Doughnut Witch’s Broom Treat Bags

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January 2014 110Halloween is without a doubt one of my favorite holidays – it’s right up there with Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.  They’re my favorite because you get to celebrate with friends and family, eat crazy amounts of delicious food, and just kind of hang out.

Looking back I’m not sure I’ve ever had a “bad” Halloween.  Unless you count the time that my neighbors gave us pennies instead of candy, or the time we got instant powdered breakfast mix.  Not so good.  The moral – if you don’t have Halloween candy, just turn your porch light off!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way.  Let’s talk doughnuts!

I saw these Witch’s Broom Party Favors on Martha Stewart years ago, and thought they would be awesome filled with doughnuts!!!  I think in food, I just can’t help it!

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As you can see I crammed three regular-sized doughnuts in there, if you want more of the pretzel showing on the top, then just simply place two doughnuts in the bag.

This would also be fun to do with doughnut holes – although I haven’t tried it.  I rather liked the idea of the pretzel rod being held in place (somewhat) by the holes in the center of the regular doughnuts.  I have tried to make these with chocolate glazed doughnuts, but as you can imagine the glaze stuck to the bottom of the doughnut above it, which was less than ideal.

For the craft part, you’ll need. . .

brown paper lunch bags (2 per favor)

baking twine

large pretzel rods

3 regular size doughnuts (per favor)

You could cut corners and purchase doughnuts or you could make these lovelies from scratch.  Just be aware that freshly made homemade doughnuts are best eaten the day they are fried.

Berliner Doughnuts Adapted from Glazed, Filled, Sugared, & Dipped

3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature

3 cups bread flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Place the paddle attachment onto the stand mixer, and in the bowl, add the yeast and milk and paddle on low for about 3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.  Pour mixture into the yeast and mix just until combined.

On low speed add the egg and vanilla to the batter and mix for just a few seconds.  Next add in the butter, paddling until incorporated.

On medium speed, paddle the batter for 5-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl.  It’s okay if it’s a little sticky – that means moist doughnuts!

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it into a ball.  Place in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and place a dishtowel on top.  Let the dough rise until tripled – about 30 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, place a paper towel on a large plate – set aside.  Then heat at least 2 inches of oil in a large pot until it reaches 350 degrees.

When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin roll to the dough to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the dough with a doughnut cutter.

Fry 2 -3 doughnuts at a time for 1.20 minutes per side, then flip and repeat.  Drain the doughnuts on the paper-towel lined plate.  Glaze while doughnuts are still warm.

Butter Glaze Adapted from Glazed, Filled, Sugared, & Dipped

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, and water.  Whisking to break up lumps.  Add vanilla and salt.  Simmer, then remove from heat.  Pour through a sieve and use immediately!

Dip warm doughnuts into the glaze and set on a wire rack to dry until they are no longer wet (about 30 minutes) before packaging them.







Monster Toes

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October 2014 184Just in time for Halloween – Monster Toe cookies!  Super fun to make, and one recipe makes a lot (over 6 dozen).  The trick to making these cookies is to roll a sparse amount of dough, because they do spread, and I like for them to be proportionate to the peanut M&M.

Regardless of how big they are, they are delicious.  So get your little monsters in the kitchen and bake up some fun!

Monster Toes Adapted from Ghoulish Goodies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup smooth peanut butter (I use Skippy Natural)

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large package of peanut M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment.  Set aside.

Using your beaters, cream the butter, brown sugar, sugar, and peanut butter together until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla – beat until combined.

Add the baking powder and salt.  Beat until combined.  Then beat in the 2 3/4 cups flour until it is completely incorporated.

Pinch off roughly a teaspoon of cookie dough and roll the dough in between your hands to make a ball, and then a cylinder, then place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Next, make lines in the dough with a fork tine (I use the side of the fork so I don’t squish the dough – you could also use a wood skewer).

Place a peanut M&M (word side down) on the end of the dough and taper the dough in around the M&M.  Then sprinkle the rest of the toe with chocolate jimmies.

Bake for 6 – 8 minutes.  Let cool completely before removing from parchment.

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Candy Corn Cheese Platter

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October 2014 075I have been to countless school Halloween parties.  And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that cheese platters are popular.  So I thought it would be fun to make a Halloween version – which is insanely easy to do + it includes all the cheeses that most kids love.

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Just add crackers around the edge and your done!  I used Colby Jack for the bottom layer, Sharp Cheddar for the middle, and Mozzarella cheese sticks for the top.  You could also use fresh Mozzarella, but it tends to weep, and a wet cheese platter is a bad cheese platter.

The Best Blueberry Muffins

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September 2014 193

I couldn’t very well post a packaging idea featuring these yummy blueberry muffins without sharing the recipe with you all!  I love making these – they are so soft and delicious.  The secret to all that deliciousness is the sour cream and the mini blueberries (I buy Wyman’s frozen Wild Blueberries*).

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You know those Duncan Hines Blueberry mixes with the mini blueberries in the can?  I used to buy the mixes just to get those tiny berries to mix into my own batter.  So I was elated when I found the Wyman’s frozen blueberries at my local Fresh Market – I may or may not have bought 8 bags on the spot.

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What can I say?  Walmart has conditioned me to buy excessively (because as you know, if you see it there once it may never be back).  Or maybe it’s back, but hidden in a different location.  Don’t get me started!!!

The Best Blueberry Muffins Adapted from Gluesticks

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup canola oil

1 egg

1/3 cup sour cream, full fat

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup rinsed frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a standard muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Then add all of the wet ingredients and stir together – the dough will be stiff.

Stir in the blueberries – if there are a few bluish purple streaks in the batter that’s okay!

Scoop the batter into the muffin liners using a Zeroll #30 disher (1.03 ounce).

Makes 12.

*This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that Wyman’s and The Fresh Market did not compensate me for this post in any form.  In fact, they don’t even know I exist!  I just happen to be a really big fan of Wyman’s Wild Blueberries (and I can only purchase them at the Fresh Market) and had to share them with you all because they’re just too good to keep to myself.


Kraft Cookie Bag (A Gift Idea)

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I’m always on the lookout for cute packaging ideas that don’t break the bank.  I found this idea in Picture Perfect Parties, which is a gem.  It’s loaded with lots of creative and fun party food and presentation ideas.

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The idea in the book was to hold olives inside the bag with a plastic liner, but I immediately decided the bag would be perfect as a vessel for homemade cookies and muffins.  I can just drop them off, and the recipient can recycle the bag – no storage issue for either one of us!

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And because I’m crazy about protecting my baked goods, I just layered plastic wrap sheets on top – you could also use parchment.  So get yourselves some Kraft paper bags with handles – like these, and just cut off the top near the handles and roll down the rim of the bags.  Fill with baked cookies or muffins and you’re done!

The cookies shown above are Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and the Thin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

If you have time, you can also swipe on two coats of chalkboard paint (dry between coats) and label your goodies with a liquid chalk pen.

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Walmart Pickup Grocery

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So let’s get this out of the way first. My husband works for the Walmart Home Office, but I’m just a customer and an equal opportunity shopper.  I wasn’t compensated for this post, or even remotely asked to give my opinion in any way whatsoever – which makes it way more fun to give my opinion!.

Anywho, let’s talk about this new Walmart Pickup Grocery – it’s a whole new store.  It’s smaller than a Neighborhood Market and it has covered parking for pickups.  And I suppose I can’t really talk about it without telling you that I live in Walmart country – that is Bentonville AR.  So this new model is actually being tested out here (in Walmart’s backyard – figuratively speaking) and hopefully will be coming soon to a location near you!

So, why am I telling you about it when you don’t even have one yet? Because I love it. Love it.  Love it.  And I want you to jump for joy and yell into the heavens when you get one!  Because I believe everyone could benefit from this service – new moms, working parents, singles, sick people, etc.  And there’s no charge for picking up your groceries – it’s free!

It takes no time at all to set up an account, plus if you already have a Walmart.com account you can use it to login – easy peasy. Then you can shop the categories, or simply type in the item you’re looking for, and add it to your cart.  If you don’t have time to finish the process in one sitting, no problem!  The site saves your cart for you.

It literally took 5 minutes from checking in to get my groceries loaded into the back of my car.  I’ve been twice, and even though I was hesitant I bought some fresh produce and it was fresh, minus one bell pepper that was a little older than I would have normally chosen.  However, I recognize that I’m really picky about produce.  I get it, everyone’s got their thing, and that’s mine.

My order was correct both times, and I felt like I was cheating.  You know, because I didn’t have to suffer through shopping for all the groceries.  It was liberating, and I was giddy like a school girl.

So happy that I announced to my 4 year old that “I’m so happy right now I could kiss that guy (loading my groceries)!”  To which she appropriately replied “maybe you can ask him on a date.”  Well, that’s not exactly where my thought train was going, but I suppose asking the guy on a date would make more sense than just walking up and kissing him.  First things first – which makes complete sense if it weren’t just an expression.

So, if you live in Bentonville, or in the surrounding towns, sign up for an invitation to be sent to you when this service goes live.  Which I heard was September 29th, 2014.  Don’t blame me if you’re suddenly overwhelmed with indescribable happiness and want to kiss someone too.  Your secret’s safe with me.

Also, if you don’t happen to live near Bentonville, stop by the site and type in your zip code and email so that an update can be sent to you when one opens up in your area.

Salmon Spread

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Peach Crisp 041My dad travels to Alaska every summer, and sometimes, my husband is lucky enough to travel with him and go deep sea fishing.  Needless to say, when that happens my freezer is overflowing with Salmon and Halibut.

It’s been awhile since my husband has been fishing and we’re out of Halibut, but we’re still working on the Salmon.  I think it’s been 4 years.  Ahem.  Anywho, this is an appetizer that my dad has been serving for the last 15 years.

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Isn’t it beautiful?!  Why is pink such an appetizing color?

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Anyway, this is another great way to stretch your seafood.  Instead of serving fish for a dinner party, serve this luscious appetizer before.  It’s more economical that way and it tastes great.  Don’t forget the capers, because they complete this dish.

Salmon Spread Adapted from my dad

8 ounces Salmon, poached (about 10 minutes in boiling water)

1 – 8 ounce block of cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons horseradish

1/3 cup of chopped onions

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped

1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (if desired)

jar of capers

assorted crackers

Poach the salmon, then debone and place it in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cream cheese and mash the fish and the cream cheese together – you could also use a hand mixer.  Then add the salt, horseradish, onion, and lemon juice – mix until combined.

Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of wax paper and form into a roll, then wrap tightly in foil.  Refrigerate overnight.  Unwrap the salmon and roll it gently in the fresh herbs and nuts (if using) and place it on a serving platter.

Serve with capers and assorted crackers.

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