Friday, October 29, 2010

Spider Soup

I LOVE this soup! It is actually an apple and butternut squash soup with yummy curry seasoning, but it is the perfect orange color for Halloween and it is fun to add a few fun embellishments to something that kids would normally cringe at (because what kid really likes squash soup, anyway?).

Here is the absolutely fabulous recipe:

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
(I got the recipe from Holly Hollinger, who got if from Linnea Bruns)

3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Large Onions, Chopped
2 Tablespoons good quality Curry Powder
1 Tsp. Chili Powder
5 Cups Chicken Stock, Homemade or low-sodium canned
1 Large Butternut Squash (Approximately 8 Cups),
Peeled, seeded and chopped
3 Firm, tart Apples (Such as Granny Smith),
Peeled, cored and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or fresh cilantro

In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium hat.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the curry and chili powders and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add half the stock and bring to a boil.

Transfer the mixture to a soup kettle, add the squash and apples, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the squash is tender.  Stir occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
Place the mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until pureed.

Return the puree, reserved liquid, cream and the remaining chicken stock to a clean soup kettle and bring to a simmer.

Ladle the soup into warm soup bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Serves 10

Note: The soup can be made ahead or frozen without the cream.

For the spider web I just make a blend of sour cream and milk, suck it up into a kid's medicine syringe and then slowly squirt it into a spiral starting from the middle of the soup. Then I take a tooth pic and drag it from the middle of the bowl to the outside to create the webbed look. With a few plastic spiders to add the finishing touch, this soup is a healthy, tasty, and fun Halloween treat!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


So I am not sure if this is praiseworthy or not, but it is all I could think of when it came to Halloween goodies. They are gross, but they are two things I remember from my childhood. Kitty Litter Cake, and Boogers on a Stick. My neighbor made the Kitty litter cake once and it looked disgusting, but was delicious, and my mom has done the boogers on a stick. So if you are looking for a good "trick" of a "treat" for a party coming up, here are two ideas for you.

The Boogers on a Stick is actually quite easy. You just dip the tops of pretzel sticks into some cheese dip mixed with a little salsa. It is actually very good, but tastes delicious.

The Kitty Litter Cake is something I had to look for since I did not make it myself, but there are several recipes out there. Even some for a casserole with rice, so you could have it for a main dish. The best one I found was here. Kitty Litter Cake.

I thought I would post a picture, but it really does look disgusting so I choose not too. Maybe I will make it for the potluck this weekend.

What is your favorite gross yet delicious "Trick" of a "Treat?"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Have your treats and eat them too!

So with Halloween just around the corner, we're coming up on the first of the trifecta of holidays that are not exactly centered around, but at least largely focused on, eating delicious foods. The average person gains 7-10 pounds between Halloween and the end of the year. Do you want to be that average person? Didn't think so. Me either.

I'm not so much a big fan of candy, but I do love baked goods, more than I should. So here's something I made yesterday - a healthy version of pumpkin brownies.

I only halved the recipe because I was skeptical of the fact that it used all whole wheat flour (I usually like to do half wheat and half white so it's not too dense) and all white bean puree (I've subsitituted it for half the butter in recipes before, but again, not all of it), and I really hate wasting good ingredients on something that doesn't turn out. But, I made it just like it said, using only half the sugar it calls for too, and it was a delightful surprise of deliciousness!

I would recommend taking the time to watch her demonstration (scroll down below the recipe) of cooking beans in a pressure cooker. I didn't soak and cook dried beans for this recipe. I used canned white beans and didn't put any salt in the recipe, even though I rinsed them. I've been thinking I'd like a pressure cooker, and now I'm for sure putting that on my Christmas list!

For another fun, easy recipe (and this one, not too health-conscious, but that's OK!) I'm going to make these.

Like I said, not a big candy fan EXCEPT for candy corns - yum! Here's how to make cupcakes that look just like one!

Do you have a favorite healthy holiday favorite? Or a holiday favorite turned healthy?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monster Menu

We love Halloween!  I think it goes by too fast though.  There are so many ideas to try and fun things to make that doing them just on Halloween seems crazy!  So... at our house this week we are going to be doing some fun celebrating each day and to help us do this I'll be making some fun Halloween food. 

MONDAY: Pizza Mummies for dinner

TUESDAY: Meatloaf and Mashed BOOtatoes

WEDNESDAY: Snack-O'-Lanterns as an after school snack

THURSDAY: Eye Poppin' Soup

FRIDAY: Haunted Ginger Bread Houses

SATURDAY: Mouthless Mummy Cake Pops for a Church Potluck

SUNDAY:  Homemade Doughnuts and Hot Cider for our Annual Open House

What will you be making to get in on the fun?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Can there be Two Little Cindy Lou Who's?

"Can I be Little Cindy Lou Who?"
"I already told your sister that she could be Little Cindy Lou Who. Sorry sweetheart."
"Can I be Little Cindy Lou Who too?"

My four-year-old has been telling me for weeks what she wants to be for Halloween...a pink and black witch, no, a pink rock star princess, no, a rainbow pony...

I have finally decided on the perfect, and I mean perfect, costume for my two-year-old, and now her older sister wants to be the same thing. Can they both be the same thing?

This is the little Cindy Lou Who that is in my mind. Cute, little, blond with big blue eyes and simple yet totally adorable pink nightgown. Not only is this a totally do-able costume, but it is a perfect cartoon portrait of my two-year-old! The spittin' image...

This is the Cindy Lou Who that seems to be most popular now...too bad I just cut my four-year-old's hair. We'll see what we can do, I guess...

Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do what you can!

I have done a few of my own homemade costumes for my kids. Most of them I was inspired by an idea and put my own spin on them. Here are some that I have done. And they were pretty easy too.

My son was almost 3 months and my daughter was 2.
He was a bee, she was a pumpkin.

His costume consisted of
2 pieces of black felt
1 piece of yellow felt, cut into strips
4 strips black ribbon
Screen material
glitter glue or puff paint
Fabric glue
I cut the black felt into what looked like a vest piece, glued on yellow strips. Cut the screen material into wings, painted it with puff paint to make it a little sturdy, placed ribbon on the sides and over the shoulders. and I think that is all. Oh, and I sewed a cone shape out of black felt as well and hand sewed it to the back to look like a stinger. It was really easy.

While trick-or-treating, I just safety pinned the back to the sling.
Simple as that.

The lumpy pumpkin was pretty easy too.
2 shirts, one orange, one what ever color you want
one piece of black felt
green felt or fabric
1 or 2 green pipe cleaners
Fabric Glue
I removed the sleeves from the shirts, and saved them. I made them into the hat. (I can't remember how exactly i did that, but I did)
Cut your fabric felt into the shapes for the face. (I let her decide the shapes.)
Sew the shirts together keeping the orange one on the front. Leave an opening for the stuffing. Oh, the shirts do not have to be the same size either. As long as the inner one is smaller. I used an old shirt for the inside.
Glue or sew on the face.
Cut green triangles out of the green fabric and sew or glue them around the collar of the shirt.
Stuff with the stuffing and sew the opening shut.
Figure out how to make a hat out of the selves if desired
Add pipe cleaner to the top for a little curly top.
Wah la, a lumpy pumpkin! Halloween 2009
He was a Caterpillar, She was a Butterfly.
I bought her wings, but made her hat.
I made his costume.
Yeah, this costume was all of maybe a dollar. He needed PJ's and I had socks. I think all I bought was the hat. (Not Pictured)

One sleeper
Lots of pairs of socks
stuffing (I had left over from the previous year)
Ribbon (If I did this again I would use thick ribbon. All I had was the skinny stuff.)
Cheep one dollar bennie hat from Walmart
two pipe cleaners
two pom-poms

For the hat poke pipe cleaners through the top of the hat. Hot glue them so they stay. Hot glue the pom pom on top of the pipe cleaner. Instant antennae hat.

For the body
Stuff socks with stuffing.
Had sew the socks up the side of the sleeper
put boy in
stuff with stuffing
tie up with ribbon to look a little rolley
Instant Caterpillar.
Easy Peasy!

Seriously all it take is some imagination and for me practicality. With the Caterpillar I took off the socks and my son still wore them and unstuffed the PJ's and he could still wear those as well. And the other day my kids were wearing there hats. Cheep, easy, and practical. You can do it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Secret Weapon for Costumes

Jenni mentioned her little hero "Under Wonder." Well, for completely different reasons, my secret weapon hero when making costumes is a little thing called Wonder Under (made by Pellon), otherwise known as Steam-a-Seam, otherwise known as Heat n' Bond. I'm sure there are other names for this awesome heat-activated material that turns shapes and letters into custom stickers!
Two years ago, I made a NASCAR Halloween costume for my boy, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without this stuff.

It was more difficult than I thought it would be to find a pattern to make a zip-up jumpsuit. But then again, it's not 1976, so what kid wears these anymore? Enter Ebay. I found this vintage pattern, and View C looked like it would be perfect.

It's funny to see how older patterns are written. Good thing I've put in a zipper before, because the complete explanation of this step in the pattern just said "put in the zipper."

Anyway, I got some black stretch cotton and added some red piping around the sleeves and down the sides. I printed out a bunch of logos (LEGO, Matchbox, McDonalds, Hotwheels and Tonka), traced them onto Wonder Under, and ironed them on to the jumpsuit.

I learned two things: 1) small shapes have a little difficulty staying on, and 2) it's possible to iron too much. After repeatedly ironing them on (just to make sure they were good and stuck on), the adhesive kind of dissolved or something and the shapes didn't really stick at all. I went back and zig-zagged around the edges with invisible monofilament thread.

I made the kids' trick-or-treat bags out of dish towels and a Frankenstein and a Jack-o-lantern stuck on with, you guessed it, Wonder Under.

This year's costumes don't lend themselves so well to using Wonder Under:

a little of this:

and one of these, as soon as I find time to make it (too cheap to pay 10 bucks at the party store!):

So, if you haven't made anything using this stuff, whatever you call it, try's easy, fun, and the possiblities are only limited by your imagination!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Costume History: A Comedy of Errors

I am horrible at costumes. Really. Dreadful. It's always been that way.

Like the time in elementary school when I decided to dress up as a juke-box: I wore a big cardboard box that I'd decorated with markers by hand. By the end of the day, I had resigned myself to telling everyone that why, yes, I am a robot! Also, me and my box got stuck - literally - in the scariest part of the haunted house. Definitely a costume fail.

Or then there was the time, also in elementary school, I decided to be a painter. So I wore these overalls that were made with a splattery-patterned fabric and tucked a paintbrush in the pocket. Everyone thought I was a clown - which I totally don't blame them for, I mean, who dresses up as a painter? (Though, on second thought, who in their right mind dresses up as a clown? Now, those guys are scary!) The worst part, though, was when I tried to wear those overalls to school post-holiday. Everyone was like, "Hey, isn't that your Halloween costume?"

Oh, oh! Or that one time in junior high when I thought a simple sheet-ghost couldn't fail. Except the part about forgetting the rule about no covered faces at school. So I cut a big face-hole in the sheet, and got more-than-once mistaken for a nun.

I think my best shot ever was in college, I made myself into American McGee's Alice. It was probably my best costume execution, but the obscure game reference made it a little hard for most people to understand.

But this year - THIS year, I tell you, is going to be awesome. Why? Because my kids are much better at coming up with ideas than I am. Looking through last year's Martha Stewart Halloween magazine, we saw this costume idea for an adult:

And the kids thought it would be funny if their dad dressed up as a beekeeper, and then they could be little bees! Cute, huh? Now the only problem is execution - am I up for it, or am I accidentally going to make them look like a guy in a straight-jacket and a couple of tigers? And then there's the issue of me: I haven't made myself a proper costume in a long time - see examples above for a simple explanation of why. I'm thinking queen bee, but whether it comes across or I just look like an ex-con with a tiara, well that's just all part of the Halloween surprise around here!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Costumes fit for Heros

Costumes can be fun.  They can also be super annoying.  Every year I force myself to wander up and down the dreaded costume aisles of Target and Walmart just hoping I'll find an original, not plastic looking costume for me or my kids and every year I leave with nothing.  The idea of making a costume seems time consuming and stressful but my hopes of having something original wins least it did the year I did this:

Our little man was only 2 and my first thought was, "he can be anything I want him to be...he won't even know or care."  That wasn't going to be the case for very long.  I didn't sew much then and I was taking on the challenge of potty training at the time.  The more I thought about it the more I wanted it to have something to do with that time in his life and it needed to be simple.  We took on our roles and with a trip to the thrift store and some minimal sewing I transformed our little family into:

Under Wonder
(Master of Potty Training)
Complete with a cape the had CW on the back, and a headband made out of an old belt that said "Under Wonder" across the top.

Being the supportive and encouraging (full of bribery) mom that I was I became...
Positive Reinforcement Girl
(Under Wonders Side Kick and Encourager Extraordinaire)

What you don't see is my homemade clear plastic utility belt full of things like balloons, candy, stickers, bouncy balls, and rubber sticky frogs. All the kids we were with the night of this Halloween were instantly attracted to me...or to my belt.  I too had a cape that had PR on the back and some cut up socks for gloves.  Plus I got to crimp my hair and were neon blue pants.  When else do you get to do that!

and finally our villain was played by his Daddy...

Diaper Doom
 (Potty Trainings Worst Nightmare!)

 Mark's costume was fun.  He wore a lab coat and some awesome plasticy silver elastic pants, a black cape that had DD on the back and to make the costume complete a homemade diaper mask.  He was a trooper.  I don't think I would have ever worn that.  See why I love this guy?

So if you are annoyed with the whole costume world like me then it's time to get a little bit creative?  Take a deep breath, dream up something crazy and then go scavenge away in your own home.  All you really need is a few good capes and diaper mask and you could be just about anything!

We sure looked silly that year but I'm glad I did it when I could. The years that followed have been fun but nothing as memorable as the year Under Wonder and I we conquered Diaper Doom!!!


* This year I need some good ideas for a 5 year old boy pirate costume.  I have the basics but I want to snazzy it up a bit.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Links?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

So Many Favorites...

I love birthdays!
I find so many of my favorite things all come together when celebrating a birthday...

Birthdays mean taking time to think about one person and everything wonderful about them.
 (Do you recognize this birthday girl? She is smiling because she is lighting a few too few candles on her very own lemon cake.)

Birthdays mean gifts--the receiving and giving are both a rewarding experience. Whether you make something or buy something, as the giver you get to spend time thinking about that person and find a way to bring them a little bit of joy. As the receiver of a gift, you get to feel the love and appreciation of others--and you get a bunch of new stuff!

 (I have made this little gift a few times...because it's my favorite!...and it is so much fun to think about each person as I choose the colors and fabrics and stitch it all together. You can find the tutorial at comfortstitching.)

Birthdays mean parties--you get to spend time with people you enjoy doing things you enjoy.

You get to eat your favorite foods...

...dress-up..., relax, indulge, laugh, dance, and simply have a good time! 

I usually get carried away in the planning of a party, inviting half the city and sewing party favors for everyone. But, in the end, even if I don't get all the loose ends pulled together, everyone has fun and enjoys spending time making memories together. And that is at the top of my list of favorites.