Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Treats!

A lot of people know that Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. I love everything about it from pumpkins to costumes to candy and more, this holiday is so much fun. I went to a few costume parties this weekend, but I'm planning on spending my Halloween watching scary movies and giving trick or treaters candy with some of my friends.

My unicorn pumpkin and my boyfriends driving skeleton pumpkin.

To spice the movie night up, I made a few really spooky treats, because what better way is there to celebrate Halloween than with Halloween themed snacks?

Starting out with these simple take on cheese and crackers with these string cheese witches broom sticks.

I simply took sticks of string cheese and cut each one into 3 equal pieces. Then I cut each piece vertically to look like strands on a broom. Lastly I cut into those pieces twice horizontally to make the piece of cheese look frayed and more like an actual broom. I added a pretzel stick on top for the handle and voila, a broomstick!

The next snack on my party list are these super cute jalapeño popper mummies!

Find this recipe at the bottom of this post.
They're made with roasted jalapeños, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and olives for the eyes.

Finally I made these adorable and extremely delicious spider cookies! They're basically snickerdoodle kiss cookies, but with a mini Reese's cup instead of a Hershey's kiss. 

Recipe at the bottom of this post.

However you are celebrating today and even if you're not, these snacks can be altered for any occasion. Cook away!

Mummy Jalapeño Poppers


  • Crescent rolls or puff pastry
  • 10 jalapeño peppers halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • Black olive slices for eyes
  1. Halve and seed the jalapeño peppers.
  2. Combine the two cheeses and green onions and mix well.
  3. Fill the mixture into the jalapeño pepper halves.
  4. Use a pizza cutter to slice strands of the dough. Wrap the strands of dough around the jalapeños to resemble a mummy. Leave space for the olive eyes.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and immediately press olive slice eyes in the spaces for the eyes.

Spider Snickerdoodle Cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for rolling)
  • Mini Reese's cups, frozen
  • Candy eyes
  • Melting chocolate or frosting in a tube
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together shortening, peanut butter, egg, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture and beat until blended.
  5. Form into 1 inch balls.
  6. Roll in sugar and place a couple of inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden.
  8. Immediately, gently press an upside frozen Reese's cup on top of each cookie and move to wire rack to cool.
  9. After placing and moving all the cookies on the wire rack, put in place the candy eyes while chocolate is still slightly soft.
  10. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow cookies to firm.
  11. Melt chocolate in a bag and cut the corner to pipe the spider's legs on to the cookie. I used frosting in a tube.
  12. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow legs to set.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Buzz Button.

When you go to a bar, do you peruse menu to find a cool cocktail created by a "mixologist" or do you have a go to cocktail that you always order? I kind of do both, it really depends on my mood, but when I'm in Las Vegas, a culinary creative mecca, I always want to try specialty cocktails that I can't find at home.

One of my favorite bars in all of Las Vegas is the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan hotel and I'm a big fan of their Bloody Mary, but this past time I was there, I wanted something more fresh and light for a nightcap. I asked the bartender what he could recommend to me and he let me in on a drink that's on their "secret menu". I'm letting you guys all in on the secret, because it's too awesome not to share! And trust me, you will love it.

The drink is called the Verbena and it is only served on the second floor of the chandelier bar. It is a basic margarita, but with a little extra something...a small flower resides on the surface of the margarita and its not just for show. The flower is a Sichuan flower and in the culinary world, its also referred to as a the buzz button.

When he served it to me, the bartender mentioned that this drink came with instructions. The instructions were to drink the margarita and get a good taste of it, then to put the whole flower in your mouth and chew on it for 15-20 seconds making sure to chew on both sides of your mouth and swallow it, and then to finally drink the margarita again. I didn't know what to expect, but I definitely could not have anticipated what happened.

It's called a buzz button for a reason. In the first 5 seconds I began chewing it, my whole mouth started to tingle, then that tingle turned into a prickle, until my whole mouth was buzzing and numb. After I ate the flower, I took another sip of the margarita again and the taste was completely different! I could definitely taste the flavors and ingredients in it a whole lot more, and this is exactly what the flower does. It speeds up your salivary glands and makes you a supertaster. 

Its unlike anything I've every tried and its an absolute must if you're in Vegas! It was so cool that I'm actually considering buying some of those Sichuan flowers and seeing what else it could open my tastebuds up to. But take it from me, this is a drink on a secret menu you'll be happy I told you about. 

Page, AZ.

Some of my followers may have noticed that I've taken a small hiatus from writing new posts and it's because I've recently been under a lot of stress with some personal things so much so that it has affected my moods and creativity. I was in a creative slump from the stresses I was under so I thought a change of scenery and a new experience would make me feel more at peace and start up my creative flow again.

Growing up, I had gone camping a few times through the girl scouts group I was a part of, but I never really grew a penchant for it. I hate being dirty and sleeping on the ground, but I thought that it might be just the thing I need to be one with the Earth and relieve some stress. It was time for me to try it again. Reluctant at first, I really took my time deciding where to go camping, but ended up deciding on a little place called Page, Arizona.

I had heard so many great things about it and seen amazing pictures so I landed on that! Many parts of Page are on Native American reservations and a lot of the sites to see are lead by Native Americans, which I think is so cool.

From LA to Page is an 8 hour drive...yes 8! Due to an appointment I couldn't miss in the morning, we ended up leaving late and arriving to the campground at 9PM. Pitching a tent in the pitch dark of the wilderness was such a struggle!

The campground was called Wahweap and it was directly on the border of Arizona and Utah. You could be sitting on one side of the campground in Arizona and walk over to the other side of it in Utah. What was even more interesting was that the time jumped one hour from Arizona and Utah, so it was kind of hard to keep track of what time it was. But it was a really nice campground, with clean bathrooms and showers and everything. It was right around the banks of Lake Powell, which made for a great view to wake up to in the morning. After setting up our tent, we just made a quick campfire dinner and ate under the stars, which was so relaxing, and went to bed.

Page is a place that, fortunately for us and our timing of arriving so late, has activities that can all be done in 1-2 days. We started out in the morning by going to Antelope Canyon. There are two canyons: upper and lower Antelope Canyon. The upper canyon is the more popular, touristy one and requires reservations a day or so in advance. The lower canyon is just as beautiful but less crowded. There are a few companies that offer tours tours to the canyon. We didn't have reservations, but luckily we found some spots with one of the Native American guides. I was told that the lower canyon was much easier and less expensive to get into, but the upper canyon is the most recommended one. It was so awesome to be lead by a Native American guide who explained every aspect of the canyon and what each turn and lighting effect was about.

To get to the canyon, the guide drove us 10 minutes in an open air vehicle through sand and dunes, and if you didn't keep your mouth closed on the way there, you were sure to get a mouthful of sand.

Upon getting to the canyon, I was in literal amazement of what beautiful things nature can create. The canyons were formed and are constantly being altered by wind and water that flows through it.

Entrance to the canyon.

"Sitting Bear". There are so many shapes and colors that are formed by the sunlight that hits the canyons, the interpretations are endless.
Another Bear.
The literal "Heart" of the canyon. 
Different interpretations of this rock: a mummy, angel wings, or a butterfly.

The canyon runs about 15 miles total, including the lower canyon, but the upper canyon was about 0.6 miles and with the guided tour, and took about 1 hour. Unfortunately, you can't go into the canyons without a guide because a few accidents have happened there during flash floods.

After we finished this trek, we were starving so we headed over to Big John's Texas BBQ, a really popular spot in the area. I highly recommend it, I haven't been to Texas to know if it compares, but I know it was really yummy.

One of the other sights to see in Page is Horseshoe Bend. It is an overlook of a giant rock that the Colorado River circles around. The river runs through the Grand Canyon and goes all the way up to Horseshoe Bend and it's the most amazing view.

It is a bit of a hike to get to the view, about 1.25 miles, but it is a really easy hike with gradual inclines. It took us about 25 minutes to get to the bend, but that's because we were rushing to get there before sunset.

We did both of these in one day, because we were on a schedule but you could stretch it out over 2 days. In fact, I kind of wish we took more time to enjoy the camping experience and hang out at the campground more, so I think 2 days is better than 1. Either way, though, the whole experience was so calming and it really gave me a chance to assess what is going on in my life and really relieve my stresses about them. I am strongly recommending this experience, camping and all not only for being at peace, but also for just having some fun in the desert. That said, I think my creative juices are starting to flow again and I am planning more new posts in the upcoming weeks! Thanks for bearing with me, followers.