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25 Halloween Costumes w/Your LBD

The easiest way to create a last-minute or inexpensive Halloween costume is to start with things you already have. I do it every year, because I get so frustrated with how expensive yet poorly-made most Halloween costumes are. I'd rather use what is already in my closet, or spend a little extra on accessories or a new dress that I can wear anytime of the year. A little black dress is the easiest way to use what you have to create a Halloween costume with a few inexpensive accessories and other accessories you probably already have in your closet.Pictured Above: Halloween Black Mesh Dress

1. Black Cat - This is the easiest way to use your little black dress on Halloween. I know it's pretty much the most generic costume in history, but for good reason - it's just so easy and affordable. It's the perfect last-minute costume for women, because you could really use any black outfit even if you don't have a little black dress. Pair it with your black flats or heels and a…

Strawberry-Wine Layer Cake

Naked cakes are still a huge trend, especially for weddings and special events. I couldn't be more thrilled, because they're so much easier to decorate than a traditional layer cake. To be honest, decorating cakes has not always been my strong suit when it comes to baking. I tend to cheat by picking toppers that are so pretty they do all of the work for me, like these beautiful pink roses and bright red strawberries. When all else fails, I chop the cake into cubes and layer it with fruit and cream inside a trifle dish.

The flavors in this strawberry-wine cake start with both fresh strawberries and sweet strawberry preserves. It is coincidentally a healthier version, as my daughters can't have dairy, and I like to cut back on sugar. Just the cake itself without the frosting is actually fairly healthy, even more-so if you swap out the flour with a healthier gluten-free option. You can even swap out the jam by simmering a cup of diced strawberries with a 1/4 cup of water and 1 packets of stevia. Keep in mind it's fairly a dense and rich cake, almost like a carrot cake or banana bread (which in part is a great texture to hold up against the wine glaze). Though if you want to lighten up the texture, replace the bananas with 1/2 cup butter or cooking oil.

*makes two 9-inch rounds
  • 8 packets Stevia + 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 cup diced fresh strawberries (about 8 medium strawberries)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 large very ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup low-fat milk (or dairy-free option)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or seeds from 2 fresh vanilla beans if possible)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour  
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • non-stick spray or oil/butter for baking rounds
  • 16 oz. strawberry frosting
For Wine Reduction Sauce
  • 1 cup sweet wine, like a white zinfandel or sweet pink wine
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
*In a small pot, combine and bring to boil. Stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved completely, then turn down to medium-high heat and let simmer 10 - 15 minutes until thickened. (Should still be somewhat runny.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a large bowl mash bananas then add stevia /sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla and blend well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. *Note: The cinnamon doesn't give this batter a spiced flavor. I simply use it to help bring out the sweetness since I've cut out half the sugar. It also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, so I try to eat it anytime I eat sugar.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend just until incorporated. Fold in diced strawberries and strawberry preserves.
  5. Spray each baking round with cooking spray and fill about halfway with batter.
  6.  Bake about 30 minutes or until center is cooked through. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  7. Okay, here is where I cheated a little and used store-bought frosting. Sometimes things just get crazy, and it's okay to take a shortcut. If you want to make it from scratch, here is a really great strawberry butter-cream frosting recipe.
Decorating the Cake
  1. Arrange one cake round on your cake stand. Use a toothpick to poke little holes all over the top, piercing about 3/4 of the way towards the bottom.
  2.  Use a basting brush to glaze the top with your wine reduction then use a rubber spatula to spread the strawberry frosting from the center outward. 
  3. Top with the second layer and repeat the previous step.
  4. Cut the stems off the roses, leaving just enough to stick into the cake (see photo above) and peel off any damaged petals.
  5. Place one rose into the middle of the cake and make a circle around it with about 6 more roses, depending on how big they are. 
  6. You can cut the stems off the strawberries, but I left them on to give some contrasting green color to the mix. Arrange each strawberry in the spaces between the roses. Push them in slightly to help support the flowers. 
  7. Then place 3 to 4 more strawberries around the center rose, nestling them in between the natural gaps with the stem sides down. 
  8. Take the flowers off before cutting the cake. You can use each rose as a garnish and serve each piece with a strawberry or two. Enjoy!

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