Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last Minute Halloween Treats

I pretty much do everything last minute. So...everything I do has to be quick and easy. If you are like me and really don't have things planned out for this little holiday weekend we have coming up, or you just need another idea or two, here are a few things I have done in the past...

Halloween Chicago Mix - I'm a huge fan of the sweet and salty combo.


Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix

Halloween Muddy Buddies

Halloween Candy Bark

Soft Batch Double Fudge Brownie Cookies or you could add Halloween candy or chocolate chips to my favorite chocolate chip cookie base

Cereal treats with fun sprinkles and/or candy mixed in - these are Rolo Cereal Treats with Brownie Mix

Homemade Caramel Apples - a little more labor intensive, but the kids love to decorate them.

Exhibit A

And I made all this for my son's preschool Halloween party a couple of years ago (except for the pumpkin veggie tray). There isn't a link for them, but the are pretty self explanatory - the gift bags have tags made out of foam sheets (from the dollar store). I traced cookie cutters and cut them out. Upper right - Popcorn Hand: plastic glove filled with popcorn with candy corn at the finger tips, Below that are Lollipop Ghosts: Tootsie Pops wrapped in a white napkin, tied with ribbon and 'googly' eyes stuck on (they had adhesive backs, but could be glued as well; the 'witches hats' are fudge striped cookies (upside down) with Hershey Kisses on top (held on with melted chocolate) and decorated with green cookie icing, Pumpkin veggie tray - broccoli, carrots, cucumbers with dip for "eyes"; Cookie Spiders: Oreos with green apple twizzlers as 'legs' and mini green MandM candies for eyes.

And these are one of my favorite creations ever...the recipe for the cookie wasn't that good, so I'm going to try to find another one that works. You need something that will not rise or spread a lot, like a shortbread recipe. I added green food coloring to the dough, shaped them, and decorated as creepy as possible. The kids wouldn't eat them the year I made these! The fingernails (sliced almonds) are held on with strawberry jam, which gets oozy and gross while cooking. They are so awesome to look at...now to work on making them taste good :-) {They weren't bad, just really bland.}

So that's it. I'll be taking my crew to a friend's house to trick-or-treat and I plan on bringing chips and Restaurant Style Salsa; a variation of one of the above snack mixes, and if time permits. the creepy finger cookies! Oh, and an adult beverage or six, Ha! Have fun and be safe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apple Pie Cookies & Dessert Mash-Ups Cookbook Review

I just realized that my last post was also apple pie related, but you will want to stick around for this one too. The cookies are delish, but the cookbook it came from is divine!
It's from Dorothy Kern, the woman behind the fabulous blog Crazy for Crust. I have been following her blog for quite a while now and love all the desserts she comes up with. This cookbook is a compilation of dessert "mash-ups"...two-in-one treats like these Apple Pie Cookies. I have several recipes bookmarked, like Chocolate Chip Cookie Toffee Bark (definitely going on my Christmas "to make" list), Cookies 'n' Cream Magic Bar Pie (my kids really want to make this!), Oreo Peanut Butter (holy yum) and Pumpkin Pie Magic Bars (I have a thing for magic bars and all things pumpkin. These will be made very soon!)
I've been given permission to share the recipe for these Apple Pie Cookies...but if apples aren't your thing, Dorothy offers variations, like Reese Cups or Hershey Kisses. My kids came up with some of their own variations as well...

Apple Pie Cookies

Yield 30 cookies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 30 minutes
Bake Time 11 minutes

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 1⁄2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all- purpose flour, divided
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced small (just about 1 1⁄2 cups)
1⁄2 cup water

Powdered sugar, for dusting *I omitted this

Tip: If apple isn’t your thing, you can simply place the cookie dough in the muffin pans, bake them, and then add a Hershey’s Kiss or a mini peanut butter cup to the top when they come out of the oven. It’s a great flavor twist!

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray three 12-cup mini muffin pans with cooking spray.

2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and 1⁄4 cup of the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and 1 1⁄2 cups of the flour. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

4. Place the diced apple in a small saucepan with the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until the apples begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Drain well and let cool for 10 minutes.

5. Scoop 1-tablespoon balls of cold cookie dough and place one in each cavity of the mini muffin pans. Press down to flatten slightly, and use your finger to create an indent in the centers for the apples.

6. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon over apples. Stir to combine. Place 1 teaspoon of apples in the hole of each cookie.

7. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until the cookies are browned. Cool at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. It’s easiest to remove them with a knife. Cool completely on a rack, then dust with powdered sugar before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

*reprinted with permission from Dessert Mash-Ups Cookbook
Needless to say, these cookies didn't last long! If you have a foodie friend with a sweet tooth on your Christmas list, this cookbook would be an excellent gift. The recipes are awesome and each has an absolutely drool worthy picture to accompany it!

*I was given a complimentary copy of this cookbook for review from Ulysses Press. I received no compensation. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bubble Up Apple Pie {4 ingredients!}

If you have been on Pinterest or have been following my blog a while, you are probably familiar with the "bubble up" casseroles. I have made several over the years, and I see new variations popping up all the time. It's basically a casserole made with cut up biscuits and your choice of meats, cheeses, veggies, you name it. However, now I've discovered a dessert version *insert big smiley face*. Biscuits and sugar. Carbs on carbs. You know it's gonna be good!
It's not super pretty, but you could dress it up with a powdered sugar or cream cheese drizzle. I had every intention of doing that...but it just didn't last that long. You could also serve it with some vanilla or butter pecan ice cream! 

"Bubble Up" Apple Pie

1 (8-count) can of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits, cut into 8ths (I used reduced fat)
1 (21 ounce) can Apple Pie filling (I used the 'no sugar added' variety)
1 teaspoon apple pie spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

*the original recipe called for 1 cup butterscotch chips, but I omitted*
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  • Open can of pie filling and take a sharp knife and stir around the can to slice up apples (just so they are not in big chunks).
  • Pour pie filling in a large bowl. Add biscuit pieces and apple pie spice. Stir.
  • Pour mixture into pan.
  • Top with chopped nuts, if using.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned and cooked through (check the center for doneness)
  • Remove from oven and cool slightly. Add glaze if desired. Serve warm or room temp. 
recipe adapted from Plain Chicken

This was a quick and easy dessert to throw together on a week night. In my opinion, it's best served the same day it's made, but leftovers can be stored in the fridge and re-heated in the microwave. I'm seeing different flavor combinations in my future...cherry pie filling with chocolate chips for a Black Forest bubble up...blueberry with lemon glaze....and I'm sure I will think of more!

Speaking of more - other Bubble Up recipes I've tried....





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

VTech InnoTab 3 Review & GIVEAWAY! {#sponsored}

Guess what?! We are already half way through October. You know what that means? CHRISTMAS will be here before you know it! Don't panic however, because I have an excellent giveaway to help you get started for those 3-9 years old on your shopping list.
The VTech InnoTab3 Plus learning tablet!

I needed my 6 year old to help me with the review, so he got a present a little early ;-) He was pretty excited about it too - 
After having the personal experience of having to replace my iPad after my young son dropped it and cracked the screen, I am delighted for him to have his very own durable learning tablet. I also absolutely love the fact that it comes with a rechargeable battery pack. This is new from the InnoTab 2, which you could purchase a separate pack. It also comes with an A/C adapter. 

My son loves the 180° rotating camera and using the special effects (it comes with 55 different effects). It also has a video recorder to make movies AND kids can import and listen to their own MP3s with the music player. This is a great feature for older kids!

The InnoTab 3 Plus comes preloaded with 12 different apps, so kids can get started playing/learning immediately, but you have the option of more than 800 educator-endorsed, age and stage appropriate cartridges, software and apps that can be purchased and downloaded from VTech’s Learning Lodge app store. This is great for growing the product with the child and preventing boredom. The additional games and apps do have to be purchased, but keep in mind that kids can get years of use from this one device. You can't say that about too many toys! 

I love that my son is able to learn while playing, and still feels like one of the "big kids" with his own tablet. With two older sisters, sometimes he wants things that he isn't old enough for!

So who wants a chance to win a VTech InnoTab 3 Plus for a little boy or girl in their life? This is going to be a short giveaway, so go ahead and enter now via the Rafflecopter form! (US residents only...sorry my Canadian friends!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided with a sample product for review purposes. All opinions are my own, or that of my 6 year old! The sample product, giveaway product and information has been provided by VTech.

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