The Switch Witch

Switch-Witch-flyer-for-blogWorried your kids will get too much candy on Halloween and rot your teeth?  We’ve had pretty good luck using the Switch Witch to reduce our kid’s sugar load.  They get to select as much candy as they want to “trade in” and we give them a gift in exchange (errr…the Switch Witch does).  If they just trade in a little candy, then little gift (stickers, tatoos, etc).  All their candy=big gift (something they’ve been wanting around $10).  Obviously, you can make whatever rules work best for your family but that is what has worked for us!

I’d give credit were credit is due, but I can’t recall where we got this poem.

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Shortbread Thumprints with Pumpkin Spice Caramel

shortbread with pumpkin caramel

This is a simple shortbread recipe, that tastes simply amazing when you add the Pumpkin Spice Caramel on top.  Perfect for fall.  The cookies in this picture were actually made with whole wheat flour rather than all purpose (it was all I had on hand at the time), and they are still quite delicious.

Shortbread Thumprints

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups flour

Directions

1. Beat butter and sugar and salt together until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the egg and vanilla, the flour. Do not overmix.
3. Cover and chill for an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375. Roll 1 inch balls and place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb into each ball to make a large divot. Bake about 10 minutes until bottoms are golden.
5. Remove, cool, on wire rack. Use thumb or spoon to press down divots again if needed.
6. Top with Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce. Then sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

And, here’s the pumpkin spice caramel sauce recipe, in case you missed it!  Which, by the way is great all on it’s own!

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

Snack Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Directions

1. Put sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan (no need to stir) and bring to boil using medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally to combine ingredients.
2. Once contents of saucepan are boiling, coninute to let boil gently for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture is a medium amber color.
3. Remove from heat and add butter and whipping cream. Stir well. Then whisk in the pumpkin pie spice and canned pumpkin.
4. Pour into jar and cover. Chill for 4 hours. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

 

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

pumpkin caramel sauceI just love all things pumpkin.  And, it doesn’t get much better than pumpkin and sweet, gooey caramel sauce.  This caramel sauce is very simple to make (no candy thermometer required!), but has a wonderful, autumn flavor.  Use it to dip apples, top cheesecake, cake or cookies, and stir it into your favorite warm, fall beverage.  Oh, and don’t forget…it makes a yummy ice cream topping, too.  The possibilities or endless.  Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my favorite shortbread thumbprint cookies that are simply delicious with this sauce.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

Snack Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Directions

1. Put sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan (no need to stir) and bring to boil using medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally to combine ingredients.
2. Once contents of saucepan are boiling, coninute to let boil gently for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture is a medium amber color.
3. Remove from heat and add butter and whipping cream. Stir well. Then whisk in the pumpkin pie spice and canned pumpkin.
4. Pour into jar and cover. Chill for 4 hours. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

 

 

Jack-o-Lantern Treat Jars

jackolantern jar

Aren’t these fun?  And, a perfect teacher gift or even a fun handout for your kids’ classmates.

Supplies

  • Squaty mason jar.  I used size 1/2 pint wide mouth jars.
  • Black Sharpie
  • Green tissue paper
  • Green ribbon or even twine would work
  • Orange candy (candy corn, Reese Pieces, M&Ms, etc)

Instructions

  1. Draw a pumpkin face on to the side of your jar with a sharpie.
  2. Fill Jar with orange candy.
  3. Cut your piece of tissue paper in half and then fold in half to double it.  Place lid in center of tissue paper and tightly wrap tissue paper around lid.  Hold it in place with ribbon.  (Another option is to glue tissue paper all around the edge of the lid and then gather it at the top in the same manner).
  4. Tightly twist the top of the tissue paper to make the pumpkin’s stem.  Cut the top of it off so it is flat.
  5. Carefully screw the lid onto the jar, taking care not to rip it as you screw it on.
  6. Give it away and look for smiles in return.

Simple No Sew Fleece Hat



Here’s a craft I actually posted on my other blog, and it has been so incredibly popular, I thought I would share it on this blog as well.

Supplies:

  • Fleece
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Yard stick or measuring mat
  • masking tape

Instructions:

    1. Cut a piece of fleece about 15″ x 24″. The horizontal length should be in the same direction that the fabric stretches.
    2. Fold the rectangle in half along the vertical axis so that you now have a double layer of fleece that measures 15″x12″. You want to make sure the short edges meet up very well when doing this, so take your time to get it right.
    3. Measure a line 1.5″ from the vertical, open edge and mark it with masking tape. I suppose you could skip the tape, but it really helps the fringe stay even. Cut 3/4″ wide fringe along this edge, through both layers of the fleece, all the way up to the masking tape line.
    4. Now open your fleece, and start tying the vertical edges together making a tight square knot with the opposing pieces of fringe. Do this all the way up the edge until you are bout 2.5″ 3″ away from the end. You’ll end up with a row of bows. You can leave this as the outside of the hat if you like, but I prefer to cut the tails of the bows a little shorter and then turn the hat inside out at this point. Roll up the bottom edge of the hat twice to create the brim.
    5. You should have about 3 pieces of fringe on either side at the top of the hat that are left untied. Cut these off so that the two edges of the fabric will meet up again.
    6. Now we’ll make the hat’s pom pom. Measure about 3″ from the top edge of the hat and mark it with masking tape again. Cut 1″ wide fringe along this edge, through both layers of fabric, about 1″ wide.

  • Grab a strip of fleece. I always seem to have a scrap strip lying around that works well for this. Tie it around the fringe with a really tight square knot. Cut the tails to desired length and voila!

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?