Severed Witches Finger Cookies

Witches Finger Cookies

A friend of mine posted a picture  of severed witches finger cookies on Facebook. It prompted me to try own version with my grandkids. With Halloween just a few days away, this is a perfect recipe for the occasion. The fingers are shaped with shortbread cookie dough and the fingernail is an almond sliver.

Shortbread Cookie DoughINGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Almond slivers
  • Red gel food coloring
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Chill cookie dough for one hourHOW TO

If you own a Mixmaster of Kitchen Aid mixer, you will want to use it. You can mix the dough by hand, but it will take generous effort.

Mix together butter, sugar, egg and extracts. Add the flour in 1/2 cup increments, add the salt. Mix together well. This is a shortbread dough, so it will firm and mold easily.

Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Shaping the witches fingers

Now comes the fun part, shaping the fingers. The grand kids, ages 5 and 7, had a blast rolling out the dough and inserting the fingernail.

Keep your shapes the size of actual adult fingers to make them more realistic. I helped the kids shaped the knuckle areas and used a kitchen knife to make three slashes in each knuckle.

Making Witches Finger Cookies

Firmly press the almond sliver into the tip of each finger. Randomly dust cocoa powder over the dough and fingernail area. The cocoa powder is optional but I like the look it lent to the final cookie.

Place cookies on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. You can apply the red coloring gel before or after baking; I applied before. Squirt a very small amount under the nail bed and push down on the almond so that the red gel oozes out.

Bake cookies at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Immediately remove from the cookie sheet and set on a cooling rack.This recipe makes around 60 fingers. Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. The cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to one week.

IMG_6697

TIP ONE

Work with the dough in small batches. Cut the dough in quarter and work with 1/4 at a time. Keep the remaining dough covered in the fridge. You want the dough should cold when you work with it so that the fingers hold their shape when baking.

TIP TWO

Don’t use sugar cookie dough because your baked cookies will come out looking like this:

IMG_6709Trust me on this one. A shortbread cookie dough is best because it is unleavened and will hold its shape.

Unfortunately, shortbread cookies are somewhat dry tasting which is why I served them with a red jam dipping sauce. You could sprinkle the fingers with white sugar before baking to help sweeten the taste. I noted  a few online posts that premade sugar cookie dough (the kind in a tube) works if you add in one cup of white flour. I haven’t tried it.

I’m not even going to give a guesstimate on the calories per cookie. Come’ on…flour, powdered sugar, butter…they are definitely not low fat; but, sometimes you just have to toss calories to the wind.

Angry Bird Watermelon Fruit Bowl

This weekend my grandson, Carson, celebrated his birthday Angry Bird style. Besides having an Angry Bird cake and a six-foot, giant-size sling shot, there was the Angry Bird fruit bowl.

Plan on at least an hour to put all the pieces together. But, as you can see, it’s worth the time and effort. Many thanks to the wine guy for running with my idea while I filled 150 water balloons. Here is how the birds and pigs were assembled.

Angry Bird Watermelon Fruit BowlSlice a watermelon in half, and cube into bite size pieces. Cut 4 pieces of watermelon into long strips to form the base for Angry Bird tower.

Place the cubes back into one of the watermelon halves along with honeydew melon balls. The picture doesn’t show it, but we also mixed in strawberries and raspberries with the melon.

The birds were hand-carved with a paring knife, as were the snouts of the pigs. Shaved watermelon skin were secured to the snouts with toothpicks (the toothpicks formed the nostrils). Colored toothpicks = pig ears, carrot tips = bird nose, onions = red bird eyes & mouth/toothpicks are the pupils, toothpicks = green bird eyes and rosemary = bird eyebrows.

A rubber band attached to a V-shaped stick forms the slingshot. Hope you have as much fun with this fruit bowl as we did. It was a big hit at the party and the seeing the smile on our grandson’s face made it all worthwhile.

Sweet Holiday TREEt

Holiday Sweet Tree-t

I clipped this recipe from a magazine last month thinking it would be a fun treat to make with the grandkids. I’m glad I decided to do it myself. My suggestion is to have all the shapes cut beforehand and let the kids do the assembling. No doubt the sticky, gooey sweetness will score big for the little ones.

What this recipe lacks in ingredients, it more than makes up for in calories. Let’s see, an entire box of Fruity Pebbles cereal, 1/2 stick of butter, one bag of mini marshmallows and frosting. Need I say more? Bite-size portions are in the neighborhood of 105 calories (most being sugar grams). I am guessing the recipe can serve up to 36.

Mix together melted marshamallows and cereal

 INGREDIENT LIST

  • 1 box Fruity Pebbles cereal
  • 1/2 stick butter (you use margarine)
  • 1 package mini-marshmallows ( 10 1/2 ounces)
  • 16 ounce ready-to-spread cream cheese frosting (or vanilla) 
  • Stacking cookie cutters (I used both round and daisy shapes because it’s what I had). The recipe called for star shapes. Improvise if you must.

 HOW TO

Melt the butter in a deep fry pan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and continue to melt and stir on low heat.

When marshmallows are completely melted, gradually add cereal. Mix well ensuring cereal has an even coat of marshmallow mixture.

Spread mixture in a 13"  x 9" baking dish

Lightly coat a 13″ x 9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Evenly and firmly spread the gooey mixture into pan . I found a sheet of wax paper helps.

Let the mixture set up for 45 minutes to an hour before cutting with shaped cutouts.

 

The tree is stacked with 5 different size cut-outs. You need two of each size. I used a large circle for the base of tree, and rotated each shape based on diameter size (largest to smallest).

Each cut-out is attached to the next by frosting.  Fill in any bare spots with additional frosting and decorate with holiday candies. I used a peppermint candy as the tree topper.

 

You will need to bear down on the cookie cutter to cut through the gooey mixture. This is why I suggest making the cut-outs ahead of time when working with small children.

 

Cut shapes with cookie cutters

The cookie cutters should have some depth and be stable enough to cut without bending.

 

Cut out the stackable shapes from the cereal mixture

Attach the pieces with ready-to-serve frosting

Once the tree is constructed, keep it covered. I placed the tree on a holiday plate and covered with tented aluminum foil. Store in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Now, here is the big question. How in the world do you cut this tree for serving? My answer, “I have no idea”. My thoughts are you start disassembling at the top of tree and work your way down, cutting into serving sizes.

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

I love the smell of cinnamon at the holidays, come on, who doesn’t? This week, the wine guy brought home a plentiful amount of raw almonds. A California winery sent him a 50 pound box for servicing and managing their brands. He shared the wealth with co-workers and brought home a few pounds for us to have at the house for Christmas.

Cinnamon and sugar seemed a perfect union for the almonds. And that’s what I doing on this snowy Saturday morning. I’m roasting almonds in the oven. I plan to gift most of them because Blimpy Girl doesn’t need the taunt of a temptation everytime I pass the nut dish.

Coat the raw almonds in egg white

This is such an easy recipe and takes about 15 minutes to prepare and 1 hour to roast.

I purchased Mason jars at Hobby Lobby to package the roasted goodies. I’ll dress the jars with some creative touches and gift tags and post a picture later this week.

 

How-To

  • 4 cups whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water

Kick up the oven to 250 degrees F. While it’s warming up, beat the egg white and water in a good size bowl. You want the egg to be frothy, but not stiff. Add the almonds to the egg mixture and toss until they are completely coated.

Dump the sugar mixture in the bowl and mix until the nuts are covered with the sugar. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non-stick oil and spread the almonds onto the pan. You want a single layer of nuts.

Pop into the oven and roast for 1 hour, turning the almonds at mid-point. Once the almonds cool, store in an airtight container.

I told you this easy! What I won’t tell is how many calories you consume when shoveling a handful in your mouth. **wink**

Create Holiday Table Atmosphere

Make your own table centerpieces for the holiday

I have a number of clear vases leftover from a summer wedding event. I had actually forgotten about them until digging in the attic for Christmas stuff. I was determined to find a a use for them this holiday. They were purchased at the local Dollar Store for $1 each.

Walking to the mailbox, I noticed straight twigs sticking out of ground. They were the remains from a plant cut back this fall. I fumbled around the garage for my garden clippers and away I went.

A few snippets of cedar pine, 4 or 5 twigs, water, a few drops of food coloring (I used orange to create an amber color) and I was ready to assemble my vase.

I partially filled the vase with water and added the coloring. The greens and twigs were placed around the inside perimeter of the vase.

A 6-inch stearine candle, purchased from Ikea, was centered inside the vase. They burn clean with no dripping. Be sure to have enough cedar clippings to keep the candle upright.

I do have concerns about what will happen once the candle burns down to the twigs and greenery. I’m giving it a test run, but have a back up plan. I certainly don’t want to set the holiday table on fire.

Inserting a clear glass taper candle holder inside the vase will lift the base of the candle above the greens/twigs. I will fill the vase with water to the top of the candle holder which should prevent any fire hazards.

The second plan is using floating candles. I’ve already tested this and it works well. The only problem with floating candles is their burn time is very limited. They should, however, last through a holiday dinner.

I am excited about using these at my annual Christmas Eve dinner. Fresh boughs of pine and colorful Christmas bulbs will be the table runner. These candles will be placed throughout. Love it! Total cost was around $2 per candle centerpiece.

Thanksgiving Turkey Tossed Salad

Meatless Thanksgiving Turkey Salad

I was asked to bring a salad to Thanksgiving dinner this year. I just couldn’t bring myself to toss mixed greens, tomatoes and other salad toppings into a bowl. It was time to change things up a bit. Here was my salad at today’s Thanksgiving table.

You have to admit it beat a traditional tossed salad hands down. It’s a salad bar in one dish and could be used as the table centerpiece should you be so inclined. I dressed the rim of a shallow bowl with red leaf lettuce. Chopped mixed greens, including baby spinach, filled the center of the bowl. I then began layering the veggies. I started at the outside edge of the bowl and worked my way to the center.

Here’s what I used:

  • Baby carrots
  • Sliced celery
  • Fresh green beans (blanched). I purchased a microwavable bag of green beans. They were perfect. I cut them in half after they steamed in the microwave.
  • Baby asparagus (slightly sauteed). Unfortunately, the asparagus I purchased was bad, so I didn’t get to use it.
  • Sliced red, yellow, green pepper rings, cut in halves
  • Sliced mushroom caps
  • Grape size tomatoes
  • Yellow squash cut in half
  • Sliced black olive and two black peppercorns for the turkey eyes
  • Small triangular piece of yellow cheese for the turkey beak
  • Reserve one red pepper slice for the wattle and two pieces of celery stems for the feet

You can serve with various salad dressings on the side as well as with a side of ranch for dipping. When you’re ready to serve, use tongs so guests can pick and choose the items they want to put in their salad bowls/plates.

TIP: You can also use shredded cheddar cheese as one of the layers (or any other cheese for that matter). You can put your personal touch on this salad with a variety of other veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower florets.