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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White Pizza with Salami and Blue Cheese

A few weekends ago, I visited Pittsburgh for the first time and had a blast. My husband and I stopped at the National Aviary – a wonderful, non-profit indoor bird zoo – and walked around downtown for hours. We ended up in the Strip district, gaped our way through the amazing Robert Wholey & Co.’s fish-and-everything-else market and had lunch at Enrico Biscotti Café. Next door is the Biscotti Company, a veritable paradise of baked goods. The Café’s lunch menu features rustic pizzas and pastas, salads, and various sangaweechs. Sangaweeches? (Yeah, I’m not sure what the plural of “sangaweech” is so bear with me, here). Whatever the plural form, a sangaweech is a hearty sandwich made on their house pizza dough.

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I had a delicious artichoke, mozzarella and roasted red pepper sangaweech. My husband got the special pizza of the day and it blew our minds. In a good way. And I am not a fan of salami! This however, was delicious: Garlic. Salami. Mozzarella. Blue cheese. Incredible. We left determined to replicate this pizza at home at all costs. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company was just couple blocks away and there we purchased a pound of Daniele Genoa salami: fresh, melt-in-your-mouth salami. Yum.

This recipe is our recreation of that magnificent pizza. Which we basically made the next night. And, o.k., again two nights later. It is that good a pizza! Enjoy!


Pizza dough for one pizza – make your own, or store-bought is fine. The better the dough, the better your pizza.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon dried Italian herb blend

¼ cup Parmesan*

12 large, thin slices of good salami. Good salami.

1 cup shredded mozzarella

2 tablespoons minced garlic – fresh or jarred

¼- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles

* You know your tastes: More or less garlic? Go for it. More or less cheese? Of course. This is a base recipe for you to modify at will. The Café’s version was minimalist and delicious.

white pizza ingredients

Try to ignore your Miniature Schnauzer, who waits, ever hopeful, for food to fall from the sky.

How to Make It:

If you have a pizza stone, put it in your oven and preheat the oven to 425F. Give the stone a half-hour to heat up.

Spread the pizza dough out on a sheet of parchment paper.

Drizzle olive oil over the dough and spread to cover with the back of a spoon or a pastry brush.

Sprinkle the Italian herbs over the olive oil.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on next.

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Layer the slices of salami to cover the whole thing.


Add a sprinkle of minced garlic.

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Next, crumble on the blue cheese so that a little bit lands on every slice of salami.

Last, top it all with the shredded mozzarella.

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Slide your pizza into the oven and bake at 425 F for 12-14 minutes or until the edges of the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.



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Dark Chocolate Coconut Candies

Looking for a fast, insanely-easy Valentine’s dessert bite?  Try these delectable chocolate coconut candies.  If you are a fan of Mounds bars – or Almond Joys – you will adore these.  They are moist, rich, and incredible and come together in minutes.  Better than those old candy bars, any day! I love these: I think the original recipe came from a long-ago issue of Gourmet. Customize with your own decorations for Valentine’s day.  Enjoy!

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¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut

¾ cup unsweetened dried coconut

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Optional tasty/festive garnishes:


Sea salt

Red hot cinnamon hearts or other little candies – or try a piece of candied fruit.  Ginger, maybe?

How to Make Them:

Line the bottom and two opposite sides of an 8-inch square metal baking pan with wax paper.  Leave an overhang on both sides.  You’re only using the pan to shape your treats – the wax paper will allow you to pull the whole square out of the pan in one piece.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the sweetened coconut, the dried coconut and the sweetened condensed milk.  Use a spoon to get everything evenly combined.

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Press the coconut mixture into the pan in a nice, even layer using an offset spatula.  A regular spatula works, too, but the offset is helpful.  I recently got my first offset spatula and it turns out I didn’t know what I’d been missing.  They’re not expensive, either – this one from Amazon was only $5. I put a link down at the bottom for you, if you want.

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Put the coconut mixture, uncovered, into the refrigerator for 5 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, melt your chocolate until it is smooth. Ideally, use a double-boiler.  A microwave works too. Or a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Pull your coconut mixture from the fridge and spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the coconut layer.  Here’s where the offset spatula comes in handy again.*

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* Want to fancy things up?  After you spread the chocolate over the coconut, add a sprinkle of sea salt or stud some almonds across half of the chocolate.  Half, because when you cut your candy, half of that chocolate is going to be on the bottom. Put your beautifully-decorated half on top when you sandwich the two pieces together.

Chill in the refrigerator until firm, 5-10 minutes.

Lift the whole square out of the pan and put it on a cutting board.  Cut the square in half with a sharp knife.  Now you have two rectangles.

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Next, make a sandwich. Flip one half of the candy over so the chocolate is on the bottom and the coconut faces up.  Place the other half of the candy with the coconut side down on top of it.  Both coconut sides are in the middle, and chocolate layers are on the top and bottom. Press down lightly. Get rid of the waxed paper.

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Cut into 1-inch squares.  Make sure your knife is cold and clean between cuts.  Chill, covered, until you are ready to serve.

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These keep in the fridge for a week.

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Enjoy! If you want to modify things further, consider melting more chocolate, cutting the plain coconut layer into little rectangles and using a fork to dip and coat them completely.

Oh! Here is the offset spatula on Amazon:  Ateco 1305 Ultra Offset Spatula with 4.25 by .75-Inch Stainless Steel Blade, Plastic Handle, Dishwasher Safe


Sweet & Spicy Candied Pecans

It is negative two degrees Fahrenheit outside right now, with a wind chill of negative thirteen. It’s warmed up a bunch since yesterday! With arctic air blowing in the new year, a chilly salad may not sound like the most appealing meal, despite your resolution for healthier eating.

Don’t despair! These candied pecans add a richly satisfying crunch of sweet and spice that will elevate your obligatory bowl of greens.

Granted, these delectable nuts probably aren’t that healthy, and you’ll most likely end up eating them straight out of a bowl as a comfort snack but, hey. All things in moderation.

These nuts are super-easy to make, and your house will smell fabulous while they’re in the oven. They may also remind you of outdoor festivals –  like my winter favorite, the National Western Stock Show – cheerful events where they sell those cinnamon almonds (but these are better).  Happy times!

Sweet & Spicy Candied Pecans

Sweet & Spicy Candied Pecans. Yum.


1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1 Tablespoon water

1 pound of pecan halves*

* I used 8 oz for today’s batch. If you use fewer pecans, which is fine, you don’t have to change the proportions on the sugar mixture. You’ll just have a slightly heavier coating. Which, trust me, is not bad. Similarly, use the whole egg white and the full tablespoon of water.


How to Make Them:

Preheat your oven to 250F.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt in a bowl.

Whisk the egg white and the water together in a separate bowl until frothy. Really frothy.

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Put the pecans in the egg white mixture and toss well to coat.

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Remove the pecans with a slotted spoon, letting the excess egg white drip off, and put the pecans in the bowl with your spice mixture.

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Mix the pecans in until they’re evenly coated in spice.

Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

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Bake at 250F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until they are evenly browned. Meanwhile, accomplish small tasks in those 15 minute blocks between stirring. Taking short, unsatisfying naps? Watering the plants? Starting a load of laundry? Watching almost all of a beloved episode of Hogan’s Heroes?

The image above left shows the pecans half-way through baking.  The photo on the right shows them at the end.

Remove them from the oven and let them cool a little bit.  I transferred them to some parchment paper to cool.

Then, snack away.  Or – save them for your salad!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

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Wickedly Delicious Russian Teacakes

I knew it was time to bake when I put on a beloved episode of Hogan’s Heroes and reached for a Russian Teacake. And I didn’t have one. Crushing.

From an early childhood, these two disparate things have gone together and somehow signify the holiday season, taking me back to a comforting time.

I think most people have some version of this cookie in their repertoire under a variety of names – Mexican Wedding Cookies, Pecan Balls – but I’ll share the recipe that my mom passed down. There is a little extra step that makes this one stand out on your cookie tray. Since these are one of my favorite cookies, I always double the recipe. They also freeze beautifully.

I know it is down to the wire for holiday baking, but if you have a little time today, treat yourself to a batch of these. You probably have the ingredients around, and these are a simple cookie to bake. If you don’t get to them for this holiday, don’t worry: you really don’t need an occasion. They’re delicious anytime. Enjoy!

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¼ cup sugar

½ pound butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped pecans

Confectioners’ sugar

How to Make them: 

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

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Add the flour and salt and mix to a soft, smooth dough. Stir in the pecans.

Shape into 1-inch balls by rolling between your hands, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

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Bake for 25 minutes until the cookies are firm and light brown on the bottom.

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This cookie is nicely light brown on the bottom: this batch is done.

Remove from the cookie sheet and gently roll in the confectioners’ sugar. Cool on wire racks.

Now, here’s the “something special” step: when the cookies are totally cool, roll them a second time in confectioners’ sugar.

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The cookies to the right and bottom middle have been rolled a second time in the powdered sugar…see how much snowier they are than the single-roll cookies!

This leaves them snowy and beautiful! Store in an airtight container or freeze.  Happy Holidays!

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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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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.


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!




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.


* 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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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!