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October 17, 2017

Easy Halloween Treat Inspiration | Homemade & Store-Bought Ideas


Since Emma is now in kindergarten, we've entered the world of store-bought treats vs. homemade.  I don't love the idea, but I know that we can still come up with something fun and creative.  In preparation for her class party and our annual party at our house, I've put together some of my favorite ideas (more below). 

This S'Mores Kit is an easy classic that is all over Pinterest.  I think this is the direction we're heading for Emma's class since she loves marshmallows.

These are self-explanatory, but for the sake of a supplies list :


Marshmallows

Chocolate Bars

Graham Crackers

Small or Medium Cello Bags
Ribbon

Halloween Tag


I have two Halloween Tags this year - the Trick or Treat Silhouettes, and the Jack-O-Lantern.  Both 10 for $4.



We made these quesadillas a couple of years ago when Emma was in Pre-School - the perfect solution for a not too sweet treat for littles.  You're welcome, teachers.


Another idea I love (this one is more for neighbors or group of teachers... unless you want to give a classmate an entire box of donuts!) is a box of donuts.  You can buy or make, but as we all know, the packaging makes the gift.

Large Window Kraft Box (also available in smaller size)




Treat Bags are a fun way to make something look charming.  You can decorate them with markers or stickers to add a personal look.  Kraft & Glassine Treat Bags >


I love this jack-o-lantern balloon look!  I'm definitely going to do this for our party.  (via Martha Stewart)



These Oreo Brownies were featured in Martha Stewart Living this month and I went crazy for them.  We love brownies AND Oreos around here, and I think these are just so darn cute.  Another must for our party.  I might consider making them as individual servings in my Small Tart Pans.

Monster Mash Brownies via Martha Stewart



Speaking of Oreos.  I LOVE these.  You could do Oreos or we used to make PB Crackers Sandwiches with Ritz and dip them with my Granny.

Pumpkin Oreos



Here's another idea for my Small Tart Pans - Individual Jack-O-Lantern Tarts.  These are pumpkin pie, but you could also make them savory (like a chicken pot pie or chili) or with chocolate pudding.

Jack-O-Lantern Mini Tarts


Aren't these a scream?  They might be just the thing to give everyone a laugh this year : )

October 16, 2017

This Week's Menu | Finally Fall Recipe Weather

This week marks the first real week of Fall weather for us.  Finally!  Here is what is on our menu, to celebrate : )









And my weekly batch of soup going in the freezer for lunches/dinner :

Chicken Noodle : )

Browse all of my Fall Recipes, here >


October 12, 2017

Spooky Bat Sugar Cookies | Halloween Sugar Cookies + Decorating Tips Video


These cookies may look difficult to make, but they are really simple.  You just need to follow the steps - starting with the body, covering it with sprinkles, and then making the wings and eyes.  It is really as simple as outlining and filling in.  The sprinkles add great texture on the body - giving the cookies one more element to make them look special, but actually make them really easy to decorate.

You can buy the Bat Cookie Cutter here .  I have had them made in Copper, so they are something you can keep and use year after year as a tradition.

I've included a video tutorial that shows the decorating, step-by-step... complete with spooky sound effects that Emma help me pick out.



I used my favorite sugar cookie dough - here is the recipe for the cookies and the royal icing.  I recommend making them ahead of time, then refrigerating them before you bake - it helps them hold their shape.

I've added some fun and simple Halloween packaging to my store - you can see the photos at the bottom of this post.
 

Emma is really getting into making sugar cookies.  She loves picking out the cutters.


And singing.


And eating the dough.


Love those lashes.  She loves all jewelry, but mostly her "canny" necklace.



Sprinkling the "snow" - by the way, I have know idea how she remembers snow! 

Now the baking is done - time to decorate (aka, nap time). 



You'll need :
-Royal Icing
-Black Sprinkles
-Black Food Coloring
-2 Pastry Bags
-Scissors
-Parchment Paper Sheets (used for the baking)


Put a small amount of the white royal icing in a pastry bag.  Cut off a tiny bit of the tip - you'll use this for the eyes.


Use the remaining royal icing to make the dark grey.  Dark icing colors darken as they sit - so mix a little lighter than you'd like it to be.


Put it into a second pastry bag and cut a small part of the tip off.


Everything is ready to go!






Here is a video tutorial on how to decorate them.  If you can outline and fill in you're half way there.  How do you like those spooky sound effects?  Nerdy, I know, but that is what Halloween is all about - right?!


Step 1 is to do the body - then cover the still wet icing with black sprinkles. 



Step 2 : Make the wings with the same black/grey icing.


Step 3 : Do eyes with white icing, then black/grey dots.


 Done - really simple, but they look great.


I love anything that looks like it was a lot of work - but really wasn't.


I packaged them in medium cellophane bags (20 for $7) tied with natural cotton ribbon and a "Trick or Treat" tag (20 for $6).


Definitely a treat.

Stay tuned for more Spooky Halloween Cookie tutorials.

For more Halloween Cookie Cutters and Treat Packaging ideas, visit the Halloween section in my store.

Here is the pin strip :

October 11, 2017

Pretty Chicken Pot Pie | Easy Weeknight Dinner



The biggest change at home we've experienced since Emma has started Kindergarten is that she was so exhausted when she got home that she wasn't interested in helping with dinner.  For the first couple of weeks, I was okay with it - she needed quiet downtime just playing (or watching a show...).  However, our time in the kitchen together is my favorite time, so I've been thinking of more ways to get her excited about cooking again.

I know when you are 5 that new friends, learning to read, soccer, ballet, etc. all of a sudden seems much cooler and more important than helping your Mom, but I wanted to be careful that we didn't lose this special time we spend together.  So, we've been doing more fun things in the kitchen like adding mini leaf cut-outs (using the new Mini Leaf Cutters, $8 for 6 in my store) to our Chicken Pie Pies, and we've also been working on decorating cakes.  These activities have lit a new fire for her and she is eager to join me in the kitchen again.


This is my basic Chicken Pot Pie recipe, only dressed up with some cut outs on the top : ). For some shortcuts, buy a rotisserie chicken, use frozen carrots and store bought pie dough - I do these all of the time and it is just as delicious.   Our entire family loves this dinner.  I make a double batch and one goes in the freezer for an easy dinner after soccer : )



The Mini Leaf Cutters are new to my Harvest Collection and will make so many things cute this fall : )



Chicken Pot Pie
(makes 1 pie, I usually double the recipe)

2 chicken breasts, split with bone and skin on
4 carrots, 1-inch dice
8 small red potatoes, 1-inch dice
2 tbs of olive oil
1 tsp of sea salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
4 tbs of butter
4 tbs of flour
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of half-and-half
1 cup of frozen peas
....
Pie Crust Ingredients needed (for making 2 tops) : 
18 tablespoons cold butter (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons)
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons sugar 
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water


I made the filling, while Emma worked on the pie crust.

For the filling :

Step 1 : Roast the Chicken & Vegetables

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Start by placing the chicken breasts on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then salt & pepper.  On another sheet pan, place the carrots and potatoes and also drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss to coat.  Roast them in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  The cooking time may vary depending on thickness of the chicken breast.


Step 2 : Make the Cream Sauce

In a saucepan, melt butter on medium-low heat stir in flour, whisking until smooth.  Let the flour and butter cook for about 1 minute.  Whisk in chicken stock and continue to whisk over low heat until smooth.

Add in the half-and-half.  Whisk until smooth.  Cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until thick and bubbly - whisk constantly, or at lease every minute to keep it from burning on the bottom.  When it is thick, turn off the heat.


Step 3 : Combine

When the vegetables and chicken have finished roasting, let them cool for 3-5 minutes.  Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and chop it up into 1-inch cubes.  Add the chicken, carrots and potatoes into the cream sauce.  Add the peas.  Pour the mixture into a pie plate or other oven proof dish.




The pie crust is made in the food processor and comes together so quickly.  Pie Crust Recipe, here >

Store Bought Dough works really great, too, especially or the cutouts.  It seems to be more sturdy.





Roll the cut out dough onto a rolling pin, being careful not letting it stretch too much and lose its shape.


 

Brush them with beaten egg to give them a really pretty shine, then bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until golden and bubbly.

 

Here are other ways I've used the Mini Leaf Cutters :


Pecan Tart with Maple Leaf border >


I have so many ideas for these : ). Hope this makes it on your list for the week!

 Mini Leaf Cutters, $8




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