Weeknight Family Halloween Party + your new favorite chili recipe
Ali Hedin | Family Halloween

When I was a kid Halloween was the best time of the year. We lived in a neighborhood that had very few children, but lots of adults who were happy to buy loads of candy. We scored. Every year my dad and the dad next door would take all of us out around the neighborhood. Living in Seattle meant that there were many years where it rained. When that happened, we all piled in the back of my dad’s Ford Explorer with the hatch open (it was the 90’s after all) and he’d drive us from house to house.

Halloween smelled like rain and leaves and whiskey (as a kid I didn't recognize the smell, but as an adult I’ve figured out what was in those flasks.)

Ali Hedin | Family Halloween

As a kid, Halloween is full of magic and fun. The years between being a kid and having a kid are a little more ambiguous. There were parties and fancy dinners but the magic just wasn’t the same. If you’re lucky enough to have little ones around this Halloween, take advantage of it. Host a party, make a big batch of chili and revel in the magic and fun of youth.

Ali Hedin | Family Halloween
  Transform styrofoam balls with hot glue and candy corn. These last for years.

Transform styrofoam balls with hot glue and candy corn. These last for years.

Ali Hedin | Family Halloween

HALLOWEEN CHILI

serve 8

STEP 1

In a small bowl blend together cornmeal, sugar, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder.  In a warm pan cook spice blend with two tablespoons olive oil until aromatic (just a minute or two).  

STEP 2

Add onions and butter to pan and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add sausage and stew meat and cook, turning often, until browned. 

 

STEP 3

When sausage is completely cooked and stew meat cubes are browned on all sides, pour in 1 cup beef broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Add the second cup if needed to retain some liquid in the pan.  

STEP 4

Pour in tomatoes, beer, beans, and bay leaf and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and simmer about 3 hours stirring occasionally to prevent sticking until stew meat is tender and flaky.

 

STEP 5

When ready to serve, break up stew meat chunks with a fork and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and fresh chopped onions.  

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons butter

1-2 cups beef broth

1 pound sausage

2 pounds beef stew meat

2 bay leaves

12 ounces Pale Ale

1 - 8 oz. can garbanzo beans

1 - 8 oz. can kidney beans

1 - 8 oz. can pinto beans

2 - 9 oz cans tomato sauce

3 tablespoons cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cumin

¼ cup chili powder

½ tablespoon salt

½ tablespoon pepper

olive oil

Ali Hedin | Family Halloween

Here’s how to pull off the perfect Family Halloween Party

  1. Make a giant batch of chili. More people show up? No problem, add more beans & more stock.

  2. Make or buy loads of cookies and treats. Not totally for the kids - but for the parents to snack on so they don’t dig into their kids bags (yet).

  3. Cocktails! Set up a simple bar with gin, vodka, tonic, and soda water. A few bottles of red wine & beer will round out the bar.

  4. Weeknight Family Halloween parties tend to wrap up around 8pm. Let friends know ahead of time that you’re putting your kids to bed at a certain time.

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Ali Hedin | Halloween Party

1./ 2./ 3./ 4./ 5./ 6./ 7./ 8./ 9.

Ali Hedin | Family Halloween
Ali Hedin | Family Halloween
Alexandra Hedin
Salted Caramel Corn
Ali Hedin | Salted Caramel Corn

This recipe was my grandmother's.  She made this every year at Christmas time and it was possibly my favorite part of the dinner at her house.  My grandmother had very specific times of year that she made recipes and she did not stray from her very EXACTING menu plans.  So it could have been that I got so excited about this caramel corn because I only got it once a year, but I'm pretty sure it's actually because it is so amazing.  

I've added a little flaked salt to the top as it cools because I have never had anything that wasn't better with a little salt.  Espcially caramel.  

Ali Hedin | Salted Caramel Corn

SALTED CARAMEL CORN

makes 12 cups

STEP 1

Spread popcorn out on a baking sheet lined with a sol-pat or buttered parchment paper.  

STEP 2

Place sugar, corn syrup, butter, table salt, vanilla and baking soda in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.  Once the sugar has completely dissolved, boil four more minutes without stirring.

STEP 3

Remove from the heat and pour over the popcorn.  Stir quickly to caramelize every kernel,  Sprinkle flake salt over the popcorn.

STEP 4

Place in a safe place at room temperature for at least three hours until dry.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

12 cups air popped popcorn

1 1/2 cups tightly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon flake salt or fleur du sel

Ali Hedin | Salted Caramel Corn
Pumpkin Spice Crinkle Cookies
Ali Hedin | Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies

Pumpkin Spice isn't my favorite.  I won't order it in a latte and I really don't want it in a pie.  But I tried it as a fluffy and delicious cookie this week and I might be sold.  These crinkle cookies are easy to make and thanks to the addition of a little pumpkin, they stay super tender and fluffy even after they've cooled.  Usually you can only get that from a fresh out of the oven cookie which is why I usually only eat cookies the minute they come out of the oven.  But these suckers are light and fluffy and have a hint of fall flavor which is exactly what I need right now on these blustery fall mornings.  

Because clearly, cookies are for breakfast.

Ali Hedin | Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies

PUMPKIN SPICE CRINKLE COOKIES

makes 24 one inch cookies

STEP 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

 

In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice.

 

STEP 2

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together granulated sugar and butter and whip until light and fluffy.  

 

STEP 3

Mix in pumpkin, egg yolk, and vanilla until just combined. 

 

STEP 4

Add dry ingredients slowly until just incorporated. 

 

STEP 5

Scoop cookies in one inch balls and roll in powdered sugar.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup softened butter

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg yolk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup powdered sugar

Ali Hedin | Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies
Ali Hedin | Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies
the house update you didn't ask for
Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House
Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House

From the beginning Mr. Hedin and I have said that this house will take one year to build. When you casually say “one year” it doesn’t sound like a long time. But then… ONE. YEAR.

The Chip & Joanna Gaineses of the world don’t make it any easier. They manage to have the whole house completed in one episode. We all know it takes longer but there’s something so satisfying about watching one hour of a house going from nothing to completed. It also sets a weird expectation that things will HAPPEN. They don’t discuss 12 week lead times for windows or that the tub wasn’t delivered when they went to the plumbing supply house the first time so they needed to go back the next week.

But here we are. This week marks six months of being out of our house. Five months of actual construction (permits took more than a hot minute). There are days when it feels like absolutely nothing has gotten done and there are days when excitement takes over and I can see progress.

I’ll walk you through where we are now and what’s to come. It’s actually getting really exciting.

Plumbing has started going in. I had already chosen all of the finishes I wanted before we even started so that part has been easy. We ordered everything from Ferguson and it has been so simple. Not only because they have a great showroom but because we were able to pick up all of the rough-in pieces as soon as we needed them. Not an ad, just a fan.

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House

One of the plumbing choices we went for is wall mounted toilets. The plumber talked us into these when he first came out because we have one room that’s a little small and hanging the toilet on the wall gains us an extra six inches in the room. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but in that space, it will help. The other bonus of a wall hanging toilet is that there is nothing on the floor - I can now mop all the way under the toilet. No weird seam where the toilet meets the floor that gathers funk. No yucky floor smudge that you can’t get up. If anyone else has boys then you understand the need to be able to COMPLETELY clean under a toilet.

Fingers crossed these things don’t break. If they do, we’re taking apart a wall…

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House

This outdoor space has been the most work recently. First, we had to wait for the steel to get fabricated and delivered. Once it was in place, our painters came over and coated it with a primer so it won’t rust. Mr. Hedin then had to notch out each beam so it fit over the part you see sticking up on the beam. It was a tedious project and the tool he actually needed to do the job got stolen from the job site the day before he was going to use it. Ugg. Life in the city.

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House

Here’s what the end goal will be…

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House

Which is a huge improvement over what it used to be…

  Sorry it’s fuzzy, it’s all I’ve got of the original.

Sorry it’s fuzzy, it’s all I’ve got of the original.

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House
Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House

This living room plan has changed a bit since we first concepted it. While the basic bones of the plan have remained the same, a few things have changed. Here’s the original plan and here’s what it will more likely become.

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House
  In order to see where the new chandelier will hang in the living room, I used spray chalk to mark out where all of the furniture will live.

In order to see where the new chandelier will hang in the living room, I used spray chalk to mark out where all of the furniture will live.

There’s also a chance that my dream fireplace may have to change a bit. I’m not thrilled about it, but I think we’ve come up with a plan that I’ll be ok with. Stay tuned for what that may change to. The good news is that we have time to change our mind.

Due to the fire codes and UL codes and what ever else, we can’t have a gas fire without glass all the way round it. Since I don’t love that idea, we’ve been targeting a bio-fuel solution for the fireplace anyway. It’s clean burning and it’s super simple for a fireplace. What that all means is that nothing is plumbed into the floor that would be a hassle to move. We can pop this thing into place when we want to. Simple.

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Party House

Thanks for following along. I can’t wait to get things really rolling in the next few months. Just in time for the rain in Seattle! Here’s hoping our tarps hold.

Weeknight Halloween in 2 Easy Steps

Any reason at all to celebrate anything at all is a win in my book.  Halloween is right at the top of that list because it can be SO QUIRKY!  And quirky is the best way to celebrate anything.  I put together a quirky little Halloween that is so simple you can pull it off with almost no lead time.  Especially those rats!  Keep scrolling for a cocktail that does have to sit overnight (jell-o) but is ridiculously good (stick to one of those!) and a step-by-step of the rats that are really easy and really fun.

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Halloween

Here's why this is the coolest cocktail; the jell-o shot melts as it sits in the martini delivering, not only a 1-2 punch, but also a spooky 'bleeding' effect.  You can always skip the martini part and just serve jell-o shots (yum).  I make loads of jell-o shots so take my advice: 

1. Do not use cheap vodka.  You will notice.  Everyone will notice.  If the bottle is on the bottom shelf, then leave it there.  

2. Let sit overnight.  Do not rush these.  It won't set up as well and they get sloppy and weird.

3. Don't try to add more vodka.  There's plenty.  Remember this is still science and you need the right balance for these to set up. 

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Halloween
Ali Hedin | Weeknight Halloween
Ali Hedin | Weeknight Halloween

You know that when you've totally creeped out a three year old that you've done your job.  And when you can do it for about $5 at the dollar store - BAM!  You feel like a freaking genius.  The trick with these rats is to cut all the way through so the candle can touch the table.  When it does that, it gives it a more stable resting place than if it is attempting to balance somewhere inside the plastic rat.  

Ali Hedin | Weeknight Halloween
Ali Hedin | Weeknight Halloween
Ali Hedin | Weeknight Halloween

I hope you have a fabulous Halloween!  Let me know how you're celebrating and follow me on Instagram for all of the goods I'm serving up this year!

National Cheese Burger Day | Bloody Mary Burger
Ali Hedin | Bloody Mary Burger

Today is National Cheeseburger Day! I have some obsessions with burgers. Good ones. I’ve loaded quite a few onto my app - Weeknight Society - that are easy to cook and total crowd pleasers. If I hadn’t eaten my weight in burgers this summer, I might be slightly more excited for burgers.

Ali Hedin | Bloody Mary Burger

But then there’s the Bloody Mary Burger. This is one burger that I haven’t eaten too many burgers to still eat. I love this burger. You will love this burger. Especially if you are going to a football game this weekend - serve this burger with a Bloody Mary on the side and you’ll be the hit of the party!

Ali Hedin | Bloody Mary Burger

Bloody Mary Burger

serves 4

STEP 1

Combine the meat with the spices and mix it all together.

 

STEP 2

Form into four even sized patties and grill until cooked through.

 

STEP 3

Mix together mayo, horseradish and tabasco in a bowl. 

 

STEP 4

Smear bottom of bun with mayonnaise. Top with cooked patty.  Then cheese, pickles, asparagus, lettuce, bacon, and celery sticks.  Add a little more sauce to the top and then the top bun.  

           

 

2 lb ground beef

2 tbs worchestershire sauce

2 tbs ground celery seed

1 tbs paprika

1 tsp salt

1 tbs pepper

1 tbs ground mustard

2 tsp tabasco sauce

2 cloves grated garlic

 

2 pickles, sliced

12 spears Pickled asparagus

2 stalks Celery sticks, sliced thin

1 head Iceburg lettuce

4 strips cooked Bacon

4 slices Swiss cheese

 

¼ cup Mayonnaise

1 tsp Horseradish 

4 shakes Tabasco sauce

Ali Hedin | Bloody Mary Burger
Ali Hedin | Bloody Mary Burger
Charm Hour :: Back-to-school-tail

My kids all started school this week!  HOORAY!  That means we could all use a cocktail.  I made one using my favorite apple juice and a locally made apple cider whiskey.  It's the perfect way to have that 'apple a day.'  Cheers!

Also, turns out I really love adding the word "tail" to the end of cocktail recipe names.  So get used to that.  It's sticking around.

back to school + meatballs in red sauce
Ali Hedin | Meatballs in Red Sauce

Do you know what I have always wanted?  Like for real?  A cooking show.  But I didn't want a dumb show and I didn't want it to have bad sound and be lame.  And I wanted it to have a real producer or at least someone to hold the camera.  

But I've been to NYC and met with people.  It didn't happen.  I networked in Seattle.  It didn't happen.  I paid for my own videos and they are crazy expensive.  So finally, this last month I decided I don't care anymore if it's a little lame.  And I don't care anymore if the sound isn't perfect.  And I'm ok with no producer and no one to hold the camera.  

May I present to you, episode 1.  It's not perfect.  But it's out there.  It's a start.  Maybe I'll figure out the sound for the next one.  Maybe someone will come hold the camera.  Maybe not.  

What ever the case, it's fun.  And I enjoyed it.  And I'll make more so if you hate them, you should probably stop reading this blog.  But if you don't hate it, will you let me know?  Comment below or find me on Instagram and tell me there.

Ali Hedin | Meatballs in Red Sauce

MEATBALLS IN RED SAUCE

serves 4

STEP 1

Cook onion and bell pepper in a large stock pot until softened. 

 

STEP 2

Mix together beef, pork, panko, tomato paste, seasoning, salt until well combined.  Form into 2 inch balls using your hands or an ice cream scoop. 

 

STEP 3

Pour tomatoes into the pan and add the spices. Bring to boil.

 

STEP 4

Drop meatballs into sauce. Cover and cook 15-20 mins.  Serve with a green salad.

 

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1 cup panko

2 tbs tomato paste

2 tbs Italian seasoning

1 tsp salt

48oz Crushed tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 tbs Italian seasoning

Ali Hedin | Meatballs in Red Sauce

Creating the Perfect Tailgate
Ali-Hedin-Tailgate-Party-9.png

College football is nothing short of my favorite time of the year.  I've been going to Husky football games since I was an infant and I have no interest in ever stopping.  The older I get, the more I pay attention to other teams, who's playing on them, and how their season is going.  But overall, it's Huskies or die.  

A significant part of Husky football is Husky tailgating.  I realize there are schools that tailgate big - any team in the SEC comes to mind - but I guarantee we have more fun.  

Ali Hedin | The Perfect Tailgate

We plan a tailgate with and for friends but we always end up with more people dropping in, stopping by, and having a drink.  To make sure we have food for anyone that stops by, we make loads of food and bring extra chips, dips, and peanuts so there's something for everyone.  

Ali Hedin | The Perfect Tailgate

These tailgate sandwiches are my favorite things to make & serve.  It's so simple to make ahead of time and then transfer into an insulated bag to keep warm during the drive.  You can stuff them with literally anything!  If you have children at your tailgate, try basic pizza toppings or just cheese.  If it's all adults, add spicy peppers and loads of meats. 

These are also good when they've cooled and it's the end of the game and you're camped out at your car since the traffic is so bad and there's no reason to leave yet.   

Ali Hedin | The Perfect Tailgate
Ali Hedin | Tailgate Sandwiches
Ali Hedin | The Perfect Tailgate

I get that decorating for a tailgate is maybe a little "over the top." But really??  It's a party!  Let's make it fun.  Choose wipeable fabrics to cover the tables and top them with trays in your team colors.  Or, if you want to be really fun, trim an old poster to fit into a frame and have a piece of glass or plastic cut to fit into the tray.  Fun fact :: My cousin is in the poster fit into the tray above.  

Ali Hedin | The Perfect Tailgate
Ali Hedin | The Perfect Tailgate

Finally, don't forget your supplies.  There is nothing worse than a bottle of wine and no wine opener.  Grab a box and load it with paper napkins, wine bottle openers, salt & pepper, silverware, a sharp knife and anything else you might need that you only think of when you are already there.  

Ali Hedin | Football Tailgate Essentials
Ali Hedin | The Perfect Tailgate

Alexandra Hedin