owl cupcakes

Owl cupcakesThese owls were so much fun to make and easy enough for little helpers. Here’s what you need:

  • Brownie mix (we used puree apricots in the place of egg and filled the cups ¾ full)
  • Oreo cookies
  • M&Ms (replace with Skittles for egg and dairy free)
  • Cashews
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  • Cream cheese icing

While your brownie cupcakes are cooling, tint your cream cheese icing orange and divide your Oreo cookies (we removed the white filling, but you could leave it). Next, ice each cupcake, apply your cookies face up, sprinkle the top of the cupcake with chocolate sprinkles to resemble feathers and add the cashew as the hooked nose. Finally, using a toothpick, place a small amount of icing on the back of the M&Ms and apply as the owls eyes.

(Tip: Oreos tend to get soggy when not kept in airtight containers. Plan to ice and decorate within an hour or two of serving.)

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Bundt cake a la pumpkin

Pumpkin Bunt CakeKeeping with our theme from last week, there are lots of fun baking ideas for the fall season. This is a wonderful idea and really very easy. This cake is simply two cakes cooked in the traditional bunt cake pan. Bake according to the box directions and allow both cakes to cook completely. Once cool, turn one cake upside down on your cake plate and ice the bottom of the cake with caramel icing (almost one container for the full effect). Next, place the second cake on top. The icing will bulge out a little. If necessary scrape off any excess. Now melt (microwave for 15 to 20 seconds) the remaining icing (three to four tbsp) and pour it over the top of the cake allowing it to drip down the edges. For the finishing touches, insert a ice cream cone, upside down, in the top of your cake for the pumpkins stem and dress the outside of the cake plate with faux fall leaves. The cake is very tasty and a great centerpiece for any fall gathering. Enjoy!

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acorn cake

acorn-cake

This season isn’t all about Halloween; there are beautiful fall colors and shapes we can celebrate too. I came across this acorn cake from Bright Ideas and just had to share it. It’s actually pretty easy. The recipe makes two cakes and each serves about eight people. Here’s what you need:

  • Snickers and Twix fun size candy bars (1 bag KID’S FAVORITE MIX FUN SIZE® 48 count Variety Bag)
  • 1 can (16 oz.) chocolate frosting
  • 2 (18.5 oz.) boxes Devil’s Food Cake mix
  • 1 (16 oz.) can vanilla or cream cheese frosting
  • brown food coloring (or green and red to make brown)
  • 1 1/2 quart oven safe glass bowl
  • 1 (9″x13″) cake pan
  • wax paper

steps:

  1. Prepare both cake mixes according to the box directions and divide the batter between a buttered oven safe glass bowl and a buttered and waxed paper lined oblong cake pan.
  2. Bake both cakes in a preheated 350-degree oven for approximately 40 to 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans for 10 minutes, then remove them and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.
  3. Cut both cakes in half using a serrated knife and using the photo as guide, cut the flat cake into the bottom portion of the acorn. Use the half moon shaped cake as acorn top. Push the half moon shape cake against the straight edge of flat cake to form the acorn.
  4. Tint the frosting beige with several drops of brown food coloring and apply a thin crumb coat to the bottom of the acorn. Let it dry for a 5-10 minutes and then apply a generous coat with a cake spatula (or butter knife) pulling the icing to you in straight lines.
  5. Cover the acorn tops with chocolate frosting, arrange Snickers Bars around the acorn using a Twix Bar for the stem and place M&Ms as seen in the photo.

Enjoy fall!

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pumpkin crispy treats

Pumpkin Crispy Treats

You’ll likely notice that I use a lot of crispy cereal to make goodies (e.g., Pirate Pops). Since my youngest son has severe food allergies, they have proven to be a fun way to include him in all the fun party treats and the guests don’t even realize (or care) that the treats are egg and dairy free. I’ve outlined the easy steps on how to make these fun goodies for your Halloween bash.

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witch brooms

witch broomsThis was my second experiment of the weekend and it also turned out well. It’s really simple and once again can be made egg and dairy free for the little ones with food allergies simply by using dairy free chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • Pretzels, small sticks (Tip: Look at your local brands, you want the thinnest pretzel stick you can find so that the chocolate holds it together easily)
  • Melting chocolate (I used Wilton’s orange candy mold chocolate; it melts easily with no clumps)
  • Decorating sugars

Tools:

  • Wax paper
  • Tie wrap
  • Resealable bag

Steps:

  • Taking 10 pretzels, tap them flat so that they are all the same length and then place a tie wrap about a 1/3 of the way down (I left one on in the picture for reference)
  • With your hand, gently turn the bottom of the pretzels to give them a fan effect so that they will stand on their own
  • Place about 4-5 chocolate blocks in a resealable bag. Heat it in the microwave for no more than 15 seconds at a time, massaging between, until you have a smooth chocolate to work with
  • Snip the corner, no more than a 1/8 inch, of your bag and pipe a dollop on the top of the pretzels. Allow it to set for a moment and then apply one pretzel stick as the handle. You may need to pipe a little extra chocolate on top so that the bottom of the stem is covered
  • Hold the handle with your finger for about 10 seconds and then it should stand on its own while it dries (Tip: You want your chocolate warm, but not hot, when you apply the handle, otherwise you’ll have to hold it much longer.)
  • Embellish with sprinkles immediately before the chocolate hardens
  • After the broom has been allowed to dry for at least 15 to 20 minutes, you can pick it up, remove the tie wrap and pipe on an icing band as decoration

Tip: Store your brooms in an air tight container if you’re not serving them immediately, otherwise your pretzels will get stale.

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caramel apples

caramel appleOne of my favorite fall treats is the caramel apple. I used to buy the sheets of caramel from the grocery store… okay, I still do sometimes, but mostly I melt down my own so that I can decorate the apples with chocolate, nuts and even crushed candy bars. These are dipped in caramel and then rolled in Butterfinger candy bars and finally topped off with drizzled chocolate. As many treats as I make, I can’t eat them all, so I often package them up and give them away. These are best in clear cello bags with a nice ribbon.

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crispy pirate pops

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My oldest is celebrating his fourth birthday this week and we’re hosting a swashbuckling pirate party. I thought I would share a few of the baking ideas I’ve got cooking.

The first is a crispy pirate pop. These will not only be in the goody baskets we’re giving to his buddies, we’re also taking them to his preschool class on Friday. Here are the ingredients, a tools list and simple steps on how to make them for your matey!

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bug-a-licious cookies

Bug cookiesWhen I was a little girl, my uncle would bring me M&Ms all the time, and they are still my weakness today. So when I was scouting for bug cookie ideas, these made my mouth water. I only wish I had known about them before my youngest son’s first birthday party. Yes, it was all the buzz… with bumble bees and butterflies.

Here’s how to make these cool cookies from brightideas.com for your next party.

Image: brightideas.com 

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princess pops

Princess PopsPlaying around in the kitchen this weekend we made princess pops: Oreos dipped in pink chocolate, embellished with a crown outline and packaged in clear cello bags with pink ribbon. These could be a great treat for goody bags or add a name tag and use as your placecard. Here’s how you can make some for your princess.

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flooding cookies

So sorry… yesterday just got away from me. On top of the norm, I hosted my book club last night; they are great group of ladies. Anyway, here are the tips I promised:

Icing

First of all, you have to have the right type of icing: royal icing. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s just one pound of confectioner’s sugar, five tablespoons of meringue powder (can be found at William’s Sonoma or another similar bake shop), a half cup of water (or less) and gel-paste food coloring (again, William’s Sonoma has a great set). You’ll need to mix the icing until it’s fluffy, yet dense, about seven to eight minutes. Then you’ll need to use the icing immediately or transfer it to an airtight container.

Coloring

Separate your icing into the number of colors you need for your project. Then color your icing one drop of gel at a time. It’s a lot stronger than you might think. Once all the icing is the colors you need, separate them again so that you can thin one half for flooding. With your second set, thin each color with one teaspoon of water at a time. Often, one teaspoon is all it takes depending on how many times you’ve separated your icing. Now you have thick and thin versions of all the colors you need.

Tools

Trim one corner of a Ziploc bag and insert a #3 icing tip with a connector. Repeat this process for each of your colors (thin and thick). Then spoon each into a bag. (I always mark the thin bags so I don’t accidentally ruin a cookie by trying to trim it with the thin icing.)

Flooding

Now that your icing is prepped, take a cooled sugar cookie and pipe an outline around the shape. Allow it to set for 10 to 15 seconds and then you can flood the cookie with the thinner version of the color. While the flooded color is still wet, you can add a different thinned color to make polka dots or other designs. Allow the flooded colors to set for several minutes before adding any additional piping or layers to your design.

I hope these few tips are helpful in making your own fun creations.

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