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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Petrifyingly Perfect Pumpkin Coconut Bread

Fall is in the air and there is no better time for Pumpkin Coconut Bread.  I’ve been baking this for years.  It always turns out beautifully: moist, flavorful.  And it makes three loaves.  Oh yes.  One to eat, one to freeze, and one to give away.  Or maybe two to freeze.  Or… You work out the distribution.

This recipe also lends itself perfectly to other add-ins: chopped candied ginger, mini chocolate chips, raisins, currants.  Change the nuts to walnuts.  Play with it!  This is an easy recipe that will be a keeper for you.

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Ingredients:

5 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin

2 cups sugar

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant coconut pudding mix

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teasopon ground nutmeg

¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

How to Make It:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Grease and flour three 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pans.

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Toast your nuts if you’re so inclined.

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In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and pumpkin until smooth.  Add the sugar and oil; mix well.

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Combine the flour, pudding mixes, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg; add to the pumpkin mixture.

Stir in the nuts and anything else you may be adding.

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Transfer the mixture to your three loaf pans.

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Bake at 350F for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

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Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to wire racks.  Let cool completely.  Wrap and freeze for up to six months!

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Happy Fall!


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Nachos to Watch Zombies By

These are loaded, meal-strength nachos. Perfect for a night in front of the TV watching your favorite horror flick. It has been a little dark and stormy here, and a nice campy zombie movie sounds great. Not hard core. These are nachos, after all.

Some of my favorite zombie-nacho movies? Dead and Breakfast. Not only does it star David Carradine, it is also sort of a musical! Zombieland. Arguably the best Bill Murray cameo ever. Dead Snow. Nazi zombies attack college students staying in a cabin in Norway. What?! You can’t go wrong with these. That is, if you enjoy more-than-slightly weird zombie flicks.

Back to the nachos. This is a free-spirit recipe: no real measurements involved. I’ll give suggestions, but you scale up to how many people you plan to serve, and how hungry you are. All ingredients are totally optional, but here is what we enjoy.

Ingredients:

Chicken strips – pre cooked. I’m using Trader Joe’s.

Bacon – try Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Ends and Pieces. Giant, thick-cut slices and chunks.

Tater tots – Yes, I’m using Trader Joe’s again, but use your favorite. You will cook them in advance and crumble them up on top of your nachos

Olives – I’ve got a spicy blend that contains extra jalapenos!

Avocado*

Scallions

Cilantro*

Corn – if it is summertime, use any leftover ears of corn you may have grilled or boiled. Scrape off the kernels. In the winter, frozen sweet corn kernels work great too: heat some up with a little water on the stove and drain.

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Jalapenos – Can’t beat Trader Joe’s Hot & Sweet Jalapenos, but today I’ve got sliced Hatch jalapenos. Also nice.

Roasted red peppers*

Cheese – LOTS of cheese. I like a blend. Today I’m using sharp cheddar, white cheddar, mozzarella, and Oaxaca. Pepper jack is also fabulous.

Chips – A blend of Sweet Potato Corn Chips and Doritos (Roulette, Nacho, Spicy Nacho, whatever spice level you like.)

Salsa – Your choice.  Make your own!

Sour cream – I actually went light, here. Which is patently ridiculous given the other ingredients and massive cheese level, but I can pretend.

Guacamole*

* Sadly, I didn’t have these ingredients today, but they are delicious on the nachos. I’m substituting in some chopped roasted garlic, and sliced cherry tomatoes.

How to make them:

At your leisure earlier in the day, bake the tater tots. Let them cool and store them in the fridge.

Heat up the chicken strips if they’re frozen.  Let them cool a bit, then either shred with a fork, or cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Cook up the bacon. If you’re using that Trader Joe’s pack of ends and pieces, you’re lucky! They’re awesome. Cut them down to bite-sized pieces and cook them up in a large pan on the stovetop for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they all get done but don’t get overdone.  Drain and set aside until you’re ready to top your nachos.

Grate your cheese ahead of time as well. We like a LOT of cheese.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. The paper will keep the nachos from sticking and make them easy to remove. Heat up the oven to 350F.

Spread the chips evenly over the cookie sheet. Liberally cheese your chips, saving some cheese for the top. Get cheese on every chip. Add in all the other ingredients you want, except the cilantro and avocado which you will save for a garnish. With the tater tots, crumble them up a bit before you sprinkle them on top. Unless you want whole tater tots. Which is fine. Top with the remaining cheese.

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No naked chips!

 

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. You may want to put the oven on convect for the last few minutes to achieve desired meltiness. That is too a word. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with your cilantro and avocado.   Yum.

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Settle down and enjoy with your favorite beverage and scary movie. If you’re feeling really guilty, make a side salad. (Or not!)


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Bloody Good Cherry Pie

No real blood here: just a ruby beauty of pie that you can pull off in under an hour if you have some piecrust already on hand.

This is the best cherry pie I have ever had, and that’s saying a lot.  I like pie.  This gem is not too sweet, is packed with lots of cherries, and just touched with a wisp of cinnamon and an undertone of almond…perfect.  It is also about the easiest pie you can make.

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Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

¼ cup flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1-2 tablespoons butter, cut into little pieces

2 cans (14.5 ounces) pitted tart red cherries.  Alert: Don’t use pie filling!  You want pitted red tart cherries packed in water.  And…you are only going to use half of the second can.  Put the rest of the cherries in the fridge and spoon them into yogurt or over ice cream later for a lovely treat.

2 tablespoons milk or cream

Granulated sugar for sprinkling

Pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie.  Use your favorite.

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How to Make It:

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Fit your bottom crust into your 9-inch pie plate.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and one can of undrained cherries.  Yes, use all that liquid.  Open the second can, and add half of the cherries and a spoonful or two of the liquid.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils.  This will take about 7 minutes.   It thickens beautifully!  Remove from the heat, and stir in the almond extract.

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You will know when it is thickened: the filling has come to a boil and a spoon is nicely coated.  

Pour the cherry mixture into your pie shell.  Dot with the butter.  Cover with the top pie crust.

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I pinch the crusts together the way my mom showed me long ago.  Tuck the top crust in with the edges behind the bottom crust.  Using both hands, pinch and seal the dough with your pointer fingers and thumbs, giving a tiny twist.  Your right hand angles away, left hand angles toward you just a tiny bit.   Do this all around the pie.  Sorry there’s no picture: I needed both hands!

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Brush the top with your milk or cream.  Sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Cut a few slits in the top of the crust with a sharp knife to help release the steam as it bakes.    No milk or cream?  Use a beaten egg white for a nice deeper browning and still sprinkle the top with sugar.

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Bake at 425F for 30 to 35 minutes or until the crust is brown.  You don’t really need to put piecrust shields or foil over the edges in this case, it won’t over-brown.

Let it cool to room temperature before slicing.   You did it!

Sadly (well, for you), we ate the entire pie before I could get a nice picture of a slice to put at the end, here.  That’s how good it is.  Try it!


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Spicy Gingerbread

March.  A contrary month, but promising.  Still cold. Often blustery and muddy. Yet sprinkled with tiny harbingers of spring. That damp earthy smell.  A hyacinth just peeking out of the ground…

My birthday is in March.  Every year, I take a day around my birthday just to do things I want to do.  Watch a horror movie that has been on my list for a while.  Kick a few more zombies off roofs in Harran.  This year, feeling a little low and beaten up by “springing ahead” an hour, I wanted a comforting baked good to go with my horror binge.

Spicy gingerbread.  It so isn’t just for Christmas.  This recipe makes a moist, stunning little square cake.  Dark and rich with spices.  One-bowl easy and massively comforting.  Your whole house will smell amazing as this bakes.   I love it for breakfast, warmed up in the toaster oven and spread with cream cheese.  For you sweet people (tho’ I’m sure you’re all sweet!)  try it with the cream cheese frosting recipe below.  Really.  Think outside the Christmas box and you won’t be sorry.  You’ll be making spicy gingerbread to improve your mental outlook multiple times a year!

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Dark Night Brownies

“Black as midnight, black as pitch…”

Remember that movie quote, all you children of the ‘80s?  And boy, does it apply to these magnificent, rich, deep, dark brownies.  That is a lot of adjectives.  But you’ll see; they’re completely justified.

This is my favorite brownie recipe:  simple, rewarding, customizable.  You do the whole thing in one big saucepan.  What could be easier?  Alone they are delicious. The decadent chocolate frosting, however, brings them to a new level.   Perfect for some chocolate therapy on a dark night of the soul, or any time you deserve a little indulgence.

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Vampire-Defying Chocolate Chip Cookies

Worried about vampires? No need to, after you have a few of these delectable cookies.  I know!  Garlic!  In cookies!

Absolutely. The garlic is rendered subtle and sweet by a quick boil and a soak in maple syrup. The combination with dark chocolate, a sprinkle of sea salt and a nice buttery cookie is irresistible.

You’ll be picking delectable little bits of sweet garlic out of your teeth for the rest of the night! Except maybe don’t indulge on date night.  Just saying.

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