Pumpkin Pecan Dessert {in a jar}

For the past seveal years, for Thanksgiving at our house, Pumpkin Pie has been replaced with what we call Pumpkin Pecan Dessert.  This dessert is so simple to make, and everyone (even my non-pumpkin-pie-eating husband) loves it!  I’ve also made this dessert several times for potlucks and it’s always a hit!

This year, since I’m on a bit of a “deserts in a jar” kick… I thought this Pumpkin Pecan Dessert would be a perfect candidate for an “in a jar” treat.  I bought some short, wide mouth 1/2 pint jars (from the grocery store), which make one nice sized serving, and would make a pretty adorable gift too!  This dessert is even better topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Pecan Dessert

1 can (15oz) pumpkin

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

 (or 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon allspice)

1 boxed cake mix (white or yellow cake)

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

3/4 cup butter, melted

whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions ~

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F

2.  In a large bowl add the first 5 ingredients, and whisk together until fully combined.

If you’re making one 9″ x 13″ dish of dessert….

3.  Spray dish with non-stick cooking spray.

4.  Pour pumpkin mixture into 9″ x 13″ dish.

5.  Sprinkle cake mix (dry) onto of pumpkin layer.

6.  Then sprinkle chopped pecans all over.

7.  Pour melted butter over top.

8.  Bake 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and dessert is a nice golden brown.

9.  Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

If you’re making this dessert in jars….

3.  Lightly spray 12, wide mouth 1/2 pint jars with non-stick cooking spray.

4.  Use a measuring cup to put about 1/2 cup pumpkin mixture into each jar.

5.  Sprinkle two rounded tablespoon of dry cake mix on top of pumpkin layer, in each jar.

6.  Then sprinkle on one rounded tablespoon of chopped pecans in each jar.

7.  Pour one tablespoon of melted butter on top (of each jar).

8.  Bake jars on a large baking sheet (so they are easy to put in and out of the oven) for about 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of a jar comes out clean, and dessert is golden brown.

9.  Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Note:  When I baked mine using these measurements they filled the jars fully when baked, and as they cooled they shrunk down just a bit, a perfect amount of space to close the jar.

Before serving, top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

This dessert is equally delicious the next day.

Recipe Source:  Betty Crocker, Holiday Recipes booklet, 2000.

Happy Fall Baking!

Candy Corn Cheesecake Mousse

I’m not sure if there is any candy more closely related to fall and Halloween than candy corn!  The distinct shape, instantly recognizable color pattern and pure sugary goodness make these little sweets a Halloween staple.  Inspired by these traditional candies, I created this Candy Corn Cheesecake Mousse, perfect for a special dessert or Halloween party.

Candy Corn Cheesecake Mousse

This recipe yields a sweet and fluffy, light cream cheese flavored dessert.

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk or cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 small container (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed

orange and yellow food color

candy corn (for garnish)

Directions ~

Beat cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until fully smooth.  Slowly add powdered sugar, then milk (or cream).  Add vanilla.  Continue mixing.  Beat about 1 minute on medium to medium-high speed.  Fold cool whip into cream cheese mixture, and stir until fully combined.

Scoop about 1/3 of the Cheesecake Mousse into a bowl, and color orange.  Color another third of the mixture yellow.  Leave the remaining third white.  One color at a time (starting with yellow), scoop mixture into a piping bag or large ziplock bag, and squeeze a layer of the Cheesecake Mousse into small dessert dishes of your choice.  Repeat with orange and then white Mousse.

Refrigerate 30 minutes (or up to 1 day) before serving.  Garnish with candy corn if desired.

Recipe yields 4 moderate servings or 6-8 mini servings.

Recipe Source:  Glorious Treats

Sugar Free Option:  In the past, I have adjusted this recipe to be sugar free, with good results.  Simply substitute 1/3 cup Splenda for the powdered sugar, and replace regular cool whip with sugar free cool whip.  Omit candy corn garnish.

Recipe options:  This general concept could be created using vanilla pudding or white chocolate mousse (from a mix or from scratch).

{Small wooden spoons from Garnish}

  A few friends and I went a little candy corn crazy, check out these other fun candy corn treats…

Candy Corn Merigues from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Candy Corn Bugle Snack Mix from Cookies and Cups

Slice and Bake Candy Corn Cookies from Sweet Sugar Belle

Cute and Creepy Halloween Treats {and a free printable!}

A few nights ago as I was drifting off to sleep… dreaming of future blog posts.. an idea hit me!  Everyone once in a while I impress myself  =)  I thought of a cute, creepy and funny kids snack perfect for Halloween treat bags.  And here it is….

Wait… you don’t think red candies, pretzels and marshmallows are fun and creepy?

How about now….

Cute right??  Now I should apologize a bit here… I know you’re used to me posting pretty, elegant, lady-like treats, but I’ve got to let my hair down every now and then! =)  And I can pretty much guarantee that you will never again see the word “poop” in any of my blog posts!

But I’ll have to tell you, as I was making us these little treat bags, my 7 and 4 year old sweet little girls were cracking up, asking for “more spider legs please..” and “can I have 3 more rat eyes”.

I created a special (free!) printable bag topper just for these cute and creepy treats.

Simply follow the link below to get your…

Printable Creepy Halloween Treat Bag Topper

I would recommend printing them onto white cardstock, then use a paper trimmer to cut them.  The finished size of each topper will be 4″ wide and 3″ tall.  Fold them in half (lenghtwise), then use double sided tape to attach them to the bags.  Before I added the tags I folded the bag over a couple times and stapled it closed.

To make these Halloween treat bags you’ll need…

Red candies (I used sixlets)

Pretzel Sticks

Mini Marshmallows

Small clear treat bags

Printable topper (link above)

Gray twine (optional)  I used twine from The Twinery, in stone.

I’ve posted a cute Halloween packaging idea in the the past, if you’re looking for something a little less gross.

Happy Snacking!

I’m linking this post to Tidy Mom’s- I’m Lovin It post.

Pretty Jeweled Pumpkins {D.I.Y. Craft}

Last year I saw some pretty ”bejeweled” pumpkins in a high-end home decor magazine.  I thought the decorative pumpkins were really beautiful, until I took a look the price… $200 for three pumpkins!!  In other words almost $70.00 per pumpkin!  They were pretty, but not quite that pretty!  Now by all means, if you have $200 to spend on decorative pumpkins, go for it!  But when I have $200 on hand I prefer to use it for much more glamorous things…like gas and groceries!

This year when I saw the same company selling the pumpkins again (they must have been a hit last year!), I just couldn’t deny their beauty… so I made my own!

My first thought was to use sticky-backed jewels (designed as scrapbooking embellishments), and I went to the store and bought a few packages of pretty black jewels and dressed up one pumpkin (not shown in this post).  When I went back to the craft store for more jewels, they were out of stock.  The scrapbooking jewels did work well, so if you can find enough of them (you’ll need several packages per pumpkin), they are a good option for this craft.

It took me a few moments to think of another way to get the same look (and for even less money than the sticky jewels)… glitter!  I found some gorgeous Martha Stewart brand glitter (in onyx), then grabbed a bottled of Martha Stewart craft glue, and headed home to get crafty!

Want to make some pretty pumpkins?

Let’s get started!

You’ll need some nice looking faux pumpkins.  There is certainly no reason you couldn’t use real pumpkins, but then they would obviously only last one season.  I chose orange pumpkins (simply because I wanted to duplicate the original photo I saw as closely as possible), but I think this craft would be gorgeous on white pumpkins as well!  I bought the pumpkins below from Michael’s ($9 for the large, $6 for the small).

1.  You’ll need some black glitter, and some craft glue.  I used Martha Stewart glitter in onyx and Martha Stewart craft glue, both available at Michael’s.

2.  Drop small dots of glue in a swirl patter of your choice.

3.  While the glue is still wet, generously sprinkle the glitter over the glue.  Tap off excess glitter onto a sheet of newspaper or a craft tray of some kind.  There will still be some excess glitter, but don’t worry about that for now.

4.  Once the glue if fully dry (about an hour), use a soft, dry paint brush to remove the remaining excess glitter.

A few notes…

You’ll want to adjust the size and style of the swirls as you work around the pumpkin.  Also, I found that I could only decorate about half of the pumpkin at a time, and then had to wait for the glue to dry, or I had no where to hold the pumpkin (without messing up my work).

Here are two of my newly bejeweled pumpkins (and two pretty glassybaby candle holders).  The cost of the pumpkins I used was $9.00, $7.00 and $6.00.  The glitter was about $5.00 and the glue was under $3.00.  Total cost for three decorated pumpkins (with lots of glitter and glue left over!) was $30.00.  The original set of three pumpkins that inspired this craft are sold for $200.00.  I assure you I’ll have no problem finding ways to spend my $170.00 savings!  =)

Happy Crafting!

Beach Wedding Cookies

Earlier this week, I shared the collection of desserts I prepared for a beautiful ocean side wedding.  Today I’m back with a few more details on just the cookies.  I decorated three styles of cookies for the wedding… some very simple, yet pretty shells, small square monograms, and some extra detailed starfish.

I have already posted a tutorial on How to Decorate Shell Cookies.

The monograms are pretty self-explanatory.

And today I’ll share the directions for the starfish cookies.

I started with my favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe, and a batch of Royal Icing.

I prepared the royal icing in a nice medium brown color, in both a thick (outline) consistency, and also a thinner (flood) consistency.  I also prepared a bag of thick white icing.  For this design I also used some ivory colored sugar pearls.

~ How to decorate starfish cookies ~

1.  Outline and flood the starfish in brown.  While the icing is still wet, add sugar pearls (as shown).

2.  When the brown icing has set (at least 1 hour), use thick white icing (I used a #1.5 PME tip) and pipe rows of small dots, starting from the sugar pearls, and getting slightly smaller (if possible) toward the outer points of the “star”

3.  Begin piping lots of dots (of thick brown icing) all over the starfish (I used a #1.5 PME tip).  I prefer to star from the outside and work in.

4.  Continue filling the starfish with brown dots for texture all over.

*Please do not send me any hate mail if you try these… they are very time consuming!  I would not suggest attempting a platter of 100, but a few mixed in with other shapes makes a really beautiful display.

Happy Decorating!