Mealtime Mama: Cute treats for your Halloween or fall party

By Shannon Magsam

OK, mamas, this is a repeat post from last year. But it’s a fun one with several good ideas for fall food. Hope you enjoy:

The month of October is perfect for a party because of all the fun fall treats and the weather is just right for being outside.

I thought I’d share a few of the treats from our recent house party in case you want to use them at a gathering you’re having this month. Let’s start with the caramel apple bar, which I plan to do again on Halloween night for friends and new neighbors who stop over while trick-or-treating here. This was my 13-year-old daughter’s idea and it was a hit with our guests.

The Caramel Apple Bar is not a cookie, it’s this:

caramel apple bar, use this

You just grab some sliced apples (I cheated and bought them pre-cut), some caramel (you can make your own or buy) and then come up with all kinds of toppings that would taste great on a caramel apple. We had coconut, M&Ms, sprinkles and Skittles. There are tons of possibilities! I wish we’d added a spoon into the caramel (which is in the spider container in the above pic) because some friends just wanted to drizzle caramel over their apples.

Up next, MUMMIES!

Mummies, use thisThese were my teenager’s idea, too, and she made them. We realized after the fact that we should have used double-stuffed Oreos. To make them, just use icing to scribble the mummy faces and add edible eyes. If you use the larger Oreos, you can place a candy stick into each for a lollipop effect. Ours didn’t have enough stuffing for the stick, but I think they turned out cute anyway ;)

Our {Frightful} Fall Kettle Corn was also a big hit:

Frightful Fall Kettle Corn

We also cheated a little on this by buying bags of kettle corn to pop. So you just pop your kettle corn, pour it into a big bowl and add your favorite candies. We used mini chocolate chips, pretzels, M&Ms and candy corn (which makes it so cute!). After you gently mix the popcorn and candy together, drizzle melted chocolate over the top. We used decadent Ghirardelli dark melting wafers. YUM.

Those were the sweet treats. We also had chili (my husband’s special recipe) with all the fixin’s plus a few of my favorite appetizers. It was a fun party and the food prep turned out to be a great bonding experience with my teenager. Of course, as soon as we got finished cooking, my daughter went back to her regularly-scheduled Instagramming. It was good while it lasted.

Hope this inspires you to invite a few of your friends over for a fall get-together!

Mealtime Mama: Summer Peach Guacamole

peach guac

It’s peach season, so we are excited that Helen at My Brother’s Salsa has given us a wonderful recipe that uses one of our favorite fruits.

She even made a video for us about how to make her Summer Peach Guacamole (the written recipe is also below):

Ingredients:

Summer-Remix4Two fresh summer peaches (peeled, diced)

Two ripe avocados (peeled, diced)

4 Tablespoons My Brother’s Tomatillo Salsa

optional:  sea salt, freshly chopped cilantro

Directions: Combine ingredients in small mixing bowl and stir gently. We would also add that you should serve it with My Brother’s Organic Corn Tortilla chips. Yum!

my brother's salsaCLICK HERE to see more of Helen’s recipes and also read about how she got started making My Brother’s Salsa. The website is fun to visit!

Note from the mamas: This post originally published summer 2015.

Mealtime Mama: Creamy spinach bowtie pasta

mealtimeMamas, I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from but I do know it’s GOOD and it’s crazy easy. I got it years ago from my friend Amy who said it was one of her “go-to” quick dinner recipes.

I made it the other day and my 12-year-old son, who usually hates all things green, said it was one of his new favorites. Yay!

Here’s what you’ll need:classico sun-dried tomato alfredo

  • Box of bowtie pasta (I like the miniature farfalle)
  • 1 small box of frozen chopped spinach (I use the Green Giant brand.)
  • 1 jar of Classico Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo sauce
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes (You can also used diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning)

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to directions on the box. Microwave the frozen chopped spinach according to package directions and then drain it really well. (Spend an extra minute or two draining the spinach. You don’t want spinach juice in your sauce.)

Pour the Classico Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo sauce into a sauce pan and simmer. Add the can of tomatoes and then add the drained spinach. (I use half of the spinach, but you could use the whole thing if your family loves it.) Mix well.diced-basil-garlic-oregano-sm

Add a little basil, oregano and garlic seasoning to the sauce pan. I use a couple of dashes of each spice. (If you use canned tomatoes that already have Italian seasoning included, you might not need to add any extra.)

Warm the sauce mixture until heated through. Serve over warm bowtie pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese. (You could easily add some grilled chicken to this dish, if you like.)

The whole thing takes less than half an hour, and the results are delicious. Hope you enjoy it!

Mealtime Mama: Fresh strawberry pie for the Fourth of July!

Mealtime-mama1

Happy Fourth of July! This pie is sure to please.

If you’ve got pick-your-own strawberries (or if you picked some up from the store!), below a great pie recipe that our friend Kathleen Villar shared after she and her two kids visited McGarrah’s a few weeks ago. (Kathleen gives full credit to her friend Pam Lewis for the recipe.)

We couldn’t resist using a few of the pics from the Villars’ day at the farm, too! Those kids are so cute.

Strawberry Pie

Kathleen, berriesIngredients:

3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar (It is a SWEET dessert, you might want to reduce the sugar. I used just 1 cup.)
1 1/2 cups water
3 oz box strawberry Jell-O
2 cups sliced strawberries (If the berries are small, it may take a little more. I just filled the pie crust.)

Directions:

  • Pre-bake a 10″ pie shell. (I used a pre-made graham cracker crust. They have pre-made shortbread too!)
  • Line bottom with the sliced strawberries
  • Combine cornstarch, sugar and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add the Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Pour over the strawberries (I didn’t use it all) and refrigerate until set.
  • Serve with whipped cream.

Kathleen's kids, berriesNote from the mamas: This post originally published on nwaMotherlode.com in June 2014. There are three little Villars now!

Summer-Remix4

Mealtime Mama: Simple summer pasta

Happy Monday, mamas! I never met a noodle I didn’t like, but this new pasta recipe has made it on to my LOVE-IT list.

I spotted a similar recipe on the Food Network’s website and made a few changes to suit my family’s taste. Hope you like it, too.

Angel Hair with Tomatoes & Basil

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

cherry tomatoes2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

4 pints of small cherry tomatoes

18 large basil leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 pound angel hair pasta

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large pot, boil the water and add Kosher salt plus a small amount of olive oil. While you wait for the water to boil, use a separate saute pan to heat 1/2 cup olive oil.

angel hair pastaAdd the chopped garlic to the heated oil and cook for 30 seconds on medium heat.

Then add the chopped basil, tomatoes, parsley, black pepper, red pepper flakes and 2 tsp of Kosher salt. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring gently until the tomatoes begin to get soft (but make sure they don’t get too mushy.)

While the tomato mixture cooks, add the angel hair pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to directions on package. Drain pasta and put it in a large bowl.

Add the tomato mixture plus Parmesan cheese to the pasta and mix it well.

If you like, serve it with some extra Parmesan cheese and chopped basil on top. Enjoy!

Note: My husband grilled some chicken to go on top of this pasta dish, and he loved it.