8 super simple Halloween snacks

Sausage Mummies

What you need:
Your favorite fully cooked sausage links (we used turkey kielbasa)

  • Crescent roll dough
  • Small sugar eyeballs
  • Pizza cutter
  • Baking sheet

What you do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crescent dough and use pizza cutter to cut lengthwise into long strips. Wrap strips of dough irregularly around each of your sausages, starting at the top and making your way to the bottom, leaving a tiny bit of space in between at least one rotation so you can tuck the eyeballs in later. Each link may require more than one strip of dough. If so, squeeze the ends together to connect dough. Place mummies a few inches apart on a baking sheet in the oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove, let cool and tuck two sugar eyeballs in between an open area of dough before serving.

Find 7 other easy Halloween snack ideas at Austin Mom’s Blog.

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For Earth Day, Sky Jello is where it’s at.

sky jello

In honor of Mother Earth, we made “Sky Jello” with The Little Boys Club this weekend. Some of you stopped reading at Jello because you’re not down with dye (or gelatin, for that matter.) But you can totally make your own homemade version if that’s your thing. Same goes for the whipped topping. Knock yourself out. Total respect. But if you’re doing this on the fly like me (and plan to make up for it with a healthy meal later) you only need three ingredients:

  • Berry Blue Jello
  • Cool Whip (thawed)
  • Rainbow gummy strips (We used Airheads Xtremes I found at the Dollar Tree.)

Grab a clear glass. We used some stemless wine glasses, but plastic works just as well. Same goes for those goblets you only use at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Start off by making the Jello according to package instructions and once it’s set, use a fork to scrape the Jello apart until it’s all broken up into beautiful, bright blue chunks.

Have your Littles drop a few big spoonfuls of Jello into their glass. Then, with a clean spoon, press a couple dollops of Cool Whip into the sides of your glass so they resemble a couple of floaty clouds. Lastly, grab one of those rainbow gummy strips (or two if you fancy a double rainbow) and create a little arc from one side of the glass to the other using the Cool Whip to hold it in place at both ends like glue.

That’s all, folks. Perfect way to celebrate Earth or any ‘ole sunny day.

Cherry chocolate chip cupcakes

cupcakes with frosting

We celebrated Mr. Wonderful’s birthday over the weekend, so naturally I wanted to whip up something special to put a candle in. And since that man loves a good chocolate-cherry combo, I knew these cupcakes from One Sweet Mess would be perfect.

Since it’s January, I fully expected to use frozen cherries with this recipe, but lo and behold, our local market had fresh ones right up front. Yes, I realize it’s not cherry season. I didn’t ask questions. Hold your fire.

I like to start by separating wet and dry ingredients because I’m Type A like that. Just go with it. Here’s what you need:

Wet ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    (I almost left this out because I didn’t have any. Don’t do that! It really makes that cherry flavor pop.)

Dry ingredients: 

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (about 16) pitted cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Buttercream:

  • 1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Paste from 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, line a 12-cup muffin tin with cute, bow tie cupcake liners that your husband won’t notice, but you’ll be pleased with yourself, so do it anyway.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until combined – followed by the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and almond extract. I actually pulled out my hand mixer for this part of the job because my whisk makes life harder than it should be.

Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Again, the hand mixer worked beautifully here. About 30 seconds to a minute on low should take care of it. Use a rubber spatula to fold in a heaping, half-cup of chopped cherries followed by an equally generous amount of mini chocolate chips. Mix gently.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way full. (An ice cream or cookie scoop makes it easy to transfer the batter.) Then, pop these in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. My gas oven took the full 25, but if you’re not sure, do the toothpick test at 20. Once done, allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for a couple minutes before transferring elsewhere to cool completely.

Now, for the vanilla buttercream:  

If you’ve got a stand mixer, I applaud you. This frosting is perfect for it. I, however, do not, so my hand mixer was happy to oblige once again.

Cream that butter until light and fluffy.  This only took me about 30 seconds on low. Gradually add the powdered sugar to the bowl, stopping the mixer if necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl with your rubber spatula. Once all the sugar has been added, turn the speed up and beat it all together for a full minute.

Now add every bit of the lovely dark paste from that vanilla bean to your mixture. It won’t look like much, but it goes a long way. Drizzle in the heavy cream and whip it good one last time. Again, for about a minute.

Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag – or frost your cupcakes with a butter knife. Whatever creams your cake. Finally, give it a lil swirly and top with a fresh cherry.

Makes about 15 small cupcakes.

Easy gingersnap cookies

gingersnaps
Friendsgiving celebrations usually call for a potluck. And when you’re the one who gets assigned the dessert, you don’t mess around. That’s why I pulled together a small batch of these ginger zingers to serve with my husband’s ridiculously good pumpkin ice cream for a recent shindig with friends.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups  flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 7 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Combine your flour, ginger, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Then, in a larger bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, butter, and brown sugar and beat with a mixer at low speed until well blended. Add the honey, vanilla, and egg to your sugar mixture and continue to beat. Now you’re gonna add that initial flour mixture, beating it all together. It will be granular, but well blended. Cover your dough with some plastic warp and freeze for at least half an hour.

Pour your remaining 1/4 cup of sugar onto a small plate and set aside. Lightly coat your hands in cooking spray and go ahead and shape that dough into 1-inch balls. You should end up with about 24-30 gumball-sized balls of dough. Then you’ll roll each ball around in your plate of sugar and place each one a few inches inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake these babies at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool, serve and enjoy with ice cream. If you’re into that.

Pumpkin ice cream

pumpkin ice cream

Pumpkin’s everywhere this time of year, so naturally I’ve been making it a point to squeeze a little more of the gourd into my recipe rotation. Last month, it was a little pumpkin banana bread (holy yum), and most recently, some slightly less satisfying pumpkin oatmeal muffins. Note to self: More honey.

Last weekend, while I was eating my way through New York City with a few gal pals, my husband was back home experimenting with our ice cream maker. After previous batches of peach, chocolate chip and vanilla were a rousing success with the wife and kids, he settled on pumpkin this time – which I was obviously more than happy to sample upon my return.

Delicious hardly describes it, you guys. This ice cream is so wonderfully rich and satisfying, you must not keep it to yourself. Please make this for your next Friendsgiving. Make it for your work potluck. Netflix and chill with it. Just eat it as soon as possible.

Here’s how it goes down.

First up, you need vanilla ice cream. This is the base. You can substitute homemade for the store bought variety, of course, but when my husband commits to something, he’s all in, so here’s the 411 on his homemade vanilla first.

Vanilla Ice Cream Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1  cup white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups evaporated milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½  cup water

Beat eggs in large bowl until foamy. Whisk in sugar until thickened. Gradually whisk in salt, milks, vanilla and water. Pour into freezer canister of ice cream maker. Place aluminum canister in center of bucket and layer the bucket with ice and salt. The motor does the rest. (If you’re going low-tech, here are 6 ways to make ice cream without a machine.) This makes about ½ gallon.

Now, while your vanilla’s goin’ about its business, go ahead and prep that pumpkin while whistling along to that Tom Waits classic. You know the one. (This is what I pictured Mr. Wonderful doing when he made it.)

Pumpkin Ice Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ gallon vanilla ice cream, softened

In a separate bowl, combine the canned pumpkin, sugar and spices. Mix until well blended and then fold into vanilla ice cream. Serve topped with pumpkin seeds, if you so desire. Makes about 1 gallon of self-gratification.

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

muffins

I recently came across these good morning muffins on The Lemon Bowl, a blog written by a recipe developer with a focus on seasonality. And with berries in full seasonal swing, baking seemed like good timing.

Not to mention, I recently acquired a silicone muffin pan as a wedding gift and figured I could christen it with these babies. Less clean-up? Sign me up.

This recipe is my slightly adapted version of The Lemon Bowl’s strawberry oatmeal yogurt muffins. Not a bad little breakfast, y’all. Especially when you un-healthy them with just a little pat o’ butter.ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain low fat yogurt (I used Greek vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil – slightly cooled (I used olive, not pictured)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, quartered

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray your muffin pan with cooking spray. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, egg, oil and vanilla. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Next, fold your strawberries into the batter. Using a spoon or ice-cream scoop, divide the batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

So berry good.

Cajun shrimp and sausage stew

stew

I won’t call it gumbo ‘cause I’m no Cajun, but “stew” seemed sufficient for my limited expertise with this French fricassée. I whipped this one up in honor of Fat Tuesday ‘cause I believe real Tuesdays have curves. Serve her highness over rice if you’re into that. I let my stew go stag.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2  cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup thinly sliced smoked sausage (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon or about two cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 cup okra (I used frozen cuts)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 1/2 pound of peeled and deveined small shrimp
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red beans, rinsed and drained

Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Sauté bell pepper, onion, celery, okra, sausage and garlic for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and canned tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in shrimp and beans. Sprinkle in seasoning. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until shrimp are done. Salt to taste.