No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Brain

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Brain

Scare your friends and serve delicious brains on Halloween. This no-bake strawberry cheesecake made from plastic molds looks real. Add “blood” fruit syrup and you’ve got the spookiest dessert in town.


Level: Intermediate             Total: 5 hr (includes chilling and freezing times)               Active: 40 min               Yield: 8 servings



Graham Cracker Crust:

1 sleeve graham crackers (9 whole crackers)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch fine salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin (from two and a half 1/4-ounce packages)

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch fine salt

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cups heavy cream

Bright red gel food coloring, for coloring the cheesecake
Strawberry Syrup:

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Nonstick cooking spray, for the mold



Special equipment: a plastic 9.75-by-8.5-by-4-inch (7-cup) brain-shaped gelatin mold

1. For the graham cracker crust: Pulse the graham crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor until crumbs form. Drizzle in the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the food processor.

2. For the cheesecake: Whisk the gelatin into 1/3 cup warm water and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Pulse the cream cheese in the food processor until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Then add the granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, lemon juice and softened gelatin. Pulse until completely smooth. With the food processor running, add the heavy cream and enough food coloring to make the batter a light pink. Process until combined.

4. For the strawberry syrup: Combine the strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer and simmer until the berries are very soft but still holding their shape. Strain the syrup, transfer the berries to a small bowl and chill. Return the syrup to the saucepan and continue cooking until thickened, about 10 minutes. Chill the syrup until ready to use.

5. Coat a plastic 9.75-by-8.5-by-4-inch (7-cup) brain-shaped gelatin mold generously with nonstick cooking spray. Pour half of the cheesecake batter into the mold, swirling the batter to cover all sides of the mold. Freeze for 5 minutes to let the batter thicken. Using the back of a spoon, spread the batter up the sides so there is a 1/2-inch-thick coating around the entire mold. Freeze for 10 minutes to set the batter.

6. Add the strawberries to the center of the mold. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the strawberry syrup over the strawberries. Evenly spread the remaining batter over the berries, pressing the batter into the mold to fill any gaps. Top with the graham cracker crumbs, pressing to create a firm crust. Place the cheesecake in the freezer until the sides are very firm and almost frozen, about 2 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours before serving.

7. To unmold the cheesecake: First, carefully place the mold briefly into a bowl of hot water, then run a small offset spatula around the edge of the mold to help release the cheesecake from the sides. Invert onto a plate and poke small holes in the mold with a paring knife to help release the cheesecake from the mold. Carefully pull off the mold. Top the brain with the remaining strawberry syrup.

Candy Corn Craft

Candy Corn Craft

A preschooler and toddler can easily make this Candy Corn Craft using free printables and glue. Just use scrap paper and your child can create their project.

Materials Needed for Candy Corn Craft:

  • Candy Corn Template (grab it below)
  • White, orange, & yellow construction paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors

How to Make the Candy Corn Craft:

I printed my candy corn image out on cardstock but regular paper should be fine.

set up for halloween craft

Set your crafting station up by tearing up little pieces of each color of paper. This is a part that kids like to help with.

Since my little gal is three she needed a picture of a candy corn to look at so she knew where to put her colors. (I’m sure there is some fancy name for the skill to recreate an image she’s looking at.) We recruited a neighbor-friend to come help us craft.

kids making candy corn halloween craft
kids crafting for halloween

Both this three year old and five year old enjoyed the project.

Can you guess which one belongs to the three year old and which one belongs to the five year old? Bet you can’t…

Candy corn craft idea

It was a 15 minute project that anyone can do. Seriously.






Chicken Pumpkins

Chicken Pumpkins

You won’t be able to take your hands off these creepy shortbread cookies – even dipping them in raspberry jam will make them look like a bunch of torn fingers!

Level: Intermediate          Total: 2 hr 50 min (includes chilling time)            Active: 40 min          Yield: 8 servings



4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)

3 cups buttermilk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 mozzarella cheese sticks

Vegetable oil, for frying

2 celery stalks with leaves attached

One 14.2-ounce box Cheddar crackers, such as Cheez-It (about 5 cups)

Ranch sauce, for serving



Special equipment: a deep-frying thermometer

1. Cut a series of deep slits crosswise into each chicken breast (do not cut through), about 3/4 inch apart from one another. Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise.

2. Whisk together the buttermilk, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

3. Meanwhile, cut each cheese stick in half crosswise so you have into 8 pieces. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.

4. Fill a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with 3 to 4 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Set a rack on a baking sheet.

5. Meanwhile, trim the skinny tops from the celery stalks and remove any leaves. Cut eight 1-inch pieces from the skinny tops (these will be your pumpkin stems) and set aside.

6. Add the Cheddar crackers and 1 teaspoon salt to a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

7. One at a time, remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk mixture, letting the excess drip off. Transfer to the bowl of cracker crumbs and toss to thoroughly coat. Shake off any excess coating and transfer to a cutting board, cut-side down. Place a piece of cheese on one end of the chicken and roll up to enclose the cheese. Seal with a toothpick.

8. Working in batches of two, carefully lower the coated chicken into the oil using a slotted spoon. Fry the chicken until golden, cooked through and a thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 160 degrees F, about 4 minutes. Remove to the prepared rack to drain. Insert a celery stem in the center of each pumpkin so it sticks in the cheese. Serve hot with ranch sauce.

Witch Finger Cookies

Witch Finger Cookies

You won’t be able to take your hands off these creepy shortbread cookies – even dipping them in raspberry jam will make them look like a bunch of torn fingers!


Level: Easy                  Total: 2 hr                  Active: 20 min              Yield: 28 finger cookies



Vegetable oil cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

28 large sliced almonds

1/2 cup raspberry jam




1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray or line with a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until a dough forms.

4. Using about1 1/2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough between your palms into 5-inch-long fingers about 1/2-inch thick. Firmly press a sliced almond into the end of each finger to make fingernails. Make several horizontal cuts, about 1/4 inch deep and 1/2 inch long, in the center of each finger to make knuckles. Press the dough on either side of the cuts to shape the knuckles. Arrange the fingers on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer the fingers to a wire rack and cool completely.

5. In a small saucepan, heat the jam over low heat until warm, about 2 minutes. Dip the blunt ends of the fingers in the warm jam and arrange on a platter.


Pumpkin Apple Stamps

Pumpkin Apple Stamps

These Pumpkin Apple Stamps are a fun way to celebrate the coming fall! Here’s a kids craft to keep kids busy creating art!

This is such an easy kids craft and I think it’s so awesome. Kids can stamp and paint their own pumpkins and add fun faces as the paint dries. This is a super fun fall craft for kids that will let their imaginations run wild and spark their creativity.

If you’re looking for easier crafts for kids, be sure to check out some of my other projects like I also have a collection of fun Halloween crafts including Bat Halloween Treat Mugs, Kids Line Learning Pumpkin Art and Ghost Bat Halloween Bottle Cap Magnets. When your kids finish making pumpkin art with apples, try asking them to find other fresh produce or recyclables to stamp. For example, the bottom of a soda bottle can be used for beautiful floral art. have fun!


Pumpkin Apple Stamps


Orange craft paint
Green craft paint
Paint brushes
Cutting board
White paper

These Pumpkin Apple Stamps are a fun way to celebrate the coming autumn season! This is a kids craft that will keep children busy creating works of art!



1. (Parent step) First cut your apples in half, dry inside and outside with paper towel

2. On a paper plate or scrap paper, squirt a little orange paint on one, and green on the other

These Pumpkin Apple Stamps are a fun way to celebrate the coming autumn season! This is a kids craft that will keep children busy creating works of art!

3. Using the inside of the apple as a stamp , dip the inside of your apple in orange paint, making sure it’s completely covered in paint, then stamp on your white paper

These Pumpkin Apple Stamps are a fun way to celebrate the coming autumn season! This is a kids craft that will keep children busy creating works of art!

4. Using a paint brush, paint a leaf and stem of the top of your pumpkins

5. Let your beautiful pumpkins dry and display proudly

These Pumpkin Apple Stamps are a fun way to celebrate the coming autumn season! This is a kids craft that will keep children busy creating works of art!

Alternatively once your pumpkins dry, use black markers or crayons to create Jack-o-lanterns for some Halloween fun!