Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Minute Halloween Ideas

Tomorrow is Halloween.  You knew that, right?  Are you ready?  Of course, I’ve been on Pinterest and there is no end to the cute, or spooky, or spooky and cute at the same time, Halloween food.  There are thousands of recipes and ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts and anything else you can think of.  While they are all amazing, all it really does it stress me out because I know there is no way I could make most of it.  And I do this for a living.  As crafty as I am, I just don’t think that I could make Frankenstein cake pops or a cake shaped like a coffin.

I have three last minute Halloween ideas for you today, and I promise, not a one of them is too hard or will add undue stress.  My ideas are cute, or spooky, and ridiculously easy.  You don’t need more than fifteen minutes, and you might already have all the ingredients on hand.  And you know what?  Everyone can be jealous of you for pulling off an effortless Halloween.

My first recipe I want to show you is more of an idea then a recipe.  Every year, I make my little “Cookie Monsters” for my kids and sometimes even for all of the kids in their classes.  I start with already baked chocolate chip cookies, like Chips Ahoy or something similar.  Of course, you can bake your own chocolate chip cookies, but I like that these cookies are all the same shape and size and relatively sturdy. 

I assemble these little monsters by laying down a cookie, bottom side up.  I pipe red and green frosting on to form a tongue and an oozy green monster mouth.  I like to add more frosting towards the back so that the cookie sits open a bit in front when I lay the top cookie on.  I also add candy eyeballs to the top cookie.  I adhere the eyes with either frosting or melted chocolate.  From there, I get creative.  Sometimes I add candy corn for fangs or horns, or licorice strings for hair.  I’ve used sliced almonds for teeth, or even Nerds (the candy) for warts and such.  Basically, whatever you can find, you can use.  Use your imagination.  Sometimes they are funnier, then scary, but that’s ok too.  The bottom line is that kids love them, and they are so easy to put together.


My next Halloween treat is actually something that I bust out at most holidays….it really just depends on what cookie cutters I can find.  I like to use my themed cookie cutters to make homemade “strudels”.  They might be more “pop tart” but my kids have always called them strudels.  I use frozen puff pastry as a base for this.  I punch out themed shapes with cookie cutters and I fill these little pockets of goodness with fresh strawberries and chocolate, blueberry jam, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, pizza sauce and cheese, really whatever I have.

I start by punching out a shape from the defrosted puff pastry.  Two really, because I need a top and bottom.  I lay the bottom piece out on a greased tray (you can’t be too careful!) and I layer on my toppings.  For the pumpkins and ghosts I used fresh thinly sliced strawberries and mini chocolate chips.  Once the filling is on the bottom piece, I use a little bit of water to seal the top piece on.  The water acts as glue. 

Then, I cut slits (for eyes and mouths) that will not only make these super cute, they also keep the puff pastry from puffing up too much.  These bake for about fifteen minutes and when they come out of the oven, they are puffed and golden and really, really delicious.  


These are also great for an easy breakfast on Christmas Day or Valentine’s Day.  And it gives me an excuse to use one of millions of cookie cutters. Yep, I have a ton and I very rarely make cut-out cookies.

My last recipe is my “Trick or Treat Cider”.  We never go out on Halloween night without this fantastic, spicy cider.  I make it in my slow cooker so it is ready to go for anyone that might drop by or for refills during those long trick or treating runs.  For this cider, I use apple juice, cranberry juice, pear nectar, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, ginger and a couple of clementines.  You could use regular oranges too, if that is what you have.

This is so easy….I literally just throw everything (ok, not literally…that would make a mess), in the slow cooker and let it go for about 3 hours.  The flavors will all meld together over those 3 hours.  The spices, clemetines and ginger will all release their flavors.  Then, I pull the big chunks out and it is ready to go.   I like to serve my cider with whip cream on the top, but you can skip that if you want.  The adults might want a bit of brandy in it too, especially when faced with a long night of trick or treating.  Either way, this stuff tastes like fall in a glass.

I hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!  Trick or Treat!

Puffy Pumpkin (or Ghost!) “Strudels”

17.3 ounce box frozen puff pastry sheets, defrosted

8 strawberries, thinly sliced

¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lay defrosted puff pastry sheets on a floured board.  Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes.  Make sure you have a top and bottom of each shape.

Lay bottom shape down on a greased cookie sheet.  Top with thinly sliced strawberries and a few mini chocolate chips, leaving a rim.  Using your finger, dab water all the way around the rim.  Press top shape onto bottom, sealing with fingers.

Using a sharp knife, cut slits or shapes on the top shape.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Trick or Treat Cider


3 cups apple juice


3 cups pear cider


3 cups cranberry juice


4 cinnamon sticks


8 whole cloves


3 inch piece of peeled ginger


2 clementines, cut in half


Place all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook for 3 hours.  Remove sticks, cloves, ginger and clementines.  Serve warm.

Makes 9 cups cider

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