Nov 112010

What makes them last minute? Me (of course)…and the fact that I got the “baking bug” at eight o’clock at night. What makes them easy? The fact that I had  all the ingredients on hand (seriously, how often does that happen?).

Halloween can be a hectic time: coordinating costumes, buying candy, carving pumpkins and decorating.
Even with all that going on, there’s nothing I like better then adding a little last minute baking stress to really get the blood pumping.

I was given a cute, mini pumpkin cake pan by Uncle Jim right before Halloween and decided to take it for a test drive. In addition to the standard baking staples, I always keep a white cake mix on hand and a block of cream cheese in the fridge. Philadelphia cream cheese seems to last forever, (it must be related to the Twinkie, because even when the date has passed, it’s always perfectly fine). When I found a can of pumpkin at the back of the cupboard mini pumpkin cakes with cream cheese frosting were born…wooohoo!!!!

They were easy, yummy, and festive (what more could you ask for?). I used some old icing pens to draw the features on the pumpkins (which explains why they looked like my 2 year old drew them). They were iced in record time and my goal was accomplished. It feels good to let go of the perfection (that’s the old me). Now it’s all about  the “doing”.  The mini-cakes were a  fun way to wind up our pumpkin carving party.

Note: The adults had more fun at the pumpkin carving party than the child did.

Another Note: If  you use a cake mix you are supposed to get 24-28 mini cakes out of this Wilton cake pan. Somehow, I got only 9 which made me laugh pretty hard. I used too much batter and really had to trim the heck out of the cakes. I’ll do better next time.

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

This nifty little recipes is probably more appreciated by the adults than the kiddies. You can use a spice cake mix and omit the pumpkin spice if you like. This is not a light and airy cake. It is heavy and moist and tastes similar to a pumpkin pie in flavor.

1 (18.25 ounce) package white or golden cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 tsp pumpkin spice mix


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, canned pumpkin, pumpkin spice mix and  eggs until well blended.
  4. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. 
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool and serve, or store in the refrigerator. This tastes even better the next day.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Yellow and red food coloring


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.
  2. Mix in the vanilla and food colouring.
  3. Gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
  4. Store in the refrigerator after use.
Sep 232010


What do you serve at a monkey party for a 2 year old?

Let’s face it, people can only eat so many bananas and toddlers aren’t going to eat much. With that in mind, I decided on food with a Mexican/tropical/monkey flare that was simple and tasty. Don’t worry, I threw a few bananas into the mix for fun, I couldn’t help myself.

A short, afternoon party (2 -5pm) meant I had to get all the food out at the beginning and be ready to replenish if necessary.

The menu looked something like this:

The Verdict:

The meatballs were a hit….not my favorite thing but I figured “the men folk” needed something substantial to gnaw on. I made 60 and they disappeared…poof! I have no idea where they went? It’s a good thing I ate one before they left the kitchen (quality control…wink, wink). I used frozen meatballs and added a 1/4 cup of grated onion to the sauce outlined in the recipe.

I make the cilantro dip a lot because it’s different than the average dip and it’s a snap to make in the food processor. (Caution: mucho spicy)

The banana and bean empanadas, an idea borrowed from Kelly at Buzzville and her Monkey Party Recap post, were the surprise hit of the day. Everyone “pooh-poohed” the idea (banana and beans?!?!) but loved the taste. We served the turnovers with warm red pepper jelly for dipping. (Note: these are fussy things to make, my Aunt almost had a breakdown chopping and fitting all the filling into the tiny pockets…these are not for anyone with high blood pressure…thank you AC!)

Auntie Alison did the mini pizzas…which rocked. They were supposed to be for the kids but she ended up making 60 because the adults kept scarfing them down. You could put little monkey faces on the pizzas by using black olives, pepperoni and peppers if you have extra time on your hands (yah right?!). We decided to form a frantic assembly line and throw on the toppings at high speed instead of making monkey faces.

Chicken Tortilla Rolls were good filler and a good thing to dunk into the guacamole and salsa. Thanks Costco.

Healthy Handfuls, the store-bought monkey-shaped cookies, sucked. They looked so awful, I did not serve them. My audience was 2 year olds, so you know that’s bad. Talk about false advertising.

The “chocolate dipped frozen banana on a stick” was a highlight. A unique idea that’s fun and super simple to make. We handed them out before the cake, while the kids (and parents) were playing in the yard.  I’m sure you can imagine what the kids looked like with their faces and hands covered in melted banana and chocolate. This is definitely not an indoor treat.

Banana-shaped sugar cookies were super cute and yummy. This recipe never fails and the kids love them. Either the kids are getting older or the Moms are mellowing because no one wanted the plain cookies. ICING for everyone…wooHOO!

The Monkey Cupcakes brought a tear to my eye. Why can’t everything be so easy? Thanks to Auntie Clare, Auntie Lerae and especially to the bottle of wine.

Related posts
Thinking of Planning a Monkey Party?

Calling all monkeys…calling all monkeys

More monkey music…Mommy!

Banana cookies – best of the bunch

Monkey cupcakes made easy

Sep 222010


I’d like to take a moment to rant about these cookies, if I may.

Let’s take a look at the box…now the cookies…now the box again. What’s wrong with this picture? Do the cookies look even remotely like monkeys to you? These misshapen, oblong lumps are not even close (and half of them were stuck together?!?). Another shining example of creative marketing at it’s finest.

I bought the cookies for a monkey party I was throwing for my 2 year old. When I opened the box (mid-party) and saw these things, I was so irritated by how awful they looked that I threw them back in the cupboard.

Three weeks later (yes, it took me that long to get over it), I tried the cookies and actually “downed” half the box. I hate to admit it but they tasted pretty good. Unfortunately, the feeling of being duped has lingered, so my house will now be known as a “monkey-cookie free zone”!