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Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

Whopper Cookies: Baking with Halloween Candy When Halloween has come and gone, but the Halloween candy has not, what do you do with the leftovers? Do you force yourself to eat them up one by one or do you spare yourself the calories and take them to your spouse’s office? Do you refrigerate them for future use or do you send them off in college care packages? In the past, I’ve done all of the above, but for the last several years, I’ve used the leftover candy for something better. Selecting Halloween candies suitable for baking, I use them to create delicious sweet treats, such as cookies, bars, cakes, and pies. Whoppers, chocolate-covered malted milk balls, turn average cookies into sweet, crunchy, and malted surprises. Trick or treat?

Whopper Cookies
Adapted from recipe by Cast Sugar 

INGREDIENTS
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cup roughly chopped Whoppers

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and cover baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Stir in milk and vanilla, then gradually blend in the flour mixture. Do not over mix; stir only until no streaks of flour remain.
5. Carefully stir in the chopped Whoppers.
6. Drop 1-inch balls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned.
7. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used unsalted butter and the cookies were perfect.
2. Wanting to have “nice chunks” of Whoppers, I cut each one individually, rather than doing a messy rough-chop on them. This took a little longer, but I liked the end result.
3. I barely had enough Whoppers, so I added some rough-chopped Butterfingers to the mix. These were fantastic!
4. I got 45 cookies out of this recipe.

ENJOY!

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Entering the Creepy Room A white door at the top of the stairs rests slightly ajar and tempts a young woman to enter. The floor groans as she takes her first steps into the dusty room. As her eyes adjust to the dim light, she spies dark shapes lined up under the shuttered windows. Closer inspection reveals large bags leaning against one another for support. At the tops of the bags, scrawled in cursive handwriting, are the words: Torsos, Necks, Bottoms, and Arms. Red specks cover the carpet and a cutting blade lies nearby. It’s quite a messy scene. “Mom’s at it again,” the young woman sighs. Acknowledging her mother’s late night activities forces the woman to shiver and contemplate the approaching cold weather. As she slowly closes the door behind her, she says thoughtfully, “How nice. Mom’s making more t-shirt scarves for the homeless.”

#1 – Igniting a Strand of Firecrackers
T-shirts The power of one is like lighting the fuse on a strand of firecrackers. In September, I conceived an idea that would help both the homeless and planet Earth. In 100 Scarves: Making T-Shirt Scarves for the Homeless, I wrote about making scarves and tote bags from clean and gently used t-shirts. To help me reach my goal, I solicited t-shirt donations from friends and acquaintances. To date, I’ve made over 50 t-shirt scarves and 10 t-shirt tote bags and taken them to a local homeless shelter. When a dear friend of mine saw the scarves and bags she was inspired to help. Not only did she clean out her drawers and closets, she asked her friends to do the same. Very quickly word spread and soon friends of friends were donating t-shirts. Sitting in my dining room are close to 500 t-shirts and other pieces of clothing. Items such as jackets, vests, sweaters, and long-sleeved t-shirts will be donated to the shelter as is. People I don’t even know purchased brand new t-shirts to donate to my cause. Another friend gave me scarves she had knitted which reminded me of my own bag of knitted goods. All the scarves I’d knitted, but never given away as gifts were added to the pile. Once a strand of firecrackers ignites, each individual explosion affects the next one and the spark continues.

#2 – Monster Face Pizzas
Monster Face Pizzas Monsters are everywhere this time of the year. They can even be found hiding in our food! From Rhodes Bake-N-Serv Blog comes this monstrously easy idea. Think of how much fun kids would have creating their own Monster Face Pizzas at a Halloween party!

#3 – Art That Makes The Cut
Yulia-Brodskaya10-640x808 Using a technique called quilling, Moscow-born artist Yulia Brodskaya painstakingly cuts, curls, rolls, and glues paper to create her incredible three dimensional artwork, as seen on fubiz and on her website.

#4 – Creative Ideas
Chair and Bookshelf All In OneRecipes, design concepts, storage solutions, and re-purposing ideas can all be found in Simple Ideas That Are Borderline Genius. Some of them I’ve posted about in the past, but others are new to me. Who doesn’t appreciate a good idea?

#5 – The Power of One
“First with the head, then with the heart, you’ll be ahead from the start.”
Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

NOW GO AND SPREAD JOY!

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Fallen Oak With a lonely heave, a small oak tree fell across a pathway. People walked around the “nuisance,” refusing to break their stride. It was as if a fallen tree was an everyday impediment. No one paused long enough to admire its beauty, even in its sad state, or to show appreciation for the gifts it had bestowed upon the earth during its lifetime. No one mourned its loss–except for, perhaps, one. That one stooped down low and touched the tree. As her gaze followed her fingers, something caught her attention. A random broken twig, bound tightly to the tree by delicate lichens, resembled a cross.

#1 – Make a Difference
Make a Difference Day Making a difference in the lives of people and in the world should be an everyday happenstance, but sometimes people need a little push or added motivation to get involved. To that end, an official day has been declared. Make a Difference Day is on October 26th this year. To learn how to register a project or to find ways you can help, click on the link for more information. If you want to search for an organized project in your area click here and insert your zip code or city in the box. Large or small, your participation can make a whole world of difference.

#2 – Sit!
30 Places You'd Rather Be Sitting Right NowFor those of you who sit for many hours on the job, you’ll enjoy scrolling through 30 Places You’d Rather Be Sitting Right Now . I guarantee you that all of the seats offer more fun and excitement than your desk chair!

#3 – One Great Costume
 Operation Game Costume Remember the board game Operation in which participants would pretend to be surgeons and try to remove plastic “body parts” with a pair of tweezers? Well, a creative person figured out a way to make the Operation game into a costume. It’s clever, it’s fun, and it’s interactive!

#4 – There’s Pumpkin on Your Face
6 DIY Pumpkin Face Mask RecipesPacked with essential vitamins and minerals, pumpkins are good for your body inside and out. Along with your favorite edible pumpkin recipes, add these 6 DIY Pumpkin Face Mask Recipes to your collection of homemade beauty recipes.

#5 – Live Your Life
“Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.”
Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian Chief

GO NOW AND SPREAD JOY!

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Severed Finger Cookies

Long dirty fingernails punctuate irregularly-shaped fingers. An extreme paleness gives them a ghostly appearance, while thick red puddles form around their severed ends. Strewn across an old chopping block, the fingers suspiciously point to a nearby meat cleaver and to a handwritten note that says, “For Dessert.”

Severed Finger Cookies
Recipe from Rachel Ray Magazine

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Raspberry jam

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla, then mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Using your hands and working quickly, roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a finger shape. Place the fingers about 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Stick a sliced almond on one end of each for the fingernail. Use a table knife to make three crosswise knuckle marks in the middle of each cookie.

3. Bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, cook the jam over low heat until it reaches a saucy consistency. Once liquefied, remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl; dip the severed end of each cookie into the sauce.

Makes about 50 cookies

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I made the dough the night before, took it out the next morning, and let it sit on the counter for a little bit, until it was pliable enough to shape.

2. I covered my cookie sheet with parchment paper.

3. Sort through the sliced almonds before you begin and put “nail-worthy” ones in a small bowl. This will make the assembly of the “fingers” faster. Carefully press the sliced almonds onto the dough fingers. If you press too hard, you can break the almond slices. However, if you do not press them into the dough well enough, they fall off after the cookies are baked. A few almond slices fell off my cookies, but I just stuck them back on with a dab of jam. It created the look of “bloody cuticles.”

4. These are sturdy and not delicate cookies. They seemed a little dry to me, so the next time I make these, I will make the fingers a little smaller and adjust the baking time. Their texture makes them good cookies to dunk, though!

5. After 15 minutes in the oven, take a look at the cookies. The cookies won’t be golden at this point, but you do need to keep an eye on the thin almond slices. They can darken or burn quickly, so don’t set the timer for 25 minutes and walk away.

6. I used cherry jam instead of raspberry jam. I strained the jam for cherry chunks before heating it. I also microwaved the jam instead of putting it in a saucepan. It just seemed simpler to do that.

7. I put a wire rack over a piece of waxed paper. After dipping the severed ends of the cookies into the jam, I put them on the rack. Any sticky jam drops fell onto the waxed paper.

Enjoy these Halloween cookies!

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“What happened to your house?” the little boy said as he quietly stood at my front door. I eyed him with a puzzled look and replied, “What do you mean?” But just as soon as I said those words, it dawned on me – I knew exactly what he meant. I squatted down to his level and said apologetically, “I’m so sorry. My boys grew up.” This little boy, dressed up as a devil, had come trick-or-treating at my home with the anticipation of finding my traditionally scary-looking house, but instead he found only a few fake spider webs strewn across some bushes. As I closed the door behind him, I felt the weight of his question and thought about what had happened to my house.

Halloween was always a fun time around our home. “What should I be for Halloween, Mommy?” was a question I anticipated every October 15th. Costumes were either purchased at a store or made by me – sometimes in advance, but most often at the last minute. And selecting which treats to pass out was always a dilemma. Being a dental hygienist, I didn’t like to pass out sugary sweets, but every year I relented when my kids pleaded that it wasn’t cool to pass out toothbrushes or dental floss. Other Halloween memories involved delivering secret “BOO” treats to neighbors. We would do reconnaissance by driving around the neighborhood to see which family did not have a BOO sign on their front door and later when it was dark, we’d sneak off and place a bag of treats on the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then run like the dickens!

The most fun Halloween memories, though, are always centered around decorating the house. After my children were born, I started collecting little whimsical pieces of decorations, but as the children grew older they wanted to be more involved in the decorating. My sons, in particular, had their own ideas about how to transform our house for Halloween. With their help our Halloween decorations got more elaborate and progressively creepier. One year a skeleton hung from an oak tree in front of our house, but the next year bloody-looking, fake body parts joined it. Eventually, shrieks, screams, and bone-chilling music drifted out of a window and floated down the driveway. Playing the eerie music on our karaoke machine led to an unusual use of it – the boys discovered that by using the karaoke’s microphone, they could scream into it and scare unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. One son would man the microphone while the other peeked out the front window. If they knew the trick-or-treater’s name, they would personalize their ghostly greeting like this, “KYLE!!! . . . What are you doing heeeere? . . . I wouldn’t come any clooooser if I were yooouu . . . !” Add some swirling fog and orange-colored spotlights to the mix and our house evolved into one scary destination.

Then it happened. First one son went away to college and then the second one followed him. Although my daughter was still home, she was not into the gore of Halloween or into decorating the house. I enjoyed the “feminine” side of Halloween as my daughter grew up, but it just wasn’t the same without the boys’ antics.

Since the kids left, Halloween has always stirred up feelings of empty nesting in me; I miss my kids most around this time of the year. But with feelings of empty nesting come feelings of renewal and revival. I look forward now to going over to my son’s new home to see what gross and eerie scenes he’ll create with a bin of slightly used body parts and the old karaoke and fog machines of his youth! So to all the kids in his new neighborhood . . . BEWARE!

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Halloween is just a few weeks away, so it’s time to decorate in a big way with mini pumpkins. Mini pumpkins make adorable jack-o’-lanterns and, not to be discriminating, jill-o’-lanterns. Don’t let their petite size stifle your creativity.

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In lieu of carving, I use black paint pens and draw faces freehand directly onto the pumpkins. I find that paint pens work better than permanent markers, because they provide a deeper black.

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To decorate mini pumpkins, first wash off any surface grime and towel dry. Be sure pumpkins are thoroughly dry before decorating.

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Traditional jack-o’-lanterns have triangular eyes and noses and sawtooth mouths, because these shapes are easily cut with a knife, but with paint pens you can create squiggles and swirls for eyes and circles and ovals for noses and mouths.

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Feel free to copy the faces that I have painted or use any design you like in pumpkin cutting stencil books.

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The skies the limit as to how many different faces you can create on mini pumpkins. Raffia can be used as bows or hair for your jill-o’-lanterns. Curling or wired ribbon can also be used for special touches. I even have versions of Dracula (red cape underneath him) and Frankenstein. For dog lovers, I found a pumpkin with a long stem and used it as the dog’s tail.

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Last year, wanting to bring Fall cheer to my husband’s co-workers, I created these little personalities and put one on each person’s desk. There are no two faces alike in this group!

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Have fun creating petite pumpkins with personality!

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