I love squirrels!! The icon that is, I don’t want to pet a real squirrel or anything like that, though I do find them fascinating to watch…anyways, here’s a super cute place card idea for your next fall event or Thanksgiving. We assembled and used them for Canadian Thanksgiving this year. Beside our little brown friend is a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing and a little fondant pumpkin topper. First a word about the pumpkin toppers, then about the friendly picketing squirrels….The cupcake toppers turned out so cute! They were really fast and easy to make. I found the idea and tutorial by Nikki here on Catch My Party. I just mixed up some marshmallow fondant (melted marshmallows, icing sugar, water and vanilla) and rolled out little balls, scored them with a knife and popped a clove in the top…..that’s all!After I baked a pumpkin pie, I had a cup of pumpkin puree left, so I made up my traditional pumpkin and cream cheese recipes. They were easy cupcakes and baked while the pumpkin pie baked, then just added the icing and fondant pumpkins at the last minute before serving.So I found the pumpkin topper idea on Pinterest, but this next idea was my own idea (I have to make a distinction because my kids are always asking if it’s a Pinterest idea or my own idea! heh heh). Ikea has a cute set of woodland cookie cutters that includes this little squirrel. A batch of The End-All for Chocolate Cookies Recipe from Lilaloa was perfect for little brown fall squirrels. I was in a rush when I was making them, so I don’t have step by step photos. But it’s easy, just cut out squirrels, and for every squirrel cut out a circle (plain or scalloped) for a base. Before baking, add a toothpick to each squirrel, sliding it under the head and poking it through the little hand, so it looks like the squirrel is holding the toothpick on his shoulder. Bake them up, and when they are totally cool, use some melted chocolate candy melts to ice the squirrel to the base. It’s probably a good idea to add the signs to the toothpicks before “gluing” the squirrel to the base. You can just tape the place card to the top of the toothpick. Then it only took a line of melted chocolate on the bottom edge of the squirrel, then a few moments of slight pressure holding it onto the base to assemble. Here they are, being assembled by my sister….The squirrels were my idea, but I did see another fun idea on Pinterest that I really wanted to try….chocolate acorns! I found a great tutorial here on Once Upon a Pedestal for these candy acorns. They looked so cute! But I couldn’t find the same kind of peanut M&Ms that she used….and I didn’t have Tootsie Rolls, so I used chocolate covered almonds and brown fondant (another idea to add to my Chocolate Almond Ideas!!). And I asked my daughters to make them while I was working on Thanksgiving dinner! (remember, everything’s done last minute around here….)The table settings looked really cute with a cookie squirrel, a chocolate acorn and a fall leaf doily at each place….I used the same set of cookie cutters and same idea to make a stand up chocolate moose, too….kinda hard to see, but he’s in the middle by the cornucopia.Mr. Squirrel and his friends were a hit!! But he didn’t stick around very long…..Any squirrels that did linger around too long, and Mac the Moose, were sadly (or more like, deliciously) turned into another dessert with the leftover real whipped cream from the pie….leave overnight in the fridge, and voila!Who knew squirrels and moose could taste so wonderful?? 😉
Mmmm Nutella! I have noticed several posts on facebook about the *surprising* evils of Nutella. It’s not the “healthy” food we thought. Or is it. I always knew that something that yummy couldn’t possibly be healthy, so I don’t feel that I was led astray by advertising. I don’t even remember discovering the deliciousness of Nutella until I was a grown-up. Ah well, someone special brought me a treat the other day….2 jars of Nutella! And all of a sudden I felt a crazing* for Nutella and cookies. Together. In one bite. I was just going to spread it on a plain cookie, then sandwich it with another cookie, but then I started looking at photos of Nutella-filled cookies, and more goodies made with Nutelllllllllla 🙂 I had fun. Then I decided to kind of adapt a bit and try spooning the chocolaty sweet into cute little pastry shells, but made from cookie dough. I grabbed the idea from Chef Cathy here and adapted the cookie dough recipe a bit from Lilaloa who has great cookie recipes. And boy did it turn out well!! (Not like all of my experiments!) Chef Cathy calls them Cookie Pies, but I just have to call them Tarts, because that’s what they look like, a good-old Canadian butter tart shell, in miniature! (* a crazing is a crazy craving!! I just mispelled that and thought it quite clever!)The cookie dough recipe:
Makes about 40 mini tarts
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup of white sugar (a heaping cup, or 2/3 cup)
1/2 tsp. each of vanilla and orange extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups of all purpose flour
Beat the butter and sugar together. It might be nice to use room temperature butter, but mine was fairly cold, and it still works. Add in the egg and beat a bit more. Add in vanilla and orange extract, and any food coloring if you want. I added some orange coloring, but it came out very pale-looking! Throw in the salt, and keep mixing. Sprinkle the baking powder over the batter, then one cup of the flour and mix. Add in the last cup of flour and mix. (Or you can do it the traditional way!) The dough was fairly stiff and just a bit dry, so I worked it a bit with my hands at the end. No need to chill!
Roll out the dough, and use a round cookie cutter that is a bit larger than the openings of a mini muffin pan. I used a scalloped one.Cut out the rounds and gently press them into the mini muffin tin. (I used the rounded handle of a spatula to ever so gently tap them down a bit). I had greased the pan for the first batch, but later found out that that wasn’t necessary if it is a non-stick pan.I didn’t push the shells all the way to the bottom of the cups, and that seemed to work great. Now with 2 teaspoons, fill each shell with Nutella, about a teaspoon each. I used a small teaspoon (baby sized) and acutally twirled the Nutella into the shells a bit after these ones were sticking up a bit too much, and that worked well.Out of the cookie dough, I used a very small cutter and cut out some maple leaves to pop on top. The cutter was from one of those linzer cookie cutters that fell apart, so now I just use the middle cutter-outter piece for tiny cookies. Or you can just crumble up some dough and sprinkle it on top, which is what Chef Cathy did! Now bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.They popped out of the pan after sitting a few minutes, very nicely and were golden enough and had cute little bottoms!Have a bite!!! or two!I decided that I like them cold, instead of warm out the the oven.A sprinkle of cinnamon on the plate was nice, too…I originally just baked up half of the dough, and thought I would save the rest for something else. But these little cuties disappeared so quickly and were so yummy, the next day I baked up another batch! That’s why I’m kind of guesstimating that the recipe made 40 mini tarts, we ate them so fast, and a fair bit of cookie dough was munched up, too, so that’s the closest I could come for a number! These would look super on a Canadian Thanksgiving Table next week!! Or on an American Table in November. Or on anyone’s table at any time this fall! If you like Nutella, I’m pretty sure you will like this easy recipe! 😉
Who has heard of World of Goo? And I don’t mean my kitchen….;) My kids used to play this game on the computer, this World of Goo. A game based on principles of physics, the idea is to build structures out of goo balls that will reach certain heights and then other reactions will happen. Anyways, the things that grabbed my attention on this game were the graphics and the music! (Of course!) My biggest beef about the computer games the kids play is whether I like the music or not!! (Poptropica is fine because there is no music or noise!)
Last year we had a World of Goo birthday party, just our family, for our son’s birthday. Like I said, I like the graphics and the colors in the game, the (mostly) black goo balls and windmills against colored skies.I especially like the purple skies!So I tried to get the idea of the colors and shapes into the decorations.Goo balls and windmills!The goo balls were made from those metal frozen juice lids spray painted black with paper eyeballs. Then they were attached together with black straws and black ribbon.Here comes the real fun….the food!!Building structures with meatballs! First with plain meatballs, then later some attempted them with bbq sauce on their meatballs.Meatball engineers 🙂A super goo ball structure!!This is not a violent game and does not produce violence in kids! Really.After the yummy meatball skyscrapers (and a few other foods, I think) it was time for dessert…A peanut-butter-chocolate goo ball tower for the birthday boy!Light the candles on those goo balls…Now eat those chocolatey gooey balls of sweetness!Gooey fun was had by everyone!!Now off to play the game!!