Sunday, October 31, 2010

Have a Happy Halloween!


  • Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.
  • Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
  • Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1.
  • Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.

Hope you all have a spooky day filled with sweets and treats!

I am being a pirate for this year’s festivities..


Yesterday was spent baking up some Halloween-themed treats including homemade sugar cookies with royal icing. This was my first time “flooding” cookies, so it was a lot of fun to experiment. But I think the old standard, “practice makes perfect” holds true to decorating cookies as well!

Mixing up the royal icing…


Rolling out the homemade dough..


Cutting out the festive shapes..


Ready for the oven..


Thinning and coloring the icing..


Decorating supplies all ready to go..


Our fall leave cookies..


My final cookie creations..


Recipe for royal icing & sugar cookies HERE.

Maybe some chocolate pumpkin biscotti is more your style?



  • 1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® German cake mix
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 bag pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses
  • 1 tablespoon shortening


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, mix cake mix, oil and eggs with spoon until dough forms (some dry mix will remain). Stir in walnuts, using hands if necessary.
  2. On ungreased cookie sheet, shape dough into 15x4-inch rectangle, using greased hands. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet on cooling rack 15 minutes.
  3. Cut rectangle crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes longer or until edges are deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In 1-quart saucepan, heat pumpkin spice kisses and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. Drizzle chocolate over cookies, or dip one end of each cookie into chocolate. Let stand about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

And a few more of my Halloween creations for your viewing pleasure….

Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes


Creepy Cookies n Cream Cupcakes


Creamed Candy Corn Cupcakes


Maybe these can give you a hint as to the new adventure I’ve embarked upon..any guesses?!

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Mine is definitely candy corn!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Plenty of Pumpkin

Happy Friday everyone!

Glad you all enjoyed my recap on my trip to California. Since getting back, I’ve been doing a lot of catching up with school life, and being that this past week was mid-terms, things were a tad hectic. But never too hectic to cook, bake, or blog of course!

This past weekend I went home to visit the family while the weather is still decent enough to drive two hours—some parts of Minnesota have already gotten up to 4 inches of snow..yes, I know..sad day.

Check out the area’s biggest pumpkins of the season….

I bet Libby’s would love to get their hand on these!!


And then we went target shooting.I shot a few times..


But mostly, mom and I just observed and had fun taking pictures…


But now, finally onto food. I have so many recipes, both sweet and savory that I’ve made since coming back from vacation. So there’s going to be lots to blog about this month!

I’ll start with the fact that I recently joined the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies countdown, so in other words, a new cookie recipe will be posted till Christmas each week here :-)



  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 1 Cup pumpkin, from can
  • 3 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 12 oz bag chocolate chunk pieces (or chocolate chips work fine too)
  • 35 or so unwrapped Pumpkin Spice Kisses, quartered

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined then add pumpkin.

2.  Place flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into large bowl; mix to combine then slowly add to wet ingredients then chocolate and kisses.  Mix only until just combined.

3.  Scoop medium cookie scoop of dough onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet, about an inch apart.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges just begin to brown.  Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing.

Recipe notes: This recipe was a HUGE success. An 80 year old family friend said she has never tasted a cookie that good..and she’s eaten ALOT of cookies I’m sure!


Week 5 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toes in the Sand

If any of you guessed that the last day of our California vacation was spent on the beach, you’d be right!

Santa Monica beach to be exact. We finally decided to ditch the public buses and rent a car, which is not easy to do by the way if you’re under 25. But there’s always loops you can jump through!

The 3-day LA Go Pass we bought was really a good buy after all. If you’re going to any major city, I highly suggest looking into a Go Card..we saved over $150 on all the attractions we went to, including today’s Santa Monica Pier.

It was a beautiful day in the high 80’s and clear blue skies as far as you could see!!

Before we explored..we hit up McDonald’s. Now I am not at all a fan of fast food, McDonald’s to be particular, but we didn’t feel like walking miles to find a sit down restaurant and we were on the last day of our vacation, so saving money was crucial.

After debating, I settled on the Southwestern Chicken Salad minus the cheese and crunchy tortilla strips. I also got the fat-free balsamic dressing and some apple dippers on the side. Not bad for a McDonald’s salad!

Now back to the beach…

Pretending I have enough muscles to pose for Muscle Beach..

I’ve always loved the ocean..

The famous Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel

Happy being beach bums..

I even embraced the chance for free marketing ha ha!

Time to ride the Ferris wheel…

Just in time for the sunset…

Our last California sunset…

And even though the sun went down, we still had a few hours before heading back to the hotel, so we made our way to the Santa Monica Place for some nighttime shopping.

But first we wanted to grab some food so we could say that we ate at Pacific Park on the famous pier;

“Pacific Park® frequently serves as the location for popular entertainment productions including television shows featuring Alias, American Idol, Monk and NYPD Blue; feature films such as First Daughter, Fat Albert and Jarhead; television commercials such as Joe Boxer and Sierra Mist; still photography shoots including Vogue magazine; and music videos featuring Jessica Simpson.”

We chose to eat at the Harbor Grill which had a little bit of everything.



I had the veggie burger with sweet potato fries, which was a great choice. My only complaint is the bun was much too doughy, so I ditched the top half.


The Santa Monica Place is a huge shopping venue only 3 blocks from the pier.



There was tons of people everywhere, and lucky for me, a Pinkberry too!!



I got the coconut flavor with tons of fresh berries—perfect snack to power me through the rest of the night!


And check out this awesome garbage can we stumbled upon..I so wanted to take it home!


And then came Monday…sad day.

We had to head back to Minnesota, but we were overall so thankful that we literally got to cram everything we had planned on doing into the days we were there. It was an exhausting trip, going everyday from 7 am to 12am, but hey when you’re on the west coast, there’s things to do and places to go all the time!

Hope you all enjoyed the re-caps of my October 2010 California trip! Now things will get back to scheduled on the blog, keep your eye out for lots of fall goodies! :-)

What’s the best vacation you’ve been on?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Universal Day

I have been to Universal Studios in both Hollywood and Los Angeles numerous times..

January 2007—Universal Orlando

January 2009—Universal Hollywood

January 2010—Universal Orlando

And now I can add Universal Hollywood October 2010 to my list..

But first I’ll rewind to the beginning of the day. My cousin and I both decided it would be a good idea to eat a big breakfast out and just bring some snacks for lunch. So we hopped off the bus at I-Hopbreakfast lover’s paradise!

I ordered the Big Steak Omelet minus the hash brown in it and minus the cheese. I got baby red potatoes on the side—it was beyond yum!

With full bellies we made the trek to Universal Studios Hollywood. I knew we’d arrived when we hopped on this shuttle..

Now I’ve fought over which Universal Studios is better, and I think I’ve won everyone over once we go on the famous Studio Tour. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at all of Universal Studios filming grounds, sound stages, current/older movie locations, and a gorgeous view of the San Fernando Valley.

All of these buildings are made out of foam, believe-it-or-not. These streets can be transformed into any city in the world—ohh the magic of movies!

We had to put on our 3D glasses..

The Jurassic Park vehicle!

The Fast and the Furious cars performing..

The famous Frankenstein movie location..

On Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives..Eva Longoria’s house..

View from the top!

Next it was time for rides! First stop, The Mummy ride…

Then we ventured into the Sound Effects stage and crammed in to watch the show with 300 people. And you’ll never believed it..I got picked to be in the show & it’s captured on camera..check it out!!!

After making my film debut we walked around for a few more photo ops..

Scooby Doo, where are you?

Found ya!

Found my future chef man—perfect!

Then once the park closed around 5, we headed to the Universal Studios City Walk for a little night life fun. First of course!

After debating, we chose The Hard Rock Hollywood!

I ordered the choice 8 oz. sirloin steak grilled to your liking. Served with smashed potatoes, gravy and fresh vegetables.

I nixed the smashed potatoes for a house salad.

The steak overall was just ok, but I don’t think the meal was worth $20..I’ve had better steak at Applebee’s for $10 to be honest. The service was less than impressive as well.

At least the dining atmosphere was fun!

Hard Rock Café on Urbanspoon

Excuse the flash in the picture—it was dark dining outside.

After supper, more walking and shopping took place..

And obviously I had my eyes peeled for more self-serve frozen yogurt places!

Aha—found one!

My mix included both pumpkin pie and Madagascar vanilla bean..mmm…

Of course I had to add some Cinnamon Toast Crunch into the mix…

There’s no better way to end the day then with a belly full of Yogurtland!

Tomorrow’s re-cap is the last full day of our California trip..can you guess where we’ll be?!

What’s your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt?