Monday, October 31, 2011

Candy, Candy, Candy

Imagine all of these buckets filled with candy. . .
Too hard?  Let me give you a glimpse:
Isn't that so sweet that someone gave us toothpaste?  We'll definitely be using it.

Now think of all the things that you could do with this candy (besides just letting your kids eat it right away).  I know some people like to trade their kids for their candy and then send the candy to the school, for little "rewards" that the teachers hand out.  That's very noble, but I always have big plans for the candy in those buckets.  Depending on the year, and the number of times we go "trick-or-treating," we can usually get a pretty good haul.  I'll dump this bucket out so you can see:
Our city does trick-or-treating, our neighborhood does a separate trick-or-treating just for the kids that live here and at church, typically there has been a "trunk-or-treat" activity for the kids, and we usually stop by my husband's work at the end of the working day and visit all the offices and get more treats.  We don't let our kids eat any candy until Mommy and Daddy have checked it.  My kids are pretty good about asking if they can eat their candy or not.  They usually get a few pieces right away, but then, when they are sleeping, I lock my bedroom door and dump out all the loot.  Anything that is definitely "Halloween", goes right back into their buckets.  Then I make piles and pull out candy that is great for gingerbread houses--M&Ms, Smarties, Skittles, hard candies--
--sometimes my kids do this when they get their candy back.  Sometimes I do it for them.  When they pick the candy to save for their gingerbread houses it can get kind of interesting--like candy corn and eyeballs ending up in their stash.

Then I make piles of candy for each person in our family for Christmas.  These candies I put into zip-top bags and hide and save them for Christmas stockings.  This way everyone gets a fun variety of candy and I usually only have to buy candy canes and maybe a chocolate Santa per kid at Christmas.

If they have lots of candy, I've been able to pull out candy for Valentine's Day (I like to go by colors (red, silver and pink candies for Valentine's);

St. Patrick's Day (green and gold candy)
 and even a little bit for Easter (pastel or primary colors work great here).
They don't need a lot of candy for these holidays.  Just a little bit to make the day seem special, and to supplement the traditional conversation hearts and sugar cookies, gold coins and shamrocks and jelly beans and Easter eggs that they also get on these holidays.  I bag up the candy in zip-top bags, label it and put it in an undisclosed location.

Don't worry.  My kids get plenty of candy for Halloween.  And the stuff they don't want, my seminary students will gladly take for scripture mastery rewards.  This may seem a bit tricky.  But it definitely is sweet.

Quick and Easy Halloween Food

Do you need something quick and easy to feed all your little fairies, ghosts, and goblins before they head out on this night of fright? Sloppy Jacks are easy and fun to make for dinner. 

Sloppy Jacks
Favorite Sloppy Joe mixture
Pre-sliced cheese

Simply cut out pumpkin shapes on the cheese slices with a pumpkin cookie cutter.  Then, using a sharp knife, cut out fun faces.  Place cheese on top of your sloppy joes.  Now you have sloppy jacks.  Very cute and fun.

 A quick and easy fun treat to share with family and friends:
Witch Hats
Fudge Striped Cookies
Chocolate Kisses
Chocolate Frosting
a knife or decorator bag to "glue" the kisses to the hats
 A cute helper is always a plus.

 A headless knife wielder is good to have around too.

Just put a dab of frosting in the center of the cookies.  Unwrap the kisses and have the aforementioned helper stick them in place.  Makes 32 hats, or however many cookies are in your package. 
These hats will surely delight on this night of fright.  ~Lena

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Booo to Yoooouuuu!

Here is a scary treat that will make even your littlest ghost grin:

Frozen Banana Ghosts
 Bananas (cut in half)
Craft Sticks
White Almond Bark or White Chocolate Chips, melted
Mini Chocolate Chips (for the faces)

Place the craft sticks in each banana half.  Dip in the melted white chocolate, covering the banana.  Place on a lined baking sheet.  Add ghostly faces.  Freeze until the chocolate is set or until the bananas are frozen.  Whichever you prefer is fine. 
Whooooo will want to eat these spooooky treats?

They will vanish before your very eyes.
Boo!  ~Lena

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Broomstick Breadsticks

Do you realize you can make whatever fun shape you want with bread dough?  I loved this idea for breadsticks:

Cut your favorite breadstick dough into strips, twist it around for a crazy broom handle, worthy of any old witch and flatten and cut the broom bristles.  Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and garlic powder, if desired.    Serve alongside a yummy soup, like Cheesy Cauliflower Soup.  ~Lena


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Curried Pumpkin OR Spiderweb Soup

Every year, one of our favorite things is Spiderweb Soup.  Here is the recipe for mine:

1 Large Onion, diced
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. Curry
2 Small Cans Pumpkin 
1 Quart Chicken Broth
2 Cans Evaporated Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute onion in melted butter in saucepan.  When onions are tender and translucent, add curry and mix well.  Add in rest of ingredients.  Puree in blender, return to pan and heat through--do not boil.  This gives the soup a smooth even texture, with the yummy flavor of onions.

Now, this is a great soup all fall and winter long.  To make it extra spooky for October, put some sourcream in a small sandwich bag, cut a hole in one corner, and squirt circles of sour cream in the soup.

Take a toothpick and starting from the center pull out making it look like a spiderweb.  Add a plastic spider ring and a biscuit cut out like a ghost and you have a yummy, spooky meal!

Happy Haunting!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


It was love at first sight when I saw these Jack-o-Lantern Jars.  Independent of each other, my sister Lois and I made this craft.  I hope she shares some pics of hers.  Anyway, after my kids saw what I was up to, they each got in on the act and made one too.  It was a family affair once my husband got in on it and helped us create our faces.

Materials needed:
Jars (spaghetti, pickle, relish, canning jars all work great)
Tissue paper or crepe paper
Black paper or vinyl for the faces
Decoupage glue or All-Purpose Glue mixed to a paintable consistency with some water
Paint brush

Simply paint the jar with glue and cover with tissue paper.  You can use the whole piece, squares or strips, depending on what look you want.  I had some orange crepe paper that I used for the pumpkin jars and it was actually easier to use than the tissue paper, because it wasn't as delicate.  Add faces with black vinyl or paper.  Cover with another coat of decoupage.  When it is completely dry add Christmas lights, or candles for a fun glow.  My mom gave us a package of fake battery operated candles to use in our jars.  Thanks Mom!


Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Me---l----t---i-n-g---!

For our treat tonight for Family Home Evening we made Melting Witch Pudding Cups.  This is another fun recipe from Pillsbury.
Right off the bat I knew I would modify this recipe a bit.  The original calls for chocolate pudding and vanilla pudding colored green.  We chose to use pistachio pudding.  Why add an extra step with food coloring when you can buy a pudding that is already green?  We also changed the hats.  P. wanted us to use Bugles dipped in chocolate and chocolate sandwich cookies for the witch hats.  We had chocolate kisses and fudge striped cookies leftover from last week when we made Deborah's witches hats, so we used those.  The brooms were made with pretzels and Chinese noodles (I can't wait to use the rest of these Chinese noodles in Hawaiian Haystacks).  The faces were mini chocolate chips (I set a few aside from when I made pumpkin pancakes and muffins this weekend) and the legs were gummy worms, cut in half.  My ten year old son mixed up the pudding and assembled all our melted witches (with a little help from mom).  Next time I'll have to serve these after we watch The Wizard of Oz.  

Melted Witches
1 sm box chocolate pudding
2 cups milk
Mix with the milk according to package directions.
1 sm box pistachio pudding
2 cups milk
Mix with milk according to pkg directions (use a separate bowl from the chocolate)
Spoon chocolate, then pistachio pudding into each cup.  Swirl with a knife or craft stick.

Accessorize each witch with the following:
Witch Hat: 1 Hershey Kiss, 1/2 Fudge Striped Cookie
Witch Legs: 1 gummy worm cut in half to form 2 legs
Witch Face: 3 mini chocolate chips for eyes and mouth
Witch Broom: 1 pretzel stick handle, a few Chinese noodles for broom bristles

Easily Serves 12 if small cups are used (the size of store-bought individual fruit cups--which is actually what I used).  We served 10 and had some pudding leftover.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Spider Web Pizza

Pillsbury has a recipe for Spooky Spiderweb Pizza.  I thought it looked fun, so I gave it a try.  True to myself, I couldn't just stick to the recipe that was given and had to throw in my own little twists.  For starters, I made a sourdough pizza dough and used part wheat flour.

 The recipe then has you put the toppings on backwards (at least from how I normally put them on).  Start with cheese, then pepperoni, or sausage, peppers and onions.  Whatever you like.
 Add the sauce.  I like to use Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce. 
 Then make a spiral with Alfredo Sauce.  I made a white sauce, and added some good shakes of Parmesan to it.  It was very tasty sauce. 
 Run a knife or tooth pick across the sauce to give it a web effect.  It probably would look better with lines drawn on with more Alfredo sauce. 

Add a spider made from a whole olive and olive slices that are cut in half for the legs.  Add eyes with more sauce if you wish.  Bake and eat. 
It tasted good.  I still prefer the cheese to be on top of my pizza. It has more flavor that way.  All in all, a fun dish to try.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Paper

I love going to other people's houses and seeing all of the different things they've done to decorate and make their house into home.  This is especially fun during holiday times.  It's cool when I've seen my friends put a seasonal touch in their bathrooms, either with fun soap or with a cute decoration.  A couple of my friends have cute "pumpkins" on their toilets.  It was so easy and cute, I had to follow suit.    

Toilet paper
Orange fabric (approx. 11" x 20")--whatever type of fabric you prefer.  It's cute with a pattern on it too.
Paper bag (for the stem)
Extra fabric/ribbon/leaves--whatever you want to dress it up a bit. 

 Simply wrap the fabric around the toilet paper and tuck it in at the ends.

Fold the paper bag in half and roll it up tightly for the stem.  Push it into the hole on one end.  (This also helps the fabric stay in place).

 Add ribbon or fabric, to your pumpkin for a vine.  Cut a leaf from fabric or use a fake one.  Tie on to stem.
Place your roll of pumpkin paper on the toilet.  So easy, so fun. Make one for each bathroom and add some fall flair to your home.  ~Lena

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jack-o-Lantern Milkshakes

I love this idea from Pillsbury
Take melted chocolate (we used milk chocolate chips) and use a butter knife to draw faces on the inside of clear glasses.  You can let the chocolate faces harden in the fridge or freezer, or just pour in your milkshake and it will harden the faces right away as well.  So fun.  Pillsbury used a different recipe for their milkshake, but we liked our own.

 We made two types of milkshakes. 
Orange Dream Milkshake
We blended equal parts:
Orange Sherbet
Vanilla Ice Cream
Then add a little milk to facilitate blending.  Blend and enjoy.

Pumpkin Milkshake
1 cup butternut squash or pumpkin (cooked and mashed)
1 sm box vanilla pudding
1 can evaporated milk
1 tray ice cubes
1/2-1 cup water
cinnamon-to taste
Blend together and enjoy.  You may have to pulse it a bit until the ice cubes start breaking up.  We love this milkshake!  Squash and pumpkin are so good for you and your kids.  I consider they've had some veggies and milk when they've had this milkshake with a meal.  ;) ~Lena

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fun Fall Mix

For General Conference I made a Fun Fall Mix, similar to one my friend makes for fall gatherings.

Fun Fall Mix
1 batch caramel corn
1 box chex-type cereal
1 container roasted peanuts
1 bag M&Ms
1 bag candy corn
Mix together and enjoy! 
I made a double batch of caramel corn, then added the rest of the ingredients as listed, but it made way more than I thought it would, which isn't a bad thing, it just lasted the whole week!~Lena

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fruit Ripening

I am a teacher's assistant for a 3 hour Food Science lab at BYU. It is a great class and I love teaching it. This week we talked about fruit and vegetable processing. One part of the lab we talked about fruit ripening. Here is an interesting hint on fruit ripening:

Climacteric Fruit: Ripens/Countinues to ripen after it is picked. Picking doesn't stop the ripening process. Examples of these are apples, avocados, bananas, peaches, and tomatoes. So make sure you pick all of your tomatoes before there is a frost and let them ripen on your counter.

Nonclimacteric Fruit: Doesn't ripen further once picked. Must be ripened on the vine. Examples of these are strawberries, cherries, citrus, grapes, and melons. These type of fruits will hold up better during transport since they stop ripening once picked.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Flap Jack-o-Lanterns

 In October I have to make pumpkin pancakes at least once.  We like to call them Flap Jack-o-Lanterns and make faces using chocolate chips before we flip them over.  We had a few candy melts that we used too.

 I like to use my ice cream scoop to ladle the batter onto the hot skillet.  My pancakes are more uniform this way.  I also use this scoop when I make muffins.  It works really well.

This recipe is actually a muffin recipe, but it works equally well for pancakes.  I like to use mostly whole wheat flour when I make pancakes.  Feel free to use more or less (or none at all) of the wheat flour.  Just replace it one for one with white.  I got this recipe from here.  I swapped the wheat and white flour amounts.
Flap Jack-o-Lanterns adapted from
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used regular)
Whisk everything (except chocolate chips) together until moist.  Pour pancakes onto a hot griddle (I set mine to 350 degrees).  Add chocolate chip faces.  Cook until the edges start to firm up.  Flip.  Serve as is or with butter and syrup. 

 The kids started helping and were more creative than Mommy.  They were also more liberal with the chocolate chips. ;) 
My husband made a really yummy cinnamon syrup from the book Where's Mom Now That I Need Her?  His mom actually gave him the book when he left for college.  I definitely want to give this book to my kids when they leave home.  It's a great resource on just about anything in the home.
Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup evaporated milk  
Combine corn syrup, sugar, water and cinnamon; bring to a boil,stirring constantly.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Stir in milk.  (Make sure you allow syrup to cool for 5 min., or milk will curdle.)  Serve warm. 

This pancake is supposed to represent Charlie Brown's Halloween costume.  Do you remember it?