Tag Archives: seasonal

Brains… Fingers… and Guts! Oh My!

8 Oct

Brains… Fingers… and Guts!  Oh My!

While the title may lead you to believe this is a Halloween post, it is actually in celebration of the Season 4 premier of The Walking Dead this Sunday!! Although, feel free to use these ideas however you wish.  In our house, we’re not so much into Halloween, but are hopeless addicted to this drama on AMC.  And while I have claimed over and over “It’s not about the zombies; they are just the backdrop of the story,”  I couldn’t resist having a little fun with food for our viewing party. The results are these two simple zombie snacks.

You will need: Candy Melts

  • Popped popcorn
  • Candy Melts (I used red, pink, brown, and white)
  • Pretzel rods
  • Shortening

The “brains” are just popcorn covered in red and pink candy melts.  Melt the candy in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring each time.  Once fully melted, add a tablespoon of shortening to the candy melts to help the candy spread more easily.  If I could do it over, I would use more pink than red.

Candy Melts

The “fingers” are pretzel rods dipped in candy melts (brown, pink, and white) with an almond slice fingernail.   Pictured here is the mix of colors I used, but feel free to adjust the colors to achieve whatever skin tone you desire.  Melt the candy in 30 second increments in the microwave until melted and smooth, stirring between each 30 seconds.  And again, add a tablespoon of shortening to thin the candy a bit.  After dipping each rod,while the candy is still soft, place an almond slice at the end of the rod.  Later, once the candy has hardened, use a toothpick to scratch knuckle lines into the fingers.  I was thrilled (and a bit grossed out) at how realistic they turned out!

Pretzel Fingers - FamilyKitchenBlog.com

Brains and Fingers - familykitchenblog.com

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

24 Sep

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

It is officially fall now and here in the midwest you can really feel a change in the air!  And with the onset of fall, what could be more appropriate than baking with pumpkin?  I choose a familiar recipe- The Great Pumpkin Cookie, but with a little twist.

The Great Pumpkin Cookie

Instead of topping the cookies with icing, I sandwiched it in the middle of two cookies.  Love, love, loved the result!  I’m already wanting to make more.  I might even try a gluten free version so I don’t have guilt eating them in front of my husband!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

P.S. Here is the icing recipe.  Surprisingly, it is regular buttercream and not cream cheese icing, but it works SO WELL with the pumpkin flavor!

Celebrating Easter

26 Mar

Celebrating Easter

I’ve spent some time searching for ideas of how to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with kids and been a bit disappointed with what I’ve found, or rather, not found.  There is always the classic resurrection roll, but I wanted to add a little more than that this year.

Finally, one day I had some inspiration as Empty Tomb Obstacle CourseI was pulling into my garage and saw my son’s empty sandbox.  The idea struck me that I could use the sandbox as an empty tomb!  I had already considered putting together an obstacle course in our basement for our Easter party, but now we had a goal to race towards!  How fun for the kids to pretend they are disciples racing to see if what they had heard was true!

I also found this food craft at CatholicIcing.com, which I am happy to pass on to you!  It is very simple, I’m guessing kids as young as three or four years old could do it themselves.  My only regret is that is not a healthy snack for your kids.  Next year, I promise to improve in that area!

Empty Tomb Snacks

  • Chocolate covered doughnuts
  • Graham crackers squares
  • Oreo cookies (or Mini Oreos, depending on the size of your doughnuts)
  • Green Icing

Start the assembly by cutting off the bottom of the doughnut to make a flat surface.  Next, spread icing on graham cracker square to be the grass.  Place doughnut on the icing, then place the Oreo cookie to the side of the doughnut to look like the stone that was rolled away.  All that’s left is for the kids to consume this sweet reminder of the Easter story!

Empty Tomb Snack

 

Coconut Cloud Peepers

23 Mar

Coconut Cloud Peepers

While the weather outside my door is still very wintery, Easter is just around the corner!

Easter is one of those holidays that I struggle with how to balance the true meaning of the holiday- Christ’s resurrection- with pop culture’s version of bunnies, eggs, etc.  So I have two food crafts to share- one for each.  Today is obviously the pop culture one; next week I’ll have an empty tomb one!

I got this super cute idea from Momsmenu.com, but used my own recipe.  Her recipe calls for a lemon cake mix. Instead, I used my own Coconut Cloud recipe which is basically the same recipe but with a yellow cake mix instead of lemon.  Really, you can do whichever flavor floats your boat!

Coconut Cloud Peepers
makes 18 Peepers or 36 plain cloud cookies

  • 3 Cups Flaked Coconut, divided
  • 1 Package Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1/4 Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Yellow Smooth and Melty Petite Mints

Place 2 cups of coconut in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat together cake mix, egg, oil, water, and almond extract in large bowl.  Stir in 1 cup coconut.

To create peepers, drop 1/2 inch (head) and 1 1/4 inch (body) balls into the reserved coconut, roll to cover lightly.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet with head and bodies about 1/4 apart from each other and 2 inches apart from the next peeper.

Bake at 325° for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.  Immediately after removing from oven, place chocolate chip eyes and mint nose.  Then place on racks or wax paper to cool.  Be gentle, as the peepers lose their heads easily!

Coconut Peepers- FamilyKtichenBlog.com

IMG_5973

 

 

Sugar Cookie Simplicity

16 Feb

IMG_5884

Of course, I realize that Valentine’s Day has past, but I want to take the opportunity to share a classic tried and true recipe.

Traditionally, most people think of making and decorating sugar cookies at Christmas time.  But personally, I prefer other times of year. Christmas cookies are complicated!  You need so many colors and different shapes.  I feel so much less expectation when it’s not Christmas.  For Valentine’s day, all you need are hearts, maybe an x and an o if you’re feeling ambitious. Or for St. Patrick’s day, a shamrock cutter and green icing and you’re good to go!

Sugar Cookies

  • 6 ½ cups Flour, Sifted
  • 2 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 ½ cups Butter, Softened
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Almond extract

First of all, get your flour sifted.  This is a great job for preschoolers that really want to help in the kitchen!  Add baking powder and salt.  Beat together butter, sugar, eggs, and almond extract.  Add flour mixture in two to four increments, mixing between each. Preheat oven to 350°.

Sugar Cookie Dough- FamilyKitchenBlog.com

When batter is ready, clear a large space on your counter top.  Sprinkle with a good layer of flour.  With clean hands, form about half the dough into a large ball.  Take care to not “over work” the dough. In other words, don’t knead any more than necessary!

IMG_5874

Use a rolling pin to spread the dough until it is about 1/4″ thick.  Cut out cookies in whatever shape you desire.  Place on cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes.  Be sure to set a timer, as it is easy to lose track of time while cutting out the next batch of cookies!  When you run out of space to cut more cookies, re-form the leftover dough into a new ball.  You could add in fresh dough if you want a larger cutting area.  Sprinkle fresh flour on counter top before rolling it out. Repeat this process until all dough is cut into shapes!

Allow cookies to cool on cooling rack or wax paper before decorating.  Follow this link to my buttercream icing recipe!

IMG_5879

Valentine Snack Mix

6 Feb

IMG_5846

Just in case you’re not aware, Valentine’s Day is exactly eight days away!  In honor of the holiday, today I’m sharing a snack that would be fun to send your kids (or spouse) in their lunch.  Or to snack on while watching a romantic movie???

Valentine Snack Mix
from chex.com

  • 9 Cups Chex® Rice or Corn cereal (I used 6 cups rice chex and 3 cups chocolate chex – yum!)
  • 1 Cup White baking chips
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Red, Pink, and White M&M’s
  • 1/4 Cup Red or Pink Jimmy Sprinkles (I found heart shaped sprinkles!)

Measure cereal into a large mixing bowl.  Melt baking chips, peanut butter, and butter together.  Pour over cereal and stir until cereal is evenly coated.

Spoon into gallon size zippered bag and coat with powered sugar by shaking ingredients together (A great task for little hands).  Stir in candy and sprinkles.

If mixture is warm, spread out on wax paper to cool.  Once cool, pack into snack size bags for your loved ones to enjoy!

 

Valentine Snack Mix

 

 

Christmas Poke Cake

9 Jan

Christmas Poke Cake

Alright, the votes are in and the fondue dinner won!  Thanks to all who voted!!!  Today is the hubby’s birthday, but he has to hold out for one more night to enjoy cooking his own his birthday dinner due to scheduling issues.

As a result of the voting, some questions came up from a few who aren’t familiar with Chicken Bryan and it’s amazingness (can you guess which one I voted for?!).  AND, I just found out today that our local Carrabba’s (where Chicken Bryan is served) has closed.  What a sad day!  So in light of these events, I promise that I will have this recipe on the blog next week so we can keep on (or begin) enjoying Chicken (and Filet) Bryan at home!

Now on to the all important issue of birthday dessert…

Basically, this is the winter counterpart to the Pumpkin Better Than Cake I made this fall.  This version is full of chocolate- chocolate cake, crushed oreos, and hot fudge sauce- and accented with peppermint!  I made this cake for my family’s Christmas Day dinner and it was devoured quickly!  I made a gluten free version of this for the birthday boy by substituting a GF cake mix and GF oreos .  The poor guy had to sit by and watch us enjoy on Christmas Day, so I figured he more than deserved a chance to enjoy it himself!

Christmas Poke Cake

Here’s the gist of it.  You bake a chocolate cake.  Poke holes in it.  Pour sweetened condensed milk and peppermint creamer to fill holes.  Layer hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, crushed oreos, and crushed peppermints on top.  It’s pretty much sinful!  Here are the details:

Christmas Poke Cake
from SomethingSwanky.com

  • 1 chocolate cake mix, prepared and baked according to the directions on the box
  • 1 cup peppermint dairy creamer
  • 14.5 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 jar Smuckers hot fudge  sauce
  • 1/4 cup peppermint dairy creamer
  • 1 cup crushed Oreos
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • Peppermints or Candy canes, crushed (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • Crushed Oreos for topping (approximately 1 cup)

Once the cake has cooled, use the bottom of a wooden spoon to poke approximately 20 holes in the cake.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup of the peppermint dairy creamer. Pour over the cake, trying to fill in the holes.

In the same bowl, whisk together the hot fudge sauce and 1/4 cup peppermint dairy creamer. Mix in 1 cup crushed Oreos.  Pour and spread the fudge mixture over the cake as evenly as possible.

Spread the cool whip over the fudge. Sprinkle on the candy and crushed Oreos (as much or as little as you want).

Refrigerate for 4-6 hours (or overnight), until the sweetened condensed mixture has soaked into the cake and it’s thoroughly chilled.  Then it’s ready to enjoy!

Christmas Poke Cake

Christmas Crack

6 Dec

IMG_5732

Okay, the real name for this recipe is Terribly Terrific Toffee.  But someone on Pinterest labeled it “Christmas Crack” and I find it a much more appropriate name!  Here’s why: first of all, it is terribly addicting!; second,  it’s made from “crack”ers- haha; third you “crack” it into pieces for the final product.  This sweet delight was a huge hit with the company I served it to!  It just may become a holiday tradition in my household…

An added plus in my book was that it was super simple to substitute GF ingredients!

Christmas Crack
from asoutherngrace.blogspot.com

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers (I also made a batch with Glutino GF table crackers!)

Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 15×10-inch jelly roll pan or a 12×17-inch cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil.

Melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly.

Bake for 5-10 minutes- until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer.

Let cool and, if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate until hardened.  I tried to be fancy and drizzle it with some extra white chocolate I had leftover, but that is completely optional!  Once completely cooled, break (crack!) into pieces.  I roughly followed the size of the crackers, but any shape or size will do!

Pumpkin Better Than… Cake

4 Nov

Pumpkin Better Than… Cake- FamilyKitchenBlog.com

I realize that Halloween has passed, but it’s still fall, so I’m still posting pumpkin recipes!  I’m a sucker for trying new recipes, especially when they are introduced with such pretty pictures on Pinterest.  And this one tastes even better than it looks (as the name implies- haha!)!  This rich, moist treat is best enjoyed after refrigerating overnight, making it an excellent dessert choice when you’re cooking dinner to company and don’t have time to bake dessert at the same time!

Pumpkin Better Than… Cake
from SomethingSwanky.com

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small can pumpkin puree (15oz)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 – 8 ounce tub cool whip
  • 1/2 bag Heath Bits
  • Caramel Sauce (I used butterscotch sauce)

Mix together the cake mix and the pumpkin puree (DO NOT add the other ingredients on the cake mix box).  Pour batter into a well greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 350º  for as long as directed for a 9×13 cake on the cake mix box.

Let cool for about 10 minutes after baking. Using the bottom of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake (this post has great step by step photos for this part).  Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake, filling the holes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Spread the cool whip over top of cake. Sprinkle on the heath bits, and drizzle caramel over top (just to your liking). Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight for best results.

Pretzel Pumpkin Patch

29 Oct

Pretzel Pumpkin Patch

Okay, so this recipe doesn’t actually have any pumpkin flavor, but they sure are a cute and easy fall food activity for kids!  Or for any age- I made these with my son and my grandmother.  I think the pictures speak for themselves, so I’ll jump right to the directions.  My thanks to Jessica at butterwithasideofbread.com for the idea.

  • 1 Bag Orange Candy Melts (available at crafts stores such as Michaels or JoAnns)
  • 1/2 bag (approx) Pretzels- regular shape, not pretzel sticks
  • Green M&M’s  (You’ll need to purchase one Large (19.2oz) bag of M&M’s to get enough green ones for this project)
  • Wax paper

First, have kids sort the green M&M’s from the other colors in the bag.  Next, melt the candy melts in microwave in a glass bowl, according to directions on bag.  If the melted candy seems too thick, you can add a teaspoon or two of shortening to thin it out.

Using a fork, dip pretzels one at a time into melted candy.  Fully coat pretzel before removing.  Tap on side of bowl to allow excess candy to drip off.  Place on wax paper and immediately place green M&M in the top crevice.  The candy will set fairly quickly (maybe an hour total) at room temperature, but you can refrigerate or freeze them to speed up the process.

Once the candy is hardened, gently break off any remaining excess candy around the pretzels.  Then place pumpkins on a platter to create your very own edible pumpkin patch!