Monday, September 22, 2008

It's time

Make a Halloween fortune-telling tree

Let each party guest pluck a fortune card from this spooky soothsayer's tree.

What you'll need:
Floral foam for dried arrangements
Large opaque vase or flowerpot
Gnarly tree branch
Silver paper shreds
Candy corn
Bat stencils or cookie cutters
Black art paper
Metallic silver marker
Small translucent vellum, glassine or waxed paper envelopes
Standard hole punch
Thin (1/4 to 1/8 inch) ribbon
Rubber skeletons and spiders (optional)

1. Cut a piece of floral foam to fit the vase and push it into the vase, leaving about 1/2-inch space at the top. Push the trunk of the tree branch deep into the floral foam, making sure that it is anchored securely. Spread silver paper shreds or candy corn over the surface of the vase to cover the floral foam.

2. Using bat stencils or cookie cutters as guides, cut out folded bat shaped cards, joined at the wings, from the black art paper in a size that will fit into the envelopes. Use the silver marker to write a fortune or mystic message inside each bat card.

3. Place each bat card, along with a single piece of candy corn, into a glassine envelope and seal the envelope. Punch a hole into the top of each envelope, thread a piece of ribbon through the hole, and hang the envelope on the tree. Hang enough envelopes so that each party guest can pluck one as they prepare to leave the party. Decorate the tree with rubber skeletons and spiders, if desired.

Credit: Design by Elizabeth Woodson

Pumpkin Toffee Crunch Cheesecake

Prep: 25 min.

Bake: 1 hr. 30 min.

Chill: 2 hr.

Serves: 12

Cost per serving: $1.34

The crust:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 2/3 cups crushed gingersnaps

6 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

The filling:

4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

6 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin puree

The topping:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

3 (1.4 oz.) milk chocolate English toffee bars, chopped into rough shards

1/4 cup white chocolate chips

1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Mix gingersnap crumbs, butter and brown sugar with hands until mixture holds together when pressed. Press into bottom of pan. Bake crust until firm and slightly darkened, about 12 minutes. Cool crust. Maintain oven temperature.

2. Make filling: Beat cream cheese and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in butter, then eggs, one at a time, to thoroughly incorporate. Mix in heavy cream. Add flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt, and then mix until smooth. Add pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Place springform pan with cooled crust on a large baking pan (crust will ooze some melted butter as cake bakes) and pour mixture into springform pan over crust.

3. Return to 350°F oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until filling is puffed around edges and moves slightly in center when pan is gently shaken. Remove from oven and immediately place hot cheesecake, uncovered, in refrigerator; let cool overnight.

4. Make caramel topping: Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat. After sugar dissolves, do not stir. Cook until mixture turns deep amber in color, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, about 15 minutes.

5. Reduce heat to low and add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until bubbling subsides. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 11/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Chill until firm but still pourable, about 15 minutes.

6. Remove cheesecake from refrigerator and spoon caramel over top, just to edges, being careful not to let it drip down sides. Make a ring from candy bar shards on edge of top of cake. Use white chocolate chips to make a jack-o'-lantern face in center. Chill for at least two hours and up to one day before serving. Gently run a knife around sides of pan to loosen the cake and release pan sides.

PER SERVING: Cal. 873, Fat 55g (Sat. 32g), Chol. 252mg, Fiber 2g, Pro. 13g, Carb. 84g, Sod. 527mg

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Skewered Eyeballs

Prep: 40 min.

Cook: 8 min.

Yield: 16

Cost per serving: 99 cents

2/3 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning

1 1/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 16 bite-size pieces (about 2 small breasts)

16 cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and stems removed

8 round carrot slices, blanched

4 small, pitted black olives, halved

4 large, pimento-stuffed green olives, halved

1. Soak 16 round, wooden toothpicks in water for 30 minutes. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sage and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Pour half into a separate bowl. Add chicken to one bowl and mushrooms to other. Toss; let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Remove chicken from marinade and season with 1 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. To make an "eyeball," place a cube of chicken on cutting board and push toothpick through. Push mushroom onto toothpick, cap side down; center carrot round on toothpick and push into indentation in mushroom to make "iris." Finally, center black olive half on toothpick and push onto carrot to make "pupil." Make 8 "eyeballs" this way. For other 8, omit carrot and black olive and push green olive half into indentation in mushroom. Discard chicken marinade; reserve mushroom marinade. ("Eyeballs" can be made up to this point and kept, covered, in refrigerator for up to 8 hours.)

3. Preheat broiler. Place "eyeballs" on a broiler pan. Position in oven so that chicken is 6 inches from heat source. Broil until chicken is cooked through, basting occasionally with mushroom marinade, 6 to 8 minutes. Arrange on a platter, in pairs, to look like a plate full of shifty eyes.

PER SERVING (1 "eyeball"): Cal. 95, Fat 6g (Sat. 0g), Chol. 21mg, Fiber 0g, Pro. 9g, Carb. 2g, Sod. 145mg

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Make a spooky spider vase centerpiece

Paint a clear glass vase with rubber-stamped spiders and fill it with a bouquet of freaky flowers made from pipe cleaners and a variety of crafting bits.

You'll Need

  • Black pipe cleaners
  • Bat stencils or cookie cutters
  • Scissors
  • Regular black felt and stiffened black felt
  • Crafts glue
  • Glue gun and sticks
  • Assorted fake jewels
  • Novelty wedding pearls
  • Silver craft leaves
  • Black pom-poms
  • Small wiggle eyes
  • Black "eyelash" yarn
  • Artificial flower stamens
  • Assorted black feathers
  • Spider rubber stamp
  • Black ink dauber suitable for glass, such as Delta Purecolor Rich Pigment Ink
  • Plain, clear glass vase
  • White sea glass, pebbles or other floral-arrangement stones

1. Assemble flowers: Make stems by twisting 2 to 4 pipe cleaners together. Fold 1/2" of flower end of stem into an L-shape so you have something to glue flower to.

2. Trace bat cookie cutter and cut shape from stiff black felt. Decorate with fake jewels; hot glue to a stem. Cut a free-form cat head from felt and decorate with fake jewels and "whiskers." Glue silver craft leaves around a black pom-pom to make a giant daisy. Glue wiggle eyes to tips of a free-form felt flower and add "stamen." Make a hairy monster by wrapping top of stem with eyelash yarn. Add craft store stamen and wiggle eyes. Glue floppy felt petals to a fancy feather to create a fantasy flycatcher. Finish flowers by winding short pieces of pipe cleaner around a pencil to make coils. Twist once around stem to attach.

3. Make vase: Load rubber stamp with black ink and press it against vase. Repeat until you are happy with design.

4. Let dry overnight for temporary use. For permanent design, place vase on a large baking sheet and bake in a preheated 150°F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before handling.

5. Fill vase about halfway with stones. Use stones to anchor flowers in vase.

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Make the room glow with peat-pot luminaries

Use these cackling cuties on a mantle, as dinner table place markers or to light the pathway to the party house.

You'll Need

Medium or large peat pots (we used 3" x 3" and 4" x 4" rounds)

Crafts knife

Votive candles in glass cups

1. Carve a jack-o'-lantern face into side of each peat pot with a craft knife. Try different faces on each pot.

2. Line pots up in a row. Place a glass cup with a votive inside each pot and light candle when ready to use.

Be sure to use candles safely: Keep burning candles within sight at all times and make sure to extinguish them when leaving a room or going to bed. Visit for more tips.

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Make spooky lanterns

You'll need:

  • Witch and moon templates
  • Printer and printing paper
  • Scissors
  • 3 orange paper bags (
  • Tape
  • 3 votive candles
  • 3 glass votive holers

Click here for moon template

Click here for witch template

1. Print out template. To make three luminaries, print out three copies of each template. Cut out shape, following image outlines as closely as possible.

2. Tape a moon shape inside each bag. Position in the upper right hand corner of each bag.

3. Center a witch inside one bag. Tape it in place. This will be the center luminaria. On a second bag, position a witch almost directly below moon. Tape in place, folding bristle end of broom around inside of bag. This luminaria will go on the right. On the third bag, position a witch to left of moon, so she appears to be flying off left-hand edge of bag. Tape in place, folding broom handle around side.

4. Place each candle in a holder. Light, then set in bag. (If you're using luminarias outdoors, fill bottoms with sand first to weigh bags down.)

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Halloween recipes and more.....

Bat Wings with Drip Sauce

Bat's Wings with Drip Sauce Photo
Bat's Wings with Drip Sauce
Yield: Makes 8 servings and 1-1/3 cups sauce
chicken wings (3 to 4 pounds)

cup low-sodium soy sauce

cup unsulphured molasses

cup beef broth

teaspoon ground ginger

cup ketchup

tablespoons dark brown sugar

tablespoons red wine vinegar

tablespoon Dijon mustard

tablespoon sesame oil

teaspoon hot sauce

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Stretch out each chicken wing to resemble bat's wing. Arrange wings, skin side down in single layer in large roasting pan.

Combine soy sauce, molasses, broth and ginger in small saucepan; heat over low heat until mixture is smooth and well blended. Pour evenly over wings. Bake wings 30 minutes; turn and bake 30 minutes more or until sauce is thick and sticky.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly before serving.

Publications International, Ltd., the Editors of. "Bat Wings with Drip Sauce." 31 August 2006. 11 September 2008.

Blue Goo Cupcakes

Blue Goo Cupcakes Photo
Blue Goo Cupcakes
Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes
package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix

Blue food coloring

package (6 ounces) blue gelatin

Blue decorator icing

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 standard (2-1/2-inch) muffin pan cups with paper liners.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Add 6 drops blue food coloring to batter; adjust color as desired. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake according to package directions. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine gelatin and 1-1/3 cups boiling water in small bowl. Stir mixture 3 minutes or until gelatin is completely dissolved. Freeze mixture 40 minutes, stirring often, or until partially set.

Pipe ring of blue icing around edge of each cupcake. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon gelatin mixture onto each cupcake.

Tip: For a firm texture, or in extreme heat, chill until serving time. For a runny "blob" consistency, serve at room temperature.

Publications International, Ltd., the Editors of. "Blue Goo Cupcakes." 31 August 2006. 11 September 2008.

Creepy Crawler Punch

Creepy Crawler Punch Photo
Creepy Crawler Punch
Yield: Makes 36 servings
Creepy Crawler Ice Ring (recipe follows)

cups light corn syrup

cup water

cinnamon sticks

tablespoons whole cloves

teaspoon ground allspice

cups (64 ounces) cranberry juice cocktail

cups (48 ounces) pineapple juice

cups (32 ounces) orange juice

cup lemon juice

cups (about 64 ounces) ginger ale

Prepare Creepy Crawler Ice Ring one day before serving. Freeze.

Cook and stir corn syrup and water in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice; stir gently. Bring to a boil; immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes.

Refrigerate, covered, until chilled. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.

Combine syrup mixture, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, orange juice and lemon juice in punch bowl; stir until blended. Add ginger ale. Unmold Creepy Crawler Ice Ring; add to punch bowl.

Publications International, Ltd., the Editors of. "Creepy Crawler Punch." 31 August 2006. 11 September 2008.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scrapbooking 101

Let's do some scrapbooking:

For beginners, be sure to lay out your page before attaching to your background.
Basic supplies to get you started: Album and sheet protectors
Scissors or paper trimmer
Journaling tools
Your photos

Now you are ready to begin,
Creating a layout:
Pick your photos Pick your papers
Mat your photos (plain colored paper works best as patterns take away from your picture)
Lay out your page (now the fun part. Anything goes, remember it's your story to tell) Journal your story (optional, you can also tell the story using simple words or stickers)

Now that you have the basics of scrapbooking here are some great links to get you started:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

What the......

Now does this look like appropriate office wear?

I cannot believe it!!! I work in an office and Friday is jeans day, however, I had to send a girl to HR today for wearing sweat shorts. Now tell me why would you wear something like that to work in an office? I just don't understand where some people get their brains. Is this not common sense? What is happening with people today? I guess I just have a hard time grasping the stupidity of others....

This is what is meant by jeans day at the office

How to...

It's finally Friday and I can't wait for the work day to end.
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