This year for most of us has been one of ups and downs. Finding oneself suddenly at home all day, every day was awfully hard to adjust to for some. I think the silver lining to this was that many people suddenly developed new hobbies. I enjoyed seeing so many people focus on their homes, their families and growing closer as families. For myself, I have never had a problem trying to figure out what to do with all this time at home. I do enjoy being home very much.
I found for us that trying to be as normal every day as possible was a challenge but not impossible. Decorating my home with the change of the seasons is a huge part of that. I love it when it is time for children to go back to school. It is a signal for me that the change of fall is upon us. I slowly start taking out all the fall decorations and lay them out on the dining room table taking stock of what I have. As I ponder over the decorations and where I want to put them this year, I have already been looking in stores, online, and in magazines for ideas. Part of the fun is the planning then implementing my ideas.
I love how I can smell the change in season in the air while I am pulling the plants in the garden for fall cleanup. In the process I have been stocking up for the birds in my yard for the winter. The wild birds give me such joy to watch out my window. This year due to all the fires, we had a Steller Jay that had come down the mountains due to smoke. I have seen Flickers, Downy, and Acorn woodpeckers. We have a couple of families of squirrels. Actually, two kinds, red squirrels and solid black. The robins are particularly fun. I have a flock of them that are in my yard every day. They line up on the fence every morning to take their bath. They patiently wait their turn. The blue jays tend to run all the birds off when they want to eat. The most enjoyable thing to watch is the squirrels and birds play in the yard. One of the squirrels somehow has a cut tail. It is only about two inches long. I was not sure it was a squirrel at first. It is the most playful of the bunch.
With all the changes in the seasons comes a slowing down of day to day activities. The sun is setting earlier, and I want to be inside. The decorating for Halloween had started and in my previous article I talked about some of the new things I had created for this year. Now I am going to share with you the food and recipes of some of the food I made for Halloween night. We were not going to get trick or treaters this year due to the pandemic, so I decided to celebrate like I was having a party. There was just the two of us and we enjoyed it very much.
The theme of the evening was Hocus Pocus and the Sanderson sisters. The movie we chose to watch first was Hocus Pocus and so the rest was easy, witches. With that in mind one of the first things I decided to make was the green fingers. This was by far the easiest thing to do and quite tasty. I bought white chocolate that was already light green. That was so nice to not have to do the food coloring myself. Next year I will be focusing on how to achieve this look with as organic a method as I can find.
1 bag of Pretzel Sticks (large ones)
1 bag of Candy Melts (vibrant green)
1 bag of Sliced Almonds
*Green Chocolate covered fingers. * Made with pretzel sticks and green colored white chocolate with almond fingernails. *Melt the chocolate in the microwave until all the pieces can be mixed together with no lumps. *While your chocolate is melting prepare a cookie sheet. I put wax paper on the cookie sheet. *When the chocolate is melted then either dip or use a spoon and put the chocolate all over most of the pretzel. *Place the pretzel on the cookie sheet and put a sliced almond on the end to look like a fingernail. *When the cookie sheet is filled, put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes to help set the chocolate up.
Hocus Pocus Spell Book Brownies
1 box of brownie mix
1 bag of Black decorating icing (includes round and star tips)
1 container of eyes
Hocus Pocus Spell Book Brownies. *The brownies can be made from a brownie mix or you can make your own from scratch. I did the brownie mix this year. *Once you have made the brownies you can use black frosting to make the stitch lines* Use a small tip for pipping bag. *I also used eyes that you can get at the grocery store. (I keep them on hand all year) *I put a drop of frosting and set the eye on the book(brownie).
7 Layer Dip
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
1 large tomato, chopped
1 bunch chopped green onion
1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 (6 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
7 layer dip. * For this I started with refried beans on the bottom. *Next layer is Salsa (whatever is your favorite kind). Be sure to drain as much of the liquid from the salsa you can, or your dip will be far to soggy. * Next layer is avocado or guacamole. *Next layer is shredded cheese. I use the Mexican blend for tacos and such. I also put cut black olives around the edges. I use lettuce also around the edges with cut tomatoes. * The spider web is done with sour cream in a pipping bag.
Sliced Apples and Caramel
2 Granny Smith apples(or your choice of favorite apple)
1 container of Caramel dip
1 bag of your choice of nuts, chopped ( I use almonds, peanuts or hazelnuts)
Sliced Apples. * Instead of having caramel covered whole apples on a stick I went with sliced apples drizzled with caramel and nuts. You get the whole flavor without having to eat a whole apple. *Wash the apples of your choice. * You might want to put a small amount of the caramel in a bowl and microwave it for a couple of seconds to make it more liquid and easier to drizzle over the apples. * drizzle the caramel over the sliced apples. * Drop the nuts all over the caramel and you are done.
Pine nut and Pistachio Olive Oil Cakes (recipe makes 2)
3/4 c. ground pine nuts
1 1/2 c. almond flour
1 1/2 c. ground raw pistachios
2 1/2 c. polenta (fine, not coarse)
zest and juice from 2 oranges
1 1/4 c. honey
1 3/4 c. olive oil
Juice from 2 oranges (about 1/2 c.)
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 1/2 c. honey Various nuts, to decorate.
This cake is a cake you should just take your time and enjoy making this. The recipe is for two 9” round cakes. The cake should be a celebration for fall. It has nuts in it so if you are allergic be aware nuts are inside and outside of the cake. I really enjoyed this cake for breakfast with some fruit. Tomorrow I will have it with some yogurt on the side. *To make this cake you mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another bowl and then mix the two together. *Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare each cake pan by greasing them with olive oil. It is recommended you use parchment paper and grease that as well. I did not have any, so I just greased the pans. The paper would have made it easier to get out of the pan, but it worked. *In the dry bowl mix the chopped nuts, almond flour and cornmeal or Polenta together. *In the second bowl whisk together orange juice and zest, honey, olive oil, and eggs. * Pour the wet mixture into the dry and when completely mixed together pour the batter into the two cake pans. *Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the toothpick come out of the center of the cake clean. *While the cakes are baking whisk together to glaze ingredients. * Immediately after removing the cakes from the oven, pour the glaze over the top. Let sit for at least an hour for the glaze to soak in before removing from pans. It may seem like a lot of glaze and that is ok. The cake will soak up most of it.