Ice cream and candy Thankgiving dinner

 Ice cream and candy Thanksgiving pie | Me & The Moose. This genius way to use up leftover Halloween candy is also a hilarious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will please the pickiest kids. #Thanksgivingrecipes #Thanksgiving #dessert #pumpkinpiealternative #icecream #leftoverHalloweencandy

I, for one, don’t need to see another mini candy bar for quite some time. However, I hate throwing food away (which makes parenting around mealtimes interesting when M declares himself full after four bites). So instead of dumping our excess candy, I’m repurposing it into a Thanksgiving dessert that is equal parts adorable and delicious.

Bonus: I promise you will live in the freezer, untouched, until Thanksgiving, which would certainly not happen if that candy stayed in its original form.

 Ice cream and candy Thanksgiving pie | Me & The Moose. This genius way to use up leftover Halloween candy is also a hilarious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will please the pickiest kids. #Thanksgivingrecipes #Thanksgiving #dessert #pumpkinpiealternative #icecream #leftoverHalloweencandy

Ice cream and candy for dessert might seem odd after a heavy meal, but let me tell you: We had a store-bought version of this plate last year (from the UConn Dairy Bar) and my family tore through it like we hadn’t just eaten our weight in stuffing.

My version of this pie starts with a layer of salted caramel topped with chocolate chip ice cream and then hot fudge sauce.

I chopped up some mini Snickers for stuffing; green M&Ms are peas; vanilla ice cream covered in crushed toffee bars with a white chocolate, pretzel, and marshmallow “bone” become a turkey drumstick; vanilla ice cream with more caramel are mashed potatoes and gravy; raspberry sorbet is sliced to look like canned cranberry sauce; and candy corn is stuck together with white chocolate as a corn cob.

 Ice cream and candy Thanksgiving pie | Me & The Moose. This genius way to use up leftover Halloween candy is also a hilarious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will please the pickiest kids. #Thanksgivingrecipes #Thanksgiving #dessert #pumpkinpiealternative #icecream #leftoverHalloweencandy

Extra bonus: There are many ways for kiddos to help make this pie: They can separate the green M&Ms, chop and smash the candy, unwrap the caramels, and pour and spread the caramel and ice cream layers. If they’re older, they could probably make the whole darn thing themselves.

 Ice cream and candy Thanksgiving pie | Me & The Moose. This genius way to use up leftover Halloween candy is also a hilarious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will please the pickiest kids. #Thanksgivingrecipes #Thanksgiving #dessert #pumpkinpiealternative #icecream #leftoverHalloweencandy
 Ice cream and candy Thanksgiving pie | Me & The Moose. This genius way to use up leftover Halloween candy is also a hilarious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will please the pickiest kids. #Thanksgivingrecipes #Thanksgiving #dessert #pumpkinpiealternative #icecream #leftoverHalloweencandy

And extra extra bonus: You can make this dessert now and be ready for Turkey day in three weeks.

Candy and ice cream Thanksgiving plate

10-inch graham cracker pie crust
12 oz chewy caramels, divided 
3 Tbsp heavy cream, divided
Flaky salt
1 pint chocolate ice cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 small jar of hot fudge (about 12 oz)
1 pint raspberry sorbet (IN A PAPER, NOT PLASTIC, CONTAINER)
½ cup mini green m&ms
6-7 fun-sized snickers, chopped
12-15 fun-sized toffee bars (or 3 large ones), crushed
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1/2 large pretzel rod
1 large marshmallow, cut in half
Candy corn

Step 1: Caramel sauce, part 1
Combine 8 oz of unwrapped caramel candy with 2 Tbsp heavy cream in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Mix and microwave for 30 more seconds. Mix again. Microwave for 15 seconds bursts, stopping to mix the caramel and milk, until it’s completely melted. Spread over the graham cracker crust, sprinkle with sea salt and place in the freezer until set, about 10 minutes.

Step 2: Ice cream
Let the chocolate ice cream melt a bit for easier spreading. I left it out while I made and spread the caramel and it was soft enough to spread. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours or overnight.

Step 3: Hot (but cold) fudge
Once the ice cream layer has frozen solid, dump the entire jar of COLD fudge sauce on top and smooth it out all the way to the edges. (I made the mistake of heating the sauce a bit and it immediately melted the ice cream underneath.)

Step 4: White chocolate
Melt your white chocolate in a tall thinnish glass. Microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stop and mix. Microwave for another 30 seconds on high. Stop and mix. Microwave for 10 second bursts, stopping to mix until the chocolate is melted.

Step 5: Drumstick bone, part 1
Snap a large pretzel rod in half. Cut a large marshmallow in half. Dip the non-broken end of the pretzel rod into melted white chocolate and press one half of the marshmallow on either side of the rod and hold in place for 10 seconds. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and refridgerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Step 6: Corn cob
Pour a nickle-sized dollop of melted white chocolate on a piece of parchment paper. Place a circle of candy corn onto the chocolate with the white facing in and the yellow facing out. Try not to allow any space between the kernels. place another dollop of melted white chocolate on top of the white portion of candy and repeat. Continue until you have between 5 and 7 layers of corn kernels. Place in the fridge until set, about 10 minutes.

Step 7: Drumstick bone, part 2
Dip the set marshmallow and pretzel rod into the melted white chocolate (feel free to microwave for another 10 seconds if the chocolate feels thick) and let the excess chocolate drip off. Place back onto the parchment paper and spoon the melted chocolate over the rest of the pretzel rod, wiping away any excess on the sides. Place back in the refrigerator until set, about 10 minutes.

Step 8: Prep your candy
Chop the snickers, separate the green M&Ms, and crush the toffee.

Step 9: Sorbet
Slice the sorbet with a large serrated knife and put the slices back into the freezer.

Step 10: Caramel sauce, part 2
Place 4 oz of unwrapped caramel candy and 1 Tbsp of heavy cream into a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stop and mix. Microwave for another 30 seconds, stop, and mix. Microwave in 15 second bursts, stopping to mix in between, until melted. Set aside.

Step 11: Assemble
Scoop 1/2 pint of vanilla ice cream onto the top of pie. Next to it, pour your M&Ms into a pile. Smoosh the cut up snickers in your hands a bit while piling them onto the top of the pie as well. Add the corn cob. Next, form the rest of the ice cream into an oval ball and roll it in the crushed toffee. Place it on the pie and add the pretzel bone. Place the sorbet slice in the middle. Lastly, using a spoon, shape the vanilla ice cream to look like mashed potatoes and make a dent in the middle. Pour some of the cooled caramel into the hole and immediately place the whole pie back into the freezer. Let freeze overnight and then transfer to a box or cover tightly with plastic wrap.

 Ice cream and candy Thanksgiving pie | Me & The Moose. This genius way to use up leftover Halloween candy is also a hilarious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will please the pickiest kids. #Thanksgivingrecipes #Thanksgiving #dessert #pumpkinpiealternative #icecream #leftoverHalloweencandy
 Ice cream and candy Thanksgiving pie | Me & The Moose. This genius way to use up leftover Halloween candy is also a hilarious make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert that will please the pickiest kids. #Thanksgivingrecipes #Thanksgiving #dessert #pumpkinpiealternative #icecream #leftoverHalloweencandy


Chocolate hummus

 Chocolate hummus!

Even the best intentioned parents fall into bad habits when it comes to toddlers and food. I swore we would never make M a separate dinner from ours and yet, here we are. I also swore that I would never cave to bedtime snack requests, but…you guessed it.

Look, we have a lot of good habits and we course correct pretty fast when we realize that we’re off track. And we try not to sweat it when things change or don’t work around mealtimes. But f*&$@#ing hell is it frustrating.

While M isn’t a huge snacker between meals, he would happily eat all “snack” food for his meals. For lunch, I’m more okay with packing him a collection of finger foods (hard-boiled egg, veggies and hummus, fruit, mini muffins, etc), but for dinner, it’s hard for me to swallow guacamole and chips as his main course (pun intended).

I mean, he has an entire adolescence to make bad food choices, so we have to get some goodness in while we can, right?

All this to say, we’re struggling with food right now. One strategy we’re implementing is trying to ensure that M’s whole day is rounded out with good stuff so that one bad meal isn’t a big deal.

 Chickpeas, dates, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
 Blend until really smooth for a protein-packed after school snack.

I started making my own chocolate hummus after being introduced to this magical concoction (seriously, how did I not know that chocolate hummus existed until about 2 months ago?) at my book club.

 Chocolate hummus: free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, and all animal products. Basically, the perfect after-school snack.

This sweet dip is mostly chickpeas, which have a ton of protein and fiber, plus some natural sweeteners and a couple of spices. It takes about 15 minutes to make and most of that time is spent waiting for water to boil. This snack is also free of nuts, gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and any animal products.

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A couple of notes:
- Soak 4 dates, though you may not need them all. This dip tends to get sweeter as it sits in the fridge, so be careful about adding all four dates up front.
- If the dip doesn’t taste sweet enough after two dates, try adding another pinch of salt. The salt really brings out the sweetness and the chocolate, so you may not need additional sweetener.

 Chick peas, dates, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.

Chocolate hummus

1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained |
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup maple syrup
2-4 dates, soaked in boiling water for 5-10 minutes
1/8 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp vanilla extract

Boil some water and pour over 4 dates. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse your chickpeas and pour them onto a paper towel. Dry them lightly. Add to a food processor.

Measure the other ingredients and add to the food processor. When the dates are soft, add them to the other ingredients and blend until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Yield: 1.5 cups or about 14.5 ounces

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Chocolate hummus!

Possibly the perfect lunchbox treat or after-school snack.

Salted honey and rosemary teiglach

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Teiglach! This sweet honeyed dessert reminds me so much of my childhood Rosh Hashanah dinners. It is a mountain of baked or fried dough balls that are combined with nuts, dried fruits, and sprinkles by a honey syrup. And though it looks complex, it is stupidly easy.

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Though teiglach, for me, tends to be specific to the Jewish Holidays, it’s a close cousin of the Italian struffoli, which is traditionally served for Christmas or Easter. So, you can feel good about serving this sticky treat for any occasion, really.

I added flaky sea salt and rosemary to my version because traditional teiglach is very sweet (hello, honey) and both of those ingredients tone down the sweetness. I also added almond extract to my dough, which makes for a more complex overall taste. The almond, rosemary, sea salt, and honey also play very well together.

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I baked the dough because a) it’s marginally easier; b) it’s marginally healthier; and c) I hate nothing more than smelling like fried oil. Don’t be afraid to overbake the dough balls slightly as this will help them to stay crunchy when they’re covered in honey.

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The only tricky part is making sure the honey syrup doesn't burn. I will admit that during recipe testing, I didn't turn the heat down fast enough and my honey almost boiled over. I used it anyway and it was completely fine.

One quick note: This is a relatively small batch of teiglach. So, if you're feeding a crowd for the holidays, I would double it.

 

Salted honey and rosemary teiglach

2 eggs, whisked
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest (zest of 1 large lemon)
½ tsp almond extract
1 cup AP flour
½ Tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup toasted mixed nuts, roughly chopped
½ cup honey
2 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp fresh rosemary, minced and divided
¾ tsp Sea salt, divided

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and olive oil and whisk until well mixed and lightly bubbly. Add the lemon zest and almond extract and whisk again to combine.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix just until all of the flour is incorporated. It will be a thick batter. 

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5-6 times, just until it feels a little springy and less sticky. Divide the dough in half and roll out each half into a long, thin snake, about ¾ of an inch thick. Chop the snake into ½-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball. The balls should be between the size of a dime and a nickel. 

Bake at 350 for 20-23 minutes until the balls are lightly golden brown and hollow sounding. If you feel like they’re not browning, check the bottoms. If they're golden brown, the balls are done. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

While the balls are baking, roast the nuts in a toaster oven or stick them into the oven with the balls (on a separate sheet) until they start to smell nutty. Remove and let cool. Chop roughly, if desired.

Mince the rosemary and set aside ½ tsp. Combine the mixed nuts, 1 tsp of rosemary, and ½ tsp of flaky sea salt and mix well.

Once the balls are out of the oven, in a small saucepan, bring the honey and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Once the sugars starts boiling throughout (not just on the edges), reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place the balls in a large bowl with the nuts, rosemary, and salt and stir. Pour the honey mixture over the cookies, nuts, and spices and mix well. This will take some elbow grease as the honey cools.

Pour the entire mixture into your serving bowl making a pyramid shape as your pour. If the honey is too warm and the mixture won’t form into a mound, let it cool for a few minutes and try again. Once you get the mixture into a mound, let cool completely in the fridge.

Bring back to room temperature for serving. Just before serving, top with the remaining ½ tsp of rosemary and ¼ tsp of flaky sea salt.

This dessert is best served the day it's made, but will keep well, covered with plastic wrap at room temperature, for up to two days.

Yield: Enough for 5-6 adults, depending on appetites and tolerance for sweet things

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Almond butter quinoa muffins

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What these muffins have: Good fats, protein, Omega-3s, deliciousness.

What these muffins don't have: Gluten, dairy, refined sugar, wheat, eggs, soy.

Bonus feature: The muffins only require one bowl!

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The new school year already started for lots of the country, but here in CT, M's preschool starts again on Monday. I've been thinking about quick ways to begin our day with protein that don't require cooking in the morning. These muffins are the answer!

Half of the flour is ground quinoa, which has lots of protein. The other half is oatmeal. I originally made these muffins with almond flour instead of oats for even more protein, but the almond flour was so dense that the muffins stuck to the roof of your mouth. You could just feed your kid a spoonful of almond butter and save yourself the trouble.

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With the oatmeal, the muffins are still substantial, but they're no longer dense. They're actually a smidge crumbly because I omitted eggs and any other binding agent. I wanted them to stay vegan and I don't always have the patience to make a flax egg. Letting them cool completely before eating them made them sturdier too. 

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For the first day of school, I thought it might be nice to add some blueberry chia jam and a quick icing to make the muffins more special. (I also called them breakfast cupcakes, which went over VERY WELL.) The jam is simple and free of any added sugar. I used cream cheese and maple syrup for my frosting, but you could also use coconut cream or a pre-made dairy-free topping.

You could also mix the chia jam with some yogurt for a delicious breakfast for the younger set (or the parental set, if I'm honest).

If you're avoiding nuts, substitute coconut or rice milk for the almond milk and use sunflower seed butter in place of the almond butter. Still delicious!

Important note: These muffins are best when fresh, so I recommend freezing 3/4 of the batch and then either defrosting a serving at night for breakfast the next morning, or toasting a frozen one right before eating it.

 

Almond butter quinoa muffins

2 large mashed banana
1 cup creamy natural almond butter, well mixed (or nut butter or seed butter of your choice)
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or rice, coconut, or other non-dairy milk of choice)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup quick oats
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add the almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract and mix well.

Add the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Mix well. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix again. Let the mixture sit while you prep the muffin tin and prepare the jam and icing (if using).

When ready, spoon the mixture into your muffin tin until each opening is half full.

Bake for 12-14 mins or until the tops turn golden brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.

Let cool completely in the muffin tin before serving.

Yield: 18 muffins

 

For the Blueberry chia jam:
1 pint blueberries
1 ½ Tbsp chia seeds

Put the blueberries into a small sauce pan and cook over a medium low flame until the berries have broken down and become syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes and add the chia seeds. Mix well.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes or until ready to use.

Yield: 1 Tbsp per muffin

 

For the frosting (optional):
2 ¼ cups whipped cream cheese
6 Tbsp maple syrup

Mix the cream cheese and maple syrup well with a spatula. The mixture will look curdled at first. Continue mixing until the two ingredients have come together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield: 2 Tbsp per muffin

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S'mores energy balls

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Happy national s'mores day everyone! While I love a real s'more, I don't dig activities that include both my toddler and fire, so we're sticking with this faux, somewhat healthier version. Also, these energy balls can be packed in a lunchbox (after subbing the nuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds if necessary).

Your kids' teachers and counselors will thank you for skipping the sticky marshmallows and melted chocolate.

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These balls start as your basic date, cocoa powder, nut, and chia seed energy ball. And if s'mores aren't your thing, you can absolutely stick with this base and have a delicious treat.

But, since it's summer and who doesn't want a s'more or something a little special, I like to stick some lightly toasted marshmallows in the middle and coat the outside in graham cracker crumbs. A couple of easy swaps here make this free of gluten, dairy, nuts, eggs, and soy. (Look for soy-free marshmallows; gluten-free graham crackers; and, as I said before, swap the nuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds.)

One note about the toasted marshmallows: Since they're so small, toasting them makes them a bit crunchy. You can absolutely use untoasted marshmallows to have that soft texture in the center, but to me, the taste of slightly burned sugar is more s'more-like. I also like a little bit of crunch in the middle of a soft energy ball anyway.

 

A note about the graham cracker coating: If you can, store the crushed graham crackers in an air-tight container and roll the balls right before eating. Otherwise, the crumbs can get soft.

So many texture issues!

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S'mores energy balls

12 medjool dates
½ cup cashews (I like to use roasted, lightly salted cashews)
2-3 Tbsp cocoa powder (depending on how chocolate-y you like things)
2-3 tsp water
1 tbsp chia seeds
Pinch of kosher salt
15 mini marshmallows
5 graham crackers

Pit the dates and place them in a large food processor. Add the cashews (or seeds, if using), cocoa powder, chia seeds, and 2 teaspoons of water. Blend until the mixture starts to form a large ball, about 3-4 minutes. If your mixture won't come together in a large ball with the machine running, add the final teaspoon and blend until you have a large ball.

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, place your mini marshmallows so that none are touching. Toast them in an oven or toasted oven heated to 400 for about 1-2 minutes. The regular oven will toast the marshmallows very quickly, so watch them like a hawk. You can even leave the door open slightly to make sure that the marshmallows don’t burn too quickly. The toaster oven is somewhat easier to control, but you still have to watch the marshmallows very closely.

Place the graham crackers into a large bag and crush them with your hands, a rolling pin, or a heavy can.

To make the balls, measure out a slightly heaping tablespoon of the date and chocolate mixture. With wet hands, roll the mixture into a ball. Make a large hole in the center and add three toasted marshmallows. Fold the mixture over the marshmallows and roll into a ball again.

Roll each ball in the crushed graham crackers.

Yield: 10 energy balls

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