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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Special Edition: Happy Halloween!


This past Saturday night, I was out and about in Chicago with a collaboration of Where’s Waldos, Black Swans, Doctors, Mad Men, Catwomen, Superheros, and an eclectic mix of other various creatures and characters.

Here are some of my votes for costumes of 2011:

Loofah, Catwoman & Walk of Shame


Black Swan, Invisible Woman & Captain America


Sandra Dee, Carmen Sandiego & the cast of Pulp Fiction

And then there was my costume … my girlfriends have been wanting to submit me for ABC’s The Bachelorette for some time now.  So I decided to do a test run:


What were some of your favorite costumes from Halloween 2011?


Special Edition: Halloween Recipes

With Halloween … TOMORROW, here are some of my favorite spook-tacular recipes:



1 package Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Cookies by Nabisco

1 package Almond Bark

Mini Chocolate Chips


  1. Melt almond bark in a sauce pan over low heat.
  2. Place Nutter Butter cookies on wax paper.
  3. Pour melted almost bark over Nutter Butter Cookies (or dip the cookies into the almond bark)
  4. Add mini chocolate chips as ghost eyes.
  5. Let dry completely before serving.



1 cup candy corn

1.5 cups vodka

2 oz. orange liqueur

1 lemon, juiced

1 egg white, large


  1. Mix 1/2 cup candy corn with vodka in air-tight jar and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours. (Hint: Do this in the morning for truly candy corn infused vodka.)
  2. Strain candy corn from vodka.
  3. Add 4 oz. of vodka, orange liqueur, egg white and lemon juice to a drink shaker filled with ice.
  4. Shake fast for about 20 seconds and serve in martini glasses.
  5. Toss in a few candy corn for your Halloween candy corn-tini!



1  Brownie Mix, 8×8 size

6 Milano Cookies (for grave)

5 Oreo Cookies, crushed

6 Pumpkin candy corns

6 normal candy corns

1 Cup melted chocolate for frosting and piping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bake brownies in an 8×8 inch pan lined with foil, sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Let cool completely then cut into 6 rectangles.
  4. Frost with melted chocolate reserving 2 Tablespoons for piping the cookies.
  5. Pipe RIP onto the Milano Cookies then press into the back of each brownie.
  6. Top with a candy corn pumpkin and candy corn.
  7. Sprinkle with crushed Oreos for the “dirt.”
  8. Enjoy!



1/2 cup vanilla frosting, divided

36 miniature semisweet chocolate chips

12 large marshmallows

1 drop each green, red and yellow food coloring, optional

1/4 cup flaked coconut

12 chocolate wafers

12 miniature peanut butter cups

12 milk chocolate kisses


For the face:

  1. Place a dab of frosting on the bottom of three chocolate chips.
  2. Press two for eyes and one for nose onto each marshmallow.

For the hair:

  1. Combine green food coloring and a drop of water in a small resealable plastic bag.
  2. Add coconut and shake well.
  3. Spread a small amount of frosting on sides of marshmallows.
  4. Press coconut hair into frosting.
  5. Place 3 tablespoons of frosting in a small heavy-duty resealable plastic bag
  6. Tint orange with red and yellow food coloring.
  7. Set aside.

For the hats:

  1. Spread some of the remaining frosting in the center of chocolate wafers.
  2. Press peanut butter cups upside down into frosting.
  3. Lightly spread bottoms of chocolate kisses with frosting.
  4. Place on peanut butter cups.
  5.  Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag.
  6. Insert a small star tip.
  7. Fill the bag with frosting and pipe stars around the base of each peanut butter cup.
  8. Secure a hat to each witch with a dab of frosting. 



1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Orange nonpareils or sanding sugar, for decoration


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and applesauce, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  4. Mix just until smooth (do not overmix).
  5. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cookie comes out clean, 10 to 14 minutes.
  6. With a thin metal spatula, immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, make filling: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat vanilla and remaining 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners sugar, beating until smooth.
  8. Spread bottom of half the cookies with 1 tablespoon filling each; sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently so filling oozes out slightly.
  9. Sprinkle exposed filling with nonpareils.
  10. Let rest 15 minutes to set.


Add applesauce to the batter for soft and moist results.


Special Edition: Pumpkin Seeds

After carving Egor, I thought: I’m going to do an amazing blog post on roasting these pumpkin seeds.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do so why not just do it?  Well…

Things don’t always turn out perfect.  In fact, I used too much olive oil, not the right seasoning and burnt them to a crisp.


In an effort to make up for what will go down as the Halloween fail of the century … enjoy this Halloween Light Show, courtesy of YouTube:

Special Edition: Pumpkin Carving

Special Edition.  That’s right.  Halloween is literally 3 days away.  Which means it’s time for my favorite Halloween tradition:


Sometimes I wonder, who seriously had a pumpkin sitting in their home one day and thought “Hmm I want to cut into that random fruit, dig out the innards and carve a face into it.”  Apparently it’s an old tradition from Ireland and Scotland  that the immigrants brought with them to America.  But whatever … it’s genius.

Every year I contemplate carving a happy pumpkin, a silly pumpkin or a spooky pumpkin OR thinking outside the box with one of those fancy designs like a sports logo or something else intense.  This year, the answer seemed clear: SPOOKY!

We got our pumpkin where all city folk do — the nearby grocery store.

Gave it a quick bath then it was time for carving.



Being a self-proclaimed “pumpkin carving pro” I enjoyed every minute of it.  Sticking my hand in the pumpkin’s guts, digging out the innards, and carving his spooky face … eyes then nose then mouth, the same order I used to do with my dad growing up.

Introducing … (drumroll please)

Our 2011 Halloween Pumpkin EGOR!

If you haven’t carved your 2011 pumpkin, there’s still time and I’m willing to freelance a creative face for you to carve.  My rates are reasonable.

Top 5 reasons to participate in this tradition stat:

5. It’s family-friendly.

4. It’s seasonal.

3. It’s affordable ($4.99 for the pumpkin, $3.49 for the optional carving kit).

2. It will enhance your enjoyment of Halloween.

1. I did it (everyone’s doing it) … you should too.

What’s your fave Halloween tradition? Did you carve a pumpkin this year?  Give me the deets!

Pumpkins to Story Book Characters

My amazing cousin-in-law Shelley is a second grade teacher at John Middleton Elementary School in Skokie.  Every time we chat she’ll tell me what she’s doing in her classroom and I think “WOW how does she think of that!?”  This exact situation happened recently.

Attention teachers, parents, babysitters, aunts, uncles … anyone — great KID-FRIENDLY idea ahead > > > > > >


Brilliant.  I was so impressed that I had to share.  Here’s a quick preview then be sure you click here to see the entire process (the guy helping is my cousin Brent):


If you missed it — here’s the link again!! SHELLEY’S CLASS PROJECT

Congratulations Molly & Brandon!




Workout Wednesday: 20-20-20

I’m into week 5 of my Kwando challenge and things are going well.  But kickboxing is only 1 hour a week and if you remember correctly from this post, the average adult is supposed to do cardio 2.5 hours a week so I try to be creative with my other workouts to keep myself motivated.

Enter: 20-20-20

No, not my vision. A cardio workout that I created for myself.  The breakdown is:

  • 20 minutes of running
  • 20 minutes of elliptical
  • 20 minutes of upright biking

It’s creative and it makes for a solid 60 minutes of cardio which means a good calorie burn.  Also, it doesn’t seem as long as doing either of the activities for the full 60 minutes.  Obviously you can adjust as you feel necessary but since creating the workout it’s been a staple.

Here’s to 4 good workouts this week after taking off last week to get over my cold!!