mummy cupcakes

For a couple of years I have seen photos of different mummy cupcake designs either on the Internet or in food magazines.  I decided to try them out this year for a quick sweet treat.

I used a box cake mix to make some carrot cake cupcakes.  I made only 12, and used the other half of the mix to prepare and bake a single layer cake.  I usually do that to freeze ahead for another occasion.

I used some white chocolate melted over a double boiler to ice the cupcakes for a base coat.  I allowed them to dry for about and hour, and then frosted with a #48 tip and pastry bag filled with white buttercream icing.

I use a simple recipe of 5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, mixed with 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 tablespoon orange extract, and 1 or more tablespoons of half and half.  I start with a small amount of the half and half and then just add a drop or two to get the right consistency of the icing.

Pipe the icing on in stripes like a mummy wrap.  I do refrigerate these cupcakes after placing them into cupcake wrappers for serving.  I do not bake my cupcakes in the wrapper, but place them into the wrappers just for the presentation.  I found the candy eyes at a local craft’s store.  The eyes can be purchased online as well in different sizes.

Fun to make, and fun to eat for Halloween.  Here is another way to keep Halloween alive in your home if you choose to celebrate.

sweet and salty pretzels

We had a rainy Halloween night here in Michigan.  So, we had fewer than expected Trick or Treaters, which was a bit sad.  Just like so many things from years ago, I feel that this American tradition is going to be extinct soon.

However, in the past few weeks, I have still managed to keep the fun of Halloween alive in our home.  After my husband commented that he loved chocolate dipped pretzels one day in the Sanders store near Ann Arbor, I decided to make some of my own.

By simply using some white chocolate melted over a double boiler, I dipped the ends of pretzels, and decorated with some holiday decors.  I could have done the whole bag, even though it is a bit time-consuming dipping one by one.  I used waxed paper and allowed them to dry.  The pretzels dried within an hour and I was able to bag them for a couple of friends as well.

This was very fun and I would recommend for any holiday.  I have made some other pretzel snacks in the past, and they always seem to be well-liked by everyone.

Ours were quickly gobbled up, so be sure to make a big batch, because they are quite delicious.

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Choosing the best pumpkin

Choosing that classic pumpkin for the front porch has always been one of my favorite Fall outings to the store or Farmer’s market.  Seeing  the many different sizes and shapes of pumpkins and gourds that farmers have selected to grow from seed is so exciting.  Thanks to all of those farmers who take the time to plant the seeds to give families a fun October celebration.

Personally, I have always liked the Cinderella pumpkins, but over the years have usually chosen the classic carving pumpkin.  That is the one with the stiff straight sides most often with ridges.  I also gravitate to the smooth-sided pumpkins with the soft skin that are perfect for painting.

The rainbow of colors for both pumpkins and gourds are so attractive for any type of Fall decor. I combine them with black lanterns and dried Oriental grasses from my garden the previous year.

Some tips that I use for choosing that perfect pumpkin include:  Choose the one without any cuts or soft spots.  Choose the one with the solid stem at least 1-2 inches long.  The ones with the shorter stems will decay faster.  Choose a heavy and firm pumpkin.  And finally, choose the one that has the greenest stem, as it the freshest pumpkin.

Easy Holiday Petit Fours

Years ago I found this recipe for easy petit fours.  This is a “go-to” recipe that can be made for just about any holiday.  It uses the standard frozen pound cake, which is thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  Then, after cubed, the pound cake squares are glazed with a typical confectioners’ sugar mixture.  During the hardening process, the petit fours can be decorated for any holiday occasion.

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For St. Patrick’s day, I chose to use sparkling sugar to give a bit of Irish green to their appearance.  I could easily have made a frosting to pipe polka dots or stripes on the tops of each square.  The ideas are endless for decorating petit fours.

To make this simple glaze, which is gradually drizzled over the cake, mix these ingredients with a hand mixer together:

2 pounds of confectioners’ sugar, with 2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons water, and 2 teaspoons of any flavored extract.  Suggestions would be almond, lemon, coconut, or orange.  Then, begin the drizzling process.  I generally use an iced teaspoon for best control.  Then, I gradually drizzle over the pound cake squares which have been placed on a wire rack over a pan.  The squares will need several coats, so this process may take 20 minutes to complete.  The left over icing can be gathered and re-used during the drizzling process if necessary.  This recipe will make more than needed for about 34 squares.

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This is a very easy petit four recipe which can be used for many celebrations.

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pumpkins for Thanksgiving

Everyone likes to display a pumpkin on their porch for Halloween, but I love to keep my pumpkins through Thanksgiving.  I usually prefer a display of many pumpkins or squash types.  This year I have a green pumpkin on my porch, along with smaller pie pumpkins in my lower windows.

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Along with the pumpkins, I use dried plant material that I collect from my dried ornamental grasses from the previous year.  These dried grasses make perfect nests for the pumpkins on my front porch.  Using wire baskets or a cement urn keeps the pumpkins off the ground.  I need to protect them from small chipmunks that seem to like a nibble once and awhile.  I find that the cold weather in Michigan keeps my pumpkins very fresh outdoors.  If the temperatures rise, then the risk of the pumpkins becoming soggy increases.  When Thanksgiving approaches, I remove the seeds and toast them in the oven for a great Thanksgiving snack.

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gingerbread house for Halloween

I purchased a kit for a Halloween gingerbread house from Williams Sonoma and assembled it a couple of days ago.  It was a very easy kit to assemble and was so much fun to decorate.  I used a variety of decorations, some of which I purchased for the kit, some that came with the kit, and others that I had found at other stores.

Here are some photos taken during the assembly and of the house after completion.

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ghost cookies

While looking forward to Halloween this year, I brought out my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  From Martha Stewart’s collected recipes for every day, published in 1995, the recipe for Sugar Cookies II is nothing short of perfect.  The dough is perfect for rolling and decorating.  I chill the dough for a minimum of one hour, and even re-chill after rolling.

I used half of the recipe this year to make 18 large ghost cookies.  I also used her simple icing recipe which coats the ghosts just perfectly.

Here is the half recipe for the cookies:

2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer.  Add egg and beat.  Add the SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESdry ingredients, with milk and vanilla.  Wrap and chill.

 

Remove from refrigerator, roll out cookies.  Return to the refrigerator for 8-10 minutes before baking at 375 SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESfor 10 minutes per tray.  I roll out using a floured silpat mat.  Icing recipe:  1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 egg white and 4 drops of lemon juice.  Stir and decorate.

 

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