An annual Halloween tradition in our house is making “bugs”….I can’t remember when this tradition began, but it just isn’t Halloween without these little guys. So fun to make, especially with children, no matter how old they are. You will need a few supplies:

Nilla Wafer Cookies
M & M’s
Small Chocolate Bars, I used Snickers, Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey’s Bliss
Better Crocker tube icing, black and purple
Better Crocker tube gel’s, orange, green, blue, yellow, red, etc….
Optional: Halloween colored sprinkles & candies for decorating tray

Use the tube icing to attach the bodies (small chocolate bars) to the Nilla Wafer Cookies
Place a small amount of icing in front to attach eyes (M&M’s)
Using gel’s for decorating bugs, legs, eyeballs, etc.

I purchased a small amount of “inside outside carpet” from my local Lowe’s and cut it to fit my tray to assimilate grass….Have fun and enjoy, perhaps this will become your families annual Halloween tradition as well.

The Ultimate “Baked Mac & Cheese”

One of my families favorite meals is the ultimate baked mac & cheese, such comforting food….and so easy to make…With the onset of Rob’s wedding to Cecile, thought I would make his favorite “mom” food….hope you enjoy it!!!

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 cups milk
¼ lb. white American cheese
¼ lb. Swiss cheese
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated cheese
1/3 cup pankos (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 lb. good quality Penne or Shell macaroni, cooked al dente

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter, flour, mustard powder and black pepper until bubbling and lightly brown. Slowly whisk in 3 cups of milk, American and cheddar cheeses. Cook on medium low heat until boiling; add Swiss and grated cheese, combine until cheese has melted.
In a large baking pan add cooked macaroni and ¾ of cheese mixture. Stir until well combined. Pour remaining cheese sauce over macaroni; top with pankos. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy on top.

"ditch the box"...

Bailey’s Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

For bosses day (October 16) I was going to make Pete (my boss) a pumpkin cheesecake…just seems to be the season for that, well, good thing he told me he was making one over the weekend to bring to an event (he loves sweets)….so, I had to rethink my strategy. Lately he’s been talking about having a little Bailey’s once in a while after dinner….hummm, I can make a cheesecake with that…so here it is…..if you have never made a cheesecake, it really is very easy…here are a few helpful hints…place a sheet pan in the bottom of the oven and fill with about one inch of water; after cake has finished cooking, leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door slightly open for one hour. Both of these helpful hints will help prevent the cheesecake from cracking….also if you like, whip 1 cup heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons (or more) of Baileys for a little topping….Enjoy!

Bailey’s Marbled Cheesecake

2.25 oz. toasted pecan pieces
1 16 oz. package Oreo cookies
1 stick butter, melted

In a dry skillet over medium high heat, toast pecans until slightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Place Oreo’s in a food processor and process until finely crumbled. Add toasted pecan pieces and process for a few seconds. Combine melted butter and Oreo mixture. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9” spring form pan. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 7 minutes.

4 8 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Bailey’s Coffee Liquor
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add Bailey’s and mix untiled blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add sour cream, vanilla and flour and mix until smooth.

2 oz. semi sweet chocolate, melted

Pour 1/2 of the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan. Drizzle 1/2 of the melted chocolate over the cheesecake. Using a knife, swirl the chocolate over the top. Repeat with the remaining cheesecake mixture and melted chocolate.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cake cool in the oven for one hour with the door slightly open to prevent cracking. Refrigerate overnight…best made one or two days before serving.