Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

I hope that everyone has a fun and safe Halloween weekend! We are going to watch scary movies and eat good food by candlelight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn Leaf Fudge

This is a festive twist you can take on your favorite fudge recipe with the use of cookie cutters. My all time favorite is Fantasy Fudge. It is smooth, creamy, and full of chocolate goodness. It is a classic recipe and is on the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Cream jar if you should ever need it. I did a similar recipe to this for Christmas last year, which is great to do if you want to include the cookie cutter as a gift with the fudge.

Cutout Fantasy Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1 pkg. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate pieces (I recommend Ghirardelli)
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped nuts
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, margarine and milk in heavy 2 to 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat or until candy thermometer reaches 234° F., stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.

Stir in chocolate pieces until melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pour into a greased 13-by-9-inch pan. Cool at room temperature. Remove the fudge from the pan, foil included. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters.

Line a baking pan with foil and then spray it with Pam. I used a 13 x 9 pan.

Make fudge according to the recipe. Bring to a rolling boil.

Make sure your candy thermometer reads 234°.

Add remaining ingredients:

Pour out onto foil and cool. Remove fudge and foil from the pan and cut with cookie cutters.

Chill until ready to serve.

Wish there were some left. I would have a piece right now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Candy Jar Pumpkin People

This is a very cute idea I got from Martha Stewart. It would be a fun project for children, too. Here is the picture from her website:

They are funny and festive, but some seem lackluster in character and personality. The two on the right look a little on the manic side. So, I decided to do my own twist on the pumpkin people.

Materials Needed:

1 jar
Halloween candy
1 tiny pumpkin
googly eyes
small piece of candy (for nose)
doll hair
tiny, bendy twig (for mouth)
white glue (I prefer Alene's tacky glue)

Fill the jar with the candy. Glue eyes and nose on the pumpkin. Add the mouth and bend to smile, if desired. Glue strands of hair onto the top until desired coiffure achieved.

And...voila! A really cute pumpkin person. I decided to give him an understated Mona Lisa smile.

He is going to sit on my windowsill to bring me cheer while I wash dishes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Creative Autumnal Incandescence

Autumn is such a cozy time of year. I love to decorate with pumpkins and warm colors. I like to place pumpkins in various rooms around my house. Our mantel is very prominent, so I give it the most attention. I also wanted little touches of warm light around the pumpkins, so I crafted some candle holders covered in tissue paper. I loved the result! The best part is how easy they were to make.

Supplies Needed:

tissue paper in various colors
white glue
small paint brush
wax paper
small glass candle holders
votive candles

The tissue paper I used has fiber running through it, which gave it a handmade look. I found it at World Market.

Lay the wax paper on your work surface and tear the tissue paper into small pieces:

I used these small candle holders that look like flower pots. Walmart has them for 50¢.
Dilute the glue slightly with water and paint onto glass:

Add tissue paper, one piece at a time. Paint over the piece with the glue until it lays flat. I used the straight edge of the paper around the top of the container. I didn't try to do that around the bottom because it really doesn't show.

Work your way around the entire container:

Repeat the process with the other colors:

The rough, fibrous texture of the tissue paper created more of a leaf-like appearance:

A tip I learned a long time ago is to add a little water to the candle holder right before you insert the candle and light it. This will help keep the wax from sticking to the inside so you can reuse it later.

They turned out beautifully.

Just a hint of a cozy glow that doesn't take away from the look of the pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

This is a recipe I have had for years. It is an easy and delicious way to take advantage of strawberries while they are in season. I made mini muffins and took them to work, but you can also make them in a regular muffin tin.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

2 - 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup sour cream
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
brown sugar for sprinkling

Combine ingredients. Divide evenly into greased or paper lined muffin tins. Sprinkle with brown sugar, if desired. (This recipe makes about 18 large muffins and 30 mini muffins).

Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes for mini muffins and 20 minutes for regular muffins. Serve warm!