My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Lovely Lemon Curd

Lemon curd.

Deliciously smooth. Sweet and tangy. The taste of spring in a spread. O.k., I’m waxing a little poetic, here. But lemon curd rocks. It is expensive to buy, but easy and inexpensive to make. So make some! And then eat it with everything: on waffles or shortbread cookies. In yogurt (with or without granola!), with fresh berries. In a cheesecake. With ice cream. On gingerbread. As a cake filling. Then try the same recipe with limes. Or oranges!  These citrus curds would be beautiful additions to your Easter brunches!

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Ingredients:

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup lemon juice. I used Meyer lemons here, and needed three lemons

1.4 cup butter, cubed

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

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How to Make It:

In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Add the butter and the lemon zest and cook, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens. You will see it thicken, and feel it thicken as you stir. Test with a metal spoon: the curd is ready if it coats the back of the spoon. Be careful that you don’t let it boil, or it will curdle.

Pour the curd into a small bowl and let cool slightly before transferring to the refrigerator. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the curd so you don’t get a skin.2019-03-22 10.58.13

Don’t panic if you see little bits of cooked egg white in your curd!  The egg whites coagulate at a lower temperature than the yolks. If this happens, all is not lost! The egg bits won’t affect the flavor of the curd, and you can simply strain them out. Spoon your curd into a strainer over a small bowl and gently press it through. Goodbye, egg whites. If you don’t like the zest in your final curd, this method will strain it out, also.

This makes a soft, spreadable, sweet curd. Use within a week, or freeze!

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Try it on vanilla yogurt! It tastes like a lemon meringue pie! Plus it looks like a fried egg. Which is fun. (For me.)

 

 


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Scrumptious Orange Walnut Granola. Really: Scrumptious.

I know. I know. Scruptious? Granola?

But give me a minute, here, before you click away in disgust.

I’ve never been a granola fan. I’ve always felt there’s nothing quite as dreary as chewing your way through a dentally-challenging bowl of nuts and twigs first thing in morning. I have a weakness for children’s breakfast cereals. Comforting baked goods.

This granola though…dang! It puts store-bought granola to shame. It tastes good. Really good. And it’s not going to chip a molar. In fact…think of it as a deconstructed oatmeal cookie. Use it as a crumble on ice cream. Whatever! But give it a try!

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Ingredients:

Zest of one orange

2 Tablespoons sugar

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 ½ cups walnuts, broken up slightly

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup melted coconut oil

½ cup honey

1 cup dried fruit of your choice: cherries, blueberries, raisins, cranberries, dates…

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How to Make It:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a jelly-roll pan or other big, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the orange zest and sugar in a little bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar until it is bright orange and smells amazing.

Break up your walnuts a little bit so you don’t have entire walnut halves going in to the mix, here. I put them in a bag and pushed a rolling pin over them a few times. You don’t want them pulverized or chopped finely, just broken into smaller bite-size pieces.

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In a large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, and your orange sugar. Stir to combine. Make sure you break up any sugar clumps, so the orange flavor goes all through the mix.

Pour in the coconut oil and honey. Mix well, coating all the oats.

With a spatula, spread the granola onto your baking sheet in an even layer. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally as it bakes, until it turns a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a rack. The granola will crisp up nicely as it cools down.

When the granola is cool, add in your dried fruit. I love cherries in this mix. Today I used blueberries and cranberries, because that’s what I had on hand. This granola will keep in an airtight container for a week or two. But don’t be surprised if you eat it all up long before then!

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Delicious Crab Cakes

Crab cakes are one of my favorite seafood dishes! They’re ridiculously easy to make and very comforting. This recipe is fresh and delicious and lets the crab be the star. Try them with a dollop of kimchi mayo for a little added tang.

Ingredients

2/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon flat-leaf parsley

2 Tablespoons chopped green onions

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon mustard

½ teaspoon Old bay seasoning

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 egg, beaten

12 ounces lump crabmeat

Olive oil

Lemon wedges, a nice remoulade sauce, or kimchi mayonnaise for serving

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How to Make It:

Combine 1/3 cup of the panko and all the other ingredients up to the crab in a large bowl, stirring well. Now add the crab, stirring gently until just combined. Place the remaining 1/3 of the panko on a plate or shallow dish. Shape the crab mixture into patties, about 4-inches around. I made mine a little larger and came out with 5 patties. Coat the patties in the panko.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and coat the pan. Now, add your crabby patties. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they are nice and golden.

These are delicious! Serve with lemon wedges or top with an easy remoulade sauce or a spoonful kimchi mayo! We like sweet potato fries and green salad with these crab cakes in the summer and steamed broccoli in the winter.

What? Kimchi mayo?  Oh yes! Stir together ¾ cup of your favorite brand of kimchi (or make your own, like we do) and 3 Tablespoons of mayo. or less, to taste. The less mayo, the more zip to the kimchi)

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This is great on fish, crab cakes, burgers…Yum. And yes, I realize I forgot to get a picture of a beautifully-plated crab cake. We were hungry.


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Big Dark Chocolate Caramel Cookie

Oh yes.

Forget jewelry and roses and expensive dinners. Bake this massive, chewy, delectable cookie for your Valentine and they’ll be yours forever. Or, heck, just make it for yourself. Either way will bring happiness.

Back in the day (we’re talking early ’90s, here) we’d go to the original Old Chicago on Pearl Street in Boulder for free glassware night, a good pizza, and their big warm cookie, straight out of the oven. Those were the glory days before Old Chicago became a chain and their food quality tanked. I still remember that cookie with foodie nostalgia.

But this cookie is better. Bigger. More refined for today’s gourmet cookie palates.  Plus, the recipe is ridiculously simple.

We love a slice warmed up just a little bit alongside some good ice cream, or topped with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Be creative. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

10 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips

½ cup toasted walnuts (or pecans)

12 caramel candies

Flaky sea salt (optional)

 

Special Equipment:

A 10-inch cast iron skillet

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How to Make it:

Heat your oven to 375 F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and the brown sugar together on a medium-high speed until very light-colored and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Drop your mixer speed and add in the flour mixture until just combined.

Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Butter your cast iron skillet so your cookie doesn’t stick. That would be very sad.

Spoon the dough into the skillet and pat it down evenly.

Push the 12 caramel candies into the dough.

Sprinkle the top with sea salt, if you want.

Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Let it cool. If you can wait that long…

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Pure Heaven: The Best Angel Food Cake

Ever since I was little, angel food cake has been my favorite cake of all. Light, fluffy, just sweet enough, it lends itself to all kinds of toppings. Strawberries macerated in Grand Marnier. Butterscotch sauce. Frosting. Lemon glaze. Yum. In fact, my wedding cakes were angel food with a selection of choose-your-own toppings.

It is cold outside. I’m in need of a little happy-memories comfort food. That, and we now have six chickens and an over-abundance of eggs. Clearly, time for angel food cake.

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Apologies for this photo: We ended up eating the whole cake except for this last little raggedy piece before I remembered to take a picture. (It’s that good.)

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar, divided

1 ½ cups egg whites at room temperature (12-15 eggs, depending on egg size)

1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

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Thanks for the eggs, Babs (blue eggs), Agatha (dark speckled eggs), Jinx, Bubbles, and Fran! And thanks to Roo also, for over-zealous flock protection.

Special Equipment:

10-inch tube pan

Wire whip for your mixer

Cute little chicken egg separator, if you don’t want to get your hands messy. You can find an inexpensive, similar one on Amazon here.

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I usually separate the eggs individually into the small dish before transferring to the measuring cup—just in case I have a yolk break on me. I don’t want to ruin the rest of the whites. And, separate your eggs when they’re cold, then let them stand and come to room temperature for about an hour. They’ll whip better. Those extra egg yolks? Make a pound cake…or hollandaise…or pudding!

How to Make It:

Mix the flour and ½ cup of the sugar in a bowl and set it aside.

Place the egg whites in your mixer bowl. You’re going to use your wire whip attachment to mix, not your regular flat beater.

Gradually turn the mixer to a medium high speed (on my KitchenAid, I go to speed 6) and whip until the egg whites are frothy: not too long, just 30 seconds to a minute.

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Add the cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla. Turn your mixer to high (speed 8 on my mixer) and whip until the egg whites are almost stiff, but not dry. 2-2 ½ minutes, tops.

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Drop to a low speed (speed 2 on my mixer) and gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix for 1 minute. Stop and scrape the bowl with a spatula.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Spoon your flour-sugar mixture ¼ at a time over the egg whites. Fold it in very gently with a spatula, just until blended. Don’t go crazy stirring, here: fold gently. You don’t want to lose your volume.

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Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Take a knife and gently cut through the batter to break up any air pockets.

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Bake at 375 F until the crust is golden brown and cracks are very dry. This takes about 35 minutes. As soon as it is done, remove from oven and invert it onto a bottle. You want to cool it upside down so it doesn’t collapse. Don’t worry! It won’t fall out! (Well, not as long as you didn’t grease the pan.) Cool completely and remove from the pan.

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Eat it plain or go crazy with your toppings! And yes, there’s no photo of me with the whole cake because we ate it before I remembered to photograph it. Next time I make one, which will probably be in a week or so given our crazy egg production, I’ll update with a finished product photo!

 


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Tempting Toffee

Need a last-minute stocking stuffer or a quick treat for Santa? Make this delicious toffee! Use the traditional semi-sweet chocolate and pecan topping, or use your imagination and your own favorite toppings.

However you make it, this toffee is supreme: buttery, chocolaty and ridiculously easy. It only takes 20 minutes of your time to stir up. You can have it ready in no time for Santa, or party favors, or a plate all for yourself to enjoy while you’re festively watching A Christmas Horror Story. Or Scrooged. Or Die Hard. Whatever your favorite holiday flick is, this toffee is a treat!

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Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter

¼ cup water

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (or customize: use dark chocolate; drizzle with white chocolate…)

½ cup finely chopped toasted pecans (pecans are traditional, but again, make it your own! Try chopped candy canes! Flaky sea salt! Pistachios! Heck, even sprinkles!)

Special equipment: A candy thermometer would be VERY helpful

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How to Make It:

Toast and chop your pecans, first. Then, in a heavy 2-quart saucepan, heat the sugar, butter, and water to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 13 minutes, stirring constantly until you reach 300F on a candy thermometer or until a small bit of mixture dropped into some very cold water separates into hard, brittle threads (the hard crack stage). Watch REALLY carefully – if it the mixture gets too hot it will darken and go bad, and definitely not be a delectable holiday treat.

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Yes. So this is right at the start of the process before anything happens. It is the only picture I have of the cooking procedure because I was busy trying to stir, and hold onto, and watch my candy thermometer, which decided not to hook onto the saucepan, today. Of course.

As soon as the temperature hits 300F, pour the toffee CAREFULLY (so you don’t burn yourself) onto a large, ungreased cookie sheet. Spread to ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle with chocolate chips; let stand about 1 minute or until the chips are completely softened. Spread the softened chocolate evenly over the toffee, then sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Let the toffee stand at room temperature about 1 hour, or refrigerate if you’d like to speed things up, until firm. Break into bite-size pieces. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen candies.

Enjoy!


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Treat with a Trick: Jalapeno Peanut Brittle

This delicious and easy candy will spice up your Halloween. The jalapeños aren’t hot (unless you want them to be!) but instead give more of a warm, mellow flavor to this sweet brittle. If you do want to spike the heat—and go for more of a trick—add extra jalapeños right at the end.

Ingredients:

¼ cup jalapeño pepper, finely chopped. No seeds, no white part. Chop extra jalapeño to add at the end for more heat

1 cup peanuts. I use lightly-salted, dry roasted peanuts, because that’s what I usually have on hand, but raw nuts are classic

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided. Plus more for buttering the pan.

¼ cup light corn syrup

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon almond extract

Green food coloring (optional) if you want things to look a little creepier for Halloween

½ teaspoon baking soda

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How to Make It:

Butter a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan. I have a silpat, so I use that instead for zero stick/cleanup problems. They’re a bit expensive, but truly worth it. Here it is on Amazon if you’re interested: Silpat Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat, Half Sheet Size, 11-5/8″ x 16-1/2″. Put the silpat on a cookie sheet.

In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the jalapeños and the nuts and cook over low heat until the peppers are soft.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. This looks bizarre. It will liquefy, don’t worry. Meanwhile, have all your other ingredients at hand and ready to go.

When the sugar mixture is boiling, add the jalapeños and the nuts. Stir well and cook until the mixture reaches 290 F on a candy thermometer. This is the soft crack stage. Trust me, it is good to have a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat.

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Stir in the butter, almond, and vanilla extract, a few drops of green food coloring if you’re using it, and any extra jalapeño, if you’re adding any. Stir until everything is mixed in.

Sprinkle the baking soda over the top of your cooked mixture and stir until the mixture is foamy. Immediately pour it onto your buttered pan or onto your silpat. Use the back of a spoon to spread it out into a thin layer. Work fast, but be careful! The stuff is like napalm at this point!

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Let it cool on the pan until it is brittle and cool enough to handle, then break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Happy Halloween!

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