Candy Corn Pudding Cups

>> Friday, October 29, 2010

I think this will be my last Halloween inspired goodie of twenty-ten. *sniff* I do love Halloween so much. However, every moment of Autumn is awesome, my favorite season of all. This morning I decided to whip up one last surprise for the kiddos before the onslaught of CANDY!

I stood on the pudding aisle earlier this week and thought of all the layered Jello candy corn inspired treats I've seen. Why not pudding? French Vanilla has a yellow hue.  And Butterscotch is in the orange family. I knew there was a tub of cool whip waiting at home already.


Candy Corn Brownies

>> Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The candy corn must be gone by the end of October. I thought baking some of them in brownies would be a festive and yummy thing to do. The kids were obviously in full support of this plan. I did regular candy corn on top of mini brownie muffins and caramel candy corn on top of a pan of brownies. While I do have several brownie recipes from scratch, these were from a box. But not just any box, Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix.  Love this brownie mix! If you've never tried it you need to change that. It's so tasty on its own but if you have Heath toffee bits, you should throw a handful in the brownie batter for a truly mouth altering experience. But I digress; this is about candy corn!


Tony Stark and Abby Sciuto Halloween Fun

>> Monday, October 25, 2010

This weekend we had some early Halloween fun. My man and I had double Halloween parties on Saturday night and Sunday we took the kiddos to Boo at the Zoo. For the Halloween parties my husband thought it'd be fun to go as Iron Man. Since he's grown his hair out and sports a goatee I thought Tony Stark would be better. Plus I'd seen this instructable earlier in the year on how to make an inexpensive arc reactor and I'd been wanting to make it.

 One strand of battery powered LED lights and a 3" styrofoam disc. Total cost: $7.27

I cut the disc in half so it could be as thin as possible, then poked small holes where I wanted the lights to go.


Creating Catwoman's Necklace

>> Thursday, October 21, 2010

Princess Fierce has changed her mind about wearing Darth Fairy costume I made her again on Halloween. Apparently she really only wanted it for the Dragon*Con parade, or at least until she found a pair of knee high faux black leather boots at Target. She bought the boots with her birthday money choosing the footwear over aisles and aisles of toys. And the same afternoon looked at me and said, "I want to be CATWOMAN for Halloween and wear my boots!"

I considered the more recent catwoman incarnation but really determined that's not fitting for a five year old. We're going old school, Julie Newmar style catwoman. I've got the boots, the black pants, the black shirt, the black ears but I need the gold belt and most importantly the gold necklace to pull this off.

I couldn't find a lion button or charm so I cut the head off a toy lion.


Painting Pumpkins

As I mentioned before, I do not like to carve pumpkins. I only did a carved jack-o-lantern and expensive trip to a "pumpkin patch" one year with all our kiddos. I was disappointed the pumpkins weren't on a vine in this so-called patch but instead we were carried by tractor pulled hay ride across a field to yet another field where pumpkins were scattered about. The kids enjoyed the day, our wallets did not. And the resulting carved pumpkin became a stinky, rotting mess on the front step.

The one and only year in a large Pumpkin Patch, October 2007

The next year I switched gears and instead of spending too much on one day in a crowded field with strangers to buy one expensive large pumpkin, we visited our friends that run a pumpkin patch in front of their church and let each kid pick out their own pumpkin to PAINT.

The first painted pumpkins, October 2008

My goblins with their creations year two of painted pumpkins in 2009

This year the kids started asking very early in October when we would be going to visit our friends' pumpkin patch to buy the pumpkins. And I suppose by year three I can call this a tradition, right?


Snakes on a Plain White Carpet!

>> Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Last night started normal enough, for our household. My man grabbed the best thrift store find from last week, a full size Optimus Prime helmet with voice changer for only 99¢, and ushered the kids to bed.

Then a few hours later while my man and I were enjoying NCIS and a glass of red wine we heard a scream, followed by our 7yo son running downstairs yelling,




Candy Corn Bark

>> Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I had the unoriginal idea to make candy corn bark. Seems from a quick search on the Internet this is done often when the love it or hate it October candy is aplenty. Nonetheless I gave it a go from my own pantry.

I had a couple bags of white Wilton candy melts, a bag of candy corn, some festive orange and black sprinkles and a bag of Halloween colored Oreos.


Painted Glass Pumpkin Luminaries

>> Monday, October 18, 2010

I do not like to carve pumpkins. The one year I did it with the kids it was not a pretty result, the face or the following ant invasion and rot. Eww. Ever since that fateful Halloween, I've been taking the kids to a local pumpkin patch to pick out their own pumpkins to bring home and paint. I adore the way the decorated pumpkins adorn my front porch, but I miss the flickering glow of a jack-a-lantern. Now I miss it no more. Several weeks ago I came across this great project on Crafts by Amanda for Halloween Painted Jar Luminaries. Go look at them; they're awesome. 

That same week I found a bevy of floral glass vases for one dollar each at a local thrift store. When I saw their shape I thought they'd make great pumpkins.


Eyeball Necklace

>> Friday, October 15, 2010

When I saw this bouncy ball spider necklace in my facebook feed earlier this week, I was reminded I had extra bouncy eyeballs from my eyeball wreath project. I also happened to have a pair of white girl's tights in my craft stash to make a spider sac decoration.

I grabbed the tights. I only need one leg for the spider sac.

No problem then to cut off a leg for this project too.

Drop a bouncy ball eye in the leg and knot on each side. Repeat.

Tie ends together and hand over to Princess Fierce. She loves it! 

I think it would be better done with less opaque tights. Also I would definitely need to use ladies' hose for an adult necklace; this is just long enough for my little girl. I still have more balls, perhaps the adult version will follow.


Boys Tee to Girls Dress

>> Thursday, October 14, 2010

My two oldest are boys, boys with shirts I love. My youngest is my only girl, a girl with a funky fashion sense. I like to get the most out of all the clothes I buy my kids and low and behold I've discovered how to make some of those boy clothes go all the way down the line to my daughter and in a way her inner fashion diva loves. All it requires is taking the best tees the boys have outgrown, finding a yard or so of coordinating fabric and adding a skirt. The boys' best tees become her spunky play dresses.

My oldest in the Dark Side of the Garden shirt two and a half years ago.
It all started with this Darth Vader topiary shirt. I found this amazing, super soft Threadless Tee several years ago at a consignment sale for $2. My oldest son loved it. Then it was passed down to my middle son. But one fateful day he decided to see if scissors would cut cotton. His query resulted in a small nick along the bottom hem. I was sad to see this shirt go before its time.  So I decided it didn't have to go yet. My daughter liked Star Wars...I could do something with this.


Soup's On: Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup

>> Monday, October 11, 2010

I created this soup on a whim. I'd read about a pumpkin soup that used peanut butter last week. Peanut butter? My curiosity was piqued. However, the recipe was in Polish and it involved apples, not something I wanted in my soup. I thought maybe I could make my own pumpkin soup with peanut butter, no apples. So when I was standing in the produce section of my market a few days later, surrounded by fall's bounty, an idea clicked. I would roast the vegetables then add peanut butter! And I didn't want just pumpkin since I'm not a huge fan; I wanted other veggies. 


Kids Artwork Into Useful Presents

Turn art into permanent storage containers! This is something I made September a year ago for my dad's birthday but worth sharing with Christmas right around the corner. I know, I know, it's not even Halloween but trust me the gift giving holidays will be upon us before we know it. December is like a ninja and just takes me by surprise every year. Fortunately, even if you do get taken by surprise, this present can be done in just a few hours. 

First you need to find a large glass jar. I bought the large 2.5 gallon jar above at The Container Store. But just this past weekend I saw large glass jars with glass lids at The Goodwill. Yard sales are also great places to find these jars. I've also thought this project would work well for hanging art. Use an old frame with glass or buy a new one to match your decor, add coordinating fabric or scrapbooking paper to the frame's back board to finish the effect. Second you'll need glass paint and conditioner. I bought Delta's CeramDecor Perm Enamel. This glass paint air dries and requires no baking. Apply the surface conditioner to your clean glass, allow to dry then you're ready to paint which brings us to the last thing you'll need. 

Your kid's artwork. This gift was for my dad. He loves pretzels and always kept a huge plastic jug of them on his desk at work. This was to replace that. I asked the kids to draw a picture of their PawPaw. I asked them to only use one color so it would be easier for me to transfer. I cut out their art, used the copier to adjust the size, and taped each drawing to the inside of my glass jar. Finally, I traced over each illustration with the special black glass paint. If your children are older I see no reason they can't do the paint tracing on their own. 


Halloween Eyeball Wreath

>> Sunday, October 10, 2010

I couldn't sleep last night so I got busy making the Halloween eyeball wreath I've been imagining.

I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to do it so I gathered a bunch of supplies from my craft stash. The wreath form and black ribbon were a dollar each from the Dollar Tree, the black glitter leaves and flowers are from Michael's and cost a dollar too, the black tulle is leftover from another project and the eyeballs are bouncy balls and a big bag cost only $4 at Target. I wanted to wrap the wreath in black grosgrain ribbon but it turns out I needed two spools to cover the form. So I changed course and wrapped it in the black tulle.


Baking Martha's Marble Cake with White Chocolate Glaze

>> Friday, October 8, 2010

Another baked good off the list from efforts to bake every recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Number 6 out of 173 was not a random pick from a friend but a custom order. My dad had me bring the book over so he could choose his recipe; he picked two. He wanted Marble Cake with White Chocolate Glaze for his birthday cake and come Christmas I'll be making him Baking Soda Biscuits.

But first came the marble cake and my previously mentioned frustration with the Baking Handbook. A hard to find ingredient not being called out as such. The culprit? Dutch-processed cocoa. This is my third recipe from Martha's book involving cocoa powder. All three specified Dutch-processed cocoa. I used natural unsweetened cocoa in both the One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and the icing on the Black and White Cookies. For my dad, I decided to see if I could track down the correct cocoa. I could not find it at Kroger, Publix or Ingles. I did track down a box at Whole Foods...for TEN DOLLARS. Yep, this cocoa costs twice as much as natural baking cocoa. 
Not all Dutch-processed cocoas will say such on their label. The ingredients always tell the tale. Natural will only list cocoa. Dutch-process will list cocoa and either say Dutch processed, like above, or simply alkali. That's what your looking for: alkali.


A Death Star Birthday

>> Wednesday, October 6, 2010

 We celebrated my middle moppet turning seven this weekend with the feast and cake of his own choosing. I spent the weekend making it happen creating my first ever stacked cake with a Death Star on top along with a buffet of baby back ribs, collard greens, corn, fried okra, mac and cheese, and lima beans. With a BBQ sauce mustache above his gorgeous grin he hugged me and told me it was a beautiful day. Happy Birthday, little man!

Making the Death Star come to life.


I Like Candy, Part Two: Darth Vader

>> Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In my previous post I mentioned the start of my new found curiosity for making candies and chocolates. It was all a lead up to this entry. I needed a reason to make a solid Darth Vader mask out of black chocolate. And I found it. My friend's fortieth birthday. He's a Star Wars fan; he'd appreciate it. I was very excited. I had plans to make Vader from a mix of milk chocolate and Bailey's Irish Cream. I was melting my large amount of chocolate over a double boiler fashioned from a large bowl when my bowl tipped, steam slipped inside the lip of the bowl, and my chocolate seized. I blogged about that mistake and the resulting yummy truffles here. What I didn't mention in the blog entry was in addition to the truffles, before I froze the chocolate seizure, I scooped out more and pressed the Bailey's-chocolate into my Han Solo in Carbonite candy mold

All his features didn't turn out perfect since the chocolate wasn't pourable and therefore unable to reach the small voids. However, after a toss in cocoa I thought he was decent enough to take pictures of with toys. And eat. I mean, come on, he's made of milk chocolate and Baileys. I think a dip in a hot cup of coffee would be the perfect way to release Han. 


I Like Candy, Part One: A Hunger Born

I was going to post about my chocolate creation this past weekend but thought I should do a first post to explain how this whole candy thing started. I've been baking and decorating shaped cakes for years for family and friends. Never for money or request. That makes me nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs since I'm self-taught, my only lessons being watching my mom decorate cakes when I was growing up in the eighties. Fast forward to this past February when my super fab next door neighbor asked if I'd bake a cake for her son's fourth birthday party. She said she'd pay. Oh my. I told her I'd do it for just the cost of ingredients and still felt trepidation. The theme was Lego; the design left to me. 

Originally I thought I'd do a giant Lego brick cake. Have you seen them? Basically a sheet cake with cupcakes on top all iced a solid color. Effective but I thought maybe I could do better. I did have a silicone cake mold of a Lego Man I had purchased at Lego Land. Maybe I could use that. I did a test bake in the mold and realized it would not work with cake. Cute as a brownie. But with added buttercream icing, because I do not, will not do fondant, the details would be lost. 

Then an idea occurred to me. CANDY! I'd always seen the bag of Wilton Candy Melts on the cake aisle at Michael's. Maybe I could make a candy man from the mold. And I did. And it was easy. And it was awesome! Then I made candy Lego bricks from a Lego ice cube mold. 

The cake was a big hit. And a candy love was born.


Chocolate Seizure

>> Saturday, October 2, 2010

I've started experimenting with candy molds and candy making. This weekend is a friend's 40th birthday and I thought he'd appreciate a large chocolate Darth Vader mask. Since I make a tasty Bailey's Irish Cream-Chocolate Mousse, I thought I could make Vader have that same Bailey's flavor. However, the large quantity of chocolate I was trying to melt with the alcohol over a makeshift double boiler did not want to cooperate. My bowl tilted over my pot of boiling water, steam came inside and the chocolate seized. Ugh. I was not happy.

The chocolate looked ugly, and definitely could not be poured into a mold. But it was SO yummy. I rolled up a few balls of the difficult chocolate and let them harden in the freezer. Then I rolled them in a little cocoa to make a Bailey's-Chocolate Truffle. I froze the rest of the chocolate and soon I'll make more small truffles. I'm thinking I need to bake them inside a cupcake like I did the buckeyes last month. Can you imagine them dropped in to the middle of a mocha cupcake with a homemade Bailey's buttercream frosting? *drools* I'll keep you posted when I make those babies, for sure. 


Soup's On: Taco Soup

>> Friday, October 1, 2010

This is the essential soup in my household. I make a large pot every week to keep in the fridge. It's a tasty, filling, low calorie, high fiber meal. It's portable to be taken on picnics and hikes. It's even good cold. I've served this to satisfied friends when they've come over for lunch; my middle child asks for it along with a veggie burger almost daily. When we go on playdates and pack lunches, Thing Two does not want a sandwich; he want's this soup. And it's super simple and fast to make from pantry items. The recipe has been modified from a version of Taco Soup my Weight Watchers leader gave me several years ago. One cup of soup has approximately 100 calories, less than 1 gram of fat and 6 grams of fiber. If you're a Weight Watcher member like myself, that's only 1 point per cup.

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