The Evil Dead: Necronomicon Pizza and Candarian Blackberry Trifle

                     The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror (and Truly Horror-ific Goodies)


            Can they be stopped? Candarian demons. Hmm….maybe. 

            The remakes?

No. But Bruce Campbell is assuring remake skeptics like me that the latest revisioning of The Evil Dead is not one to miss or to reckon with.

ED-Gonna Get you cellar

An image that’s scared me since 1981!

I’m taking his word for it. After all, he is THE original Ash. Although, did you know Ash isn’t even a character in the newest version? Nope; and I’m glad for it. Seriously, who could “they” possibly put in Campbell’s shoes? I’m certain “they” didn’t want that angry mob surging up against them in the sticky theater aisles. I guess that’s the first reason I’m putting aside my snide remake remarks and focusing on the positives.

My second reason is again thanks to Bruce. In his not-gonna-bullcrap-ya style, Mr. Campbell promises a stylishly scary take on the cult classic that is reminiscent of old school horror. He guarantees there will be no trash-talking, no jokes, and no silly jump gimmicks. Just pure unadulterated grueling terror. Like in the old days.

I will unsurprisingly take his word on it. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Raimi have never done me wrong.

Happy Demon possessed

One Happily Possessed Gal

But does fresh-faced director, Fede Alvarez, have that in him?  A newbie to the genre, can he take a handful of Sam Raimi and mold it into a worthy competitor, dueling for a seat next to the original?? Without resorting to the cheap scare tactics of today’s horror movie makers.

I’m pulling the paper from my countdown chain to find out. Only three days left!! Hopefully, I’ll see you there this Friday, April 5th, for the most important movie of 2013 (in my world), The Evil Dead.

In the meantime, let’s gather ‘round the flat screen for a titillating re-showing of the 1981 original; made utterly perfect by its wobbly plot, questionable actors, and enough spasmodic 80’s gore to gag ya!…Oh, and don’t forget the goodies!

the new cellar dweller...

the new cellar dweller…

The Recipes:  What’s a movie night without pizza? Laammme. Sick of plain ole sausage and pepperoni? Boorriing. I got just what you need to get in the Deadite mood.

Necronomicon Pizza, anyone? I promise it’s not made of human flesh, but it does have a rather spooktacular dough and toppings face! I’ve seen this crazy pizza picture floating around the internet amongst the Horror Crowd, and I decided to try my hand at it just for the Horror Congress fans. Follow it up with a serving of rich, decadent Candarian Blackberry Trifle for dessert. But I warn you, beware the size and quantities of your spoonful. This dark delight sits heavy in the belly. Eat too much, and it may just swallow your soul… (Sorry. It had to be said.)


Necronomicon Pizza

(Serves at least 8 friends…stranded in a cabin…with an oven)


2 tubes of refrigerated pizza dough OR 2 quantities of your fave homemade dough recipe

1 jar marinara sauce (big or small jar depending on how much sauce you prefer)

1 small jar chopped black olives

3 cloves garlic

1 package pepperoni

2-3 jalapenos (sliced) don’t forget your gloves!!

1 (2cup) bag of mozzarella cheese (or shred your own)

Equipment: Nonstick baking spray, cookie sheet, pizza cutter, my photo as a necessary guide

How to Make It:

Lightly prep the pan with nonstick spray. Untube or prepare the dough. Press one tube/quantity of dough into the pan, stretching it lightly as to not tear holes. Now, for the fun! Tear pieces of dough from the other tube/quantity, and like playdoh, begin to mold the pieces of your pizza face, using my photo as a guide. (I can’t really “tell” you how to do it, you just have to dig in!) I recommend pre-baking the pizza at 425 degrees for about 6-7 minutes.

The pre-baked version

The pre-baked version

Remove from the oven and start the topping process. Spoon the sauce over your face, careful to cover the elevated facial features sparsely. Add your pepperoni and jalapeno slices, again, leaving the facial features topping-less. Next, fill in the mouth with the olives. Carefully sliver 1 garlic clove to resemble tiny, sharp teeth. Add them to the mouth, creating a jagged effect. Use the remaining garlic to fill in the eye holes. Smother the face with cheese, again being cautious not to cover the elevated pieces. Bake again on 425 degrees until the cheese is nice and melty (I check it every 3-5 mins; usually takes about 12-15 minutes.)

Note: Remember, take a picture before cutting into it!!

Candarian Blackberry Trifle
nice view blackberry trifle(Serves 8-10 demon possessed souls)

1 quantity of your favorite brownie recipe (box mix NOT recommended. I’m a dessert snob like that).

1 8oz container mascarpone cheese

½ c Dutch-processed cocoa powder

¼ c cornstarch

1 ¼ c sugar

¼ tsp salt

1/3 c unsalted butter (chopped into pieces)

2 tsp vanilla

2 ½ c milk

1 pint container fresh blackberries

Equipment: Trifle dessert bowl or fairly wide glass serving bowl, plastic wrap

How to Make It:

Bake the brownies according to your recipe.

In the meantime, make the chocolate pudding: Start by whisking together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly add in the milk and cook, stirring all the time over a medium heat. After the pudding starts to boil and begins to thicken in about 10 minutes, reduce the heat, but cook another 2 mins. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the butter pieces and vanilla until the butter melts. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on to the top of the warm pudding and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. The plastic wrap will prevent a nasty skin from forming over the top. When the pudding is cool, gently fold in the entire container of mascarpone cheese until well blended.

Assemble the trifle: Crumble the cooled brownies. Add half of the brownie crumbles to cover the bottom of your trifle dish. Top the brownie layer with half of the pudding-mascarpone mix. Add half the pint of blackberries. Gently add the remaining brownie crumbles atop the blackberries. Smooth the remaining pudding mix atop the crumbles. Finally, add the remaining blackberries, piled nicely in the center of the pudding.

side view

Enjoy!blackberries on top

Hint: You can always make instant box pudding for the recipe. You would need 2 small boxes or 1 large box. I don’t remember the instant pudding method as the cooked homemade version is so much darker and svelte.

Horror Congress Friends, feel free to cut loose with your thoughts and opinions about the new Evil Dead remake, these recipes, or just anything horror-ific that’s lurking around your mind….

Until next time, stay spooky, my fiends!



Mama: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies

                                                          Peanut butter & Jelly offers comfort. Mama does not…

Mama movie poster

             It’s a classic tragic ghost story that sucks you in, scares you some, and tugs on your heart strings as well. Like any good tragic ghost story should, right? But don’t be fooled by the innocence the movie’s simple title conveys.

I got spooked.               mama grabs hand

The story starts bleak and rapidly grows colder. Two young girls are led into a thought-to-be abandoned cabin in the woods by their father after a terrible car accident. You find out right away it’s not uninhabited, and you get awfully disturbing glimpses of the “soul” proprietor right away. Mama.

But Mama saves the girls. First, from the unexpected danger of their father and then from impending death brought on by starvation and being left to fend for themselves at such a tender age. After years of existing only with the ghostly Mama as their caregiver, the feral children are discovered and brought back into a new world of human contact, comfort, and care from a devoted uncle and his reluctant wife.

feral child mama      But don’t they know a mama’s love is forever?

I’m certainly no movie critic, but I think everything fell right into place for this ghost tale. From the dark, decrepit scenery to the plot-moving dialogue, I sunk into the gloomy mystery that just kept getting creepier by the moment. I loved how the movie didn’t need a particularly scare-worthy soundtrack building up to each “gotcha” moment. Instead, I thought the characters and their dialogue were the driving force behind the spooks.

Although the vagueness of Mama’s desperate back story may have some viewers wishing for more, for me it was just the right dosage of withheld information to keep me wondering, “What went wrong here?” And sometimes not getting all the answers can be what makes a ghost story so good.Mama crawling

One more thing: If you are looking for a comfortable ending, look elsewhere. The closing of the movie was just as solidly sad as the beginning and had me yearning for some real comfort food after the final credits. I couldn’t think of anything better than peanut butter at that moment!

The Recipe: When I think of my own mama, I think of sitting together at the lunch table, dipping a folded peanut butter sandwich into a cup of cold chocolate milk. Since a peanut butter sandwich would make a very uninteresting recipe, I came up with a sweeter, more exciting version of the classic PB & J.

A Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich cookie! 

Being low on flour (astounding, I know, but it does occur from time to time) I wondered what would happen if I made a flourless peanut butter cookie. Great things, apparently! Aside from being simple to make, it has the added benefit of being something I can offer my gluten-free buddies. If you are a mama, make this with the kiddos. If you have a mama, invite her over for some. If you see Mama (and I highly recommend you do), be ready to indulge in few yourself afterward.

100_1553Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies

(Makes 12 cookie sandwiches, depending on how big you make the cookies)


2 cups peanut butter + about 3 Tbsp more PB to spread inside (the kind with no added sugar)

Strawberry jam (Smuckers makes a gluten-free version)

1 cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

Cookie sheets, parchment paper, fork

How to Make Em: Get the oven up to 325 degrees. Prep your cookie sheets with parchment paper for easy lifting. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups of PB, the eggs, and the vanilla. Using your hands or a heavy duty stirring spoon, mix them together until combined. Add the sugar and salt.

You don’t need a cookie scoop for these. Just pinch off some dough, roll it into a ball depending on how big you want your sammiches, and place them a couple inches apart on your prepped baking sheets. Don’t forget to use your fork to stamp those nifty little “this is homemade” crosshatch marks across the top of each cookie. Bake about 10-12 mins. Cool completely before assembling into the snacks.

Assembly is the yummy fun part. Spread PB over the flat bottom of one cookie and add a dollop of jam. Smoosh em together for the most ultimate comfort cookie sandwich ever! Don’t forget to lick the knife when you are done! Just…carefully.


Until next time…stay spooky, my fiends, and support new horror!


The Amityville Horror: Butter Toffee Popcorn Beware!

This warm weather has me longing to slip into my flip-flops, pitch a tent, and tell spooky stories ‘round a campfire with my zomblings. It also has me ready to pull out my favorite summertime scary movies! It is true; I swap out my horror collection like I swap out cold season clothes for warm season clothes or oven comfort recipes for our favorite grilled dishes.

Like Halloween and Trick’r Treat are necessary autumn staples and Dead Snow and Black Christmas are great to make the season a-fright, the summer grows its own crop of cinematic creepiness. Just a few of my hot season favorites include Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Silver Bullet, Jaws, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (classic and new),  anything involving camp slashers (ahem, Friday the 13th and the Sleepaway Camp series), and The Amityville Horror (original only, please).

My Screen Rant: Flies congregating in the window, a growling disembodied voice that chases away your church friends, waking every morning at the house’s witching hour, 3:15am, by various frightening sounds and strange feelings, vanishing wads of cash, a biting statue, a ‘crazy’ bug ya just can’t shake, a closet door that is very babysitter-unfriendly, a terrifying pig-like imaginary friend that got left behind by the previous owner, black sludge spewing from toilets and faucets, blood oozing from the walls, and did I forget to mention the doorway to Hell hidden behind a basement wall? Owning a house built on an ancient Indian burial ground sure is a lot of drama for the Lutz family. But thankfully after only 28 days of total terror, they are able to flee the Amityville Horror. House for sale! Buyer Beware. Any takers?

The ultimate spook house

I’ve been obsessed with The Amityville Horror for pretty much my entire life. Back before the whole debacle was debunked, I watched the movie and read the book by Jay Anson. I was a wide-eyed believer in the voices in the house that told Ronald DeFeo Jr. to murder his entire family in their sleep within the symbolic hour of 3am. I similarly believed in the Lutz Family’s harrowing 28 days of horror in the house. I was fascinated by the events Kathy and George Lutz described on television talk shows and in the pages of the novel. Years later, as people began to surface with the real ‘truth’ and paranormal researchers kept turning up zilch for evidence on the property, the story began to crumple and fall apart-finally disintegrating into a whole pile of lies. I hated that it was a sham. It was an amazing ghost story, and I still held a shred of belief as to what really occurred there.

The Amityville Horror Movie poster

You see, there really was an Amityville Horror. Ronald DeFeo Jr. really did shoot his entire family in 1974, claiming he heard their voices plotting against him. Never mind he was a frequent user of heroin and LSD, and was diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder?? There are also some sources claiming that DeFeo Jr. was a dabbler in the occult which I truly believe would also explain the “voices”. To me, that is frightening enough in itself. But DeFeo Jr.’s reasons were attached to him not the house. The Lutz family created one of the greatest American hauntings, but what occurred 13 months earlier is the true scare.

Interested in more? Pick up a copy of Ric Osuna’s book, The Night The DeFeos Died: Reinvestigating the Amityville Murders. No, it’s not as entertaining as Anson’s Amityville Horror paperback I revisit every couple of years, but it is quite interesting for the armchair sleuths.

The Recipe: No matter what scary movie you choose to curl up with on a stormy spring night, a bowl of popcorn should always be beside you. But why settle on just plain salt and butter when you can easily and affordably go gourmet. It wouldn’t be a Deadgirl recipe if it wasn’t sweet or indulgent, so count on a popcorn snack with plenty of gooey sticky goodness in homemade butter toffee sauce and loaded with yummy add-ins!

Butter Toffee Popcorn Beware

(Makes enough to feed a large scary movie crowd)


1 ½ -2 cups popcorn kernels

Vegetable/Canola oil for popping the corn

10 Tbsp butter

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

2 tsp butter extract

1/8 tsp salt

1 bag of Nestle’s Butterfinger Bites candy

1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts

How to Make It:

1. Pop the corn. Heat about 2 tbsp (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan) of oil. Add the kernels and the lid. As the kernels heat and you hear them begin to pop, gently shake the pan over the heat until the popping stops. Add the popcorn to two separate bowls to make it easier to mix.

2. In a saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, extract, and salt. Simmer, stirring frequently until the butter is melted and all ingredients are smooth. The toffee sauce will be thick.

3. Pour the sauce evenly over both batches of popcorn. Toss to coat. Divide the Butterfinger candy bites and peanuts equally into both batches. Toss.

4. Pop in your favorite scary movie and enjoy!

Oh hello, gooey sticky toffee goodness!

Christine: Choco-Cherry Cola Cupcakes

What is it with men and their machines? No, I’m not talking about Playstation, Wii, and Xbox. I mean the toys boys tinkered with way before video games ever came upon us. Cars. And not just cars-trucks, tractors, motorcycles, skateboards, dirt bikes, even remote control dragsters; basically anything with wheels they could make go fast.  
            In high school, a guy pal introduced me to the world of American Graffiti. It was a relatively innocent joy ride with dolled up muscle cars and classic rock-n-roll cranking out as teenagers cruised their way around puppy love and engine envy. A few years later, a motor crazed boyfriend insisted we rent Easy Rider, but I wasn’t nearly as captivated by Billy and Wyatt’s trippy motorcycle odyssey and all the bizarre situations they passed through as he.
             In marriage, I’ve been forced to watch the entire Fast and the Furious series (yes, even the most terrible third one, Tokyo Drift), and I’ll admit I either paper crafted or internet chatted through most of the tire-screeching madness while my corpse groom got his wanna-be-street-racer fix. And now in motherhood, I have Disney’s Cars memorized. Silly, talking, animated vehicles that crashed into my youngest zombling’s heart and have whizzed across our television screen at least 13 times a week.      
          What’s with this automobile obsession? I think the only reply I ever got that came close to answering my question was from Stephen King in the pages of Christine. It is one of King’s earlier novels and quite possibly one of my favorites (ironic considering I’m not a car buff).
            John Carpenter brought Christine to movie reality in 1983. It was easy to see why Arnie Cunningham was so taken by the gorgeous 58 Plymouth. Her sleek cherry red curves, huge headlights, and plush interior would certainly have any car fanatic salivating, but for me it was the way those headlights seemed to beam right into you; the color red seeming more dangerous than sultry, and don’t forget the previous owner’s suicide in the cab of that pretty machine. Ew. Anyone think to get a Carfax report before purchasing this lemon? Just don’t be overheard by Christine calling her a lemon. To her, she’s the cherry in your cola; the twist in your licorice. And if not, buyer beware 
          She comes out screeching, her classic rock-n-roll tunes blaring. No backseat driving, ladies, because she’s ultra possessive of her men. She’ll chase you down and try to try to choke the life right out of you. Slashing her tires? Don’t even try. Unless you want her angry tread marks streaking your back. Fire can’t ruin her. It’s merely a scratch on her exterior. She’s the most reliable vehicle you’ll ever own. She even repairs herself! I suddenly see the attraction. 
The Recipe: The classic drive-up diner era flavors in these cupcakes represent what cruisin’ was all about back in the days of muscle cars and The Platters. The subtle cherry cola really revs up the moist chocolate, and the creamy vibrant taste of the red cherry licorice filling will definitely be the unexpected highlight. I topped mine with hand-forged chocolate butterscream frosting, a swirl of the licorice filling, and a nostalgic wax candy soda bottle. The darling polka-dot liners reminded me of cute aprons worn by the roller skating car hops of the 1950’s.  Enjoy. But don’t get any crumbs on Christine’s pristine seats or else… 
Choco-Cherry Cola Cupcakes
(About 2 dozen drive-up darlin’s)
1 ¾ c cake flour
2 c sugar
¾ c baking cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c half-n-half
½ vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 c warm cherry cola (I used Classic Cherry Coke)
1 batch cherry licorice filling recipe
1 recipe chocolate butterscream frosting (look for this recipe under Chocolate Macabre cupcakes)
Liners: red and white polka-dots or whatever gets your pistons pumping
24 wax candy soda bottles (I found mine at Mangelsen’s here in town. Check your local candy shop.)
Make Them:
Obligatory Reminder: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray liners with nonstick spray before adding batter.
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. Beat with your mixer on low speed until all ingredients are fully combined.
3. Add the eggs, half-n-half, oil, and vanilla. Beat into creamy submission for about 2 minutes on medium speed.
4. By hand, stir in the warm cola.
5. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes on 350 degrees. The tops of your cupcakes will be bouncy and playful when touched by a quick, careful finger.
6. Prepare the filling and frosting.
7. Let the little darlin’s cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely; I usually allow a good 20 minutes to assure the frosting doesn’t melt right off.
7. Fill each cupcake with filling using your bismark decorating tip. Pipe on the frosting using a large round #12 tip. Add the candy soda bottle. Ta-da!
Cherry Licorice Filling
(Makes enough to fill 24 cupcakes and then some!)
10-12 red cherry licorice vines, dismembered into 1” pieces with kitchen scissors (I used Twizzlers. The yummiest!)
2 c water
1 ½ c sugar
¼ c cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
4 egg yolks (slightly beaten)
Make it:
1. Add the licorice pieces and water to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat unit the water comes to a boil. Stir frequently. The licorice pieces will remain a bit chunky during the process. No biggie.
2. Remove from the heat and allow the bubbling hot mixture to cool slightly. (So as not to curdle the eggs when you add them).
3. Whisk in the remaining ingredients.
4. Cook again over a medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture will bubble and thicken. Perfect. Continue to cook for about another minute and then remove from heat.
5. Cool the filling completely to room temperature before adding to your pastry bag and injecting into your luscious cupcakes.

The Devil Inside: Peanut Butter Possessed Cupcakes w/Milk Chocolate Frosting

The Devil Inside; a good movie gone terribly wrong. Have you seen The Blair Witch Project? The Last Exorcism? Paranormal Activity? Cloverfield? If yes, then you’ve seen The Devil Inside. What could have been a terrific mockumentary-style film ended up lacking identity and a good dose of reality.
          It started strong. I sat in the dark theater, the quiet gathering around me as Maria Rossi’s flat cold voice on the screen reported to police that she had just killed three people. She had killed three people rather brutally. In fact, two priests and a nun who were performing an exorcism on her. The first scene had me, but it wasn’t long before I started to disassociate myself from the movie altogether.
          Maria’s daughter, Isabella Rossi, decides after many years apart from her mother, that she wants answers about her mother’s condition. Is she really possessed or just crazy? So, with Michael, the trusty cameraman, she sets out to Rome to reconnect with her mother and seek out the truth. She meets up with mom, and the meeting leaves you feeling like perhaps the woman is just loony (except she reveals one vital piece of secret information about Bella that she couldn’t have possibly know). The meet up scene was by all means creepy, but not over the top.  
          Then, Isabella visits the Vatican’s School of Exorcism where she comes across two young, rogue priests, David and Ben, who moonlight as free-lance exorcists behind the Church’s back. This is where the movie begins to take a farfetched turn. I really don’t know how or when, but somehow the three become good buddies. Isabella shares about her mother, and the two priests, after only minutes of meeting this chic, reveal information about their extracurricular exorcisms and invite her and the camera man to attend and film one. So much for secret operations. And it really just spirals out of control from there.
          Granted, the possession scenes made you squirm. They were hard-to-watch spooky. But the exorcisms weren’t really the focus of the movie. The movie was supposed to challenge us as believers. Is this demonic or mental illness? Sorry, Hollywood. If you want me to believe in bed-hopping demons, you’ll have to do much better than this. We were supposed to get involved in the complex characters of the insecure David and impassioned Ben, but even they got overshadowed in the hokiness of the plot. And the anti-climatic short-stop ending? Yawn. Been done. Better. So moving on…
          Some horror movies I walk into for pure entertainment (Friday the 13th). Others I want something to take with me (The Exorcist). All I got from a late night showing of The Devil Inside was a wasted nine bucks and two hours I could have been sleeping.
The Recipe: So the movie sucked, but these cupcakes don’t! Hardcore peanut butter cake possessed by a mini chocolate covered peanut butter cup and topped with the most luxurious milk chocolate frosting you’ll ever make. Unlike the film, all wrong in a good way.
Peanut Butter Possessed Cupcakes
(Makes 18 devilish yummies)
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
¼ c butter (soft)
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 c milk
18 unwrapped mini peanut butter cups (Reese’s cups rock.)
12 cavity muffin pan
18 muffin liners
Obligatory Reminder: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add liners to the pan and spray lightly with a non-stick baking spray.
1. Cream together the peanut butter and butter into well blended submission.
2. Add the brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Stirring by hand, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to the peanut butter creamed mixture.
5. Add a half scoop of batter to the bottom of each liner.
6. Pop a peanut cup candy into the batter, but do not push it to the bottom.
7. Cover the candy with another half scoop of cupcake batter.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. (Anything longer will cause your cakes to really darken on the tops. Yuck!)
Milk Chocolate Frosting
(Frosts 2 dozen cupcakes)
4 oz dark chocolate (chopped)
4 oz milk chocolate (chopped) **I love using a Hershey’s chocolate bar for this frosting!!
2/3 c heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 stick butter (soft and chopped up)
1 c powdered sugar (you may want to add to this so have more on hand)
1. Add the chopped chocolates and chopped butter to a medium heat-proof bowl. (I chop the butter because it melts faster and easier that way).
2. Heat the cream and syrup in a small saucepan until it just begins to boil.
3. Pour the syrup cream over the chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth. Leave to cool for at least 5 minutes.
4. Add the powdered sugar to the cooled chocolate mix and stir by hand until well blended.
**I only add about a cup, but if you want a thicker frosting-add more. It’s all on your desired consistency.
5. Pipe or spread the frosting on your cooled cupcakes and prepare to be possessed by yumminess!
You may notice that my cupcake looks a bit plain. I like the simplicity of this smooth chocolate frosting without any embellishment, but if you insist, you could always garnish with chopped peanut butter cup pieces.

The Shining: It’s Freaking Cold Outside Brownies & Frozen Jack Ham and Potatoes Au Gratin

The temperature this morning read at ridiculously cold degrees, and we got a big ole pile of snow dumped on us yesterday.  Typically, I might be slightly annoyed by this, but it’s Christmas time. I love Christmas, but with Christmas comes winter, and I only like winter when I’m singing about having a White Christmas. After that, I just wish it would go away. Speaking of snow, I recently watched The Shining on the corpse groom’s new 55” Christmas present; all bundled up in my cozy bed. The arctic scene where Wendy gallivants outside in her ragamuffin robe and butcher knife to “check out” what her loony hubby did to the Sno-Cat had me shivering, reminiscent of blizzards past and wondering what icy storms await us in the weeks to come.
            Usually by mid-December it looks and feels like winter at the Overlook Hotel outside my window; where I’d only venture outside to get away from an axe-handling madman named Jack and risk becoming my own frozen lawn ornament like Jack, as well. You know, the kind of weather that I’d only attempt to drive in if I had a Sno-Cat, and I’d only get out of bed if some creepy kid was standing at my bedside screeching, “Redrum!” During the cold months, I’d rather be hibernating, but I’ll settle for lots of baking and curling up on the couch with a good horror movie.
            My Screen Rant: Ah, The Shining; one of the two Stanley Kubrick movies I actually like (Full Metal Jacket being the second). The Shining was the first horror movie I ever watched. I was a tender five years old during my first viewing. You may be asking yourself what kind of parents take their kindergartener to a horror movie at the drive-in, but if you’d ever happen to meet my family, it would all be explained instantaneously. Now-surely you know the movie is based off Stephen King’s novel that was inspired by a stay at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Does the movie follow the book? No, not so much, but that’s okay by me. I saw the movie several times way before I ever picked up the book (at age 16-17) so I suppose this makes me a tad influenced, but by the end of the book, I felt like King had played favorites with his characters (mainly the hotel cook) by letting him live and definitely Wendy-turning her from the sniveling wincing sexless wifey I preferred in the movie to some pretty, rational, tough cookie-type. Oh wait; the book came first. Wendy started that way and the cook lived to begin with. Darn. For thirty seconds, I’d wished Kubrick had written the novel rather than King.
            Not to say Kubrick’s screen adaptation didn’t have its own subtle holes. And perhaps they were holes only I created. For instance, at the beginning, Jack tells Mr. Ullman, the hotel manager, that his wife is an avid horror and ghost story buff, but the comment kind of becomes a lost detail for me. Because I know if I had been Wendy the Horror/Ghost Story Buff, and if my kid came to me with some wild story about a naked lady in a bathtub strangling him, I’d take that baseball bat she liked toting around and go check it out myself (not send my seemingly coming unhinged husband). But that’s just me. So what was that point, director?  And while I loved the frozen Jack ending, I was puzzled by the break to the black and white photo of dapper Jack smiling at a huge party. HUNH? Perhaps I missed something, but after watching that movie for the 134th time I haven’t picked up on it yet. I would have much rather ended the movie cutting to the hospital scene where Mr. Ullman visits Wendy and Danny and reveals Jack’s body hasn’t been recovered yet. Yes, that was how Kubrick originally filmed it, but it was edited out. In an old 80’s interview with actress Shelley Duvall, she claimed Kubrick’s original ending had a “Hitchcockian feel” to it, and being a huge fan of Alfred, I just know The Shining would have been darn near perfect if he’d left that ending!!! Grrr.
            One thing can be said for King’s haunted novel. It inspired a Deadgirl family trip to Estes Park for a looksy at the famous Stanley Hotel. It sits perched like a table centerpiece on a mountain, a beautiful site to behold amidst all the grey of the peaks and white of the clouds. I couldn’t wait to step inside. The property is immense. It goes way beyond the walls of the massive hotel structure beyond to other multiple smaller buildings that I didn’t really pay much attention to until after Zach and the boys investigated the place on Ghost Adventures. In hindsight, I wish we would’ve been more attentive to the sidebars. Oh well. We did wander around the main level and basement of the hotel and snapped quite a few photos. I didn’t get any kind of strange otherworldly vibe from the hotel, but I was truly overwhelmed by all the eyewitness accounts swirling about and movie memorabilia mostly from the made-for-tv-remake that was actually filmed there. (Which I don’t even feel like getting into because I hated it so much). I ended up buying a copy of famous ghost stories from The Stanley Hotel from the gift shop and took home some pretty incriminating orb photos that may indicate something wicked may still be checked in.
Frozen Jack
     **I’m inspired! Instead of Christmas cards next year, I’m going to mail out Winter Greetings cards. It’s freaking cold out here! And maybe I’ll send a copy of these recipes tucked inside. 
The First Recipe: Chocolate warmth with a gust of cold mint. Forget love. When the snow is blowin and the wind is chillin’ I’ve got these brownies to keep me warm. Tip for ya: These yummies are gooey and sensitive by nature, so be careful not to overbake them or you will be scraping the pan like your windshield. (Yuck! I learned this the hard way). Also, if you prefer a stronger chill, substitute mint extract for the vanilla in the recipe.
It’s Freaking Cold Out Here Brownies
(Makes 2 dozen)
¾ c baking cocoa (I only use Hershey’s brand)
½ tsp baking soda
2/3 c melted butter (will be divided)
½ c boiling water
2 c sugar
2 eggs (room temp, always)
1 1/3 c flour
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 bag small peppermint patty candies, chopped into little pieces (use at least 15 of the candies, but feel free to add more if you really really like them. Oh, and I use York brand. Quite tasty).
Prepped 9×13” baking pan (prepped=baking sprayed down)
Obligatory Reminder: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Stir together the cocoa and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
-Measure out a 1/3 c of the melted butter and add the 1/3 cup to the cocoa-soda mix. Stir until blended.
-Add the boiling water and stir until the mixture thickens like mud-caked snow.
-Stir in the sugar, the eggs, and the remaining butter. Stir smooth.
-Add the flour, vanilla, and salt. Blend together completely.
-Stir in the peppermint candy.
-Spread in the prepped pan.
-Bake for about 30 mins (or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan) on 350 degrees.
-Cool, cut, and wowzer! Enjoy the blast!
The second Recipe: Still trying to use up the ham you’ve frozen from Turkey Day? Me too. This classic Midwestern comfort dish is easy on the food budget and well worth the time peeling and slicing potatoes, especially if you are snowed in or near frozen anyway! Don’t be like Jack Torrence and go traipsing around in the cold. Stay inside and make yummy food.
Frozen Jack Ham and Potatoes Au Gratin
(Serves a whole bunch)
7-10 peeled and sliced potatoes (Russets are cheap and hearty-like my cousin Bo)
As much diced, cooked ham as you please (or that you have left)
1 stick butter
1 ½-2 c milk
2 c shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese blend
3-4 tsp flour
9×13” baking pan
Obligatory Reminder: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Peel, wash, and coin slice the potatoes. (Washing in cold water eliminates a lot of the starch).
-Dice your leftover or fresh cooked ham, if you haven’t already done so.
-Mix the meat and potatoes together in a large heatproof mixing bowl.
-Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
-Whisk in the flour a teaspoon at a time until smooth.
-Gradually, add the milk, stirring constantly until the mix thickens and bubbles.
-Add the cheese and S&P. Stir until the cheese melts right in.
-Pour the cheesy mix over the potatoes and ham. Stir to coat.
-Bake, covered with foil, for about an hour and thirty minutes on 350 degrees.
Tip for ya: Be sure to test the middle of the pan’s potatoes for doneness. The edge potatoes may be quicker to cook, but those middle fellas take a bit of time. But don’t worry about the edgies. They will get a tad crisp, but that’s what makes it soooo good. (Like a corner vs. the center of the brownie batch)!!
Before we part ways tonight, let me say thanks to all the regular readers and my few treasured subscribers for some of the email you’ve sent me regarding the recipes and encouraging me to keep posting. I had a suggestion to bullet future recipe instructions for easier reading so I am obliged to do so now. Also, to answer the email about why my baking times are not specific, but rather read “about 20 mins or about an hour”-all ovens are different. I’m not acquainted with your oven therefore I do not know if a batch of cookies will take specifically 12 mins or 8 mins in your oven. I do know that ever since I replaced the heating element in my oven I’ve had to adjust all my recipes to adjust to its new temperament. So, best wishes to you, and continue to creep back in to Kitchen Macabre for more recipes to die for!