...because home doesn't happen overnight.
10.31.12 / My Halloween Treat

I hope you and yours are safe, dry and warm. My thoughts are with those who weathered storm Sandy, lost a loved one/home/business/power and with those who are working diligently around the clock to restore some sort of normalcy. Just when I think I’m having a bad day, I’m reminded that there are plenty of people who have it far worse than me. I’m humbled.

HH is out of town. For, like, three weeks. Three weeks with three kids = survival mode. I’m doing what I can. Last night was trick-or-treat night in our neighborhood. Since HH is gone, our friends graciously offered to come visit me and the kids and to take the boys door-to-door. The weather was cold, wet and windy. There was no way I was taking Mabrey out. I’m so thankful to have such awesome friends! Which reminds me…I totally need to hit them up for a house tour. They recently renovated a ranch home just blocks away from us and have impeccable style.

Anyhow, my friend Kristina is gluten-free and I’m dairy-free {due to a certain seven-month-old. Can you believe it?! Seven months!} so I decided to whip up some treats just for us.

They’re chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cookie dough frosting. That’s a lot of my favorite things in one dessert: chocolate, cupcakes, peanut butter, cookie dough and frosting. Come on. And, sadly, while gluten-free and dairy-free, they are not sugar- or calorie-free. But, hey, it was Halloween. And I’m breastfeeding. And I’m husbandless. For three weeks. Did I mention HH is gone for three weeks?

I found the original recipe here then tweaked the ingredients on my own to make them gluten- and dairy-free. Here’s my version. This recipe makes ~14 cupcakes.

For the cupcakes:

Pamela’s chocolate cake mix {found at my local Kroger in the natural food section} + water + eggs + oil according to package directions for making cupcakes. FYI – I’ve found that I usually have to add on a few minutes to bake times for gluten-free recipes. Allow cupcakes to cool.

For the frosting:

3/4 c. of butter flavor Crisco, softened {make sure it’s butter flavor!}

1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. peanut butter

1/4 c. almond milk

1/2 t. vanilla

1 & 1/4 c. gluten-free flour {I used King Arthur brand found at Kroger in the baking section.}

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate mini chips, chilled in the fridge {also found at Kroger in the natural food section}

Use a mixer {my hand mixer works just fine for this} to beat Crisco and sugars together for 2 minutes. Mix in peanut butter, almond milk and vanilla. Slowly incorporate flour and salt and mix on low speed. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Once cupcakes are cool, pile on the frosting. Then indulge. YUM.

In other Halloween news, Layne and Everett dressed as a dragon knight and Iron Man, respectively.

They are both at this stage where it’s not cool for your mom to DIY your costume. I would have loved to brainstorm my own ideas for their costumes and make them myself but they weren’t going for it. So I dropped it. They were perfectly happy in their store bought costumes.

What treats are you whipping up today? What costumes will you/your kids/your pets be wearing?

Happy Halloween!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking




Love those heroic poses! My little guy is only three months old, so he couldn’t argue about a DIY costume. He’s Captain America, and a pretty darn cute one if I say so myself. :)

I’ve been experimenting with grain- and sugar-free baking lately, and on Monday I made almond flour pumpkin bars sweetened with maple syrup and honey. Delicious!


The cupcakes look amazing! Chocolate and PB are also my favorites.

I attempted vegan (truthfully, I was just out of eggs) apple cinnamon oatmeal muffins last night and they were a total fail. Gray, gummy and underdone. Trade? ;)


P.S. The pumpkin bars can be dairy-free too if you’re interested! http://thenourishinghome.com/tag/almond-flour-pumpkin-bars/


Cupcakes look devine! Enjoy ~ we only go through this life once (as far as we know). As for the kids costumes ~ why stress making something – buying is great and you’re done! They look great!


Those cupcakes sound amazing!! I am going to be making s’more crescent rolls at my sister in law’s house for our “staged” Halloween. Our girls are going as Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the trick or treat in most of the Cleveland suburbs got moved to this weekend, when we will all be in Vegas for a wedding! So our 17month old Thing 1 and 10 month old Thing 2 will just have to look cute!

Happy Halloween!


Homemade Thing 1 and 2 . . . .


My 6 year old son is Mario. My 13 year old Dalmatian is Luigi. My 2.5 month old baby girl is Princess Peach. Dad and I aren’t dressing up this year.


Happy Halloween! ALSO, congratulations on winning your division at Room for Color! I just voted for you for the finalist award.


Thanks Martha!


Hi Dana.
I am looking for a fun holiday/CHristmas craft idea for the whole family that could be done over thanksgiving. Any ideas?


I have had to avoid dairy and soy with ALL SIX of my children. They would cry constantly, get belly aches and even break out in rashes if I were to ingest even the smallest amounts of either of these proteins. BUT I was always able to start slowly adding both back into my diet at 4 months. It was never an actual allergy, just an inability to properly digest those large proteins coming through my milk. Most babies have some tummy troubles for the 1st 4 months (or as one Dr. told me, “There tummies don’t work properly for a while.”) When you describe Layne as a baby, I would guess that his colic was the same thing Mabrey had going on. I realize I could be completely wrong here, but you could probably start eating dairy again seeing as Mabrey is now 7 months old. She may not have had an “allergy” so much as an inability to digest the milk proteins and her digestive system should be plenty mature by now. You could always start small and watch her reaction…


I actually did fall off the non-dairy wagon two weeks ago when we celebrated a family birthday. Unfortunately, Mabrey developed pretty severe vomiting and diarrhea that lasted for 5 days. So, I’m back to absolutely no dairy for the time being.

And you’re right about Layne! I was only able to breastfeed him for 6 weeks due to health problems on my end: hyperprolactinemia, extreme weight loss and an underlying cardiac arrhythmia that was diagnosed and treated via ablation months later. Anyhow, he was on formula from 6 weeks on and at about 3 months old ended up with blood in his stool. It was so severe, it was plainly visible without a fecal test. They diagnosed him as “intolerant of cow’s milk protein” and was on special formula from then on. The switch to a different formula coupled with my discovery of swaddling gave both of us a new lease on life!


Oh hun. You eat all the cupcakes your heart desires! Survival mode demands it. :) Good luck and hang in there!


We had Clark Kent, a Cat and a pumpkin. Clark and the Cat were handmade-ish as in we picked things up that were not halloween related and made them into outfits…except for the cat ears. The Pumpkin, all 3 have now wore for their first Halloween! Tons of fun. Wish I could share a pic, they were so cute!

Thank you SO much Dana!! I’ve wanted to make a very special set of cupcakes for my best friend at her request- only problem is she is dairy free, and the recipe has a buttercream frosting. Butter flavored Crisco is going to save the day!! Woo hoo!!


Oh! I should say that after turning a year old, we gradually introduced dairy back into Layne’s diet and he was fine.


But what did Mabrey wear for Halloween? I kept hoping you would post pics today…maybe tomorrow? Pretty please?


She was a ladybug. It was just a simple onesie with dots and wings that my bonus mom got her. She didn’t go out treating bc the weather was awful.


Happy belated Halloween – those cakes look delicious!