Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy #Halloween Week from all of us at Mystery Lovers Kitchen!!


I'm posting on Sunday. It's not a guest blog. It's the kickoff to our HALLOWEEN WEEK! 
But there's a non-scary giveaway below, so check it out at the end of the post!

We at MLK love Halloween. We come up with scary ideas; some of us get inspired by the others! I'm a traditionalist. I like candy. Particularly chocolate and caramel. I like things around this season that have those kinds of flavors. So, check out the recipe below.

But first...I'm not big into being scared. My husband says the one thing I DON'T do well is go to scary movies. I remember one of our first dates was seeing Alien, and I sat curled in a little ball in the theater seat. He did not get a lot of kisses that night. Chocolate Kisses or otherwise.

I remember, pre-hubby, going to the movie The Shining. It was a Jack Nicholson movie. I thought, "Comedy, great!" And then the first 5 notes of the movie's theme rang out and, yes, I sat curled up in a ball in the theater seat. Nightmare on Elm Street? Not happening...ever!  I DO like The Twilight Zone, except for that one episode where the little girl rolls into the wall to chase after her dog. Did you see that? Argh!!

Lately, I've been noticing lots of gruesome decorations around the neighborhood. 

Are they more gruesome than ever, or is it just because I'm walking my dog and have more time to "notice" and "assess" them? Ghouls everywhere!!!! Hanging people with chains around their necks. Cobwebs, blood, tombstones. What happened to the cute little pumpkins with glowing smiles?

Anyway, a year ago, inspired by the neighborhood's decor, I wrote STIRRING THE PLOT. It came out September 30 and it has a Halloween theme! And Halloween recipes within.  NOTE: THIS IS NOT A PARANORMAL. IT IS A TYPICAL CULINARY, DELICIOUS COZY.

I had so much fun creating the recipes. I've shared a few in the past month. Popcorn balls, witchy woman cocktail, brittle, and last week (only a few days ago on my regular Wednesday), a chocolate cake (in honor of Black Cats).

Today, I'm sharing a recipe that Bailey - do you know Bailey? Jenna's best friend and now the top sales person at the Cookbook Nook? I adore Bailey. She's flighty but she's coming into her own. Learning what she likes; learning what's good and not good for her future. Anyway, Bailey's mother owns The Pelican Brief diner in Crystal Cove. She's a fabulous cook. Bailey can cook, too. Jenna--not so much! At the end of the book, Bailey shares this recipe, which is in her mother's cookbook. It's dessert and it's breakfast, and the sauce doubles as another dessert.

But I've got to tell you, it's gross looking. It is! I couldn't help it. Anything with nuts in a gooey sauce, well, you can see where I'm going with this. It screams Halloween and guts and gore and, well, curl up in your theater seat, you're in for a bumpy ride!

But it's frightfully delicious!!!

Pumpkin Maple Syrup Cheesecake
(especially good on Halloween!)

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin  (about 1 ½ cups)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan. [Note: if you need to eat gluten-free, you can make this crust with a crushed gluten-free sugar cookie.]

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until fluffy. Add in the pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt, and mix well. Pour the mixture into the springform prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the center appears nearly set when shaken. [Don’t shake like crazy; a little nudge will do.] Turn off oven and let stand in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

To serve, spoon some Maple Pecan Sauce over cheesecake.

Maple Pecan Sauce
      1 cup whipping cream
      3/4 cup pure maple syrup
      1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the whipping cream and pure maple syrup. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, and continue to “boil” for 10-12 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir occasionally. [Note: this is a candy, so do not let the mixture go past the caramel color stage. If so, it will burn and you’ll have to start over. So pay attention the last 5 minutes.]

Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans.

Truly gross looking!!

Cover and chill the sauce until ready to serve. Stir once before serving.

Note from Bailey: Mom adores sweets. I do, too. Especially cheesecake. I also adore breakfast, and there’s nothing that says breakfast better than syrup. Pancakes and syrup. Waffles and syrup. Even scrambled eggs and syrup. Don’t tell me you’ve never swirled your eggs into that last bit of syrup left after you’ve had a pancake with all the trimmings breakfast. Anyway, put the two together, and this makes for a delicious and not too hard to make cheesecake. Follow the baking instructions. That wait time after the cake is cooked is crucial. By the way, this sauce is fabulous over plain vanilla ice cream, too!

And now for the giveaway! I have a Mystery Lovers Kitchen tote bag to give away! It's good for books, groceries, or travel! And one signed copy of Stirring the Plot. Tell me what your scariest Halloween memory is!! LEAVE YOUR EMAIL IN CASE YOU WIN SO I CAN CONTACT YOU.

A teaser for Stirring the Plot:
Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster. Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder. When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth… 

Other recipes this October and their links:


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  1. I was trick or treating and walked up to a house. It had the porch lights on and I could hear sounds from the T.V. I rang the doorbell, and the wicked witch of the west answered the door. She did the evil laugh as soon as she opened the door! I think I might have jumped in surprised. But she wasn't all that evil because I did get candy (and I wasn't dress as Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ... I'm glad I didn't own a pair of ruby shoes). :) That's my only really scary Halloween memory.

    Please enter me in the contest. Thank you!
    myrifraf (at)

  2. For some reason the comment didn't show up, so I'll post again.
    One year I worked at a local Halloween theme park. I worked the exit door of the 3D Freakshow. Next to the house was the beer tent which meant many people went through our house having too much to drink. At the exit was an optical illusion of a spinning vortex. Well, you can guess that many people didn't feel very well after they exited. The scariest part was trying to avoid people exiting the haunt looking for someplace to vomit and trying to collect their 3D glasses.

  3. Watching scary movies with my dad when I was a kid and running through a haunted trail being chased by a man with a chainsaw.

  4. Mine is kinda boring, hey I must have lead a boring childhood LOL. I was invited to a halloween party and drove myself there, What I did not know early on was the area it was in. I was unfamiliar with it as it was over an hour away. Well I got there had a great time but trying to navigate home in this area with people in weird costumes all over the place, street lights broken and cops wiping by everywhere. I was scare but I did make it home ... safe and alive.

    1. That's not boring. It's scary to be in an area that is unfamiliar. Did you ever see the movie with Michael Douglas whose car broke down in an area like that? Scary!
      Daryl / Avery

  5. This is not really a Halloween story but when my husband and I were still dating we went to the movies to see When a Stranger Calls. That movie really creeped me out, especially since I lived in an apartment by myself. He and I had met at the movies, coming straight from work and after the movie, he kept telling me he was tired and going home. I really didn't want to go home alone! He did come back with me and made sure I got in safely and even checked under my bed and in my closets before he went home.

    1. Yep, scary movies can really make an impact on us. They're visceral experiences. Glad you were safe!

      Daryl / Avery

  6. I would say it would be the first time I ever went to a haunted house. I was young and didn't know what to expect. I had nightmares for months

  7. Went to a haunted house and the last thing was a zombie with a chainsaw!

    1. Again, yipes! What is with the allure of zombies? :)

      Daryl / Avery

  8. I went to a haunted house and was chased by people with chainsaws! It was scary because I was running across a field into a maze. I list my sense of direction quickly.

    1. A field into a maze. I remember going to a corn maze with my son and teaching him how to navigate to find his way out. Anyone can panic when disoriented!!

      Daryl /Avery

  9. I do NOT do scary movies, haunted houses year a really cute guy asked me out to go to a haunted house. I think I almost ripped his arm off and he practically had to peel me off. Funny he never asked me out again.

  10. I love Bailey! Especially if she's sharing yummy recipes.

    It's not your imagination; Halloween decorations are getting more gruesome. Google Spirit Halloween, but not while you're eating. Yikes.

    Halloween is my favorite "holiday", and we have a big deal party, with every inch of the joint decorated (non-gruesomely) every other year. This is an off year, thank goodness.

    1. Good for you to enjoy it fully. A girlfriend of mine decorates solely for herself. She gets no trick or treaters but loves Halloween decor. :)

      Daryl/ Avery

  11. we had a school carnival at halloween - they had a haunted house (very well done as it was in a classroom) and at the end there was a coffin with a vampire in it that came out and gave you a small prize (vampires are a fear of mine) I was only in the 2nd grade and was totally scared

    1. But after seeing the vampire you got a prize! That's a good way to experience a vampire, I would imagine. So sorry you were spooked!

      Daryl/ Avery

  12. Love cheesecake but love your books more!

  13. I love Halloween! I love watching all the scary movies and getting dressed up! But when it comes to haunted houses I am a wimp! I went to one and halfway through they came and escorted me out because one of the guys jumped out and grabbed my arm! Well like any one would do when they are scared and then grabbed I turned and hit him as hard as I could! I do not go to any more haunted houses ! Safer for me and the people!

    1. Terri, I'm laughing. Yes, those poor guys/women in scary houses. They probably get hit a lot!

      Daryl/ Avery

  14. When I was younger, my family and good friends of ours, would always dress for Halloween and do live action out in our front yard and scare the pants of people. We had a blast!

    I really enjoy the Cookbook Nook series. And the tote is beautiful!