Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Crispy Bars


To be honest, this seems almost too easy and standard for its own blog post, but I love this idea and it totally works as a quick, last minute festive treat. Anyone who grew up in the 80's & 90's probably has the Rice Krispies Treats recipe memorized because it was the most convenient sweet for our working moms to come up with. How many of us showed up at the school bake sale with Rice Krispies Treats only to find that every other kid and their mom brought the same thing? There's a reason for that - it's easy, doesn't cost much and takes less time to make than it does to put your make-up on.

In an effort to make my favorite speedy standby more festive, I decided to throw in a little something extra… There's nothing difficult about this. It's so easy, it's laughable, but if you're the mom who forgot ahem, was too busy with work to bake something for the kids' Halloween party at school, then this one is for you. You're welcome!

Ingredients
45g unsalted butter
300g marshmallows (I like to use the miniature ones!)
180g Rice Krispies
Assorted Halloween sprinkles in green, orange & black
Halloween sprinkles in shapes like bats & ghosts

Method

  1. Lightly grease a glass pie plate or casserole dish with butter and set aside. I prefer to use a Pyrex pie plate, but you can use whichever pan you like.
  2. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over low heat. As the butter starts to melt, add the marshmallows and stir continuously with a rubber spatula until they are fully melted with the butter.
  3. Take the pot off the burner and add the Rice Krispies and assorted Halloween sprinkles and stir until completely mixed. The sprinkles will start to melt and color the mixture, which is exactly what you want.
  4. Using the same rubber spatula, pour the mix into the greased pie plate. Press it down with the side of the spatula until it's packed in tight and flat on top. Do this quickly so the mixture stays warm for the next step.
  5. Once it's all packed in and flat on top, press the shaped Halloween sprinkles into the top of the crispy bars while they're still warm. Press them into the mix so they'll stick once cooled.
  6. When the bars are completely cooled, remove them from the pie plate by sliding the rubber spatula around the sides of the pie plate, gently wedging it underneath until it starts to break free and gently pull it out onto a cutting board.
  7. Cut into squares in the desired size and serve as they are. Keep leftovers in a sealed plastic ziplock bag or tupperware.
For a party or as a little treat for friends, put these into Halloween treat bags. There ya go… Festive, simple, quick, cheap and easy!

Note: This also works with colored marshmallows such as pink ones for Valentine's Day, other holiday sprinkles such as Christmas or with miniature candy pieces (M&M's would be great mixed in!)… Get creative, whip up a speedy treat and enjoy the praise from very grateful eaters!


Daily Style October 30, 2014 - Nicely Neutral

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Dinner Party Table - All Chic, No Freak


For some, Halloween is something to be done when the kids are little and then forgotten about as soon as they're old enough to stop Trick-or-Treating, but in my house, Halloween is celebrated properly. For one, it's the beginning of the holiday season, a sort of kick-off to the busy schedule, parties, get-togethers and fun that ensues from October to January. It's also a fun holiday that revolves around candy, Autumn and dressing up in costumes - three of my favorite things.



I've never been much for super scary costumes or a particularly creepy Halloween. As a kid I would opt for costumes like Western saloon girl, clown or 1950's girl… As I've gotten older, not much has changed - 1920's flapper, Greek Goddess and 80's Madonna have been a few of my costumes in recent years. I always opt for a smiley pumpkin instead of a spooky one and you won't find spiders and creepy crawlies dangling from the light fixtures in my home. What you will find is an abundance of orange, black and white in place of usual color schemes. Lots of knickknacks and candles are dotted around, there are a few jack-o-lantern fairy lights hung up and a Happy Halloween bunting takes center stage. It's festive without being overwhelming, just the way I like it.



For dinner parties, these things all look great, but I love to tie in my table to the spirit of whatever holiday is upon us. You may have seen my previous budget Halloween table idea which is quite festive, however this time around I'm going for a more chic approach and this is probably the table I'll have set up when my guests arrive for a pre-Halloween dinner party this year. It's elegant and fun without being cheesy and what's especially great is that all these pieces are just thrown together, but will have their uses throughout the year for other occasions. With limited space and storage like I have, this is a particular bonus!



Black & white placemats, black napkins, orange ribbon and a few little elements like miniature pumpkins, orange glassware, monochrome straws and simple votive or tea light holders with orange candles are all you really need to pull off a similar table. Finish off the look with a vase or bottle filled with orange Gerbera Daisies or any orange flowers you can find. I actually used a carafe that I normally use for table water - you can put flowers in just about anything. I'm a big fan of oven to table pieces, so if you have any orange or black pieces for serving the food, then all the better - this is a great time to show them off. My Le Creuset Shallow Casserole in Lava and Silicone Round Cool Tools mat in black are always perfect for Halloween themed dinners. What you serve is up to you, but a festive, orange cocktail might be just the thing for welcoming your guests in style! 

Trick-or-Treat Peanut Butter Cupcakes



I blame Reese's Cups for associating Halloween with peanut butter, probably because that was always the Halloween candy of choice for me. Like clockwork, I begin craving peanut butter every year around this time, though to be honest, I'd very rarely turn it down, especially when it's paired with chocolate and sugar. Yum!

These aren't just any peanut butter cupcakes… They have a surprise inside and I bet you can guess what it is. They don't have to be for Halloween… I'd pretty much eat these anytime if they were handy, but I think a sweet in the middle makes them a Spooktacular Halloween treat!



Ingredients
Cakes:
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup packed soft brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100ml milk
16 unwrapped miniature Reese's Cups

Icing:
7oz full-fat soft cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar or confectioner's sugar
6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
  2. Line a muffin pan with 16 paper or foil cases.
  3. Add the flour and baking powder to a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the butter, peanut butter and sugar and beat together until well-mixed with a hand mixer or stand mixer for about 2 minutes.
  5. Gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined and then switch off the mixer.
  7. Alternate sifting in the flour and baking powder and fold them into the mixture with either a rubber spatula or a metal spoon.
  8. When fully combined, spoon about 1/2 the batter into the paper cases. Don't fill them up completely - just enough to cover the bottom of the cupcake cases will do.
  9. Plop a miniature Reese's Cup into the batter in every cup and spoon the rest of the batter over each to cover and fill in the cupcakes completely.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes in a pre-heated oven or until risen and golden brown.
  11. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pan to cool on a plate or wire rack.
  12. While the cupcakes are cooling, start on the icing by putting the cream cheese, peanut butter and butter into a large bowl and beating them to gather with a hand mixer. 
  13. Sift the icing sugar into the mixture and beat together with the cream cheese mixture until fully combined.
  14. When the cupcakes are completely cooled, cover the tops of each with icing using a butter knife.
  15. Decorate the cupcakes with sprinkles or Reese's Cups on top and keep chilled in the refrigerator until time to serve. If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, be sure to store them in the fridge as well.

Daily Style October 24, 2014 - Forever Plaid