Tag Archives: fall

Culinary Adventures: Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie: a spicier and richer version of the classic fall favorite.


Paddy and I are both big fans of spicy chocolate, and I wanted to shake things up a bit for Thanksgiving this year. I found this recipe for Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and decided to try it out. I changed it up a bit, using pre-made chocolate cookie pie crusts, dividing the recipe into two (the cookie pie crusts were pretty shallow) and tripling the chocolate ganache recipe. It turned out fantastic and our families loved it.

Better Homes and Gardens Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Recipe:

  • 1 recipe Baked Piecrust (I subbed out a pre-made chocolate cookie crust
  • 1 3.1 ounce disc Mexican chocolate or 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped plus 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Ganache*
  •  Grated chocolate (optional)
  •  Chili powder (optional)


  1. Prepare Baked Pastry Shell; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan heat the chocolate, cinnamon and butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, just until melted; set aside to cool. In a large bowl combine the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, and cayenne. Stir in the pumpkin and eggs until combined. Gradually stir in half-and-half until combined.
  2. Stir 1 1/2 cups of the pumpkin mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture. Pour chocolate mixture into baked pastry shell. Gently pour remaining pumpkin mixture over the chocolate layer. If necessary, cover edges of pie with foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake for 60 minutes or until edges are puffed and center appears set. Cool on a wire rack. Chill within 2 hours. Serve with Chocolate Ganache. Sprinkle with grated chocolate and chili powder, if desired.
CHOCOLATE GANACHE: (I tripled this recipe to make enough for two pie toppings)

Chop 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate and place in a small bowl. Heat 1/4 cup whipping cream to a simmer and pour over chopped chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Immediately spoon over center of cooled pie.

The Mexican chocolate I used I found at the little Mexican tienda across the street from our house. We live in a pretty culturally diverse neighborhood, so it was pretty easy to find. If you don’t have any Mexican grocery/variety stores in your area, you could try using regular chocolate and adding in cinnamon and cayenne, but it probably won’t turn out entirely the same.

Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie
Mexican chocolate

The chocolate comes in disks inside the package. The recipe called for one disk.

Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie
Mexican chocolate

The filling wasn’t so different from a regular pumpkin pie, aside from mixing part of the pumpkin filling with the Mexican chocolate for the bottom layer, and adding a few extra spices. It was pretty easy.

Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie
Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie –the chocolate/pumpkin layer on the bottom
Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie
Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie –pumpkin layer
Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie
Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie –pies ready to go in the oven

The pies came out the consistency of a regular pumpkin pie, and when they were cool I made the chocolate ganache and poured it over the tops. Once the ganache was cool, I grated part of a chili chocolate bar and sprinkled it on top. I used the local Seattle Theo Chocolate chili bar.

Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie
Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie
Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Paddy says he expects Mexican chocolate pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving now. I will try to accommodate, but I do love trying a new recipe every year!



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Crafty Adventures: Carmen Miranda Costume

Crafty Adventures: Making my own Carmen Miranda costume for Halloween

I get really into Halloween. I start planning my costume in August. I love the experience of crafting a unique costume that isn’t a cheap out-of-the-bag costume that I may see ten other people wearing when I go out. Last year, I wanted to be Carmen Miranda. It took a little work, but my Carmen Miranda costume ended up being a success. Here’s how I made it:


Since I’m not a talented seamstress, I usually start with a pre-made costume or garment and modify it. I looked around at some of the “samba lady” costumes online, and didn’t find much that was my size, or that didn’t involve a bikini top.

I figured what I really needed was something strapless with a big slit up the side of the skirt that I could add ruffles to. I looked at some costumes on HalloweenCostumes.com and found a Jessica Rabbit costume that I thought might do the trick as the base. It came in plus sizes too.


jessica rabbit costume for carmen miranda costume
image from www.halloweencostumes.com

The dress showed up, and it fit but was a bit big. Not wanting it to be too tight, I decided to keep the slightly too big size and modify it to fit me better.

But first, ruffles:

making a carmen miranda costume
Ruffles galore

I bought all of the red and yellow ruffles that Joann Fabrics had. There was a bit more red than yellow, so I made that my main color, and it matched the dress anyway. I was hoping to make it a bit more colorful but I could only find other ruffles in white, black, or pastel colors that didn’t really go with the bold Brazilian samba look.

I started with a yellow ruffle along the hemline of the skirt and up the skirt slit, overlapping at the top. Next I added a red ruffle underneath it. I hand sewed everything, since my sewing machine died last year and I hadn’t replaced it yet. It wasn’t that bad, it was something productive to do while watching TV.

For the armbands I bought some extra wide elastic, made arm bands with it, and sewed four tiers of ruffles alternating yellow and red. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for the fact that if you sew something non-elastic to elastic, it prevents the piece from being elastic.

carmen miranda costume ruffle armbands
Sewing ruffles on the elastic armbands

I solved this by cutting it back open and sewing a small additional elastic strip to give the band some elasticity. not the nicest looking job, but it was on the inside of my arm so no one could really see it. I did the same thing with the second armband, leaving some of the elastic open.

carmen miranda costume ruffle armbands
Open elastic to allow stretch on the ruffle armbands


The top of the dress had a big sweetheart neckline that was a bit too big. I folded it down and hemmed it, trimming off the excess fabric. I then took some yellow ruffle and sewed it around the top of the dress. The lack of elasticity in the ruffle actually helped out quite a bit here, as the dress was a bit big and it helped tighten it up.

Last, the most important piece of the Carmen Miranda costume is the fruit hat. I ordered this one online from another costume retailer, intending to add some fruit to it:

carmen miranda costume fruit hat

Not surprisingly, it arrived much less glorious and more deflated than the web photo above. That giant green ostrich feather at the top was only about 6 inches long. This wasn’t a problem as I wanted to add a lot more fruit to it anyway. The grapes were nice, but the little pineapple on top was pretty pathetic. I went to Michaels and bought more grapes, two bananas, two lemons, an apple, and an orange and two big red and yellow ostrich feathers.

The thing that was most helpful to me in embellishing the Carmen Miranda costume fruit hat was a glass head that Paddy acquired from an old roommate. It sat out in our garage for ages and I once asked if we could get rid of it but he wanted to keep it, and now I’m glad we did.

I was able to put the hat on the glass head and superglue the extra fruit and feathers to it while it was upright. Assuming that you are a normal person who doesn’t have glass heads in your garage, you might be able to get a styrofoam wig head from a craft store to use, or just ask your best buddy to model it for you.

Carmen Miranda costume

Carmen Miranda costume

Wearing the fruit hat was a bit of a balancing act. I had to bobby pin it to my head around the rim of the velvet turban part, but it was still a little slippy. I had some flower hair clips that I ended up clipping in the back to secure it further, and they worked well.

I added some bracelets and beaded necklaces, and some spangly chandelier earrings, and voila!

Carmen Miranda costume
My Carmen Miranda costume and Paddy the evil jester.
Carmen Miranda costume
Carmen Miranda tangos with Indiana Jones
Carmen Miranda costume
Carmen Miranda and Indiana Jones

Carmen Miranda costume

Somehow, my Carmen Miranda costume fruit hat stayed on crammed into a car, at our friend’s Halloween party, crammed into a car again, at another friend’s Halloween party, and then out at the bars on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It got me a free drink from a guy dressed as a widow carrying around a framed photo of an old man. Finally, just after we were kicked out of the bar at 2:00 AM, I was eating a taco at a food truck and my fruit hat dove off of my head and crashed onto the sidewalk. I’ll call it a success.

Happy Halloween and happy costuming!



Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from product links on this site.

Orcas Island, Washington 2015

Our quick weekend getaway to Orcas Island, WA: Rosario Resort and the Moran Mansion, farmers market, great food, and beautiful island scenery.


Paddy and I are originally from San Juan Island, a neighboring island to Orcas Island in the San Juan archipelago. Even though we grew up close by, we have really only been to Orcas Island a handful of times in our lives.

While most tourists bypass the other islands and head straight to Friday Harbor and San Juan Island, Orcas Island is not to be overlooked. It is geographically the largest of the four main San Juan Islands, and has some of the most stunning scenery combined with small town laid-back island life.

Day 1:

We made our ferry reservations in advance, and caught the 6:30 PM sailing on Friday from Anacortes. We left Seattle at 3:30 and traffic wasn’t too bad. We arrived the Anacortes ferry terminal within about two hours. We grabbed a snack at the little Cheesecake Cafe ferry terminal kiosk and soon were loaded onto the boat heading to Orcas Island.

*Note: Ferry reservations strongly recommended for Friday evening sailings, and are an absolute must in the summertime.

There was a spectacular fall sunset on the way, and the weather was weirdly warm despite the strong October breeze.

sunset from ferry to orcas Island
Sunset seen from the ferry to Orcas Island

sunset from ferry to orcas Island

We arrived Orcas Island starving, and followed the train of cars through the dark about 15 minutes into the main town of Eastsound in the middle of the island. After a quick stop at the Island Market for beer, wine, and some light breakfast items for the morning, we walked next door to the Lower Tavern for dinner.

*Note: The grocery stores close around 8:00 to 9:00 PM, so be sure to get your snacks and beverages early.

The Lower Tavern is your basic local bar with a variety of burgers and pub grub. There is a pool table, neon beer signs, good beer selection, and locals a plenty. Service was good, and the food was your average pub fare. This is one of the less-expensive places to eat on Orcas Island if you are looking for somewhere casual.

lower tavern eastsound orcas island
Crispy chicken burger and fries at the Lower Tavern in Eastsound
lower tavern eastsound orcas island
Lower Tavern, Eastsound

After dinner, we drove another 15 minutes east and then south to Rosario Resort, one of the oldest hotels on Orcas Island. Rosario is the 40 acre former estate of Seattle shipbuilder and mayor Robert Moran, who built his mansion here over 100 years ago. The mansion is now the main building at Rosario, hosting a spa, bar and restaurant, and a museum of the upper floors of the Moran mansion.

Surprisingly, Rosario had the best priced room I could find on Orcas Island. We had reserved the least expensive room, a hillside king at $120/night.  It was a bit far from the main mansion, down the road and up a steep hill. The room was nice, and included cable TV, a fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and a nice balcony overlooking the bay. We were visiting in October, and the price of the room drops further in the winter season to $99/night (when I last checked, anyway). The only complaint we had is that the water pressure in the shower was pretty low. Other than that it was a very nice room.

Rosario hillside king room Orcas Island
Rosario hillside king room
Rosario hillside king room Orcas Island
Rosario hillside king room

Rosario hillside king room Orcas Island


Day 2:

We slept in the next morning, enjoying the view from our room and the sound of the waves on the shore below. We had coffee and snacks we had bought the night before in our room for a light breakfast, and then headed down to the Mansion to check out the museum.

Rosario Moran Mansion Orcas Island

The upstairs floors of the Moran Mansion are preserved as a historical museum of the Moran family. There is the main music room in the middle, with a two story pipe organ. I read that every Saturday you can come hear an organist play the organ and then have access to the library rooms on the third floor mezzanine, which are otherwise closed to the public.

The museum has a lot of the original furniture from the Moran family, as well as photos of the Moran family, models of Robert Moran’s ships that he built, and other early turn of the century artifacts.

Rosario Moran Mansion Orcas Island
Front of the Moran Mansion

Rosario Resort also has two outdoor pools for the summer season, including one for adults at the main mansion and a larger one for families down by the harbor.

Rosario Resort adult pool Orcas Island
Adult pool at the Moran Mansion
Rosario Resort Orcas Island
The hotel rooms from across the bay as viewed from the mansion

After touring the museum, we headed back to the town of Eastsound for the Orcas Island farmer’s market. In the fall it is located indoors at the Oddfellows Hall on Saturdays from 11:00 to 2:00.

The farmers market had lots of locally farmed fruits and vegetables, hand crafted jewelry, felted hats, and other gifts. Island made foods such as sausages, chocolates, baked goods, pasta, coffee, and jams were also available for sale. I scraped together some cash to purchase some huge and amazing-looking gloves of garlic from the farmer with the sausage (his credit card square wasn’t working on his phone). Bringing cash is recommended.

Paddy tasted a bunch of jams from Girl Meets Dirt at the table next door and said they were all delicious. He bought her peach chamomile preserves and miraculously got his card to swipe on her phone square. With flavors like rhubarb lavender, pear balsamic, and fig basil it was difficult to choose.

I also recommend Island Thyme bath and cosmetic products–especially the lip balms and the bar soaps. My Mom on San Juan Island often puts them in my Christmas stocking. I’m a lip balm and lip gloss junkie, and theirs is one of my favorites.

Girl Meets Dirt peach chamomile preserves from the farmer's market orcas island
Girl Meets Dirt peach chamomile preserves from the farmer’s market

If you can’t make it to the farmers market and still want some preserves or other locally made products, you can visit the Orcas Island Food Co-Op which is open daily in East Sound.

Eastsound Orcas Island
Eastsound, Orcas Island–view from Oddfellows Hall farmers market

After the farmers market we were hungry, so we decided to have lunch at Rose’s Bakery & Cafe in Eastsound. It was a nice little spot and the food was good, although a bit overpriced for what you got. Our sandwiches were $16.00 each, Paddy’s mole chicken sandwich came with about two tablespoons of coleslaw and my fried green tomato BLT came with about two tablespoons of potato salad. I know that things are more expensive in the islands, but cabbage and potatoes aren’t high-end ingredients. It seems that the side could have been at least a half cup’s worth. When we left Paddy was still hungry. Not exactly what you want to feel like after spending $16.00 on a sandwich. Good quality, but not sure if we’ll be back based on the prices.

Fried green tomato BLT at Rose's Bakery Cafe Orcas Island
Fried green tomato BLT at Rose’s Bakery Cafe
Mole chicken sandwich at Rose's Bakery Cafe
Mole chicken sandwich at Rose’s Bakery Cafe

After lunch we headed east towards Mt. Constitution in Moran State Park.  Moran State Park is host to several hiking trails, a campground, and two large lakes–one with a nice swim beach in the summertime. The last time we were on Orcas Island was about 12 years ago in October, and we tried to go up to the top of Mt Constitution to see the view from the tower but about three quarters of the way up the mountain we found ourselves in a dense fog prohibiting any kind of view whatsoever.

Moran State Park Orcas Island
Moran State Park entrance

Unfortunately, we found ourselves in the same situation again as we ascended the mountain. We did enjoy the spooky mist and forest views, however.

Foggy road to Mt Constitution
Foggy road to Mt Constitution

When we neared the top, instead of this:

Mt Constitution Moran State Park
View from Mt Constitution on a clear day. Image from http://moranstatepark.com/mount-constitution/

We got this:

Orcas-Island 236

*Note: Go to Mt. Constitution on sunny days only if you want to see the view. Also, be sure to have your Discover Pass with you for parking.

The rain was getting heavier, and we kind of felt like hibernating. We made a quick stop in Eastsound for an afternoon snack at Brown Bear Baking. After surveying several delectable items including chocolate croissants as big as my face, I selected a chocolate muffin for Paddy and I to share. It was delicious–very chocolatey with a nice crunchy top. We headed back to the room for some R&R.

Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound
Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound
chocolate muffins at Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound
Chocolate muffins at Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound

The sun broke through the clouds around 4:30 as we were watching the tail end of Footloose on TV. (Side note curiosity–how long did it take for Kevin Bacon to stop finding  glitter everywhere after filming the end dance scene?)

We were getting hungry and were trying to decide where to go for dinner. We decided on the Inn at Ship Bay just east of Eastsound. We called to find out if we needed reservations and were informed that they were completely booked for the evening but there were some spots at the bar open at the moment. We jumped in the car and snagged a couple of the last spots at the cozy little bar with a view of the sound.

Dinner was outstanding. It was a splurge, but well worth it. I ordered the Apple Pye cocktail, with apple liquer, bay leaf, vodka, and ginger beer. It was fall in a glass, and very strong.

inn at ship bay apple pye cocktail orcas island
Apple Pye cocktail

For dinner, we started with the Mangalitsa pork belly appetizer and the tomato goat cheese tart. Both were fabulous. The pork belly was nice and crispy on the outside and the quince and apple puree complimented it nicely.

For entrees I had the weathervane scallops with the sprouted lentil salad, and Paddy had the sirloin steak. We also couldn’t pass up on dessert–the goat cheese bourbon cheesecake with apples. It was a perfect fall meal, and we would recommend Inn at Ship Bay highly for dinner.

Mangalitsa pork belly with quince and apple puree
Mangalitsa pork belly with quince and apple puree
Goat cheese and tomato tart with arugula salad
Goat cheese and tomato tart with arugula salad
Sirloin steak Inn at Ship Bay Orcas island
Sirloin steak
Weathervane scallops with citrus risotto, sprouted lentil salad, and lemon aoli
Weathervane scallops with citrus risotto, sprouted lentil salad, and lemon aoli
Goat cheese apple bourbon cheesecake
Goat cheese apple bourbon cheesecake

After dinner, we headed back to Rosario. Paddy wanted to have a drink at the Mansion bar, and I wanted to go soak in the hot tub in the basement spa.

I had stayed here at Rosario once when I was a kid with my parents in the 1980’s. The indoor pool back then was a big, white, milky, creepy experience with pipes going across the room over the pool. It kind of felt like being in the belly of a flooded ship.

I was pleased to see that they had re-done the entire pool and that it was much nicer looking. There was also a sauna.

Rosario Resort indoor pool at the spa
Rosario Resort indoor pool at the spa

I got a locker padlock and a towel from the front desk lady in the gift shop area at the spa entrance, and made my way back to the little changing rooms and lockers. The changing rooms are all individual and unisex and just outside the main pool area. One thing that I’m pretty sure hadn’t changed since the 1980’s was the dingy green carpet in the changing room area and hallway that smelled like about 30 years worth of chlorine that had dripped off of hundreds of wet bathers festering away in it’s fibers. I have no idea why this area is carpeted, and is something that they should probably address.

Around the corner from the small wall of lockers is the hall leading to the outdoor adult pool and a very creepy exercise room. If there is one area that is haunted in this 100+ year old mansion, it is the exercise room. I am sure of it.

I found the womens showers and rinsed off, then climbed into the jacuzzi tub. The tub was huge and no one was in it, which was very nice. It was heavily chorinated, however. I smelled like chlorine the rest of the night, despite rinsing off afterward. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to evaluate the chlorine levels before getting in.

Rosario Resort hot tub in the spa
Rosario Resort hot tub in the spa

After I changed I found Paddy at the Mansion bar, which was hoppin’ busy. There was live music and a roaring fire in the fireplace. We headed back to the room to relax and watch a movie.

Rosario Resort mansion at night
Rosario Resort mansion at night


Day 3:

Sunday morning brought beautiful rays of sunshine. It was a shame we didn’t have time to go up to Mt. Constitution to take in the view before catching the ferry, but we had reservations for the 8:45 sailing back to Anacortes.

We got in line for the ferry about half an hour before boarding, and walked down the hill to the little Orcas Village Store in search of coffee and sustenance.

Orcas Village Store at the ferry landing orcas island
Orcas Village Store at the ferry landing

We ordered some espresso at their coffee/deli counter and some surprisingly delicious chipotle bacon breakfast burritos sitting pre-made in their warm food cabinet near the counter. There were also pastries, bagels with salmon cream cheese and other deli items for purchase. The breakfast burritos were really good.

Soon enough the ferry rounded the corner and we were loaded onto the boat, which made stops at Shaw and Lopez Islands as well.

Orcas Island ferry
Ferry coming into dock
Orcas Island village from ferry
View of Orcas Village landing from the ferry
Cars loading onto the ferry on Orcas Island
Cars loading onto the ferry on Orcas Island

It was a nice little weekend getaway. When we come back to visit Orcas Island again, we’d like to see a bit more of the island itself–hiking in Moran State Park, Cascade Falls, Deer Harbor, and Doe Bay. We’ll be back.


Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from product links on this site.

Halloween in Seattle

If you are spending Halloween in Seattle, there are a lot of options for a spooky good time. Here are our recommendations for Halloween fun in the Emerald City:


Pumpkin Patch and Cider Tasting

If you are spending Halloween in Seattle have the means and enthusiasm to carve a pumpkin, one of our favorite October day trips is to Dr Maze’s pumpkin farm in nearby Redmond, WA. It has all the standard things a pumpkin patch should have–a corn maze, kettle corn, fruits and veggies for sale, hot apple cider, and a pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkin. The reason we like this pumpkin patch the most is the fact that it is just down the road from the Minea Farm, a working farm with a 100 + year old cider press still in action. Buy a cup of hot cider and watch the cider press from the viewing window, or buy a gallon of fresh pressed organic cider to take home. They also sell apples, eggs, jams and jellies, honey, and other things made on their farm. Minea Farm is located at 13404 Woodinville Redmond Rd NE, Redmond, WA.

halloween in seattle pumpkin patch
Picking pumpkins at Dr Maze’s pumpkin farm in Redmond


Horror Movie Exhibit

The EMP at the Seattle Center has an exhibit that has been running for a couple years (not sure how long it will run for) called “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of the Horror Film.”  See real iconic horror movie props such as the facehugger from Alien, the axe from The Shining, and the script from Night of the Living Dead. I haven’t been to this exhibit yet but hope to before it goes away.

The EMP is also a good place to check for events. This year they are doing a 90’s zombie prom on October 17th. You can check their calendar for events here.

Halloween in seattle horror film
Can’t Look Away: The Lure of the Horror Film at the EMP Museum. Image from www.empmuseum.org

Super Scary Haunted House

One of the longest running Haunted Houses in Seattle is the Kube 93 Haunted House in the Georgetown neighborhood just south of downtown. I actually haven’t been to this since I was a teenager, but I keep meaning to go again. It’s a little pricey at $23 per adult, but they really go all out. They run the haunted house all through the month of October and even the last weekend of September.

Kube 93 Haunted House
Kube 93 Haunted House
Kube 93 Haunted House
Kube 93 Haunted House image from http://www.kube93.com/


Haunted Seattle Ghost Tours

Spooked in Seattle offers ghost tours of Seattle, including one ghost tour a month on the last Friday of each month in the Seattle underground, the part of old town Seattle that the current city was built on top of after the great fire of 1889. We’ve been on the regular Seattle Underground Tour, and it was spooky on its own without looking for ghosts. We’ve been on Spooked in Seattle’s regular city walking tour where they take you around Pioneer Square and downtown and tell you about reported ghost sightings in the historical part of the city. If you are interested in Seattle’s history and want a little spooky Halloween in Seattle fun, this is a good way to get a little of both.

halloween in seattle

Spooky Burlesque Shows

If you like dinner theater, burlesque shows, and Tim Burton, then you are in luck. The Triple Door downtown hosts a burlesque-style performance of the Nightmare Before Christmas, called This is Halloween every year. I’ve been to a few shows at The Triple Door, and this is dinner theater at its best. Food from the attached Wild Ginger restaurant is served prior to and during the show and drink service is available throughout. I saw the show with some friends two years ago as a girls’ night out and it was great fun. Get your tickets in advance, especially for weekend shows.

Halloween in Seattle Triple Door
This is Halloween show at the Triple Door, Seattle
Halloween in Seattle Triple Door
This is Halloween show at the Triple Door, Seattle
Halloween in Seattle Triple Door
This is Halloween show at the Triple Door, Seattle
Halloween in Seattle Triple Door
This is Halloween show at the Triple Door, Seattle

Seattle’s top spot for year round Burlesque shows is The Can Can downtown (right next to the entrance to the Pike Place Market). They love to do theme shows, and last year I went to a Halloween burlesque show called “Zombie Cheerleaders From Hell.” It appears that they are running it again this year. The title is a little misleading, (I don’t remember any zombie cheerleaders), but it was full of classic and devilishly spooky song and dance numbers, pasties, and humor. I did notice that their ticket prices have gone up a bit–the $40 ticket price used to include a cocktail credit but it appears that it is now just admission. The performers are great and the shows I’ve seen have always been fabulous, so if you have the dough and want to see a unique little part of Halloween in Seattle, I’d recommend it.

halloween in seattle
Image from http://www.thecancan.com/

Other good places to check for burlesque shows are the Columbia City Theater in Columbia City, and The Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous in Belltown. I checked their calendars for this October and both of them seem to be doing a Rocky Horror theme burlesque show of some kind, and The Jewelbox Theater has a “pole dancing Halloween recital”. I don’t know what all of those shows entail, but I’m sure whatever they are they will be at entertaining at minimum.

The Rocky Horror Pastie Show at Columbia City Theater
The Rocky Horror Pastie Show at Columbia City Theater 10/30/15

 Creepy Circus Show and Dance Party

One of the best Halloween events I’ve been to over Halloween in Seattle is the Emerald City Trapeze annual event Carnevolar. Hosted at the Emerald City Aerialdome in Sodo, they usually do 2-3 shows over Halloween weekend. The evening starts with a trapeze act, followed by a stage show including dancing, aerialist acts, and other circus performances. Every Carnevolar has a different theme. I’ve been to the Vampyre Circus and The Haunting. Last year I think it was Funhouse, this year it is The Funeral.

halloween in seattle carnevolar
Watching the flying vampires at Carnevolar
carnevolar halloween in seattle
Image by J Boyer Photography
halloween in Seattle Carnevolar
Carnevolar: The Haunting. Image by J Boyer Photography

After the performance, a DJ spins into the wee hours of the morning and the whole place becomes a dance party. Costumes are strongly encouraged, and from the two times I’ve gone people get very into the costumes here. Don’t be the boring lameass without a costume.

halloween in seattle carnevolar
Costumed attendees at Carnevolar

halloween in Seattle Carnevolar

Psycho at the Symphony

If you’re up for something spooky but a little more low-key on Halloween night, The Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall downtown does a live performance of the score to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho along with the movie.

Psycho at Seattle Symphony Halloween in Seattle
Image from www.seattlesymphony.org

Halloween Night Fun in the City

Lastly, of course you can always spend Halloween in Seattle out on the town. Every bar in the city will have some sort of Halloween party going on, but if you really want to be at the heart of the action, the Pike/Pine corridor on Capitol Hill is the place to go. It will be busy, so go early if you want to snag a spot to sit and people watch, or go later and wait in lines and bar crawl like everyone else. One year when Halloween was on a Friday, we went to Linda’s early at 9:00 and snagged a booth. We had the intention of moving on to other bars, but as Linda’s became more and more packed our booth started looking a more and more appealing to stay in. The entertainment pretty much came to us–it was an endless parade of costumes.

Whatever neighborhood you end up in, finding booze and people in costumes shouldn’t be too difficult.

Halloween 2014 535

Halloween 2014 533

Whatever you decide to do, Halloween in Seattle is always a great time.  Don’t forget to bring a costume.

Halloween 08 001


Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from product links on this site.

Culinary Adventures: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup

Pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup: our favorite fall brunch recipe. The apple cider syrup is what makes this recipe the best–a sweet and spicy mouthful of fall in every bite.


I found this pumpkin pancakes recipe years ago on www.bbonline.com shared from Mountain Home Lodge in Leavenworth, WA. Looks like they have since taken the recipe down and put up some other pumpkin pancakes recipes instead. This one is perfect though, and the apple cider syrup is what really makes it great.

Mountain Home Lodge’s Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup Recipe:


2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup oil
1-3/4 cups pancake flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 ounces melted butter
1/2 teaspoon or more of each: cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger 

Apple Cider Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup apple juice or cider
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup butter



In large bowl, beat the eggs well with the sugar. Add the other “wet” ingredients and mix. Whisk in pancake flour and spices until the batter is smooth. Batter may need more milk to make it thick, but pourable. Cook on griddle until golden brown. Serve with Apple Cider Syrup.

pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup
Pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup

**Note--The pumpkin in the pumpkin pancakes batter makes them cook quicker than normal pancakes. I made a few black ones until I realized I needed the burner on lower than normal. Try a few small ones first until you get it right. 

Apple Cider Syrup: 

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and spice in a medium saucepan. Stir in apple juice and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it boils. Turn heat to low and allow syrup to thicken. Add butter, stirring in a Tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat. Refrigerate any unused syrup for another morning.

It seems like every fall we have at least one visitor from out of town, and that’s usually when I make pumpkin pancakes. It makes too big of a batch for just the two of us, so it’s nice to have someone to share them with. We like to pair them with chicken apple breakfast sausages and eggs–protein to balance out the sugar.

pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup


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Culinary Adventures: Oyster Stew

Our favorite oyster stew recipe: Alex Hitz’s Oyster Stew is a great fall or winter warmer.


I came across this oyster stew recipe in House Beautiful Magazine (I think it was one of the ones floating around my Mom’s living room) and tore it out and took it home. We loved it so much we shared it in a cook book of our favorite recipes last year for family (Mom got the recipe back, with style). It really brings out the oyster flavor. The original recipe (found here) calls for 1/4  cup bourbon, which was good but we like to use beer instead. Your call.

Alex Hitz’s Oyster Stew


Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons salted butter

2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced, including both green and white parts

2 small cloves garlic, minced

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 can of light beer 

1 cup very rich chicken stock

1¾ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 pints fresh raw medium oysters, plus 1½ cups of their drained liquor


1. In a medium-size stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foaming has subsided, add the onions and garlic and sauté for three to four minutes until they begin to be translucent.

2. Add the milk, cream, beer, chicken stock, salt, white pepper, and oyster liquor. Bring this mixture to a boil for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the pot from the heat and add the oysters. They should “steep” in the hot stock for about three minutes, until they are heated through fully and just begin to curl at the edges. Do not overcook them. Serve immediately.

Oyster Stew
Oyster Stew with Caesar salad and cheddar biscuits warmed us up after a fall beach day in Grayland, WA

We have added some smoked oysters to this oyster stew recipe along with the regular ones on our trip to Grayland, WA, and it turned out really good. We like it both ways. Serve with warm crusty bread or biscuits.


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Culinary Adventures: Maple and Apple Cider Brined Roast Chicken

Culinary adventures: Maple and apple cider brined roast chicken–our favorite fall/winter roast chicken recipe.


I got this recipe out of a magazine a couple years ago, and unfortunately the page I tore out of it has no indication which magazine it was. It is my favorite fall/winter roast chicken recipe now.

**Before you get started, note that this is a two-day recipe as you need to prepare the brine and brine the chicken in the fridge overnight for cooking the next day.

I did modify the recipe a tiny bit. The original roast chicken recipe called for a whole cup of kosher salt for the brine, but it ended up being pretty salty. A friend of mine who tried the recipe thought that was way too much salt and made it with half a cup instead, which is what I use now. It is plenty of salt.

The recipe also recommended marinating the vegetables in salt, pepper, and olive oil in the fridge overnight as well. I tried it the first time, but I really don’t think it’s necessary. There is a lot of fat in the chicken that flavors the veggies so I don’t think a lot of olive oil is needed. I put them in the roasting pan with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper (just enough to lightly coat the veggies and help the salt and pepper stick).


1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 cups apple juice or apple cider
4 cups water
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
1 5-6 lb roasting chicken
6 large carrots, cut into 2 inch chunks
2 large onions, cut into1/2 inch slices
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 medium orange, halved
salt and ground black pepper

**You will also need kitchen twine and a large roasting pan.


1. For brine, in an extra-large stainless steel pot combine the kosher salt and brown sugar; stir in apple juice, water, and mustard. Cook and stir over medium high heat until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. 

2. Remove giblets from chicken, rinse inside and out with water. Place chicken in stockpot, making sure it is immersed in the brine. Chill for 12 hours or overnight. 

3. Once chicken has brined, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from brine and discard brine. Pat chicken dry inside and out with paper towels. Sprinkle chicken cavity with salt and pepper. Place orange halves and four springs of the thyme in cavity. Skewer neck skin to back, tie up legs and tail with kitchen twine. Twist wing tips under back. Spread vegetables around chicken evenly in roasting pan. 

4. Roast chicken for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted into center of an inside thigh registers 180 degrees. We put the lid on the roasting pan for the first hour or so, and then take it off. Remove roast chicken and vegetables, let stand 10-15 minutes before carving.

maple and apple cider brined roast chicken recipe

I always let Paddy truss the chicken, he’s the pro. If you’re not sure how to do it, here is a good instructional video I found on YouTube:

We arranged the veggies in the pot around and underneath the roast chicken, so that the juices would flow down and flavor the vegetables.

maple and apple cider brined roast chicken recipe


A satisfying meal for a cold winter day.

maple and apple cider brined roast chicken recipe

Culinary Adventures: Spiced Apple Rings

Making homemade spiced apple rings–an awesome relish tray addition to your family’s holiday dinner

My Grandma always added store-bought spiced apple rings to her relish tray for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. My Mom never bought them, they were only something we ate on Christmas Eve at Grandma’s with her Christmas pot roast. Blood red, perfectly round, spicy rings that I never got to eat anywhere else.

When I told my Grandma that I was going to try and make spiced apple rings, she told me that she’d never considered making them from scratch, despite all the canning that she does. She was curious to see how they turned out. She said that she didn’t think anyone else liked them but her, and stopped buying them eventually. She was happy that somebody else enjoyed them at her holiday dinners.

Well Grandma–you’re getting homemade spiced apple rings for Christmas this year.

I used this recipe found at Food.com. It says it makes 8 pints, but I bought a pack of 12 wide mouth pint jars and it filled them all. Also–total time 1 hour my ass. More like three.

I knew going into it that mine were not going to be perfectly round, nor blood red. I’m sure a lot of artificial red #5 dye goes into those store bought spiced apple rings. I also didn’t have an apple corer, despite searching for one at the local Fred Meyer.

**If this is your first time canning, PLEASE read all the instructions in the Ball canning guide. There is a lot that can go wrong if you don’t know what you are doing.



  • 12 lbs firm tart apples, no more than 2 1/2-inch diameter
  • 12 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups white vinegar, 5
  • 3 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 3/4 cup red hot cinnamon candies or 8 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

**Whitney’s note: Also get a squeezy bottle of lemon juice, you’ll need it to keep the apples from browning.


  1. Wash apples. Peel and slice one apple at a time. Immediately cut crosswise into 1/2″ slices, remove core area with a melon baller and immerse in ascorbic acid solution to keep the apples from discoloring.

If you have an apple corer, this will probably go a lot smoother for you than it did for me. I cut the cores out of the apple slices by holding a knife in them and turning the slice around as I cut. If you can find an apple corer, buy it. It will be worth it.

I used Granny Smith apples, this is definitely a recipe you want to use tart apples for.

how to make spiced apple rings 466

how to make spiced apple rings

Place all the apple rings in bowls of water with lemon juice to keep them from browning. They will start to brown really fast so get them right into the lemon water immediately after cutting.

how to make spiced apple rings

2. In a 6 quart saucepan, combine sugar, water, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon candies, or cinnamon sticks and food coloring (if using).

The recipe told me to throw everything in the pot and boil. I threw in a couple cinnamon sticks along with the red hot candies for extra cinnamon flavor. I did add the optional tsp of red food coloring.

If I were to do this recipe again, I would put the cloves in a “teabag” made from cheesecloth. They were just floating loose and when I was pouring liquid into the jars it was hard to keep all the cloves out. I suppose they could add extra flavor during processing and while the spiced apple rings are jarred, but it was kind of annoying. People also aren’t so into picking hard woody things out of their apple rings at the dinner table.

3. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves then lower heat and simmer 3 minutes.

how to make spiced apple rings

4. Drain apples and add to hot syrup, and cook for 5 minutes.

how to make spiced apple rings
I wasn’t sure that cooking the apples for a whole five minutes prior to adding them to the jars was a good idea, because they kept cooking while I was canning. You don’t want mushy apple rings. Doing this recipe again, I would just steam them covered on low heat for 2 minutes, and then start the canning process.
how to make spiced apple rings

 5. Fill prepared jars with apple rings and hot flavored syrup, leaving a 1/2″ headspace.
how to make spiced apple rings
I found that the best tool for taking apple rings out of the pot and into the jars was a BBQ fork. I stacked the rings into the jars (doing my best to pick out the cloves as I went–again, cheesecloth recommended) and poured the syrup in on top. I pressed the rings down with a spoon to allow the syrup to fill all the spaces between the apples and remove the air bubbles. Do this until you have juice saturating the spiced apple rings, about 1/2 inch below the top of the jar and the air bubbles are removed.
how to make spiced apple rings
6. Check for air bubbles and add more liquid if needed to maintain the 1/2″ headspace.

7. Process pint or quart size jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Adjust time according to your altitude. NOTE: This can also be pressure canned. Pressure Canner – Hot pack pints or quarts and process for 8 minutes at the pressure specified according to your altitude and / or style of canner.

I live close to sea level, so I did 10 minutes processing time (starting the timer when the water started boiling) and 5 minutes cooling time (taking the lid off the canner and turning off the burner) as recommended in the Ball Canning guide for their recipes. They recommend 20 minutes water bath processing for higher altitudes. I’m not sure if my processing time was 100% correct, so I would recommend consulting Ball instead of trusting me.

how to make spiced apple rings

All of the jars sealed, but there were a couple that had such large rings in them that the syrup didn’t cover all of the apples. I put those in the fridge to eat soon, just in case something went wrong. I tasted the couple that didn’t fit into the jars, and they tasted great. I’m looking forward to having homemade spiced apple rings at Thanksgiving dinner this year.

how to make spiced apple rings


Culinary Adventures: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Orange Cream

Culinary Adventures: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Orange Cream –giving the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie a fancy makeover

I had a discount subscription to Woman’s Day Magazine last year, which I’m not a big fan of (I was only in it for the recipes, which aren’t that exciting). I did really enjoy their pie recipes in last year’s Thanksgiving issue though–particularly the Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Orange Cream.

I’d never made a chiffon pie before, and it conjured up images of 1950’s housewives in pastel dresses and aprons, tediously whipping up something that fluffy could easily be ruined or deflated with any slight error. Fortunately, the Pumpkin Chiffon Pie wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought, and the flavor on this pie is amazing. Half the deliciousness comes from the gingersnap cookie crust.

You will definitely need electric beaters and a food processor, and there are quite a few steps/parts to this recipe, but overall it was pretty easy.

Recipe found at http://www.womansday.com/recipefinder/pumpkin-chiffon-pie-orange-cream-recipe-wdy1113


  • 5 ounce(s) (about 40) vanilla wafer cookies, such as Nilla Wafers
  • 5 ounce(s) (about 19) gingersnap cookies
  • 6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 envelope(s) (2 1/4 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1.50 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
  • 2.50 cup(s) heavy cream
  • 1 can(s) (15-ounce) pumpkin purée
  • 1 navel orange


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse the cookies to form fine crumbs (you should have about 2 cups). Add the melted butter and pulse to combine.
  2. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch pie dish. Bake until the edges of the crust are beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, pour 1/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let stand for 5 minutes. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/2 cup heavy cream and mix to combine. Add to the gelatin mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the mixture thickens (it should thickly coat the back of a spoon), 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature, 45 to 50 minutes.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until thick and foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar (1 tablespoon at a time) until stiff glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the pumpkin mixture until no white streaks remain. Spread the filling evenly into the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
  7. Twenty minutes before serving, make the orange cream. Cut the orange in half and squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice into a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 cups cream and, using an electric mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. Top the pie with the cream, then grate the zest of the remaining orange half over the top.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with orange cream

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with orange cream

The Pumpkin Chiffon Pie was delicious. I’m not the biggest pumpkin pie fan, but this one is now added to my Thanksgiving pie rotation from now on. Why make boring pumpkin pie when you can make Pumpkin Chiffon Pie? It was so fluffy and the contrast with the crunchy gingersnap cookie crust was perfect. The orange cream is very subtle, not too overpowering.

Hopefully you won’t have a whipped cream incident like I did.


Pumpkin Chiffon Pie whipped cream accident

Culinary Adventures: Broken Glass Cupcakes

Culinary Adventures: Making “bloody” Broken Glass Cupcakes for Halloween

I had seen these Broken Glass Cupcakes on Pinterest and really wanted to try them out for our annual pumpkin carving party this year. I wasn’t sure how making the glass would go, as I’ve never made hard candy before. I found Martha Stewart’s recipe for the sugar glass (she calls it caramel, which makes no sense to me) online, and tried it out:


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water


Bring granulated sugar and water to a boil in a small high-sided saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until mixture just starts to turn pale gold around edges. Remove from heat, and immediately pour caramel onto a rimmed baking sheet. Working quickly, tilt pan to spread caramel to edges to make a very thin layer. Let cool to harden.

I added the sugar and water to a pot and began bringing it to a boil. I wasn’t sure about the “cook until mixture starts to turn a pale gold around the edges” part of Martha’s instructions, and there were no photos to show what that looked like, or any reference to about how long this would take.

I am familiar with reducing liquids down to thicken, so I figured the consistency would need to be pretty thick for it to make the glass candy.

broken glass cupcakes  (21)

how to make broken glass cupcakes  (21) (1)
Bringing water and sugar to a boil

It took quite a while, about 20 minutes or so. Definitely watch it and stir on occasion. Eventually, it reduced down and very little steam was coming off of the syrup any more, it was mostly just bubbling. I tested it with a spoon, and it was a honey-like consistency. It looked like this just before I took it off the burner and poured it onto the cookie sheet:

how to make broken glass cupcakes

I poured it onto the cookie sheet as instructed, quickly tilting it to spread the syrup in a thin sheet. It was really bubbly at first and I was worried that the bubbles would end up in the candy. Once it spread out, the bubbles quickly disappeared and it formed a clear, glossy sheet.

how to make broken glass cupcakes

how to make broken glass cupcakes

I let it harden while I made the cupcakes. You can use any recipe you want, really–but I would recommend using a white frosting for contrast with the “blood.” I used chocolate cupcakes and cream cheese frosting. Red velvet cupcakes would be a good idea too.

When the sugar glass was hard and my cupcakes were frosted and ready, I used a metal spatula to break the sugar glass apart. To my delight, it worked out perfectly and looked just like broken glass.

how to make broken glass cupcakes

how to make broken glass cupcakes

I added cherry pie filling to the tops to look like blood. (Tastes good too).

how to make broken glass cupcakes

how to make broken glass cupcakes

I inserted the sugar glass shards into each cupcake, and ended up having some leftover. The recipe makes a large batch.

how to make broken glass cupcakes

how to make broken glass cupcakes

how to make broken glass cupcakes

how to make broken glass cupcakes

how to make broken glass cupcakes

I had originally planned on making the sugar glass a day or two before the party, because I figured it would keep fine and I wanted to make sure that I could do it without screwing it up. I’m glad that I ran out of time and waited until the day of–the day after the party the sugar glass turned frosty and began to disintegrate a bit. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.


  • The sugar glass for the broken glass cupcakes will take about 30-40 minutes, plus at least 1-2 hours of cooling time
  • The syrup is ready when there is little steam coming off of the syrup anymore, and it is thick like honey, forming glassy frothy bubbles while boiling
  • Make it the day of your event, do not make ahead of time to keep your glass looking clear and realistic.

Our pumpkin carving party was a success, and everyone seemed to like my broken glass cupcakes. They weren’t as difficult as I thought they’d be, and the effect was delightfully gruesome.

Happy Halloween!

how to make broken glass cupcakes for Halloween