Happy Monster Cookies

monster cookies

I had some orange cookies leftover from yesterday’s super easy jack-o-lantern cookies, so I thought the kids would get a kick out of these happy monster cookies.

My kids are still pretty young, so they really enjoy having happy Halloween treats rather than all the gore and scary stuff….and I have to agree.  I prefer it, too.

These cookies are super simple.  You can really start with any flavor cookie, but I once again used the best sugar cookies in the world.  A little food coloring in the dough really makes the monsters more special.

Use two cookies.  Turn one upside down and pipe or spread some frosting on it, making sure one side is piled a little higher with icing.  This makes the monster look like it’s opening its mouth once you place the other cookie on top.

Cut a marshmallow in half and attach to top cookie with some icing.  Add some M&Ms or Reece Pieces for eyes.  Use frosting to attach.

Want another happy monster treat, check out my monster pretzels. 

An Easy Hallowen Treat: Jack-o-lantern Cookies

pumpkin face cookiesSo, this may not be my most clever idea, but it sure is simple!  And, guaranteed to put a smile on a kiddos face.  So, win-win: easy to do & sure to please! :)

Simply take your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  You can find my favorite, soft sugar cookie recipe here. Add a few drops of red and yellow food coloring to the dough (to make orange).

And, then decorate with candy corn, mini M&Ms, regular M&Ms, icing, etc.  Use a little icing to stick the candies to the cookies.  Voila!  Easy, right?

Looking for a more complicated sugar cookie treat?  Then, you must try Candy Corn Sugar Cookies (although, honestly, those are pretty easy too :) )

Candy corn cookies

How To Freeze Cilantro (Plus another Cilantro option!)

freeze cilantro

So, I’ve heard you could freeze cilantro, but I was skeptical.  I mean, everyone knows that leafy vegetables/herbs get soggy and gross in the fridge.

But, I had to try it.  And, I was pleasantly surprised.  The cilantro does get wilty and a little bit slimy once thawed (like any leafy green).  BUT, but, but…. chopping it up and mixing it with some garlic infused olive oil really makes a difference.

I used my trusty Ninja prep to chop up everything (even the stems) and just enough olive oil to make everything into a kind of paste.  Then, I packed the “paste” into some ice cube trays and froze it for about 30 minutes before transferring it to a freezer safe plastic bag.

I used garlic infused olive oil because anything I use cilantro in is going to need some garlic, too.  But, I think regular olive oil would work just as well.  Just remember, the cilantro flavor seems to be a bit stronger after frozen, so you may need to add some garlic to you dish to tone things down a bit.

I wouldn’t recommend freezing the cilantro in water.  Because once you thaw it, you’re going to have to figure a way to drain that water.  With oil, you can just throw the whole cube into your guac or saute pan.

photo(35)And, I happened upon another cilantro alternative for when fresh isn’t an option.  Kroger has their very own flaked cilantro!  I had no idea!?!  I picked some up for just $1.99 and put it in my pantry.  It’s always nice to have options when your recipe calls for something that you don’t always have stocked in the fridge.  I’ve tried the refrigerated cilantro paste before, and I have to say YUCK to that.  So, hopefully this will turn out much better.  If you can’t find this at your grocery store, Amazon has plenty of options. 

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Candy corn cookiesCandy corn cookies look awesome and are super easy to make!  A perfect fall treat you can whip up quickly and fool everyone with your expert culinary skills! :)

You’re going to need: sugar cookie dough, a loaf pan, food coloring, knife, cookie sheet…and an oven :)

To make these, I simply used some premade sugar cookie mix.  I think pre-made dough would work well, too.

Simply divide your dough into 3 balls:

  1.   First Ball:  no food coloring
  2.  Second:  Knead in several drops of yellow food coloring to get a bright yellow color
  3.  Third:  Knead in a few drops of orange food coloring.

Now get our your loaf pan and layer, nice and flat, your three different colored balls.  You’ll want to do the yellow first, then the orange, then the plain.  Chill for 2 hours in the fridge until firm.

When the dough is firm, remove it from the loaf pan, and make about 1/4″ slices, like you’re slicing bread.  Then, cut each slice as shown.  I forgot to take a pic, so please enjoy my lovely graphic:

rectangleYou can either discard the gray shaded areas, cook as is, or squish the long sides together together to make a more regular candy corn shape.

Place slices on sheet and cook as directed! :)

See, wasn’t that easy, and aren’t they adorable?

Monster Pretzels Halloween Treat

monster pretzels

My kids are home on Fall Break this week and just get bored so easily.  It’s crazy.  The minute we walk in the door from a 4 hour play date at the park, my daughter starts begging for a craft or something to do.

I think it must be the routine and busy-ness of school that they  miss.  Surely, they are not spoiled….

Anyway, I saw this cute project while browsing through Family Fun magazine.  It was super simple to recreate (unlike many of the other ideas I’ve found in that mag).

I did it a little different than Family Fun suggested.  Piping in different colored candy melts seemed rather tedious & messy to me.

So, I just melted white almond bark in the microwave.  I used 4 bricks (one in each of 4 separate bowls).  Then, after it was melted, I stirred in a little gel food coloring.

IMG_3935I took a butter knife a scooped up a big sized dollup of the melted almond bark and spread it over the backside of a yogurt covered pretzel.  You  must take care not to cover the small hole of the pretzel because that is the mouth of the pretzel monster.  Immediately, I placed the pretzel onto parchment paper (wax paper would work too) to harden.  My kids used several different types of sprinkles we had on hands to make the eyes.  Of course, the sprinkles need to be placed on before the almond bark hardens again, but you should have plenty of time.    IMG_3936

I think they turned out adorable. We laughed and laughed at all the different “expressions” the monsters ended up with.   Then, the kids gobbled them right up.   Nothing like a little sugar-high to turn around the afternoon doldrums, am I right?

Dolphin Birthday Cake

dolphin cake

My daughter’s birthday was last month, and she insisted on a dolphin cake.  Well, actually she first wanted a camping themed birthday party and then switched at the last minute to a dolphin.  :)  Do your kids do that to you too, or just mine?  I had really cool camping party planned that I had to scrap and change to a dolphin party.  Sigh. 

Anyhow, I always make my kids cakes.  It’s kind of a tradition around here.  Remember the screwdriver cake?  I immediately started browsing Pinterest for dolphin cakes.  Most of them looked so complicated; I was feeling overwhelmed.  Was I really going to have to learn how to mold fondant this year?  Please, no!

But, alas, buried in Pinterest, I finally happened upon a link to this awesome dolphin cake template!  Seriously, a life saver.  And, I think it turned out beautifully.   I really didn’t know what to think when I cut out all those weird shapes on the template, but it really did work.  I used chose turquoise coloring for the dolphin (my daughter’s fave) and an m&m eye.  Everyone loved it.  I got tons of compliments from parents and my daughter’s friends.

The hardest part of making this cake was deciding where to put the candles!IMG_1153But, I think the tail ended up being a great location.  Don’t you?

Delicious Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread Recipe

zucchini bread This post is a little late.  I meant to post it this summer when everyone was up to their ears in zucchini.  But, alas, time got away from me.  I hope you still have some zucchini to enjoy.  Or, bookmark or pin this for next year.  You’ll be happy you did.

Finding a whole wheat quick bread recipe that doesn’t taste like cardboard, actually rises, and isn’t a dense as a brick is no small feat.  But, I’ve got a great one for you.  My kids devoured it.  I hope you enjoy it half as much as they did! :)

Yummy Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

Snack Bread


  • 1/3 cup Choped Walnuts
  • 2 cups Shredded Zucchini (about one large zucchini)
  • 1.5 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Sour Cream (I've subbed apple sauce for the sour cream before and it's good that way,too.)
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs


1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x5 loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
2. Spread walnuts out on a cookie sheet and toast in the preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
3. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinammon) in a medium sized bowl.
4. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Beat until well mixed, taking care not to over mix.
5. Stir in the toasted walnuts and zucchini.
6. Pour in prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until bread passes the toothpick test. Cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

If you’re still craving more healthy carbs after this recipe, be sure to check out my whole wheat soft pretzels.  Yum!

soft pretzels



Make Owl Cupcakes…Perfect for Fall!

owlcupcakesAren’t these little owl cupcakes adorable?  And, such a fun change on a fall themed treat.  I really enjoyed making something other than pumpkins and leaves!

I was inspired to make these little owls when I saw a cupcake kit for sale at Crate and Barrel for $10.owl-cupcake-kitTotally cute, but I knew I could make them for 1/3 of the price!  Here’s the supplies you need, hopefully you’ll have most on hand already

  • Cake mix of your choice (I used vanilla)
  • Chocolate and vanilla frosting (or make your own)
  • Candy corn
  • Candy eyes
  • Piping bag (or use a sandwich bag with a hole cut out of corner)
  • Knife to spread frosting.

Step 1:  Make a triangle on 1/4 of the cupcake with the white icing.

IMG_3841Step 2:  Cover the rest of the cupcake with chocolate frosting.

IMG_3842Step 3:  Use one candycorn for the beak.  Use just the yellow part of 2 more candy corn for the feet.IMG_3843Step 4:  Apply the candy eyes and use the piping bag with chocolate frosting to make 2 triangles above the eyes for the ears.

IMG_3844Step 5:  Make lots and impress your friends (or you kid’s friends or your kid’s friend’s moms or your kid’s class or…you get the idea!)


Easy Way to Plant Bulbs

bulbplantingIt’s that time of year again!  The time when we prepare for Spring’s beauty by planting bulbs.

I love planliving01ting crocus.  They are perfect for naturalizing.  If you’re not familiar with naturalizing, it’s a great way to bring some color to your lawn in the early spring.  Just plant crocus bulbs randomly around your yard for a natural look and pop of color.  The flowers are short and their foliage looks a lot like grass.  They are typically done blooming before the first mowing, so just a perfect way to brighten up your Spring lawn.


The only problem with naturalizing is the amount of holes you need to create.  And, the fact that these holes are in your lawn….not good to polka dot your lawn with bare spots.  I’ve found any easy solution to getting the naturalized look without destroying your lawn.


Simply use a drill with an extra long 5/8 inch drill bit.  Drill a hole about 6 inches deep and push your crocus bulbs in the hole.  Since crocus bulbs are small, they fit perfectly!  No need to cover them back up with dirt.  You can make lots of holes quickly this way, and your lawn won’t be destroyed!

Snowdrop, anemone, muscari and some iris have small bulbs as well (plus bloom early) and you could use this technique for naturalizing with them as well!

Happy Autumn!

Copycat Pottery Barn Spoon Shadow Box

spoon shadow box

If you’re like me, you leaf through the Pottery Barn catalog whenver it comes in the mail.  And, inevitably fall in love with something in there.  And, then you see the price tag and you roll your eyes, sigh, and know you won’t be buying it.  My latest obsession:  This Spoon Shadow Box for $199.


Gorgeous, right?

I thought so. And, I also thought it looked like something I could put together myself.

First, I needed to track down a large shadow box.  The one from pottery barn is 30 x 30.  Try as I might, I was unable to locate a shadow box that big.  But, I did find a great 20 x 20 at Ikea.  My second choice would have the been this 16 x20 on Amazon or a display of 2 or 4 of the 12 x 12 shadowboxes together on the same wall.  Luckily, I have an Ikea close by, so I went with their large frame.

The Ikea shadow box comes with a pressed wood backing and a square picture mat.  I threw out the mat, as I had no use for it.  And, rather than trying to cut out a piece of wood or cardboard to fit inside the shadow box, I decided to just use the wood backing as my display board for the spoons.  But first, I gave it a light coat of white spray paint so that the dark color would not show throw my fabric.


I picked up a remnant of linen fabric at JoAnn’s.  Remnanats should be a perfect size for this project, and they’re usually a good deal (50% off for me) compared to buying fabric off the bolt.  I simply used my staple gun to staple the fabric to the wood backing.  Make sure you pull the fabric tight so it doesn’t sag.  Another option would be using hot glue to attach the fabric.


Once I was satisfied that I had a pretty good snug fit to the fabric, I started messing around with my spoon layout.  I was lucky enough to have inherited some real silverware from my grandmother. But, I’m sure you could score some unique and cheap silverware at thrift stores.
Pottery Barn’s shadow box has all the spoon and handles lined up in a straight row with a large spoon laying across the top.  I like that look, but found that a more random look suited my tastes better.  I finally went with this layout:


Pottery Barn’s spoons are attached with two wires, but that seemed like such a hassle to me.  So I just got out my handy-dandy glue gun.  I put one big glob at the end of the handle and one glob where the spoon face touched the backing.  They stuck well.  I have to admit, I wasn’t sure it would work. But, it’s been weeks now and they show no signs of falling off. 

When I hung my new creation on the wall, I instantly fell in love with it.


It really gives the dining room a warm, authentic look.  My total cost was about $25.  That’s 87% savings over Pottery Barn!  It only took a few minutes to make, and now I also have a great way to display my grandmother’s silver.

I’m tinkering with the idea of doing two smaller shadow boxes on each side of the spoons, one for forks and one for knives.  What do you think?