Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

“But there are some things I know for certain: always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.” -Practical Magic

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Anyone who knows me, knows that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  In fact, it’s second to Christmas (THAT is my Super Bowl).  But when I say I’m into Halloween, I’m not talking about the gore and slasher flicks that give you nightmares for weeks (Yes, weeks. I can’t even stomach the trailors). What I enjoy most about Halloween are the things a little more PG.  The pumpkin carving, ABC Family’s (Now FreeForm TV, but I refuse to call it that) 13 Days of Halloween, seeing trick or treaters scurry through the streets with candy filled buckets in tow, watching Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic more than I should admit, and all the memories it brings back to me as a kid in costume.

Way back when, before it was the now Angelina’s, my family had Village Pizza in Toro Park.  And every Halloween our parents rounded up the very eager troops and took us to the pizza parlor to fill us up on cheese and carbs before we made the great trek throughout the neighborhood.  Smart idea, fill the bellies before we knock on doors and are handed over fists full of sweets.  So now that we are older and the pizza parlor and childhood haunts are fond but distant memories, I decided to start some traditions of my own.  An annual Spooktacular Gathering with friends and family! So today I am sharing with you three ghoulish recipes that I used this past weekend at our second Halloween get together.  Jack Skellington Oreos, a Spooky Chocolate Trifle and Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies from my first post.  I hope you all enjoy this Haunted Holiday!  I sure have, and look froward to all the magic and mischief next year will bring.

Happy Tastings-


Jack Skellington Oreos


  • One package double OR mega stuff Oreos
  • Lollipop sticks
  • 2-12oz. packages good quality white chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli baking chips)
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • Black food coloring
  • Black Ribbon for Bow Ties


  1. Melt the white chocolate morsels over a double boiler.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Separate Oreos and dip the tip of the lollipop stick in the white chocolate.  Firmly press into the frosting half of the Oreo and reattach the other half.
  3. Dip oreo into the chocolate and make sure it is fully coated.  Set aside on a wax covered baking sheet.
  4. Once the chocolate had hardened, mix together your powder sugar, milk and black food dye.
  5. Using a very small baking paint brush, hand paint the face of Jack Skellington onto the chocolate dipped Oreos.
  6. Allow to dry, add back ribbon for bow ties and then serve.



Spooky Chocolate Trifle

  • Chocolate cake (Any recipe you desire. I use an old family recipe.  You can also use a box.)
  • 2 – 3.3 oz boxes instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 cups milk (2 per pudding box)
  • 1 container Extra Creamy Cool Whip
  • 1 package Oreos (crushed)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons powder sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • chocolate syrup
  • glass trifle dish


  1. Make chocolate cake ahead of time, and let cool.  Cut into cubes.  They do not have to be perfect, as they will be layered
  2. While cake is cooling, make pudding using the directions on the back of the boxes.
  3. Once pudding is set, fold container of cool whip to into the pudding until fully combined.
  4. Add a third of the cake cubes to the bottom of the trifle dish and add a third of the crushed Oreos. Spread on a third of the pudding cream mixture and repeat layers.
  5. Using a beater, mix together the whipped cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Add as last layer on top of the trifle.
  6. Add chocolate syrup to the top ,starting in the middle, and swirl around in circles until you get to the edges. Using a toothpick, draw out lines from the center to create syrup web.

7. Chill 6 hours to overnight.  Serve.spider-trifle-2spider-trifle-1

No Bake Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Happy Wednesday Cupboard followers!

So here we are, in the middle month of fall and everything looks the way it should.  The foliage is flecked with variations of rust and gold, pumpkins flank the entrances to every door way, promotions of Fall Festivals at local schools leave us stammering to find the winning recipe for the bake sales…..and it’s 80 degrees outside!!!  I mean, really.  If it wasn’t for the aforementioned, you could have fooled me into believing we got a second chance at summer.

And as it is every year at this time, my calendar is flooded with birthdays of those closest to me.  Mom, Dad, boyfriend and cousins.  And if that’s not enough, I have the largest work event of my entire year right smack dab in the middle of it all.  It’s fine, I got this.  I may collapse at the end of this week, but not without baking a couple of birthday cakes to celebrate a few of my favorites.

First up, we have the boyfriend who loves cheesecake.  It’s not my first confection of choice, but when done correctly and with the right additives, it’s in the running for a close second. And with these rising temperatures outside, a cold and creamy cheesecake was fitting.  So, with flying back from my work adventures in Orlando only just Monday night, and needing to celebrate his birthday the very next day (because of course his true birthday was while I was away selling leafy greens) I knew I had to attempt the impossible.  Try to make a cheesecake with NO requirement of refrigerating over night, giving it the proper time to settle into the silky sweet treat that it is.  Oh how I do appreciate a challenge!

Thank goodness for Pinterest and a recipe I found months ago.  A recipe so easy, Carrie Bradshaw could have whipped it up herself, without having to remove any of her sweaters out of the oven.  Because you guessed it, this is a a No Bake Cheesecake!!! It only took 3 hours vs the normal 12 needed for your traditional New York style.  Add a little bit of peanut butter and A LOT of Ryan’s favorite Reese’s Pieces, and voila!  A cheesecake equal parts rich and creamy, salty and sweet, you’ll want to keep this one in the archives.  I know I will….

Happy Tastings,



No Bake Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake


For Peanut Butter Blondie Crust:

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs

For White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. container extra creamy whipped topping
  • 2 – 4 oz. white chocolate baking bars, melted, cooled (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 11 oz. bag miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, unwrapped, whole

For Topping:

  • 11 oz. bag miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, unwrapped, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 oz. of a white chocolate baking bar, melted (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 2 oz. of a milk or semisweet chocolate baking bar, melted (I used Ghirardelli here, too.)


Peanut Butter Blondie Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, sugar, and eggs.
  3. Spread evenly into the bottom of a very well-greased 8-inch spring form pan.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Meanwhile, prepare cheesecake.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add peanut butter, powdered sugar, and whipped topping, beating until smooth.
  3. Beat in the 2 melted white chocolate bars in a slow stream.
  4. With the cookie crust still in the pan, spread about a cup of the cheesecake mixture in a thin and even layer over the cooled peanut butter blondie crust.  This will act as the ‘glue’ for the Reese’s cups on this layer.
  5. Arrange the one of the 11 oz. bags of whole Reese’s cups in a single layer, covering the entire surface of the crust.
  6. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes so that the Reese’s cups firm and adhere to the crust. Also place the remaining cheesecake mixture in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. It will help to get it a little firmer, so that it will spread into a mound on the crust more easily.
  7. Once chilled, remove both the crust and cheesecake mixture from the refrigerator.
  8. Add remaining cheesecake mixture on top of the Reese’s cups layer in the springform pan.  Adding the layers while still in the pan will help to keep the layers even with each other.
  9. Remove the spring form pan slowly.  Smooth around the edges of the cake with a butter knife or spatula, and make the cheesecake layer as even as possible.
  10. Once the sides are even, wipe any excess cheesecake mixture off of the sides of the cookie layer with a damp paper towel.

For Topping:

  1. Scatter the other 11 oz. chopped Reese’s cups on top of the cheesecake.
  2. In a double broiler on a stove top, melt the last 2 oz. of white baking chocolate over medium heat, until thin and runny.  Drizzle it over the chopped Reese’s cups.
  3. Repeat step 2 with the 2 oz. milk chocolate.
  4. Return finished cake to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. Cut and serve!

Butternut Squash Two Ways…..Savory and Sweet!

Happy Monday Cupboard followers!  I had a little bit on fun this weekend experimenting with yet another one of Fall’s delectable gifts…..Butternut Squash!  And being that this harvest veggie is a staple in our home, I was excited to mix it up and try some new recipes!  While the classic cubed and roasted version is a great go to during the week (especially mixed with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon), I thought to challenge myself and transform this savory squash into something more than just a side.  Why not make it the main attraction on your dinner plate?  Better yet….let’s sweeten it up and serve it as dessert!

So this week I experimented and put together two recipes that I think you will all enjoy…Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Goat Cheese AND a Butternut Squash Pie.  That’s right folks, a sweet and silky pie!  And if you remember my predicament last week (the nearly impossible feat of finding a grocery store that WASN’T out of my beloved Libby’s Pumpkin Puree), this Pie could be a life saver when you need to make a last minute Pumpkin dessert and there is no puree to be found.

Let’s face it, many of us have been in a situation where you’re a week out from Thanksgiving, get invited to a last minute holiday gathering and are expected to bring a seasonal dessert.  You scour the grocery shelves for any trace of pumpkin only to leave the store sorely disappointed and in a panic (or maybe that’s just me?).  But no worries, this Butternut Squash Pie has your back and will you bring you out of that dark and dismal place.  It will even score you some kudos points with everyone at the party because it is THAT good! And who knew Butternut Squash could be so tasty as a pie?

Hopefully you enjoy both of these recipes as much as I did.  And the rest of my family, as there are no leftovers to be had today!

Happy Tasting,



Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Goat Cheese

  • 1 medium butternut squashes, peeled and cut into thirds
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt and about 2 teaspoons cracked pepper (You will use half to season the squash in the oven, and the other half for the breadcrumbs)
  • 1 1/2 cups home made breadcrumbs,  made ahead of time (recipe below)
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta , diced
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425º F.

Using a spiralizer ( I prefer a table top one like my WonderVeg), spiral the squash into spaghetti like noodles.  TIP: If you don’t have a spiralizer, this dish would work just as well if you cut the squash into small cubes and roasted them.  Place the butternut noodles on a large baking sheet, with edges, and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, as well as a teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Place in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes or until the noodles are tender, but not mushy. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the other 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add the bread crumbs, tbsp. chopped sage, remaining salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the bread crumbs from the pan to a plate.

Place the butter, remaining 1/3 cup sage leaves and pancetta in the skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the butter is browned and the pancetta crisp.  Next, add in the butternut squash noodles and Romano cheese.  Toss to coat.  Add the breadcrumbs and crumbled goat cheese at the very end, right before serving.  I tried to save some of the breadcrumbs (about ¼ cup) and sprinkle atop each plate, individually.  It gives the plate a little extra pop!  Why not make your food as visually appealing, as it is tasty.  Because this plate definitely is!

Homemade Breadcrumbs

  • 4 cups Sourdough Bread
  •  1/4 cup Olive Oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon Salt
  •  Cracked Black Pepper To Taste

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Chop bread into 1” cubes.  In a large bowl, combine the bread, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss well to distribute the ingredients.

Spread the bread cubes out on a sheet pan, giving them plenty of space in between and bake for about 10-15minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.

Once bread crumbs have cooled, place in a Ziploc bag and smash into smaller pieces.  You don’t want them too fine, as you will want some crunch when you add them to you pasta dish.  Any cubes left over are great frozen and used for salads at another time!

Butternut Squash Pie

  • 3 cups butternut squash puree made from 1 small/medium squash, halved lengthwise, peeled, and seeded, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pie Crust (I prefer the recipe below, courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, but a premade once can be substituted if needed)
  • Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Place squash in a medium saucepan, and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer, and cook until the tip of a paring knife easily pierces squash, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, and set aside to cool.

Transfer squash to a food processor, puree and pour into a large mixing bowl.

Add half-and-half, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and mix with an electric hand mixer, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs, and mix until combined.  Place pie crust (in pie pan) on a baking sheet. Pour filling into crust. Bake, rotating once halfway through, until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour (tent loosely with foil if edges are browning too quickly).  Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Perfect Pie Crust (Barefoot Contessa)

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tspn kosher salt
  • 1 tblspn sugar
  • 1/3 cup very cold shortening
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas.

With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

And in the blink of an eye, it’s that time of year again where everywhere you go, every one of our senses are overwhelmed with all things pumpkin.  And I am NOT offended by it!  In fact, I am one of those crazed people who rushes to my local grocery store and stocks up on cans  of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree as soon as the first fall leaf touches ground.  Clearly I am not the only one, as the first store I went to was wiped clean of any trace of this fall elixir.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a recipe that is perfect if you ever have a little bit of pumpkin left over in a can (but who are we kidding, this is a very rare scenario).  Since this recipe requires only a half cup of pumpkin per batch, it really is the perfect option to help you rid any left overs you may have.

These cookies are equal parts chewy and savory, and have just enough crunch from the graham cracker crumb coating.  Another lovely fact about these scrumptious little fall treats is they require no eggs, baking powder, or baking soda.  So you don’t have to worry about having any sort of rising issues (joy!).  And I recommend eating these chilled, like you would actual cheesecake, and with a cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte of course!


Prep Time: 5mn
Cook Time: 18mn
Total Time: 23mn


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (Libby’s brand and not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (for rolling the cookies)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 sheet trays with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cream cheese, butter, and pumpkin until completely smooth.
  3. Add in the sugar and vanilla and stir until combined.
  4. Add the flour, 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Carefully mix until it is completely mixed and smooth.
  5. Scoop into balls (about a tablespoon and a half, or medium cookie ) and roll in the remaining graham cracker crumbs (with the pumpkin pie spice mixed in if desired).
  6. Place on the tray and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and slightly press down so they are flat.
  7. Bake for 3 more minutes.
  8. Repeat with remaining dough.
  9. Let cool and store in the fridge. These are best served cold, just like regular cheesecake.
Servings: 36