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Welcome to my spooky scary Halloween tale (It is October 31, after all). It’s a shopping mother’s worst nightmare. As she wheels her shopping buggy closer to her final destination and pay-out, the dangers loom on both sides. It’s the scariest ten minutes (give or take) of her entire shopping expedition. It’s called…the check-out stand gauntlet! No, it’s not the typical monsters of your classic campfire tale or horror movie. It’s SO. MUCH. WORSE. This gauntlet comes from the sadistic minds of marketing companies and it appears in a wide array of colorful plastic. Just the right variety of bright rainbow shades to draw your once-content toddlers and preschoolers out of their shopping buggy trance.
First the cries are faint, masquerading as a polite request, “Can I have dat?” You are brave and courageous with your “No, you don’t need that candy, gum, mint, toy, pocket Kleenex, hand sanitizer, battery, magazine, story book, sucker, energy shots.” The check-out stand monsters pose an immense threat as they fall just beyond the child’s sticky little fingers. As the temptations grow closer, the noises from your pint-size shopping companion also grow, now becoming more of a high-pitched squeal, “But I waaaaaaantt iiiiittttt!”
You are committed to stay strong in your resolve, armed with firm no’s and determined indifference. You begin to unload your purchases for the checker, only to have your attention snapped by a blood-curdling scream not to be rivaled by any horror film scream queen, “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaant IIIttttttttttttttttttt Noooooooooooooowwwwwwww!” And frankly, you are TERRIFIED. You feel the cold, icy glares from fellow shoppers. You feel the dagger-like stares from the store employees. Your heart begins to race. Your face turns red. You have obviously checked into “fight or flight” mode because you are torn between fighting with your “darling” companion and wanting to fly right out of the store, certain you can survive at home with just a few squares of toilet paper and that bag of frozen peas in the back of the freezer.
But, like any good scary movie heroine, you are a brave momma! You know all the trickery. You know what’s going on behind the mask of deception in this little check-out stand gauntlet. You know, beyond a doubt, that none of these trinkets or wrappers of empty calories will bring your child joy beyond the next 30 seconds. You know the marketing monsters are beatable. Will it be easy? No. Will you need to put on your own mask? Yes, your very own mask of apathy.
You are smarter than the typical horror flick chick, though. You are fully aware of the healthy snack your child ate right before coming to the store. You know your child already has 57 little toys collecting lint balls at the bottom of the toy box, the kind you get in birthday treat bags and fast-food hamburger boxes. You know that the only thing your kids really likes in this check-out stand is the idea of getting something. You know a half-mile down the street they won’t be able to remember one thing that was on these shelves.
So, I’m begging you momma’s! Stay firm, stay brave, stay determined. “No” is NOT a bad word to use with your children. In fact, it encompasses two valuable life lessons. First, we can’t always get what we want. You know that and I know that. And it’s not healthy if we do. Second, and this one is really for the grown-up crowd, we don’t always want things that are good for us, so we need someone to tell us “No.” As parents, that’s our job for our kids. Protect them from the things they want that just aren’t good for them. Trust me, as a mom of a pre-teen and a former teacher, sticking to your check-out gauntlet strategies will keep you from having little monsters down the road! Happy Halloween, everyone!
Today’s Recipes Since it’s Halloween today, I feel like we need a couple fun, but not too-scary (or too gross) Halloween recipes. First, I’m going to share a no-bake version of the Monster cookie. Who doesn’t love Monster Cookies, right? But instead of the traditional cookies, these are a no-bake bar. Many of the same yummy ingredients, like peanut butter, oats, M&M candies, and milk chocolate, but way simpler. *Please note, this recipe contains raw flour and some people warn against consuming raw flour. I have never experienced any issues with this recipe, but if you serve or consume this recipe, please know you are doing so at your own risk.
No-Bake Monster Cookie Bars (makes 2 dozen bars)
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup M&M chocolate candies
- 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate morsels
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- M&M candies for garnish
Using electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla. Add flour and oats and continue to mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Fold in M&M’s. Spread mixture evenly in an ungreased 9×13 pan, pressing down firmly with your fingers. Chill for an hour.
In medium saucepan, combine chocolate chips and cream over medium heat, stirring until melted. Spread chocolate mixture over chilled cookie bars. Sprinkle with remaining M&M’s, pressing them down slightly into the chocolate. Chill for another hour. Using a sharp knife, cut into 24 bars.
Recommended Product This Adjust-a-Cup is a wonderful and versatile tool for the kitchen. I used it to easily measure the peanut butter for the monster cookie bars. It is also good for honey, syrup, and molasses…anything sticky, because it has a “push plunger” that slides the sticky ingredients right out of the cup and into your mixing bowl. It also measures in several types of units. In addition to cup increments, it also measures in milliliters and ounces. It also comes in two pieces so that clean-up is EASY. It is available from Amazon in this link.
Our second recipe today is a seasonal take on my Classic Seven Layer Dip. It’s the same ingredients, but arranged in a whimsical spider web pattern. A great appetizer for your “creepy” fall festivities.
Mexican Layer Dip–Halloween Edition
- 1 16-oz can refried beans
- 1 8-oz carton sour cream
- 1/2 of 1 oz pkg taco seasoning
- 1 8-oz pkg guacamole
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 8-10 black olives, sliced
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Ranch dressing in a squeeze bottle
- 1 plastic black spider
- Tortilla chips for serving
Spread the refried beans in the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch pie pan. In small bowl, combine sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread the sour cream mixture over the beans. Spread guacamole over the sour cream. Sprinkle the diced bell pepper (you could also use chopped tomatoes here), green onions, olives, and cheddar cheese around the outer edge of the pan. Using the ranch dressing, squeeze 3 rings around the inner part of the pan along with a dot of ranch in the middle. Drag a toothpick across the lines, starting at the center and working out, forming a spider web pattern. Place the plastic spider on the web. Serve with tortilla chips.