Bloody Fingers, Bats and Teeth….

Fingers

 

Halloween is approaching once again. It was not until I had children that I really started enjoying this celebration – and really – I only enjoy it because I get to cook funny looking things!

Last year I wrote a bit about the history of Halloween as well as posting quite a few recipes; a refresher below:

……I have learned that Halloween has ancient origins linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain. The name of the festival is derived from Old Irish which roughly translates to “summer’s end”. It served to celebrate the end of a good season of harvest of apples, pumpkins, spices and cider as well as a setting for supernatural encounters. The original Celtic holiday occurred on November 1, not October 31, and was one of the most important holidays for Celtic people, who believed that the spirits of those who had died over the course of the year would mingle with the living before traveling on to the afterlife. Festivals and celebrations were meant to aid the good souls on their way, and keep bad spirits from doing harm to the living.

Since that time, however, the holiday has grown and changed – fuelled largely by horror films such as Frankenstein and Dracula.

The carving of pumpkins, which is my absolute favourite part of Halloween, stems from Scotland and Ireland where they used to carve turnips as a symbol of remembering souls held in punishment. Immigrants to North America later discovered, and used, the pumpkin which was much larger and therefore easier to carve. Today it is used to open your home to little “trick or treaters” – if you leave a lit pumpkin on your front step they know they are welcome!

Chocolate Spiders

Sweet Pumpkin Loaf

Bat biscuits

Ghost Cupcakes

This year we have made a few different bits – the favourite ones (according to the children) were Bats, Fingers and Teeth! The recipes will follow below!

I hope you have a smashing Halloween and Half Term holiday and enjoy the time with your little ones.

Bloody Fingers (adapted from Sainsbury’s Magazine)

This recipe will make 24 fingers

375g short crust pastry

Tomato puree – about 1 tbsp

24 blanched almonds

1 beaten egg or some cream

Grated parmesan – 1 tbsp full will do

  • Pre-heat your oven to 190C
  • Cut the short crust pastry into three rectangles; then cut each rectangle into eight fingers
  • Roll each pastry piece into the shape of a finger – do not fold the dough or roll it out as this will create “splitting” fingers! I.e. the fingers will open up when cooking.
  • Round the finger tips and use a sharp knife to score gentle lines across the middle for knuckles
  • Press your thumb into the top of each finger to make an indentation for the fingernails
  • Dot the tomato puree onto each indentation and press and almond onto each
  • Place all the fingers on a lined baking sheet
  • Brush with either beaten egg or cream
  • Sprinkle parmesan on top
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes – or until golden
  • Let them cool and enjoy!
  • They are great served with hummus, guacamole, pesto or tomato salsa

Marshmallow Bats

Simple and cute – makes 12 (ish)!

250g plain chocolate

12 marshmallows

Baking sheet and pencil

  • Melt 250g of dark chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer) in a bowl over simmering water. Do not let the chocolate overheat or it will go crumbly in texture
  • On a baking parchment sheet, draw the bat wings with a pencil (Google image them and print off a picture to trace if you are not the creative type) ensuring you link the wings with a circle (big enough for a marshmallow
  • Ensure the sheet is placed on a moveable surface as the bats will need to go in the fridge once made
  • Turn over the baking parchment – you should see the trace
  • Once the chocolate has melted fully remove it from the heat and let it cool down – this will probably take 10-15 minutes
  • Using a spoon (or piping bag if you prefer) fill the wings and centre “blob” on the parchment with chocolate. make sure you make a relatively thick coating to ensure the bat wings do not break when you need to remove them later
  • Dip your marshmallows in the chocolate and place one marshmallow, as the bat’s body, on the centre blob of every wing set
  • Continue until you have finished the chocolate and marshmallows
  • Place the bats in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  • Once completely dry, decorate the face with icing pens and sprinkles (for eyes)

Bat

Wobbly Teeth – surprisingly tasty (Sainsbury’s magazine)

Apples

Thick honey (or toffee sauce)

Mini marshmallows

  • Slice your apples into wedges – making the bottom wedges very flat to allow them to sit easily on a platter or plate
  • Put some thick honey (or toffee sauce) on each wedge
  • Place the mini marshmallows on the flat wedge, into the honey, and lay an apple wedge on top
  • Enjoy!

Teeth

 

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Blueberry Delight – guest blog by Sienna aged 6

Sienna, my 6 year old, is clearly affected by my always taking pictures of food and blogging about it! This morning she asked if she could write a blog – with her very own made up recipe… The best part for me was watching my three doing something together without my intervention. It was great and made my day!

Here is the result! She created the recipe, made it, directed the photography shoots and wrote the blog herself! Enjoy!

Warning to parents – as all three children crowded around the table, in Sienna’s words, as they were “cooking” – “oohh this is messy”….. 🙂

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This is my first blog recipie, and my brother and sister love it, so I hope you do too! It is only for children!

you will need   

blueberrys

icing sugar

honey

what to do

dip a blueberry into the

honey and get your hands in to turn

the blueberry and make it sticky!

now take it out and drop it into

the icing sugar, roll it to make it sweet and pretty then…you’re done!

if you want to, try with jam and strawberrys.

Glass Stained Christmas Biscuits

Probably the prettiest biscuits I have ever seen or made! I loved making these, as did the children! It was one of their Advent activities – inspired by an Annie Rigg article I read.

Great as a gift, a treat, a fun activity….also very easy! The most difficult part was bashing the sugar boiled sweets! Thought the children could do it but they actually found it too hard.

Probably worth while to mention that the sugar boiled sweets return hard once they cool – I somehow managed to make myself believe they would be soft and gooey….NO! Rock hard. If you prefer a soft, jammy centre, make the biscuits as per recipe but instead of sugar boiled sweets layer two biscuits on top  of one another – one with shapes cut out – and fill the cut out bit with jam! Will not be stain glass effect…but very tasty! 🙂

Glass Stained Christmas Biscuits (basic dough recipe the same as Cookie Christmas Tree)

 
450g plain flour
225g butter – softened
225g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
Sugar boiled sweets – different colours
 
  • Put flour and butter in a bowl and chop into it until the mixture resembles big breadcrumbs
  • Add caster sugar and continue combining
  • Add vanilla essence and crack the egg into the bowl and keep bringing the dough together – I usually crack it into a cup first…just in case it is a bad one!
  • Keep bringing together until you have a smooth dough ball. Wrap this in cling film and place it in the fridge for about an hour
  • Put the boiled sweets in freezer bags and bash with something hard!!! Keep colours separate as this gives a prettier end result

They sort of resemble little semi-precious stones…I think so anyway!

  • Once the dough has chilled pre-heat oven to 200C
  • Line baking trays with baking paper
  • Roll the dough out quite thinly – it rises a tiny bit in the oven but not much – and cut your shapes! Snowflakes are really pretty as are hearts and stars. If you have a Christmas Tree shape this would be sweet with little holes for glass stained effect baubles…
  • Lay them on the baking parchment trays and fill the holes you have cut in them with the crushed sweets – the children enjoyed this almost more than eating the dough every time I turned my back to them!!!
  • Once the biscuits are filled put them in the pre-heated oven for 10ish minutes – maybe slightly less depending on your oven. It is fun to watch the sweets melt…
  • Once cooked let them cool completely on the tray before moving! Tthey will come off ever so easily when cold and can be hung, stored or given away as gifts at Christmas Parties!

Give them Advent Memories…

How many advent calendar fillers are you hunting for this year? Has it caused you grief? Cost you a fortune? Lacking inspiration? So I ask you this….Why all the sweets? All the silly little gifts? Apart from the cost and stress in finding them….do they really give your children anything valuable? Maybe a bit of excitement, but then they end up binned.

This year I wanted to do something different. I wanted to make advent memories. Advent fun. Advent surprises and treats – but in the shape of activities we will be doing as a family!

The idea is simple – either make up the activities yourself (or with your partner) or ask your children what activities they love. Then write 24 little notes – these can include:

  1. Television Dinner Treat (let your children have dinner and a film!)
  2. Swimming trip
  3. Walk in the woods with hot chocolate at the end
  4. Cookie Baking Session
  5. Crafting Session
  6. Cinema trip

I am sure you will have your own ideas!

Write them up, get little clips and make your fronting numbers – I used glue and glitter but you could just as easily stencil and draw or stamp images…many choices!

Hang the line somewhere easily accessible and open a new adventure and memory every day!

(PS – The quick ones have noticed I have not included the Sundays below….these days we give ours a gift – just so they have a little parcel now and again)

Advent Fun

Happy First Sunday of Advent! For me, Christmas can now begin…bring out the decorations, mulled wine, music, cookie baking and crafts!

Christmas is such a special time, I treasure it. The scents of cinnamon and cloves and spruce in the house, the children’s excitement, the candles lit everywhere, more smiles – it seems everyone has that little bit extra time for one another.

It is becoming our family’s tradition to make our own advents wreaths – however these are not necessarily very traditional in their looks!

It all starts with a walk in the woods to collect bits – oh such wonderful things you can find! We let the children loose with baskets and they come back with all their treasure – which may look dull, but put together and with a bit of gold and glitter they transform!

This year we were able to get holly in our own garden…love holly!

We left all the bits to dry out for a few days and then spray painted some of the items…

Clay bought (you can also use oasis but harder to find!) – we spent Saturday morning together – creating! Everyone to their best ability – outcome not really of utmost importance! Rather the togetherness!

All you do is mold the clay into a circular shape and place a candle in the middle. Then cover the clay with spruce, fern, moss and holly – add in acorns, pine cones, berries – any decorations to be honest… The result is lovely (usually!) and we then light one candle each Sunday – as well as the every day one…

Enjoy!

My 6 year old has been at it for a few years now so is getting really good!

My 4 year old is getting there…

My 2 year old loving it and keeping it simple…

And this is mine…still learning!

Halloween Games

Have a laugh with these! Adult and child friendly!

Whether you are hosting a party or simply want to spend an afternoon having a good time with the family these will come in handy!

  • Apple bobbing – play this game using a large bowl (should probably be done outdoors if possible but it is fine to place the bowl on a table in your kitchen or livingroom). Stay with your children for this one as you don’t want them drowning! Players, without using their hands, must dunk their heads into the water and try to retrieve the apples using only their mouths. To make it more tasty, and fun, add some red food colouring and squash to the water….If you are the competitive kind – split your family and friends and go head to head! Whoever gets the apples first win!
  • Hanging Apple – alternative to bobbing for apples! For those who really worry about the mess of the water! Hang apples on a branch or from a door frame by string. Again, without using their hands, children try to snag the apple using only their mouths.
  • Pin the nose on the pumpkin – instead of on the donkey! Let the children make the pumpkin shape with cardboard and make different shaped noses to pin on it! Scary, funny….let them have fun making ones up.
  • Eyeball and spoon race – like egg and spoon but with a ping-pong ball painted as an eye! Make an obstacle course in your garden or in your house!
  • Mummy wrapping – couples work together to beat out all the other couples playing. Using toilet paper, one person wraps and the other person is the mummy. The first team to wrap their mummy completely from head to toe is declared the winning team. Adults can play this too – except to make it harder blind fold the one wrapping!

Chocolate Spiders

Absolutely gorgeous and actually quite scary when placed in a row! Look like they are coming for you! My children loved making and playing with these…not to mention eating them!

250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa content)
30g golden syrup
75g rice crispies
Pack of chocolate orange sticks (or mint sticks)
12 cup cake cases
To decorate – smarties/silver balls/Icing
  • Place 150g of the chocolate, butter and syrup in a heatproof  bowl over a pan of simmering hot water. Slowly let the ingredients melt. (You can do this in microwave – be careful not to overheat as this will make the chocolate hard and grainy).

  • Once melted, stir to completely combine. This is when you can allow your little ones to take over! Let them add the rice crispies to the chocolate and stir – expect some of the mix to disappear……

  • Once stirred, let them fill 12 cup cake cases (paper or silicone) with the chocolately crisp mixture. A table-spoon is a good tool for this.

  • Cut the chocolate sticks into three pieces each and hand out six or eight pieces per cup cake case! My spiders only got six legs in the end….never mind! J
  • Let the children place the legs around the sides of the cupcake cases by gently pushing them into the rice crispie chocolate mix.
  • Melt the remaining 100g of chocolate gently and spoon this on top of the crispie mixture – ensuring you get it around the “legs!” – this is to ensure that the legs are stuck in well.
  • Place the spiders in the fridge – or if in a rush the freezer – and let cool.
  • Once completely cold and set – about 45 minutes in freezer, maybe 2 hours in the fridge – gently press the spiders out of the cases and onto their legs.  Place two blobs of icing on the spider and put a smartie or silver ball onto each. Using icing pens, make eyebrows, lines or just decorate to your taste.

  • Keep in an airtight container and eat within a week (not that you will need to as they will be gone in a day!)