Zombieland: Tallahassee “Twinkie” Snack Cakes

                                                                      For Twinkie lovers, it’s not the end of the world.      

Good news! We survived two potential apocalypses in 2012- The predicted rapture of May 21st (or 22nd?) and the Mayan Calendar Ending Event of December 21st. Unfortunately, one catastrophe we could not avoid was the demise of one beloved iconic American classic, the Hostess snack cake. This calamity will forever be known as The Twinkie Apocalypse.


With all the apocalypse craziness erupting all over the year 2012, one scary baker cannot help but be reminded of the zombie apocalypse that strikes the world in the horror comedy, Zombieland. And with the downfall of our dearly coveted snack cakes, who could not seriously think of the surly zombie stomper, Tallahassee, as he rumbles across America not only beating zombie arse, but looking for a gosh darn Twinkie to munch.Twinkies+Discountinued.+I+feel+for+you+Tallahassee+I+really+do_4cb594_4241098


Perhaps this movie is some sort of prophetic vision brought to us by the luminous minds of Zombieland writers, Reese and Wernick? With Twinkies and Ding Dongs and HoHos now extinct, will 2013 be the year of infection??  If so, I urge you to polish off your dust-collecting copy of Zombieland and view it not only for its dashing entertainment, but also as a preparation guide for bad days to come.


Here are a few of my favorite “rules” outlined by Columbus and how I’m applying them to MY life as the possible Year of Infection looms ahead…


car locked zombieland #1 The Double Tap: Got your gun? No matter your politics or personal philosophies about gun use and ownership, it sure will be nice to have one when the zombies come…

#2 Cardio and #18 Limber Up: I’ve made a commitment to get healthy this year and it can’t happen without a few rounds of good ole exercise. I want to be able to outrun whatever wants to eat me.

#3 Beware of Bathrooms: I’ve seen what can be lurking behind the bathroom door, and it’s not pretty. I’m committed to passing on the dirty job of keeping a clean bathroom to the hubby.

#8 Get a Kick Ass Partner: I found mine 16 years ago.

#32 Enjoy the Little Things: Like sugar. And good treats. All in moderation, of course.supermarket zombieland


The Recipe: You don’t have to pay a gazillion dollars on EBay or travel half the country to recover the last Twinkie when you can bake your own! Undoubtedly, the homemade version tastes a bit cleaner, a bit lighter, and so much more delectable than the stale ones you are likely to find in some snack cake hoarder’s cabinet. In the case of a true zombie apocalypse occurring, I recommend you bake some every couple of months and freeze em. Just remember, defrost before filling them with the also hand-forged creamy marshmallow fluff.

Oh yeah, and you will need a Twinkie-shaped cavity pan to make these. They are popping up all over kitchen stores everywhere and can be found online. Give it a Google and see what you can find…


Tallahassee “Twinkie” Snack Cakes November 2012 033

(Fills 8 cavity pan )


1cup + 2 Tbsp flour, 1 1/8 tsp baking powder (aluminum free, if you please), 1/4 tsp salt,  3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar, ½ cup milk, 1 ½ tsp vanilla, 1 egg + 1 egg white, 1 stick butter (softened to room temp), 1 recipe Deadgirl Marshmallow Fluff, Twinkie-shaped cavity pan


How to Make em:

Note: If you don’t want a super snack cake snarly mess when you try to get them out of the pan, I highly recommend spraying the cavities thoroughly with baking spray and adding a touch of flour to each cavity. Also, do NOT overfill. This just causes major headaches. I speak from experience…

In a mixing bowl or bowl of standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar with your hand mixer or stand mixer into a creamy submission. Add the egg and egg white and beat well. In another small bowl, pour together the milk and vanilla. In another medium bowl, sift together the dry boring stuff-flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry boring stuff alternately with the milk mix to the submissive creamed mix and continue mixing on low speed.

Fill the pan cavities barely ½ full and bake for about 12-15 minutes on 350 degrees. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely and fill with the fluff.


November 2012 034Deadgirl Marshmallow Fluff         

(Fills 8 Snack Cakes )


1 ½ cup marshmallow fluff, 1 ¼ cup all-veggie shortening, 1 Tbsp vanilla, 1 cup powdered sugar, pastry bag and pastry filling tip

How to Make It:

In a mixing bowl or bowl of standing mixer, beat together the fluff and shortening with your hand mixer or stand mixer into a creamy submission. Switch to low speed and add the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar slowly and continuing beating into fluffy submission.

Fit your pastry a pastry filling tube. Once the snack cakes are completely cooled, fill each snack cake until you feel just a bit of resistance. You don’t want fluff bursting out the sides and top of your cake so experiment with the right amount of pressure with the greatest of care.

November 2012 029     Happy 2013 and remember to Enjoy the Little Things!


Silent Night: Santa’s Mint Coal Cookies

          He made a list. He checked it twice. He knows who’s been naughty, and his visit won’t be nice.

                                                                                                    silent night

     Gore hounds rejoice! Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s bringing a flame thrower, an axe, a sickle thingy, and a wood chipper in the new seriously violent remake of Silent Night Deadly Night (now simply titled Silent Night).

In this revisioning of the controversial 1984 yuletide slasher, Santa is delivering more than just gift-wrapped boxes of coal to the residents of a dying town’s naughty list. He is striking them down in the most brutal, sadistic ways possible. Like any good mindless slasher flick, it contains no real depth of character while stacking plenty of bodies under the tree. Malcolm McDowell stars as the town’s apathetic sheriff that spouts some pretty ridiculous dialogue meant to add a dash of dark humor to this tragic movie, but really it just comes off as corny writing with a silly delivery.santa flame thrower

Of course, Silent Night was made to shock and horrify while capitalizing on the Remake Syndrome, and it definitely does. And unfortunately, it’s lost the panache and manipulative scariness of the original movie altogether. But if you are looking for a gutsy, gory Christmas story to watch while waiting for the jollier, less homicidal Santa’s arrival, please indulge! I’m going to stick with the original. Its trailer alone gave me the holiday horrors…

Victim of the Christmas Tree Wood Chipper

Victim of the Christmas Tree Wood Chipper

The Recipe: Haven’t been so good this year? Santa won’t mind too much as long as you leave him a plate of these chocolatey goodies corrupt with serious mint flavor. Rolled in sugar before baking gives them a sparkly sweet exterior, and they do really look like pieces of coal! But they taste much more innocent and chewy. Keep in mind these cookies need a few hours of chill time so prepare accordingly.

Santa’s Mint Coal Cookies

(Makes 2 dozen lumps of yummy coal)


2/3 c brown sugar, ½ tsp salt, ¾ c baking cocoa, 11/2 c + 2Tbsp flour, 11/2 tsp baking soda, 1 large egg white, ½ c light corn syrup, 1 tsp vanilla, 11/2 tsp peppermint extract, 1 ½ sticks cool butter (not soft but not cold), 11/2 c chocolate chunks, extra sugar for rolling, hand or stand mixer, baking pans, parchment paper

How to Make em:

In a mixing bowl or bowl of standing mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar with your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In the meantime, whisk the egg white, corn syrup, and extracts together. Add the egg white mixture to the creamed butter-sugar until thoroughly combined. In a separate large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add in the chocolate chunks. Add the dry mixture to the rest and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2-4 hours.

Prep at least 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into small 1-2” balls and roll around in the extra sugar. Place the cookies about an inch apart on the baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Doneness tip: You will see small cracks forming on the top. Cool completely. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for about 3 weeks.

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas!

Up close for a sparkly look

Up close for a sparkly look

Slumber Party Massacre: Driller Killer Cupcakes and Truth or Dare Punch

                              Dying for a Girls’ Night In? Invite the gals over for a Slumber Party Massacre.


It should be known (by now) that I am a serious 80’s slasher film enthusiast. Since 1982, Slumber Party Massacre has reigned supreme on my favorites list. It offers up a bit of sweet nostalgia for those of us who endured sleepless nights in the name of girlish fun. And perhaps a bit of sweet satisfaction for those who agonized over not being invited…

While most slumber party-goers are telling ghost stories or watching horror movies, Trish and her pajama-clad friends are living one when escaped lunatic, Russ Thorne (aka the Driller Killer), crashes the party. He’s delivering more than just pizza. Although what he does to the pizza delivery boy with the handy new drill he’s acquired is pretty impressive.

My favorite lines from the movie come from Kim and Jackie. After Kim evaluates the eyeless pizza boy flopped across the floor, she confirms, “He’s dead allright. So cold.” (Awesome dialogue, I know). Jackie responds with, “Is the pizza?” And then she chomps down a piece! Ah, a girl after my own heart.

   The Recipes: In honor of this most beloved scene and my favorite driller kill, I present to you the Driller Killer Cupcake. It is an extravagant “bloody” red velvet cupcake topped with a crudely extracted vanilla cake eye ball. Gruesome, not girly, and a complete overkill of cake kind of dessert just perfect to serve at your next massacre.

Pair it up with a Truth or Dare cocktail and you are sure to have a memorable massacre! I took my love for sangria and combined it with my passion for apple cider and came up with a loaded party punch sure to induce many truths from your tight-lipped gal pals. I DARE you to try it!

A few tips: A recipe for red velvet cupcakes and homemade Screamcheese frosting can be found in the Previous Blog Posts section under February 2012. Also, if you don’t have a favorite vanilla cake ball/pop recipe, feel free to check out my cake ball/pop tutorial in the Previous Blog Posts section under December 2011. Be warned that I use a Bake Pops cake pan to make my cake eyeballs.

Driller Killer Cupcakes

(I “see” 18-24 cupcakes in your future…)

Ingredients & Equipment:

Red velvet cupcake recipe or your fave box mix

1 batch Screamcheese frosting or your fave canned variety

Your favorite vanilla cake ball or cake pop recipe

11/2 cans white vanilla frosting (DO NOT use the whipped variety)

1 tube Wilton red icing

1 package Wilton candy eyeballs

Cupcake pans

Cookie sheet

Parchment paper

Red and white dotted cupcake liners OR liners of your choice (the dotted ones just happened to be most appropriate for my blood soaked color scheme)

Decorating tip #3 and a coupler ring

How To Make Em:

-Prepare the vanilla cake balls according to recipe directions. Allow to cool completely.

-While they are cooling, prepare the red velvet cupcakes according to recipe directions. Allow to cool.

-Prepare the Screamcheese frosting if you are making it yourself. Frost your cooled cupcakes.

-Line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper.

-Add the white canned frosting to a microwave safe bowl sufficient enough in size to dip the cake balls. Microwave the frosting for about 30-45 seconds until it is pourable, but not too runny.

-Working quickly, dip each cake ball into the frosting with a large spoon. Turn to coat. If the frosting becomes too stiff while dipping, you might want to reheat it for just a few seconds to get back to a workable consistency.

-Place the dipped cake balls on parchment paper. Again, working quickly, add a candy eyeball (that will serve as your pupil) to each coated cake ball.

-Allow the cake balls to set.

-Use the red tube icing to etch on those ghastly red threads and allow the cake balls to set again.

-Once the eye balls are set, place one eyeball precariously atop one cupcake, repeat with remaining eyeballs and cupcakes, and revel in the squeals of the squeamish!

Truth or Dare Punch

Please take the dead body out of the fridge before chilling the punch.

(Makes a lot)


½ gallon chilled apple cider

1 bottle red wine

¼ cup brandy

¼ cup orange liqueur

Garnishes: apple and orange slices

Punch bowl and ladle

How to Make It:

-Add the wine, brandy, and liqueur to the punch bowl. My suggestion would be to refrigerate the mix for at least an hour or possibly overnight to let the flavors mingle.

-Just before serving, add the apple cider to the punch bowl.

Garnish with thin apple and orange slices.

Serve, and let the slumber party games begin!

Slumber Party Massacre Event and Recipes Part 1

                                                        It was a Slumber Party Massacre at our place for Halloween.

      This year, I couldn’t wait to dig out this truly awesome 80’s gem of a slasher flick that inspired our annual Halloween party. This greatness graced my VCR back in 1982, and became a birthday party sleepover staple for years thereafter. I subjected my squeamish friends and younger cousins to plenty of good (and bad) horror, but I think this is the one that made the memory books. I know it always brings back “the good ole days” for me…

As I mentioned, we chose this as our Halloween party theme, but you could just as easily copy my ideas for any type of big girl slumber party/ horror movie night. I had so many cool ideas and great recipes going with this party that I had to break this blog into two sections. An original post that talks mostly of the party details and a sequel that will offer you some insight into what makes this film so righteous.

Invites: Aside from social media event creating, I looked high and low for some simple Slumber Party invitations that I could bloody up for this party, but eventually gave up and made my own. I just cut pink card stock into simple squares and rubber stamped an old vintage telephone image on the front. Okay, so the phone image totally invoked naughty memories of a few prank phone calls we made back in the day at some of my notorious sleepovers.

In the Massacre font on my handy computer, I typed the heading “This is no prank! You are invited to a Slumber Party Massacre.” and then scribed the party details on the back. Once the invitations were complete, I gave them each a good splattering of red tempera paint blood by just thinning the paint with water and tapping a small paint brush over them. (Being a preschool teacher has its perks when it comes to getting crafty).

What to Wear?  Duh. It’s a slumber party. Wear pajamas! We had a white trash hubby wear his stained wife beater under a dirty bathrobe and cowboy boots. We had “grown up” Superman underoos, a cute little Cindy Loo Who in pigtails, and the ultimate in dorky-Angry Bird full footie jammies. But if I do say so myself, I stole the party dressed in my Daryl Dixon pajamas. My ensemble was fully complimented with my homemade DD swag-crossbow earrings, zombie/crossbow bracelet, and zombie heart hair bows for my piggy tails.

Setting the Scene: I wanted a bloody mess! Everything that stood still was drenched in white vinyl tablecloths splattered with the red tempera blood I used on the invites. I even spent the cash on a blood splattered shower curtain for the bathroom. Our local dollar store had vinyl blood drip wall borders and various paper instruments of torture that I implemented into our gory décor. A good horror buddy of mine sent me a huge batch of chilling horror soundtracks to play, and I incorporated some of my 80’s stash to mix. After all, this is a movie of the 80’s.

I got my Daryl Dixon swag on…

White candles dripping blood, candy filled glassware smudged with bloody fingerprints, and blood soaked body parts scattered haphazardly along the table suggests the Driller Killer crashed the party. But the real prize was my sickening centerpiece-a stack of pizza boxes oozing with blood and body parts. Severed limb pizza anyone??  To pay homage to the holiday; the reason for the celebration, I slathered corn syrup-based blood over different sized pumpkins. And keep in mind, in my world, anything looks appetizing on a tattered blood-soaked tablecloth.

Corn Syrup Blood recipe: Add 1 small bottle of light corn syrup and 1 small bottle of dark corn syrup to a nonstick pot. Add an entire 2 ounce bottle of red food coloring, stirring with a wooden spoon. This makes a bright slasher movie red. If you want more gore, add about 12-20 drops of black food coloring and a couple drops of blue.


            Other Fun Stuff: We played Human Scavenger Hunt. I made a list of slumber party related statements and guests had to find people at the party that either agreed or matched the statement. Who has played Bloody Mary or a Ouija board, the lame person at the party who didn’t wear a costume, someone who had attended a slumber party before, someone who had made/eaten “special brownies”, etc. I took a lot of guidance from the movie and my own slumber party experiences when creating the list. Whoever had the most names on their paper was named winner.

Something else fun…I found Sweet Tart candy teeth and gummi body parts at Walmart of all places!

Snacks and Goodies: Reminiscing about food typically found at slumber parties and, of course, consulting the movie, I came up with a pretty gruesome and fun menu. Savory snacks included Pizza Crescent Rolls, Deadgirls in a Blanket, assorted chips and dips, and a popcorn bar featuring three flavors of popcorn-Bloody Mary, Apple Cinnamon, and Chocolate Caramel. Sweet treats included Driller Killer cupcakes, Root Beer Float pillow pies, Deadblondies, and Scary Berry Pizza. Our signature cocktail of the night was called Truth or Dare.  (You will find the recipe for Bloody Mary popcorn in an upcoming blog…muwahahahaha)

The Recipe: Deadblondies

See what I mean? Dead blonde…

Nothing says 80’s slasher flick than a bunch of dead blondes strewn around. I’ve deviated from the traditional blondie recipe to make more sinful and sensuous bars because aren’t the bad girls the ones that get hacked up first? The answer is yes, and these treats were the first to go…


(Makes 24 naughty little treats)


2 cups flour

2 cups brown sugar

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 sticks (1cup) melted butter

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate English toffee baking bits (Heath brand sells these, but if you have trouble finding them simply add ½ cup regular toffee bits and ½ cup mini chocolate chips)

13×9” baking pan

How to Make Em:

Obligatory Reminder: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

1. Prep your baking pan with non stick spray or veggie shortening.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the hot melted butter with the brown sugar. Cool slightly.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the boring white stuff: flour, salt, and baking powder.

5. Add the boring white stuff to the butter mix. Fold in the baking chips.

6. Spread evenly in the pan and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

*Cool and enjoy!

Deadblondies are dangerous close to the Severed Limb pizza.

The Recipe: Pizza Crescent Rolls

You can’t have a slumber party without something to do with pizza, but frozen pizza rolls from a bag are too unoriginal for a Deadgirl shindig. This simple variation is super easy and versatile as you can add whatever pizza toppings you’d like. I stuck with budget-friendly basics.

Pizza Crescent Rolls

(Makes 16 slumber party yummies)


2 tubes of 8-count refrigerated crescent rolls

1 jar pizza sauce or 1 large can of tomato sauce

1 7ounce bag shredded mozzarella cheese

1 package pepperoni

1 small can diced black olives

1 small jar chopped mushrooms

Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning (use these as desired to spice up your sauce)

2 cookie sheets, parchment paper

How to Make Em:

Obligatory Reminder: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

1. Prep your pans by lining both cookie sheets with the parchment paper.

2. Add the pizza/tomato sauce to a small bowl. Add the spices to desired flavor. Set aside.

3. Crack open each tube, tear each piece of dough at the perforation, and unroll each crescent flat.

4. With a regular eating spoon, smear a spoonful of sauce across the dough.

5. Add a pinch of cheese, 1-2 pepperoni slices, a pinch of olive, and one sliced mushroom.

6. Roll according to tube directions. I just start at the large end and roll my way to the small end, and it works fine for me, but many people are anal and want to follow explicit directions. I then say-consult your tube.

7. Pop in the oven and bake for 15-20 mins or until lightly browned at 350 degrees.

*These are best served warm unless your crowd is partial to cold pizza.

The Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Popcorn

More dead action courtesy of The Driller Killer!

A scary movie night without popcorn is like a serial killer without a body count-pointless. But nobody wants to eat your boring white buttered popcorn either. I chose an unusual fall flavored recipe that is just as appropriate in February as it is in October. Giving credit where credit is due: This recipe was stolen from the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade: 20 Minute Meals Part 2 cookbook, but added to the section titled Awesome Movie Night Popcorn in my recipe box.

Apple Cinnamon Popcorn

(Serves a whole freaking bunch)


2 bags of microwave popcorn, popped and cooled ( I have the best luck with Pop Secret Homestyle brand)

1 ½ cups dried apple slices, finely chopped (too gooey for the food processor. Just do it by hand.)

4 Tbsp butter (1/4 cup)

3 Tbsp water

¾ cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

Bowl, saucepan, wooden spoon

How to Make It:

1. Sift your popcorn for any leftover unpopped kernels. Breaking your teeth on popcorn kernels may seem appropriate during a horror movie, but believe me, your friends will not like you for it, and you won’t like the dentist bill.

2. Combine the popped corn and the apple bits in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. In a regular saucepan, melt the butter.

4. When the butter is completely melted, add the brown sugar, water, and cinnamon. Bring it to a full boil. Cook and stir for about a minute.

5. Oh so carefully pour the molten hot mixture over the popcorn in the bowl. Use a wooden spoon to gently toss the mixture until well smothered.

*Choose your favorite horror movie and enjoy!

Okay, so that does it for Part 1. Tune in next time, kiddies, for more Slumber Party Massacre commentary and recipes!

Villisca Axe Murder House: Iowa Skillet Cornbread

On our way home from our summer vacation, we decided to take a short detour into the small rural town of Villisca, Iowa. Being a native Iowegian, you simply cannot NOT know the grisly tale of the awful tragedy that occurred in this most unexpected of places on June 10th 1912.

As Iowa history records, the Moore family of seven and two young overnight guests were found brutally butchered with an ax in their sleep. The years following the murder were just as brutal for the tiny town as conspiracy and suspicion plagued its residents. After two trials that left an itinerant preacher acquitted (both times-same guy) amidst various other theories and wayward leads about a train-hopping serial killer, the true killer still has not been identified, and the town is still being haunted by its very gruesome past.

The grave of the victims

2012; the anniversary of the Villisca Ax Murder Mystery. So, of course-we had to be there.

It’s not just about the past. Yes, the case history is intriguing and unbelievably tragic, but what draws us to the house isn’t just about the past. It’s about the presence that still lives within it. You may have seen the house featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures. Zacky B and the Boys did a slightly entertaining piece on the place. We did get pretentious ax shots and over dramatic women brought in to testify to the haunting of the house, but the crew really didn’t discover much. We had better personal experiences both times we visited.

No, not a haunting specter. Just a terrible photo of my youngest zombling exploring the upstairs.

The first time we set foot in the house was several summers ago when the former curator, Darwin, was operating visitations of the house. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, long after the last tour was scheduled, but Darwin was kind enough to allow us inside. My first impression was that of mystification and eerie familiarity as I noticed right away that the front exterior of the Moore home was almost an exact replica of our weathered house in Nebraska. Darwin, his passion evident, shared with us the rather horror novelish history of the murder and the division of the town shortly thereafter. But he forgot to mention anything about the present. It wasn’t until we left the bedroom where two of the children had been murdered that I discovered something strange was going on at the Villisca Ax Murder house.

Creepy master bedroom

While standing in the bedroom, I noticed a low dresser top decorated with vintage toys. One toy, a small rubber ball, was nestled between several other items; unmoving. Upon leaving the room, entering another, and then taking a final glimpse into the bedroom before our final exit, the ball was sitting squarely, unmoving again, in the middle of the bedroom floor. Yes, we were the only (living) people in the house. Yes, we traveled room to room as a group. No, the ball was not rigged as I scooped it up and placed it back in its rightful spot between all the toys. When I mentioned the weird incident to Darwin, a small smile creased his wizened face. He shrugged and said, “things like that happen around here sometimes.” Oh they do? Yikes!?

The Moore family burial site


            Our most current visit was even more eventful. After snapping a few photos of the zomblings in front of an aged framed picture of the Moore family, my hubby pointed out an image that had surfaced in the background. It was distinctly a face; a creepy little demonic leering face that couldn’t be replicated with neither my digital camera or my cell phone camera. IF that wasn’t enough to send us scurrying out the back kitchen door, right?

No, we tromped upstairs, and the hubby instantly began investigating a closet door in one of the children’s bedrooms that kept opening on its own. A little background knowledge is essential here. The hubs is in the construction field. He knows doors, and he knows what makes doors open and close involuntarily. To our delight and dismay (really. It was a toss up between the two), he couldn’t debunk it. He couldn’t come to any logical terms about why the door kept closing on him.

Yep; on him; cuz he actually went inside the tiny unlit closet during his door examination. I’ve watched enough horror to know good things do not happen in small dark spaces. It was definitely time to go!

If your interest in the Villisca Ax Murder story has been piqued or you just like scary ghost stories like me and my crew, I dare you to visit the official site of the house. It’s loaded with history, personal experiences, recorded EVPs, and everything you could want to know about planning your own visit.


The Recipe: As soon as the leaves turn their beautiful shades of red, orange, and brown and the wind stirs up autumn, we begin to crave Mike’s beer chili and my homemade cornbread. Being from Iowa surrounded by corn, I know traditional cornbread is typically baked in an 8” or 9” cast iron skillet and contains niblets of delicious golden corn in every bite. The finished bread has a crisped top with a dense creamy filling almost making it more of a buttery spoon bread. Smother it with real butter and rich honey, and you’ll have a satisfying side dish staple for all your favorite fall soups, stews, and chilis. Trust me, one hearty bite and you will put your dry, crusty box mix to rest forever….

You can see the tiny nibs of corn peeking through!

Iowa Skillet Cornbread

(Serves 6-8)



8” or 9” cast iron skillet, greased up with veggie shortening

1 ¼ c flour

¾ c cornmeal

¼ c sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 c milk

(1) 8 ounce can cream corn

¼ c canola oil

1 large egg

How To Make It:

Obligatory Reminder: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Have your skillet greased up.

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and baking powder.

2. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cream corn, milk, oil, and egg until just moist. Do not overbeat or you will have icky dry bread nobody wants to eat.

3. Pour the simple batter into the skillet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until just golden brown.

Serve it up with butter and honey!

Deadgirl’s native Iowa Skillet Cornbread and Mike’s kick-arse chili.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Naked Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes and Mike’s Meatloaf Remake

“The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” (Narrator from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)

In 1974, Tobe Hooper introduced American movie goers to the raw terror and beauty of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I fought for days trying to come up with the most righteously eloquent words to describe this masterpiece, but only a few short blurps surfaced. Thorough. Sickening. Iconic. Totally random and unrelated words, I know; but if you fit those three words together in a sentence with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, suddenly the puzzle gains an image.

I chose thorough because despite the grueling heat of a Texas summer and a stingy budget that left most underpaid (or as rumors have it- some not paid at all) , the masterminds behind this movie worked their arses off to make Hooper’s macabre vision a tangible work of art. Even the movie’s background music couldn’t have been more fitting. Listen to the eerie clanks and clutter that somehow turn into a terrifying metaphor for the insanity that is the Hewitt family. (FYI: There is a great documentary on the making of the movie available on Netflix right now).

Sickening as in “who does this sort of thing? Do sick souls like this truly exist?” Because back in its day, a cannibalistic family with members that shove lovely women onto meat hooks and keep a mummified grandparent around as entertainment were surely shocking and grotesque images. Of course, with gore porn now an official sub genre and the hundreds of other Grindhouse and modern horror movies out there, the lack of blood, guts, and effects has lessened the scare factor for newer viewers. Kind of sucks because this classic always gives me the chills. Always.

       And then finally, iconic. When I hear the word Texas, my mind immediately charges forward with the rest…Chainsaw Massacre. You simply cannot hear the roar of a chainsaw and not immediately wonder if Leatherface is wielding it. At least, I can’t. Also, when I turn on many other horror films made after 1974, I see or look for some shred of inspiration drawn from Hooper’s deranged bone-collecting Hewitt clan. Usually, it’s easy to locate.

In 2003, a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released, starring Jessica Biel and a whole lot more blood. The remade version had its great moments like better characterization of the victims, the horrifying presence of a relentless Leatherface, and uh, Jessica Biel. It also had its faultier qualities like too much back story about the Hewitt clan weaved in that lessens the terror factor and R. Lee Emery as the sheriff that manages to completely overshadow Leatherface as the “real bad guy”. The saw is mean, but the sheriff is meaner!

No matter how you like your TCM-original or reheated, one of two things will happen after watching this great movie. Either you will have a hankerin’ for a big ole greasy double cheeseburger or you will be repulsed by anything containing meat or other animal by-product. Rarely have I known someone completely unaffected, but you may fall into that category also. Either way-I have two recipes; one awesome meatloaf for the meat-cravers and one vegan sweet for the totally repulsed. My rule is to start with dessert first.

Deadgirl Naked Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes: I’m not a vegan. By any means. Midwestern girl raised on red meat, potatoes, and veggies with a side of carbs right here! However, I had many requests for a dairy-less chocolate cupcake that could rival my original chocolate macabre cake at the market. So, after many weeks of experimenting, I came up with something truly amazing; rich, moist, and chocolatey. You’d never know it was anything less of the real thing.

Deadgirl Naked Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes   

(Makes about a dozen killer treats)


1 cup water

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (my “secret weapon” to really sweetening it up)

1/3 cup veggie oil

1 ½ cups flour (all-purpose not cake for this cupcake recipe)

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup sugar

½ cup baking cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

12 cupcake liners

1 batch Naked Chocolate Cupcake Glaze

How to Make Em:

Obligatory Reminder: Spray cupcake liners with non stick baking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a small bowl, combine the 3 V’s: vinegar, vanilla, and the veggie oil. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

3. Alternately, add the 3 V formula and the cup of water to the dry flour mix. Beat into an unlumpy concoction with your hand mixer.

4. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3’s full. Bake 16-18 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and drizzle with Naked Chocolate Cupcake Glaze. Add some vegan chocolate sprinkles, too, if you want!

My zombling’s attempt at professional food styling hehe

Naked Chocolate Cupcake Glaze   

(Adequately covers 12 exposed cupcakes)



1 Tbsp instant espresso powder (I just use Folgers)

3-4 Tbsp steaming hot water

1 cup powdered sugar (or more if needed)

How to Make It:

1. Thoroughly dissolve the coffee granules in the steaming hot water.

2. Add the powdered sugar a ¼ cup at a time, whisking after each addition to make an unlumpy glaze.

3. Drizzle over the cupcakes or dunk the cupcake tops into the glaze.

4. Add vegan chocolate sprinkles, if you so desire!

Mike’s Meatloaf Remake: I don’t usually like remakes over their originals, but when it comes to meatloaf, my hubby does it much better than mine. This is the only meatloaf my zomblings will eat, and I’ve given up on trying to perfect my own. Mike’s version forms a sweetened crust from the carmelization of the brown sugar spice mix he adds into the mix, and it makes pretty decent meatloaf sandwiches the next day if you are into that.

Mike’s Meatloaf Remake

(Makes 2 loaves-one for tonight; freeze the other)



3 pounds ground beef (we use 93% lean)

2 cups old-fashioned oats (don’t try using the instant or quick oats.)

1 1/3 cups milk

4 eggs

½ cup ketchup

½ tsp nutmeg

2 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp sage

6 tbsp brown sugar

Contents of 1 box Lipton onion soup mix

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

How to Make It:

Obligatory Reminder: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the raw ground beef thoroughly with the milk, eggs, onion soup mix, salt, and pepper.

2. In another small bowl, combine the brown sugar, ketchup, nutmeg, dry mustard, and sage until smooth.

3. Add the combined spices to the raw meat mixture, using your hands to completely blend them together.

4. Form the meat into two loaves that will easily fit cockeyed into your 9×13” pan. It’s like putting two bodies in a coffin; kinda tight. Or you can just put them into two separate baking pans, if you prefer.

5. Bake for 1 hour 10 mins at 375 degrees.  (Give it a check at about an hour because all ovens are different)

All done!

Friday the 13th Part 4: Cereal Killers

Happy Friday the 13th! Regretfully, it is our final Friday the 13th of the year. So, it’s only fitting that we should travel back the path to Camp Crystal Lake circa 1984 for Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter.

Another summer another killing spree for my man, Jason Voorhees. He’s on his way home after being inexplicably resurrected in the hospital morgue. Lucky for him, a new group of oblivious youngsters have rented a cabin near Camp Crystal Lake straight across from the friendly Jarvis household. Too bad Jason isn’t quite as neighborly. He acquaints himself with his new neighbors rather savagely. Some might call it bad manners to plant a machete in another guy’s face before introducing yourself. I call it just another Friday the 13th!

Honey, I”m home!

My Screen rant: It’s no secret. Part 4 is my favorite installment in the series. It was released April 13th, 1984, topping the box office at #1 (of course) with an outstanding death toll of 14!! This was the first time in any of the many movies that I was divided on who I wanted to survive and who I absolutely needed to see bite it. I suppose today I could call it my Fantasy Camp Crystal Lake Survivors team…Team Live: The lovesick crooner, Doug, and his sweet, virginal Sarah; vengeful Rob out to do Jason some justice (haha, as if); the entire Jarvis Family (come on, they were cute), and yes-even that dork, Jimmy. I figured if he survived he could be on Dancing with the Stars: Camp Crystal Lake Survivors Edition. 

And he was such a good singer…

Team Dead: Pervert Axel and Nurse EasyPants; the B-rated Doublemint Twins, 2-timing Paulie, Ted and really…anyone else remaining outside of my Team Live picks.

He REALLY had it comin’

If you’d like to see the results of my choices, you’ll just have to pop in the movie. And while you’re up, you can make a killer treat to go with this bloody masterpiece.

The Recipe: Here in my neck of the woods, we’ve been reaching temps above 100 degrees. Nobody wants to turn on an oven. So, I’ve concocted a super simple no-bake snack; a new indulgent spin on an old classic cereal bar. Hey Hollywood isn’t the only one cranking out remakes! To tie in my favorite masked serial killer, I molded homemade fondant into his iconic hockey mask to make my own version of a Cereal Killer. Ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma-

Tip: For future reference, you can make the fondant and create the masks a few days in advance. Tightly smother your prepared fondant in plastic wrap and store your masks in closed-lid containers at room temp.

Cereal Killers

(Makes 12-24 killer treats depending on how you slash em)


6 cups crisped rice cereal (I use the reliable Rice Krispies)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

How to Make Em:

Obligatory reminder: Sticky alert! Prep your pan!! Spray a 9×13” baking pan with non-stick baking spray even though you aren’t baking.

1. In a large saucepan, heat and stir the peanut butter, sugar, and corn syrup until the sugar has dissolved completely.

2. Remove from the heat and add the cereal, one cup at a time, stirring until it is completely coated.

3. Spray your hands generously with baking spray and press the cereal mixture into the pan.

4. After washing your hands, microwave the butterscotch and chocolate chips for about a minute until just melted. Keep your eye on the process. You DO NOT want scorched chocolate. It’s terrible to deal with.

5. Stir the chips until smooth and spreadable. Spread the melted mixture atop the cereal mix and allow to set at room temperature for about 30 mins before cutting into.

6. Garnish with a tasty hockey mask and enjoy the mayhem of Friday the 13th Part 4!!


**Truth be told, I despise the taste of traditional boxed or bakery fondant. I use it strictly for decorating purposes only. However, I’ve got a recipe that takes the nasty edge off, and gives my decorations some yummy flavor while still being stable enough to mold into cool designs. 

Deadgirl Fondant

(You can get about 10-12 fiendish decos out of this recipe, but if you are thinking of covering a cake with this recipe, please double the batch)


2 cups mini marshmallows

2 tsp vanilla

2 tablespoons water

3-4 cups powdered sugar

Shortening, non-stick spray, hand/stand mixer

How to Make It:

1. Prep a microwaveable bowl by giving it a good rub down with vegetable shortening. Heat the marshmallows, vanilla, and water in the bowl for about 40 seconds. I wait until I see the marshmallows fluffing and then I pull it out and give it a few good stirs to make the mixture smooth and pourable.

2. Give your hand/stand mixer’s beaters a good spray down with nonstick spray. Combine the marshmallow mix and the powdered sugar into a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer. Blend on low until you see a nice dough forming.

Tip: If the mixture appears to dry you can add teaspoons of water until you get the best consistency. If the dough does not solidify, keep adding powdered sugar by the ¼ cup.

3. Plop your dough on a well powdered sugar surface or your cool overpriced silicone mat. Knead it with your sugary dusted hands until you are ready to slash your masks! Remember to follow my fondant storage tip above for any leftovers!!

Fondant Hockey Masks

Supplies: Fondant, craft knife or overpriced fondant tools, edible markers in black and red

1. Assuming your fondant is made or purchased-roll it out thin enough to cut but thick enough to work with.

2. Using your fancy schmancy fondant cutting tool OR a handy craft knife you reserve for food crafting, cut as many masks as you want/can (almost a heart shape, but not quite; follow my visual or look one up online).

3. Give a tiny pinch where the nose of the mask will be.

4. Using edible markers, add nostril holes, eye holes, a mouth hole, and random other venting holes to your masks. The red marker makes great blood smears, especially right where Jason gets slammed by a machete!

5. Allow a few minutes to dry before adding to your treats.