Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Themed Food

I've been saving up most of the goodies for this post since last year! I am so excited to finally be sharing. I'll just put here a bunch of ideas for Halloween themed food that you can use for the dinner party I'm sure you're planning. :)

Everything on this list is pretty simple to make, though it can take some time. But it's all so worth it. Have a spooktacular time!!

First for the hors d'oeuvres. :)

Jack-O-Lantern Oreos
Melt down some orange candy melts {I used Wilton brand and bought them at Walmart} according to package directions.
Dip your Oreo into the melted candy.
Smooth it out so you have a somewhat flat surface for your jack-o-lantern. Allow the candy to harden. You can pop these in the refrigerator to speed up that process.
Once the orange candy is hardened, pipe on jack-o-lantern faces using black frosting.
I think these would be a lot of fun with lollypop sticks stuck through the center {just be sure you get double stuffed so they don't fall apart}.

Now time for dinner. 

Mummy Dogs:
Wrap hotdogs in crescent roll dough. Bake in a 350 degree oven or until crescent dough is golden brown. Use ketchep or mustard to give the mummy some eyes. Eat up!

Bones n' Blood:
For this recipe you use bread stick or pizza dough {here's a recipe until I can get you mine}. Roll the dough out and cut it into two inch strips, with whatever length you'd like your bones to be. On each end, use sharp kitchen shears and cut into the bread stick, right in the center {does that even make sense?}. Curl the edges out and around and stick them to the long part of the "bone". Bake according to directions. Serve with marinara sauce.
Spiderweb Pizza:
If you want toppings {including cheese} on this pizza, just put them on the pizza crust before the sauce. Then put your pizza sauce on top of that. Using ranch or alfredo sauce, pipe {for lack of a better word} concentric circles onto the pizza. Place a few olive slices to be the "spiders". Bake the pizza according to directions. When it's all baked up, slice it up to create the web.

Candy Corn Pizza:
This is a basic cheese pizza, using at least two different kinds of cheeses. You'll need a white cheese {I used mozzarella} and a yellow cheese {I used cheddar}. Put the white cheese in the very center of the pizza {and I suggest using more white cheese than orange so it doesn't get taken over as mine practically did} and the orange cheese around the outside. Bake it. Slice it. Eat it. Yum!

 Mashed Potato Ghost:
This might be the easiest thing in this post. Maybe. And isn't it so stinkin' cute?? I love this. I can't claim this idea at all. My sister-in-law did this and I think it's so much fun!
Anyway, it's easy. Whip up your mashed potatoes and then pile them onto a plate in a big mound. Add two olives or black beans for eyes. Voila! Potato Ghost. I think this would be really cute as a bunch of small, individual potato ghost mounds, too. Have fun with it!
Not the greatest photo. Sorry. Check out the link for a better one.

Mummy Meatloaf:
We got this idea from Family Fun and isn't it fun?  
Here's how to make it:
Make up your meatloaf. {We used this recipe but I think it would be delicious using this recipe and even using the glaze.}
In a 9x13 pan, form the meatloaf into the shape of a mummy. Don't forget the arms! {Suggestion: line your pan with tin foil. You'll be happier.}
Bake it according to directions until the meatloaf is done.
When it is done, place mozzarella slices all over the meatloaf to give the mummy his wrapping. The thinner the slices, the better it looks and the faster it melts. We used toothpicks to hold some of the cheese on until it melted.
Put it back in the hot oven for 3-4 minutes or until completely melted.
Place two olive slices for eyes on the mummy's head. Mmm.

Now for the best part: Dessert!

 Brainiac Cupcakes:
These cupcakes are so so easy.
Just bake up your favorite cupcakes.
Make some buttercream frosting. {I'll work on getting a recipe up for that.} Tint it a light orange/pink color {note: if you use gel coloring instead of liquid coloring, you'll get a richer, truer color}. Frost the cupcakes with a thin layer of the frosting {you can see I frosted mine with white - I didn't have enough orange} and put the rest in a baggie. Cut the tip from the baggie and just draw squiggle lines on the cupcake. Ta-da! Brains! :)

 Bloodshot Eye Cupcake:
These cupcakes are almost too much for me. Yes, I have a thing with the way things look grossing me out. But these are sure fun to make {and quite a favorite, actually}.
Bake your cupcakes.
Make some frosting.

Take out three parts of the white frosting. Tint one blue {or some other color you think would be good for an eye}, one red and one black. Again, if you use gel coloring you'll be able to get a true black color. You'll need more blue than red and black, so just plan the amounts of frosting accordingly. Put all the tinted frostings in their own plastic baggies. Cut a small corner of the black and red frosting bag and a larger corner of the blue frosting bag.
Frost the cupcakes in white.
Pipe on some blue for the eye's iris.
Pipe some black onto the blue for the pupil of the eye.
Pipe red in lots of little squiggly lines from the iris out.

Skeleton Cupcakes:
For this cupcake {idea from Family Fun}, I made chocolate cupcakes and chocolate buttercream frosting. Before adding the cocoa to my frosting, I reserved a bit of the white frosting for the skeleton bodies. Frost all the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting. Place a miniature marshmallow at one side of the cupcakes for the skeleton's head. Pipe the bodies by drawing a little stick figure under the marshmallow and adding two lines across the center of his body to give him ribs. You can pipe on some black decorators gel for the face or do like I did and just use a toothpick dipped in black frosting to draw the faces on. 

 Spiderweb Cupcakes:
Easy peasy.
Bake your cupcakes.
Frost with white frosting.
Draw concentric circles {three or four} around the cupcake using black frosting or decorators gel. Gel probably looks the best. But if you use frosting like me, don't be like me and wait to finish the webs until all your cupcakes have circles. They look better if you pipe on the circles and then pull the toothpick through right after so the frosting doesn't have any time to set up.
Using a toothpick, pull lines from the center outward, creating the web.

Fuzzy Monster Cupcakes:
These are currently my favorite! Aren't they so cute?
Bake your cupcakes.
Make your frosting. Reserve a small amount of white frosting; you'll color the rest. Tint half of it orange and then flavor the other half with cocoa powder. Then pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes like grass. I used Wilton tip 18, which is a star tip, but you could also use a grass tip. {For a quick tutorial on how to pipe with this technique, check out this video.} Then pipe two white circles onto the cupcake for the eyes. Finish it off by piping a small black circle onto the white using black frosting or decorators gel.

There you have it! Some yummy and very fun Halloween food ideas! Have a fun party!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday with Tierra!

Hey all!! I know I disappeared there for a long while! Im sure you were all just so worried... lol.. Well I am alive... I got so busy with work that I kept forgetting and the next thing you know a couple months has gone by! I sincerely apologize!
Sorry for letting you down Jessica but I am going to do my best to start back up on Tuesdays. Since we got smart phones I never get on the computer and currently our internet isnt wireless so I havent been getting on as much. Anyway i know excuses excuses!

Well today I am gonna share a recipe I got off of It is such a simple fast, easy snack!

Pretzel Bites!


5-10 thawed Rhodes Rolls (1 roll makes 4 bites)
1/2 cup melted butter
Cinnamon Sugar Mixture (1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
1/2 cup finely graded parmesan cheese


Once Rolls are thawed take a sharp knife and cut into four pieces like your cutting a pizza.
Get a medium sized sauce pan and bring water to a boil. Plop no more then 10 pieces into the boiling water for about 45 seconds. They will puff up. Use a slotted spoon to take them out and placed on a cookie sheet with a paper towel laid down to soak up the excess water. They might deflate a little but not to worry it will all work out!
Once you are all done with that place them on a greased cookie sheet and put in the oven to bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown. (Now i have a gas stove so the heat comes from the bottom and not the top. So they did not all get golden brown and you have to watch the bottoms so they dont burn. In my oven it only took about 10 minutes)
While that is baking melt the 1/2 cup of butter and put in a big ziploc baggy. Also put the Cinnamon Sugar mixture in another big ziploc baggy.
When bites are done first put them in the butter, seal the bag and shake!!! Then add into the Cinnamon Sugar, seal the bag, and shake!! Use tongs to take them out and place on a plate.
You can also do just plain ones with butter and sea salt!
You can also shake them in a bag with butter, Parmesan and garlic. Which I did but the Parmesan was not the right kind so didnt work but my husband liked them!

A couple of different sauces to use from that blog are: (I made the vanilla glaze one which was great but i did not do the cheese one. My friend who was with me made a glaze with just powdered sugar and orange juice!! It was my favorite!!)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract.
Combine sugar, milk, butter and vanilla and mix well.
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups of grated Cheddar Cheese.
Melt the butter in a med. size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until blended, and
butter has turned lightly golden brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar Cheese until smooth and all of the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Shake a few red pepper flakes into sauce for added zing!

If you go to her blog it shows really good pictures of step by step process. You will notice some differences between her steps and mine just find whatever works for you!!

A couple days later I went to pretzelmaker and got some pretzel bites! And to be honest I really enjoyed these ones wayyy better! I do plan to find a pretzel bite recipe making my own dough but this is such a nice easy fast way to make a snack!Sorry for the lame picture lol. We made these at night and the lighting in my house is horrible. So go check out the pics on the other blog! They are great~ (Going clockwise from the left are Cinnamon sugar, parm and garlic and butter and salt)
This was such a fun girls activity!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I have always loved cooking and baking.

I've always put the two together and said I loved them both. Probably equally.

But not anymore. I think I have finally decided that my favorite of the two is baking. It is so, so much fun!

As I told a friend recently, there are a lot of variables when it comes to baking. There are all kinds of things you can do differently that will change the outcome of what happens when you bake. There are also things beyond your control, like the way your oven heats, that also affect your baked goods. The best thing to do with those things beyond your control is to experiment and learn what you can do to still get what you want with what you've got. For example, in one of the apartments we have lived in, our oven heated too warm. We experimented and finally learned that the best way to get things to turn out the way we wanted was to turn down the temperature 25 degrees before baking. No more burning or over cooking. Perfect.

As far as variables that you can affect, there are all kinds of secrets out there about what to do/not to do for your baking to be a success. I won't pretend to be an expert on any baking secret, but I have found a few things that really help with baking.

Number one: people like shortcuts. They like cutting corners, taking the easy route, simplifying things. And, hey, I'm all about simplicity! Life is way too complicated as it is, no use making anything more complicated than it has to be. However, when it comes to baking, cutting corners is a bad idea. If a recipe says to add and beat eggs one an at a time, do it one at a time. I know, it takes a whole two minutes longer. Must save those minutes, right? Wrong! In baking, it really does make a difference. Pinky swear. Now, let me just say that I am almost the complete opposite when it comes to cooking. Experiment, change things up, do things differently, whatever! But when it comes to baking, just follow the recipe instructions.

Number two: margarine cannot always be used as a substitute for butter. I am a total advocate of saving money and I totally get that margarine is so much more affordable than butter. And I'll be totally honest and admit that I use margarine in place of butter almost any time I make cookies. But I also almost always use real butter in cupcakes and frosting recipes. It truly does make a huge difference.

Number three: mixing sugars and fats {i.e. - sugar and butter or sugar and oil} needs to be done thoroughly. While you're beating the two together, if you mix it long enough {sometimes it only needs a minute or less, but longer than just enough to mix them basically together}, you'll notice that the color starts to change. That's a good thing and it's what you want. I don't know the science behind it, but it creates wonderful things in your oven. Not all recipes need this much mixing, but every time I've done it this way, I end up with a better product.

That's enough "secrets" for today. Let's get on to these cupcakes, shall we? These cupcakes are so good. Seriously, I had about five different people ask me for the recipe within a couple days. I made two batches of these cupcakes within four days. They are just that good.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Recipe from Crazy About Cupcakes, page 53

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium sized tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped small

Preheat the oven to 350. Insert liners into a cupcake pan.
In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer) beat together the brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed. I usually mix it for at least a minute, or longer if it needs to be mixed more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. I always sift in my first cup of flour and then add the baking powder and salt to the second cup to sift with the flour.
Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. I add about a 1/4 or 1/3 of the dry mixture at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat until well blended (don't forget to scrape your bowl!). Stir in the apples.
Fill the cupcake liners one-half to three-quarters full with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan {I've tried cooling my cupcakes in an airtight container before to preserve the moistness, but I generally find that cooling them in the pan works just as well}.

To assemble Caramel Apple Cupcakes:
Once all your cupcakes have cooled, poke three holes in the tops of each cupcake using the handle of a serving spoon {it's best if your handle is nice and round so you get good holes}. Make up a double batch of Caramel Sauce {or do like I did and make one batch for pouring over the cupcakes and then another for drizzling - whatever your preference}. Pour the caramel sauce over each cupcake, being sure to fill up the holes really well. Once you've filled up each cupcake, go back and pour caramel sauce over them again. Did I mention that this isn't a cupcake for sissies? 'Cuz it really ain't. Yes, pouring caramel sauce over cupcakes twice might seem awful indulgent. But it is oh, so good! And somewhat necessary, that first round gets soaked up pretty quick. The second round gives it a nice soaking and really gives the cupcake that caramel flavor.
Now make up some Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting. Pipe it onto your cupcakes. Don't be stingy, now. Pipe it on nice and high {my husband keeps telling me that cupcakes don't need that much frosting. But come on! They look so awesome!}. If you'd like a little tutorial about piping frosting, check out Your Homebased Mom. She has a nice video tutorial with some good tips about cupcakes. Then spoon the remaining Caramel Sauce over the top of the cupcakes {I prefer to put the sauce into a squeeze bottle and drizzle it over with the small nozzle - this really gives me control of how my cupcakes look}. And lookie there - you've just made yourself a gourmet cupcake! Enjoy!

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

This is the next recipe that came from Crazy About Cupcakes. The ginger in this frosting gives it a subtle, enticing flavor that really pulls you in. It is delicate and sweet and the perfect combo with Caramel Sauce and the cupcakes recipe above!

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Crazy About Cupcakes, page 86

1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger

In a medium bowl cream together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, usually about 1 minute.
Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and continue beating. Mix until all lumps are gone and it starts to be slightly stiff* {please see note below}. Add the vanilla and ginger and mix until fully integrated.

*Note: this will not be buttercream stiff. It will be slightly stiff in that it will begin to hold it's shape, but thanks to the cream cheese, if it gets very warm it will be melty. This frosting doesn't need any more sugar than I listed above. If you don't really care about piping your frosting {but I'm telling you, it's so much faster and more fun than spreading with a knife}, you can even use about 1/2 cup less. You only need all the sugar if you want it to hold it's shape enough to pipe. 

Caramel Sauce

This recipe comes from a book called "Crazy About Cupcakes" by Krystina Castella. I really love this book. My wonderful cousin {hi, Tierra!} gave it to me several months ago when she read my bucket list and saw that I had a desire to learn how to make gourmet cupcakes. Anyway, this caramel sauce goes with one of the cupcake recipes I made recently. It is truly delicious sauce and I would totally just eat it with a spoon!

Caramel Topping
Recipe adapted slightly from Crazy About Cupcakes, page 95

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick)  butter {you can use unsalted but I like the taste of salted better
1/4 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan over medium heat bring the brown sugar, butter, and cream to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer (just above low on my gas stove) and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir in the vanilla.


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