Pumpkin Beer Tasting

Pumpkin Beer Tasting || @runwaychef #beer Happy Halloween! Are you guys doing anything fun to celebrate? Normally I get all into the holiday, but we’ve been on the go so much, that I’ve completely spaced out on the fact that Halloween is happening today. But let’s face it, the older you get the less fun Halloween becomes. I mean, no one is giving out candy to a grown woman (believe me, I tried to pass as a 14 year-old for the sake of candy and for some reason it didn’t work…humph). On the bright side, as an adult you can consume festive alcoholic beverages, hard apple ciders, and pumpkin beers. I rarely drink beer, but I make an exception for pumpkin ales (because you know if it’s got pumpkin in it than I have to consume it). In true testament to just how old we’re getting, the Mr. and I have decided to do a pumpkin beer tasting this year for Halloween (Hi, welcome to the Runway Chef Retirement Community). Who knows, we may even get real crazy and put costumes on. Anyhow, here are the 6 pumpkin beers we’ve tested so far and our thoughts on them. FYI,  we chose to rate our beers by pumpkins, with 6 pumpkins being the best and 1 pumpkin being the worst.

P.S. This beer cheese dip and pretzels are the perfect accompaniment for a beer tasting night or you could always just throw a beer and cheese tasting party.

Pumpkin Beer Tasting || @runwaychef #beer

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Harpoon's UFO Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin

Mrs: Smooth but a bit hoppy, sweeter smell and taste, a bit of a spice flavor, small aftertaste

Mr: Sweet, smooth, hoppy

Overall rating: 5 pumpkins

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Long Trail Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Long Trail Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Dark, smooth flavor, hints of orange and pumpkin

Mr: Dark, bold, bitter, light pumpkin flavor

Overall rating: 3 pumpkins

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Mrs: Light pumpkin smell, dark caramel/coffee hints, deep flavor

Mr: Hint of pumpkin, hoppy, fully body, slight taste of coffee/cocoa/cinnamon

Overall rating: 1 pumpkin (Mrs), 4 pumpkins (Mr)

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Pumpkin Beer Tasting {River Horse Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Hoppy flavor, strong cinnamon scent, smells of spices

Mr: Hoppy, mild pumpkin flavor

Overall: 1 pumpkin (Mrs), 6 pumpkins (Mr)

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {River Horse Pumpkin Beer} || Runway Chef Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Mendocino Seasonal Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Mendocino Seasonal Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Darker flavor, strong smell, touches of citrus, not as much of a pumpkin flavor

Mr: Hoppy, bitter, coffee/cocoa flavor

Overall: 2 pumpkins

Pumpkin Beer Tasting {Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale} || Runway Chef Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Mrs: Fruity smell, woodsy taste, a bit sweeter and smoother, pumpkin and spices definitely come out in the taste

Mr: Nutmeg/cinnamon scent, tastes like a light IPA, strong cinnamon and pumpkin flavor

Overall: 4 pumpkins (Mrs), 6 pumpkins (Mr)

Pumpkin Beer Tasting || @runwaychef #beer What is your favorite pumpkin beer? Have you tried any of these?

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert While I often craft ridiculous schemes to festively celebrate a holiday, the sad reality is that I never have time to properly execute any of my plans. Staying festive is a must for me so I like to come up with ways to celebrate holidays that don’t require much effort or time. This year, Halloween snuck up on me like a ghost in the night (pun intended) so I haven’t even had time to do my last-minute Halloween decorations. However, haunted dirt cake and spooky cupcake toppers are something I can definitely squeeze into my schedule (because who doesn’t have time to eat dessert?!). The only requirements- cupcakes, candy and a huge sweet tooth. Feel free to use any type of cupcake (homemade, mix, pre-made) you wish. For my cupcakes I made my Never Fail Chocolate Cake, but baked it in cupcake shapes, obviously, (bake for 20 minutes at 350; makes 12 cupcakes), and then I made a salted caramel buttercream to frost them with. Keep scrolling to see how I created the spooky halloween cupcake toppers.

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert Ghost // Meringue ghost (read how to make them here) + cotton candy (found in the Halloween section of Target)

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert Spider // Black raspberry gummy + thin black licorice cut into pieces

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert Bloody Mummy // Cherry candy ribbon (use a little extra frosting to help the pieces stick in place) + black sixlets

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert Tombstone // Meringue tombstone (read how to make them here) + cotton candy

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert Spooky Eyes // Half of an Oreo cookie + sixlets

Spooky Halloween Cupcake Toppers || @runwaychef #halloween #dessert Tombstone II // Same as the first tombstone, except I cut this cupcake in half, attached some gummy worms with frosting, then placed the top back on to make the worms appear as if they were crawling from the dirt


Haunted Halloween Dirt Cake

Haunted Halloween Dirt Cake || @runwaychef #halloween #desserts The theme of this week’s kitchen adventures has revolved entirely around easy and fun Halloween treats (secondary theme- becoming the Michelin Man for next Friday’s costume….because after eating all these sweets that is exactly what I will look like). The first “spooky” treats are these haunted dirt cakes. Wait, don’t run away. They’re only haunted with dreams of 6-pack abs, vegetables left untouched, and forgotten workout clothes. They aren’t actually haunted. I never know if you guys know not to take me seriously like ever so I thought it best to clarify. Moving right along….So dirt cakes. Everyone loves them because it’s basically cookies, cream and chocolate and who doesn’t love those things?! And if everyone doesn’t love them, well, more for you (or me)! This recipe is a bit different than the one I used for the edible flower dirt cakes, but it’s still just as tasty. Also, this recipe doubles or triples really well in case you’re having a Halloween party (or just a party of one, either is fine by me).

Hope you all have a great weekend! If you need me, I’ll be hiding out on a beach drinking away the fact that I’m in a swimsuit after a week of dessert recipe testing…oy vey!

Haunted Halloween Dirt Cake || @runwaychef #halloween #desserts Haunted Halloween Dirt Cake || @runwaychef #halloween #desserts Haunted Halloween Dirt Cake || @runwaychef #halloween #desserts

Haunted Halloween Dirt Cakes

2/3s of a package of Oreos
1/2 package of cream cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup of heavy cream

Gummy worms
Cotton candy (I found some in the Target Halloween section)
Meringue ghosts and tombstones (see recipe below)

For the “dirt”- In a cuisinart, pulse the Oreos for about 10 seconds. Add in the cream cheese and continue pulsing until the ingredients have combined. Make sure not to pulse too long or the mixture will form together and become pasty. Also, the cookie pieces should be somewhat chunky and not too fine. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. This should equal about 2 cups of whipped cream. Gently fold the cookie mixture into the cream mixture until combined.

To serve- Scoop the dirt into serving dishes. I really like using martini glasses as it allows the “worms” to hang over the edge. Bury a few gummy worms into each dish, draping them over the edge. Top with cotton candy and a meringue or tombstone ghost. Serve right away. The meringue will soften slightly and the cotton candy will start to “melt” after it sits for a little while.

To make the meringue- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat together 3 egg whites in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a mixer) on medium-high speed until frothy. Add in 1/2 cup of white sugar and increase the speed to high. Beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Transfer the egg whites to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe large swirls and tombstone shapes onto the baking sheet. Bake until dry, about 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the meringue cool, in the oven, completely (you can even leave them in there overnight).

To make the eyes and RIP lettering, melt a few chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. I did a little less than 1/4 cup of chips, which was more than enough. Microwave the chips until they are melted. Using a toothpick, gently dot eyes onto the ghosts and spell out RIP.  FYI, it looks better if it’s a little messy. 


Throwback Thursday- Halloween Costumes

One of my favorite things to do growing up was to play dress up with my sister. We had a big chest full of old dresses and jewels and you knew something was wrong if a day went by that we didn’t don costumes and act out some imaginary story. In fact almost everything we did when we were younger seemed to revolve around playing dress-up- hanging out with our friends, acting in school plays, putting on our nightly performances for the family (aka we thought we could dance and sing so we would make up skits and then make our family watch), hosting English tea parties, and (I can’t believe I’m admitting this!) I even volunteered at an 18th century reenactment village during high-school (yes, I dressed in 18th century clothes….get over it, stranger things have happened). These days I tend to dress in more modern garb, but my chameleon sense of style makes it obvious that I’m still just as much a fan of playing dress-up as I was when I was little.

Of course all this dressing up means I absolutely love getting into character on Halloween. But I certainly don’t love buying costumes (thanks, but I’ll save my money for clothes I’ll wear all 365 days of the year!), and in fact I rarely have. They’ve mostly all been fashioned from things I own, usually the day before or the day of Halloween. I’ve been an apple tree (yes, really…my Mom even made a trunk out of chicken wire and paper meche), I’ve been the Statue of Liberty, I’ve been the oh-so-overdone Hooters Girl (it was college…what can I say?!), and one of my favorites, last year the Mr. dressed as a mail man and I was a mail order bride (white dress + shipping tape= free and easy costume). What can I say? I like to be unique! Since today is Halloween I thought it would be fun to walk down memory lane and see a few of my past costumes, some Halloween, some not. Excuse the quality of pictures…some are rather old.

Halloween Costumes {Statue of Liberty fashioned out of gray fabric and tin foil, picture photo bombed by our dog. P.S. How adorbs is my little brother as a clown?!}

Bride Costume

{I think I was going for bride, not sure what the black sandals were going for though….}

Fairy Costume

{Dressing as flower fairies was one of our favorite costumes}

Bee and Beekeeper Halloween Costume {Honey bee and beekeeper}

Pirate Couples Halloween Costume {A pirate and a treasure chest…FYI, this is a great last minute costume idea. Just throw on a sparkly dress and then pile on allllll your jewelry. Voila! Instant treasure chest!}

Mail Order Bride Halloween Costume

{Another great last minute costume idea- white dress (for her) and blue pants, shirt and hat (for him) covered with post office stickers= the mailman and mail order bride costume I mentioned above.}

I’d love to know- Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, do you make or buy your costume, and what has been your favorite costume to-date?

Last Minute Halloween Decorating Ideas

Last Minute Halloween Decorating Ideas I’m behind in a lot of things right now. Like getting this post up, or responding to e-mails, and most importantly (because I obviously have my priorities straight) decorating for Halloween (which is less than a week away…what?!?!). If you’re like me (aka a procrastinator), here are a few last minute Halloween decorating ideas to make your home more festive and spooky. These were all easy DIY things or items I pulled from around my house, proving that you don’t need to spend a lot to get into the Halloween spirit.

For the above display, I used leftovers from our wedding- a dish from our candy bar to hold candy corn, a large glass container (also from our candy bar) flipped over on a pumpkin, and the other DIY chalkboard. Above this display I hung a few more paper bats.

Happy Halloween A lot of these items were also left-over from our wedding- the mercury glass, the dried flowers, the gold glittered vase, and the DIY chalkboard. I added a bowl of acorns (from our local park) and found some Halloween cut-outs via Pinterest that I taped to unused chopsticks and stuck into sand that had been tossed with gold glitter (also from our wedding).

Halloween Cut-outs Bats on Light for Halloween Mr. RC freehand cut a lot (and I do mean a lot) of bats out of black construction paper, some of which I stuck onto our living room light shade.

Halloween Bar Decorations I decorated the doors of our bar with a little ghost I made from a Kleenex tied over a small styrofoam ball with twine and then attached two black construction paper “eyes” with tape. In the bottom corner of one of the doors, I placed a cat cut from black construction paper (using the same cut-out templates mentioned above).

Easy DIY Halloween Decorating On top of the bar I created a little “witch brewing” corner.

Halloween Spells and Potions Books I covered a couple of thick books with a paper grocery bag then scribbled “Spells” and “Potions” on the side with chalk.

Halloween Bottles I added in a few bottles we had lying around to complete the look. One is a Trade Joe’s wine bottle, one is an old bottle wrapped in twine, two are mini St. Germain bottles, and then of course the skull vodka bottle. The other mini bottle was actually a gift I received years ago of sand from Hawaii and the glass covering it is normally a hanging piece that holds a candle. The paper roll, which was made to look old and worn with coffee, adds another creepy element to the “witch brewing” display.

Easy Ghost Garland These little ghost were all made like the one above on the bar. I strung these together using white and gold twine and then hung them across the doorway of our living room.

DIY Halloween Bats A few more of the paper bats are creepin’ up our entrance mirror.

How are you decorating your home for Halloween?