Happy Halloween everyone! Today I have a pair of bloody dishes to share with you, one for breakfast (or dessert) and one for lunch or dinner...

Halloween Bloody Guts and Bloody Eyeball Soup


Happy Halloween everyone! Today I have a pair of bloody dishes to share with you, one for breakfast (or dessert) and one for lunch or dinner. As is my theme, these are super simple but fun recipes!


First up, Bloody Guts Cinnamon Rolls. All you need is 1 or 2 tubes of cinnamon rolls (depending on how many people you are feeding!) or a batch of homemade cinnamon roll dough if you're motivated! To make your guts, simply unroll the cinnamon rolls and lay them in a greased 8"x8" pan (use a cookie sheet or 13"x9" pan for 2 rolls), twisting and turning them to look like guts. One note: Pillsbury cinnamon rolls do not unroll! They are more like biscuits with cinnamon on them. If you have the option, go for store brands, I find they usually unroll. But if, like me, you only have Pillsbury, all is not lost. You just need to use a sharp knife to cut the roll into a spiral shape and then you can unroll it. 


Once you have your dough laid out in your pan, bake it at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Now for the blood. I had red candy melts that have been hanging out in my cabinet for almost a year so I wanted to use some up. Unfortunately, even melted, they were too thick to really look like good drippy blood. My kids didn't complain cause it still tasted sugary sweet but next time I will stick with coloring the icing that comes with the cinnamon rolls red and drizzling it over the top. One thing to keep in mind though is that gel food coloring will work best here - if you only have liquid colors you may have to add powdered sugar to compensate for the added liquid so it's not super runny. 


Next up, Bloody Eyeball Soup! The bloody soup is just plain old tomato soup. You can use your favorite recipe or store bought soup. The eyeballs are made by stacking mozzarella balls, olive slices, and tiny bell pepper or carrot pieces and gently placing them in the soup. You can make some gravestone-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with the soup - Lil C loved cutting the sandwiches into fun shapes.


I hope you enjoy these recipes and stay safe and warm this Halloween!


For more Halloween recipes, check out:

Halloween Monster Pancakes and Apple Monster Eye Pops

Halloween Worm Sandwiches and Crispy Zombie Skins

Halloween Franken-Smoothie

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  We're continuing our Halloween foods with a gross meal perfect for lunch or dinner: squirmy worm sandwiches and crispy seasoned zombie...

Halloween Worm Sandwiches and Crispy Zombie Skins

 

We're continuing our Halloween foods with a gross meal perfect for lunch or dinner: squirmy worm sandwiches and crispy seasoned zombie skins! These recipes couldn't be easier to prepare and they barely even need a real recipe.


For the squirmy worms, I took 8 hot dogs and cut each one lengthwise into 4 pieces. Then I tossed them into a dry hot pan and gently stirred. As you stir, you'll notice the pieces start to curl up.


Once the hot dog pieces are curled up and hot, add BBQ sauce just to coat and stir it all together.


Serve on hamburger buns with a slice of your favorite cheese. We also added some sauerkraut - maybe the sauerkraut could be weeds or hay? Squirmy worms with hay? Whatever you want to call it, we thought it was delicious!

Now, on to the crispy zombie skins. Cut a bunch of kale leaves into bite size pieces, removing the thicker stems, or just open a bag of kale pieces, like I did. Spread your kale pieces onto a greased or foil-lined cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle seasonings of your choice. I used salt, paprika, and garlic because I wanted my zombie skins to have a little color on them. Then bake them for 20-30 minutes at 275 degrees F, stirring and checking them every 10 minutes, until they are dry and crispy.

I hope you make this for your little ghouls and goblins this Halloween season! And be sure to check out my other Halloween-inspired dishes.

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As Squidgy proclaimed excitedly this morning, Halloween is only 3 days away! That means it's time to start with Halloween-themed food. T...

Halloween Monster Pancakes and Apple Monster Eye Pops

As Squidgy proclaimed excitedly this morning, Halloween is only 3 days away! That means it's time to start with Halloween-themed food. The past few years I've really gotten into making cute, creepy, and gross Halloween treats and this year may just end up with the most recipes yet! 


We started the day with some monster pancakes. 


I used our go to pancake recipe and tried to make monster shapes by adding a tiny plops of batter on either side of the pancake and at the bottom to be ears, arms, or feet. Then I supplied the kids with curved and triangular apple pieces, blueberries, banana slices, and chocolate chips and let them decorate!

If you forget to shape your batter into monster shapes, you can always cut the pancakes! I forgot with my first batch but both kids enjoyed creating their own shapes.



In the afternoon, while Lil C had her virtual dance class, I recruited Squidgy to help me make everyone a surprise monster treat! I started by coring and slicing 2 apples then pushing a popsicle stick into each one.


Then I set up our decorating area with a bowl of melted chocolate, a bunch of large marshmallows cut into slices (I cut each marshmallow into 3 slices), and a bowl of chocolate chips.


After coating each apple slice in chocolate, Squidgy added one piece of marshmallow - sticky side up - and a chocolate chip to make an eye. Then just chill them in the fridge until set and enjoy!


For more Halloween recipes, check out:

Halloween Bloody Guts and Bloody Eyeball Soup

Halloween Worm Sandwiches and Crispy Zombie Skins

Halloween Franken-Smoothie

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We started celebrating the Day of the Dead and making an altar a few years ago. This happened for a couple of reasons. In 2017, I began (mor...

Our Day of the Dead Altar

We started celebrating the Day of the Dead and making an altar a few years ago. This happened for a couple of reasons. In 2017, I began (more officially) homeschooling Lil C and, that October, we did a unit study on Day of the Dead. I sort of fell in love with the holiday, with its celebration of love, remembrance, and happiness rather than the sadness usually associated with those who are gone. It also became very personal because we were approaching the one year anniversary of my mother's passing and it gave me inspiration on how to honor and remember her. That year we set up our first little altar in her honor. Lil C helped make some beautiful tissue paper flowers, we chose a picture, and added the skull we got in Mexico (the one in between the flowers and in front of the candles) along with some festive animals and a skeleton. Lil C also added some little gifts my mom had given her and things she made that she said reminded her of my mom <3



This has been a perfect and wonderful way to remember my mom every year, and a great way to remind Squidgy about her since he wasn't even a year old when she passed. We moved in 2018 and since our new house has a fireplace, the mantle became the new spot for our yearly altar. This was our altar last year. I was excited to find some marigolds in a cute little bucket so we could have live flowers! And the kids loved painting the little wooden skull decorations I found at the dollar store. We also added a picture of my aunt - my mom's sister - who passed away right when I became pregnant with Lil C. 


This year our altar has grown even more! Unfortunately, we lost a few more family members, a fish, and a doggy cousin last year and Lil C wanted to remember them all. We haven't finished making frames for all of them yet, but I wanted to share what we had. 
We created some papel picado using the templates I shared in the last post (you can find them here


We also made little nicho boxes to display our new photos. See how we made our boxes and get a free template to make your own at Day of the Dead Altar - Nicho Boxes.

The last craft we added were these adorable origami flowers. You can make your own origami flowers along with Leyla Torres.

In addition to creating our altar, our yearly traditions include making foods that my mom loved and used to make for us, looking at old photos and videos, and telling stories or singing songs that remind us of her. In this way, we've managed to turn a difficult and sad time of the year into a loving uplifting celebration. If you have lost someone very close, I hope you find some inspiration here to get through that difficult time of year <3





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  This cute little frame is our homemade version of a nicho box. You can read more about them at Zinnia Fold Arts . In this post I will show...

Day of the Dead Altar - Nicho Boxes

 

This cute little frame is our homemade version of a nicho box. You can read more about them at Zinnia Fold Arts. In this post I will show you how we made them and give you a free template to make your own (yay! Doesn't everyone love free??).

Supplies needed:

Nicho box template

Cardstock (white and/or colored)

Scissors

Glue stick

Hot glue gun

Markers/crayons/pencils or whatever you want for decorating your box

2"x3" photos of your loved ones


Instructions:

1. Print out page 1 of the template on whatever color of cardstock you like. 

2. Cut out the shape and fold along the lines on the top, bottom, and side flaps.

3. Use the glue stick to attach a photo on top of the gray rectangle at the center.

4. I found the best way to assemble the box was to fold over the top flap and place a dot of hot glue in each corner. Repeat with the bottom flap. 


5. Next, fold the side flaps up and glue them down at the top and bottom. 

6. Print out pages 2 and 3 of the template, decorate the frames, cut them out and glue them over the top of the box.
This nicho box was made to remember my brother's dog - Lil C decided to decorate it with doggy designs. 

And there you have it! A personalized, inexpensive way to display photos of your loved ones!



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With only a week left before November, it's time to talk about Dia de los Muertos! This week's topic holds a special place in my hea...

Read and Rise Book Club - October 2020 Week 4

With only a week left before November, it's time to talk about Dia de los Muertos! This week's topic holds a special place in my heart - but we'll get into more detail about that later this week. For now, I just want to introduce everyone to the holiday. It is celebrated in Mexico and is NOT Mexican Halloween. It is a loving and joyous celebration that honors and remembers departed family members. It's believed that the passageway between our world and the spirit world is open on November 1st and 2nd so families make their loved ones' favorite meals and drinks and then feast, dance and sing! If you want to learn more, dayofthedead.holiday has a lot of great information. Now, on to our story.


Featured story: "El Dia de los Muertos" by Bob Barner


Activity: Papel picado are paper decorations often used to decorate ofrendas (altars) and hung in the streets during Dia de los Muertos. They are made in a similar way to paper snowflakes - you fold paper and then cut out little shapes. I have two tutorials to share with you today. The first is from Deep Space Sparkle and shows you step by step how to make your own papel picado. If you want specific templates, you can find a few here at Think.Make.Share


Once you've made some papel picado decorations, find a spot to hang them along with some photos of family members you would like to remember and celebrate <3

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Lil C and Squidgy finished their Frida Kahlo-inspired self-portraits!  Inspired by Frida's exotic pets, Lil C decided to include her dre...

Frida Kahlo-inspired Jungle Self-Portraits

Lil C and Squidgy finished their Frida Kahlo-inspired self-portraits! 

Inspired by Frida's exotic pets, Lil C decided to include her dream pets in her portrait - dragons (Toothless and a Night Light to be specific)!


Squidgy was not motivated to color and draw too much but he did cut out a picture of a jaguar to sit on his shoulder and did not forget to draw extra long eyelashes!

If you missed the Read and Rise post about Frida Kahlo, you can find it here: Read and Rise Book Club - October 2020 Week 3

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I was thrilled to discover "Our Era is Now" by Zoe Yu - Zoe is only 15 years old and such an inspiration for all our children! I&#...

'Our Era is Now' by Zoe Yu Book Review

I was thrilled to discover "Our Era is Now" by Zoe Yu - Zoe is only 15 years old and such an inspiration for all our children! I'll be honest, when I was 15, the only things I was really worrying about were not being super awkward for the rest of high school and stressing about maintaining my GPA. It was a different world 20-25 years ago. Without social media, streaming TV, instant access to hundreds of news outlets, and the ability to Google anything you're wondering about, it was easier for our world's problems to get swept under the rug and for us to remain ignorant. I was admittedly naïve and ignorant - I thought things like racism and sexism were largely in the past and the biggest problems facing the planet were littering and oil spills. 


Today's youth are growing up in the age of information. I don't think I knew a quarter of the things my children know when I was their age. But this access to information also gives them more power - power to start making a positive impact on their community. And that is exactly what Zoe Yu has done. She has taken this information and compiled it into a book that reminds us all that though change may not be easy, it is absolutely possible. As I read the book with my children, we learned about many women that none of us had ever heard of before and one of our favorites, Frida Kahlo. After reading, we were so intrigued by Filipino banana ketchup that we had to research to find out exactly what it was! The book is a fantastic starting point and resource for a study of influential and groundbreaking women. It is also a big step in what I believe will be an amazing writing career for young Zoe Yu <3


"Our Era is Now" is perfect if you want to learn about women's history. There are a lot of inspiring people in this book. My favorite is Frida Kahlo. I like Frida Kahlo because she did amazing art and she fought for women's rights. She helped women who live now like me. Thank you to every woman who fought for women's rights. - Scarlett Mae, 10


Grab your copy of "Our Era is Now: 14 Remarkable Women Who Rewrote History" by Zoe Yu today!

https://www.amazon.com/Our-Era-Now-Remarkable-Rewrote-ebook/dp/B08GLCXKSC/

 

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  I'm so happy to say that my second Latin dessert attempt went SO much better than the first! The tres leches cake went off without a h...

Tres Leches Cake

 

I'm so happy to say that my second Latin dessert attempt went SO much better than the first! The tres leches cake went off without a hitch (at least mostly)! I used this recipe from Delish D'Lites.


The first step was to make the cake batter. The only issue I had came when I was trying to separate the whites and yolks - I almost never have any problems doing this but for some reason my first two eggs decided to be difficult and my yolks broke when I cracked open the eggs and fell into my bowl. But I was able to scoop up just about all of the yolk and my whites whipped up beautifully! 


The batter was so light and fluffy it reminded me of a perfect mousse. I kind of wanted to take a big bite of it! But that definitely would not have tasted very good...


After the cake was cool, Lil C and Squidgy helped make holes in the cake with toothpicks and I poured the tres leches mixture (evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream) over the top. The final step was to make a whipped cream topping - it turned the cake into a delicious fluffy cloud.


Everyone gobbled up the cake so I think it's safe to say it tasted as good as it looked. It may involve a number of steps, but it's actually pretty easy so don't be intimidated by it - give it a try!

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We continued our week of recycled instruments by making a maraca/shaker and a guiro. First, we painted two empty water bottles. After they d...

DIY Maraca/Shaker and Guiro


We continued our week of recycled instruments by making a maraca/shaker and a guiro. First, we painted two empty water bottles. After they dried, we filled one about halfway with beans and screwed the top back on to make the shaker. The other one we left as it was and grabbed an unsharpened pencil to rub along the side of the bottle to create that guiro-like sound. If you're not familiar with the guiro, the following video will introduce you to it, along with the cowbell, bongos, and congas.




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This week our spotlight is on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. She is one of our favorites! How she overcame tragedy and suffering with art is an...

'Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos' - Read and Rise October 2020

This week our spotlight is on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. She is one of our favorites! How she overcame tragedy and suffering with art is an inspiring story and you can't help but love her bright flowers, thick eyebrows, and menagerie of animals. If you want to learn more about Frida Kahlo, I guarantee your local library has some great books and if you have Netflix, there is a "Who Was" episode featuring Frida.


The story we will be reading and this week's activity highlight Frida's unusual collection of exotic pets. We hope you love this story as much as we do!


Featured story: "Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos" by Monica Brown



Activity: Create your own self-portrait with animals! Fill the background with bright colorful leaves and your favorite animals - they could be your pets or whatever animals you love best!


Here is a tutorial explaining how exactly to make this self-portrait from Leah Newton Art.


As you create your portraits, I hope you take a minute to appreciate your own beauty, even if it's not what popular culture deems most beautiful - just like Frida's thick bushy eyebrows. There is beauty in imperfection <3

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I love flan and have successfully made a pumpkin flan in the past for Thanksgiving. So when it was time to try some Latin desserts during Hi...

Flan de Coco Flop


I love flan and have successfully made a pumpkin flan in the past for Thanksgiving. So when it was time to try some Latin desserts during Hispanic Heritage month in the Read and Rise Book Club, I knew I had to make flan. I decided to try out this recipe for Flan de Coco (Coconut Cream Cheese Flan) because cream cheese and coconut are two things I absolutely love. 


Disclaimer: Flan is the Latin version of cheesecake. When it's made right it's so silky and creamy and unbelievably delicious. But like cheesecake, flan can be fickle and difficult and a huge pain in the butt. 


I started out positive and motivated thinking, it'll take me about a half hour to get this in the oven and then I can go do my yoga and play with the kids before lunch. Correction: it took at least an hour and a half, probably two hours when you add in cleaning up. So what happened? This is what happened.


I started out with caramel that was not cooperating. I swear it looked like this for a good half hour as it boiled and I stirred so it wouldn't burn. Sub-quality sugar? Maybe. Heat too low? Possibly. The wrong size pan? Perhaps. I've made caramel before but it can be a tricky thing and I am by no means an expert.


Eventually the water evaporated and I had a pot of dry looking sugar again (I'm not sure if this is supposed to happen, but it's definitely happened to me before). I tried to just keep stirring and stirring while the sugar melted but I had a big chunk that just solidified and stuck to the bottom. I tried to break it up as much as I could so it would melt...

Eventually I had most of the sugar melted back down so into the pan it went! I had read elsewhere that a 8-9" pie/cake pan was good to use if you didn't have an official flan pan so I went with my 9" pie dish.

These are the sugar chunks that didn't make it...they were rock solid.

At this point I was exhausted from making the caramel and I just wanted to finish so there are no more photos of the cooking process. I threw all the flan ingredients into the blender, mixed it all up, and started pouring into the pan. And then my pie dish was full...but the blender was still half full...Seriously?! The flan in the picture didn't look that big! What do I do now? Improvise. I grabbed a rectangular glass baking dish, coated it with cooking spray and poured the rest of the custard in. I put both dishes in a water bath and stuck them in the oven - not knowing how long I should bake it because clearly my pan was smaller than the one used in the recipe. I started with 60 minutes then kept checking and adding 10 minutes. What I didn't realize was that the water under the rectangular dish had evaporated because near the end I was only checking the round one...

So without further ado, here are my flans. The round one seemed to come out mostly how it should have. It was caramel-y and creamy and delicious.

The other one? It was definitely overcooked and though the flavor was good, the texture was off and not quite so creamy...but, if there's one thing I try to remind myself and my children, it's that our brains don't grow when we do things right. Our brains only grow when we make mistakes. In conclusion, I think my brain grew a bunch today.




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Welcome to Week 2 of Hispanic Heritage month! This week is all about Latin music - but it may not be what you were expecting. There are a lo...

'Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay' - Read and Rise October 2020

Welcome to Week 2 of Hispanic Heritage month! This week is all about Latin music - but it may not be what you were expecting. There are a lot of well known types of Latin music like cumbia, merengue, reggaeton, rumba, salsa, samba, and tango. And we could spend months talking about them all! But today I'm going to share an amazing story about an orchestra from Paraguay. 


The story starts in a little town in Paraguay called Cateura, where people lived alongside a large landfill. Most families spent their days digging through the landfill looking for things they could resell. Children were pulled out of school when they were old enough to help work in the landfill. It was not really much of a life. And then Favio Chavez arrived to work as an environmental engineer. When he saw all the children who lived there, he got the idea to begin teaching them music in his free time. But they ran into 2 problems: they did not have enough instruments for all the children and the children could not bring the instruments home to practice because quality instruments were worth a lot more than anything else in the town and would likely be stolen. So Chavez teamed up with Cola Gomez, a talented carpenter from the neighborhood, to create instruments out of things they found in the landfill. Fast forward and the Recycled Orchestra has grown and performed in other countries - even backing up Metallica and Stevie Wonder! Money the orchestra has earned in touring has gone into building safer homes for orchestra members and, maybe more importantly, children and the value of their education is more respected now in Cateura. 


I was so inspired by this story, the resourcefulness and the perseverance of everyone involved, that I HAD to share it. I hope you all love this story as much as I do!


Featured story: "Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay" by Susan Hood

YouTube read aloud

Watch the Recycled Orchestra play alone here

And with Metallica here

Ted Talk (watch from 2:20-5:00 to see how they made several of the instruments) 


Activity: Throughout this week we will be making our own recycled instruments! First up, the cowbell! Cowbells are a percussion instrument used in Latin music and you can make one at home very easily! All I did was take a clean empty can and tape a cardboard handle to the top. You do need to find something thicker to tap the cowbell with - pencils are too thin and do not produce a good sound. I used a wooden toddler paintbrush but a drumstick or even thick stick found outside should work as well! 

We will probably paint the can later to make it a little more beautiful.

We found that simply holding the sides of the can while you play produces a nice deep sound. When your hand doesn't touch the can at all and just holds the handle, you get a more tinny echoey sound.

To play, I tapped the brush along the open end of the can. Feel free to experiment holding the bell in different ways and tapping in different spots until you find the sound you like best!

And if you can handle some loud cowbell (or have some earplugs handy), turn on this children's music video called "More Cowbell" by Joanie Leeds and let your kids jam along!







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Today it's time for dinner! The recipe linked at the end of this post lists bistec encebollado as a Cuban dish, but some research led m...

Bistec Encebollado, Platanos, and Tostadas

Today it's time for dinner! The recipe linked at the end of this post lists bistec encebollado as a Cuban dish, but some research led me to discover that most Latin countries have their own variation of it. The same applies to the tostones and platanos maduros - the recipes below are from Dominican and Columbian cooking sites but plantains are served all over Latin American and the Caribbean. All I know is that tostones and platanos maduros are both DELICIOUS and I'm not sure if I've ever gotten food from a Latin restaurant without getting one or both plantain dishes!


Our local grocery store only had yellow plantains so we weren't able to make tostones, but we did make bistec and platanos maduros along with Mexican tostadas. We've never had bistec encebollado and it is a simple recipe but the flavor is amazing!


You can look up a recipe for tostadas but I did not use one. I simply fried some corn tortillas in about a 1/4" of oil until they were crispy and then we topped them with homemade refried beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and queso fresco. Squidgy opted out of the lettuce and tomato but he inhaled his tostada and wanted another! I think I'll have to keep both tostadas and bistec encebollado in our regular meal rotation. I hope you try some or all of these recipes!



Bistec encebollado: https://www.cookedbyjulie.com/bistec-encebollado/

Tostones: https://www.dominicancooking.com/301-tostones-flattened-fried-plantains.html

Platanos maduros: https://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/fried-sweet-plantain-tajadas-de-platano



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Homemade refried beans may be easier than you think! I cooked up a big batch so we'd have some for chilaquiles and tostadas this weeken...

Instant Pot Refried Beans

Homemade refried beans may be easier than you think! I cooked up a big batch so we'd have some for chilaquiles and tostadas this weekend. I make them in the instant pot and freeze the beans in 2-cup portions in quart freezer bags. Squidgy likes to call my refried and black beans "chocolate beans" so we've started adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder to both recipes. For some reason the beans look extra dark and chocolatey after I moved them into the bowl!


Here's the recipe I use: https://www.thespruceeats.com/instant-pot-refried-beans-4140600



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