The holidays can be such a chaotic time with all the activities, shoot sometimes I get sensory overload from all the bright lights alone. And planning, hosting, and delivering on family parties and potluck a is often no exception, so when I came across a recipe that simply doused a block of plain old cream cheese in caramel sauce, I knew it was perfect. (And not just because I can never get enough cream cheese; you know my feelings about cheesecake and dips.). When in doubt keep it simple. This is going to be my new go-to party spread.
Everywhere we go everything is decorated. And while there may be a whole spectrum of ‘holiday’ colors, red and green are by far the stars of this show. One thing I don’t see a lot of? Festive dishes.
Hold on, let me stop you right there. I’m not talking about the traditional holiday favorites. Or even all the cute ones made to look like Holiday favorites, like our Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread or our Christmas Tree Pancakes. Those are a given. I’m talking about ‘decorated’ festive dishes made specifically with Christmas colors in mind. My Mom used to say that at least half of her enjoyment in a dish wasn’t just taste or even presentation, but about the colors and whether or not they spoke to her. She loves a vibrant presentation, and I can honestly say that I’ve come to appreciate one as well.
Monkey Bread is one of the sons’ favorite things to eat, and it’s little wonder why. It’s sticky, it’s sweet, and it’s basically dessert that they have permission to eat for breakfast and they get to wash it all down with a tall glass of cold milk.
Think you don’t have time to make such a yummy dish from scratch? We’ve made this super simple to make, so simple you’d have to try hard to actually mess it up.
Cranberry and orange is such a dynamic flavor duo, and it seems to pop up a lot during Fall. We also think it’s perfect for The Winter Holidays. And Rice Krispie treats have and will always one of the kids’ favorite things to make and to eat. So combining the two was a win for everyone. They still got to make , play in, and eat sugary, sticky crunchy melted marshmallow goodness, and we got to experiment with adding in some
gourmet (that’s a stretch, isn’t it?) grownup mix-ins.
Did you hear somebody yell, ‘Fire’ ?
No worries. With the help of a little duct tape, an old t shirt, and a couple of iron on’s … an adorable little helper is on the way.
Do your kids’ have Career Day at school? The sons’ elementary school hosts one every year, and you can literally be anything you want when you grow up. Well, besides a Ghost ‘Butter’, much to our honey nugget’s initial disappointment. The school does require they be legitimate ‘carrier’ choices, and since I haven’t heard that the cast of Ghost Adventures is looking to hand over the reigns anytime soon (or in the future), we went with the youngest son’s second choice.
If he can’t be a hunter of wayward souls, he’s perfectly content spending his adult hood ‘saving people’. He couldn’t have pickled a nobler profession.
Whether it’s for Career Day, Halloween, or just creative play where we encourage them to ditch the batteries for a few and stretch their imaginations, this DIY costume is too easy not to make. The whole get up cost me less than $10 (it could be significantly less depending on what supplies you have on hand, too).
yellow duct tape
smaller silver duct tape
American Flag iron on patch
iron-on letters that spell FIRE DEPT
over-sized, black long-sleeved t-shirt
black or yellow galoshes, optional
1. We used a hand me down black t that had a graphic design on it and just turned it inside out. Take the standard size yellow duct tape and wrap it in a complete circle about 1/2 inch above the bottom of the t shirt. Do another under the armpits at ‘chest’ level. Then do two more yellow circles on the sleeves, one towards the bottom and one up towards the shoulder. Go over each yellow circle with a strip of the smaller silver tape creating another band right down the middle.
2. Have a heated iron ready. Follow the directions on the patches. Iron the flag patch above the upper band on the right sleeve of the outfit. Iron the letters for ‘Fire Dept’ above the top/chest band on the back of the outfit.
3. Complete your child’s fireman costume by wearing the shirt with black pants, a fireman hat, and rain galoshes for ‘boots’.
My lunch is grinning at me. (help?)
I’m gonna go ahead and file that under the ‘Things I Never Thought I’d Say’ tab. And in this case it’s a good thing, because it means I’ve succeeded in making adorable, edible little monsters for my little monsters.
These are ready in mere minutes, making them a perfect addition to any little lunch box and easy enough to whip a batch large enough for the food table at just about any Halloween Monster
2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, we used honey wheat
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 slices of lunch meat, ham, turkey, or chicken
2 pimento-stuffed green olives
mayonaiise or mustard (optional)
large round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter
- Use a large cookie or biscuit cutter, press into the slices of bread, pulling away crust and excess to cut into circles. Use a paring knife to cut jagged little ‘teeth’ into one side of the slice of cheese. Stack the slices of lunchmeat on the bottom piece of bread & put the slice of cheese on top with the jagged edge facing ‘out’ and slightly hanging over the edge. Spread a bit of mayo and/or mustard onto the inside of the other cut piece of bread and then top the sandwich. Break a toothpick in half & insert one half into a pimento stuffed olive & the other into the top of the sandwich. Repeat with the other one forming your monster eyes. Repeat as many times as needed for your desired number of sandwiches.
These sweet little treats are too cute to be truly spooky, but they sure are fun. They’re also perfect for little hands, both to make and to enjoy.
And what’s not to enjoy? White chocolate covered bananas? Move over chocolate covered strawberries. Chocolate covered bananas rolled in shredded coconut? Yes, please. A delightfully adorable spooky snack (or dessert) served on a stick (because everything’s better served on a stick, am I right?), hand them over.
And then there’s the fact that they’re a much healthier alternative to candy or other sugary, although festive, option for your little ghosts or goblins.
4 bananas, peeled and cut in half
8-12 oz white chocolate
1 cup shredded coconut flakes, sweetened or unsweetened
mini chocolate chips
popsicle sticks or wooden skewers
1. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler, stirring frequently until melted and smooth.
2. Gently insert the sticks or skewers into the center of the banana through the cut end. Carefully dip the bananas into the melted chocolate, turning to evenly coat before removing from the chocolate.
3. Quickly transfer the coated fruit to a plate of shredded coconut, again turning to coat. Place the banana onto a sheet of wax paper. Place two chocolate chips onto the fruit, and gently press them into the coated fruit for eyes.
4. Repeat the steps, as needed, until all the bananas are done. Leave them resting on the wax paper until the chocolate coating has hardened.
Skip the store-bought package of buns– these soft Pumpkin & Olive Oil Pull Apart Rolls are easy enough for anyone to make. As slider buns, as your new go-to dinner date, or even dipped in a hearty bowl of your favorite soup– whatever incarnation you enjoy them in, they’re perfect.
When the kids were little we bought their costumes for Halloween. I couldn’t bring myself to break the bank so we’d shop at the local Kids’ consignment shops and even Goodwill, and they always looked adorable, and they were always quite content but something about our ‘process’ was missing for me. Then when the youngest son was 3, I decided he was going as The Doctor for Halloween. The 10th regeneration, my favorite: David Tennant’s Doctor. And seeing as how I wasn’t made of money to custom order every costume component from Think Geek, the only option was to do it ourselves. And we all had a blast! The whole family got in on it.
And we’ve never looked back since. Each year we start brainstorming about a month ahead of time and then we get to work assembling everybody’s costume of choice. We’ve done a stickman, Uncle Si, God’s gift to women, Steve from Minecraft, Superman/Clark Kent, The Hulk, Kristoff from Frozen, and The Scarecrow from Batman just to name a few. One of my favorites, and easiest to throw together was Indiana Jones.
‘Hey, Lady. You call him Dr. Jones!’
We found khaki pants on clearance at Walmart, but they’d be easy to find at Goodwill or a consignment shop as well. For us, they doubled as church pants, post-Halloween. We found a brown fedora in the costume section. We did hit up Goodwill for the white button up, and found the awesome aviator jacket there as well (for $5!!). That’s also where we found his ‘messenger bag’. He wore a pair of brown hiking style boots and brown belt he already owned. We hot glued a twine ‘whip’ to one of his belt loops, and we completed the look with a big ass grin and some rosy red cheeks.
Wherever he went, everyone knew who he was! Which he thought was pretty much the greatest thing ever. And the whole thing cost me maybe $15 with everything being reusable and needed outside of Halloween. That’s what I’d call making it big, or as Dr. Jones so aptly put it …
‘Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.’
The sons have always enjoyed the Despicable Me movies, and the Minions’ antics have kept them in stitches throughout all three films. The boys even made me download the game ‘Minion Rush’ onto my tablet so they can play it whenever the mood strikes. (Just don’t tell, since the older ones might get a tad embarrassed to have their secret outed, you know since they’re supposed to be to old for cartoons and all) They have a legit talking Dave and the teenagers still can’t help but pick up and play with the fart gun (remember our families four tenets? No judging please).
So when my little bit asked me to help him make a Minion ‘punkin’ for Halloween, I couldn’t say no. Never even crossed my mind. But after I’d automatically said yes, I had that ‘oh shit’ moment all Moms occasionally have at the thought of a commitment they’ve made where they’ve bitten off more than they know they can chew. I can fake it til I make it most of the time but, even on my best day, my pumpkin carving skills aren’t anywhere near up the the standard of precision required for any of the stencils and templates I googled.
But even on my worst day, I can paint. So we kicked all thought of carving to the curb, and painted ourselves a pumpkin shaped Minion. And he was adorable. But nowhere near as adorable as the youngest son’s face when he first saw our finished pumpkin.
DIY Minion Pumpkin
Pumpkin (real or fake)
Canning jar lids
Wooden skewer, optional
Hot glue gun and glue stick
Yellow spray paint
Blue spray paint
black and brown paint, or Sharpie markers
Black pipe cleaners
- Paint the top half of the pumpkin with yellow paint and let dry. It’s ok if it takes more than one coat to get the desired effect. On the pumpkin pictured we used acrylic paint and did multiple coats.
2. Paint the bottom of the pumpkin with blue paint and then allow it to dry completely. Once dry, add a second coat if desired.
3. Take a canning jar lid and pierce a hole in the center with the tip of the nail. Tap gently with a hammer if need be, to pierce.
5. Flip the lid so that the white part is showing and insert the nail through the hole in the center, and apply a bit of hot glue to secure the head of the nail to the lid.
6. Apply a ring of hot glue all around the inside of the silver ring and press the flipped lid firmly to it, hold for a second to seal and then set aside to completely dry.
7. Use a skewer, or an extra nail, to pierce a hole where you would like the center of the canning lid ‘eye’ to be, keeping in mind that the eyes form the center of the face.
8. Gently push the nailed lid into the hole, being careful not to push any of the attached bits apart.
- 9. Paint the black straps of the goggles on both sides of the eyes.
10. With paint or Sharpies, color in the details of the eyes (the screw will be camouflaged by the paint).
11. For the hair, use the skewer, or extra nail, to pierce holes at the top of the head and insert the pipe cleaners into the holes.
12. Finish your pumpkin off by drawing on a mouth.