30+ Unique and Easy Halloween Cupcake Ideas with Tutorials!

Halloween cupcake ideas tutorials

I know, the text in the image is wrong 🙂 There are definitely more than 30 Halloween cupcake ideas below. #25 has four different tutorials!

I love fun food, and holiday food is especially exciting to me! Halloween gives us the opportunity to decorate and design both sweet and savory foods, including cupcakes!

I’ve found more than 25 unique Halloween cupcake ideas and they all have tutorials. Even better, they’re all surprisingly easy!

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Cherry Banana Berry Green Smoothie Recipe: A Green Smoothie that Kids Love!

green smoothie kids will love

I tend to overthink things. Especially parenting. I constantly remind myself that my own behavior has a direct influence on the people my own children will become.

I’m not just talking about the big stuff, like the examples I set in my marriage and how I talk to people. I also think about it in the day-to-day stuff, like eating habits and housekeeping.

I’m definitely not perfect, but sometimes it hits me that improvements I make in my own life could result in better lives for my children.

One thing that seems to be on both my mind and my husband’s mind lately is our diet. Neither of us have stellar eating habits, and it’s not lost on me that the serving of fruits or vegetables (mostly fruits) that Haiden and Piper have at every meal would also be good for me.

So James and I decided that while the two of us should add more produce to our diets, all of us should be eating more veggies.

green smoothie kids love

But I have this problem: I don’t like preparing vegetables. I feel like most of them take time to taste good, and I rarely allow myself time in the kitchen for that. I also worry that valuable nutrition is lost in so many different cooking methods, and that adds to my reluctance.

Then I listened to a podcast discussing green smoothies. I’ve had them in the past and I liked them, but I had forgotten all about them.

Related: See the perfect Vanilla Pumpkin Smoothie recipe!

It struck me that green smoothies would be an easy way to add a lot of vegetables to our diet. If I could find a kid-friendly green smoothie recipe, a green smoothie my kids loved, I wouldn’t have to worry about lengthy preparation or losing nutrients.

green smoothie kids love

Armed with my Simple Green Smoothies book and my new Ninja Blender with Auto iQ (more on that later) I set out to make an array of smoothies. I was determined to find one thing:

A green smoothie kids love!

I found more than one, but one I came up with on my own is my kids’ favorite green smoothie. The Cherry Banana Berry Green Smoothie recipe has strawberries, blackberries, banana and two handfuls of fresh spinach!

Green Smoothie Preparation notes:

First, Measuring fresh spinach is weird. It needs to be packed into a measuring cup. One cup of fresh spinach is roughly one handful, so I skip the measuring cups.

green smoothie kids love

Second, green smoothie ingredients need to be layered in your blender container, and the order matters!

I love the Ninja blender system I’m using because it comes with single-serving/two-serving smoothie cups as well as a full-size pitcher. The cups make smoothies a breeze, and the biggest cup lets me make two full 16-ounce green smoothies at once!

Here’s how you layer ingredients if you’re using a single-serve blender cup. Remember that you’ll turn the cup upside down onto the blender, so put your green smoothie ingredients into the cup in this order:

  1. Spinach leaves
  2. liquid
  3. fresh fruits
  4. frozen fruits

Then you can put the lid on the cup and invert it onto the blender.

Cherry Banana Berry Green Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups cold water
3/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or more strawberries
3/4 cup pitted cherries
1 banana

Directions:

  1. Layer ingredients in your blender. If you’re using a single-serving blender use the order listed above. If you’re using a traditional blender just reverse the order so the most solid ingredients are on the bottom.
  2. Blend until smooth. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to blend with the Ninja’s Auto iQ feature.
  3. If you’re doubtful you’ll get a smooth consistency with your blender, start by blending only the spinach and water. Once that’s liquified, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Share this kid-friendly green smoothie recipe by repinning it on Pinterest or click on the red SAVE button under the top image to pin it yourself!
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Be sure to check out my video to see how the Ninja BL682 Nutri Ninja Blender System with Auto-iQ works! See it below or at this link: Nutri Ninja BL682 review.

This Ninja blender’s single-serving cup and the Auto-iQ function is how I made the Cherry Banana Berry green smoothie recipe in one step with just one touch.

I love that I don’t have to dirty any other dishes and I can take my smoothie to go as soon as the blending stops!

Since I made that smoothie with the Nutri Ninja Blend button in the above video I’ve learned that the Ultra Blend button makes an even more liquified smoothie. I don’t like chunks at all, so I’ve pretty much only been using the Ultra Blend button for all my smoothies.

green smoothie kids will love

The Nutri Ninja Blender System is worth it for the smoothies alone, but it does so much more than make green smoothies. It can crush ice into snow cone consistency and it even has a food processor bowl and blades. That means it combines the functions of two appliances into one!

ninja blender bl682 review

Click here to learn more about the BL682 Nutri Ninja Blender System today!

Do you have a recipe for a green smoothie kids love? Please share it in the comments! 

Disclosure: Ninja provided the blender to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

How to Make Hand-Dipped and Decorated Caramel Apples

Fall has a distinct feel in Minnesota. Especially the northern part of the state.

It’s not just the changing leaves, although there’s no denying how beautiful they are…

fall colors in minnesota

There’s just something about the angle of the sun and the light. When we move into the autumn season, sunny days take on a golden feel. Regardless of the temperature, it suddenly just feels like fall.

And fall means so many good things! Sweaters and boots top my own list of favorites, but there’s also all the activities!

hand dipped and decorated caramel apples

I love apple picking and making homemade apple pie filling. It’s so fun to visit the pumpkin patch and carve a jack-o-lantern with one of the many free pumpkin carving patterns. And who doesn’t love Halloween with homemade baby costumes and adorable costumes with tutus?

Then there’s the fall recipes. My cake mix pumpkin bread is one of my favorites. I could also drink this vanilla pumpkin smoothie every day!

Now I have a new favorite fall recipe to share. It’s so good, I really can’t believe I’ve never written about it before!

hand dipped decorated caramel apples

Apples and caramel say “fall” more than any other foods, and I can’t think of anything better than caramel and apples together! I have the best caramel apples recipe, and the fun really does come in the decorating.

Note that this is an easy caramel apples recipe without wrapped candy caramels. I’ve made those caramel apples and I don’t like them. I also feel like you’re not saving time or money by using wrapped caramels, and this recipe just tastes so much better!

Trust me, you really need to make these hand dipped and decorated caramel apples. They’ll excite any child you give one to, and I promise, other adults will be so impressed!

How to Make Caramel Apples without Wrapped Candies

 

I have a few secrets for making the best hand-dipped and decorated caramel apples:

1. Firm, tart apples are preferred. Avoid overly sweet or mealy varieties. Look for Granny Smith, Harlson or Fuji. If you just can’t do tart look for big apples in the Gala, Pippin, Pink Lady or Cameo varieties.

2. What to use for caramel apple sticks? Wooden chopsticks are the best, but popsicle sticks take a close second. You can also get these sweet caramel apple “sticks” or thicker wooden skewers. Thick bamboo lollipop sticks are another option.

3. Use a quality candy thermometer. I’ve used this one for about 10 years and it’s never failed me. Order it and it will be delivered in just a few days!

4. Keep your candy thermometer attached as you dip your apples. If the caramel stops sticking to the apples, return the caramel to the stove over medium heat. Bring the temp back up to 248 degrees and start dipping again. Don’t forget to keep stirring!

5. Use a taller saucepan. Remember you’re dipping apples so shallow will make more work. This one looks dreamy but that price. Ouch. I like the price tag and the reviews on this saucepan instead.

6. Prep everything before you turn on the stove. Cooking the caramel and dipping the apples will require all your attention. Do these things before you start any cooking:

  • Prep your apples with the chopsticks as instructed.
  • Line your baking sheet with good parchment paper.
  • Have a bowl of cold water ready to test the caramel
  • Put your caramel apple decorations in bowls so they’re ready to decorate as soon as the apples are dipped.

caramel apples no wrapped caramels

Easy Caramel Apples Recipe without Wrapped Candy Caramels

Supplies

  • 8 caramel apple sticks (see above for recommendations)
  • parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 8 big, tart apples
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • M&Ms, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and anything else to decorate your hand dipped caramel apples.

Directions

  1. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Carefully drop each apple into the water and let it sit for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove from the boiling water and dry thoroughly to get the produce wax off the skin.
  2. Allow the apples to cool thoroughly while you line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  3. Twist the stems off the top of the apple, and then insert the pointed end of a skewer or chopstick into each apple.
  4. Mix butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk together in your tall saucepan over medium  to medium-high heat. Clip on a candy thermometer and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Continue boiling and stirring until your candy thermometer reaches 248 degrees. This will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Test the consistency by dropping a dollop of caramel into a dish of cold water. It should look and feel like a firm ball.
  6. Remove from heat at 248 degrees and add the vanilla extract.
  7. Dip an apple to the bottom of the pan of caramel and twirl it to coat.  lift it out and twirl it again over the pan to let the excess drip off.
  8. Immediately roll the apple in toppings or decorate it by pressing toppings into the caramel. The one in the picture had individual M&Ms pressed in to resemble a pumpkin, but you can do anything you’d like to them.
  9. Set down with the stick side up on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Let the caramel cool and the toppings set before touching.

I think what I love most about this recipe is that it makes caramel apples without those wrapped caramel candies.

I love making things from scratch, and I think unwrapping all those caramels is more work than just making this delicious caramel! Plus, this simply tastes better!

Print the easy caramel apples recipe without wrapped candy here:

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Pin and share this easy caramel apples recipe without wrapped candy:

easy caramel apples recipe without wrapped candy caramels

Do you have any good tips for easy homemade caramel apples? I’d love to hear them!

Vanilla-Infused Fresh Orange Juice Ice Pops Recipe

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wet Ones® Hand Wipes. The opinions and texts are all mine.

wet ones to clean popsicles

I was recently given this question to answer: What will you use Wet Ones® hand wipes for this summer?

Of course, almost every frozen treat is sticky, and you’re going to need to clean yourself and your kids after enjoying a delicious vanilla orange ice pop!

vanilla orange ice pops

Wet Ones® Hand Wipes are a convenient way to keep the kids, the ice pops AND the sticky fingers outside.

Just bring along the Wet Ones® Hand Wipes when the treats are served; kids can get cleaned up without touching doorknobs, faucets, tables, chairs or everything else they’d happen to put their fingers on!

I had picked up a canister of Wet Ones® Hand Wipes yesterday at Walmart, and I cracked it open today while Haiden and Piper were having their orange vanilla ice pops. I’m still a little surprised by how wet the wipes are!

vanilla orange ice pops

I’m a Minnesota mom, which means we need to take full advantage of every sunny and warm day that comes our way. Summer just doesn’t last that long in our neck of the woods!

In addition to pools, sprinklers, bubbles and other outdoor activities, popsicles are a key tradition in enjoying a Minnesota summer. Even when Haiden and Piper were toddlers, a sticky, sweet frozen popsicle was a near-daily treat when temperatures started rising.

vanilla fresh orange juice popsicles

I’m not going to lie: the frozen ice pops from the store are the ones that are enjoyed most frequently in our house. But sometimes I’m in the mood for a popsicle, too. The difference is that I want something with more complex flavors and less artificial colors 🙂

These vanilla-infused fresh orange ice pops are absolutely delicious. They taste quite a bit like an Orange Julius and I think they’re even more refreshing than the classic drink!

Vanilla-Infused Fresh Orange Ice Pops Recipe

vanilla infused orange ice pops Ingredients:

  • 6-8 medium oranges
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons white sugar

Directions:

  1. Juice the oranges to get between 1. 5 and 2 cups of juice. put it into a pitcher or batter bowl to make it easy to pour.
  2. Warm up a quarter cup of the juice in the microwave for 20 seconds. Dissolve the sugar in it.
  3. Stir the vanilla and juice/sugar mixture into the rest of the juice.
  4. Carefully pour the juice into popsicle molds and freeze for 3-5 hours until solid.

To serve: run your popsicle mold under hot water for 3-5 seconds. Slide the ice pop out of the mold and enjoy!

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Pin this Vanilla-Infused Fresh Orange Juice Popsicles recipe!

fresh orange juice popsicles recipe

wet ones wipes citrus

After treating the kids to a Popsicle, I let them clean their sticky hands with Wet Ones® Hand Wipes.

I guess I’m used to other types of wipes, because I thought the Wet Ones would be more of a temporary fix between a sticky treat and the sink. I didn’t expect a single hand wipe to eliminate the need for soap and water after Piper finished her ice pop!

In addition to controlling both expected and unexpected messes, all Wet Ones kill 99.99% of germs. With their cleaning power and antibacterial properties, these wipes work better and do much more than liquid hand sanitizers!

clean faces with wet ones

I usually have some sort of wipes with me to help clean up messes when we’re on the go, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be using to Wet Ones now given how well they work to get my kids back to the clean, germ-free condition that I prefer.

I’m already thinking that I need to get one canister for my car, one for my husband’s car and some of the individual packets for my purse.

I have no doubt that they’ll come in handy while we’re on the go with the kids, and I’m also pretty positive that I’ll be using them even when Haiden and Piper aren’t around!

Now that you know my story,what will you use Wet Ones® hand wipes for this summer?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wet Ones® Hand Wipes.  The opinions and texts are all mine. 

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How to Make Homemade Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup from Scratch

homemade hershey's chocolate syrup recipeYum
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Have you seen the price of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup lately? At my two favorite grocery stores, the price was nearly $5 for a 24-ounce bottle! Time to learn how to make homemade Hershey’s chocolate syrup!
Homemade Hershey's chocolate syrup recipeWhile I was trying to decide if I really needed to add the Hershey’s Syrup to my cart, I took a minute to flip over the bottle and read the ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, salt,  monoglycerides, diglycerides, polysorbate 60, artificial flavors… Yes, cocoa and water were also included, but I decided I wasn’t going to spend $5 to buy all those chemicals.

Haiden and Piper like to have chocolate milk with their vitamins at breakfast, and I wanted an easy way to keep giving it to them. Plus my husband enjoys a little chocolate syrup on his ice cream, and it’s an easy way to dress up a dessert.

If you like this article please check out how to make homemade Pedialyte! 

So, I wanted to share my new recipe for how to make homemade Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. You’re not going to believe how easy and delicious it is!

Homemade Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup Recipe

Makes about 16 ounces (2 cups)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Use a big saucepan – at least 2 quarts. This will expand when boiling, and overflows will make a big mess on your stovetop! (I use this 3-quart saucepan that was part of a bigger set I received as a gift. It’s my favorite for making anything sweet because the heavy bottom keeps it from heating up too fast.)
  • Combine the cocoa powder, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix with a whisk until smooth.
  • Stir constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon until it boils.
  • Allow it to boil for 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Syrup will be very thin/watery. Allow to cool completely and it will thicken to about the same consistency as Hershey’s syrup.

Store the syrup in a mason jar or any other container. It will keep for several weeks in the fridge. If you want to be really sneaky, pour the cooled syrup into an empty or almost-empty Hershey’s syrup container and see if anyone notices the difference!

homemade chocolate syrup

Note: I only use about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of the homemade chocolate syrup in a cup of milk to make chocolate milk for Haiden and Piper (Their milk just has to have a hint of brown for them to consider it “chocolate milk”).  My husband likes to add closer to a tablespoon per cup of milk to make himself chocolate milk. As with the brand-name chocolate syrup, you can experiment with the proportions to get the taste you’re looking for.

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Homemade Hersheys Syrup Recipe

homemade microwave popcornDon’t miss the absolute easiest way to make homemade microwave popcorn!

Image Credit: JMackinnell

The Asian Chicken Burger Recipe That Will Change Your Summer Cookout

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stop & Shop for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Asian chicken burgers recipe

When I entertain I like to serve food that will blow my company away. My menu doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, but it must be one thing: delicious.

Serving good food makes my guests happy, which makes me happy. But I give myself an extra pat on the back if I can also make my party food affordable and easy to prepare.

Delicious, easy to prepare and affordable are all things that make this  Asian Chicken Burger a life-changing meal. I made one last night to try out the recipe and I had a hard time finding just the right words to describe how amazing it was to my husband.

Did you read that? I made one burger. The recipe below serves four, but I was on my own for supper last night and it was so easy to make just a quarter recipe.

I’ve never made just one single burger before and it turns out that making a solo burger is easy if you have all fresh ingredients!

Asian Chicken Burger Recipe

asian chicken burgers recipe

Love this recipe? Click the “Pin It” button when you hover over the above image to pin it on Pinterest! Then follow me on Pinterest! 

Asian Chicken Burger Ingredients:

6 sprigs fresh mint leaves (about 1/4 oz.)
3 green onions
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 cucumber
6 radishes
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 lime
8 sprigs fresh cilantro (about 1/2 oz.)
1 lb ground chicken, ground turkey, or a combination
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
4 crusty sandwich rolls

Asian Chicken Burger Instructions

  1. Remove the leaves from the mint.
  2. Slice the green onions into rings and the tear the lettuce into strips.
  3. Slice the the cucumber and radishes.
  4. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan for 3 minutes until golden. Let cool on a plate.
  5. Zest and juice the lime.
  6. Chop half the cilantro and half the mint. Set aside the rest for garnish. M
  7. ix the ground meat with the sesame seeds, mint, cilantro, cornstarch, lime zest and half the green onions. Add salt and pepper.
  8. Form the ground meat mixture into 4 patties with wet hands.
  9. Mix the mayonnaise with the remaining green onions. Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Heat a grill pan over medium heat.
  11. Halve the buns and place cut side down in the pan for 30 seconds.
  12. Grill the chicken burgers for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  13. Pile chopped lettuce on bottom half of bun. Top with a burger, cucumber, radish, lime mayonnaise and remaining herbs.

Even though I made a single Asian Chicken Burger yesterday, I can guarantee that I’ll be at least doubling this recipe and making these burgers for a crowd sometime soon.

I love that the Stop & Shop Savory Recipe Center gives me all the recipes I need to make planning any summer gathering easy. In addition to burgers and other entree recipes, you can also find easy and affordable ideas for salads, sides and desserts!

Now that I know how fast and delicious the Asian Chicken Burger recipe is, I’m sure I won’t be disappointed by the West Coast Burger, the New York Pizza Burger, the Grilled Corn Salad and the Summer Berry Tiramisu!

Be sure to find the best recipes at the Stop & Shop Savory Recipe Center and shop at Stop & Shop for all your summer cookout needs!

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