Homemade Halloween Candy Bark

Halloween Candy Bark Recipe | Halloween party ideas, Halloween recipes and entertaining tips from @cydconverse

In our new neighborhood we’re expecting trick or treaters measuring in the hundreds this year. Ours is the trick or treating route de rigueur and consistently has been even since I was a kid. My parents always drove us to this area of the city to amass our fortune of Twix and Kit Kat bars, and I kind of can’t wait to watch all the little ghosts and goblins come and go. In homage to my love for Halloween and the requisite candy, today I am over at the Maurices blog sharing my Halloween candy bark recipe! It’s the perfect way to use up your stash of leftover Halloween candy or a really festive party treat to serve your friends and family at your Halloween bash this upcoming weekend.

Halloween Candy Bark Recipe | Halloween party ideas, Halloween recipes and entertaining tips from @cydconverse

Halloween Candy Bark Recipe | Halloween party ideas, Halloween recipes and entertaining tips from @cydconverse

Halloween Candy Bark Recipe | Halloween party ideas, Halloween recipes and entertaining tips from @cydconverse

The best thing about this recipe is that it is so super simple. You don’t have to bake. You don’t have to mix. It’s even easy enough for the kids to help! Be sure to check out the recipe over at Maurices and check out my fun Halloween party ideas and tips while you’re there, too! We’re talking six quick and easy steps to setting up a seriously fun and slightly spooky Halloween party that won’t have you going crazy between now and the weekend trying to prep. In the meantime, I’ve got one more fun Halloween DIY idea coming up this week so stay tuned!

Halloween Candy Bark Recipe | Halloween party ideas, Halloween recipes and entertaining tips from @cydconverse

Halloween Candy Bark Recipe | Halloween party ideas, Halloween recipes and entertaining tips from @cydconverse

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[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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Our Cozy Fall Housewarming Party

This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that 
help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

Approximately a million years after closing on our house (or, you know, five months), we finally had a chance recently to host a sweet little housewarming party for a handful of good friends. We were thrilled to be able to team up with my good pals at Dr. Oetker Virtuoso (formerly Dr. Oetker Ristorante) to invite some of our best buds over for an afternoon of munching on delicious gourmet frozen pizza alongside a couple of great appetizers and cocktails, of course. (A few of our friends were even game enough to ham it up for the camera, too. Thanks, guys!) Dr. Oetker recently evolved their much-loved Ristorante pizza to introduce Virtuoso! After a year of research and much thoughtful consideration, they were passionate about choosing a fresh new name and brand new look that together give you a better glimpse at what’s in the box. Namely, best-in-class, premium quality pizza. The same amazingly delicious thin crust, gourmet toppings and flavor combinations, with a cool, sleek new look. All in all, it made for the perfect excuse to celebrate so celebrate we did!

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

Because we’ve been so busy and we decided to have everyone over somewhat last minute, I wanted to keep things easy and casual, but still special. Pizza, two quick yet seriously crowd-pleasing appetizers, a killer cocktail and really simple decor. For me it’s always all about the presentation! Delicious frozen Virtuoso pizza becomes a thing of beauty when served up on a wooden tray. Antipasto skewers (the world’s simplest appetizer ever) look super chic when lined up along a long white tray. Cocktails? Make a big pitcher in advance and let guests sip from cool mugs or glasses. A big vase of flowers, a few pots of mums on the front porch and we were good to go. Entertaining shouldn’t be about stress or overly complicated set up. It should be about gathering with the ones you love and celebrating life. That’s why this is my very favorite kind of party!

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

For those of you who, like me, have become huge Dr. Oetker fans, no worries! Virtuoso is the same exact pizza you’ve come to know and love, it’s just packaged up in a fresh new way. The amazing flavors (like Seasoned Chicken, Pepperoni & Ham, Mozzarella & Pesto, Mushroom, Tomato & Goat Cheese and Pepperoni Pesto) are made with the same fresh ingredients and paired with Virtuoso’s signature thin, crispy crust. Just 12 minutes or so in the oven yields you a pizza that’s practically perfect in my book. You can find Virtuoso at loads of local grocers or check out the store locator to find out exactly where it is sold near you – or put in a request with the manager at your favorite store!

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

When we first walked into our house, way back in February, we knew it was going to become a hub for all of our friends and family to gather. A few months, several impromptu gatherings, a bunch of backyard barbecues, one cozy little housewarming party and an upcoming holiday season later, and we could not be happier to have that dreamy vision coming true. We’ve celebrated everything from various wedding festivities with my sister to Baby E’s baptism and soon we’ll be celebrating her first birthday and hosting our first Thanksgiving in this house. We can’t thank Virtuoso enough for helping us toast this home we’ve come to love so much already! Stay tuned because in a few days I’ll be sharing all the awesome recipes from our party. Your party recipe box is about to thank you.

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

A Cozy Fall Housewarming Party | Entertaining ideas, party ideas, party recipes and more from @cydconverse

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, but all opinions are my own. Read more about our editorial policies. For more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, follow Virtuoso on Facebook!

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DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

I can’t believe that Halloween is just a couple of weeks out! This time last year we’d just had our baby shower and we were working hard to finish up and shoot Baby E’s nursery. At roughly 35 weeks pregnant, I was officially in the home stretch. I had already planned, prepped and photographed countless holiday season posts and I was racing the clock to do do do as much as possible before a little baby appeared in our lives. Being back in this season, with Halloween candy already stock piling in the pantry for the hundreds of trick or treaters we’re expecting, is kind of mind boggling. That said, I love good, simple Halloween decorations and DIY ideas so I have a few new ones up my sleeve to share with you this year. Today we’re kicking things off with a cool Halloween centerpiece that most closely resembles a plume of bats flying out of a bunch of branches. It’s a quick, easy craft that anyone can make in 20 minutes or less. Yes, anyone. Even those of you who think you aren’t crafty.

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

supplies2-600x24

  • Thin branches, 3 – 4′ tall
  • Bat cut-outs (or use a stencil/template to cut from card stock)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks
  • Cylinder vase

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

To get started you’ll need small bat shaped cut-outs of some kind. I found these glittery bats at Michaels and saw similar ones at Jo-Ann. Alternately, you could do a search online for a bat template or bat clip art to trace and cut out of black card stock. You’ll also need a bundle of thin, scraggly branches. I found birch branches at the craft store that happened to be painted black and were perfect for the centerpiece I had in mine. Try to find something at least 3′ tall to create a large, dramatic centerpiece to instantly add a little Halloween ambiance to your party.

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

Arrange your branches in a tall glass cylinder vase until you find the arrangement you like best. Then run a thin bead of hot glue along the backside of the center of the bats and carefully press each one onto a branch to secure. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hot glue! As you’re working, disperse your bats and make sure they’re pointed in slightly different directions to give them the appearance of a flock of bats that have been disturbed and are flying up and out of the branches in a hurry. For reference, my centerpiece used 24 bats that were just shy of 3″ across the widest part of the wings.

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

DIY Bat Branch Halloween Centerpiece | Halloween decorations, Halloween party ideas and Halloween recipes from @cydconverse

And that’s that, friends! A fun, slightly spooky, simple Halloween decor idea for your repertoire. If you’re still feeling crafty, take a few minutes to check out more of my favorite easy Halloween ideas.

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Chances are strong that you’ve seen some variation of this pumpkin cheesecake parfait recipe floating around, because it’s one I seem to see a lot of this time of year. I’ve had a version written on a stained index card tucked away in one of my favorite vintage recipe boxes for years. I’ve made it twice already in the past month, because little Em’s big brothers can’t get enough of these little parfaits and usually wrestle each other over the last one. (Also, that last part is completely true.) It’s a quick and easy dessert, perfect for fall, perfect for Thanksgiving, perfect for following up Sunday dinner. I make mine with the addition of caramel and a bit of coarse ground sea salt because it makes for a really good pairing with the pumpkin cheesecake mixture. This is one of those no-bake dessert recipes you’ll grab for again and again, so whip up a batch and enjoy!

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits
Makes 6 servings

  • 10 graham crackers, crushed
  • 4 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 14 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons caramel sauce

Using a small mixing bowl, combine crushed graham crackers and melted butter, then divide equally and press into the bottom of (6) small jars or dessert bowls. In a separate mixing bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth and whipped. Add the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the vanilla, 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and beat until well combined. Fold in canned pumpkin puree until smooth. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream, remaining vanilla, 1 tablespoon caramel sauce, and white sugar. Beat until peaks form and it reaches whipped cream consistency. Then fold half of the whipped cream into the pumpkin and cream cheese mixture. Spoon the pumpkin mixture into your jars, then top with whipped cream by either spooning it or piping it on top. Drizzle remaining caramel sauce over each parfait, then add a pinch of sea salt to each. Make the day before, the morning of or right before serving.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits | Fall recipes, fall desserts, entertaining tips, party ideas, Thanksgiving dessert ideas and more from @cydconverse

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[Recipe + art direction by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

I promised over the summer when I shared my grapefruit Moscow mule recipe that I was going hard on Moscow mules from basically now until eternity. I’m making good on my word today, with your new favorite drink of fall! An apple cider Moscow mule made with cinnamon sugar, fresh apple cider and ginger beer, of course. We’re officially at the point where we keep ginger beer stocked in the fridge at all times. Because you just never know. Maybe you come home from the cider mill with a jug of fresh cider and the mood strikes you to whip up something tasty and delicious. Maybe that happened to us the other day. Maybe I’m not going to judge you however and whenever you drink your mules. No judgement here, friends! Just be sure to give this one a try. You’ll be glad you did!

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mule
Makes 1 serving

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 3 oz ginger beer
  • 3 oz fresh apple cider
  • 1 tsp cinnamon sugar
  • 2 or 3 apple slices
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)

Place an apple slice or two in the bottom of a copper mug or cocktail glass. Sprinkle in the cinnamon sugar, then muddle with the back of a spoon. Fill the mug with ice, then pour in vodka, ginger beer and apple cider. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with an additional apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Sip and enjoy!

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

Apple Cider Moscow Mules | Cocktail recipes, party ideas, entertaining tips, recipes and more from @cydconverse

The Sweetest Occasion

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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