Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Tricks & Treats

Holidays are always the best time for creating, as you can guarantee you'll be invited to a party in which you will be asked to bring goodies. For my son's PreK class Halloween party this year I was in charge of bringing fruit & dip. Obviously I couldn't just bring some cut up apples and caramel dip, no because I have to be complicated at all times. After vigorous searching through Pinterest (best time killer ever!) I came across several cute apple ideas and settled on something simple. Cookie cutter cored apple slices.

Originally featured in Jewels of a Child 

Now I was late on finding this and wasn't able to purchase the proper tools to make such a cute design, so I had to get crafty. I thought long and hard about what I could use to cut the core out to attempt to make a pumpkin shape in my apple slices and suddenly it hit me. 

Frosting Tips! As a cake decorator I had plenty of those around. After various trial and error I decided to go with a large 2D tip (the base) for the pumpkin and a 104 petal tip for the stem.    I bought a bag of apples and washed them up real nice, then sliced them from the top down.  Each apple gave me about 5-6 slices. 

 Then I cored each slice with the 2D tip and followed up with the 104 petal tip (wider side up) producing a rather decent image of a pumpkin.

Serve with Caramel dip.
Mamy took a different approach on treats, one that kids (and myself)  love the most, CHOCOLATE!   Using a recipe found on Taste of Home, Mamy created these adorable little spider cookies.

  • 1 package (18-1/4 oz) chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can (16 oz) chocolate frosting
  • Shoestring black licorice, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup red hot candies
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, butter and egg (dough will be stiff).  Shape into 1 inch balls.  Please 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set.  Cook for one minute before removing from pans to wire racks.

Spread a heaping teaspoonful of frosting over the bottom of half of the cookies.  Place licorice pieces on each side of the cookies for spider legs; top with remaining cookies.  For eyes, attach two red hot candies with frosting to the top of the spider.
Mamy's Notes:  In order to make the creepy spiders less fattening, I used light butter, sugar free cake mix and sugar free frosting (both made with splenda).  Instead of black licorice I used red because the store was out and the eyes were made with M&Ms instead of red hots.
 For my Grandmother's church gathering I was asked to compete in the Pumpkin carving contest, so without any debate on carving ideas I searched for an owl pumpkin as I am absolutely inlove with owls!  I think they are just too adorable and currently I am awaiting my invitation to Hogwarts.   

Originally created by Brett Bara  
 After a bit of searching I came across this amazing design.   Looks complicated right?  Ofcourse, its me I can't do simple!

 I free handed the design onto my pumpkin and within two hours, I had an extremely awesome replica of this little cutie with whom I named Pigwidgeon. (Potter fan?  Guilty.)  

Pigwidgeon received lots of money during the contest which was all donated to a local children's home. He was created using carving tools that can be purchased at Walmart, they come in a kit with stencils (which obviously I didn't use!) .  His wings were were created with a peeler also found in the kit.

Hope you enjoyed our Halloween Tricks & Treats and we hope all of you have a Happy and Safe Halloween

Mucho love, 
Lesha & The Mamy 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"I'll be here...."

The famous phrase of a very creative and loving woman whom we call Mom. It was our dearly departed Mom who created REAL recycled soup by throwing whatever leftovers she could find in the fridge into a pot. With the addition of broth and various seasonings, a soup was created, coining the term "Recycled Soup." Mom wasn't the most extravagant of cooks but she made some of the tastiest meals we've ever had. Thankfully she always made sure to write down her creations in a special cookbook that she dedicated to her "girls." Before this book, we couldn't even boil lasagna noodles without burning them. (Well Mamy couldn't!)

Mom's Holy Grail of cookbooks is and always will be a true treasure to each of us. The only problem with this special book is that there is only one in existence and we constantly argue over whose home is blessed by its presence on any given day. The cookbook has dedications to each of Mom's "girls" Amy (Mamy) and Manda, her actually daughters, as well as Lesha, Kelly and Cyndi her adopted daughters. Randomly, each of us share the same middle name of "Louise," atleast we did in Mom's little world.

My(Me as in Lesha) most favorite recipe is titled, "My Very Secret Chili." I can actually hear Mom saying this in my head right this moment.

"Guess what I made today?" Mom said as I walked into her house without knocking.

"What's that Mom?" I asked slightly nervous, as with mom there is no telling what she made.

"My....very...secret....chili....." Mom replied after a few seconds of suspenseful silence.
A styrofoam bowl, some cheese and few crackers later I would be cuddled up on the couch trying to stay awake to watch Mom's excitement over Oprah giving away yet another car. 

 Chili is by far one of my most favorite foods. It should be a food group on its own, seriously. I love just about all kinds of chili with Mom's and my very own daddy's recipes (Which is top secret as I have the only written recipe in existence) being my top two. They are both different yet utter perfection in their own special way. Mom's chili is by far the only chili I've ever had that tastes like chili without the extra addition of chili powder or other spices. Its all in the can!

Mom's Very Secret Chili
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 6 cans of chili beans
  • 6 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies (Rotel)

Cook the ground beef, chopped onion and diced bell peppers in a large pan. In a large pot, combine beans and tomatoes. Drain fat from the meat mixture and add to the bean/tomato pot. When hot, its ready to eat.

Sometimes Mom put mushrooms in the chili as well and though I am by far not a mushroom fan I ate them because well... come on it was Mom's chili, it would have been sacrilegious not too.   When I make this for my family, I omit the onions and peppers as the husband isn't fond of them.  Sometimes I make two pots, one with the veggies and one without.

Mom's recipes, always simple yet satisfying!! Another family dinner hit, one most requested at Mamy's house, is Mom's Meatloaf.

Anyone who knows me, Mamy, knows I'm the world's pickiest eater.  So, Mom made alot of things quite simple, as we found that I like simple flavors for the most part.  But, Mom had her favorite things, too.  Most of which were not my favorite.  But, she would always think about me when she cooked.  Sometimes she took pieces of meals and held them aside for me while she flavored or cooked the rest of the meal to the family's liking.  Sometimes she had me make something for myself.  And, other times, she would make two versions of the same meal.

Meatloaf was one of the meals I did not like.  Regardless of who made it or how it was made.  But, it was simple and cheap to make, so it was staple in our home.  Mom got creative and decided to try to alter different recipes she'd tried to make it so that I could eat it.  After all, my family was on a tight budget, so eating cheaply was a must.  Finally, she found a version everyone loved...  including me.

So, Mom lovingly cooked meatloaf for the family and then halfed it.  Half was the way you see the recipe following this caption.  Half was altered to my liking:  plain and simple.  I want to share the original version of the recipe with you, as it was one of her best meals.  Following it I'll share a few notes about what she did to make it so her picky eater could eat also.

Best Meatloaf Ever! (It's Mine)
  • 2-3 lbs ground beef
  • 1/4 lb saltines-one pack
  • French Fry Seasoning (or any seasoning salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped.
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put crackers in a gallon zip lock bag and roll out with a rolling pin or a soup can. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into a loaf and place in a bread pan or other baking pan.

As you can see, Mom's meatloaf recipe is quite simple.

For my half, she simply omitted the onion and bell pepper.

Today, I make my family the same meatloaf my mother made me.  It gets rave reviews everytime, and requested over and over again. 

(mine is mess.  it looks better in a loaf pan..  my husband asked I make it in this dish...  he said the loaf pan makes it too thick.  and my son requested half have no ketchup topping, because he's weird and doesn't like ketchup on anything made with ground beef...  )

Sometimes simply made is the best made.  And, Mom's meatloaf is the best! 

I hope you try to make these recipes for your family.  Lesha and I promise that you'll enjoy them.  Don't be surprised when you see more of Mom's recipes spotlighted.  In the meantime:  Bon Appitite!

    Rest in Peace Mom, we got this!