Ossi di Morto and Day of the Dead.

Feliz Día de Los Muertos, everybody! And if you’re a person of faith, Happy All Souls Day. Today is a date on the calendar that holds a lot of tradition and meaning, in many cultures.

Ossi di Morto cookies, aka bones of the dead.

Traditionally, these cookies are Italian cookies used to celebrate All Souls Day, which is today. The name is Ossi di Morto or Ossa de Mordere, and that means “bones of the dead.” Because of the tie-ins between Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and All Saints Day/All Souls Day, my idea was that they’d be a fantastic way to celebrate both days and both celebrations together, as one. They are so similar it seems only right… and we’ll get to that in a sec.

OSSI DI MORTO, aka bones of the dead cookies.

Growing up, my nana told me all about All Souls Day. My nana was 100% Irish, born to a mother who was a first-generation American, and her mother in turn was right off the boat so to speak. The tales and superstitions were a plenty. I grew up hearing all about them, and all about the reverence and respect for the dead this time of year is about. Traditionally, today is a Christian day to remember the souls of the departed, which to Catholics is known as the Commemoration of The Faithful Departed. Its a day to pray for those who’ve passed on, to remember them. You may be thinking, “Uhm, thats the same thing that the Day of the Dead is.” And you’re right. But you might not know that originally, the Day of the Dead was celebrated in summertime.  During the 16th century Spanish colonization, Mexicans moved their celebrations of Día de Los Muertos to October 31, November 1 and 2 to coincide with the triduum of All Saint’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. November 1st is All Saints Day, however in Mexico it’s known as Día de Los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or Día de Los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) and is primarily honoring deceased infants and children. The prayers were traditionally posed to the goddess known as Lady of the Dead, now known as La Calaveras Catrina– the popular skeleton woman we see in drawings and depictions.

Of course, the Mexican way of “celebrating” these days are actual celebrations; food- yes, those sugar skulls too, parties, parades, decorating ancestors graves and of course prayer too. The Catholic version of All Souls Day is more somber, however in Italy they do light candles in the streets and have a bigger, louder celebration of today than perhaps most other Europeans. Brazilians also have a similar way of celebrating today, they call it Dia de Finados and it’s a public holiday.

I did grow up loosely Catholic- so I’m well aware of the ins and outs of these days and I prefer the Mexican version myself, even though I am not of Mexican heritage.

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This is Halloween!

Well I do sincerely hope you’re all decorated and ready for tomorrow. I hope you have your costumes, your candy and treats, and scary movies ready. And I also hope you’ve carved your jack-o-lanterns too! Don’t disappoint me, people.

My jack-o-lanterns are all carved up. See?

Trick or.... treat.

the 2015 jack-o-lanterns!

Every year I try and do something new or unique; last year I did Oogie Boogie & a dapper pipe-smoking pumpkin man in a fedora, the year before I did a cat and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and the year before I did Edgar Allan Poe. And before that I did the Bride of Frankenstein and more (sadly the photos were shit because my old camera wasn’t the best). Some of those just can’t be topped, really, so this year I decided on doing just text, or typography. They came out pretty cool, I think.

I especially like the background effect of the “trick or treat” pumpkin. How did I do it? I carved “trick or” backwards on the top of the back of the hollowed-out pumpkin- after carving “treat” on the front. Ta-da! Instant pumpkin magic. Just be careful, measure carefully. You don’t want to see the back text through the cut-outs in the front.

In case you’re also in desperate need of some last minute edible inspiration, I’m here to help. Halloween party? I got you. Just lookin’ for some treats for the kids? Gotcha. A more adult take on Halloween? Yep. That too. Take a peek:

Have a (safe and) spooky night tomorrow. In the spirit of such, here’s my mother and I in the early 90’s… the original Hocus Pocus?

My mom and I in the early 90's- the original Hocus Pocus!

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Mad Scientist’s Mocktail!

I just love Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday, it comes during my favorite time of year and the decorations and food/treats are just the best. Plus, the COSTUMES! I love the costumes! For example, here’s Tim Burton (yes, that Tim Burton) in a Halloween costume his mother made for him. Do you see a little bit of Jack Skellington?

Tim Burton as a child in a costume his mother made for him for Halloween.

Ugh. That reminds me, I love the movies, too. My absolute favorite Halloween movies are the old Universal Studios horror films, Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein being tops. I do love me some Tim Burton, of course, as well as Halloween. But the treats.. and the tricks… now those are really, really fun.

Mad Scientist's Cocktail- aka white hot chocolate turned green!

It’s just all-around awesome, don’t you think?

I had this idea a while back when I made that pink hot chocolate for Valentine’s Day. I thought it would be awesome to do a Halloween version; I was thinking of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his laboratory, with all kinds of things bubbling. I just never got around to it. But then I realized I had these awesome vintage Pyrex beakers and stirrers… and well, you know. Mad scientist. Laboratory. Beakers. It all just made sense.

Mad Scientist's Mocktail, Frankenstein's Brew... whatever you want to call it, it's awesome. And easy!

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Roasted pears with a whole bunch of good shit.

Maple brown sugar roasted pears with bourbon whipped cream!

Usually this time of year is filled with Halloween-themed posts. I don’t usually do many non-Halloween things, because I love Halloween and for the entire month of October my life is ruled by all things Hallows Eve. But this year, I found my inspiration lacking. I had a lot of other ideas- like that apple pie– and I wanted to do those. So pardon me for deviating from my norm. I promise you won’t be mad, though, cause these recipes are FIRE.

Yes, I did just say that. But how can you go wrong with maple & brown sugar ANYTHING??


This all started when I bought a bunch of pears and had no clue what I was going to do wth them. I ended up making some small-batch jam (which you’ll see in a few weeks or so) and then I left the rest until they were getting mushy. I kept saying, “I’m gonna make a pear cake.” I swore up and down I was making a cake with them. I felt them every day, said to myself “Ugh, they’re getting too soft…” then laziness took over and I never did anything with them.

Peeling pears to roast with maple syrup & brown sugar.

Indy loves pears, and he had some major oral surgery, so I promised him one of the softest ones. But that left me with two more. So I said, “Self, we’re finally gonna do something with these pears!” I mean, I can’t let the fruit flies have them. And so I did this. Roasted pears. Maple & brown sugar roasted pears. With bourbon whipped cream. Made with a lil brown butter of course.

And the whipped cream, because I mean, why not? I love bourbon whipped cream.

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I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me…

Monster bark! Perfect easy no-bake Halloween treat.

… Even my chocolate!

Isn’t Halloween the best holiday ever? I mean, every holiday has its merits. Christmas is great. Thanksgiving is even awesome- all that food. But HALLOWEEN, YOU GUYS. This is the best time. When else is it acceptable, even expected, that your food either resemble body parts or have eyes? It’s only at Halloween, and it’s basically awesome.

Monster bark for Halloween!

I call this “Monster Bark.” You can call it chocolate bark, Halloween bark, whatever. It depends also on what candy you use on top. Mine has bloodshot eyes, so clearly it has to be monstrous. Yours can be totally different! People usually think of bark as a Christmas thing; peppermint bark. But there’s no reason why you can’t make it for any holiday or occasion.

First you need a bag of chocolate. I prefer to use real chocolate as my base, and if I want more color (i.e. Candy Melts) or other kinds of chocolate I add a little in by swirling it or layering. You can in theory do whatever you want, I just find sometimes the Candy Melts melt a little quicker, so using chocolate as a base helps keep it firm. I used Hershey’s Special Dark for the base of this, and I added a little bit of black food coloring to make it look a bit darker. You can use a mix of white, milk and dark chocolate, or use dark chocolate with orange and/or green Candy Melts swirled in. Or add some white. Use your imagination!

I obviously stuck with one color.

Monster bark for Halloween.

You can use a bag of chips melted, or two large bars of chocolate. Depending on the amount of people or the size of your pan, you can even double that.

Next, you’ll need sprinkles and candies. I went really simple, but you can go crazy. Mine has Wilton candy eyes, candy corn, Wilton orange + black sprinkles, and some green and pink round sprinkles as well as candy pearls. You can use regular old Halloween candy too, and pretzels, and nuts… whatever it is you love.

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Maple, brown butter & bourbon apple pie… with walnuts.

Maple brown butter bourbon apple pie with toasted walnuts.

Wow. That’s a mouthful and a half, huh? It didn’t start out being all of that. It started out simple: bourbon apple pie. And then I said to myself, let’d add some toasted walnuts. But this finished pie is a result of me letting Jay get all up in the kitchen with me while I was making it. I mean, it’s only fair- it was HIS pie. I don’t eat apple pie.

I know. Blasphemy. I LOVE apples, though, if that counts for anything.

Granny Smith & Ginger Gold apples for a fall apple pie (with maple, brown butter and BOURBON)

I’m a purist. I prefer things to be straightforward and to the point. My cupcakes are never (and never will be) green tea and macaroni and cheese cupcakes with tangerine frosting and Maldon sea salt flakes. I like things to be good, original, sturdy. My apple pies are usually just that; apple pies. I add the spices, sure, and sometimes I’ll throw in some brandy or bourbon, but for the most part it’s a basic apple pie. Jay, on the other hand, likes to throw all kinds of things into his food. He comes up with these crazy (to me) ideas right before making whatever he’s making, or while he’s making it, and it’ll go from a basic brisket or barbecued chicken to something recognizable but yet completely new… with all these ingredients I never would’ve thought to add. And it comes out amazing. So he decided- as I was slicing apples- that it would be fantastic to add brown butter to it. Oh… and some maple syrup, too.

So that’s what I did. And it smelled quite fantastic the entire time.

For this pie, we chose a mix of Ginger Gold (kind of a Golden Delicious variety, a cross between them and an Albemarle Pippin) and Granny Smith, the classic apple pie apple. We decided to make this pie randomly the night before, so we grabbed about 2 1/2 lbs. of apples to be on the safe side. This pie uses 5 apples, which is (usually- unless you have HUGE apples) less than that.

Maple brown butter bourbon apple walnut pie... whew, what a mouthful!

I SUCK AT CRUST. Always. It starts off great, and then I always have some kind of problem, particularly with the top crust. This time, I was all set to make a covered pie, not this garbage-y lattice I have going on. But disaster struck and I was forced to do this. It was a HUGE DISASTER. I won’t even say what it was… but it sucked. And the shitty thing is, it looked pretty decent pre-disaster. *sigh*

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Jack-O-Lantern pudding.


When I was little, Bewitched was one of my favorite TV shows. It used to be on in the early afternoons in syndication, on channel 11 or something. I’d rush home from school to try and catch it. I loved Samantha Stevens so much, and I wished I could just wiggle my nose and do magic like her and Tabitha. I even designed some Cupcake Rehab merchandise based on the show’s opening credits. It’s only fitting that I share this photo! Especially since I’m starting to think about what my jack-o-lantern this year will be. Previous years: Edgar Allan Poe, many varieties of cats, Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, Oogie Boogie and Jack Skellington (also from TNBC), pipe smoking pumpkins, regular jack-o-lanterns, witches on brooms and many more.

Jack-o-lanterns are kinda my thing.

So, today since we’re talking about jack-o-lanterns, I thought I’d post just a little a short and sweet little DIY/recipe post for you; in true Halloween-y fashion. These jack-o-lantern puddings are actually just pumpkin puddings in cute glasses that I DIY’ed. I mean, what are jack-o-lanterns made of? Pumpkins! Duh.

Jack-O-Lantern puddings! With a DIY for cute jack-o-lantern glasses.

You’ve probably seen this idea or something similar all over the Internet. But do you know how it’s done? Nope- I didn’t buy jack-o-lantern glasses.

And no, I didn’t use a Sharpie.

Jack-O-Lantern puddings! With a DIY for cute jack-o-lantern glasses.

I used black electrical tape.

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