Halloween Desserts Ideas

October 29, 2010
halloween cupcake decorating ideas

Easy Halloween cupcake decorating ideas

I played around with a couple ideas this year for easy to do, quick, yet effective Halloween dessert ideas. Cupcakes and cakes were the focus. They mix up quickly and you can prepare the frosting or other foods while they are baking and cooling.

Here are some of my favorites.

NOTE: If you don’t have chocolate clay/modeling chocolate, you can soften Tootsie Roll candies with your hands and shape those.

Find more Halloween party food ideas and tons of Halloween party stuff at my Halloween site.

Halloween Cupcake Decorating Ideas

Bite of the Vampire Halloween Cupcake

vampire bite halloween cupcakes

Vampire bite halloween cupcakes

This one is the simplest of all. With all the vampire movies and books around these days, it’s sure to be a popular theme.

Use any flavor of cupcake you like, although red velvet would be a fun and fitting surprise when you bite into it.

Frost the whole cake with a light colored icing. Using a chopstick, poke two holes for the fang puncture wounds. Using red gel icing or frosting, fill the holes and dribble some down, to look like blood dripping.

Zombie Hands Halloween Cupcakes

zombie hands Halloween cupcakes

Zombie hands Halloween cupcakes

Use either marzipan or modeling chocolate to make tiny hands, or purchase some novelty hands if you can find them. Make the arm portion extra long, so that it’s long enough to stick up once inserted into the cake.

Leave them out overnight to dry out a bit and harden.

Use any flavor cake and frosting, and poke a hole in the top with the large end of a chopstick. Stick the hand in.

Nummy Mummies Halloween Cupcakes

mummy halloween cupcakes

Mummy Halloween cupcakes

Use any flavor cupcake you like, and a light or cream-colored frosting. You’ll need two brightly colored, small round candies for eyes, two per cake.

Spread some frosting along the top edge and a little ways down the cake. Think of this as the bandage going over the mummy’s head. Leave an unfrosted area below that, just large enough for the eyes to peek out.

Add more frosting below the eyes, to cover the rest of the cake. Dip the eyes into a small amount of frosting to help them stick, then place them on the cake.

You can add a dot of darker frosting in the center of the candies for a better eyeball look.

Skulls Halloween Cupcakes

skull halloween cupcakes

Skull Halloween cupcakes

Use any flavor of cupcake, plus a light frosting. You’ll also need a darker frosting or chocolate modeling clay.

Spread frosting in a skull shape. Make a figure eight shape, but keep the upper section bigger, and make the lower section with straight sides.

Using frosting or chocolate clay, make two ovals for eyes. Make two tiny ovals or lines for nostrils. And make three narrow vertical lines below that for the teeth.

Cute Vampires Halloween Cupcakes

cute vampire halloween cupcakes

Cute Vampire Halloween cupcakes

Use any flavor of cupcake and a light colored frosting. You’ll also need either red gel icing or frosting, plus some fruit leather, chocolate modeling clay, or a darker frosting, but that’s optional. You can make the whole thing in red.

Spread frosting all over the cake. With the red icing, draw a curved line for a smile. Then make two triangles from either red icing, or cut them from fruit leather and add them to the mouth.

Use two dots of frosting, or balls of modeling chocolate for eyes. To make hair, use a narrow triangle, either cut from fruit leather, or use frosting. Have the narrow point down, towards the eyes, to look like a widow’s peak.

Halloween Cake Ideas

Graveyard Tombstones Halloween Cake

graveyard halloween cake

Graveyard Halloween cake

You can use any flavor of cake for this, and any type of frosting. You’ll also need pre-baked rectangular cookies, or cookies with a rounded, oval end. For adding tombstone writing, use another color of icing, such as red, orange, or black, or melted chocolate.

Frost the entire cake. Use the icing or melted chocolate to carefully pipe a tiny cross or RIP on each cookie. Insert one into the edge of each cupcake. You may need to place a toothpick behind the cookie to keep it from falling over.

For added effect, add a mound of crushed cookie crumbs, coconut, or frosting, to look like the mound of a grave.

NOTE: The cookies tend to get soggy once you place them into the frosting. So either add them just before serving, or be okay with a graveyard that is falling apart.

Slasher Halloween Cake

slasher halloween cake

Slasher Halloween cake

This one is really easy, takes no talent, and looks really gross.

The idea behind this is a violent killer with a knife. Use any kind of cake you like, in any flavor. You’ll need to frost the top with a light colored frosting. Using a tube of red gel icing, or some icing colored red, create lines and pools of “blood.”

If you have a severed body part prop, this gets even more gross. Put the hand, foot, finger, or eyeball on top the cake, with a pool of blood icing around the cut area.

For a final sickly touch, have a large knife nearby. Put red icing along the blade and in several spots on the handle, to look like bloody fingerprints.

I wrote “Happy Halloween” on mine, and you can see, you don’t even need to use fancy script or anything. It’s quite an effective look.

Find more Halloween party food ideas and tons of Halloween party stuff at my Halloween site.

I hope you’ll get to try at least one of these quick, easy Halloween desserts this year. Have a spooktacular, fun time!


Healthy Halloween Treat: Bloody Popcorn

October 19, 2010
healthy halloween treat bloody popcorn

Healthy Halloween treat: Bloody Popcorn

Maybe you are sick of the candies everywhere at Halloween. Or you are just one of those people who prefers savory, salty treats. You are in luck!

Okay, I admit, this isn’t exactly red, so the name Bloody Popcorn doesn’t quite do it justice. Besides, it’s not runny, like blood. You could always say it’s flavored with dried blood.

The color will be more red if your paprika and chili powder are really fresh. At any rate, trust me, nobody will complain about the flavor, even if they do scrunch their noses at the name.

This has cayenne in it, which gives it a bit of heat. If you are serving this to kids who aren’t used to spicy foods, leave the cayenne out.

The mixture of spices makes for a sweet, salty, slighty fiery mixture. It’s quite addictive.

And popcorn is a whole grain. That’s right! You can eat it without guilt. In fact, know that you are getting fiber and nutrients from it.

Popcorn Nutritional Information

It is full of complex carbohydrates and 1.2 grams of fiber per cup of popped. That means it keeps you fuller longer and your blood sugar from spiking, unlike simple sugars and refined foods without fiber.

It contains a small amount of protein, as well as other minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It’s a good source of manganese as well, a micro-nutrient.

Vegans, no worries. This is a completely vegan recipe.

Recipe: Vegan Bloody Popcorn

“Dried blood” spice mixture:
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar (organic if possible)

2 Tablespoons popcorn (organic if possible)
2 Tablespoons canola oil

Method:

Combine spices in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside while you pop the corn.

In a saucepan with a tightly fitting lid, place oil and ONE kernel of popcorn. Cover and place on high heat.

When the one kernel pops, dump in the rest of the kernels.

Cover and begin shaking the pan back and forth over the stove, to keep everything moving and to prevent burning.

Keep one hand on the lid while you continue to move the pot. The popcorn will start popping and continue for about 30 seconds or so.

The moment you hear the popping stop, remove it from heat and dump it into a large bowl.

Immediately add the spice mixture and toss well, to get as much to stick to the kernels as possible. There will be some that collects at the bottom, but you’ll get enough to stick to make it delicious.

My guess is that this will become one of your favorite healthy Halloween treats. And I think you’ll end up snacking on it the rest of the year, too!

Find more ideas for healthy Halloween treats, party food and Halloween party stuff.


Homemade Croutons

October 19, 2010

homemade croutons

Homemade croutons are easy and delicious


If the only croutons you’ve ever had have been from a box, or on an iceberg salad from a fast food place, you have no idea what you are missing. The taste, texture, and value of homemade croutons are fabulous.

They are easy and delicious to make. So why aren’t you making your own?

Maybe you just don’t know how. Here’s how to make croutons at home, with delicious results.

Basically, croutons are just toasted bread. The difference is that they are toasted longer, so that the interior of the bread dries out, giving a satisfying crunch throughout, not just on the surface.

However, if you like that crunch just on the outside, the good news is, you have full control when you make your own. You can leave them in the oven for less time, to get a softer, chewier finished product. Or keep them there longer, to get almost a tooth-shattering morsel. The choice is yours.

Simply use some leftover bread. I don’t like bread heels, the slices you cut off at either end of a loaf. So I tend to use those, or just the odd slice or two that collects after a while.

I also use the pieces that are broken up and can’t be used for a sandwich. If you make your bread with a bread machine, you know about those pieces. They are ones in the middle, where the paddle has been, and cut a big hole.

Any bread is fine. You can use fresh bread or stale, whole grain or white, sweet or savory.

Recipe: Homemade Croutons
2 slices bread, cubed (or a similar amount of rolls or buns,) about 3 cups
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt to taste (optional)

I use a serrated knife to cut the bread into cubes. Place the bread cubes into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. I prefer this to a cookie sheet, because the cubes stay inside when you mix them, but you can use a cookie sheet as well.

Add the olive oil. Mix well. Sprinkle on the garlic and onion powders. Mix well. Spread out evenly in the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and hard. Stir halfway through.

Homemade Crouton Tips

–Stick around while they are baking, because they can overcook very quickly.

–Be sure to cool them completely before storing in an airtight container.

–Try to make them on a day that’s not raining, because the moisture in the air from rain (and snow too?–I live in Hawaii–we don’t have snow–someone with experience will have to answer this for me!) will make them get soggy soon after you remove them from the oven.

–You don’t even have to use bread slices. Any shape or size will work. Have some leftover rolls or buns? Use those.

–In fact, for variation, try using sweet bread sometimes. It makes for a nice complement to a carrot soup, for example.

–You can add salt if you like, but I leave it out because salad dressing has a lot of flavor, and I like my croutons to add to the flavor, not compete with it.

–These are excellent on leafy green salads or soup. Try some with this vegan chocolate vegetable soup, for example.

–They can be quite addictive, so don’t be surprised to find yourself munching on them right out of the oven!

Now you know how to make croutons at home. It’s very straightforward and simple, and if you try it for yourself, you’ll see how delicious they are. You will likely never buy pre-made again.

I know, I know. You’re becoming a food snob, like me! ha ha.


What’s the difference between long and short grain rice?

October 3, 2010

What’s the difference between long and short grain rice? And what is medium rice?

Can you use the different types interchangeably? Does size even matter?

Rice can be confusing. Not only are there grain sizes to contend with, but there are colors, varieties, and types to sort through. According to the USA Rice Federation, there are more than 120,000 varieties of rice worldwide!

Here’s a basic rice primer, so you can learn when to use a long grain, or when to stick to short.

Long grain rice tends to separate when cooked. That means your rice will fall apart, rather than stick together. Use long grain rice when you are making dishes that call for separate, loose grains, such as pilafs. It also has a firmer, dryer texture and feel in the mouth.

Chinese restaurants usually serve a side order of long grain rice with the food. So if you hate trying to pick up those grains individually with chopsticks, you might decide to use a shorter, stickier rice instead, to serve with your stir fry.

Medium grain rice is more likely to stick together. The grains are softer and moister than long grain rice when cooked. This type of rice is the preferred type in Hawaii, where the mix of cultures enjoys rice with every meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!

Yes, we really do eat rice for snacks. One of the most popular local foods is musubi, a ball of cooked rice, wrapped in nori, or seaweed “paper.” Often these will have a slice of fried Spam luncheon meat on top.

Calrose rice, a variety grown in California, is a medium grain rice. This is the type to get if you want a bland, clean taste.

Short grain rice is the most sticky and soft. The grains have a bit of chewiness to them. The extra starch in them gives them these properties.

Specialty rice types
One famous type of medium grain rice is Arborio, used to make Italian risotto. The starch thickens the liquid as it cooks, creating a creamy texture that gives the dish its signature style. You can substitute other short or medium grain rice, but never long grain rice, and get a similar finished product.

Sushi is made with short or medium grain rice. This is another of the exceptions to the substitution rule. You cannot substitute long grain rice when making sushi, or everything will just fall apart and not feel right in the mouth.

Substituting rice
For the most part, if you are just making a pot of rice, or you run out of one kind of rice or another, you can relax. The different types can be substituted equally in most dishes, without ruining them. There are a few exceptions to the rule, however.

Use a short or medium grain for sushi, risotto, rice pudding, and molded rice dishes. Use medium grain for paella. Use long grain for pilafs.

Use glutinous or sticky rice to make rice cakes, or mochi. Use black glutinous rice to make Malaysian sticky black rice pudding. Use Thai sticky rice for sticky rice with coconut milk and mango, or to eat with Thai food, like those in the northern parts of Thailand, and Laos, do.

What rice to use for fried rice?
Any type can be used, but most commonly, white rice is used. It is usually kept in the refrigerator, or left out for a day, which dries the rice a bit. Otherwise, if you use fresh rice, you get a steamy, soggy mess.

If you think rice is bland, see this post to learn how to make rice more interesting.


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