Friday, October 26, 2012

The Runaway Mummy

      How many of you grew up with Margaret Wise Brown's classics, Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny? And  have read them over and over to your own children? And grandchildren maybe?  If you, like me, can recite them with your eyes closed while you're half asleep with a child snuggled on your lap begging you to "Read it again, pleeeeease?" then you might just appreciate these two "Petrifying Parodies," Goodnight Goon and The Runaway Mummy, from Michael Rex.

     We had fun in my class this week comparing these two books with the originals. It was obvious that Michael Rex, the author, had an appreciation of both Margaret Wise Brown's stories  and Clement Hurd's illustrations. My own kids grew up with these classics and have fond memories of them.

     These little mummy cookies are just cute spooky enough to go with either of these books. No special decorating skills are needed for these little guys. Just make up some gingerbread men, (or would you call them gingerdead men?) "glue" on candy eyes and pipe on the frosting. I used a small Wilton basketweave tip, but a ziploc baggie with the corner cut off would work just as well. These were made from my favorite Iced Spice Cookie recipe, but any gingerbread (or even chocolate) cut out cookie would work.

And if you find that your gingerbread mummies are too scared to be alone on Halloween, you could always make them some skeletons to keep them company. :)


Iced Spice Cookies (Printable recipe here.) 

Iced Spice Cookies
recipe adapted from Patti Paige, Creative Ideas for Living Jan/Feb '89
2/3 cup shortening (I use butter)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt (I only use 1)
1 large egg (from a happy hen if you can find one-mine aren't laying right now)
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Cream together the first six ingredients. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and mix again. Set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to molasses mixture and mix until dough forms.
  • Divide the dough into two balls (flattened), wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least three hours. (I chilled it overnight) This dough is hard to work with unless it's chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Roll out one ball of dough to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. The original recipe calls for rolling the dough out between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper or a floured pastry cloth. I didn't have those so I just checked my dough frequently to make sure it wasn't sticking to my surface. (Flour is your friend, here.)
  • Cut out desired shapes. Gather scraps into a ball and put in the freezer while you repeat with the rest of your dough.
  • Transfer cookies to parchment covered (or greased) baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, making sure edges don't burn. Cool completely on a rack before frosting. (recipe below) For me this recipe made about 4 dozen small cookies.
Royal Icing
In a large bowl, mix together 1 pound of confectioners sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder (I used Wilton) and a scant 1/2 cup water. (Reserve several spoonfuls of the water-wait and see if you need it. Royal frosting is kind of tricky in that it depends on the humidity as to exactly how much water you'll need.) Mix until soft peaks form. (I did mine about 8 minutes.) Put some frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small basketweave tip and pipe on the mummy wrappings. You could also use a ziploc baggie with the corner cut off!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Wormy" Cider Spiced Apple Pie Bars

     Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms. Do you remember that song? It came to mind as I scattered the topping over these wormy apple pie bars. Well not real worms anyway. I have an aversion to the real ones. What you see here is just a batch of squiggly cinnamon sugar covered wrigglers decking out a tender apple filling with an apple cider spiced cookie crust underneath. Throw a couple of cute little gummy worms on top and you've got a spook-tacular Halloween treat that's just gruesome enough. (But not too gruesome.)

     I spiced mine up with some instant cider mix, but plain cinnamon and sugar would work just as well. I know some people have issues with the ready made refrigerated pie crusts, but they really work here. (And I have issues with making pie crust.) Make your own crust if you wish, but the rolled dough makes it really easy to produce many worms in short order. And those wormy things on top? They bake up nice and crispy and add a cinnamon-sugar crunch to each bite. And trust me, it's the only way I'll be eating worms. :)

Wormy Cider Spiced Apple Pie Bars (Printable recipe here)
adapted from this Betty Crocker Recipe

Cookie Crust
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 packet instant apple cider or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
7-8 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar (or to taste, depending on the sweetness of your apples)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 packet instant apple cider (optional)
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Wormy Topping
1 box refrigerated rolled pie crusts (or your favorite homemade pie crust)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 packet instant apple cider

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. (400 for dark or nonstick pan) 
  • Cream together 1/2 cup softened butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Stir in 1 1/4 cups flour and packet of cider mix or cinnamon until mixed. 
  • Press mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 baking pan. 
  • Mix together all filling ingredients and pour into the crust. Bake for 10 minutes. While this bakes, prepare the wormy topping.
  • Mix together 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, cinnamon and apple cider mix. Cut one cold pie crust (still rolled) lengthwise in half, and then into thin (1/4 inch or less) slices. 
  • Separate the pieces and toss to coat in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat with the remaining pie crust.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar coated "worms" over the partially baked filling and bake 18-22 minutes more until crust is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars. For a spookier effect, try using colored sugar (red for earthworms?) for the topping.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

     Do you know how hard it is to push the "publish" button when you've been away for a while? Whew! I didn't mean to be away for so long, but one thing led to another, life happened, and time slipped away from me.

     So I'm easing back in with these peanutty granola bars. My friend Lisa shared this recipe-from The Marathon Mom- with me. Her family goes through a batch of them every week, and I can see why! They mixed up in a jiffy (no oven needed) with ingredients I had on hand, and turned out crunchy and delicious.

     At my house, granola bars are just as good for hurried mornings as they are for hungry afternoons. These are a great alternative to the preservative laden bars you get from the grocery store that are made with ingredients you can't pronounce. Oats, wheat germ, honey, coconut oil, peanut butter and peanuts- that's it! You will need to keep them in the refrigerator though- they get gooey if they sit out.

     It's good to be back. It felt good to dust off my camera. I even enjoyed my little hamperer helper. (I don't know if Merlin was after the birds or the bars.)  And I plan to be back sooner than I was the last time. :)

You can find the recipe for these Peanut Butter Granola Bars at The Marathon Mom. 

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