5 Tips For A Successful Kids’ Halloween Party

fullsizerenderIt’s Halloween in a few days which means it’s one of my favorite times of the year!  I’ve got childhood memories of wearing my costume and marching in a parade at school for parents and kids to admire.  I’ve got adult memories of carving pumpkins in my college dorm.  I’ve got lots of memories of going trick-or-treating with my kids over the years.  And, handing out candy dressed in a witch hat is an evening I look forward to all year.  So, in my opinion, Halloween is a great excuse to have a party!

I’ve thrown a few Halloween parties for the kids over the years, sometimes themed in with one of my daughter’s birthdays.  It’s just too easy to have a Halloween party, especially when the dollar stores, drug stores, and corner stores are all so well-stocked with fun crafts and ideas.  Did you know that, in the US, Halloween is about a $7 billion a year industry?  Canadians spend about $1 billion, which is more per capita than Americans do on Halloween costumes, decor and candy, according to an October 2014 article in The Financial Post.

img_3046Here are my 5 tips for hosting a party, followed by photos of what I’ve done.

Let the kids be involved in setting the agenda.
Do kids come wearing their costume or not?  What do they want the main activity to be? What do you want to serve? How many people is comfortable for you and your child to entertain? What time do you want to have the party?  I think Halloween is more fun in the dark, so if you can do a late afternoon party, go for it. Continue reading

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Peach Crumble Because It’s Still Peach Season!

IMG_1104It’s the first day of September and, in Ontario, it’s still  peach season!  You can find peaches in the grocery stores and at farmers’ markets.  And, they are delicious.

For the last three weeks, I’ve made a Peach Crumble every week because I can only eat peaches cooked.  My family has been enjoying this recipe, too.  We seem to eat it for breakfast or snack or dessert.

Last summer, I shared a recipe for Peach and Strawberry Crumble.  You can read that post to understand the difference between crumbles, crisps, and cobblers.  Personally, I love oatmeal, so I go for the crumbles.IMG_0787

This summer, I went for a straight peach crumble, and I made it in a 9 by 13 inch pan.   If you want to make this in a smaller pan, go ahead.  Just make sure the crumble doesn’t go past the top of the pan.IMG_0783

You can serve this with ice cream, cream, or milk.  I use the latter if I want to have the crumble for breakfast.  Go ahead, live a little! Continue reading

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Matzoh Crunch!

IMG_6585This week is Passover and you may have seen Matzoh Crunch in your grocery store or bakery.

I first saw this recipe when David Lebovitz (chef, baker, and cookbook author) appeared on the Martha Stewart show about 10 years ago.  It looked very easy to make, and it is!

Up front, I should say that I make this dessert all year round and get special requests from my kids and friends.  Matzoh Crunch is the popular name and David Lebovitz’s version is called Caramelized Matzoh Crunch With Chocolate.  Basically, it’s a cracker base with a caramel/toffee topping and chocolate.  What’s not to like?!

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Marshmallow Popcorn Treats

Marshmallow Popcorn Squares
Marshmallow Popcorn Squares

Do you have a favorite treat from when you were a kid?  I have lots because I have a very sweet tooth!  One that I remember making a lot is Marshmallow Treats. ‘Rice Krispies Squares’ or ‘Marshmallow Squares’ are other names for these delicious snacks.  Whatever the name, these treats remind me of my childhood and simpler times.

Invented by Mildred Day, an employee at Kellogg’s, and her co-worker Malitta Jensen in 1939, Marshmallow Treats’ popularity grew when they were suggested in response to a fundraising request to Kellogg’s.  By 1940, the recipe was advertised by Kellogg’s and has been a big hit ever since.  And, by the 1990’s, these bars were a packaged good widely available on grocery store shelves.

Marshmallow Popcorn Squares
Marshmallow Popcorn Squares

When I was in grade school, I took a cooking activity where we made these easy and yummy Marshmallow Treats.  I remember asking my parents to buy marshmallow creme and marshmallows all the time so I could make these whenever I wanted.

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Frozen Fruit Smoothies – Even in Winter!

Frozen Fruit Smoothie
Frozen Fruit Smoothie

In my post on New Year’s resolutions, I said that I’d publish a post on frozen fruit smoothies.  Here it is!  Because eating more fruit is one of my resolutions, fruit smoothies are an easy way to meet this goal.

This time of year in Canada it can be hard to get fresh fruit that tastes good and is reasonably priced.  Of course, to keep your diet varied, you treat yourself to your favorite fruits from time to time.  Mine are pineapples and mangoes.

But, if you don’t buy as many fruits in the winter, or you find yourself not finishing what you’ve bought, then consider the option of freezing leftover fruits and making smoothies.  You can buy frozen fruits at the store but, by freezing unused fruits, I’m trying to accomplish another resolution, which is to waste less food.

Here’s what I do.

Any fresh fruit that hasn’t been eaten within a few days of being ripe gets cut up and put in a glass dish in the freezer overnight.  I seem to have ripe bananas, pineapples, and strawberries left over the most. When I take the fruit out, I let it sit for a few minutes, then use a knife to loosen the fruit and store it in a freezer bag.  Voila: unwasted fruit and fresh smoothie material!

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Pumpkin Bars… If You Can Find The Pumpkins!!

IMG_2160Further to my last post on Canadian Thanksgiving, I thought I would write a quick one on pumpkin bars and the fact that making them (and anything else requiring pumpkin puree) this year might pose a challenge!!

You see, canned pumpkins, the main ingredient in the bars, are made from ‘pie’ or ‘sugar’ pumpkins.  Pie pumpkins are the smaller, denser, darker version of the larger, thin-walled pumpkins we use for carving jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. These pie pumpkins are made into puree and canned in the fall and are available all year – technically.

This fall, pie pumpkins are in short supply due to the heavy rains this summer in the Midwestern United States where most of the pies are grown. The problem is serious enough to cause some concern for Americans as they plan their upcoming Thanksgiving dinner menu which undoubtedly will include some variation of pumpkin in several dishes.

According to Bloomberg News, Libby’s, the largest producer of pumpkins, says they have enough product to make 45 million 8 inch pies, which is half of what they normally produce. They think this is enough to get through Thanksgiving but, after that, there could be a shortage that will have to wait until next year’s harvest to be satisfied. Continue reading

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Rainbow Bit Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

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The kids came home from camp last week and my husband asked if I was going to bake a cake.  I think he secretly wanted one because I had never baked a welcome home cake for them before!  He chose a rainbow bit cake with cream cheese frosting which was a great idea because it is so colorful and happy.

This cake comes from a Betty Crocker cake mix which was easy enough. Finding the Rainbow Bit flavor was a bit harder.  As I made several calls to find a retailer that carried this flavor, I got to wondering about the origin of a rainbow bit cake.

What I found out is that this is basically a funfetti cake in a box.  I had never heard of a funfetti cake before!  It’s a white cake with sprinkles or rainbow chips (made with colored white chocolate bits) baked in. There are many recipes online and one even includes a recipe for making homemade sprinkles, here. Continue reading

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Peach and Strawberry Crumble – It’s Summer!

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It’s summertime and that means fruits like strawberries, cherries, peaches, and blueberries are in season!  Whether you pick your own or buy them at local farmers’ markets or the grocery store, having them at home just says summer.

Last week I picked up a basket of peaches, specifically to make a crumble. When I was searching for recipes, I found tons and ended up making up my own.  Confession: I love the oat crumble on top of the fruit and I like it to be thick.  That’s why I ended up using a crumble topping recipe for a 9 by 13 inch pan on my 8 by 8 inch crumble! Continue reading

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Mango & Blueberry Salad – That’s It !

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At a kids’ year end party a few years ago, a mom brought this salad and it was such a hit.  It only has mangoes and blueberries in it but the mangoes are cut up using a melon baller making the salad look elegant and fancy.

There is something about the combination of the golden yellow of the mangoes and the dark bluish purple of the blueberries that makes the salad look good, too, especially in a white serving dish.  The salad looks healthy for you, and it is! Continue reading

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Frozen Strawberry Banana Daiquiris

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These frozen daiquiris have become a summer favorite!  Made using Bacardi’s Strawberry Daiquiri Mixer with the addition of a ripe banana, these drinks are smooth, tasty, and easy to make.

By definition, a daiquiri is made with rum, lime juice, and a sweetener. Daiquiris originated in Cuba over 100 years ago as a shaken drink.  According to Kitchn.com, drinks made with fruit juice, creme, or eggs are shaken to introduce air bubbles that give a frothy appearance.  Try making a shaken recipe from a fellow blogger at Charly’s Bar, here.  You may find other drinks you might like there, too!

Bacardi’s Strawberry Daiquiri Mixer does in fact contain sugar, lime pulp, and lime juice as part of its ingredients, as well as crushed strawberries.  You can find this mixer in the freezer section of your grocery store, next to the lemonade and orange juice.

Try these daiquiris with rum for the adults and without rum for the kids!  Let me know of any other variations that you like. Continue reading

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