Halloween Cookie Critters

Halloween craft week 2…not really sure it was exactly what I was thinking!  I had this great idea in my head that we could dip cookie sandwiches into chocolate and decorate them for halloween…sounds easy right?  The answer is yes…easy for the moms to do!  We have 3 and 4 year old girls that love to do crafts and were great at last weeks witches stew, but to ask them to dip and decorate cookies while keeping all the chocolate and candies out of their mouth is not likely.  They loved it!
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I think they understood the idea of it, but the detail was lacking a little bit, so if you are ok with some really spooky creatures, this age group is great!  If not, try ages 6  and up…you might get a great finished product.  This is what I am really enjoying about craft days, it is teaching the kids to be creative and it is teaching us moms to be very patient!
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So after the kitchen was all cleaned up and I got both my girls to bed, I decided to tackle these cookie critters on my own…I think it was as fun for me as it was for them.  And yes, I did enjoy licking the chocolate off of my fingers as well (i guess it doesn’t matter what age you are).cookie critters 1

 

Even though it might sound daunting now, it is a fairly simple project to do and I know your kids would love them.  I might even use these for  school halloween treats.  Sophie could not keep her hands off of them this morning (see below).cookie critter 3

This is what you will need:

1 package of cookie sandwiches (any kind you would like)
dark chocolate 
white chocolate
popsicle sticks
food coloring
candy eye balls (I found these at Target)
black licorice wheels

Instructions:

Dip the popsicle stick in a little bit of chocolate and then stick into cookie sandwich
stick cookies in freezer for 5-10 minutes so the filling gets cold (so much easier to dip…I learned from experience :)
melt your white and dark chocolate in separate bowls (you can also use almond bark if you would like)
separate the white chocolate into three bowls, keep one white and color one green and one orange
dip each cookie into the chocolate of your choice 
let dry for little bit before decorating 
allow cookie critters to dry completely before eating or packaging for gifts!
enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pecan Crumb Cake

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If you are having a pumpkin craving (which I know most of you are at this time of year) but don’t want something to sweet, you have to try this pumpkin pecan crumb cake!  The original recipe for this was just a plain pumpkin cake with no topping, but I have been craving something pumpkin for the mornings that is quick to take while we rush out the door for school and this is just what I had in mind.  The crunchy crumb topping is the perfect compliment and would be awesome paired with a cup of coffee or my favorite… chai tea.

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 Enjoy and Happy Pumpkin!

Pumpkin Pecan Crumb Cake
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. Pumpkin Cake
  2. 3 cups all purpose flour
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 2 tsp baking soda
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 3 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1 cup pecans, chopped
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 2 cups sugar
  10. 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  11. 1 can pumpkin puree
  12. Crumb Topping
  13. 3/4 cup flour
  14. 2 tbsp sugar
  15. 2 tbsp brown sugar
  16. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  17. 5 tbsp butter, melted
  18. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon
  3. at high speed beat eggs and sugar until thick and light yellow in color
  4. while beating add in vegetable oil
  5. slowly alternate dry ingredients and pumpkin puree
  6. mix until all ingredients are combined
  7. stir in pecans by hand
  8. pour into a 10" cake pan or tube pan (coated with oil)
  9. crumb topping
  10. combine flour, sugar and cinnamon
  11. slowly add in butter and vanilla extract
  12. mix until it looks like large peas...nice and crumbly!
  13. add crumb topping to cake
  14. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until knife comes out clean
  15. cool before removing from pan
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

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Witches Stew

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 I feel very lucky on a daily basis for many reasons, but one major reason is that I live one block away from my sister, brother in law and their two kids!  It has almost been 1 year since we moved into our house and we have loved that we can walk to each others homes, the girls can ride their bikes together, or we can just get together to play at any moment….there is nothing better than living so close to family.  I feel really blessed because our kids are going to grow up as cousins and best friends…what more could we ask for!  

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Sophie and Marlie get out of school early on tuesdays, so we have decided to make this food and craft day through the month of October and this will probably continue into November and December.  Since I am a pastry chef and my sister is a graphic designer (crazygoodmama.com) and crafting genius, it was only natural that we teach our kids all about what we love.  Sophie watches me and helps me bake all the time, but I really want her to have hands on fun and let her use her creativity and see what she comes up with.

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 There is absolutely nothing fancy about this recipe…actually there is no recipe!  It is whatever you want it to be and that is the beauty of it.  You can either use this as an excuse to clean out your pantry or you can make it a theme soup…Witches Stew is our Halloween version of this snack soup.  The kids had so much fun and I know we will enjoy this stew throughout the week.

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 Ingredients we used:
marshmallows, pretzels, chocolate teddy grahams, gold fish, sea salt popcorn, honey nut cheerios and candy corn

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Enjoy the holidays with your kids, grandkids, or your friends and let the creativity shine through!

Next Weeks Project:  Oreo Critters

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Fried Brownies

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I have to be honest, I am not a big fried food/fried dessert person, but when my brother in law texted me late one night that he wanted Fried Brownies, I kind of got excited and it actually sounded amazing to me.  Rich dark chocolate and light fluffy dough, this could be the most decadent dessert…..and it is!  This challenge all got brought on when the fried food list came out for the State Fair.  I know the Texas State Fair has some crazy fried food combos, but there is no fried brownie on the list this year, so I felt I needed to make these and start off this food filled month (or three months) with a bang!  Just imagine (you don’t have to imagine if you make them) a brownie stuffed into a beignet sprinkled with powdered sugar, and if you really want to be crazy, you can dip them in a warm chocolate sauce!  These are simple to make and frying anything is really fun.  Have a great weekend!

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check out sidedish.dmagazine.com for the fried food list at The Texas State Fair

Fried Brownies
Yields 48
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Ingredients
  1. Brownies
  2. 3 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 1 lb butter
  4. 6 eggs
  5. 2 1/2 cups flour
  6. 1 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  7. Batter
  8. 2 cups all purpose flour
  9. 2 tbsp. baking powder
  10. 2 tbsp. sugar
  11. 1 tsp salt
  12. 2 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Brownie
  2. preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  3. cream butter and sugar
  4. add eggs
  5. add flour and cocoa powder (will be thick)
  6. spread into 8x13 baking pan and bake for 30 minutes (until knife comes out clean)
  7. Batter
  8. combine all dry ingredients
  9. right before you are ready to use add milk (add more milk if needed to make consistency like pancake batter)
  10. Fried Brownies
  11. once brownies are cooled, cut into 1 1/2" squares (bite size)
  12. heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees F (use a candy thermometer)
  13. dip each brownie bite into batter and drop into hot oil until golden brown
  14. remove fried brownie and put on cloth to dry
  15. dust with powdered sugar
  16. Enjoy
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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Yum Yum Bars

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 If your wondering where the name Yum Yum Bar came about, just make them, eat them and then you will know.  These are super delicious and once you eat one, it is hard to get them out of your mind.  This is an original Nanny recipe that I have had growing up, but the first time I made them was last december with my mom (also Nanny to all the grandkids).  This was a very special time for me and I am already looking forward to holiday baking to begin and to share all our wonderful holiday cookies with you.  My mom and I spent two long nights baking in my home kitchen, which was very unusual for us because I always made desserts at the bakery and brought it to our family dinners, but this time we made them together and I enjoyed it more than ever!  Although all our christmas cookies are something to write about, and I will, this one stuck out in my mind and I really could not wait two more months to make these.  

 

This recipe is very simple, made it two parts; first you make the crust and bake until golden brown and then you make the filling which is like a brownie, chocolate chip cookie and pecan bar (without the pecans, but you can add if you want) that fell in love.  You bake these until browned on top and you must cool completely before cutting.  

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Once these are cut into your perfect squares you can either eat them just the way they are or you can dust them with powdered sugar or drizzle them with chocolate.  Enjoy!

Yum Yum Bars
Yields 24
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Crust
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  2. 4 tsp brown sugar
  3. 1 cup butter, semi melted
Filling
  1. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 3 cups brown sugar
  6. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/2 cup coconut, shredded
  8. 2 cups chocolate chips, semi sweet
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. line a 8x13 baking pan with parchment paper
crust
  1. combine flour, brown sugar and butter
  2. mix to combine and spread evenly in pan
  3. bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown
filling
  1. combine flour, baking powder and salt
  2. add eggs and mix until combined
  3. add brown sugar, vanilla, coconut and chocolate chips
  4. spread on top of baked crust
  5. bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned
  6. cool completely before cutting into 2" squares
  7. optional: dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

 

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Pumpkin Spice Granola

 

Pumpkin Spice GranolaWell here we go…This is the first of many pumpkin recipes to come.  I got so excited last weekend when I saw pumpkins patches starting to pop up and that was when I knew I could officially start baking with pumpkin!  I decided to start with something breakfasty, although it can be eaten at any meal, because we are always on the search for something easy and quick for breakfast.  Most mornings, my husband and I eat nothing because we are trying to get everything ready for the day, our girls fed and out the door to work and school, but I know how important it is to eat breakfast.  On sunday mornings we tend to make breakfast for 10 even though it is just the four of us (only 3 eating)…I think we are trying to make up for the rest of the week.  So my goal is to come up with something simple, but still interesting to eat for breakfast that we can eat on the go if needed.  I have always loved granola with milk, yogurt or even ice cream, but when my husband said one morning that he wanted granola and yogurt for breakfast, I knew I needed to come up with a good recipe that we can all enjoy.

 

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 Top of mind…PUMPKIN, so here we are.  When I was creating this recipe, I played around with several different ways you can make this type of granola because adding pumpkin puree is going to make it a little more moist than normal, but this was the recipe that I felt won over the family (thanks mom for being my taster).  I hope you enjoy it and this is also a great way to get your house smelling like fall….even better than a candle!

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Pumpkin Spice Granola
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups oats
  2. 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  3. 1/2 tsp ginger
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  6. 1/2 cup honey
  7. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  8. 6 tbsp butter, melted
  9. 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  10. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  11. 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  12. 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Instructions
  1. combine oats, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, salt in large mixing bowl
  2. whisk honey, pumpkin puree, brown sugar and butter
  3. add pumpkin mixture into oats and stir until oats are completely coated
  4. bake at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes or until golden brown
  5. add dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds after cooled
  6. store in airtight container
  7. serve with yogurt and honey!
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

Game Day….Pretzels

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Several things happened this weekend that were very exciting for me…

1.  Sophies first soccer game: This is probably the best activity we had this weekend but also very sad because I cannot believe my first baby is already 3 and playing on a soccer team.  My husband and brother in law were the coaches and I would have to say, I am ready to see them play again next weekend.  Other than the heat at 3pm in Texas, the kids and coaches did great and are starting to get the hang of running towards the goal and “do not pick up the ball”.  This is true enjoyment!

2. Pumpkins season is here:  We were out shopping yesterday and my daughter started screaming because she saw her first pumpkin patch of the season!  She loves pumpkins and I love pumpkin desserts, so it is a win win for the whole family.  Pumpkin dessert recipes coming soon!

3. The first weekend of professional football started on sunday:  Lets be honest, I wasn’t really that excited about the games (my husband was) but I love all that comes with football season.  Fun parties with good food and just a reason to celebrate and get together with friends and family. Since this was a late game, we put the kids to bed after a delicious dinner together and sat and watched the Dallas Cowboys play while we ate these buttery soft pretzels.  

I am and have always been a huge lover of pretzels of any kind.  I like to dip them in chocolate, buttercream, mustard, cream cheese or just about anything else, but I really love SOFT Pretzels.  Like the ones you can get at any sporting event, fair, or while you are shopping at the mall. This pretzel recipe is probably one of my favorites and can be made savory or sweet.  I made these classic salted, but you can add rosemary, cinnamon sugar, or gruyere cheese (which I love on everything).  

Soft Pretzels
Yields 12
yummy soft buttery pretzels...savory or sweet
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Ingredients
  1. 4 tsp active dry yeast
  2. 1 tsp sugar, granulated
  3. 1 1/2 cups warm water
  4. 4 cups all purpose flour
  5. 1/2 cup sugar
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1 tbsp butter, melted
  8. 1/2 cup baking soda
  9. 4 cups boiling water
  10. kosher salt, topping
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp sugar in warm water, let stand for about 10 minutes
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt
  3. Make a well in the center and add the melted butter and yeast mixture
  4. Mix and form dough into a ball (add flour if needed)
  5. Knead dough until smooth
  6. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place for 1-1 1/2 hours
  7. After dough has risen dissolve baking soda in hot water
  8. Once dough has doubled in size turn out onto lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces
  9. Roll each piece into long rope and twist into pretzel shape
  10. Once all dough is shaped, dip each piece into baking soda solution and place on a greased sheet pan
  11. Sprinkle with kosher salt
  12. Bake at 450 degrees F for 8 minutes or until golden brown
Notes
  1. you can use a mixer attached with a dough hook, but do not over mix!
Adapted from allrecipes.com
Adapted from allrecipes.com
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

I love this time of year and I can’t wait to share some great fall recipes with you!

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Butterscotch + Figs

butterscotch panna cotta 1 I am not really sure how this recipe came about, but all I know is I went into West Elm for a lovely stroll and came out with some kitchen accessories and this amazing butterscotch sauce called Brooklyn Butterscotch by Spoonables.  After tasting it the second I got home, I knew I had to make Panna Cotta with it.  Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert that means “cooked cream” and that is truly what it is.   This Italian custard is not overly sweet, but the addition of this rich butterscotch sauce makes a great flavor profile for such a simple dessert! 

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Butterscotch and fresh figs is now one of my favorite combinations.  If you want, you can incorporate the figs as a fresh element, roasted or caramelized…whatever makes you sing for joy!

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Thanks again West Elm and Spoonable, Brooklyn Butterscotch for the inspiration!

Have a Happy Thursday!

Butterscotch Panna Cotta
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups heavy cream
  2. 1/2 cup milk, whole
  3. 1 TBSP gelatin powder (1 packet)
  4. 1/4 cup sugar, granulated
  5. 1 vanilla bean, split
  6. 4 TBSP butterscotch sauce
Instructions
  1. Combine milk and gelatin and let sit
  2. Combine heavy cream, sugar and vanilla bean into saucepan
  3. Turn on high and remove right before it comes to a boil
  4. Pour milk and gelatin mixture into heavy cream mixture and stir until fully combined (make sure all gelatin is dissolved)
  5. Remove vanilla bean
  6. Add 2 TBSP of butterscotch sauce to the Panna Cotta
  7. Pour custard into 4 ounce ramekins or glass dishes
  8. Let set in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until gelled
  9. Once the panna cotta is set add the remaining butterscotch sauce to the top of each ramekin
  10. Garnish with fresh fig
  11. Serve cold
  12. Enjoy!
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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