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


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.

Sugar Free, Fat Free Valentine Heart Candy

January 28, 2010

Guiltless Valentine candy hearts? What’s the catch? They’re only pictures of candy hearts, in a customizable design:

Personalized Heart Candy Travel MugTemplate mug
Personalized Heart Candy Travel MugTemplate by alinaspencil
Create ceramic coffee mugs on zazzle

This candy heart mug template has six Valentine’s day heart candy spaces for you to add your own message. Three hearts are on one side, three hearts are on the other side.

Create your own custom travel mug to keep or give away. Replace the words in the fields provided.

I love my travel mug. It keeps drinks hot or cold for a long time. Despite it looking like it is made of plastic, it is actually stainless steel; the white color is an enamel paint layer.

Don’t want a mug? How about a shirt?

Personalized Heart Candy Shirt shirt
Personalized Heart Candy Shirt by alinaspencil
T shirts from zazzle

You may want to make the font larger or smaller in order to fit your message. To do so, click on “customize.” This will take you to the Zazzle design tool.

Click on the appropriate bar. You’ll see a white box with a number in it. Click on the plus sign to the right of that number to make the font larger. Click on the minus sign to make it smaller. Use the arrow buttons to reposition the words if necessary.

If you have questions or need help, please email me at:

Za’atar Roasted Potatoes

January 1, 2010

One of the gifts I received this holiday season was a snack-sized zip-top bag containing za’atar spice mix.

Za’atar is both the name of an herb related to marjoram and oregano, as well as a spice mix made up of herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac.

Sumac’s berry-like fruits are ground to produce a tangy, purplish spice. In this case, it was almost a fuchsia color. My friend said in Iran, where he used to live, there were bowls of the ground sumac powder on the table. People sprinkled it on their food as desired.

This particular blend was sumac, salt, sesame seeds, and thyme. I wasn’t sure how to eat it, and my friend suggested I think of it as a Middle Eastern version of furikake.

(Furikake is a Japanese mixture made from seaweed, sesame seeds, salt, and usually a fish product, although there are vegetarian versions without them. It is usually sprinkled on rice, sort of like a seasoned salt mixture.)

So I tried a bit on rice, but it had very little flavor. I could detect a subtle tang from the pretty purply sumac, and the sesame seeds, but it needed more kick to it.

Since I had to make something to take to a New Year’s Eve potluck party, I decided to use the za’atar with potatoes, sauteeing it in oil, to try to coax out more flavor.

After a bit of doctoring, I had a decent dish, and it was well enough received at the party that I thought I’d post about it here, trying to recreate the recipe. (Besides, a bunch of us received the spice, and I doubt anyone knew what to do with it. Here’s one possibility!)

Vegan Za’atar-Roasted Potatoes
2 TBS toasted sesame oil
4 TBS canola oil
1/4 cup za’atar spice mix (I used the whole baggie full, which was about that much)
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
Juice from 3/4 lemon (about 1-1/2 TBS lemon juice )
3 pounds russet potatoes, washed and cubed
extra virgin olive oil (optional), salt and lemon juice to taste

In a small frying pan on medium-high heat, saute za’atar spices, garlic powder and salt in sesame and canola oils until sizzling and fragrant. Stir constantly and watch carefully, because sesame seeds burn quickly. This took about 1-2 minutes once the mixture got hot enough, but might take a lot less time if you have a gas stove.

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Mix together with the potato cubes; stir well to distribute evenly and turn everything a rosy pink.

Place into two 9×13 cake pans in a single layer.

Bake at 350 degrees F until the potatoes are fork tender, stirring every 20 minutes or so. This took about 50 minutes, but it will vary, depending on how large you cut your potato pieces.

After they are finished, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (optional) and add salt and/or lemon juice as needed, to taste.

Try to cut your potatoes in even-sized pieces. Mine weren’t, so the smaller ones got tough by the time the bigger ones were tender.

This is a bit oily by the time you are done, but I like the flavor the extra virgin olive oil added. You can omit it if you like. Much of the oil and spice mixture ended up stuck to the sides of the pan.

If you didn’t receive a bag of this particular za’atar spice blend, use what you have, but start with 1 TBS za’atar. I would taste some of the spice mix first to get an idea of how much you want to use.

This was an exceptionally bland spice mixture, so I threw it all in. My guess is, if you have a mixture with the oregano-related herb, you would only need a small amount.

Also, this did not taste like it had any salt in it, so if your spice mixture tastes salty, omit the salt until the end, and only add enough to taste, so you don’t end up with a too-salty finished dish.

The flavor and color was unusual enough that it piqued my interest and taste buds. I’ll be looking into trying different variations of za’atar spice blends.

Vegan No-Cook Spiced Apples

December 25, 2009

Looking for a quick, easy, healthier potluck or holiday dish? Try these spiced apples. There is no cooking involved, apples are in season, and you probably have everything you need already. You can throw it together in about 15 minutes.

I made these at the spur of the moment, when I had planned to make Li Hing Apples but couldn’t find my li hing powder. So I used a different combination of spices, with the goal being to create an apple pie-like flavor.

Ingredients (amounts are approximates)
3 apples, washed, cored, sliced into wedges (about 12 per apple)
1 TBS lemon or lime juice
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ginger

Keep the peel on your apples! The peel contains boron, which is necessary for strong bones. (I personally think it plays a key role in preventing osteoporosis, but that is my intuition and based on observation and theory.)

Since apples are one of the top 10 polluted produce items, however, buy organic apples whenever possible, and wash them well.

Mix together the apple slices with lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Taste and adjust the flavors. You want a balance of sweet, sour, spicy, with a touch of saltiness.

Keep in mind that this needs to sit for about an hour for the flavors to get incorporated fully. You’ll get an idea of what it will taste like, but now it has a harsher, more raw flavor. Later it will become well-rounded and mellower yet fuller in taste.

These are also great for a quick snack, and the spices add extra phytochemicals, plant-based health-maintaining compounds, plus variety.

My guess is that because of the sugar and salt, they will get soggy and won’t keep more than half a day or so (unless you don’t mind the sogginess…they’ll still taste good.)

(Sorry, no picture and no exact amounts. I made this in a hurry, then rushed off to the party, where it was eaten and complimented. When I make it again, I’ll write things down and edit this post.)

Vegan Penguin Holiday Appetizers

December 21, 2009

Adorable penguin appetizers--perfect for a holiday party

(I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures, but you get the idea.)

Need a head-turning appetizer to warm up the holiday season?
I made these adorable penguin appetizers for a Christmas Eve party last year, and they were a huge hit, both with the novelty/cuteness factor, and for the taste. Besides, I had fun making them, and they were vegan, so everyone could eat them.

1 carrot, preferable organic
1 can extra large pitted olives
1 can small pitted olives
Cream cheese or vegan cream cheese mixture, about 1/4-1/2 cup
Optional: about 2 TBS chopped nuts, added to cream-cheese-like mixture

I don’t recall exactly which vegan cream-cheese-like recipe I used, but there are lots online. Most call for some nuts, tofu, salt, sugar, lemon juice, and possibly other flavorings, like garlic, blended together in a blender or food processor. Anything fairly white and savory will do, but it needs to be a stiff consistency, so it will stay stuffed in the olives and hold its shape.

To Make the Penguins:
For each penguin, you’ll need
1 extra large olive
1 small olive
1 toothpick
1 slice carrot
1 tsp cream cheese mixture

What you'll need for each penguin

Cut a wedge out of the large olive. Save the larger piece to stuff; eat the smaller piece.

Cut a wedge from the larger olive to become the body.

Fill the large olive piece with filling. Fill the small olive with filling.

The smaller and larger olives, stuffed.

Cut a small triangular piece from the slice of carrot. The small piece will be the beak; the large piece will be feet.

One carrot slice becomes a beak and feet.

Very carefully, cut a slit into the small stuffed olive, going only about halfway through it.

Insert the carrot triangle “beak.” You may need to cut a larger slit, or make thinner carrot slices.

Head with beak inserted.

Insert the toothpick down through the olive “head,”

Toothpick through the head...

then the olive “body,”

...add the body...

and finally, through the carrot “feet.”

...and feet.

Stand your penguin up and smile.

Voila! Vegan Penguin Appetizer!

I stuck them into the bottom of an old foam take-out food tray, so they would remain standing and not fall apart. They looked like an entire colony, socializing.

You can use all larger sized olives, but I thought it looked better using a smaller size for the head. This would be a fun thing to make with kids.

In fact, they don’t need to be for the holidays at all, but they seem perfectly suited to winter and festivity.

Give them a try, and I guarantee your appetizers will get lots of attention and comments.

Thai Thanksgiving Feast

November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to you all back home in the U.S.!

It’s a day ahead here in Thailand, so my Thanksgiving was celebrated one day before the U.S.

I went to visit my two Thai massage friends at their shop and took some Pad Thai, Penang Curry, and rice from my favorite vegetarian Restaurant here in Chiang Mai, May Kaidee’s.

They had raw cucumbers, blanched cabbage and oyster mushrooms, sticky rice, nam phrik, (hot chile paste, made by pounding chiles, garlic, salt and sugar and frying it for a short while), and egg omelette.

My kind of Thanksgiving spread--vegetarian, mostly organic, and international

We shared food. The nam phrik on the omelette was really spicy, and they laughed at me as I coughed.

They hadn’t really heard of Thanksgiving. I tried to explain it’s a holiday when people eat turkey and just eat too much.

But I had decided to come to Chiang Mai instead and visit the Elephant Nature Park, to remind me to be thankful, which is in line with the true spirit of the holiday.

(I’ll post the sad and happy details of my visit to the elephant park in a separate post.)

I tried to say, “You are my Thai massage family.” That resulted in a lot of confusion and laughter, and they eventually understood me.

My friend June has a northern accent, so her pronunciation is a little different than so-called standard Thai at times. But her animated personality and boundless energy make for a lively time, whether we are discussing politics, massage techniques, animal cruelty and the complete lack of regulation and protection for animals here, or how to eat sticky rice.

She insisted I eat it the traditional way, balling it in my hand, then dipping it into the curry or nam phrik. When she was a child, she used to roll the rice between two palms to create a dense ball that was then too chewy and hard to eat easily.

Kids will be kids the world over.

It took two of them, plus pantomime, to explain how they used to squeeze the essential oils out of a piece of orange peel onto a ruler. Then they touched the ruler to the palm of their hand and pulled it away repeatedly. Eventually the oils created spider-web-like strands. The mandarin oranges we had for dessert (along with apple bananas) didn’t have enough essential oil in the peel to make it happen, so I had to take their word for it.

I laughed so much, I was getting a headache from my cheek muscles contracting. That, plus a sore face from smiling, crying, and trying not to sob at the elephant park, were not helping.

They gave me a kaffir lime (ma kroot) to sniff the peel, which is supposed to help with headaches.

Kaffir Limes, Ma Kroot in Thai

It did, until my friend said she wanted some of my extra weight, because she is too skinny and runs out of energy. I told her to take all she wants, and that the reason she is so skinny is because all her movements are vibrant, full of energy, and overexcited.

I imitated her, and we both laughed until our stomachs hurt. She told me she never guessed I’d be a mirror to her behavior.

Then I had a headache again.

They fed the stray dogs outside, named Ding Dong, Long, and Kencham, then put out a hot water bottle so Ding Dong can sleep on it.

Ding Dong, an old street dog with mange and aching joints

He is old and gets stiff after sleeping when it’s cold like this. When he gets up, he shrieks in pain for a few minutes, until his joints warm up and stop hurting.

Sometimes they massage him, to relieve the pain.

“Khon jai dee,” I tell them often. Good, kind people.

Long sleeps hidden in the plants fronting the shop, two feet away from the mopeds, cars, and traffic.

My Thanksgiving dinner was an international celebration, and I was happy to spend it with my Thai “massage family” of therapists here in Chiang Mai.

And although my time at the Elephant Nature Park earlier in the day was emotional, it reminded me of many things I am grateful for.

This Thanksgiving was probably the nicest one I’ve ever had. Ironically, there was no turkey, no stuffing, no overeating, no blood-related family, and I wasn’t even in the U.S.

I hope yours is as full of warmth, love, and good eats as mine was. Happy Thanksgiving, and please remember to give thanks.