Meal Planning Monday: Halloween Edition

Creep-Halloween-Desserts

This week’s meal planning Monday is complements of Amy from Savvy Saving Couple.

Are you a fan of zombies, pumpkins, and everything creepy? If so, you are probably like me and love Halloween time. to celebrate this time of year, I love creating spooktacular treats that make Halloween such a fun and exciting time of year. From creepy cookies to candy apples and everything in-between, I just love this time of year.

To help get you all get in the mood for Halloween, I wanted to share five of my top Halloween Desserts and sweet treats that are sure to please any little ghoul or goblin. Since easy recipes are what I am all about, these require very little work and are pretty quick to assemble.

halloween-eyeball-cupcakes-diy

First up are these Creepy Eyeball Cupcakes. These were actually really easy to make. You can use boxed mix and candy toppers like eyeball gumballs that can be purchased from stores like Target. Red cookie icing as blood made these gory cupcakes such a hit with the kids.

Halloween-candy-apples

Next we have some Halloween themed Candy Apples. These are easy to make and do require a little effort but nothing too hard. Simply melt some cooking caramels over low heat and dip in freshly washed, and dried apples. Top with Halloween sprinkles, candies, or nuts and relish in a spooky treat.

Peeps-cupcakes

Who doesn’t love the way Peeps candies look? Ok, so I might not be a huge fan of their taste, but the way they dressed up these Halloween Peeps Cupcakes are oh so spooktacular. I love the graveyard, ghosts, cats, and pumpkin Peeps which made these cupcakes ghoulishly good.

Halloween-Spooky-Bark

Around this time of year candy is such a fun and exciting novelty. Why not whip up a batch of this 10 Minute Creepy Bark. Made with melting chocolates, and some of my favorite Halloween toppings, this is almost fool-proof to make and it will not take much time or effort at all!

Vanilla-baked-mummy-doughnuts

Lastly, we have these sort of adorable Baked Vanilla Mummy Donuts. They are made from a homemade vanilla cake donut batter and a small batch can be made in under 10 minutes. Some white frosting piped on with a flat cake tip and some candy eyes dress these donuts up as a wickedly good snack.

What Halloween treats will you be whipping up this year?

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ 4th of July

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Summer is my favorite season, and 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays!  What better way to celebrate America’s birthday than with exploding fireworks and great food!  This year my husband and I carry on the tradition of celebrating the 4th of July with our good friends.  Their fireworks show rivals the professional ones put on by the local cities.  So while the guys are bonding over the impending pyrotechnics display, the ladies are in the kitchen “oohing and aahing” over the delicious dishes lining the dinner buffet.  This year, I’m bringing a twist on traditional potato salad, Southwestern Potato Salad.

Whether you are hosting the 4th of July festivities this year, or bringing a dish to someone else’s party, my blogger friends and I have banded together to give you some patriotic dessert inspiration.  No doubt, your friends and family will be “oohing and aahing” over your contribution to America’s birthday celebration!  There’s also a patriotic jewelry craft tutorial for those of you want to add and a red-white-and-blue touch to your outfit.

Strawberry Kool-Aid Pie

 Check out this easy and patriotic pie from Cyndie Norell at Reviewz & Newz! Who wouldn’t love a slice of this great-tasting pie?

 

Patriotic Strawberries

 If you’re short on time, but still want to wow everyone with your 4th of July dessert contribution, whip up a batch of Amy Desrosiers’ Patriotic Strawberries!  With berries being in peak season right now, these are sure to be delicious.

 

Patriotic Star Chocolate Cupcakes

 Another great dessert recipe from Amy Desrosiers’ other website, SizzlingEats.com!  Kids and adults alike will love these All-American cupcakes.

Red, White, & Blue Earrings

Feeling crafty?  Learn how to make these earrings in a jiffy from Rachel Furlong of The Philosopher’s Wife.  A great finishing touch to your 4th of July party outfit!

What are your plans for the 4th of July this year?

Meal Planning Monday ~ Best of Summer

 

Happy Memorial Day!  Much love and respect to our troops, past and present, and to the families of our fallen soldiers.

I know that the official first day of summer is June 21st, but for me the start of summer is Memorial Day weekend.  Everyone is out manning the grills, mowing the lawns, and opening the swimming pools.  So I thought I would highlight some of the “Best of Summer” Meal Planning posts so you can make sure your summer meals are both easy and tasty.  Here are some of my favorites!

 

Save Big, But Still Impress, at Your Summer BBQ ~ How to have an awesome BBQ without breaking the bank!
Favorite Picnic Side Dishes ~ Inspiration for your side dishes to accompany your burgers and hot dogs!
Keeping It Cool in the Kitchen ~ Get tips for cooking great summer meals without heating up the kitchen.
Summer Desserts ~ A round up of sweet, cool treats for hot, sticky days!
I am an Ice Cream Evil Genius!  For those of you with an ice cream maker, don’t miss these delicious recipes.
Happy Campers ~ Great recipes for your summer camping trips.
Summer Fun ~ These aren’t recipes to eat, but for fun activities to keep your kids occupied and happy all summer!
What are  your best tips for successful meal planning during the summer months?

Meal Planning Monday ~ Sinless Decadent Desserts

Today post is by Casey Lindberg-Coghill of Veggie and Glitter.

I’m typically not a strong lover of sweets, but lately I’ve had nothing but dessert on my mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cupcake, a cookie, or a slice of pie; if it’s sweet, I’ll gladly devour it in thirty seconds flat.

If you hadn’t guessed already, I’m currently about half way through my first pregnancy, and if the old wives’ tale is correct, then I’m definitely having a girl. It’s hardly scientific, but they say that those who crave sweets are carrying a girl; those who only want salty treats are having a boy.

But that doesn’t mean that this week’s Meal-Planning Monday post is only for those who have babies on the way. I have plenty of friends and relatives who struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and satisfying their overbearing “sweet teeth.” It’s easy for a doctor or fitness guru to tell you to simply skip dessert or substitute fresh fruit for your favorite cake, but it’s only human to want to indulge every now and then. This week’s loaded schedule of recipes is focused solely on desserts that are big on taste and not on calories and fat.

Monday ~ Pumpkin Coffee Cookies 

If you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to get through a particularly manic Monday without lots of caffeine in your bloodstream. To be perfectly honest with you, I need several cups of coffee to get through even those rare stress-free days, so on Mondays, an extra pick-me-up is simply a necessity.

With their density relying on Greek yogurt and pumpkin puree rather than fatty substances like oil or butter, these cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth and your coffee craving without expanding your waistline. So go ahead, pour another cup of joe and indulge in a plateful of cookies without feeling guilty. You deserve it after making it through the dreaded first day of the traditional work week!

Tuesday ~ Fig & Fudge Brownies

Sometimes you just need a chocolate fix, but it seems like there has to be some way to get that fix without feeling terribly guilty afterwards. Put down that calorie-laden boxed brownie mix and allow me to introduce you to a pan of brownies that won’t leave a pit in your stomach after you eat two more rows than you intended on consuming (Admit it: We’ve all done it!).

The reason that brownies are typically so scrumptiously moist is because they’re filled with oils or butters, but these brownies get their stabilization and density from fruit puree instead of from fat. While I concocted these brownies with fig puree, pureed prunes or dates could also serve the same function. And don’t worry if you’re trying to serve these to a family that’s wary of health food; your secret’s safe with us! ;)

Wednesday ~ Not-So-Chunky Monkey Cookies

The combination of bananas and dark chocolate in this recipe is a match made in heaven when it comes to flavor, but these goodies are also righteous when it comes to nutrition. Not only do the bananas add a punch of potassium to your daily diet, ingredients like whole-wheat flour and dates provide more fiber than a serving of bran cereal. And even though dark chocolate could hardly be labeled as a “health food,” it does contain more antioxidants than other types of chocolate, such as white or traditional milk varieties.

Thursday ~ Dark Chocolate Avocado Torte

If you’re anything like my little family, you’re feeling hesitant about a dessert containing something green. However, you’ll thank me later if you choose to give this easy, no-bake recipe a spin.  The addition of sweet ingredients like maple syrup and chocolate chips offsets the distinctive taste of avocado, so you don’t have to worry that it will taste like a bowl of guacamole! The avocado flesh simply adds a creamy, velvety texture that will have you heaping your plate with seconds. Thanks to the lack of animal-based or dairy products, this dessert is also vegan-friendly.

Photo credit: BettyCrocker.com

Friday ~ Double-Chocolate Snack Cake

I first discovered this recipe when I was invited to a dinner party at the last minute and idiotically offered to bring a dessert, even though I had no recipe in mind. With only about an hour to whip something up, I came to the realization that I had no milk or eggs on hand, which it seems like just about every recipe out there needs! Thankfully, I had previously saved this dairy-free chocolate cake on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. It was a huge hit with the entire group of guests; I even had two separate guests beg me for the recipe before the end of the night.

While this recipe does contain sugar and oil, the amounts for which it calls are far less than other recipes for similar-tasting  products. To further lighten the fat and sugar content, just omit the powdered sugar dusting and chocolate chip topping. It’s just as mouth-watering without it!

What’s your favorite “sinless” decadent dessert?

In addition to running her wellness blog Veggies and Glitter, Casey
Lindberg-Coghill is a freelance writer based out of Charlotte, NC. Aside from being
a writer, Casey is also a huge bookworm and fashion enthusiast who has rather
unhealthy obsessions with Justin Timberlake and anything pumpkin-flavored.

 

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Lazy Days

         

          As I write this week’s post, I am feeling L-A-Z-Y…  I had a super busy week and honestly, I am just plain tired!  Between my work schedule and even the fun stuff – Girls Night at church, painting class, and a big family gathering – I didn’t get enough rest this past week.  So I have given myself permission to be lazy for a few days!

            So, what does this mean for my meal plan?  Am I just going to throw it out the window and order pizza and Chinese carryout for the next three days?  Of course not!  I have a few freezer meals I can fall back on for times like these – banana chocolate chip pancakes and pumpkin muffins for breakfast, and turkey chili or chicken and wild rice for dinner.  I also have a stash of “Lazy Day Recipes” for meals, appetizers, and desserts that I put in rotation on my meal planning calendar.  I thought I would share some of them with you for your lazy days when you want a nice hot meal or a dessert/ appetizer to take to a party but can only muster up a minor amount of energy.         

 

~ Turkey & Gravy with Mashed Potatoes.  I buy a package or two of the Oscar Meyer Carving Board turkey (or roast beef) and put in on the stovetop or in the microwave with a can or two of gravy.  Serve over instant mashed potatoes or rice and a veggie on the side.

~ Chicken Fried Rice.  I use leftover cooked chicken breast meat, the frozen brown rice and veggie steamer blends, and some extra frozen broccoli cooked in the microwave.  It’s ready in less than ten minutes.

~ Grilled chicken and steak.  Sometimes I make my husband cook, I mean grill, when I’m feeling lazy.  I’ll take a can of whole white potatoes, put them on a skewer with some veggies, and brush with Italian dressing for Nick to toss on the barbeque with our meat.

~ Grown Up Grilled Cheese.  I will use rye bread or a good hearty wheat bread with a nice slice or two of sharp cheddar cheese, adding some ham for Nick.  I almost always have a few servings of homemade tomato or chicken soup in the freezer that I heat up on the stove to round out my meal.

~ Bean Dip.  This is a great appetizer that everyone loves and is SO lazy.  All you need is one can of refried beans and one cup of salsa.  Mix and heat thoroughly on the stove top or in the microwave.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

~ Warm Italiano Spread.  I found this recipe on KraftRecipes.com and it’s one of my favorites.  It looks and tastes impressive, but is extremely simple to make.  I serve it with the Black Pepper Trisuits.

~ Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake (or cupcakes).  With only a few ingredients and store bought frosting, I’m always a little surprised by the compliments galore I always get for this cake.

 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake (Adapted from “The Cake Doctor” cookbook by Anne Bryne)

1 Box of Chocolate Cake (or Devil’s Food) with Pudding in the Mix

1 can (21 oz.) of Cherry Pie Filling

2 Large Eggs

1 teaspoon of Almond Extract

1 small jar of maraschino cherries

1 Can of Dark Chocolate Frosting

 

            Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease pan(s) with butter flavored cooking spray.  Place cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl.  Beat on low for one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix for two minutes more at medium speed.  Pour batter into pan(s) and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  ** You can make this as a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake, as a two-layer 8-9 inch round cake, or as cupcakes.  Use the cooking times on the cake mix box for the pan you are using.  **

            Once the cake is finished baking and has cooled, frost with the store bought frosting.  If I am making cupcakes, I will place a cherry on top of the frosted tops.  If I am making a layer cake, I cut the cherries in half and place them between the layers before frosting.  I then whip up the frosting in my mixer – which makes it fluffier and increases its volume, ensuring I will have enough frosting for the entire layer cake.  Sit back and enjoy the compliments!