Healthier Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN Y’all!
I just love this time of year! I associate Halloween with hay rides (even though I am allergic to hay and had many an allergic reaction on Halloween), jack o’ lanterns, tiki torches lining our driveway for the trick or treaters, oh and my cousins birthday. Side note: my cousin is a year younger than me and back in the day, he threw the first Jr. high party I ever went to in his garage. I believe that I wore those “oh my gosh I can’t breathe bell-bottom jeans” with my Tommy Hilfiger clog wedges. Yes, clog wedges. They were happening.
 Oh, and it was probably the first  (and last time) I wore lipstick and “ghetto-danced” with my classmates. There is one truth to that. Let’s just say I know how to get down on the dance floor. Hah!
 Anyway, I haven’t been trick or treating in years, but I do enjoy handing out candy to the all of the fairy princesses and superman’s on Halloween. Oh, and of course, eating the candy right from the bowl while I do that. 
We all know that my fave candy is Reese’s peanut butter cups. However, Reese’s always ties with Almond Joy’s. It’s like three of my fave things (coconut, chocolate, and almonds) had a baby. So, I thought to myself…I need to reinvent this classic…ya know, make it health(ier), emphasis on the “ier”, without getting rid of that fantastic almond joy taste.
Let’s do werk.
This recipe is soooooo simple.
You make the coconut base w/ 3 ingredients: coconut, coconut oil, and agave nectar.

Then, ya spread that coconut goodness into a pan.

Press in some almonds and freeze.

Then we pour a melted dark chocolate and coconut oil mixture over the top.
Then, we freeze again. 

Cut into uneven pieces and bada-bing!

Health(ier) Halloween candy without all of those nasty chemicals or “I can’t pronounce this” ingredients(es) :).

Absolutely delicious!
Almond Joy Bark (GF/V):
Ingredients:
5 c. unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
3 T. agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 c. of whole, raw almonds
3.2 oz. dark chocolate (about 1 whole bar of dark chocolate) 
1 T. coconut oil
Instructions:
1. Place the coconut in a food processor and process on high, about 2 minutes. 
2. With the food processor still running, slowly stream in the melted coconut oil, then add the agave. The mixture should look completely smooth. 
3. Spread the coconut mixture into an 8×8 in. square baking pan. Make “rows” with the almonds by lightly pressing the almonds into the coconut mixture.
4. Put the pan in the freezer and freeze until the coconut mixture is firm, about 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a small bowl and melt on 15 second intervals in the microwave, stirring after each interval. Do this until the chocolate mixture is completely smooth.
6. Once the coconut mixture is firm, take it out of the freezer, and pour the chocolate mixture evenly over it. Place the pan back in the freezer for an additional 30 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm.
7. Take the bars out and cut into small squares. I found that you get a few uneven pieces trying to cut into the chocolate, but this gives the bars that rustic “bark” type look. Fine by me 🙂
8. Devour!
Makes about 16 squares.
MANGIA!!!

Meatless Monday and Happy Halloween!!!

Chocolate Cake Batter

Crumbled Cake

Cake Balls

Sprinkles!

One is the loneliest number…

Cake Pops!

Finished Product!

Happy Halloween!!!
I hope you all enjoyed the weekend. I had a blast at a family wedding where I danced my heels off (literally), ate lots of good food, drank lots of good wine, and spent quality time making memories with the fam! Today is going to be a short and sweet post. I know y’all are used to my three page posts where I talk and talk and talk, but I think I have already bored you with my Halloween memories. So, instead I wanted to ask you to share your favorite Halloween memories. What was your favorite Halloween outfit as a kid, teen, or adult. Do you love trick or treating, or would you rather sit at home with a scary movie. Or, maybe you don’t care much at all for the holiday and spend your Halloween throwing candy at the neighbors kids from your front porch. Yes, I did see this happen once during my teen years. It’s amazing to see a Halloween Grinch in person. Where’s the spirit, people? Anyway, I would love to hear from all of you lovely followers, so please feel free to leave a comment in the section below. You can even say something like, BOO! or…Happy Halloween! In the meantime, enjoy my recipe for Halloween Cake Pops. This was my first time experimenting with cake pops and I took it a bit further and made them dairy and gluten free. I took them to work, and I must say that my coworkers didn’t complain one bit. These are delicious, so make a batch for your Halloween party tonight, or hell, share them with the trick or treaters! Happy Halloween!

Chocolate Raspberry Halloween Cake Pops (GF, DF):

For the Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients:
4 c. almond flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. agave nectar
4 large eggs
2 Tbs. Mexican vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 9-in. round cake pans with cooking spray.
2. Using an electric mixer, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the agave nectar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
5. Distribute the batter evenly among the two pans.
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 1 hour.

For the cake pops:

Ingredients:
1 c. raspberry preserves
1 bottle of gluten free organic sprinkles (I got the Halloween sprinkles at Michael’s)

Special Equipment:
50 medium sized lollipop sticks (purchased at Michael’s)
parchment paper

Instructions:
1. Bake chocolate cakes as directed and allow to cool.
2. Crumble the cake into a large bowl, making sure there are no large pieces.
3. Mix raspberry preserves into crumbled cake, using the back of a large metal spoon to distribute evenly.
4. Mixture will be moist enough to roll into 1-in. balls and still hold a round shape.
5. After rolling into balls, place them on a plate and freeze for 1 hour.
6. Melt the chocolate chips in a large pot over very low heat.
7. One at a time, dip 1/2 in. of the tip of a lollipop stick into the chocolate and insert into a cake ball, no more than halfway through.
8. Holding a stick with an entire cake ball attached, dip the entire cake ball into the melted chocolate until completely covered.
9. Twirl any excess chocolate off of the cake ball.
10. Roll the cake pop in the sprinkles.
11. Place the cake pop onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool.
12. Complete the process with the remaining cake pops and allow to cool completely.
13. Serve.

Makes 50 cake pops.

Note: You can stick the cake pops back in the freezer once they are finished cooling and freeze for up to one week. They are even better frozen!

MANGIA!!!



Friday Link Love: Top Ten Halloween Dessert Recipes!!!

Homemade Twix Bars

A recipe from the queen of butter

Peanut Butter…enough said

Chocolate+Mint

Popcorn goodness!

Wholy Moly Count Dracula!

I wish I could eat this photo…

A Whopper of a cookie!

Cupcake, meet Snicker’s

Corny Cookies

Happy Friday everyone!
The cold weather has finally arrived round these here parts in Texas, and to say that I am overjoyed would be an understatement. However, I am regretting my choice to donate my old ugg boots to salvation army, what can I say? They were taking up too much space in my packing boxes while I was moving and I felt no use for them in 105 degree weather. I am definitely rethinking that decision as I sit here wearing my stretchy pants and flip flops. Anyway, I know I am a week early but I thought I would give y’all a head start on preparing your homemade Halloween recipes.
In my family my Mom has started a tradition every Halloween where she makes the best, and when I mean the best, I mean THE BEST popcorn balls in the entire universe. This is right up my mom’s alley…you see, my mom is really creative and definitely knows what she is doing when it comes to decorating. Hand that woman a paint brush and a set of antique chairs and in 1 hour you have a brand new seating arrangement for your dining table. I mean she is pretty darn crafty, with everything from home decor and gift baskets, right down to her popcorn balls. She always packages them in Halloween decorated gift bags with orange and black ribbon. Her popcorn balls are so popular that my sisters best friend always requests a care package be sent to him around Halloween. This boy goes to YALE, you’d think with a g.p.a. like that he would have learned to make them himself, and maybe even started a popcorn ball business and made a profit!
Each Halloween I just about die thinking about my mom making these popcorn balls. I can see her now standing at the stove whipping up the popcorn concoction in her cauldron…i mean, medium sized saucepan. The house smells absolutely divine, like a buttery, salty popcorn, sticky Karo syrup explosion. I could really go for one of those popcorn balls like…NOW! I even had my Aunt text me for the recipe the other day and I realized…I DON’T HAVE IT! WT…? Mom, I know you are reading this and this is all your fault! Haha! Just kidding! Send me some please…fed-ex overnight? K, thanks!
To me, Halloween is that time of year where you can go crazy and eat all the candy that you want. Unfortunately, when you are my age and have no children you are deprived of trick-or-treating so instead you find yourself sitting on the couch Halloween night with your trusty plastic Jack-o-Lantern basket eating your “trick-or-treat” candy that you purchased from the local Walgreens. Totally didn’t happen…it is what it is! What I am trying to say is that I miss the Halloween spirit, trick or treating and coming home where my sister and I would lay out all of our candy for our parents to “inspect,” you know, just in case the sweet old lady next door happened to slip some type of barbiturate into a hershey’s chocolate bar. This usually ended with my mom eating all of my peppermint patty’s, and me getting hopped up on my Reese’s p.b. cups, then crashing off a sugar high about an hour later. What can I say? I have a sweet tooth, and I always will.
I am guessing you already know what today’s link love is all about…duh, Halloween. So, that is why I have decided to share with you my Top Ten Halloween Dessert Recipes, some sweet, and some sweeter. I made it my goal to have each recipe feature a popular Halloween candy. After all, what is Halloween without candy? I hope you share some of these spook-tacular recipes at your next Halloween bash!
Top Ten Halloween Dessert Recipes:
1. Homemade Twix Bars by Mele Cotte: Yea, that’s right I said it: HOMEMADE Twix Bars! This was my sister’s favorite candy as a child, I remember she would eat this before and after soccer matches, for an after school snack, and especially on Halloween. I think it had something to do with my mom loving them so much. This is a classic candy cookie with a buttery shortbread crust, gooey caramel filling, and bittersweet chocolate topping. This cookie was made for trick-or-treating!
2. Outrageous Caramel Apples by Paula Deen: I cannot help but think of my mom every time I see a candied apple. As a child my parents would take my sister and I to the strand in Galveston. Now, this was always a treat, and not just because of the boutiques, but even more so because of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. As we’d stroll by the factory, we couldn’t help but stop and stare at the row of candy apples placed strategically in the stores big glass window, begging you to come inside! Well, apparently tactics like that actually work…every time in fact. My mom, sis, and I would get one caramel apple drizzled with white chocolate and chocolate and covered in peanuts. It was better if it was shared between us…making memories is absolutely priceless and my parents were pretty damn good at it…haven’t lost their touch yet! So, when I saw this recipe by the queen of southern food, Miss Paula Deen herself, I just couldn’t pass it up! She takes a tart Granny smith apple and dips it in a pool of creamy caramel, drizzles with white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and for the grand finale, a roll in glazed pecan pieces! Absolutely sinful!
3. Reeses Puffs Crunch Monster Eyeballs by Picky Palate: What would Halloween be without Reeses? You know I can’t live without them and you know I just had to post this recipe! Combine crunchy peanut butter, crushed Reeses Peanut Butter Puff Cereal, and sweet powdered sugar into small balls. Dip each peanut butter ball into melted chocolate and place an M & M in the center of the peanut butter ball to form the “eye.” I am in love already! Truly, this Halloween treat is a peanut butter lovers dream! This is also a perfect treat to make with your kids, so get in the kitchen and get started!
4. Peppermint Patties by How Sweet It Is: Now, this recipe is for a particular special someone, namely, my Mom. Now, I particularly loathe those dark chocolate candies stuffed with a mint-like confection, packaged in a silver wrapper. You know, these ones. Yea, those York thingies. Anyhow, my mom is absolutely a devout lover and when I was younger she would always request that we pick her up a couple at the store whenever we went for a quick trip. It was always, “Hey girls, would you mind picking up a York Peppermint Pattie for me?” I would always respond (and I still do), “Gosh Mom, I can’t believe you like those…yuck.” As the years moved on, my mom never really had to ask for them, it was just assumed that we would pick her up a few, and maybe a People magazine. There is nothing better than a sweet treat while reading hollywood trash. Haha! Did I mention how much I love her? Apparently a lot of people like enjoy the combination of mint and dark chocolate, so here is to all of you York Peppermint Pattie lovers out there, eat your hearts out! I myself will just stick to my Reeses, thank you very much!
5. Caramel Popcorn Balls by Dine and Dish: Have I mentioned how much I love my mother’s recipe for popcorn balls? I. LOVE. THEM.! I came across this version of popcorn balls that combines sweet caramel and salty popcorn into a ball of yummy! This is the perfect flavor combination. I would suggest serving these small versions of popcorn balls as an appetizer at your next Halloween dessert bash!
6. Cookies and Cream Rice Krispie Treats by Cast Sugar: Lately I have been really craving Rice Krispie Treats. As a child, I occasionally had one in my lunch box…there is nothing better than unwrapping that shiny blue package with my friends Snap, Crackle, and Pop on the outside. The best part about a Rice Krispie Treat is that it is a great balance between sticky, gooey, crunchy, and chewy, all rolled up into one square serving. I would eat mine with a nice big glass of milk, to me, it was like peanut butter, always getting stuck to the roof of my mouth. So, of course I wanted to wash it down with a glass of ice cold milk. Now, I feel the same way about Oreo Cookies, I always need a glass of milk handy. Now, I don’t eat an Oreo like any other person, I have my own technique, and now I will teach you how to eat an Oreo. Step One: Take one Oreo cookie and twist it in half so that one half is full of filling and the other half is plain. Step Two: Spread a tablespoon of JIF extra crunchy peanut butter on the plain Oreo half. Step Three: Re-sandwich the halves together and stuff! Yes, I have a problem and I should probably enter Peanut Butter Addicts Anonymous, seriously…I put that stuff on everything! Anyway, when I saw this recipe I just about died, Oreos and Rice Krispies together? Sign me up, I am all in! I will probably need two glasses of milk for this one. I would suggest using the Halloween themed Oreos for this recipe, you know, the ones with the orange stuffing? Hop to it!
7. Butterfinger Pie with Chocolate Spiders by Recipe Girl: Holy Moly, Butterfingers and pie? It just doesn’t get any better than this people. I am very fond of Butterfingers, they remind me of the Simpsons commercial where Bart says “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger! ” Geez, I wonder how they came up with that snippet? Hah! So, clever! This pie is extremely decadent so get ready. It starts with wouldn’t you know? An Oreo cookie crust. Then comes which is basically a pureed mixture of 23 fun-size butterfinger candy bars, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. To top it all off, a white blanket of homemade whipped cream and crafty chocolate “spiders”. Now, that is what I call a perfect Halloween pie.
8. Chocolate Malted Whopper Cookies by Brown Eyed Baker: What is that you say? Malted Milk balls inside of a chocolate chip cookie? OMG! I have hit the jackpot. This recipe is genius. I just want to give a shot out to my Dad who introduced me to whoppers at a young age, Thanks, Dad! Whoppers are the best movie candy, next to Milk Duds, and great paired with popcorn…which gives me an idea for trail mix. Off to the kitchen I go!
9. Snickers Cupcakes by My Baking Addiction: Snickers was always the go-to candy bar before and after any sports competition when I was younger. I guess the media kind-of made it out to be this energy bar. If by energy they mean watching my sister tear up the soccer field like a psycho child on steroids, making goal after goal and doing cart wheels on the field…then, yes. Definitely an energy bar. However, I remember the after effects of crashing head first into my pillow a couple of hours after eating one. Ahhh…sugar highs…what can I say? My favorite way to eat a Snicker’s (only because my Dad did it) was to freeze them. There is just something about trying to break my teeth while eating a candy bar that I am addicted to. Anyway, apparently companies got smart and created a Snicker’s Ice Cream Bar to solve this problem. This recipe is another one for the books, with a rich devil’s food cupcake, a Snicker’s surprise in the center, and for the frosting, a creamy caramel buttercream that is to die for. Drizzle with caramel and top with crushed snickers bars, and you are one step away from enjoying a little piece of heaven!
10. Candy Corn Kiss Cookies by Sugar Crafter: Now, what is Halloween without some good ole’ fashioned Hershey’s kisses. Enough said.
Question of the Day: What is your favorite Halloween candy or dessert? Leave me a comment, I would love to know!
MANGIA!!!