Wednesday, November 9, 2011

halloween 2011!!!

I love Halloween! This year I made my first scarecrow! A few kids actually got scared (and so did I, twice in one day.. actually twice within 10 minutes!) which left me thoroughly satisfied. Planning for this holiday began early for me when I was at Party City and saw Wilton Icing Knives. I wasn't sure what I'd do with them, but I knew it was a good idea just to have them. Then my friend Jon posted this link to my facebook for Frankenstein marshmallow pops. I tried these out before Halloween:
Love those Wilton candy eyes!! I added silver sprinkles as the bolts. I also bought two Halloween magazines--Martha Stewart and Taste of Home. They always have great ideas. Yes, it would be a good Halloween.

Mike and I bought a build-your-own haunted gingerbread house kit from the grocery store.
It came with the walls of the house, black & orange icing, sprinkles, jelly beans, sugar ghosts, jack-o-lantern gumballs and candy corn.

In this spooky picture, you can see my spooky candle that melts red! I got it 50% off at Yankee Candle. I looked it up on their website & can't find Halloween stuff anymore, but they had a lot of cute skeleton themed stuff, and it went on sale pretty close to Halloween.
Of course I got into the spirit of things by wearing my bunny ears (we always have some kind of costume lying around).
Here we are, I'm holding one of the cute sugar ghosts:
You can also see our cute Halloween dishtowel on the oven handle.
Well here's the house!
Then we decorated it:
Ooooooh! Spooky! All the icing was dripping off and the decorations (especially the jellybeans) were not sticking. Oh well! We kept it in the fridge that night. Here's what Mike put on the roof:

I thought it was a nice touch! Spooky spider! I took a picture of the 2 of us with our house:
Ha, ha, Mike.
That's better. That was that for the house. We almost forgot to bring it out for the party! The day of the party (or the day before, since the big crazy snowstorm pretty much snowed everyone in, giving me more prep time) I made the pretzel rod witch fingers. I got the mold at AC Moore and the candy melts at Michaels (and another bag at Reny's when we were visiting Portland, ME).

This was my first time using two different colored chocolate melts (actually they were both vanilla-flavored, I think) in one mold. They all say to use a brush, but I didn't want to buy a new paintbrush or use an older one even though I washed them... So I just used a spoon as usual but I was very careful, and wiped off a lot of the extraneous parts with a paper towel.

Oooh! They came out so good! :) I put them all together in a jar with some pumpkin pie-flavored popcorn (also from our Maine trip):
Then I made the cupcakes (which is what this blog is really about)!!
Yum! These were pumpkin spice cupcakes from the Sprinkles mix! What I love about Sprinkles is their mixes come in big tubes and have the recipe for from-scratch icing, so you can feel proud & say you made at least some of it from scratch. It also bakes 12 cupcakes, so if you're only expecting a small crowd, you don't have to eat the other 12 yourself ;)

Mike found the wrappers for me--I'd seen them at Stop & Shop and had been looking for them all month, until he found them at Shaw's (again, in Maine). My friend Katherine and I had just been talking about how some wrappers are so cute, but once you bake them, the oil seeps through and you can't see the cute decorations anymore (I think I mentioned this in the post I did about the malted cupcakes). Well these were tin AND in Halloween colors!

I had also bought this cardboard cupcake tower at Michaels. Mike helped me set it up and I put my cupcakes on it, along with the candy knives!

Spooooky! I also put some red icing dripping down the stabbed cupcakes, and on some extra knives I had.
Michaels also had these great wooden boxes in the shape of coffins! I bought two and painted them. I put a Hershey's mix inside and made a little gravestone:
Oh, I crack myself up!
Then I made the marshmallow Frankensteins! The hair kept making me laugh because they ended up looking like nice gentlemen instead of scary monsters.
I ran out of candy eyes :( so I used chocolate chips on some of them. I thought they looked like girls so I gave them red lips! The cool silhouette border is actually a bunch of cupcake wrappers connected to each other. They were part of Chef Duff's cake and cupcake line, but they were too big for my cupcakes. Here's a Frankenstein I gave the Flock of Seagulls haircut to:
We also had spooky cocktails!
I got the idea from Dylan's Candy Bar (which I will post about at a later date). Dylan Lauren has a book out and had these wax lips on the rim of a drink as a suggestion for a Halloween party! Duly noted, Dylan! This was garnishing a cocktail I came up with: pumpkin liqueur, light cream and marshmallow vodka. Yum! It was a party favorite :) I called it Pumpkin Cream. Or, actually, Pumpkin Scream (for Halloween).

Funny enough, the only thing I ended up getting out of the Martha Stewart magazine was the idea for hanging paper bats above the cocktail area.
There was a template and I cut them out of construction paper. How cute!!

And, of course, our costumes (including Mike's cats):

Chunks as a bull, I guess, with a cowboy riding on him! Or just a giant cat with a cowboy riding him... or a regular-sized cat with a tiny man...
Cat, as a banana split:
Me & Mike as Peg and Al Bundy:
My brothers, David (as a bunny) and Hiro (as a Japanese street vendor) with me:
And my friends Kim (as Edward Scissorhands) and Katherine (as Little Red Riding Hood)!
There were other friends who I didn't get pictures of, but it was a very fun night indeed. Hope you had a spooky and fun Halloween!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

how 'bout them apples? (two cooking adventures in one post!!)

I went apple picking for the first time in my life last month. Apparently apple picking season is over come October, but Mike & I didn't realize this and got a stick and a bag (an expensive bag) and went about rattling the trees on Dr. Davies Farm.
We came right when a school was leaving. There were a lot of little apples in piles at the base of the trees.
The stick with the picker part was so long!
But I was able to use it!
Heck, we got a lot!
We ended up getting 52 apples. Whoa. Here I am with twins:
It was a fun day :)
Mike & I aren't huge apple enthusiasts, but you'd think we were, what with 52 apples and all. Neither one of us even likes apple pie, so we looked online for some alternative recipes.


First, of course, you make a face on your apple with the peeler. And you put on your apple apron. Haha. Then you peel the rest of the skin off.
Naked apples!!
Mike begins a long night of chopping:
Pecans, then the apples.
And the pecans go in with the brown sugar.
Oh, gee! I needed a lemon.
How'd that get in there? Must have found a lemon tree among the apples ;)
Here I am mixing everything together with my clean hands.
We set out to make one pie. We had too much and ended up making two!
Here's Mike chopping again...
Butter this time. For the crisp!
Butter and flour, etc.... I thought it was a good idea to mix with my hands to really get the butter through.
Mike had to scrape chunks off my fingers, but it was fun. Then we sprinkle it on top of the pies!
Then they go in the oven!
And while you wait, I suggest picking up some caramel dip (Mike's idea):
We had some Reeses Pieces left over from another project and it was a great combination.

Oh! Crisps are done!
We served ours with butter pecan ice cream and cool whip :)
Open up! Haha.
Then of course we made caramel apples a few days later!


This is what we used:
We made a little race out of unwrapping the individual caramels :)
Chunks (Mike's cat) wanted in on it...
Then I washed the apples.
We put wooden skewers into the 4 apples (don't worry, we didn't really lick them)
They look pretty fancy already:
While I microwave the caramel & a little bit of water (it looks gross)...
Mike crushes the Reeses Pieces (Chunks wants to help again)

We didn't have to de-wax the apples or anything because they're fresh from trees! Here I am happily covering an apple in caramel. It's harder than it looks!
The caramel was thick & I found it hard to twist the stick & distribute it evenly. Oh well! It looks pretty anyway!
Mike always makes things look easier, especially after I've been struggling.
We had to cut the skewers so they'd fit in my cupcake courier to bring home. Later we cut them up and ate them in sections... and it was delicious!