6 Last-Minute Halloween Treat Ideas

I don’t know if you’ve been feeling like me this week but I’ve been dragging. I’ve had zero energy to do anything and with Halloween tomorrow (eek!) and a Halloween party on Saturday I’ve got to play a little catch up.

Luck for me my costume is pretty easy and only requires a few tweaks (with a little help from my trusty glue gun) AND I just happen to have a few tasty treats you can whip together for Halloween too!

1. Vampire Donuts

I did these last year and I absolutely loved them. These were quick, easy and pretty darn cute.

2. Mummy Hot Dogs

Thinking something a little more savory and a lot more filling? These hot dogs wrapped in biscuits may be just what you’re looking for.

Photo Courtesy of Damn Delicious

3. Candy Coated Marshmallows

I’m a sucker for anything that has marshmallows in it and these candy coated pumpkin inspired marshmallows are no exception

Photo Courtesy of Smile Monsters

4. Witches’ Broom

When we had our little Halloween Party last year I made these and they really are ridiculously easy

Photo Courtesy of The Kitchen Magpie

5. Witches’ Hats

Almost as easy as the brooms these little cookies require minimal effort and will make a great addition to any party. All you need is: Hershey Kisses, Fudge Stripe Cookies, Sprinkles and Icing and you’re done.

Photo Courtesy of My House and Home

6. Spider Deviled Eggs

What’s Halloween without a spiders? Everyone knows how to make deviled eggs but these little olive spiders really add a little bit of creepy to these good, old favorites

Photo Courtesy of She Knows

Hope these nummies are getting you excited for Halloween tomorrow because it’ll be here all too soon!

Yours Truly,

Mel


A New (6 Week) Adventure: SF Cooking School

This past Summer seemed to be all about food movie for me and The Husband. From Chef to The Hundred-Foot Journey to documentaries like, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Kings of Pastry and Spinning Plates we’ve been devouring our TV with our eyes and I’ve been completely transfixed.

Aside from the strange enjoyment that I get from watching these Artists crank out phenomenal dishes, I also find myself analyzing their styles and techniques. Afterward The Husband and I spend hours talking about the recipes, the variety of ingredients, the prep, etc. and I swear these conversations have been some of our most animated.

Finally with alot of cajoling and arm twisting last Monday I started my first Fundamentals I class at the San Francisco Cooking School. I was hesitant to take the class for a variety of reason but the biggest one was that I didn’t think I was going to be good enough. This was a legit cooking class at a cooking school that trains professional chefs and not some adult educational class at the community center and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The Husband is my biggest supporter and he insisted that I absolutely needed to take this class and I’d love it.

Boy, was he right; I LOVE the class. It started with a tour of the kitchen, then about an hour of lecture and hands on exercises and then we’re broken into groups to make the food. While I’m not quite the novice that some of my fellow classmates are I’m still enjoyed the refresher on knife skills and technique but mostly I love the food!

I was so afraid that there wasn’t going to be any real cooking until the Fundamentals II class but lucky for me we get to cook a lot of different foods.

Here’s the menu from out first class:

Appetizer: Creamy Horseradish Salmon Spread with Sesame Pita Chips

Salad: Chopped Salad with Herb Buttermilk

Main Dishes: Thai Vegetable Curry with Jasmine Rice & Steamed Rockfish Fillets with Vegetable Slaw and Miso Dressing

Side Dishes: Cauliflower Gratin & Tortilla Espanola

Dessert: Fresh Peach Crisp with Whipped Cream

As an added bonus we get to sit down and dine with everyone at the end of class and they even pass around a few bottles of wine to enjoy with the meal!

So far I love my class and it was completely worth every minute of the long drive back and forth to The City on a Monday evening and I can’t wait for Starters and Appetizers tonight.

Yours Truly,

Mel

P.S. Did I mention that my Instructor, David looks just like Deacon on Nashville?



ThirTEAth Birthday Party – Pictures

I know these are a week late but if you’ve been a follower of the Blog for any length of time you’ll know that late is kind of my MO; I’m not proud of that, it’s just how it is.

So without further ado, here you go.

A tea party,a  little whiskey in tea cups, a game of cut-throat croquet and an a great group of friends; what a perfect birthday.

Yours Truly,

Mel



ThirTEAth Birthday Party = Success!

Although I don’t have any picture (aside from this cell phone selfie) to share yet, I know, I know, it was a whole 5 days ago; I can honestly say it was a success. There was so much to do and I thought I had it all planned out but as people walked in I put everyone to work and hopefully they don’t hate me for that.

Yes it might have been a bit hot to have it outside and yes, there were flies but honestly it just added to it. That just meant The Husband brought out some fans and an electric fly swatter and sure, that could have ended badly with all that china but it worked out fine.

I’m so glad almost all of my friends could make it out to my party and that all the high tea-virgins had a great time and  it will definitely go down as one of my most memorable parties to date.

I also promise that pictures are coming…soonish.

Yours Truly,

Mel


ThirTEAth Birthday Party – Food

I’ll admit that the food is my favorite part of throwing a tea party. It means I have an excuse to bake crazy amount of cookies, scones and cakes and I get to eat a lot because everything is smaller.

For my party I’ll be revisiting some of my staples, jazzing up a few favorites and sharing some of my go-to recipes.

Sample Menu:

Sandwiches (1-3 Different Types)

Scones (Usually 1-3 Flavors)

Cookies ( 1-3 Types)

Green Salad

Cupcake

Fruit Dessert

Must have condiments: clotted cream or devonshire cream, lemon curd and jam

*Optional Crumpets, Petit Fours, Fruit Strudels & Macarons

For the sandwiches I like to keep them simple but flavorful and 3 different types it really my maximum. Salmon with Dill & plain cream cheese, cucumber and vegetable flavored cream cheese, PB&J, chicken-apple-walnut, turkey and cranberry, tuna salad and egg salad sandwich to name a few. To help people differentiate all the types try using different breads.

White and wheat are pretty obvious but there’s also rye bread and even mini croissants; for a completely different spin you could even serve something like the tuna in hollowed out cucumber cups.

Next up are the scones and what I would argue are one of the most vital parts of your tea party. I prefer my scones to be dense, rich in flavor and ever so slightly sweet; none of this sickly-sweet, light and fluffy stuff for me, save that for the cupcakes. Scones are meant to be eaten with spread and that’s where I want the sweetness to come from.

I’ve tried many recipes but I always come back to THIS recipe from Better Homes & Garden and for step-by-step instructions you can check out my post HERE. It’s the perfect basic recipe and I often switch up the basil and strawberries for orange zest & cranberries, or The Husband’s favorite, bacon-cheddar and chive scones. If you’re going to change it up just eye ball it (the recipe is pretty forgiving) and hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do.

*Tip: Double the recipe and hold off on adding any flavors; strawberries, bacon etc. until you divide the dough into balls. At this point go ahead and make each ball a different flavor if you want variety but not the extra work.

Cookies. Not necessarily something that all tea houses serve but I like having them because everybody likes cookies. Plus they double as another way for me to eat more lemon curd or clotted cream or both at the same time; I’m sure you get the picture.

I enjoy a good variety and usually go with a mix of something like a sugar or rosemary shortbread cookie, gingersnaps, madeleines, white chocolate-macadamia nut and chocolate chip. Each type of easy to make and sugar or shortbread cookies could always be made with cookie cutters that match the party theme or just circles. As an added bonus if your fridge is getting full from all the party food these cookies all freeze well; just be sure to pack them in flat layers separated with parchment paper and take them out to thaw at least 2 hours before the party.

For a salad I keep it simple and get a tub of pre-washed greens (I prefer the 50/50 blend of spinach and spring greens) and toss in a small can of mandarin oranges, a handful of dried cranberries and some sunflower seeds for garnish. Quick and easy with things I usually have on hand at the house.

If you’re not a fan of this type of salad a ceasar works too and the pre-made bags from the grocery store are perfect because really, people aren’t here for the salad but at least eating a little bit of it might make them feel better.

Cupcakes aren’t a must have items but they’re miniature and that makes them worthwhile. If you have the time these are a great addition to a tea party and you can use my go-to cake/cupcake recipe from THIS post (use the box instructions for baking times) to make any flavor you’re hankering for; top them with THIS buttercream recipe or THIS whipped cream frosting and you’re done. It may be worth mentioning that if you want leftover put a few of these aside before the party because afterwards there won’t be any.

Like the green salad I like to throw a little fruit into the mix and if you have time fruit salad served in little bowls is adorable and healthy but I also like these little pudding filled cookie bowls topped with fruit. Instead of cool whip I used instant chocolate pudding (made the night before) and ta-dah, another impressive creation and everything is edible!

Last but not least are what I’m calling the condiments. I don’t actually make the lemon curd or the clotted cream but if you want to there are lots of great recipes online; I just haven’t given them a go yet. Instead I’ve found that lemon curd can be bought at Trader Joe’s and devonshire cream can be purchased at Cost Plus World Market and it’s not cheap ($7.99) but it’s the only place I can guarantee will have it.

 

Photo Courtesy of Jillian at Coffee Light and Sweet

 

For jam or jelly anything works, I’ll leave it up to you and your personal preferences.

As for macarons, petit fours and crumpets, again I will leave this up to you. The macarons add a bit of fancy but they’re time intensive, expensive but still really, really good; same goes with petit fours unless you want to use THIS cheater recipe. I’ve tried making crumpets at home and it was a huge flop. Unfortunately for me that was right before a big tea party and they were a mess, I was a mess and it’s not something I’d recommend. If you have to have crumpets (they’re a cross between english muffins and pancakes) take my advice and purchase them from the refrigerated section at either New Leaf Community Market or Trader Joe’s; you’ll be out $4 for 8 or 6 but it’s worth it.

Yours Truly,

Mel

P.S. For Tea Suggestions take a look HERE and HERE.


Tip of the Day: How to Soften Butter – Take 2

Lately there’s been a bit of a baking rush at our place in preparation for the Tea Party and I’ve already run through at least a pound of butter, 2 1/2 pounds of flour and a bit of sugar and I’m not even half way there.

At times like it’s important to remember trick like THIS tried and true method of softening hard butter and I now have a new option for you and it involves a cheese grater. Yup, you read that right; grate your butter as suggested by Rachel of Baked by Rachel.

Photo Courtesy of Baked by Rachel

It’s really genius and I’ve used it a few times so I’ll vouch for it. Next time you’re in a pinch try it out and you might be surprised.

Yours Truly,

Mel


ThirTEAth Birthday Party – Decoration Ideas

I’m generally a big Do-it-Yourself type person but since I’ve been planning this party for so long and tea parties are kind of my go to type of party I’ve already amassed quite a collection of appropriate decorations.

Mismatched china, check. Lacy tablecloths, check. Eye ball popping worthy silver and goldware (is that even a word?), check.

This just means that I can spend a little more time on a few extra fun things to jazz it all up and here’s what I’m thinking.

As most people have more normal things to collect than vintage gloves and hats I’m thinking it might be worth it to share my rather extensive collection with my guests because what’s a tea party without a hat?

Hats are for Tea Parties! Please Help Yourself

I’m thinking small flower arrangements might be a nice touch. Not too big because you don’t want to crowd the food buy something for a little touch of color or glitter.

These gold dot vases from LilikoiJoy are very tempting.

Photo Courtesy of LilikoiJoy

But so are these other ideas.

Photo Courtesy of Sania Pell

Photo Courtesy of Landon Jacobs

Photo Courtesy of Niki & Ali of Papery and Cakery

Of course a “Happy ThirTEAth Birthday” banner of some sort is a must and I’m really liking the little bit of frou frou that these yarn pom-poms. Or tassels, I adore tassels but The Husband, not so much. Too bad it’s my Birthday and he doesn’t get a say in the decorations.

Photo Courtesy of Blush Bazaar, Etsy

Photo Courtesy of Confetti System

There’s a great printable Banner HERE from A Printable Press

Photo Courtesy of Printable Press

However I also like the look of letters on colored paper.

Finally for a little pizzaz, I’m thinking either a meringue tower which I’m totally copying from a baby shower that I attended that had a donut hole tower or chocolate dipped marshmallows on a stick and rolled in sprinkles. Too much?

Photo Courtesy of Mommy Gaga

Photo Courtesy of Laura Jane Photography

I didn’t think so.

Yours Truly,

Mel