Crispy Halloween Sweet Potato Fries

What could be more fun and festive than a Halloween pumpkin patch of your own, right on your dinner plate? These little cuties are made from sweet potatoes, baked to crispy perfection! Fun, delicious, and the perfect comfort food on a chilly Autumn day!

These little cuties are made from sweet potatoes, baked to crispy perfection!

I don’t like to share a recipe that I have not yet tweaked to near perfection, but I’m sharing this one early because it’s a Halloween recipe. At the end of the article, I will talk about how I will be changing and hopefully improving this process for next time.

So here are the basics of how to make them!


  • Sweet Potatoes, the bigger the better!
  • Cooking oil. Whatever oil you prefer. I used Avocado oil.
  • Seasoning. Whatever combination of seasonings you prefer. I used 2 teaspoons of Old Bay in this recipe, but in the future, I will be using my custom “Gadzooks” seasonings instead. These would probably also be great with pumpkin-pie seasonings as well….and maybe even marshmallows for a sweet treat!
  • Cornstarch: 2 Teaspoons, (though I am not yet convinced this was necessary (more on that below.))


  1. Buy some nice plump sweet potatoes, the bigger the better.

2. Slice the sweet potatoes about a quarter or a third of an inch thick. A mandolin slicer is the safest and quickest way to go.

Soak the slices in water to remove the starch so that they get nice and crispy when baked.

3. Use pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters on each sweet potato slice.

4. Cut faces into the pumpkin cut-outs.

5. Toss the slices in oil, making sure to cover all slices completely. (make sure the slices are nice and dry before adding the oil. This will help them crisp better.)

6. Add Seasoning to the oil-covered slices. I suggest doing this in a plastic bag, shake and bake style.

7. Bake 425 degrees. On parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. 15 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Don’t overcrowd your baking sheet! They need some space to get properly crispy.

That’s it! Enjoy!

Notes, Fixes, and Updates:

Slicing: This is the first spot where my plan needs some improvement. I used a mandolin slicer to do this which should be quick easy work, but it was not. The sweet potatoes were so firm that it was difficult to slice through them. Maybe pre-cooking them slightly would make this work better.

Soaking: I soaked the slices in water to remove the starch so that they would bake to crispy perfection. After scouring the internet, for tricks and tips to get sweet potatoes crispy, some sources seemed to say that the key to a crispy sweet potato is removing the starch by soaking, while other recipes claimed that the key was in adding corn starch to the seasonings. Why remove the starch and then add it back in again? I am not sure, and need to do more experimenting!

Cookie Cutter: When I used my cookie cutter on each sweet potato slice, again, the slices were so firm that this was quite difficult. I had to use my meat tenderizing rubber mallet to get the cookie cutter to cut through the slices.

Faces: When I cut faces into the pumpkin cut-outs, once again this was difficult because the raw sweet potatoes were so firm.

Oiling and Seasoning: I used Old Bay seasoning, but I am not a big fan of the celery salt in Old Bay seasoning, so I think I would change the seasonings to my custom “Gadzooks” blend of:

  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesean cheese.

Baking: I ran out of parchment paper, so I had to use aluminum foil. I think they would be better on parchment. I pulled mine from the oven 5 minutes early, but I think they would have been better and more crispy if I went the full time. Also maybe a little blast from the air fryer setting would probably help as well.

Happy “Bird” Day Celebration – Our Evie Bird’s Birthday and Mother’s Day Celebration.

Happy “Bird” Day Celebration – our Evie Bird’s Birthday Celebration.

You may have noticed that we love giving each other nicknames (Evie, Feather, Peggo, etc.).

We also love personalizing every celebration and playing with words. 

When we needed a theme for our little Evie Bird’s birthday, it just seemed natural that we would have a bird-day party instead of a birthday party!

As soon as we saw these beautiful plates covered in birds, lace, tea-cups and flowers we knew they would be perfect for her Springtime bird-day party, as well as Mother’s Day!

The bird plates and napkins are paper (from Dollar Tree), so we pressed the paper plate between a silver charger plate and a clear glass plate. 

This is our new favorite way to dress up a place setting and create a custom looking party theme. We did this for Feather’s birthday party as well. 

We added a grapevine wreath on top to give each place-setting its own little “nest.” 

The table was decked out in a pink tablecloth with a white lace overlay and silver candlesticks wrapped in delicate spring blossoms. 

We added a lovely antique bird cage as the centerpiece.

Of course this birthday party would not be complete if we didn’t serve all of the birthday girl’s favorite treats(no matter how peculiar a collection of food items they may be!). 

We whipped up one of her favorites — Rice Crispy Treats!

We made a batch of our family recipe for macaroni salad. 

Our family recipe brings me right back to so very many childhood memories. 

We used to have family gatherings so large that we would make the family macaroni salad and potato salad in such large quantities that we made them directly in the crisper drawers of our fridge!

Of course we had a birthday cake for blowing out candles and making birthday wishes. (I didn’t get any pictures of the delicious Chocolate Sundae cake before it was cut, because we all gobbled it up before I could snap a single picture! Here is picture of the very last piece)

We also picked up some fresh ripe strawberries, shortcake and whipped cream for making strawberry shortcakes. 

Evie often tells the story of how she would have strawberry shortcake on her birthday when she was a child, and how it was extra special because strawberries were not available year-round like they are now. 

Strawberries were a springtime treat that always made her childhood birthdays extra sweet!

So there you have it —  Evie’s 88th Bird-day party full of birds, berries, blossoms and blessings.

Happy Bird-day to you Evie!




Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo Celebration!

Hola and Happy Cinco de Mayo!

This is one of my favorite celebrations to decorate! 

I just love all the bright bold festive colors. 

We’ve been collecting pieces for this celebration all year long! 

We scored a Mexican serape at Savers this winter for only $2.40. 

We folded it and used it as a table runner that gives a bright festive pop of color to the whole table.

We added the plates to our collection last May for Cinco de Mayo after admiring them for quite some time. 

The China pattern is Mambo by Royal Norfolk. We found these at Dollar Tree for a buck a piece. They sell the plates, bowls, mugs and they even have matching glassware and cloth items like tea towels.

We also scored some textured striped bowls at Savers — all four for $4.00. They say Avon on the bottom, but I cannot find the name of the pattern anywhere — it seems to be a retired pattern.

The Cactus Margarita Glasses are by Libbey and they are our newest pieces. 

We found ours at Dollar Tree, and they replaced a set of plastic cactus margarita glasses that we have had for many years. 

The plastic glasses were fun, but the new glass ones are so much nicer.

The centerpiece is more of a collection of colorful festive items — silk Ranunculus in yellow and orange, salsa bowls filled with fresh limes, and a decorative rope of Mexican chili peppers.

We also used lots of paper lanterns from dollar tree. We had these already for summer parties, and we plan to use them again in an upcoming birthday celebration. 

We LOVE when our decorations work for more than one celebration, it saves money AND storage space!

We finally tried Jarritos Mandarin this year after we found it on sale at Aldi with their Cinco de Mayo specials. 

It’s sweet and yummy but way too bubbly for me – I guess I have a sensitive throat, because all carbonated beverages feel like I am drinking acid! 

I guess I’ll just stick with water!

Peggo made awesome creamy cheesey filled peppers. 

We used some festive mini sweet peppers in red, yellow and orange, and she stuffed them with leftover Benedictine Spread from our Kentucky Derby Soiree

We garnished them with slices of the pepper and some chopped scallions. 

It was not spicy but it was delicious and some hot sauce would be awesome on top to give it some kick!

We don’t have any pictures of our Cinco de Mayo dinner, but we’ll be adding some soon. We have several Mexican recipes in mind that we are just dying to try, and we’ll use any excuse to pull out our fiesta-ware again!











Mini Derby Pies – Kentucky Derby Soiree

Mini Derby Pies

This recipe is a family favorite that we have been making for at least 25 years. 

Our traditional recipe uses Walnuts, but to celebrate Kentucky Derby, we wanted to make mini pecan pies — so we swapped the walnuts for pecans.

Some folks call these Tassies, others call them Tartlets but today we are calling them Mini Derby Pies because they are part of our Kentucky Derby Soiree!

Read more about that here – where you’ll find lots of Kentucky Derby decorating inspiration and some winning recipes for yummy treats like Benedictine Spread and Kentucky Hot Browns!

Here’s the Recipe! (sorry, no pictures of the baking process here — my hands were too buttery to hold the camera)

3 oz Cream Cheese
1 Stick of Butter
1 Cup of Flour

Combine all and mix well.
Shape into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter.
Shape Balls into cups by inserting a finger into the center of each.
Chill 15-20 Minutes

3/4 cup of Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 cup chopped Pecans
1 Teaspoon Butter
a pinch of Salt

Mix Together.
Fill each of the muffin cups with filling.
Bake 30 Minutes at 350 degrees
Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

In my family, we always made these for the big fall and winter holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we always doubled the recipe so we would have enough for the whole house full of guests – I miss those days a lot.

I doubled the recipe this time and was shocked that it yielded a whopping 79 mini pies. 

I believe the original recipe yields 24, so I should have only had 48 — I may be making them a lot smaller than the recipe says, but that is how we have always done it!

The original recipe says to use a mini muffin tin, but we have always just used the mini muffin cup liners and placed them all on a cookie sheet. 

It would just take way too long cooking them in multiple batches.

I’m not sure if we’ll get to the Mint Julep Brownies I had planned to make, so that will have to wait until next year. That brings our very first Kentucky Derby celebration to a close.

We had lots of fun trying new things and look forward to discovering many more reasons to celebrate!

For more Kentucky Derby check out the links below to other Magical Giggles articles packed full of Kentucky Derby decorating inspiration and winning recipes for yummy treats like Benedictine Spread and Kentucky Hot Browns!

Kentucky Derby Decorating Inspiration  
Benedictine Spread Recipe 
Kentucky Hot Browns Recipe
Mini Derby Pie Recipe

Pssst….Hold on to your sombrero — Cinco de Mayo is next! 

Festive fiesta festivities are in the works!






Benedictine Spread – Kentucky Derby Soiree

Benedictine Spread Recipe

This Kentucky Derby staple was brand new to us, and it definitely received rave reviews from all in attendance at our Kentucky Derby Soiree!

I didn’t take any pictures of the process of making the spread or the canapes, but I’ll do my best to describe it all!

The ingredients were just the basics:

1 block of Cream Cheese
1/4 cup of Sour Cream
1 whole Cucumber, finely grated
1/4 of a White Onion, finely minced

The key to this recipe was the draining of the excess moisture from the Cucumber and the onion. 

The way we accomplished this was by pressing in a fine mesh colander lined with paper towels. 

It was a lot of pressing and squeezing, because cucumbers hold a tremendous amount of water, but it was well worth it in the end!

Combine the Cream Cheese and the Sour Cream and then add the well drained minced onions and cucumber  — that’s pretty much it! 

We made ours the night before to give it some time for all the flavors to mingle.

The canapes were made by spreading the Benedictine Spread between two slices of soft fresh white bread and then stamping them out with a canape cutter. 

The garnish is thinly sliced cucumber.

In my research I found that many people make this spread with green pepper Tabasco Sauce, which gives it both a little kick of spice as well as it’s signature light green coloring. 

We didn’t have any of the green Tabasco Sauce, and it just didn’t feel right to add green dye, so ours is in it’s natural white. 

I slightly regret the lack of green now because it makes it very difficult to see the spread between the slices of white bread (especially in pictures) — it still tastes fantastic though!

In my research about this Derby Day treat, I found that Benedictine Spread was created in Louisville Kentucky by a fellow Jenny (Jennie Carter Benedict)– so you know I had to give this recipe a try!

For more Kentucky Derby check out the links below to other Magical Giggles articles packed full of Kentucky Derby decorating inspiration and winning recipes for yummy treats like Benedictine Spread and Kentucky Hot Browns!

Kentucky Derby Decorating Inspiration  
Benedictine Spread Recipe 
Kentucky Hot Browns Recipe
Mini Derby Pie Recipe







Kentucky Hot Browns – Kentucky Derby Soiree

Kentucky Derby Hot Brown Bake Recipe

In our home, when we find a new event to celebrate we are always very excited. 

We love all the research and exploration of the traditions or customs behind any event we are about to celebrate for the first time. 

We love the decorating and all of the creative challenges that come along with it, but one of our family’s favorite parts of a new celebration is trying new foods.

It feels so adventurous to try new things, even if it is from the safety of your very own dining room!

At the same time, we often find that the original or traditional recipes can be intimidating! That is where more interpretive ‘quickie’ recipes come in handy.

We planned on combining a few of our favorite recipes, hoping to cross a Monte Cristo recipe with our favorite Stuffed French Toast Bake recipe. 

Then we found  this awesome recipe on Pinterest which seemed to do exactly that, so we gave it a try (with just a few very minor alterations) and it was exactly what we were trying to create, and it made a perfect festive treat for our Kentucky Derby Soiree.

So here’s what you’ll need!

1 Roll of Crescent Rolls (8oz)
1lb of Turkey Breast (lunch meat)
10 Slices of cooked Bacon
8 slices of Swiss Cheese
3 Roma Tomatoes
4 Eggs (beaten)

We found all of these items at Aldi, so the prices were great!. 

The grand total is $11.55 if you don’t have any of the ingredients already, and there will be lots of extra ingredients left over (8 eggs, 5 tomatoes, and some bacon, turkey and swiss cheese.) 

Here’s how to put it all together!

First, line an 8 inch pan with foil – it’ll make clean-up time a breeze! 

Then open up the crescent rolls. I always scream when I do this. That explosion when the can bursts scares me EVERY time!

Unroll and separate the dough into two large squares. Place one square on the bottom of the pan and reserve the other square for the top(pictured above).

Layer half the ingredients and pour half of the beaten eggs over it.
Repeat and layer the remaining bacon, tomato,cheese and turkey — then top it with the remaining dough square and pour the remaining eggs over the top of the dough.


Cover in foil and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 20 to 40 minutes – until the top is a lovely brown color.

Let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to allow it to set before cutting or serving.
Here it is plated and ready to eat!

It is sooooo delicious! We’ll definitely be making this one again!

For more Kentucky Derby check out the links below to other Magical Giggles articles packed full of Kentucky Derby decorating inspiration and winning recipes for yummy treats like Benedictine Spread and Mini Derby Pies!



A Kentucky Derby Soiree

Kentucky Derby Festivities underway!

Here in the Hickey home, we have never attended the Kentucky Derby, or a Kentucky Derby soiree, but with a little bit of research and creativity we have cobbled together our own little version of the festivities here at home.

My fear was that it would end up looking too much like a Christmas party in May, but I think we actually pulled off a festive Derby look!

The only things we knew would definitely be part of the table design would be lots of plaid, silver, horses and red roses. 

We used some dollar tree finds like mini trophies and toy horses to pull the look together, along with some printable graphics that we designed for the occasion. 

As most celebrations go, there are certain traditional foods and drinks that go hand and hand with the event. 

Though we are not from the South, we have been attempting more Southern celebrations and foods like when we celebrated Mardi Gras and made our own version of King Cake and Monte Cristo

For Kentucky Derby our menu plan includes Benedictine Spread, Kentucky Hot Browns, Derby Pie, and Mint Julep Brownies.

I have been dreaming of making a virgin version of Mint Juleps ever since our Mardi Gras celebration, but have not yet found a make-me-buy-it price on those gorgeous silver beaded mint julep cups.

So far we’ve made and tasted the Benedictine Spread, the Kentucky Hot Brown Bake, and the Mini Derby Pies.

All three are so very yummy and received rave reviews from everyone who joined us for our Kentucky Derby Dinner. 

For more Kentucky Derby check out the links below to other Magical Giggles articles packed full of Kentucky Derby decorating inspiration and winning recipes for yummy treats like Benedictine Spread and Kentucky Hot Browns!

Kentucky Derby Decorating Inspiration  
Benedictine Spread Recipe 
Kentucky Hot Browns Recipe
Mini Derby Pie Recipe









Are you an Easter Feaster?

Are you a Easter Feaster? Did you have an Easter Feast?

We did!

It is my sincerest hope that nothing I ever post on this blog ever comes across as bragging in any way. It is my wish that that the only thing this blog does is spread joy and serve as a reminder to celebrate every moment.

I can clearly recall past Easters where life had not been so kind and we could not fit an Easter Feast into the budget or I had simply lost the ability to celebrate or appreciate much of anything — we just skipped the holidays. Those were very dark days.

The things that I write about in this blog are like a Spring celebration — coming back after a long winter hibernation.

Back to the celebrating! Spring is here again.

This year our dining table converted to spring on the first day of spring. 

Overnight on Easter eve, the Easter Bunny did his own special magic and left us Easter treats at each of our place settings.

This year the Easter Bunny left us each our very own Chocolate bunny in a bed of Easter grass. 

We also received adorable little foil wrapped chocolate chicks, pink bunnies, and solid chocolate eggs! 

There were jelly beans set in silver dishes and lets not forget the Peeps! 

He also left us a little silver dish of After Dinner Mints. They are so pretty and pastel and I think I have only ever eaten them at Easter time!

We also found our Smithfield Spiral Ham at Aldi, and it was delicious!

Peggo says it was the best ham she ever made. It was not at all fatty, no bone, no waste, easy to cut, perfect size, easy to cook and easy clean-up. It even came in a festive foil  wrapper that had spirals on it. I mention the wrapper because I appreciate the detail. 

Our Easter Feast was the above mentioned spiral ham, delicious steamed carrots and red potatoes seasoned with rosemary and thyme. 

For dessert we had scrumptious mini eclairs and cream puffs. So so so yummy!

This Easter and every Easter, we always seem to be just a little bit behind schedule and the coloring of the eggs seems to happen on Easter Eve.

We bought 4 dozen for coloring. Is that excessive? I always wonder how many eggs other families color for Easter. 

It seems wasteful to use the color for less than 2 dozen, and anything more than 4 dozen and I don’t think we could ever possibly eat them all before they spoil. 

We’ll be up to our ears in egg salad as it is! 

For our ‘egg party’ we ate warm soft pretzels and jelly beans while we brought out our great storehouse of Easter egg coloring kits. 

I have been saving the dippers from Easter egg coloring kits for MANY years now. 

We have an egg dipper for every color now (and then some) and it makes the coloring so much easier!

Though many aspect of Easter tuned out picture perfect, there were a few poorly hatched plans that did not quite turn out as expected, and some downright silly substitutions were made.

I had hoped to create one of those lovely pineapple covered hams — the pretty ones with the pineapple rings and maraschino cherry centers.

We kind of forgot about that step, so I had a bunch of pineapple rings with no place to go. 

Honestly, the rings turned out way too big for the ham anyway, so it was no real loss, plus now we’ll have fresh pineapple with breakfast for a week!

Our silly substitution this year comes in the form of an onion! 

I was hoping to have some fresh flowering bulbs for Easter, but I never got around to buying any. 

At the same time, one of our onions decided to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight as our Easter plant.

I swear, just seeing the greens coming out of the bulb makes me feel happy!

We plan to plant it in the garden along with the potatoes that grew eyes and now have mini leaves growing out of them!! 

It may still be cold outside, but spring sure is sprouting in our kitchen!

That sums up our Easter celebration! I’m going to go relax on the couch, watch The Ten Commandments and eat my yellow Easter Peep!

Happy Easter!!!













Key Lime Rainbow Cupcakes

Welcome Springtime!

I am always up for a cupcake party, and the First Day of Spring is a perfect excuse for one!

We had intended to make these cupcakes as a St Patrick’s Day treat — sort of an end-of -the-rainbow pot-of-gold Leprechaun thing — but the time got away from us and we didn’t make that deadline.

Instead these cupcakes are in celebration of the first day of Spring (even if it does look like Springtime on the North Pole right now outside).

They are Key Lime cake with a cloud of Vanilla frosting swirled high and a candy rainbow on top.

The taste is light and fresh and everything one could hope for in a springtime treat!

Here are all the details!

We used a Pillsbury box cake mix! *gasp* We didn’t even change anything — we just followed the directions on the box.

I can’t remember where we got this cake mix, but I think it was Walmart or Target — it seems to be a seasonal item that comes and goes throughout the year.

It is delicious. I wish I could claim it as my own recipe!

It’s light and fresh and the key lime flavor is divine.

The rainbows are made from Air Heads Extremes: Sweetly Sour Candy Rainbow Berry. 

We picked them up at Walmart — $1.38 for a pack of 20 (just 4 short of the 24 needed for all my cupcakes!).

They taste sour and then sweet. 

When combined with the fresh Key lime flavor of the cake and creamy vanilla in the frosting, they add an extra dimension to the flavor — unexpected and simply scrumptious!

The dry cake mix is oddly white, and we thought we were going to have to add food coloring, but as soon as we mixed in the eggs, oil and water, the green color came out — I guess it’s powdered color suspended in the mix.

Warning, this batter is thick and nearly killed our electric hand mixer. The box says to beat the batter for 2 minutes. We were not able to do that so we just used the whisk and a lot of arm power.

It was so thick that it felt like scooping heavy pudding into the cupcake cups!

At that point we thought it was not going to turn out well at all, but thank goodness we were wrong!

When they were cooled we loaded up our pastry bag (more of a pastry tube — like a calking gun for cooking) with Vanilla frosting and swirled on the vanilla ‘cloud’ with a decorative tip.

The Airhead Extremes are a little bit too long straight from the package, so we cut about an inch off of each strip with kitchen sheers. 

When the strips are too long, the rainbows tend to warp and topple, so this simple snip solves that problem (and also leaves you with ‘extra’ candy bits for snacking).

We just tucked each end into the creamy cloud to create the rainbow and they held in place beautifully.

The tangy sour taste of the candy complimented the cupcake and frosting very nicely!

And that was that! A perfect light and yummy Key Lime Cuppycake to celebrate the very first day of Spring!

After such a long hard winter, we all deserve a nice springtime treat!

Happy First Day of Spring!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Top ‘O the mornin’ to ya!

Here’s hoping that you don’t get pinched, and that you find your pot of gold!

This year we pulled it all together for a St. Patrick’s Day feast!

We kicked around lots of ideas for St. Patrick’s dinner that would be outside the box of the traditional corned beef and cabbage, but the old standard came back by popular demand.

I had a hard time convincing Peggo that we should try corned beef one more time before giving up on this St. Patrick’s day staple. 

A sale on corned beef and the fact that I scored a free slow cooker from Sears (Shop Your Way Rewards..yippeee) was all we needed as a nudge to give it one more try.

We cooked the corned beef in the slow cooker for 8 hours and it came out perfectly! It was tender and juicy and flavorful — a true delight even for a non-meat-lover like me.

This year even Peggo agreed this was the best corned beef we ever made. It also cut like a dream instead of being too tough or too crumbly. 

We will definitely be using the slow cooker again!

We steamed all the veggies separately and they were awesome and flavorful as they always are when steamed.

We also made two loaves of Irish Soda Bread this year.

The first loaf was the traditional bread with raisins and caraway seeds, because our Evie loves the traditional kind and she specifically requested that kind.

Peggo does not like raisins and Feather cannot eat seeds, so for our second loaf we decided to get a little bit wild and break tradition by adding only dried cranberries to the dough. 

Both of loaves have received rave reviews by family members who gobbled them up like happy little Leprechauns, so it looks like everyone is happy with their St. Patrick’s treats this year!

I so wish that I had taken pictures of all the baking and cooking, but it just didn’t happen — but there’s always next year!

We’re just three days away from Spring now. We’ll soon be seeing lots of green outdoors — which makes it much easier to pack up all the festive green decorations.

Hippity Hoppity, Easter’s on it’s way!

Keep chasing rainbows! Your pot of gold is out there!

Looking for more St. Patrick’s stuff?

Leprechaun Free Printable Activity- Click here!

St Patrick’s Day Decorating Inspiration– Click here!

St. Patrick’s Day Potato Soup– Click here!