Halloween Bloody Red Cake with Severed Fingers and Spiders - Homemade!

Red Velvet Cake

1/2 c butter
1½ c sugar (you can make it sugar free with Just Like Sugar)
2 eggs
2 oz. red food coloring (a whole 2 ounce bottle)
3 T cocoa
2¼ c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1 c buttermilk
1 T vinegar

Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar (sweetener of choice) in a bowl.  Add the eggs. 
Make a paste with the cocoa and food color.
Add the food color paste and vinegar to the butter/sugar mixture.  Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk.  Add the buttermilk alternately with the flour into the sugar/butter.  Mix well. 
Divide batter between the two prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes or until done. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes, then remove cake layers from pan and cool completely.


3 T flour
1 c milk
1 c sugar
1 c butter
1 t vanilla

Stir the flour and milk in a saucepan over medium high heat until it thickens and becomes a paste.  Let this cool to room temperature.  Cream sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl with a mixer.  Add the milk/flour and beat 5-7 minutes until completely smooth.  Use to frost Red Velvet Cake and decorate as you wish!

Products related to this post may be available at your local party store or you can order them through these Amazon Links:

Set of 4 Realistic 16" Asst. Halloween Foam Tombstones, Props, Graveyards, Haunted House, Yard Decorations and Accessories
FunLavie Plastic Spiders Halloween Spiders for Gag Gifts/Party Favors/Prank Kit -100 Pcs by
Fake Body Parts - 10-Piece Bloody Human Fingers, Artificial Broken Cut Off Fingers Halloween Party Props, Haunted House Decoration, April Fool Prank Toys

5pc Bloody Finger Set


Homemade Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

Because we don't indulge in carby potatoes often, I'm THRILLED when we do and they are sooooo good that it's worth every. single. carb.

These are that.

I used my vegetable spiralizer instead of using a food processor or grater to simply slice them.  You absolutely can slice your potatoes thin for traditional au gratin potatoes - but to get the look of the ones in my photos, just use a spiral slicer of whatever brand you like.  I bought mine from TJMaxx but they are available pretty much everywhere I think.  (Mine is the simple 3 blade version: OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Tabletop Spiralizer with StrongHold Suction)

Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

4-6 large potatoes (I used Klondike Rose potatoes in these photos)
1/4 c green onions, sliced
1/4 c butter (1/2 stick)
1 T flour
1 t salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c unflavored, unsweetened almond milk or regular milk
2 c grated cheese - cheddar

Spiralize or slice your potatoes thin into a greased or sprayed casserole dish that is safe for the oven.
In a saucepan on the stove, melt the butter, add the green onions and cook briefly to soften them.
Add the flour and whisk and cook for a minute or two.
Add the salt and pepper, and the cream.  Whisk and bring to a simmer.
Add the cheese, continue to stir or whisk to melt the cheese.
Pour over the potatoes.
Bake in a 375 (or 350) oven for about an hour. The potatoes should be tender, and most of the liquid sauce absorbed and thickened with just a bit of liquid left.  Remove the potatoes and let them set 10 minutes before serving to set up.  They will absorb a little more of the sauce and thicken as they cool a bit.

If you don't spiralize them and you simple slice them, you might need to add another 15 minutes for baking.  If they are getting darker than you like, just put foil over them for the last 10-15 minutes.  Don't bake them covered the whole time though or they will be too runny.

Butter and onions with the flour added - whisk and cook for a minute or two

After adding the cream and cheese...

Pour over the potatoes and bake for about an hour for spiralized - about an hour and 20 minutes might be needed for regular sliced potatoes.

To get the potatoes into a pretty spiral like in the photos - I used my OXO spiralizer - which I've talked about many times before as I LOVE it.  You can find it on Amazon along with some other related products from this post:

Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer, Strongest-and-Heaviest Duty Vegetable Spiral Slicer, Best Veggie Pasta Spaghetti Maker for Keto/Paleo/Gluten-Free, comes with Container & 4 Recipe Ebooks
OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Tabletop Spiralizer with StrongHold Suction
Corning Ware "French White" (1.5 Qt.) Oval Casserole Baking Dish (F-6-B)
Corningware French White 10 Piece Bakeware Set




Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins - Coffee Cake Style! Two Versions, including sugar free and low carb

Sugar Free and Low Carb Version - literally as I was eating it for breakfast with coffee

If you don't have to worry about carbs or cook sugar free, I love a recipe I posted back in 2007 for a copy cat Entenmann's recipe - make it into a loaf pan or into muffins.  I LOVE that coffee cake but because we more often than not are eating low carb and sugar free by choice, I use the one I posted just after this one.  More on that in a minute.


A regular, full flour and full sugar version I posted in 2007

Entenmann's Style Coffee Cake Loaf

3 3/4 c flour
1 3/4 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt

Mix in a large mixing bowl and then remove 2 cups of the dry mix to reserve for later.

Now to the rest of the flour in the mixing bowl add;

1 stick butter (not margarine)
2 eggs
2/3 milk

The batter will be thick, spread this into a greased and floured pan (I use a little of the reserved flour topping mix to flour the pan). Now, you are wondering what size aren't you? Any size you want. If you use a 9X13 pan, you will have a thin cake, a 14 inch square would be nice, a 9X9" square will be a thick cake. I personally like to use a bread loaf pan. I like mine as a 'pound cake'. Spread the batter into your pan.

To the reserved flour mixture add;

1 stick butter
1/4 c brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
dash of salt

Mix this together with your finger tips until it forms pea sized crumbles. Cover the entire cake with this topping. If you chose to use a loaf pan you will only use half the topping. Freeze the rest in a baggy to use on muffins at a later date!

Bake at 350 degrees - a 9X13" pan approximately 30 minutes or a loaf pan it will have to bake at least 60 minutes. I bake mine about 1 hour and 15 minutes until a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.


I almost always hate items baked with coconut flour.  Oh, I love coconut when things are supposed to taste like coconut (candies, pies, Almond Joys) but when I bake or cook something like a bread, biscuit, pancakes, cupcakes or muffins that use coconut flour in them, I can taste it and I hate it.  The same goes for things baked/made with soy protein powder and carbalose.  I have a strong taste sensory (and smell) and more often than not I gag and have to spit it out unless the recipe has spices or seasonings that can cover it well or it's such a small amount it's just a hint.

I've mentioned this before as well, but I know a lot of readers are popping in but don't regularly stop by so they might have missed it.  This is important.   If you try a recipe and you 'almost' like it but it's not quite right or if the site you got it on shows photos and you KNOW it can turn out; but yours didn't... it might be the brand name used.  Especially when it comes to whey protein powders and coconut flour.

I've been cooking and baking low carb and sugar free for about 16 years now. When it comes to baking low carb, the brand name matters.  Not only for the finished product to turn out, and to have the correct textures but the taste and flavor.

The coconut flour I used for the first ten years of low carb baking is 'fine' but strong tasting and I never loved anything made with it.  However, a couple years ago I started to use another brand coconut flour and a whole new world opened up to me!  I still don't bake with it often as I usually use my much-loved recipes for muffins and cupcakes that use whey protein powder and flax seed instead, because of the slight coconut flavor that always comes through with coconut flour items but in some recipes, like coffee cake style with cinnamon, the hint of good quality coconut flour is a positive, not a negative and I love this one.

Unfortunately for me, the company who makes the coconut flour I fell in love with, stopped making it.  Luckily I had bought a large 5 pound bag of it at the time and I only use about 1/4 - 1/2 cup when I bake with it AND I rarely use coconut flour (as I mentioned above) so my bag will last a long time before I have to venture out into trying and tasting new brands again.  I'll link to some options I'm looking at below this post when I'm finished.

Low Carb and Sugar Free Coffee Cake Muffins

2 T real butter
2 oz. cream cheese
4 eggs
1/2 c sweetener of choice (I use a mixture of granulated Ideal and Truvia with a few drops of a liquid sweetener)
2 t vanilla
1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 c almond flour
1/2 c coconut flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1 c almond flour
1/4 c coconut flour
1/3 c sweetener of choice (granulated 'sugar' style)
1/2 t molasses
3 T butter
1 t cinnamon

(If you can find a good 'brown sugar' version of a natural sweetener, you can use that in place of the sweetener and molasses.  I have used two brands in the past that I loved but they both stopped making the brown sugar versions - grrr - and the splenda and Truvia versions you see in the stores now have real sugar in them so they are NOT sugar free.  I had an order for Just Like Sugar Brown that was canceled last week for lack of availability so I don't know if they are stopping production as well.  Honestly, over the past two years, I usually just make my own 'brown' sweetener by mixing a dab of molasses into regular white sweeteners.  This gives the flavor that goes so well in cookies and muffins.)

I use the 'large' muffin tins that have 6 spaces, lined with the large muffin liners.  Spray your liners with a Pam style spray.  Mix your muffin batter together either in an electric mixing bowl or your food processor until blended smooth.  Divide into your muffin cups.  Now mix the topping ingredients either by hand or with a fork until it resembles pea like crumbs or just put it into your food processor and pulse it a couple times.

Cover your muffins with the crumb topping.  Bake at 350 about 25-30 minutes for smaller regular sized muffins (12) or about 45 minutes for the large size.  Because I find baking with almond flour always takes longer to get 'done' in the middle, I cover my baked goods with a piece of foil after about 30 minutes to keep them from getting too dark, and then around 40-45 minutes I turn the oven OFF but leave the muffins IN.  I check on them about every 5 minutes by lightly pressing on the top to see if they are set up and firm - not jiggly anymore.  Then let them cool completely out on a cookie rack.  These are best the next day and stay very moist inside.

Crumb Topping:

Pile it on...

Literally took a photo of my breakfast muffin and coffee as I was enjoying it!

I have used Coconut Secret in the past and it's in my cupboard still... and some people LOVE it.  I do not.  It's strong tasting (to me) and I don't think the baked goods made with it turn out as well as with the brand I've used in the past couple years.  Unfortunately that was TresOmega and they STOPPED MAKING IT.  Luckily I bought a 5 pound bag at Sam's Club when it WAS still available, and because I don't bake with coconut flour often, it will last me a long time; but these are some other options I found on Amazon this morning that I would also look into if I were purchasing more coconut flour now.  I already know two other brands I don't care for...  so I did not link to them here.

Nutiva USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, Unrefined Granulated Coconut Sugar, 1-pound (Pack of 3)

Bob's Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour, 16 oz

  Organic Coconut Flour (4lb) by Anthony's, Verified Gluten-Free & Non-GMO


GROUND BEEF RECALLS: How to grind your own hamburger patties and ground beef

I've posted this 'theme' of a post a number of times in the past but it seems fitting to post again as there is yet another big recall of ground beef going on, and it just so happens I plan to grind more beef either today or tomorrow anyway.

If you've not been to An American Housewife's site before or maybe just need to know how simple it is to grind your own beef into hamburger or ground beef, then today's post is for you!
From the news on the latest USDA recall of beef effecting Sam's Club and Target, Safeway and Meijer....

Products affected by a recent ground beef recall linked to a deadly E. coli outbreak were sold at Target, Sam's Club, Safeway and Meijer stores, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On Sept. 19, Cargill Meat Solutions recalled 132,000 pounds of its ground beef sold nationwide after an August investigation linked its products to an E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened at least 17 others between July 5 and July 25, 2018.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Safety Inspection Service says it is concerned that some consumers may still have the tainted products in their freezers and cautions anyone who purchased the beef to throw it away immediately or return it to the place of purchase.

While the recall affects Sam's Club, Safeway and Meijer stores nationwide, the contaminated products are believed to have only been sold at Target locations in California, Florida and Iowa, according to a statement by the USDA
"This list may not include all retail locations that have received the recalled product or may include retail locations that did not actually receive the recalled product," the USDA also warned.

The US has pretty strict food safety standards, but even so, bacteria is in meats and in ground beef, fairly common.  Commercially ground beef using many cuts of beef along with trimmings and fat from many cows. That means if only one is infected with E. coli or other bacteria it is spread throughout the entire batch of ground beef. 

Now, E. coli doesn't usually scare me because I like to cook all our burgers, meatballs, meatloaf, etc. until 'well done' and cooking beef over 140 degrees kills it and makes it safe.

The FDA suggests everyone cook ground beef to 160 degrees for safety.  This makes it safe to eat as bacteria is killed.

I like to grind my own beef not only to ensure my ground beef is coming from one source - one cut - likely not to have bacteria and I always give a quick 'wash' and pat down to my roasts anyway;  but the taste of freshly ground beef is superior to the ground beef I buy packaged at the store.  I also am able to make my ground beef into patties and seasoned the way our family likes them before I package them and put them into the deep freezer for later meals.

  • All you need is a meat grinder - electric or manual.
  • There are also attachments you can buy to use right on your KitchenAid mixers (KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment)
  • And you do not need to invest in an expensive model if you are just using it for household use.
  • You can purchase a meat grinder for about $60 (electric) there are manuals for about $25-30 - I'll link to some at the bottom of this post.  IF you find you need or want to invest in a more powerful version you can invest in them but for 'every so often' use around your house, the basic lower end models work fine!  I've had mine for YEARS now and use it about every 2 months.  We grind our own own beef for ground beef packages to use in sloppy joes, lasagna, taco meat, etc. as well as making our own hamburger patties.  We also use it to grind chicken and pork as I make our own chicken, spinach sausages, etc.  And ours is a low-end Weston grinder that cost us about $50 on sale at Lowe's.
  1. You simply choose a roast of your choice (we like chuck roasts for the best flavor)
  2. Cut off as much or little of the fat as you wish - making your meat as lean as you like. (Fat add flavors and moisture).
  3. Cut the meat into pieces to fit through the feed tube of your meat grinder.
  4. Assemble your meat grinder, turn it on, and put the pieces of your roast through the feed tube, that grinds it up for you and turns it out as ground beef.
  5. At this point you can use it, season it, package it, freeze it, cook and then freeze it... whatever you wish.

And if you've only used one cut of meat (your roast) you have very little chance of it being contaminated as it's 'one cut' instead of a store bought ground mixture of 20, 50, 400 different cuts of meat from as many cows.

I typically food seal ours for the freezer.  Here are hamburger patties and packages of ground beef ready for taco's, lasagna or sloppy joe's.

IT'S FUN.  (Especially if you have The Littles helping you - they think this is a great activity.)

If you are interested in what the government has to say about ground beef - this is from the FDA's website;

What kind of bacteria can be in ground beef? Are they dangerous?
Bacteria are everywhere in our environment; virtually any food can harbor bacteria. In foods of animal origin, pathogenic (illness-causing) bacteria, such as Salmonella, Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STECs), Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus, cause illness. These harmful bacteria cannot be seen or smelled.

If the pathogens are present when meat is ground, then more of the meat surface is exposed to the harmful bacteria. Also, grinding allows any bacteria present on the surface to be mixed throughout the meat. Bacteria multiply rapidly in the "Danger Zone" — temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 and 60 °C). To keep bacterial levels low, store ground beef at 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below and use within 2 days, or freeze. To destroy harmful bacteria, cook ground beef to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C).

Other bacteria cause spoilage. Spoilage bacteria generally are not harmful, but they will cause food to deteriorate or lose quality by developing a bad odor or feeling sticky on the outside.

Why is the E. coli O157:H7 bacterium of special concern in ground beef? 
E. coli O157:H7 is the most well-known Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), though other STEC strains have also been identified. STECs produce large quantities of a potent toxin that forms in the intestine and causes severe damage to the lining of the intestine. This causes a disease called hemorrhagic colitis, and may also cause Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, particularly in young children. STECs can colonize in the intestines of animals, which could contaminate muscle meat at slaughter.

E. coli O157:H7 bacteria survive refrigerator and freezer temperatures. Once they get in food, they can multiply very slowly at temperatures as low as 44 °F (6.7 °C). While the actual infectious dose is unknown, most scientists believe it takes only a small number of this strain of E. coli to cause serious illness and even death, especially in children and older adults. The bacteria are killed by thorough cooking, which for ground beef is an internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C) as measured by a food thermometer.

Products related to this post (if you can't find them locally, are available through Amazon):
KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment
Weston Products Weston Brands Grinder and No.5 Stuffer, White
Weston Electric Heavy Duty Grinder, Silver
2 8"X50' Rolls of FoodVacBags Vacuum Sealer Bags - Make Your Own Size Bag!
Weston Products Weston Brands Vaccum Sealer, Harvest Guard Portable, Black
Weston 10 Manual Tinned Meat Grinder and Sausage Stuffer, 4.5mm & 10mm plates, + 3 sausage funnels
Weston 575 Watt Electric Heavy Duty Grinder, Silver


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