Thursday, October 30, 2014

tbt Halloween Treats


I made S’mores Brownies with Ghost Peeps for our friend Scott’s Halloween party tomorrow.  For this throwback Thursday, I’m sharing treats that I’ve made past years! (Along with a recipe for this year’s brownies…)   

For James & Roberto’s party last year, I made chocolate skeleton & mummy cookies (adapted from the blog Created By Diane)

For their party in 2012, I made chocolate mummy & spider cupcakes (adapted from Skinny Taste and Bakerella). 

I didn’t bake anything in 2011, but I did carve a pumpkin for my doorstep!

I actually carved 2 pumpkins in 2010 (the first pretty one with the haunted house reacted badly to the paint & rotted before Halloween…) 

That year I also made a cookie cake with peanuts, M&Ms, and icing decorated with spider rings. 

Back in 2009, we threw a Heroes & Villains themed party at my college apartment.  I baked the same chocolate spider cupcakes as I made in 2012, but with red Twizzler legs and marshmallow eyes. 

Below is the recipe for this year.  If you’re planning to make this, stock up on the ghost Peeps early – I only had 1 package, and it turns out that the day before Halloween they are out of stock everywhere.  Ideally, your ghosts would cover the entire top of the brownie pan…

Ghostly S’mores Brownies: (adapted from Home is Where the Boat Is)

  • 12 Ghost shaped Peeps (I only had 9)
  • Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs (1/3 of a box)
  • 2 T sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips


1. Mix butter, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt, then press evenly over the bottom of a well-greased 8x8” pan.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

2. Pour brownie batter on top of the graham cracker crust and bake according to directions. 

3. In the last 5 minutes of baking, add a layer of chocolate chips to help the Peeps stick to the brownies. 

4. Place your Peep ghosts on top of the brownies and broil very briefly until slightly toasted. 

5. The Peep’s faces will melt away in the oven, so after you take them out, replace the eyes and mouth with mini chocolate chips.  Then enjoy!  

Biking & Breweries - Dunedin, FL


We’ve been on a mission to try out every local brewery on the St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail.    So far on that list, we had made it to 3 Daughters, Cycle, Green Bench, Sea Dog, and St. Pete Brewing.  We noticed that Dunedin Brewery and 7venth Sun were within a few blocks of each other, so on our day off yesterday, we headed to Dunedin. 

The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a jogging/biking path that goes right through the middle of town – it spans 38.2 miles from St. Pete to Tarpon Springs.  We brought our bikes so we could get a bit of a workout before drinking beers. 


We started off at Hammock Park in Dunedin and biked north to Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor.  We turned around to meet up with my brother David and his friend John.  From there, we headed to Dunedin Brewery, Florida’s oldest craft brewery. 

They had some year-round standard beers like the Red Ale, Pale Ale, and Brown Ale, but they also had several special options.  I tried the Apricot Wheat, Razzberry Wheat, Florida Common, and Jackie Bones.  The apricot and raspberry beers were almost too sweet – you could definitely taste the fruit.  I liked the Florida Common – with roasted pineapple and orange peel.  And the Jackie Bones is their pumpkin beer with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla beans. 

The boys enjoyed the Biere de Café – made with chocolate and local coffee.  It was so tasty it could be a Starbucks drink.  They also liked The Moon Reflects on Hibiscus, which John accurately said was like drinking flowers. 

We were surprisingly impressed with their bar food.  We tried their Pretzel Bites, Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds, and Dunedin Brewery Wings.  The pretzels were the perfect snack, served with Nitro Stout mustard.  The cheese curds were made with breaded white cheddar and served with a side of ranch – they tasted like mini mozzarella sticks. 

I would definitely order their wings again – they are marinated overnight then deep fried and served dry.  There was an option to have them tossed in sauce, but I loved the dry wings.  They were perfectly golden and crunchy – served with both bleu cheese sauce and a “kilt-lifter” spicy sauce (which really had a kick).  We ordered 10 but our basket actually came with 12. 

Afterwards we rode south on the trail a bit more to work off our food.  Lance and I had already biked 12+ miles at this point, so we couldn’t keep up with David & John.  We rode a few miles, and then turned back around towards 7venth Sun Brewery.  

It’s in a shopping plaza with a massage studio, salon, and jewelry shop.  The location didn’t seem like anything special, but before drinking more, we took a walk around the block.  We discovered that they are one street over from the waterfront at St. Joseph’s Sound with a beautiful view towards Caladesi Island. You can’t actually go on the waterfront since it is private property, but you can walk down Victoria Drive and enjoy the scenery from the quiet road.   

Back at 7venth Sun, we ordered several of their beers.  Instead of the typical flight, they offer 4 ounce pours for only $2 if you want to try a sampling.  I tried the Star Witness (a hoppy saison), Graffiti Orange Creamsicle Wheat, Purple Pistil (brewed with grapes and saffron honey brewed with Brett yeast) and the Dusty Farmgirl (a Brett Saison with Meyer lemon & clementine). 

I liked the Dusty Farmgirl and Star Witness best.  The Purple Pistil was too strong for me (11% alcohol!) and the grape and honey flavors were a bit overpowering.  The Graffiti orange was pretty sweet as well. 

David & John met us there and between the 4 of us, we probably sampled every beer on the board. 

Another mile or so bike ride and we were back to where we started.  We ended up riding 22.74 miles so my legs were pretty sore by the end.  I love the app Map My Ride because it keeps track of your distance, speed, and elevation.  The only problem is that it drains your phone battery – since our trip took a few hours, my phone was at less than 10% by the time we finished. 

2 more local breweries down!  (And many more to go…)

Dunedin Brewery is located at 937 Douglas Ave, Dunedin, FL 34698 and is open 11am – 11pm Sunday through Tuesday, 11am – 1am Wednesday & Thursday, and 11am – 2am Friday & Saturday. 

7venth Sun Brewery is located at 1012 Broadway, Dunedin, FL 34698 and is open 2pm – 12am Tuesday through Thursday, 12pm – 12am Friday & Saturday, 12pm – 10pm on Sunday, and closed Monday.  

Bonefish Grill – Tampa, FL


We got a coupon in our Sunday paper for $8 off any two entrees at Bonefish Grill.  We hadn’t been there in awhile, and I’d been craving some Bang Bang Shrimp. 

I started with a glass of their Blackberry Red Sangria – it was actually a bit too sweet even for me.  I really should just stick with getting sangria at Ceviche. 

We split the Tay’s Wedge Salad with tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles, chives, crispy onions, and bleu cheese dressing.  It was very generous with the bleu cheese and was a nice size to share as a starter.

Since we had to get two entrees for our coupon, we skipped the normal Bang Bang appetizer and instead ordered the Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos served with house made chips.  If you like their normal spicy & crunchy shrimp, you’ll love the tacos – served with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream.  And the homemade chips were great once we added a little salt.    

We picked the perfect night because Tuesdays they have a special lobster menu right now!  We went to Maine a little over a year ago, and neither of us had lobster since that trip.  We decided to give their Lobster Roll Sliders a try (they were only $8.90, which is pretty reasonable for 2 sliders plus fries).  For a lobster dish outside of New England, it was pretty tasty.  Although I don’t think anything can beat what we had in Maine. 

If we had more room (and if we hadn’t just eaten so much the previous week on vacation) I would have tried their Pumpkin Crème Brûlée.  But we were good that night and resisted the temptation to get dessert. 

I think it’s definitely worth going to check out their latest menu – especially if you are free on a Tuesday.  I also saw online that they have “Bang Bang Wednesday” which features their signature shrimp on served on flatbread, tacos, burgers, and steaks. 

Bonefish Grill has several locations around the country.  The one we dined at is located at 3665 Henderson Blvd, Tampa, FL 33609 and is open 11am – 10:30pm Monday through Thursday, 11am – 11:30pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am – 10pm on Sunday.