Halloween Mystery Menu

When I was a kid my mom would create a “mystery menu”  which consisted of strange named things and we would have to order off of this menu.  We never knew what exactly we were ordering but that was most of the fun.  We could end up with ketchup, ice cream, and a fork or water, a napkin and carrots.  To us as kids it was always a blast to do and to see what you would end up with.  When I became a parent, I decided I wanted to continue this tradition.  I decided at least initially that I would tie it in with Halloween.  Therefore my menu always has Halloween related items; such as witches tears, monster bites, bone chunks, etc.

Last year was the first year that I did this for my husband and daughter.  My husband had never done anything like this but thought it would be fun.  It was a lot of work but my husband and daughter absolutely loved it.  Now as I’m getting ready for year two I decided to share what I did last year.  I can’t share this year’s menu and key as I don’t want to give away the secrets yet.  If you have never done it I highly recommend it.  It is a blast for kids and adults alike.

Tips:  Block off your kitchen so they have no idea what you are making.  Plan in advance and have a key in the kitchen so you know what you are doing.  Maybe even have some of the items already dished out. 🙂

Halloween Mystery Menu

Mixed up menu (food key)

Green Tomato Cake

Fall is definitely in the air this week, as they are predicting highs of 55 degrees most of the days, which means the end of gardening for me.  This summer we were blessed to grow, sunflowers (got two bags full of sunflower seeds which my father loves), cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, radishes, and tomatoes.  Half of the tomato plants weren’t even planted they just came back from last years tomatoes and so we had tomatoes coming out of our ears:).  Not a bad problem to have as you can always can them or freeze them (we chose to freeze them) but what do you do with all the green tomatoes that are still on the plants?  We ended up with many green tomatoes because it was such a dry summer and due to the fact that fall came on so quickly this year.  We decided to try some recipes.  In the past we had made fried green tomatoes but I’m not a fan as I really don’t like to fry things in my house due to the smell that seems to permeate the house after frying.  We made green tomato crisp where instead of using apples you use green tomatoes.  We served it to my husband and father without telling them what was in it just telling them it was apple crisp.  They couldn’t tell it wasn’t apple crisp and loved it (course when they learned that it had green tomatoes in they weren’t as impressed).

This year we made Green Tomato Cake, it was amazing, so moist, tasted just like spice cake.  We put a cream cheese/sour cream/brown sugar frosting on top and once again served it to the guys (this time they were a little more leery) and they loved it again.  Course when we asked them if they wanted to know what was it in they immediately said no!

My mom is also going to try and make a green tomato strawberry freezer jam so we will see how that turns out.  Any green tomato recipes you love?


Ways to use low flavor cantaloupe

while grocery shopping my mom and I decided that we wanted to pick up some cantaloupe for a snack for either later that day or the next day.  So my mom tasked me with the job of picking out a cantaloupe.  She told my 3 year old to help me.  Most of you may know that three year old’s have short attention spans and picking out cantaloupe probably not their strongest suit.  She tapped it she smelled and and she decided that would be the cantaloupe that we got.  After shopping for several hours (and it being past nap time) I was not going to argue with her.

Unfortunately when we got home and cut up the cantaloupe we discovered that it looked good and had the right texture but it was extremely bland.  I don’t know about you but for me in general I have a hard time picking out a ‘good’ cantaloupe and feel I should eat it even if it doesn’t have much flavor since I spent the money on it.

We decided this time to see if there were any alternative ways to use the cantaloupe or ways to increase the flavor.  We went to our favorite recipe site, www.allrecipes.com I was amazed at all the different ways to use cantaloupe, from smoothies, to breads, to cakes.  Who knew!  I had always just enjoyed cantaloupe fresh and never really thought it needed to be used other ways.  We decided to try two of the recipes (varying them slightly as we are never really ones to follow them exactly).

The first recipe that we tried was a cantaloupe smoothie.  We varied this up as we made it a cantaloupe/banana smoothie.  Some people may not like it if they aren’t a fan of bananas but we all thought it was very tasty.  My daughter in particular gave it two thumbs up:).

The second recipe that we tried was cantaloupe bread.  It tasted more like cake to me but was extremely moist.  My husband compared it to banana bread.  If you didn’t know it was cantaloupe bread you would never even know there was cantaloupe in there as there was no cantaloupe flavor.

Both of these were extremely good methods to use cantaloupe that doesn’t have much flavor.  Do you have other methods to use cantaloupe?  I would love to hear about them.