Saturday, October 31, 2009


I haven't been around for the past couple of days as I have been sick with the flu...and I already had a flu shot about a month ago. All I can think of is that it is H1N1. But since I am not compromised in any other way, I am not seeing severe symptoms. But this is truly how I have felt...OK and looked! I'll be back up to snuff in a couple more days!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lemon Shortbread Bars...Buttery Good!

I got this recipe out of my Cooking Pleasures magazine. It is a dense and very good cookie. When I decided to make these, I realized that I was out of lemons but had an orange. Well, it's citrus, so I tried it. The result was excellent. The orange flavor is just so subtle. Now if you make the recipe and put it in a 15x10-inch rimmed baking sheet sprayed with PAM, you get a thinner bar. Bake them for 25 minutes or until golden. Drizzle with melted white chocolate and let stand until set. This was a suggestion in the magazine. Since I used orange flavor, I used melted milk chocolate. You might also dip these in chocolate, at an angle on one end would be pretty. I am thinking of adding this to the Christmas cookie platter, and use colored sanding sugar for the top on some of them.

Lemon Shortbread Bars
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened, cut up
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil; spray foil with cooking spray. Whisk flour, 1 cup of the sugar, lemon peel and salt in large bowl.
2. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Press dough into pan; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and top is golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
24 bars

Friday, October 23, 2009


It's spooky Halloween food day and these are about the easiest things to make that the kids will love! These can be made ahead and the kids can help. It's especially fun to set it up as an assembly line! As you can see, when you put a bunch of these on a plate, they look a little eerie.
But it is a great way to get those veggies into the kids bellies while having a little fun! For a really gross looking plate that the kids will love...I have found that the grosser looking and sounding, the better....put these on a plate and surround them with blobs of jellied cranberry sauce. Eyeballs in a bloody head! YUK!

Edible Eyeballs

Here is what you need:

  • Carrots

  • Whipped or regular Cream Cheese

  • Pitted Black Olives, cut in half

Simply slice the carrots into 1-inch thick chunks. Top each with a blob of cream cheese and one half of a black olive. Serve.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2 Giveaways 2 !!!!!!!

First....make sure to scroll down to enter the cute giveaway that I have that is offered by the Susan B. Komen Foundation....really cute bag...nice for a few work out items...a great travel coffee mug, key chain, charm bracelet and note cards.

Second....pop on over to
Quincy Cottage for the cutest apron giveaway! It would be a perfect touch for cooking your Thanksgiving dinner!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It's time to make one of my two favorite Autumn goodies....Pumpkin Dip. This, my friends, is as easy as (pumpkin) pie. If you use Neufchatel cheese you cut down on the fat grams. I haven't tried it, but I am wondering about using brown sugar Splenda in this. It would change the texture a bit, but at least cut down on the sugar. I have served this with many types of dippers....cinnamon grahams, ginger snaps, graham "pretzels". But my favorite is with pie crust cut-outs...for the obvious is like a little bite of pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin Dip
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 can (15-oz) solid pack pumpkin
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Gradually add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and ginger; beat until smooth. Served chilled. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 3 1/2 cups of dip.

I ususally serve this with pie crust cut outs. Roll Pillsbury ready pie crust just a bit thinner. Take a pumpkin cookie cutter or something fall-like and make as many as you can. I kept re-rolling the scraps as far as I could go. I sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar and baked on parchment for just a few minutes until they started to look golden. Cool and keep them in a tight container until ready to serve. Dip is also good with gingersnaps.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month/Giveaway

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Blogspark asked me to introduce you to an online community on MySpace where those touched by breast cancer can connect and provide support, comfort, and encouragement to one another. Many of us have been touched by this disease through family, friends, or maybe you may be a survivor.

On everyone can share hope by posting and reading inspiring stories of breast cancer survivors and supporters within the community. The site is part of Pink Together®, a national campaign to support those impacted by breast cancer and to help raise awareness of the disease. To support Pink Together, General Mills is donating $2 million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and is turning the packaging pink in October, on an assortment of its most beloved brands. General Mills will also donate $1, up to $20,000, each time you post a comment of encouragement, send a virtual flower bouquet or share a story on in October.

Please visit and read some of the inspiring stories. You can also watch these short videos from the 2009 Pink Together Survivor Ambassadors talking about their journeys with breast cancer.

Blogspark has provided me with an Inspiring Hope gift basket that includes a sleeved travel mug, a running ribbon charm bracelet, a pink leather strap keychain, a pink cinch bag, and a set of inspirational note cards. All of the gift basket items are from, where 25 percent of the merchandise purchase price benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure® in the fight against breast cancer.

I also have one additional to give away to a lucky reader.

To qualify, all you have to do is:

  • Tell me which woman inspires you the most and why.

  • What did you find most interesting on the website?

Answering both questions will give you 2 chances to win and if you mention it on your blog, and tell me about it, you will get an extra chance.

Contest ends Monday at midnight, May 26th! Good luck!

Stuffed Chicken Breast...2 Dinners!

My husband and I stayed in to watch a movie on pay-per-view Saturday evening. Since we always seem to be on the go, it was a good feeling to know we could enjoy a beautiful day and just relax at home in the evening. With that decision made, it also meant I had to come up with a dinner idea!! I had been looking through my magazine from my Cook's Club and had seen this recipe. Since I didn't want to go to the store, I managed to find everything I needed right in the freezer and pantry. I thawed some chicken breasts and when I was ready to cook, I gathered all my ingredients and started to create. What we ended up with was a delicious and colorful platter of chicken, rice and vegetables....simple, yet with a bit of a flair! And if you have leftover chicken like we did , you can slice it in pieces and serve it over a beautiful salad for dinner the following day, with a dressing of your choice! Sprinkle with toasted pecans and serve with a crusty bread and a cold bottle of white wine! Also, if you have leftover rice, you can add some butter to a frying pan, add an egg, scramble it and add the rice...instanly you have some fried rice!!

Stuffed Chicken with Rice and Vegetables

4 chicken breasts, rinsed and dried
1/2 slice of pancetta (or you can use a strip or two of bacon)
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs (if you don't have these, add some dried parsley and oregano to the breadcrumbs)
3-4 slices Deli-sliced provolone cheese, chopped
1-1/2 Tbsp fresh sage (I didn''t have this so I just sprinkled in some dried sage, but not a Tbsp of it...maybe a tsp.)
1to 2 cups cooked rice
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2-3/4 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 cup non-fat chicken broth
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saute pan, saute the chopped pancetta until starting to get crisp and add chopped shallots. Saute until shallots are soft. Add 1 tsp butter and add breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring constantly until breadcrumbs turn toasty brown. Remove from heat and put into a bowl. Let cool 2-3 minutes. Add chopped provolone and mix together.

Cut a pocket in each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. Salt and pepper each breast inside and out. Stuff each breast with 1/4 of the breadcrumb mixture. Close the pockets with toothpicks. In a frying pan, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. (you can use the same pan you cook the breadcrumb mixture in). Carefully add the chicken and sear both sides. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and place in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Prepare cooked rice according to directions.

While rice is cooking and chicken is in the oven, add chopped onion to large frying pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Saute until onion is soft. Add frozen mixed vegetables, add salt and pepper and sage to taste and saute until cooked through.

When rice is done and right before serving. add rice to pan with 1 Tbsp butter and saute for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. You may have to add more salt and pepper.

Remove chicken from oven, and remove toothpicks prior to serving. In the same saute pan you cooked the breadcrumb mixture, add balsamic vinegar and cook until it starts to turn syrupy. Add chicken broth and cook until it starts to look thicker. Remove from heat and whisk in a pat of butter. To serve, place rice mixture on platter, place chicken breasts on top of the rice and spoon the sauce over the top of the entire platter. Garnish with a little fresh parsley and serve.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Parmesan Breadstick Broomsticks

It's time for another wicked Halloween treat! This week's idea was found in the Oct 23rd issue of All You. These are really a fun way to serve bread with your meal during Halloween week. While the recipe calls for frozen pizza dough, I buy mine fresh from a local bakery. I have made twisted breadsticks with pizza dough before, but this gives an added touch to your spooky celebration. So put on your witch's hat and serve up a cauldron of steaming soup or stew with these tasty little brooms! You'll sweep everyone off their feet with this clever creation!

Two 1-lb pieces frozen pizza dough, thawed
2 Tbsp milk (skim is fine)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (make sure you are using a fresh Parmesan)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

On a lightly floured countertop or board, roll each piece of dough into a 6 x 10-inch rectangle. With a floured chef's knife cut each rectangle into six 10-inch strips. Make 3-inch lengthwise cut at one end of each strip, 1/4-inch apart, to form broom straws. Twist and pull uncut portion of strips to form a broom handle. (Each broomstick will be about 15 inches long.) Gently transfer broomsticks to prepared baking sheet; place at least 2-inches apart. Separate cuts ends. (For this step, I did all the work on the baking sheet so I did not have to move anything that long before baking.) Brush broomsticks with milk and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden, 15-18 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Too Many Butterfingers?

If you have kids, and they go trick-or-treating, how many Butterfingers candy bars do you see in those bags?
Lots....and well, as long as there are so many, you have to sneak one here and there. Or you can be like my household where we get anywhere between 350-400 kids on Halloween. We try to have enough candy to give out. But there is always an ample amount left over. I usually take that extra candy to work the day after Halloween so it isn't singing our names behind the cupboard doors.

But what else can you do with those left over Butterfingers? This is amazingly easy! I always have a couple cake mixes in the pantry for a quick way to make a dessert when I need one.

This recipe starts with a yellow cake mix. You need Butterfingers candy bars and some frosting. Make your own, or buy a can of frosting. Whatever you like. Send these to school for a special class treat or take them to work. OR, eat them all yourself! :-) The best part is that you got to use of some of those Butterfingers!!
Butterfingers Cupcakes
1 18.25 box yellow cake mix (or you can use chocolate)
3 2.1- oz. Butterfingers candy bars , chopped and divided (if you have those little bars, use the equivalent)
1 12-oz container prepared chocolate or vanilla frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare cake mix batter according to package directions; stir in 1/2 cup chopped Butterfingers.
Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or unti wooded pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool completely. Frost.
Sprinkle frosting with remaining chopped Butterfingers.
And don't forget to vote for me on the right hand side of this blog!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's The Great Pumpkin...

I am really in the pumpkin mode this month! I can remember not being fond of anything pumpkin when I was small. It certainly wasn't the color because I liked carrots. I just didn't want to try anything in the squash family. As I got older, I started to branch out and become more "daring"! Now I love all kinds of squash, but I love the versatility of pumpkin. You can make a soup, make a dip, make a pie, decorate with them, eat their seeds or make a scary jack-o-lantern. And from what I have seen on other blogs, there are some great looking recipes and decorating ideas, all using those beautiful orange pumpkins. Pumpkins are also good for you! Pumpkin is really low in calories, it is very rich in potassium, the bright orange flesh of pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and essential fatty acids.
My post for today doesn't contain pumpkin, but you make it into the shape of a pumpkin. It comes out of the October, 2009 issue of Southern Living, and is called The Great White Pumpkin Cheese Ball. The recipe calls for all extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, but the footnote states that for the photo, they used both orange and white, and I love the look of it. I am going to try it using low-fat cheeses to see how it holds up, but I think it should do fine. And I might just add a touch of crushed red pepper to give it more pizzazz. This looks like a very cute addition for your Halloween party table and the best part is that you can make it up to 2 days ahead of serving!

Makes 12 Appetizer Servings

2 10-oz blocks extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (I am going to use the low-fat shredded packages for testing)
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened (I am using Philly Neufchatal)
2 4-oz goat cheese logs (also low-fat)
1/2 tsp. pepper
Braided pretzel, grape vine and leaf (or use something similar from the craft store)
Crackers and assorted vegetables

Stir together first 4 ingredients. Shape mixture into a ball to resemble a pumpkin. Smooth pumpkin's entire surface with a metal spatula or table knife. Make vertical grooves in ball, if desired, using fingertips (to resemble the lines of a pumpkin). Press pretzel into top of cheese ball to resemble a pumpkin stem and place leaf and vine beside pretzel. Serve with crackers and assorted vegetables. If making ahead, decorate with stem and vine right before serving.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Walnut Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe was shared by a friend a few years ago. She brought it into work for us to try and we were all in heaven. Not to mention we all had to have the recipe. This is a showstopper. If you want to impress your guests...this is it! What really surprises is that it is relatively easy to make! The cheesecake is so delicious, but it should be with the addition of heavy cream!! While there is nothing low in calories in this recipe, if you have several guests, this goes a long way. Because of its richness, the slices don't have to be big to be satisfying. (Nothing has to be the size of what you get at the Cheesecake Factory!) Want to dazzle up the presentation? Drizzle some melted white chocolate on the plate before serving and dust with a little nutmeg. You'll be a rock star when you serve this. It is also a great recipe to bring along to a fall dinner party when you are asked to bring a dessert.

Walnut Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 6-oz pkg zwieback crackers, crushed (1 ½ cups)
¼ cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted
3 8-oz. Pkgs cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 eggs
1 16-oz can mashed pumpkin
1 ¼ tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
Walnut Topping:
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Crust: Blend crumbs with sugar and butter in bowl. Press over bottom and up sides of a lightly buttered springform pan. Chill.
Cheesecake: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugars, beating to mix well. Beat in eggs one at a time till light and fluffy. Beat in pie spice, cream and pumpkin at low speed. Pour into prepared crust. Bake in oven at 325 degrees F. for 1 ½ hours.
Walnut Topping: Mix butter, brown sugar and walnuts; sprinkle over cheesecake and bake 10 more minutes. Chill and serve.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And The Winners Are......

The countdown is over and the two winners of the great Yoplait giveaways are Patsy from Family, Friends & Food and Rebecca from Chow and Chatter !!!! Congratulations to both of you and enjoy the goodness that Yoplait brings as well as a super yoga mat to cushion yourselves while you are stretching!

Great Giveaway...check it out!

For some really unique and cute items, you have to go to This Southern Girl's Nest .

She is offering a chance to win a beautiful pendant from Madison Reece Designs ~ Review and Giveaway and you can read all about it if you just click on the link!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CHEDDAR PUMPKINS's the end of the week and time for the Halloween food ideas. Last week we had those ghastly witch fingers. This week we have a cute and clever idea courtesy of Betty Crocker. I made a bunch of these little pumpkins for an adult party and everyone loved them. You just pop them in your mouth. But this is a great project to do with the kids. They are nice little bites and can be a good after school snack or a cute snack to serve when your kids are having a play date! Now half the fun with these is making sure you make them look like they are sitting in the pumpkin patch! Sit back and just watch them get picked!! Enjoy and have a great weekend.
Also, to all of you who wrote to wish me a Happy Birthday....many thanks!! And don't forget to sign up for the giveaway which ends tomorrow!!

8 tablespoons smoked Cheddar firm cold pack cheese food (from 8-oz container), well chilled
2 teaspoons finely chopped peanuts
4 butter-flavored pretzel spindles or sticks, broken in half
16 tiny pieces fresh parsley leaves
This will make 8 pumpkins so you need to double or triple the ingredients for more.Directions
Line small serving plate with waxed paper.
Roll each level tablespoon cold pack cheese food into a ball; place on waxed paper-lined serving plate.
Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes for easier handling.
With end of toothpick, draw ridges around balls to resemble pumpkins.
Dip bottoms of cheese balls in chopped peanuts.
Just before serving, insert pretzel halves into cheese balls for pumpkin stems. Decorate with parsley for leaves.
Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin-Spiced Gingerbread Truffles

Yesterday was my birthday....
can't believe the number! But, I certainly don't feel the number...OK, well maybe sometimes!
And I would like to forget the number....
where is the senior moment when I really need it?
And another thing....walking around with a cast on my leg is making me look pretty lame...definitely not pretty! What do I have to be grateful for on my 58th? My husband and 3 wonderful stepchildren, their spouses and our grandkids, my parents and my mother-in-law are still with us and doing quite well. My brother and SIL, my in-laws, our relatively good health and the fact that we can still exercise and feel good about it! Our warm, comfy home and our cute kitty who makes us laugh every day. These are the true riches in my life and what makes this birthday a good one. So what did I do for my birthday? I BAKED! No not my own cake!! I had volunteered to participate in a bake sale at work which will benefit our Breast Cancer Awareness Week and the Susan B. Komen Foundation. The fact that it was the day after my birthday was going to make it dice-y. So I took a half day of vacation and spent it doing something I like to do and knowing it was for a good cause. I baked the SUNDAY BAKER 's Chocolate Chunk Malt Cookies which have become my husband's favorite cookie, COLEEN's RECIPES Best Butterscotch Bake Sale Cookies, Dozen Flours Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars and made some Pumpkin Gingerbread Truffles. I packaged 3 to a Trick or Treat Zip Lock bag and piled them all in baskets. Oh gosh they looked so festive if I say so myself. It was a fun day for me instead of sitting behind my desk all day. And it was my contribution to a worthwhile cause. I don't need anything so giving back is more meaningful at this stage of my life. My husband took me for Greek food for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, which was the little break I took. Then it was back home to finish up the baking and clean up the kitchen. Whew....I finally finished at 9:45 PM. Recipe for today? Those truffles....OMG.

1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup chopped gingersnaps (about 10 cookies)
1/3 cup finely crushed gingersnaps (about 7 cookies) and/or 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In medium bowl combine chocolate pieces, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla.
2. In medium microwave-safe bowl place whipping cream. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 70 seconds or until boiling (or place cream in saucepan and bring just to boiling. ) Pour cream over chocolate mixture. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Stir in chopped gingersnaps. Cover; refrigerate 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until firm but soft enough to form into balls.
3. Place crushed gingersnaps and/or cocoa powder in small bowl(s). Using a small spoon, scoop 1-tablespoon portions of truffle mixture and shape into balls. Roll in crushed gingersnaps or cocoa powder to coat. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store, covered, in refrigerator, up to 3 days. Makes 20 to 25 truffles.


Checkout this blog for the cutest cupcake holders for Halloween.

Monday, October 5, 2009


This is a Paula Deen recipe (Photo from Food Network) and the first time I had this was at a harvest dinner party. My friend is a huge Paula fan and a wonderful cook. Her presentation was beautiful and this was just the right touch for ending a meal. Make this in your prettiest glass bowl. If it is footed it makes it more spectacular. When I make this, I scoop it into pretty glass bowls with 2 thinly sliced pear slices on the side. That adds a white palette to make the trifle look even more striking. And if you are really feeling decadent, serve with cordial glasses of ice wine. It will make the dessert go from ordinary to memorable! And speaking of a harvest table, make sure you use candlelight, gourds and autumn leaves on the table. Your tablescape is your signature and will welcome your guests for the delicious meal that is ahead. Happy Autumn!!

Gingerbread Trifle
One 14-ounce package gingerbread mix
One 5.1-ounce package cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
One 30-ounce can pumpkin pie filling
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
One 12-ounce carton Cool Whip
½ cup gingersnaps (optional)
Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding.
Crumble half batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, clear bowl.
Pour ½ of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped cream.
Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps if desired. Refrigerate overnight.
Can be layered in a punch bowl.
Yield: 20 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy

Friday, October 2, 2009

Creepy Witches Fingers...Getting Ready for Halloween!

Can you believe that Halloween is 4 weeks away? And it is on Saturday this year!! I don't know about anyone else, but we have a very busy neighborhood on Halloween. It is not unusual for us to see 300-400 kids come through. AND that is after the party at the local firehouse which is designed so that kids don't have to walk from house to house. So we just plan accordingly every year. It is fun to see the little ones as they are always so excited. And a little later the teenagers come covered in shaving cream. I always like to tell them how pretty they smell! The boys always laugh...nervously! But they are good about not getting it on the house!

So it's time to start planning for this eerie holiday. I love to put pumpkins around...never carved, just hanging out in the landscaping. And this year I found a great witch's hat with feathers around the brim...very chic! Once a week, I am going to post a Halloween recipe that I have tried and has always been successful. Kitty litter cake is not an option here, readers! Have you ever seen this? YUK! But I do have a few fun things that I love to do and I am going to share these with you in the upcoming weeks. So get your party planning hats on and start developing your party. I have a very simple old witch's hat that I bought at the dollar store a few years ago. I cover the brim with saran wrap and pile these cookies around it. These really do look creepy!

Creepy Witches' Fingers
Yield: 5 dozen
1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Icing sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Almond extract
1 tsp Vanilla
2 2/3 cups Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Almonds, whole blanched
1 Tube red decorator gel

Gross everyone out with these creepy cookies. In bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking soda, and salt. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Working with one quarter of the dough at a time and keeping remainder refrigerated, roll heaping teaspoonful of dough into finger shape for each cookie.

Press almond firmly into 1 end for nail. Squeeze in centre to create knuckle shape. (It should look like a long rolled shape with bulge at centre for knuckle; you puff it out rather than squeeze it in.)

Using paring knife, make slashes in several places to form knuckle. Place on lightly greased baking sheets; bake in 325F (160C) oven for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden. Let cool for 3 minutes.

Lift up almond, squeeze red decorator gel onto nail bed and press almond back in place, so gel oozes out from underneath. You can also make slashes in the finger and fill them with "blood." (ed. note - I opted not to go for the bloody effect and my guests are still grossed out! ) You can also use some melted chocolate and pipe some thinly around the edge of the almond. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on racks. Repeat with remaining dough.