Halloween Bark…

It looks like a busy week this week. I’m making my Halloween cookies, mummy pops, and ghostly cupcakes. Today I made a batch of Halloween bark. It’s  a super fun treat…..so easy. Everyone likes Halloween candy of some sort. All you have to do is melt some chocolate. I use the Wilton’s melts. That’s your base. Then just sprinkle on all of your favorite spooky treats. You can even cut up some of those mini candy bars! I kept this batch simple. No candy bars. But I did buy some Halloween green melts and swirled that in. Here’s your chance to be really creative and have fun at the same time. It’s great to do this with your kids and grandkids too.

Then just break it all up, put it in some little individual bags, tie with some ribbon and there you go! A nice spooky little treat.

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Fun Halloween Bark

  • 1 bag of Wilton’s candy melts (any flavors you want. I used chocolate and green melts)
  • A variety of Halloween candies (candy corn, candy eyes, gummy worms, candy bars, pretzels, sprinkles etc.)

Place a good size sheet of parchment paper onto a cutting board or baking sheet. Place the candy melts in a heat proof bowl and microwave till melted. (20 second intervals) Give it a good stir until nice and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper. Spread it out to the  desired thickness. (no more than 1/4″)

If you are using a second color, drop spoonful’s of the second color onto the base. Use a toothpick to swirl it around. Sprinkle your candies all over the melted chocolate. Allow to set up on the counter or, to speed things up, place  in the refrigerator. Once it firms up, break or cut up into pieces. Place on a platter or place pieces in little bags and tie with ribbon.



Sushi Cake???

Everyone likes sushi these days, right? Well, almost everyone. I think a lot of people think all sushi is raw fish. But it isn’t. A really popular kind of sushi at the sushi bars is salmon skin roll. My good friend Leslie and I just love them and always order them at our favorite sushi restaurant. The salmon skin is a bit charred…with just a little bit of the actual salmon ‘meat’ on the skin. It’s crispy, salmon-y, and delicious. It is usually made with some thin slices of cucumber, maybe carrot, and almost always a horseradish sprout. If you haven’t ordered one at your favorite sushi bar, you must do so!

Ok, so I thought I would do something a bit different and make myself a little sushi cake. Then I made a sushi bowl. Then I mixed everything from the sushi bowl together and formed it into a mound. Just a little sushi playing. So much fun to play with food. Whatever way you choose to do it, you will enjoy it.

Layers of Nori (seaweed), rice, salmon, cucumbers, sesame seeds….all stacked into a CAKE.

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Sushi bowl…..rice topped with nori, salmon, cucumber strips, pickled ginger and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
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Salmon bowl all mixed together into a wonderful sushi mound. My favorite and it’s a great presentation for guests.
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Salmon Sushi Cake (or bowl, or mound)

-cooked warm sushi rice (sushi rice is Japanese short grain rice, sprinkled with just a bit of rice vinegar, giving it a slightly sweet, tart taste)
-cooked salmon, preferably the skin, baked till crispy and chopped into small pieces
-cucumber with seeds removed, cut into strips
-toasted sesame seeds
-pickled “sushi” ginger or another kind of Japanese pickles (found at Japanese grocery stores)
-Nori (dried seawood sheets found at Asian markets and even in most grocery stores) Cut nori into a circle the size of your cake pan
-soy sauce and wasabi for dipping

For the cake: line a round cake pan with plastic wrap, extending over the edges. This is to prevent any rice from sticking to your pan. Place a sheet of nori on the bottom of the cake pan. Using moistened fingers, gently press rice down on top of the nori. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Top with salmon. Top with more rice and then cucumber strips and ginger. Add another layer of rice. Top with another sheet of nori. Gently press the top down. Place a plate on top of the cake pan and flip over. Remove pan and gently removed the plastic wrap. Slice and serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

For the bowl: Top a bowl of rice with the salmon, cucumber strips and ginger. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

For the mound: Mix the rice, salmon, ginger, torn pieces of nori and sesame seeds together. Line a container of your choice, with plastic wrap. Scoop the mixture in. (Ramekins work great) Slightly press down to compact everything. Flip over onto a serving plate and remove plastic wrap.

Play with your food!! It’s fun.

Crazy good Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie…

There is nothing like a good oatmeal cookie. But then, there is nothing like a good chocolate chip cookie. I love both. So you can imagine how much I love this cookie that has both chocolate chips and oatmeal. Chewy, buttery, crispy, rich, sweet but not too sweet. I have another recipe that I love so much. I have used it for years. But then I came across this recipe and just had to give it a try. It has a lot of chew…not your typical oatmeal cookie. You just gotta try these. Grab yourself a big glass of milk and 1 or 4 cookies and you will surely be happy.

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Crazy Good Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup plus 2 Tblsp flour
1 cup of old-fashioned oats
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, soda and powder together. With the mixer on low, add the dry to the wet ingredients. With a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate and oatmeal. Scoop dough the size of golf balls and place on a plate or small baking sheet. Chill for about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Place the dough balls onto your lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. **  Slightly flatten…just slightly. Bake for 11 – 12 minutes….or until they are just turning light brown. They will look a bit undercooked. It’s ok! Allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

Makes about 18 good sized cookies.

** My cookie baking tip. I take the formed ball of dough, tear the top half off and place it on top of the bottom half, rough torn side up. Slightly press down. This gives you a slightly thicker cookie when baked.





Cheesecake Coffee Cake……….

Cheesecake, yes. Coffee cake, oh yeah. Combination of both, uh yeahhhh.

I love a good coffee cake. I have a favorite recipe that I have been using for years and years. I stick to that recipe, but I am always getting creative with it. Sometimes I add fruit, or just the fruit zest. Sometimes I ice it, sometimes I make a crumbly sugar topping. One thing I know for sure…..it has to be moist. I hate dry coffee cakes and that’s why I never buy them from coffee shops. A hot cup of coffee or tea should be a nice paring with the cake, not to help you to choke down dryness.

This coffee cake is my favorite. I LOVE. It makes me happy. Seriously. I hope you love it too. It’s super moist. Even the crumb topping is not a crunchy sugary topping. Everything is soft and moist. Almost gooey. Oh, and you might think I am crazy, but I am not a huge fan of cinnamon, so I didn’t use much cinnamon at all. But hey, if cinnamon is your thing, add it!

Pictured here is the plain version (OHHHH yum), the raspberry version (OHHH, double yum) and the plain version with a berry sauce, (there are no words…).

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big dollops of Cheesecake batter swirled into the cake batter.

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buttery crumb topping, sprinkled on top and then baked.

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A nice slice topped with fresh berry sauce…

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Another version with the raspberries baked into the top of the Cheesecake batter.

Cheesecake Coffee Cake

1  stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
2  1/2 c flour
2  1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1  tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

2 blocks of cream cheese (8 oz each), softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1 tblsp brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon, or not
3 tblsp cold butter

Heat oven to 350.

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with non stick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients alternately with the milk to your wet ingredients. Don’t overmix. Spread mixture into your prepared baking dish. Using the same mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla together. Drop big dollops of mixture on top of your cake batter. ** Gently swirl it into the top of your cake batter.

In a small bowl, combine the crumb topping ingredients with your fingers. Sprinkle it all over the top of your cake batter. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

** At this point, you can poke some blueberries or raspberries into the batter, then sprinkling with the crumb topping.

Salted Caramel Pudding…………………

Ok, this is a special occasion kind of pudding. It’s very rich……decadent. I would suggest small servings. Awhile back, my friends and I shared a salted caramel pudding at a local restaurant. It was very good, but to me, it had more of a butterscotch flavor, rather than a caramel flavor. Since then, I have tried 3 times to get it just right.

Caramel sauce is mixed right into the pudding mixture. Now, I used my own homemade caramel sauce, but you can use a good caramel sauce that you purchase. There are some good ones out there. Caramel sauce is not hard to make, but it can be tricky and needs to be watched closely since it burns easily.

This stuff is good.

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Salted Caramel Pudding

3 cups whole milk
¼ cup cornstarch plus 1 Tblsp
5 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup of good caramel sauce, plus a bit to drizzle  **
** see my recipe index for a caramel sauce recipe.

In a medium size sauce pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch, until nice and smooth. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly until it just starts to thicken. Stir in the caramel. Continue to cook until mixture is thickened and mixture does not have a flour-ish taste. Stir in the butter. Pour into serving dishes and chill for several hours until set. Drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with a bit of course salt.

Serves 5

Note:  If making pudding from scratch is not your thing, you can always use a box of JELLO brand COOK AND SERVE (not instant) vanilla pudding. Follow the cooking directions on the box, leaving out 1/4 cup of the milk called for. Add 1/2 cup caramel sauce to the hot pudding mixture. Stir until smooth. Chill. Drizzle with caramel sauce.