Thursday, October 21, 2010

My sister's Halloween bash

One of my lovely Chicago sisters (who is far more social than me!) is hosting a Halloween bonfire next weekend (no rain please!!)

Because of my cooking addiction, my immediate thoughts went to which foods I could bring. She is providing the main meal and told me she was also going to buy several sheet cakes from CostCo (dessert for 70 people). Other guests are bringing the rest of the dishes.

Since buying sheet cake is clearly unacceptable when the sister you have invited is a cooking addict, I offered to bring enough for everyone. My plans WERE:
  • Yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting (these are her husband's favorite, and we are also celebrating his birthday at this party!)--I even purchased Halloween cupcake holders.
  • The new to-die-for, amended Martha Stewart Mint Brownies. I want to use up the last of my orange colored, pumpkin shaped York peppermint patties before Halloween. So that I remember, I amended it by making it times 1.5 the recipe and baking in my 11.5 by 7.5 pyrex. I put half the batter on the bottom, and dusted the York's in cocoa and flour so that they would not sink. I put Reese's on one end. I added a throw together frosting of melted semi-sweet chocolate, milk, maybe vanilla?, and powdered sugar. Next time, I will add a bit of vanilla to the batter because it makes everything better.
  • Mom's recipe Texas Sheet Cake
  • My cousin Shelly's pumpkin bars. This is another sheet cake type recipe with cream cheese frosting--as an intelligent adult, I know this is fabulous. As a stupid kid I did not like the idea of pumpkin in cake one bit and refused to eat these bars. Why are kids so stubborn?????

Now, I also wanted to commandeer her main meal and make my mom's recipe for maid-rites (this is an Iowa thing, check Wikipedia if you do not know what this is!!) and barbecue pulled chicken (my long lost Switzerland sister adapted a recipe from somewhere for our long lost family, bulk cooking nights).

I WAS going to make the main dishes and brownies and freeze them (I have frozen all of these things with great success in the past) this weekend. BUT my sister cannot fathom that these cooking adventures would provide me with a glorious weekend while my husband studies for his upcoming exam. So she has ordered me to ONLY make the pumpkin bars and Texas Sheet Cake.

So this weekend to get started:

Frosting Practice: I have a very fancy cookware store WITHIN WALKING distance. This is very dangerous. Last weekend I bought my first set of pastry bags and tips (yes my first!!). So I may make the buttercream to practice making pumpkins and writing this weekend for the cakes. I still have to decide exactly how I want to decorate these, to mix birthday and Halloween.

Maid-rites: I may also end up making maid-rites on the chance my sister wants me to. Plus I need to have meals made ahead for the week, since cooking on weeknights is always a mess (literally and figuratively!)

Pumpkin Bars: Now, since I myself have never made pumpkin bars, and I have not had Shelly's in several years, I will do a test run in half a sheet pan this weekend. I also need to test how my despicable dark Chicago Metallic sheet cake pans do for sheet cake. They do NOT do well for cookies! Or at least, I cannot adapt to them. I am going to try half the recipe as Shelly wrote, and half according to the comments on Paul's pumpkin bars from Allrecipes to make them less cake-like and more bar like. If it fails, I will make Ina Garten's Carrot and Pineapple Cake into a sheet cake. I KNOW this recipe is amazing.

Pumpkin Puree: Finally, I need to test out Pioneer Woman's homemade pumpkin puree. Because I am now also a Farmer's Market addict, I must use the pumpkins I bought on an impulse there. And since I have never made homemade pumpkin puree, I must use Pioneer Woman's recipe, because she has not failed me yet.

Pie????: I have a feeling once I get going, I may end up buying more pumpkin at the Farmer's Market for next week, and some to try out Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Pecan-Praline Pie, because I have always thought plain pumpkin pie was boring and kind of a gross texture (yes, I said it). I am going to Thanksgiving for the very first time at my mother-in-laws, and I am hoping to bring the desserts (at least) to help her feed her RIDICULOUSLY hungry boys. If I dare bring a non-traditional pumpkin pie, I had better test that it is good.

Pie Crust: I will use the pie crust in my freezer--again, thanks to Pioneer Woman's recipe for Perfect Pie Crust. Although I need to watch how Martha makes crust in the food processor. In the future I must go back to my grandma's crust recipe, just because it is sad not to. Finally, I must try to incorporate some of the fancy lard I bought (again, on an impulse at the Farmer's Market).

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