Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Graveyard Cake

Here's this year's Halloween cake

I used two cake mixes - one yellow and one chocolate, and I marbled them.
I used a spring form pan, and a 9" cake pan so that I'd have different sizes.

After the cakes had baked and cooled, I sliced each one into 2 layers, and removed the excess from the top.

For the filling, I mixed 16 oz cream cheese with 1 c. powdered sugar and 1.5 t. vanilla, and beat it until fluffy.
I then filled the layers with this.
Topped it with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting.
I used orange or toffee sticks for the fence posts, strung together with black licorice.
The gravestones are Pepper Ridge Milano cookies, the fresh dirt on the graves and on top of the tombstones are crushed oreos (just the cookie, not the filling), and the black tree is made from black licorice pieces intertwined together, snipped here and there.
Buttercream frosting for the grass tufts.
I sprinkled it with powdered sugar just to give it a little more personality.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.
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Jack-O-lantern Pumpkin Seeds

Every year we sit down together and carve pumpkins with our kids. As we scoop out the slimy pumpkin guts, we try to save all of the seeds so that we can toast them and enjoy them later on as well.

Place pumpkin seeds in a seive or collander and rinse them under running water for several minutes - washing away everything except for the seeds themselves.

Line a baking sheet with foil.
Spread pumpkin seeds evenly onto foil.
Salt generously.
Bake at 275 - 300* for approximately 2 hours, stirring every half an hour to ensure an even roast.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Dinner - Ghosts or Mummies

We made these tonight to pair with our 'Feet of Meat' aka 'Bloody Stump' annual Halloween Dinner.

Simply mashed potatoes in another form.

Peel, cube and boil potatoes.
Once potatoes slide off fork when stabbed, drain water, and place in mixing bowl.
Add butter (more or less depending on quantity) and mix until smooth.
Salt to taste

Spoon into large ziplock, or pastry bag.

Line baking sheet with foil, and heat oven to 350*.

Pipe ghosts onto foil.
Sprinkle with garlic powder and parmesean cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until slight crust forms, and they are heated through.

Dip a round toothpick into black food coloring, and then poke into ghosts for eyes.

Serve immediately.

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Individual Chicken Taco Salads

I was stumped one afternoon as to what I should prepare for dinner and went to the web - seeking ideas.
My family enjoyed this new twist (especially as it was pretty customizable), and we liked the quick and easy, yet light feel.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Tortilla chips
Shredded romaine lettuce
Shredded cheese
Diced tomatoes
Diced onions
Chili powder
Key lime wedges or juice
Sour cream

Dice chicken and cook for 2-5 minutes in 1 t. olive oil, or in a pan sprayed with vegetable spray until tender and cooked through.
Season chicken with 1-2 t. chili powder, 1 t. cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over tortilla chips on a bed of romaine lettuce, and top with cheese, tomatoes, olives, onions, cheese, sour cream, and salsa as desired.
Top with a squeeze or two from the key limes.
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Fresh Pineapple Juice - Guatemalan style

I lived in Guatemala for 17 months while I worked as a missionary for my church.
I loved spending time with the people there, as they opened their homes and hearts to us, and we shared many beautiful moments together.
I loved all of the fresh fruits there, and especially loved this pineapple juice we often had.
My husband and I went back to visit a few years ago, and a dear friend taught me how to prepare this delicious drink that is so refreshing on a hot summer day.

We often buy fresh pineapples and after we cut off the peels and core - toss them.
This recipe offers another way to use the entire pineapple - without wasting anything.

After peeling and coring a pineapple, set the strips of the peel and core into a pot.
Cover with water and bring to a boil, then let simmer for an hour (or more - depending on your timeframe) - keeping it covered with water.
Remove from heat, and allow to cool on stovetop, or cover and place in the fridge for another hour or two - or even overnight.
Place a strainer or seive over a pitcher, and strain to collect all of the juices.

Discard the peels and core

Add 1-2 cups of sugar (to taste)
Add 2 or more quarts of water or ice
 This is all to taste~it should be lightly sweet, but not overpowering, and not too watery.
Mix thoroughly until sugar is completely disolved.

Serve chilled, or pour over ice
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Halloween SPIDERS, Black and White

Quick and easy -the easier the better!

We had these at a friend's house & loved the novelty

Donut holes
Chow mein noodles
chocolate chips
m&m candies

Carefully melt chocolate chips (amount will vary on number of spiders)
Dab a bit of chocolate onto m&m's or skittle like candy and place on donut holes for eyes.
Poke 8 chow mein noodles into each donut hole - 4 on each side for legs.

If melted chocolate remains, mix chow mein noodles into chocolate until noodles are all covered.
Scoop out clusters, and place on waxed paper to cool.
Before they cool, place m&m candies for eyes.

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Halloween BONES

We had these at our mom & me teen book club last week. They turned out so cute, and they were (unfortunately), pretty addictive.
Simple, and the kids enjoy helping with these.

1 bag pretzel rods
1 bag mini marshmallows
white dipping chocolate OR white chocolate morsels + 1 t. shortening

Place a marshmallow at the ends of the pretzel rods (both sides)

Carefully microwave chocolate until melted, at 30 second intervals - stirring between.
Once melted, stir and allow to very slightly cool.

Dip rods with marshmallows into chocolate mixture and with two forks, turn, and then place dipped rods on a sheet of waxed paper.

Allow to cool and dry.

Note - if the chocolate is too hot, the marshmallows will melt.
If the chocolate starts to cool and harden, it can be very carefully re-heated in the microwave, or shortening can be added and mixed in to thin it back out as it is re-heated.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blueberry Pie - award winning!

I went shopping a couple of weeks ago, and was trying to figure out a dessert for company.  As I mentally scrolled through my list of possibilities, I thought about tapioca.  My husband LOVES tapioca pudding, and he enjoys making it as well.

I dropped by the tapioca aisle, and grabbed a box.  Then started reading the back - looking for some other inspiration - you know, something guestworthy.

There on the back of the box, were a couple of pie recipes.

At home, I decided to try the blueberry pie recipe since I had some frozen blueberries in the freezer.
I even halved the sugar with splenda.  While this recipe took a little longer (maybe due to the frozen blueberries?) my husband said this was probably one of the best pies he had ever had.  He couldn't keep out of it!

I took it to a church pie cook off, and won "the prettiest pie" award with it too - the judges apparently dug into it on the right side there.

4 c. frozen blueberries
1 c. sugar (or 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. splenda or stevia)
1 T. lemon juice (plus a squirt of two more)
3 T. tapioca

Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl.
Let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat oven to 400*.  Pour mixture into uncooked pie crust.
Dot with butter.
Cover with an uncooked pie crust, & flute the edges.
Gently brush milk over crust.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Lower heat to 350* and cover crust edges if desired.
Bake for an additional 30 - 45 minutes - until berries are bubbling.

Remove from oven.  Allow to cool (2-3 hours) before serving.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Easy Halloween Spider Cookies

Yep, it is that time of year again.
Tonight we made our first foray into our annual spider cookie drop offs around the neighborhood.
Anonymously, of course.

My kids love these, and they are cute, novel, and pretty simple.
Oh, and perfect for any fall or Halloween gathering.

The eyeballs take a little bit of time, but they can even be made several days ahead.

Spider eyeballs - Royal Icing
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 c. powdered (confectioner's) sugar
Combine egg whites and lemon juice in mixer.  Slowly add powdered sugar - adjusting amount depending on stiffness desired. 

Fill piping bag with frosting. Using a circle frosting tip, pipe small to medium sized circles onto a sheet of waxed paper, and allow 1-2 hours to dry. 
Once dried, pipe a small chocolate 'pupil' (see below) onto each eyeball. 
Affix spider eyeballs with piped chocolate. 

The Spiders - (Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies)

2 c. sugar
4 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. milk
1/2 cube butter (1/4 c.)
1/2 c. peanut butter (smooth or chunky - your preference)
3 c. raw oatmeal
1/2 c. nuts (optional)

1 bag chow mein noodles

Boil sugar, milk, cocoa, and butter 1 minute, stir. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, (nuts,) oatmeal and vanilla. Stir until well blended. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. 

Working quickly, stick 3-4 legs into each side of the cookie while the batter is still hot.  Technically, I think spiders have 8 legs? 

Melt 1/2 c. chocolate chips in microwave.
Add 1 tsp. shortening and mix. 
Place mixture in piping bag, with a small circle frosting tip. 

This chocolate now becomes glue, and can be used to glue on each eyeball. 
It can also be used for the pupil of each eyeball, but give it sufficient time to dry.  

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