Pumpkin Spiced Macarons

Halloween Macaroons

Halloween is lurking just around the corner. October is the quintessential month for all things pumpkin and pumpkin spiced. What’s not to love about the cozy autumnal flavors of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg? From cookies to pancakes and just about anything else you can think of these days, pumpkin spice is everywhere. This week’s recipe is perfect for celebrating our favorite spooky holiday coming up in just a couple of weeks. Macarons are thin, airy meringue cookies sandwiching a creamy buttercream, frosting or ganache filling. Now, don’t be too frightened by the thought of making these French cookies. As long as you weigh out and sift your ingredients carefully, you shouldn’t have any problems. This Halloween worthy treat boasts cookies flavored with everyone’s favorite pumpkin pie spices and filled a simple, rich pumpkin cream cheese frosting. The more pumpkin, the better, we say!  Pipe on some spooky faces using black decorating icing and you have yourself some edible jack-o-lanterns that are scarily delicious!

Spices for Christmas Gingerbread Cookies in Spoons

There’s something about pumpkin pie spices that always seems to evoke a nostalgic, comforting feeling every year as we welcome in the fall season. But here’s a fun fact: Pumpkin spices don’t actually contain any pumpkin. Instead, what you’re craving when you think about traditional pumpkin pie is a concoction of commonly found spices, namely ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and ground cloves. While actual pumpkin pie spice can be found at the grocery store, making your own blend at home is not only more cost effective but also allows you to make your own tweaks if you prefer more or less flavor from any of the spices. After you’ve put together your own, you too can enjoy all your favorite things pumpkin spiced.

Pumpkin Spiced Macarons 

Yields: 20 macarons

Ingredients

For the macaron shells

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 drop of orange food coloring
  • Black decorating icing

For the pumpkin cream cheese filling

  • 1/4 cup of fresh or canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup of cream cheese, softened

1. Take parchment paper and line two separate baking sheets. Draw 12 1.5 inch circles onto the parchment papers, spacing them about 1 inch apart from each other.

2. In a food processor, process the almond flour, powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves until finely ground. Take a sieve and sift the dry ingredients.

3. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, pour in the egg whites and beat them at medium speed until the mixture is frothy. Reduce to low speed and add the granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Then increase the speed to high and beat for around 5 minutes until you see stiff peaks form.

4. Take a rubber spatula and gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg white mixture. Do not over mix. Then add the food coloring to the batter. Fold the mixture again until it loosely falls into a ribbon into the batter.

5. Take a pastry bag and fit it with a 1/2 inch rounded tip. Fill the bag with the batter and pipe into the circles you have drawn onto the parchment paper.

6. Tap the bottom of the baking sheets and make sure there are no air bubbles present. Let the batter sit at room temperature for around 30 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and bake the cookies for around 10 to 15 minutes.

8. Transfer the cookies onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely for around 15 to 30 minutes.

9. While the cookies are cooling, make the filling. Combine the pumpkin puree and cream cheese together until well mixed.

10. Take two of the cookies and pipe a teaspoon of the filling onto each side of the cookies. Sandwich the two cookies together to form one macaron. Repeat this step.

11. Take your black decorating icing to pipe Halloween designs onto your macarons.

 

Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Dip with Baked Pita Chips

Brrr, the fall chill is soon to settle in, which means it’s time to break out that slow cooker once again! Slow cookers are great for when you want to throw together something simple without all the mess and hassle of slaving away over a hot stove all afternoon. You can make nearly anything from a Slow Cooked Squash Stew to a Slow Cooked Thai Pork with Kabocha Squash and much more. But let’s talk about tailgating. We’ve been on a tailgating kick lately and we’re excited to share another simple chip and dip recipe you can bring to any game day gathering. We all know how simple spinach and artichoke dip is to make. The only thing more simple than that is our slow cooker version.  Green leafy spinach broken down into a hot and bubbly creamy dip combined with the irresistible flavors of hearty artichokes, what’s not to love? After just a few hours on the slow cooker, you have yourself a fun and cheesy appetizer to serve at parties or gatherings. To serve alongside this recipe, the only thing you need are your favorite crunchy dippers.

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Of course, you can’t have spinach artichoke dip without the artichokes! Melissa’s Steamed Artichoke Hearts make a wonderful ingredient for this game day favorite. Artichokes are an edible member of the thistle family and actually the immature bud of what would be a large sunflower-like blossom if not picked for consumption. Although there are around 6 different parts to an artichoke, only the leaves, center and heart are eaten. The meaty base of the globe is where the heart is and is considered a culinary delicacy. Its flavor can be tricky to describe–mild with a slightly citrusy taste and a subtle sweetness. Melissa’s Steamed Artichoke Hearts come already steamed, vacuum sealed to insure a fresh just-picked flavor and ready to eat. Besides incorporating them into dip, you can also enjoy them fresh as part of a salad such as this French Country Style Beet and Artichoke Salad or a pasta like this Lemon Basil Artichoke Spaghetti.

Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Dip

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of spinach leaves
  • 1 package of Melissa’s Steamed Artichoke Hearts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup of white or yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 brick (8 oz) of cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly ground

1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients together. Stir thoroughly to make sure everything is well mixed.

2. Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Then add the mixture to the slow cooker.

3. Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3 hours.

4. When the dip is finished cooking, transfer to a serving bowl and serve alongside pita chips, tortilla chips or any of your favorite sides.

 

10 Ways to Enjoy Melissa’s Apples

various kinds of applesOctober may be all about Halloween, autumn leaves and pumpkin spice but did you know there’s yet another thing about this month worth celebrating? Why, it’s National Apple Month! This month as well as the following autumnal months brings us many different apple varieties and is the perfect time to sample all the wonderful fruits the fall harvest has to offer. As one of the world’s most common fruits consumed by kids and adults alike and the second most purchased fruit in the United States, apples are every bit worth the recognition. The fruity holiday originally started off as a week long celebration, enacted by he U.S. Apple Association all the way back in 1904 but has since expanded to a month in 1996. After all, they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and to that, we say the more apples we eat, the better!

Fun fact: Did you know that there are over 7,000 different kinds of apple varieties? Here at Melissa’s, we offer some of the most popular and delicious apples in our selection. Perhaps you love the large size and sweetness only found in Honeycrisp Apples. Or you favor the unique pineapple-reminiscent flavor of Green Dragon Apples. No matter the kinds of apples you like the best, there’s something here for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of our most popular ones.

Arrangement Fresh Ripe Organic CrabappleCrab Apples

Aren’t these just some of the cutest little apples you’ve ever seen? Though they may resemble regular-sized apples, these miniature fruits, which are about the same size as cherries, are not normally recommended to be eaten raw. They have quite the reputation for being mouth puckering tart but their sweet and sour flavor and high pectin content make them popular in use for jams and jellies, which always make a scrumptious accompaniment to meat dishes like poultry or pork. Or you could also poach them in a sweet wine with cinnamon and cloves for an autumn-worthy dessert.

BlogPost_10WaystoEnjoyMelissasApples_2Green Dragon Apples

Green Dragon Apples are a force to be reckoned with! One of our favorite fall varieties, Green Dragon Apples are a cross between Golden Delicious Apples and Japanese Indo Apples. Said to be one of the most aromatic of apples, this variety is low in acidity and possesses a unique sweetness with a hint of pineapple or pineapple flavor. Its sweetness is subtle with just a lingering of tartness after each bite. These are some of the best apples around to eat raw but they can be added to both savory and sweet dishes.

Raw Organic Honeycrisp ApplesHoneycrisp Apples

When it comes to the many apple varieties available in the marketplace, the sweetness of Honeycrisp™ Apples is nearly unrivaled. Honeycrisps™ have a gorgeous coloring with light red striping over a golden background and are seasonally found during the fall and winter. These apples are quite large and firm in size, though they do bruise easily. They have a pleasantly juicy sweetness and wonderful crispness and are fantastic when eaten fresh or baked into desserts.

 

Raw Organic Lady ApplesLady Apples

Lady Apples are one of America’s oldest known varieties and a traditional favorite used in cooking. This fruit is petite in size compared to other larger apples and can range from a green to yellow hue with a gorgeous crimson blushing. Lady Apples taste both sweet and tart and is known for its pleasant aroma and tender, slightly crisp flesh. Although delicious when eaten raw, they are popular for culinary use such as in baking, stuffing and incorporating into sauces and chutneys where their flavor becomes more pronounced after being cooked.

Raw Red Fuji ApplesOrganic Fuji Apples

Organic Fuji Apples are some of the best all-around apples. This attractive variety was born in Japan but have quickly become a favorite in the United States. They offer the gorgeous coloring, juice and firmness of Red Delicious Apples and the exquisite heirloom flavor of Ralls Janet Apples. They have a thick, dense flesh that holds up well during the cooking process and are wonderful baked into desserts or roasted in the oven. Their sweetness also pairs nicely with sharp cheeses and are popular in charcuterie plates.

With the season bringing us all of these wonderful apple varieties, there are so many different ways to enjoy them. Apples are not just limited to eating straight out of hand, though tempting at times. Some varieties can be enjoyed year-round whereas other specialty ones are available during the crisp fall season. Here are 10 scrumptious ways you can make the most out of these sweet, juicy fruits.

Homemade Glazed Apple Fritters10 Ways to Enjoy Melissa’s Apples

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted pepper hummus

Tailgating season is well underway, which means weekly gatherings of friends, fun and of course, food!  When it comes to putting together a tailgating menu, it’s always best to keep things simple and portable enough to feed a crowd. And what’s better than game day food? How about game day food that’s actually healthy and energizing instead of the heavy, calorie laden fare you’d often find? There’s no need to sacrifice your favorite dishes when you have healthy options to balance out your party spread. We’ve always been big fans of hummus because they make not only a delicious afternoon snack but also a crowd pleasing appetizer at parties. Pair them up with sliced pita bread, pita chips or raw vegetables for a great finger food alternative to the usual party dip. This week’s recipe is our refreshing take on a classic hummus made with our Peeled and Steamed Garbanzo Beans and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers. The result is a vibrant creamy dip blended with the perfect combination of sweet and smokey flavors.

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We have a confession to make: roasted red bell peppers are kind of addicting. The process helps bring out their sweetness while adding a touch of unique smokiness you could only find when roasted in the oven. They also become incredibly tender and easy to use in various recipes like soups, stews and sauces. While you can roast your own at home, Melissa’s Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers are incredibly easy and convenient to use right out of the jar and will save you plenty of time and kitchen cleanup. Their unique flavors are sure to amp up and add a touch of zest to a variety of dishes.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1. In a food processor, combine the roasted red bell peppers, Steamed Garbanzo beans, garlic, jalapeño, onions, lemon juice, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper and process for about one minute until smooth.

2. With the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil for another minute.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle in more olive oil and garnish with the chopped cilantro and sesame seeds.

4. Serve alongside sliced pita bread, pita chips or tortilla chips.

 

Honey Serrano Wings

Honey Serrano Chicken Wings

If you tailgate often, you may find yourself wondering how to keep your menu fresh. To that, we say, “Ain’t no thing, chicken wing!” Whether slathered in an epic sauce like these Roasted Soy Citrus Wings or served alongside a Ruby Hot Red Savina Dipping Sauce, these bite-sized poultry finger foods are a quintessential game day favorite and an easy and delicious way to feed a crowd. We’ve never met a chicken wing we didn’t like and this week’s recipe is no exception. While everyone has a different level of heat they can withstand, but these wings are definitely for those who like it hot! First, they’re roasted in the oven and then tossed in a sticky, sweet and spicy honey sauce that’s kicked up a few notches with serrano chiles. You can make these wings ahead of time and then bring them to your game day gathering or grill them fresh at a tailgating event and then coat with sauce.

Serrano Peppers

Watch out, Serrano chiles may be small in size but they sure pack a punch in heat! One of the hottest varieties of chiles commonly available, they deliver a Scoville rating of 15,000 to 30,000. Compare them to the Padron chile at 100 to 1,000 Scoville heat units, the Poblano at 1,000 to 1,500 or even the jalapeño chile at 3,500 to 11,000 and you’ll get the picture. In fact, they’re known as the spicier cousin of jalapeños and can be used as its substitute if you dare to kick the heat up a notch. The Serrano chile ranges in color from light to dark green and becomes a vibrant red when ripe. You can recognize them by their long finger shape at about two to three inches long. What makes this chile unique is its sudden, intense heat with a sharp herbal flavor that hits your palette at first bite. They’re popular for not just wings but also guacamole, pico de gallo and salsas.

Honey Serrano Wings 

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs of chicken wings
  • 3 Serrano chiles, seeded and diced, plus extra slices for garnish
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, season the chicken wings with salt and pepper.

2. Roast the wings in the oven for around 15 minutes.

3. While the wings are in the oven, you can prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, add the oil and stir the garlic, serrano chiles and ginger together and cook until softened for around 2 minutes.

4. Then add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and brown sugar. Stir together to combine all of the ingredients.

5. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. After it starts boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

6. Remove from the heat and place the sauce into a large bowl. Combine with the unsalted butter.

7. When the wings have finished roasting, allow to cool for around 15 minutes. Then toss the wings into the bowl with the sauce and mix well.

8. Transfer the wings to a serving platter. Garnish with more slices of serrano chiles and sesame seeds.

 

Slow Cooker Chili

bowl of chiliYou know what we love about the slow cooker? It’s perfect for a game day gathering! Instead of slaving away in the kitchen or hanging out behind a hot grill all afternoon, the slow cooker would’ve already done most of the work for you. More time to participate in pre-game activities with friends before the actual game begins is always a big win in our books. Whether you plan to enjoy the game at home or a tailgating event, the slow cooker is easily portable and can keep your dish nice and hot before serving. If you’re looking for what to serve for your tailgate, look no further than a classic chili! Chili not only hearty, meaty and robust but also as easy as “toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker and push the button” easy. We use lean ground beef in this recipe and combine it with vegetables, spices and Melissa’s Steamed Red Kidney Beans. Serve this tailgate favorite alongside other game day fare such as tortilla chips, corn bread, hot dogs and more.

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Red kidney beans are a quintessential ingredient in chili and a staple item in many Creole dishes. In fact, you may recognize them in the Southern dish, red beans and rice! Named for their glossy, ruby hue and resemblance to the shape of kidneys, these beans pack quite a nutritional punch. Not only are they low in fat, they’re also chock full of vitamins, fiber, protein and minerals. Although you can use and cook them dried, Melissa’s Steamed Red Kidney Beans are precooked and ready to use right out o the convenient vacuum sealed package. You can utilize them in salad, dips and appetizers and they also make a wonderful, time saving soup ingredient as well!

Slow Cooker Chili

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of lean ground beef
  • 3 packages of Melissa’s Steamed Red Kidney Beans
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Green onions, chopped

1. In a large skillet, heat up some vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook the onions and bell pepper for around 7 to 8 minutes until softened.

2. Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder to the vegetables. Then add the ground beef and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook for around 7 minutes until the meat is nicely browned.

3. Pour the meat and vegetables into the slow cooker. Add Melissa’s Steamed Red Kidney Beans, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Stir until the mixture is well combined with the meat and the rest of the vegetables.

4. Turn on the slow cooker and cook on low for around 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low heat.

5. When ready to serve, ladle out the chili into separate serving bowls. Top with a sprinkle of shredded Cheddar cheese and green onions.

Avocado Hummus

Raw Organic Avocado Hummus

Football season has arrived, which means it’s time for some good old tailgating! For those of you unfamiliar with what tailgating entails, it’s basically a social gathering that involves plenty of food and drinks gathered around an open tailgate of a parked vehicle. It’s a fun way to get together before a big game or concert and often involves grilling and munching on game day fare like organic vegetable shish kabobs, roasted soy citrus wings and more. Tailgating food is just as important as the team you’re cheering for which is why you’re going to want to bring your A-game. Say hello to one of our favorite party foods this year–Avocado Hummus! This fabulous party dip is the perfect cross between hummus and guacamole and much more healthy and guilt-free than your typical chips and dip or nachos. Rich and creamy avocados mixed together with Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Garbanzo Beans and just a few simple ingredients couldn’t make an easier combination for your tailgating and game day needs. You can serve this alongside sliced pita bread, pita chips, tortilla chips or even crudités.

Organic Raw Green Avocados

From guacamole to baked fries, avocados and sports go together well and are essential ingredients at any tailgating party. A most beloved fruit, they’re prized for their rich, nutty flavor and creamy, buttery texture. Not only do they deliver many health benefits such as vitamins and minerals, they also contain healthy fats, making them quite the superfood. Americans eat millions of pounds of avocados each year, many of which are eaten during major football events such as the Big Game in February. Because avocados have so much to offer, they have inspired a number of health-based food trends over the years such as toast, smoothies, pasta and more.

Avocado Hummus 

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 organic avocados, seeded and chopped
  • 1 box of Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1/3 cup of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1. In a food processor, combine the avocados, Steamed Garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and process for about one minute until smooth.

2. With the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil for another minute.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle in more olive oil and garnish with the chopped parsley and pepitas.

4. Serve alongside sliced pita bread, pita chips or tortilla chips.