into an ice cube tray; freeze.
  2. In a blender, combine the milk, chocolate syrup and coffee ice cubes. Cover and process until smooth. Add crushed ice; blend. Pour into chilled glasses; serve immediately. Garnish with whipped topping and additional chocolate syrup if desired.

 

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 80 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 2mg cholesterol, 61mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (14g sugars, 0 fiber), 5g protein.

Originally published as Frappe Mocha in Cooking for One or Two Cookbook 2003, p37

History Channel’s Labor Day Beginnings

Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.

FANNING THE BARBECUE hot classic barbecue babe by vintage pinup artist Gil Elvgren to celebrate hot hot summer Labor Day

Fanning the Barbecue by Gil Elvgren

Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.Child Labor is not working

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it.Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

In 1894, people throughout the nation relied on such publications as Leslie's Illustrated Weekly to keep up with the drama that was unfolding with the Pullman strike in Chicago.

In 1894, people throughout the nation relied on such publications as Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly to keep up with the drama that was unfolding with the Pullman strike in Chicago.

On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified.

Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday. Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.