Halloween!!

Perhaps you’ve noticed that this week’s recipe wasn’t posted on Monday as I first promised. I had some treats to make for a client and didn’t get around to posting the recipe. It’s an easy one- and a timely one!

Monster Krispie Treats….
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Yes- it starts out how you would imagine. 6 cups of Rice Krispie cereal, 10 oz of marshmallows, and half a stick of butter.

100_4062If you’re like me, you know this recipe by heart. There is ONE twist. 100_4061 Green food coloring. 🙂100_4063 you can make it as dark or as light as you’d like- I personally love the DARK green.

100_4064It takes a strong wrist to keep stirring until it’s mostly coated in the marshmallow mixture.100_4065And you need a greased baking pan (I used a 13x 9)

100_4066 Easy- right? Sure. Then you need to cut them into squares or rectangles (a 13 x9 yields about 30 monsters)100_4068

Clearly they are naked! So- melt some candy melts with a bit of veggie oil,

100_4069Dip in the very tops of your monsters100_4070100_4071100_4073 and let them harden!

Next, you’ll want to break pretzels or use pretzel sticks for arms, use white and black frosting (or candy melts) in a piping bag to pipe on eyes and a mouth.100_4076I varied the facial expressions. These monsters aren’t meant to be terrifying (unless you mean terrifyingly tasty!).100_4078 100_4079You can even have the kids help decorate these! I loved having the different size and shaped arms. They ARE monsters afterall. 🙂 They’re about as easy as you get- right? And who doesn’t love Rice Krispie treats?!

 

 

 

 

Rice Krispie Treat Pumpkins


100_3769It’s Autumn and that means Halloween, pumpkin spice everything, beautiful leaves, days at the apple orchard, cool mornings… basically everything I love about the year- expect for the pumpkin stuff. I must be the only person around that hates pumpkin. But, I despise it. You can keep your pumpkin bread, your pumpkin pie, your pumpkin cookies…. yuck. I HATE cooked apples too. At least those I’ll willingly eat raw- but the pumpkin grosses me out every time.

At least with hating strawberries, I know what traumatic experience led to my hatred. Pumpkins are innocent enough, it seems. I don’t have a fear of pumpkins, I was never forced to eat it as a kid… I just don’t like it. But, I know that others do, and if there is a need for it, I will make the treats for others- as long as I’m in a well-ventilated area. 😉

BUT- these Rice Krispie Treat Pumpkins I can get behind. There is absolutely no PUMPKIN in them. They’re just colored orange and shaped like a pumpkin. I can handle that. (I do also love the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins- but that’s another story.) I’ve seen several recipes floating around the web, so I’m not sure who to attribute them to, but the general krispie treat recipe remains pretty much unchanged throughout many, many years of making them. You can find a basic recipe on the Rice Krispie cereal box or on the back of the marshmallow bag.

I’ve never actually shaped cereal treats before. I know that several professional cake decorators use them in some of the more extreme cakes- but I hadn’t worked with them myself. I’ve only ever mixed it up and pushed it into a pan and cut! Turns out- shaping them isn’t that much harder.

I thought I’d have to work super fast so they wouldn’t set up on me- but even slightly warm they’re pliable. Besides, one of the best reasons to make these into pumpkins? Pumpkins are often oddly shaped!

So, this recipe starts out simple– your basic Rice Krispie Treat mix- with one twist– orange food coloring!
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I cut my recipe in half, but you are more than fine if making an extra large batch for a Halloween party!

100_3747One 10oz bag of mini marshmallows, 1/2 stick of butter, 6 cups of Rice Krispies cereal

100_3754Not really anything exciting yet- until you start to melt the marshmallows. I use the stove-top method. Now, you can always add a mixture of red and yellow food coloring to get your orange color, but I just find it easier to use the Wilton gel colors. I find it also provides a more vibrant color, but it’s up to you which food color method you’d like to use. I added my coloring once the butter was melted and right before I put in my marshmallows. You could wait until after the marshmallows are melted, because it really doesn’t make much difference as long as you add it before the cereal.

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You’ll want to stir that up really well to coat all the cereal in the marshmallow mixture.

100_3757Then the fun begins! While the mixture was still hot, I donned some food-safe gloves to protect my hands from the heat to and prevent my hands from getting messy. Yes, I prefer to wear gloves when digging in with my hands into anything. It’s not only easier for clean up, but I find it far more sanitary. So, don your gloves, or don’t, and form the mixture into balls. They can be any size you want, but don’t go too large. I found a golf ball size was perfect.

100_3758I put them on parchment to set up before I inserted the stems. These ‘stems’ were made from Tootsie Rolls!

100_3746That I cut in half:

100_3745And shoved into the top of the ‘pumpkins’.

100_3760Then I mixed up some green frosting. You can use store bought green in a tube or color store bought frosting green with your food coloring. Again, I use Wilton Gels, this time in Kelly Green.

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I used a small leaf tip- in this instance the Wilton 66.100_3761

And piped on leaves. Some ‘pumpkins’ got two, others just one. Do whatever feels right. The amount of Tootsie Rolls and frosting will all depend on the size of your pumpkins. If you make them larger, you may want to use a whole Tootsie Roll inserted into the ball.100_3775100_3776

Bottom line:

These are super easy, fun, and festive! As long as you let the mixture cool to be easier to handle- you could probably even have the kids help you out on this one!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 stick of butter
10oz marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispie Cereal (or similar brand)
Orange Food Color OR Red and yellow food color
Tootsie Rolls (halved)
Green Decorator Frosting

Directions:

1- In a large pot or large bowl, melt butter completely. Do not brown.
2- Add food coloring
3- Stir in marshmallows over medium high heat or several 30 second intervals in the microwave, being sure to stir frequently (after each 30 second interval) until all marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat.
4- Slowly add the Rice Krispie cereal into the mixture, stirring to coat completely.
5- Carefully, as the mixture will be hot, use a scoop or your hands to form the marshmallow/cereal mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball. You can go larger if you wish. Set on parchment to cool.
6- Once you’ve rolled all your balls and they’ve cooled, cut Tootsie Rolls in half to make the ‘stem’. Use 1/2 Tootsie Roll per pumpkin.
7- Pipe green frosting leaves onto the pumpkins as desired.

Easy Apple Faux Dumplings

My mom LOVES apple dumplings. I have to hear about it all autumn long and every time she visits Shady Maple Smorgasbord for someone’s free birthday meal.

She swears they’re too hard to make. I’m not so sure they would be, but she had tried this faux dumpling recipe at a Tupperware party and insisted that they were the most amazing thing next to the real dumplings. I’ll have to take her word for it since I don’t like cooked apples.

She brought home the recipe, then I found out that the recipe was actually Pioneer Woman’s. I always try to give credit to the source, so I’ve lost a bit of respect since Tupperware seems to be passing it off as their own, but, I really can’t say who had it first, so I’ll try to not be too judgmental about that. Of course- I’ve recently seen this recipe various times on pinterest. I can promise you that they are delicious. Everyone will rave about them!

Legalities aside, I decided to make them.

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Yes, the look burnt- but it’s really just the cinnamon I sprinkled on top for extra measure. I was told they didn’t taste burnt at all. But, it sure doesn’t look that pretty in a picture, I’ll admit that.

I gathered all my ingredients:
One stick of butter (sounds like a terrible way to start a recipe- right?) 😉

100_3808Pillsbury Cresent Rolls. I only had the seamless dough on hand, but it’s preferable to use the old fashioned cresents that are perforated.
100_3814Sugar…100_3813An apple and soda. The recipe calls for granny smith, but I used a Gala apple instead. The recipe also called for Mountain Dew- but Ginger Ale worked just fine. I’ve seen other recipes call for 7Up, so I think as long as it’s clear or citrusy, it should be fine. I’d be curious to know if a cola works though.
100_3815You’ll also need vanilla and cinnamon.
You’ll need to peel the apple.

100_3817Then cut it up into eight sections. I don’t have a fancy apple slicer, so I just used a knife and made sure to cut out a small wedge for the core and seeds.

100_3821Then you’ll begin with your dough. You’ll want to unroll your can of dough100_3822

Since mine wasn’t already into the triangles, I used a pizza cutter to make them. They didn’t turn out even, but it’s okay!100_3824

You’ll need eight triangles- one for each apple slice. Roll up one apple slice per triangle:100_3833100_3835

Put the covered slice into an 8×8 baking dish that’s been greased. Repeat this process for the remaining apple slices.100_3839

Melt your butter, add to it the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir vigorously to combine.100_3832

You’re going to pour this brown goodness over your dumplings.

100_3842Then you’ll use about half the can of soda and pour it over top.

100_3844I added an extra sprinkle of cinnamon over top for good measure:100_3846

Now it’s ready to bake! a 350 degree preheated oven for about 35 minutes will do the trick. It smells magical while baking.

I’ve used an adapted recipe from The Pioneer Woman and Tupperware. The original called for twice as much and used an entire can of Mountain Dew. I don’t personally like using Mountain Dew- but if you’re fine with it- by all means, use it! I don’t think that the ginger ale changed the flavor that much, as most folks say they can’t taste the Mountain Dew in the regular recipe anyway. I’d imagine you can even use a diet soda if you’re looking to save on calories, although, with a stick of butter in the recipe, I’m not sure switching to a zero calorie soda really makes much difference.

Easy Apple Faux Dumplings

Ingredients:
1 apple (granny smith or other baking apple)
1 tube of Pillsbury Cresent Rolls (8 cresents)
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Splash of vanilla extract
6 oz of soda (Mountain Dew, Ginger Ale or other clear citrusy flavor work best)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1- Peel apple and core and slice into 1/8 sections.
2- Open the Cresent roll dough and unroll. Separate into 8 triangles.
3- Using 1 of the apple sections per triangle, roll the dough around the apple wedge. Place in a greased pan.
4- Repeat above step until all slices are wrapped and in the pan.
5- Melt the butter in a measuring cup or medium bowl.
6- Add sugar, vanilla. and cinnamon to the melted butter and mix vigorously.
7- Pour over the wrapped apple slices.
8- Open the can of soda and measure out 6oz. Pour this over the apple dumplings.
9- Place in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes.
10- Serve warmed with ice cream or whipped cream or enjoy as is. Can be served room temperature, if preferred.

Vegan Beet Cupcakes with RAW Vegan “Ganache” frosting

I love chocolate. I love beets. But, much like I love pasta and I love peanut butter, it doesn’t mean that the two would make a good combination. At least, that’s what I thought. I was extremely skeptical when I saw  the Minimalist Baker post a recipe for Fudgy Beet Cupcakes. Sure, I typically prefer my beets soaked in sugar and cider vinegar, but chocolate? I don’t know.

Good thing I’m a food adventurist. I’ll try just about anything. I’m more inclined to take a chance on the sweets though. I have experimented with gluten-free brownies before and have no issues with making a dessert healthier…. as long as it doesn’t affect the flavor. There’s nothing worse than biting into a healthy treat and spitting it out because of the ‘healthy flavor’.

I’m so glad that these cupcakes don’t taste healthy. I took them to a ladies group and those ladies thought I was joking when I told them they were healthy! As women, we try to justify our sweets a lot. I’ve heard things like “chocolate is a vegetable” and “calories don’t count when you’re sharing”, so, naturally “these are healthy” fits right up there.

Only, I wasn’t kidding! When I told folks what was in them they were shocked. You can’t taste the beets! I can’t really say anything with certainty, but it’s my understanding that the beets act not only a source of sweetness, but also help the cakes stay moist. I’ve made lots of different cupcakes recipes and most call for 2 cups of sugar, even though this recipe makes about 12 cupcakes, it still only uses less than one cup of sugar.

Minimalist Baker insists that they don’t NEED frosting- and they don’t- but frosting certainly never hurt a cupcake. But I wanted to stay true to the vegan theme and make a vegan frosting. I thought it’d be pretty simple, swap out the butter in my regular buttercream recipe and use solid coconut oil or other solid vegan fat… then, I read that confectioner’s sugar isn’t necessarily vegan. Glad I looked! I certainly never would have considered it to not be vegan- it’s just sugar, right? Turns out the way it’s processed affects it heavily. I suppose I would have known that if I followed a vegan lifestyle, but I don’t, so I didn’t know that. I’m glad that I do now! Of course- if I had just needed a ‘dairy-free’ cake, then using the confectioner’s sugar and vegetable shortening wouldn’t have been an issue.

On to my adventure:

Begin with 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla Almond milk and a teaspoon of vinegar. I used a raw organic cider vinegar, but a white vinegar is acceptable to. I happen to love cider vinegar (honestly- I could drink the stuff!) for the taste, but it also has numerous healthy attributes far too numerous to list here, but it’s great.
Anyway- you want to add the teaspoon to the cup of almond milk and allow it to curdle a few minutes. I allowed mine to sit while I gathered the rest of my ingredients.

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I used whole wheat flour this time. I think I used a combination of half white and half whole when I made these the first time. I find that using ALL whole wheat flour can give the cupcake an unnecessary nutty flavor. Not a bad thing, of course, but not what I generally try to attain.

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You also need cocoa powder. The recipe calls for a scant 1/2 cup. I don’t listen. I like mine extra chocolatey. A level 1/2 cup will suit just fine and not disrupt the flavor.

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Add some sugar to that…

100_3687Stir or whisk it up!

And onto the beets! The first time I made these I actually had fresh beets around the house. This time I had to used canned beets. My favorite part of using beets? Pink fingers.

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You’ll need half a cup of a beet puree. I took a few beets and some of the liquid and whirled them up in my mini food processor. It took about three-four of the small-sized beets that were in the can. They make a very creamy puree.
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Add that into your flour/cocoa mixture.
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And don’t forget your curdled almond milk. (Essentially, you’ve just made a vegan buttermilk. So- don’t be afraid of the sound of a ‘curdled’ almond milk. It’s the same as a buttermilk.)

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Mix it all up- it’s already got a pink tint to it. 🙂100_3696

Don’t forget the oil, vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder! I used a melted coconut oil in mine. The batter is semi thick- not as runny as your typical box mix consistency.

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I had cute little Halloween themed baking cups that I decided to use- it IS October afterall. I also decided to make them into mini cupcakes, not standard.100_3706100_3707

I used my favorite scooper to make the cupcakes even. I use an ice cream scooper for the standards, and have two sizes of cookie scoops- I used the larger of the two.100_3708100_3711Fresh from the oven! And, dare I say, FLAWLESS! Perfectly puffed, rounded tops and they smell ah-maz-ing.

100_3714100_3719100_3726100_3717Yes, I took several pictures of the baked guys because they were so pretty.

One suggestion: if you make the minis- it will make 48 minis and they will bake at 325degrees for 7-9 minutes.

You COULD stop right here and serve these beauties plain, or sprinkle them with cocoa powder or a vegan confectioner’s sugar, or, you can top them with my vegan frosting!
This is a ‘ganache’-style frosting, similar to melted chocolate and heavy cream and butter, so it can’t be a true ganache, but would be the vegan alternative. It’s just as fudgy and finicky. 🙂

Step one: 1/2 cup of cocoa powder100_3685

Step Two: Raw Honey100_3700

You’ll need 1/4 cup of that100_3702Step three: 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. You’ll want it melted, so pop it in the microwave for no more than 30 seconds or warm gently to melting on the stovetop. (I didn’t want to get a saucepan dirty for this little bit of oil)
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You’ll mix it all together and stick it in the fridge or freezer to firm up. I had such a small amount of it that it was easier to ‘whip’ up by hand, but it still created a very rough looking frosting. I had to let it at room temperature for it to become soft enough to work with then, but putting it in the fridge helped it firm up much quicker than if I would have waited for it at room temperature.100_3728Frost your beauties!100_3734100_3735

 

The frosting was very fudgy as well, and made the cupcakes seem more decadent and evil, but the frosting is healthy too! I had more than enough frosting to frost 48 minis and still have 1/4 cup left over, so I probably could’ve used more frosting on the cakes, but I didn’t want to overpower the cupcake since that has such a wonderful fudgy flavor on its own.

I hope that you’ll enjoy these cupcakes at your next event! Please feel free to share and visit the Minimalist Baker site for the recipe and others! Again- The recipe for the cupcakes is found HERE

 

RAW Vegan “Ganache” Frosting

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of raw honey
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 plus 2 TBS of coconut oil, melted
Splash of vegan vanilla

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a small food processor or use a hand held mixer. Once incorporated, cover and put in the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Whip the cold frosting and frost cupcakes with spatula or knife.

**Coconut oil has a VERY low melting point. I’ve had coconut oil turn completely liquid during the time this past summer when our A/C broke and it reached greater than 90 degrees in the house. The frosting will melt in warm temperatures, so it is best served chilled or in a temperature controlled environment. It’s not great for sitting on a picnic table in the sun for your July 4th picnic. It’s still enjoyable and delicious, but really not pretty.