Tag Archives: marshmallows

Spooky Halloween Tricks and Treats

Melissa Iwai Copyright 2013

Melissa Iwai Copyright 2013

I didn’t go all out this year as I have in the past, because I’ve been so busy with work.  No haunted gingerbread houses this year!  But I did make Jamie’s costume again.  I also had fun practicing making faux flesh wounds on my hands this afternoon.

Faux Hand Wound

Faux Hand Wound

I used liquid latex and fake blood and a little makeup.

latex and vampire blood

I did a tutorial last year here.

Jamie wanted a high tech costume that incorporates a smart phone.  He saw this youtube video about Digital Dudz, which sells these cool phone holders and has free animation apps on their site which you can play and freak people out.  Jamie is too small for an adult sized one, so I made one for him using an old shirt and some latex from a Bald Head “wig”.

Latex pocket

Latex pocket

First I made a pocket out of the latex and cut a hole out on one side.

Pocket with phone inside

Pocket with phone inside

Then I glued it to an old T-shirt and cut a hole out of that.  I added a bit more latex on edges and “decorated” with fake blood.

Add Mediabeginning of shirtHere’s what it looked like when it was finished:

Striking a pose

Striking a pose

The animation here is of a beating heart with sound.  But I think he is going to go with intestines tomorrow night.  Check out all the animations here.

Enough of the tricks, now for the treats!

I made these really simple bat, ghost, and cat Rice Krispie treats by coloring part of the batch with black food coloring, and cutting the shapes out with cookie cutters:

plate of ghosts

I was going to use mini chocolate chips for the eyes, but when I consulted with my son (a.k.a. candy expert), he said Nerds would be much better, and he was right!

black cat

Halloween Rice Krispie Treats

3 tablespoons butter, divided

40 large marshmallows, divided

6 cups rice cereal, divided

black food coloring

Nerds candy in red and yellow

1.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with a Silpat mat or parchment paper or foil sprayed with nonstick spray.  Set aside.

2.  Melt 1 1/2 tablespoon butter in a large bowl in microwave for about 45 seconds.

3.  Add 20 marshmallows to bowl and stir to coat.  Then microwave for about 55 seconds, until melted.  Add 3 cups of rice cereal and stir until combined.  Dump out onto one prepared baking sheet.  Using a large piece of saran wrap, flatten evenly to about 1/2-inch thickness.  Cool completely (I put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes).

4.  Do the same with the next batch, but add a couple drops of black food coloring to the mix before dumping out onto second prepared baking sheet and flattening out.  Cool completely.

5.  Cut out ghost shapes out of the plain layer of rice treats.  Cut out bat and cat shapes out in the black layer of rice treats.  You can re-stick the extra scraps together and cut out more shapes.  Add eyes using colored Nerds candies.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween!!



Filed under Art Related, Children, Desserts

S’mores Mini Cupcakes

Over the weekend at the gym, I caught part of Giada At Home while sweating it out, and was inspired to make these mini cupcakes for an end of the year class party.   But when I looked on the Food Network site later at home, I couldn’t find the recipe. So I made one up. (Later, I realized they were called “Brownie Bites” — here is the original recipe.)

I used a basic chocolate cake recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine, substituting semi-sweet chocolate chips for the bittersweet chips, reducing the sugar, and substituting yogurt for the sour cream.  I also added 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips to the mix.

The mini cupcakes were topped with three mini marshmallows, three chocolate chips, and a pinch of crushed Digestive Biscuit cookie (we didn’t have graham crackers).

Jamie was a great help with topping the cupcakes

These cupcakes are decadent little bites of yumminess.  They are a perfect size for kids (I cringe when I think of all the wasted Magnolia Bakery cupcakes I’ve seen at birthday parties!), as well as adults who just want a taste without overindulging!

S’mores Mini Cupcakes

Non-stick spray

1 stick of butter

2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

For the topping:

about 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

about 1/3 cup mini marshmallows

3 Digestive biscuits, crushed or 2 rectangles of graham cracker, crushed

1.  Line mini cupcake tin with liners.  Spray pan lightly with non stick spray.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Melt butter, 2 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate, and cocoa in a pot over simmering water until melted. Set aside to cool.

3.  Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

4.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar and vanilla.  When the chocolate mixture is cooled, add to egg mixture and stir until incorporated.

5.  Sift 1/3 of  flour mixture into chocolate/egg mixture.  Then add 1/2 of the yogurt and stir.  Sift 1/3 more of the flour, add remaining yogurt and Stir.  Then sift last of flour and add to mixture.

6.  Stir in mini chocolate chips.  Spoon batter (it will be thick) into mini cupcake liners. Top each with 3 semi sweet chocolate chips, three mini marshmallows, and a sprinkle of the crushed Digestive Biscuit or graham cracker crumbs.

7.  Bake for 15 minutes; test with a toothpick.  Cupcakes are done when it comes out clean.  Remove cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool.  Marshmallows will harden slightly.  Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

Makes about 36 mini cupcakes.


Filed under Children, Desserts

Boys Can Bake Too (and Create Candy Sushi)!

Do you remember Easy Bake Ovens?  They still make them, though I don’t know if they still are pink or have pink trim (they probably do).  My son wanted one for Christmas/Hannukah last year, and I said, “No, Hon.” But not because it is marketed as a “girl toy”.  It’s because we have a really great Cuisinart toaster oven with convection feature and “we don’t need no stinkin’ Easy Bake Oven” that probably has a light bulb to bake miniature cakes!

Instead we gave him this bake set I got a long time ago at FAO Schwarz when he was a baby and had completely forgotten about.  I always dreamed of baking with him even before he could talk.  Lucky for me, seven years later, he loves to bake!   So I was really happy when I rediscovered this set buried in Denis’ closet.

Glad J didn't notice the gender stereotyping on package!

It irritated me that it was marketed only to girls, but luckily, Jamie didn’t seem to notice or care. At least the packaging wasn’t all pink and magenta…  We quickly dumped the box, and I put the utensils in a bag to be stored in my baking cabinet.

The Boutique Bakery set includes a spatula, a whisk, a rolling pin, mixing bowls, a wooden spoon, a muffin tin, three bread pans, cookie cutters, toothpicks (for testing) and muffin liners — all mini sized!

To test out the set, we first made a Mini Chocolate Loaf.  I used Anna’s recipe from Cookie Madness and halved it.  Instead of ganache, we just covered the loaves with chocolate chips.  We baked it in the Cuisinart and I let him press the buttons to set the temperature.

The Mini Chocolate Loaf came out out beautifully.  The crumb was moist, the flavor great, and because it was so small, it was the perfect size for all three of us.

Then, the last week,  I discovered a half batch of  cookie dough buried not in our closet (yikes!) but in our freezer from the holidays!  Do you see a pattern here…?  I thawed it in the refrigerator, and when Jamie had a play date with his friend, Lucas (who also loves to bake) we used it to make cookies.  The child sized rolling pin was perfect for rolling out their doughs.  I had them working on parchment paper and covered the dough with saran wrap to keep it from sticking.  Then they cut out shapes using the mini cookie cutters from the bake set.  I chilled the dough for awhile, then baked them.

Sprinkles decorating station

For decorating, I was too lazy to make frosting, and I was planning to use Nutella instead, when I discovered someone had been eating it late at night so we didn’t have enough… So we improvised and used raspberry preserves instead.  It actually tasted quite delicious in place of frosting or Nutella!

Some of the boys' decorated cookies

Though it isn’t really baking per se, Jamie requested that I share his most recent sweet creation on my blog.  I aspire to avoid being one of those parents who think everything their kid does is amazing, so I don’t put everything up that he wants me to, believe me!  But this one was kind of cute and it ties into this theme of cooking not being a girls only activity. And he came up with the whole thing independently of me (I was otherwise occupied with my daily Ken Ken!)

I present to you — Jamie’s Candy Sushi:

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I guess it says something about our household that we have a ton of random candy lying around — mostly due to Denis who has a wicked sweet tooth!  We keep it in a container with the marshmallows.  So the other night, Jamie asked if he could have a marshmallow, an orange jelly candy, one Lindt truffle, and two chocolate sticks.  Typing it all out, it sounds like an outrageous amount of sugar, but they were all pretty small! The next thing I knew, he was cutting the marshmallow, truffle, and orange candy into pieces  and making a “tableau” as he called it.  It turned out to be dessert sushi.

chopsticks are edible!

I’m so glad I have a little baker who shares my passion for creating yummy things in the kitchen!

Chocolate Mini Loaf

Adapted from Cookie Madness

I halved the recipe, used milk in place of buttermilk and omitted chocolate ganache.

nonstick spray
1.4 cup cake flour (2 oz.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (2.25 oz.)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lightly beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray one 3×5 inch mini loaf pan nonstick spray (I also lined the bottom with parchment paper).
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small yet deep mixing bowl and stir very well. Add the soft butter and mix with the flour mixture. Stir in the milk. Stir mixture vigorouslyfor about two minutes, scraping sides of bowl, until smooth.
  3. Mix the lightly beaten egg, vanilla and cooled coffee together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add to the batter in three parts, stirring gently with a spoon until mixed. Stir in half of the chocolate chips. Then sprinkle remaining chips on top.  Bake on center rack at 325 F for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan set on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn from pan.

Dessert Sushi

Adapted from Jamie

1 Marshmallow

1 Lindt White Chocolate Truffle

1 Orange jelly candy or other soft candy, cut into pieces

2 chocolate sticks (Pocky would work too)

1.  Cut marshmallow and truffle in half.
2.  Scoop out some of the filling from the truffle and  set aside.

3.  Top marshmallow with candy pieces.  Then top with filling from truffle.

4.  Eat with chocolate sticks


Filed under Children, Cookies, Desserts

Roasted Sweet Potato, Eggplant, and Beet Dishes: Winter Comfort Food

Wishing everyone a  happy + healthy + prosperous 2011!!

Our brownstone's stairs pre-shoveling

These days, with blizzards, mounds of snow, and breezes that make my face ache, all I want is to be warm and cozy indoors.

I roast a lot of vegetables throughout the year, but I find myself doing it in full force during the cold winter months.  Yesterday, I roasted several sweet potatoes, a large eggplant, and a beet.

When cooking vegetables,  if you have the time,  throw them in the oven—skip the microwave and steamer (and forget about boiling!).  Roasting brings out their flavors and tastes far superior.  The extra oven heat is a plus when it’s cold outside as well.  It is easy to cook a lot at one time, and then you will have a supply of roasted vegetables that can be enjoyed in various dishes.  Check out my earlier post on Easy Weeknight Dinners for some more examples.

My favorites are sweet potatoes.  Through high temperature roasting, they caramelize and weep syrup from the holes I pricked in their skins  before baking in the oven.

The other day I spied some Asian sweet potatoes at the green grocer’s so I got one to roast along with some of the orange varieties more commonly found around here. The flavor is a little more subtle than the orange fleshed sweet potatoes, but just as delicious.  They are both so good, I can eat them plain sans butter or sweetener.

Incidentally, sweet potatoes are not the same as yams, which are members of a different plant family.  Here in the US, we often use the term  “yam” for the brown skinned sweet potatoes with orange flesh.  But they are really sweet potatoes.  Real yams are tubers and grown in tropical climates and have dark brown or black skin that is not as smooth as that of a sweet potato.

I made sweet potato fries for my husband and baked the other one whole for myself and my son to share.  The only way he’ll eat sweet potato is  if it is pureed and topped with marshmallows.  I’m hoping later in life he’ll learn to appreciate the unadorned version, but for now, it’s a great way to get some vitamins A and C into him.

I tried a little experiment with a large eggplant this time.  Usually,  I chop the whole thing up into cubes and toss them in olive oil and then roast.  But I wanted to make a Japanese dish which involves dressing the eggplant with a miso sauce and then broiling it.  Japanese eggplant are long and skinny and cook quickly.  Their counterparts commonly found here are gigantic by comparison.  I tried slicing a large one into thick slices and basted them with olive oil.  I tested Cooking Light’s Chef Billy Strynkowski’s theory that these days, eggplant doesn’t have to be salted beforehand to draw out any bitter flavor.  When he told me this during the photo shoot, I was dubious, but it turns out he is right!

The flesh was creamy and silky with no hint of bitterness.  I’m so happy I can skip the salting altogether. 🙂

My version of the miso sauce is thinner than traditional ones. I’ve even seen it made with egg yolk.  The miso has such a strong flavor and is very high in sodium.  I feel like my thinner sauce is a nice alternative.

You can peel off the skin and discard or eat it for more fiber. 🙂

Another favorite of mine is roasted beets.  I just make a couple of piercings in the skin and wrap a whole beet in foil (after washing it).  So easy and no staining of fingers necessary!  When it’s fully cooked, it’s easy to peel off the skin.  I love them in salads.    They are so hearty and go well with tangy goat cheese (or blue cheese) and mellow toasted walnuts.   I toss it all in a Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette.  The added crunch from some raw celery and Fuji apple, and the sweet chewiness of dried cranberries round out the flavors and textures.  This is one of my favorite salads.

Oops -- took photo before I added the dried cranberries...

Other veggies I love to roast are sliced cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, butternut squash, whole heads of garlic wrapped in foil.  With the exception of the garlic, the roasting method is generally the same:  toss in oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper or other seasonings, and roast in oven for 30-60 minutes depending on size of vegetable and what kind of texture you prefer.  So simple.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 sweet potatoes

olive oil

kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash sweet potatoes well.  Cut in half, then cut into thick wedges.  Brush liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes.

Jamie’s Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes

½ cup cooked sweet potato

1 teaspoon butter

2-4 tablespoons milk

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Mini marshmallows (or one large marshmallow, cut into small pieces with kitchen shears)

  1. Heat potato with butter, milk, and cinnamon.  Blend with an immersion blender.
  2. Transfer to a small ramekin and top with mini marshmallows.  Toast in toaster oven for about 3 minutes (or broil in oven).

Broiled Eggplant with Miso Sauce

1 large eggplant (this dish originates in Japan and uses Japanese eggplant.  Since it is harder to find here, I make a version that works well with the large eggplant that is common in the US).

Olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 tablespoon hot water

2 teaspoons mirin

2 teaspoons sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash eggplant and cut into thick ¾ -inch slices.  Arrange on baking sheet.  Generously baste with olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Roast eggplant slices for about 30-35 minutes until flesh is soft.
  4. Gently stir miso paste and water together until paste is dissolved.  Add mirin and sugar.
  5. Spoon sauce onto roasted eggplant slices.  Broil for about 4-5 minutes, taking care not to overcook the topping.

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Apple

4 cups of mesclun greens

1 large apple, cored, sliced and julliened (I love Fuji apples)

8 oz. of roasted beet, chopped in ½” cubes

1 celery rib, finely chopped

Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below) to taste

About 2 oz. of goat cheese

Toasted walnuts, chopped

  1. Toss greens, apple and roasted beet together with vinaigrette.
  2. Sprinkle goat cheese and toasted walnuts on top.

Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

½ teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon honey mustard

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

1.  Stir sugar and honey mustard together.  Whisk in balsamic vinegar.  Whisk in olive oil until emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Filed under Sides, Vegetables