Friday, October 28, 2011

Graveyard Treat: A Dessert for Halloween

I know what I will be making for dessert this Halloween!  I guess after all the trick or treating, you don't really need more sweets, but who can resist? 

Graveyard Treat

  • 2 and 1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cubed and softened
  • 1 tub (12 ounces) Cool Whip, thawed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 package (8 serving size) or 2 packages (4 serving size) Jell-O Brand Orange Gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • Ice cubes
  • Rectangular or oval shaped sandwich cookies
  • Decorator icing
  • Candy corn and/or pumpkins
  1. Mix 2 cups of the cookie crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the melted margarine with fork in 9x13-inch baking pan until crumbs are well moistened.  Press firmly onto bottom of pan to form crust.  Refrigerate.
  2. Beat cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in medium bowl with wire whisk until smooth.  Gently stir in 1/2 of the whipped topping.  Spread over crust evenly.
  3. Stir boiling water into gelatin in a medium bowl for 2 minutes or until completely dissolved.  Mix cold water and ice cubes to make 1 and 1/2 cups.  Add to gelatin; stir until slightly thickened )consistency of unbeaten egg whites).  Remove any remaining ice, Spoon gelatin over cream cheese layer.
  4. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.  Spread remaining whipped topping over gelatin just before serving.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cookie crumbs.  Decorate sandwich cookies with icings to make "tombstones".  Stand tombstones on top of dessert with candies to represent a graveyard.  Cut into squares and serve.
Get this and more ideas from the Frightfully Fun Halloween Recipes cookbook.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Twirl 'n Top Pizza Shop Play-Doh Set Review by Hasbro

Who hasn't played with Play-Doh as a child?  I had so many containers of it, I couldn't keep track.  We made everything our imagination would allow out of Play-Doh!  Mason is finally at the age where he is really into playing with Play-Doh.  I started him off with one can and now he has the Play-Doh 24 Pack of Colorson his Christmas list.

I was thrilled that we were lucky enough to try out the Play-Doh Twirl 'n Top Pizza Shop.  This is Mason's first set and he was as excited about it as I was!  He immediately recognized it as a Pizza play set and since he LOVES pizza, I knew this would be a hit.

Set up of the set was a breeze.  All I had to do was attach the cheese sprinkler to the oven by snapping the two pieces together, making one play set.  Next, I placed a pizza dish under the cheeses sprinkler and I was ready to start making pizza with Mason.

Mason started his pizza with making the crust.  I helped him get an appropriate amount of brown Play-Doh and he put it in the pizza pan and put it in the oven.  He easily pulled the handle on the oven, creating the pizza crust.  We put the pan in the pizza dish under the cheese sprinkler and added some Play-Doh to the sprinkler.  I attached the cheese grater handle and showed Mason how to turn the handle so we could grate the "cheese".  Mason then created his pizza toppings of mushrooms, green peppers and pepperoni.  He did need some help getting the toppings out of the mold since they were small.  I used a couple toothpicks to help get the Play-Doh out with no problem.  Mason happily added his toppings to his pizza and I helped him slice it up.  He handed me the first piece and said, "Here you go, Mommy".  He was so proud of himself!

Overall, this Play-Doh set was lots of fun and so easy to use!  Mason loved making pizza to share with me and even told his Daddy all about it when he came home from work!  With some adult help, it is a great set for children 3 and up.

From a parents perspective, I think this set will stand the test of time and it seems durable enough to be played with often.  Clean up of the Play-Doh out of the molds was easy.  I also love that this set is all inclusive.  It comes with everything you need to get your own pizza shop started.  Included in the set is the oven, cheese sprinkler, sprinkler handle, dish, server, cutter, pan, instructions and 3 two-ounce cans and 1 five-ounce can of Play-Doh.  It is recommended for ages 3 and up.  It retails for about $16.99.  I think this makes it a great buy for the price!

Hasbro provided me with the item above in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Use What To Clean Your Diamonds?...and a Great Recipe!

VODKA!  Yes, Vodka is the answer.  I always run out of jewelery cleaner, so I decided to find an alternate method of cleaning my diamond wedding rings.  Not only is vodka something most people have on hand in their in-home bar, it is much, much cheaper than traditional jewelery cleaner.  That being said, remember, vodka is not for all jewelery.  This is for diamond jewelery only!  Also, if your diamond jewelery is really dirty, you can use a soft toothbrush dipped in the vodka to clean it.  It will help remove tough dirt without damaging the stone.

So, now that I have a whole bottle of vodka, what do I do with it?  I don't drink vodka, so I researched a bit and found a great recipe by Rachael Ray.  I have made this in the past and it is delicious.  I think I will have to add it back into my arsenal of  "oldies, but goodies".

"You Won't Be Single for Long" Vodka Cream Pasta
Recipe Courtesy of Rachael Ray
From: The Best Burger in America Discovered


  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Serve with: crusty bread

  1. Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. 
  2. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots
  3. Gently saute shallots for  to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. 
  4. Add vodka to the pan (3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup)
  5. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add chicken stock and tomatoes.
  7. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked al dente.  While pasta cooks, prepare salad or other side dishes.
  10. Stir cream into sauce.  When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat.  Drain pasta.  Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves.
  11. ENJOY!