Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Haunted House

The first time I made this Halloween Haunted House my son was 5.  He was my little helper, and he still remembers working on this house with me. He will be 22 years old this week! This Halloween Haunted House is what memories are made from. I hope it becomes special to you and your family too!!
Halloween Haunted House
5 Bags of Milk Chocolate Candy Melts
Chocolate Rocks
Stick Pretzels
1 Sugar Cone
2 Cake Cones
Graham Crackers
Mini Nilla Wafers
Box of Reese's Pieces
1 package of Black Twizzlers
1 package of Black Licorice Bites
4 Mini Kit Kats(like from a Halloween Candy Bag)
Orange Gum Balls
Orange and Green Jelly Belly
1 package Orange Wafer Cookies
you will also need:
16 oz of Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 Egg Whites
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Aluminum Foil
2 Decorating Bags
3 Cookie Sheets
2 Wilton Tips~#2 and #2A   
Wilton Color Violet
 You can build this house over as many days as you want.
So you can stop at any spot in  the directions.
Measure out foil to  the size of your cookie sheets.
Loosely crumble the foil. This is your design for the
walls of the house. Don't crumble too tight because
the foil might tear when you unwrap it.
Carefully unwrap the foil and spread it in the cookie sheet.
Repeat this for all 3 cookie sheets. Set aside.
Start melting the chocolate candy melts.
Each cookie sheet should 1 1/2 bags of melted chocolate
on each one.
Pour the melted chocolate over the foil.
Repeat this for all three cookie sheets.
After I poured the chocolate, I realized that
chocolate was not deep enough for the pieces
we would be cutting out. I made the foil smaller to accommodate this.
You can fix this problem by using more chocolate
on each cookie sheet, but I was using the
largest pan available to me at the time.
After the chocolate is dry in the cookie sheet, place
a pattern on the chocolate. You need 2 of each pattern
except the door, which is cut later from graham crackers.

Score the chocolate around the pattern. I used a small
paring knife. It seemed to give me better control.
Here is you scored piece. Because we are working with chocolate
there is nothing we won't be able to fix, so don't be to bother with
Cut the chocolate along the scored lines.
Here are your two top side pieces.
This is what is left after I took out the 2 pieces.
The leftover can be remelted and used again.
Gotta love that candy melt!!
Here is the large pattern of the front of the house.
Continue to cut out the other pieces until you have
2 fronts, 2 bottom sides, 2 top sides.
 Make the icing. In a mixing bowl, place the egg whites,
the powdered sugar, the vanilla, and the cream of tartar.
Mix on high speed for 7-10 minutes until very stiff.
Color the icing with the Violet color.
When I was cutting out the large piece, the edge broke.
No worries.
Melt some of the chocolate melt, take a little and put it
on the edge of the large piece, and put small piece
on to it. I guess you could say you are
chocolate glueing it!
You can't even see it. Give it few minutes to dry.
I did not take pictures of this, but take the cake
circle, melt more chocolate. and spread the
chocolate on the circle. Give it about 1 hour to dry.
Set the large piece back on to the circle. Set it a little towards the
back of the circle so it gives you a front yard.
Attach a bottom side piece by piping  icing along the side seam.
Attach the front piece of the house with the piping.
Attach the other side piece.
Here is what I was talking about when I said that
mistakes can be fixed. This piece of chocolate was not cut
right when I originally cut it out. So I used the paring knife
to shave the edge. I just sawed a little at a time so as not to
crack the piece.
See the crack in the back. I just ignored it.
Icing is a wonderful fixer. Besides, it's a haunted house.
It can have a few holes.
Attach the top sides with the frosting.
Don't worry if it doesn't match up perfectly.
Attach the graham cracker pieces to the top to create the roof.
Run a bead of icing along the open space above the
bottom side.
Attach a graham cracker piece to the piece above.
Attach a piece to the other side.
In the front of the house put the kit kat.
Attach them with icing or chocolate.
Put 3 strips on the bottom, 3 on the top of those,
and 1 more on the top of that.
Cut out the graham cracker door with the pattern.
Pipe around the door with the #2 tip , and pipe a window.
Attach to the front above the steps.
Cut away a section of the cone to fit the roof of the house.
Attach the cone. Don't worry about the icing on the roof.
Attach a black gumball on top of the cone. Cut off the tip of the
sugar cone, and attach to the top of the gumball.
Decorate like the picture, or add your own touch.
Close up!
Cut 2 cake cones to fit on to each front corner of the house.
Decorate with icing and jelly bellies.
Another view.
Attach licorice pieces to the top front and the bottom front
seams. Do the same to the back of the house.
Attach the vanilla wafers to create roof shingles.
Decorate around the tower.
(Please ignore the mess behind the haunted house!!)
Attach a licorice bite to each side of the door.
Add the top swirl before attaching.
Attach chocolate rocks to the edge of the house, wherever
you want. There is no wrong way. Make the windows by
cutting the orange wafer cookies to just use the top piece.
Pipe the window to look like panes.
Use the other piece of the wafer cookie to make the shutters
 Cut it in half. Pipe a design. Attach the shutters with frosting.
Put a window and shutters on each side bottom.
Attach the top window on both sides.
Take the wafers apart  just like above.
Shutters should run long ways.
Attach a Reeses pieces to each window top.
Add an orange gumball to create a pumpkin.
Here are a few pictures so you can see placement of things.
Here are the pattern pieces for the house:

These need to be enlarged by 4 times the size.
Happy Halloween!

This Halloween Haunted House is participating in the
Howl-oween Trick and Treats Craftathon 
at the Rhinestone Beagle.
Drop  by and check out all the really cute,
Halloween ideas and crafts.
It's all month long!! Don't miss it!!

The Freshman Cook is also participating in
Wickedly Creative Halloween Ideas Party.
Stop by for lots of great ideas!

Stop by Monster Mash Bash  to see all the
fun and wonderful Halloween ideas! The Freshman Cook
is there also!

If you have any questions or problems with my 
directions, please don't hesitate to contact me at
I will be glad to answer anything you need to know,
if I can.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Southern Banana Cream Pie

As we cleaned out our refrigerator this week, my husband made a dessert that is a deliciously, welcome take on a southern classic. Everyone is very familiar with the ingredients, I'm sure. Take a look, then have a taste. Delicious!
Southern Banana Cream Pie
3 ripe Bananas
Nilla Wafers
Vanilla Instant Pudding
3 cups Milk
1 cup Whipping Cream
2 tablespoon Sugar
Put your mixing bowl in the freezer, so we will have a chilled
bowl to prepare the whipping cream in. Let it get
nice and cold, about 30 minutes worth!
While the bowl is chilling, layer a pie plate with nilla
wafers, along the side and on the bottom. Slice bananas
over the nilla wafers on the bottom. Make the
vanilla pudding. Once it has set up, layer the pudding 
on top of the bananas. Then slice more bananas and place 
them on top of the pudding. 
Make the whipped cream below, and top 
the entire pie with whipped cream.

Pour the whipping cream in to the cold mixer bowl.
Add sugar and mix until stiff peaks appear.
Here it is!
It is creamy and delicious, and the nilla wafers become so soft!

Skillet Fried Potatoes

Our side dish this week is skillet fried potatoes. Potatoes are such a versatile dish, aren't they? I mean you can change up a potato dish about 100 different ways! They go with just about everything, and pretty much everyone loves them! Like these potatoes we made this week. They could definitely be served with the steak, which was our entree this week, or they could be served with breakfast. You could add onion or cheese or vegetables or bacon. See what I mean. The list could go on forever!
Well, our potatoes for this week follow the KIS rule. Keep it simple! That's what I did, and they are sure to please everyone.
Skillet Fried Potatoes
Potatoes(1- 1 1/2 per person)
Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Butter
I don't really use the microwave a lot.
I learned to cook in restaurants that didn't have them, 
so it just became second nature to do it another way. But I
really like potatoes cooked in the microwave.
Besides, 10 minutes beats 60 minutes every time!

Wash your potatoes, then poke them with a fork twice
on both sides. This gives the heat somewhere to escape to.
Microwave on high for about 8-10 minutes. 
I put mine in for 5 minutes, then checked them every minute.
They should be cooked, but not over cooked,
because we will be frying them up in the skillet.
Once they are cooked, cut them in half to cool.
Cut each half into strips.
Turn the potato around, and cut the strips into bite size pieces!
Pull out your skillet! We are ready to go.
Place the butter in the skillet, and throw your potatoes in.
Sprinkle them with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Let them cook for about 10 minutes.
Toss them around in the pan so they all get an even browning.
Let them get as brown as you want. I cook mine until they have
little chrunchies on them. They taste great that way!
Serve 'em up, hot and steaming!

Thanks for joining me today! 
Stop by later for this weeks dessert,
Banana Cream Pie!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crazy Cooking Challenge~Chocolate Chip Cookies!

This is my first time participating in the Crazy Cooking Challenge. For the challenge I was to pick a fellow blogger who had posted a recipe for "something special", and make the recipe. Every month, the "something special" changes. Well, I am so lucky because this month the "something special" is chocolate chip cookies. One of my all time favorites. I went searching for the perfect blog and the perfect recipe, and I found it at
Kirbie's Cravings.
Kirbie and her future husband eat, and then share their experience, in their blog about the San Diego area. Their blog is gorgeous, the photography is spectacular, and if all the recipes are as good as the Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies,
well, lets just say, plan on spending some time when you go browsing on their site.  This recipe had a great texture, smelled heavenly, and delivered on its name.
Here's the recipe! I know you are going to love it!  

 Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups milk chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  3. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Blend in the flour mixture.
  5. Stir in the milk chocolate chips, trying to spread evenly through cookie dough.
  6. Make balls of cookie dough, about 1 inch in diameter.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.
In the original recipe, Kirbie used semi sweet chips, and another time, she used swirl chips. I wanted to use  the swirls, but I could not find them anywhere. Thank you Kirbie, for a great, fun recipe!

Would you like to find out more about the Crazy Cooking Challenge?
Click on the button!!


Pan Fried T-Bone Steak

The entree for this week is a pan fried T-bone steak. The reason the T-bone is a great steak is simple. The T-bone contains both a piece of filet mignon and a strip steak!  It is such a great piece to buy if you are splitting the steak. In my case, my husband loves the strip steak, and I love the filet. We buy 1 T-bone, and we are both happy! You will be too!
There is the filet on the left side and the strip steak 
on the right.
Start cutting out the filet by beginning on the outside of the 
steak at the top where the bone is.
Cut all the way around until the filet looks like....
this. It should look a little more familiar now!
That leaves us with the strip. Cut around the bone at
the top, and down the center of the bone.
There is your strip steak.
I only like to use pepper on my steaks, so now is the
time to season them.
Start cooking in the pan. Add a pat of butter to give them
a nice flavor and color. I cooked these on medium-high.
They are medium rare after about 4 minutes
on each side. I try to only flip them only once.
 Here is your filet!
You can cut it with a fork.

Thanks for joining The Freshman Cook!
Tomorrow we will be making pan fried potatoes
and southern banana creme pie!

See you then!