Amazing Halloween Desserts

Are you really excited for Halloween? Check out a few of these spooky and delicious treats!

Caramel Apples

Ingredients

  • 12 crisp apples
  • 1 1/3 cup(s) dark corn syrup
  • 1 1/3 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup(s) light brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup(s) heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 3 tablespoon(s) butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract

1. Line a baking pan with a generously oiled sheet of parchment paper. Push a candy apple stick into the core of each apple.

2. Combine the syrup, sugars, heavy cream, and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until the mixture reaches 270 degrees F about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and vanilla. Let cool for 6 to 8 minutes, until caramel thickens to a toffeelike consistency

 

3. Dip and gently swirl the apples into the caramel and place on the prepared baking sheet. Let cool completely.
Skeleton Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 box(es) (18.25 oz) white cake mix

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup(s) milk
  • cup(s) canola oil
  • 2 can(s) (16 oz each) vanilla frosting

Decoration

  • 18 marshmallows
  • 4-in. lollipop sticks
  • Black food color
  • Decorating pen
  • Black writing gel
  • 72 yogurt-covered mini-pretzels

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 18 regular size muffin cups with white liners.
  2. Beat cake mix, egg whites, milk and oil in large bowl with mixer on low speed 1 minute until blended; increase speed to medium and continue to beat 2 minutes or until batter is smooth. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2⁄3 full.
  3. Bake 20 to 22 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes before removing cupcakes to rack to cool completely. Frost cupcakes with vanilla frosting.
  4. To decorate: Slightly flatten marshmallows with palm of your hand. Insert a lollipop stick into each marshmallow. With the black decorating pen, using photo as a guide, draw the skeleton mouth along the bottom of each marshmallow. Draw 2 nostrils above the middle of the mouth, as shown. Make the eyes with dabs of the black writing gel.
  5. For each skeleton, carefully thread the stick end of the marshmallow head through the small hole of a pretzel, slowly twisting the pretzel from side to side as you push it up toward the head, stopping about 1⁄2 in. below the head. Secure the pretzel in position with a dab of frosting. Add 2 more pretzels, lining them up, to resemble the rib cage, securing with dabs of frosting. Stick the skeleton into the top of a cupcake.

Maple Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • teaspoon(s) salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) ground ginger
  • 1 stick(s) unsalted butter, softened
  • cup(s) light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup(s) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • cup(s) buttermilk
  • cup(s) walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together using a mixer set on medium speed in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, syrup, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in nuts. Fill 18 lined muffin cups and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Ice with Maple-Butter Frosting.

Pumpkin Mousse

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 3 1/2 cup(s) heavy cream
  • 15 ounce(s) canned pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon(s) ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 tablespoon(s) dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon(s) powdered gelatin
  • 3 ounce(s) shaved dark chocolate

Directions

1. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water and set aside.

2. Whisk the yolks, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and 3/4 cup cream together in a medium saucepan. Heat while stirring continuously with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon over medium-low heat, until thickened and the mixture coats the spatula — about 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set over the ice bath. Stir to cool.

3. Add pumpkin, vanilla, spices, and salt to the egg mixture. Stir 1 tablespoon rum and 1 teaspoon gelatin together in a small bowl. Heat the remaining tablespoon rum, and stir in to the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Gently whisk into the pumpkin mixture. Beat 1/2 cup cream to stiff peaks, and fold into pumpkin mixture. Pour into a shallow dish, cover and chill until cold and thick enough to fall from a spoon in heavy dollops — about 8 hours or up to overnight.

4. Beat the remaining cream and sugar to stiff peaks. Alternately layer the pumpkin mousse and whipped cream in a glass serving dish. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings between top two layers. Serve chilled.

Enjoy! 🙂

Meet A Puggle!

Wondering what this adorable little baby animal is?  It is actually an echidna puggle and he is really cute!  Puggles, also known as spiny anteaters, are egg-laying mammals that live in Australia and New Guinea. This 40-day-old baby, named Beau, lives at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Australia, and was discovered on a path in an RV park. Puggles are rarely seen at this age because moms stash their young in burrows. The puggle remains in the burrow for many months. The mom goes out to feed, and returns every few days to feed it milk.

Puggles, like platypuses, have patches that excrete milk for their young to lap up. Beau’s human surrogate puts milk in the palm of her hand, and Beau feeds like a mini vacuum cleaner.

Watch his cute video:

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s new album Red hit stores this week! It really let’s her fans look inside her love stories and what she has gone through, the good and the bad. I love the way she writes, her songs tell stories of every single emotion that she’s experienced. The best part is that many girls can relate to her. She writes about what all girls dream about..love, and in love, sometimes comes heartbreak. Regardless what age a woman may be, every single woman has had a first crush, a first love, a first heartbreak, etc. Within just hours of its release Monday, “Red” shot to the top of the iTunes album chart and has sold an estimated 4.5  million song downloads in the United States. I know Taylor will continue to have huge success and I know that there is a perfect guy out there for her. Keep holding on Taylor, he will find you! I can’t wait to hear her songs once she finally finds him 🙂

Check out her new music video: Begin Again!

What’s Fall Without Visiting The Fall Foliage Viewing and The Great Allegheny Passage

Hokkaido, Japan

Japan’s northernmost and second largest island has a rugged frontier spirit and landscape. Beyond the boundaries of its capital city, Sapporo, Hokkaido is largely an unspoiled natural paradise home to abundant wildlife (including sika deer and Hokkaido brown bears), towering mountain ranges, remote virgin forests, and volcanic caldera lakes.

Peak koyo (fall foliage) season begins in Daisetsuzan National Park (Japan’s largest) in mid-September, rolling south in stages across the island. Natural factors dictate the exact koyo calendar, but the golden, orange, and crimson display typically blazes brightest in isolated eastern Shiretoko National Park and World Natural Heritage Site in late September; in Sapporo in early October; and at the southern tip of the island in Onuma Koen and Hakodate by mid-October.

Denver based Samurai Tours arranges self-guided koyo itineraries for solo travelers who want to explore Hokkaido at their own pace. Packages typically include transportation, airport transfers, and nightly lodging in traditional ryokans (Japanese-style inns) or onsen (hot springs) resorts, as well as the support services of a local English-speaking staff.

Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The 141-mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail-trail winds over the rivers and through the woods of western  Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania. Built mainly on abandoned rail  beds, the packed, crushed limestone route is free of motorized vehicles.  A 15-mile-an-hour speed limit ensures a leisurely pace for cycling,  hiking, and strolling. Spend a weekend, or a full week,  exploring part of the route and the historic trail towns along the way.

Frostburg, Maryland (mile 15), hosts the Appalachian Festival,  September 14-15, on the Frostburg State University campus. Free events  include regional music and dance, goat milking and beekeeping, and  traditional arts and crafts. October 5-7 is PumpkinFest in Confluence, Pennsylvania (mile 60), and the West Newton,  Pennsylvania (mile 114), Miracle on Main Street Parade and Light Up  Night is November 24.

Extend your ride all the way to Washington, D.C. (about 334 miles total) via the historic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath.  Mountainside Bike Tours specializes in custom Washington-to-Pittsburgh  itineraries. Options include lodging, gourmet meals, luggage transport,  and side trips to Antietam National Battlefield and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.