Friday, October 24, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Carving, Charlie Brown!

I've invested in an electric pumpkin carver and let me just tell you, it's the best 7.99 and tax I've ever spent!

Hello, my name is Jamie and I am addicted to Halloween!
This is for my new friend, and fellow Halloween addict, Carolyn....

I had every intention of catching this post, that I scheduled in advance, before it posted so that I could add the pics. The truth is I've been partying like it's Halloween - groan-up style - and the time just got away from me! Here are pics!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Party Menu

The Menu

Mummy Dogs
Frankenstien's Brain
Witch Con Queso & Witch Hat Chips
The Great Pumpkin Dip with Crackers Garden Veggies
Exotic Olive Bugs
Ghoul Aid
Chocolate Owl Cakes
Witch Finger Cookies
Monster Party Mix

I was not in control of my camera the night of my party. My intention was to take a pic of each of the dishes I served and then share the recipe. But once the guests started to arrive I was scrambling around like a mad woman and was lucky that my SIL thought to snap a few pics for me. are a few more recipes I have to share with you sans pics. I hope you enjoy!

Here is a picture of the sweets table. That's me in the kitchen and the Georgia game on the TV....brothers!

Mummy Dogs

This one is quite easy and well worth it for the little Boils and Ghouls at your party! All you do is purchase some breadstick or crescent dough from the refridgerated dough section - or better yet you find Pilsbury Recipe Creations dough - and you use your pizza cutter to slice thin sections of dough. Wrap the dough around hotdog weiners or cocktail sausages making sure to leave some of the weiner showing especially at the top where your mummy's eyes will go. Pop them into the oven at 350° for 18 - 20 minutes. Place small dollups of mustard or put peppercorns on the weiners for eyes. You can serve them lying down or put them on popscicle sticks before putting them into the oven. When they've cooled enough to work with, place them onto your prepared tray. Here I placed a sheet of styrofoam covered with moss onto a platter.

I serve mine with spiderweb ketup and mustard. Fill a small bowl with ketchup. Place a small dollop of mustard into the center of the ketchup. Then squeeze out a small circle around the dollop continuing to squeeze a couple more circles around the previous cirlce. Then take a toothpick and drag it from the insdie dollop past the outtermost circle. Continue until you've created the perfect spiderweb!

Witch's Caldron Pasta with Broomstick Breadsticks
I serve this dish EVERY halloween. It's super yummy, easy and unique!

1lb of corkscrew pasta
1 jar (16oz) Alfredo pasta sauce
3 oz of cream cheese
1 box (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Prepare pasta (I use the tri-colored corkscrew) according to package directions. Heat Alfredo sauce in medium saucepan over low heat. Squeeze spinach to remove excess moisture. Put spinach, cream cheese and nutmeg in blender and blend until smooth. Stir spinach blend into Alfredo sauce and heat through. When pasta is done, drain and mix with warmed sauce. Yum!

Broomstick Breadsticks

All you need is a package of refridgerated breakstick dough. Preheat oven to 375°. Unroll dough and divide along preforations. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 in. apart. Press each breadstick into 8 x 1 1/2" strip. Twist one end of the breadstick to make broom handle. Use kitchen shears to cut 5 or 6 slits (2" long) into other end of each breadstick. Seperate dough at slits to form broom straws. Bake 15 to 18 minutes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frightening Finger Cookies

Some fun cookies for your Halloween party but even more fun for your taste buds!

Witch Fingers

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Red decorating gel
1/2 cup slide almonds

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and extracts. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Divide dough into fourths. Cover and refridgerate for 30 minutes or until easy to handle. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into 1-in. balls. Shape balls into 3-in. x 1/2-in. fingers. Using the flat tip of a table knife, make an indention on one end of each for fingernail. With a knife, make three slashes in the middle of each finger for knuckle. Place 2-in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 3 minutes. Squeeze a small amount of red gel on nail bed; press a sliced almond over gel for nail, allow gel to ooze around nail. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 5 dozen cookies.

The more broken and jagged the almond the better the nails look. Also, you might opt to add just a little green food coloring to the dough to give these witch fingers a special green-skinned hue!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ghoul Aid

No simple punch would do for a Halloween party! Check out our Ghoul Aid. It's an eyeball ice cube paired with your favorite red soda or punch. Wanna have one at your party? Here's how to do it:

Eyeball Ice Ring

Round-bottom bowl or round lettuce-crisper lid
Flat-bottom bowl
Kiwi fruit
Black olive
Chunk-style pineapple
Red lace candy
Favorite dark-red punch or soft drink

Balance the round-bottom bowl or lettuce crisper lid inside another bowl with a flat bottom. Slice the kiwi fruit horizontially about 3/8-inch-thick. Cut out white center of the fruit; discard. Place the kiwi in the center of the bowl.

Cut a 3/8-inch-thick slice off the end of a pitted black olive. Place olive slice in the center of opening of the kiwi with the rounded tip touching the bowl. Place chunk pineapple pieces along the edge of the kiwi to create the iris of the eye.

Cut random lengths of red lace candy, leaving them long enough to extend over the edges of the bowl. Carefully place the red lace along the sides of the bowl, touching the pineapple at the bottom and extending over the edges of the bowl at the top.

Place the stacked bowls on the freezer shelf. Very slowly pour water into the bowl until the bowl is one-third full. Freeze for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until ice forms a firm layer and begins to turn white on the edges.

Add additional water to fill the bowl to within 1 1/2 inches from the top. Freeze 4 to 6 mores hours or overnight.

Dip the bottom of the ice-ring bowl into a sink of warm water. Then slip the ice ring out of the bowl and place it in the punch.

I assure you, this ice ring puts the punch in the party!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Haunting

The key to any good Halloween party is for it to be perfectly haunted!

I have ALWAYS wanted to have a Halloween party! My son, who is now 5, reminds me of Halloween when I was 5. I had pneumonia so I couldn't Trick or Treat, go to any parties or, in my mind, have any fun. So I resentfully stood at our front door and "gave" out candy to everyone who came a knocking. Of course, my icy stare and hateful looks probably gave a scare that no costume could accomplish.

I love Halloween. I always have. It's one of my favorite holidays. Christmas is near and dear to my heart and is probably my most favorite. But at Christmas time, in addition to all of the fun, you get nostalgic and you miss lost loved ones. Halloween isn't like that, at least not for me. Halloween is a time where you can have fun, be imaginative and turn yourself into anything you want.

I decided my son's 5th Halloween would be a perfect time for that Halloween party I've always wanted to have. Over the years I've collected most every Halloween party book, cookbook and idea book they make. You know those irrestible little booklets they keep by the front counter at the supermarket? I'm a sucker for those. Anyway, this party has been a long time coming and I've had years to plan.

We had a ton of fun. The kids did a waterless apple bob. We hung bewitched apples in the trees with fishing line and they seemingly floated of their own accord. We played carnival stlye games: Witch's Kettle Toss, Witch's broom limbo and everyone's favorite, a hayride. We even had a ghost pinata filled with candy but the kids were mostly content to munch on apples. Our area has been covered in clouds for the last week and we prayed for a repreieve from the rain just long enough to enjoy our party.

It drizzled most of the time which I think the kids actually appreciated and it stopped just long enough for us to enjoy a mostly dry hayride. Once the party was over it poured good and hard. I guess that was to make up for the 2 hour "reprieve" we had during the party.

I've got many more boo-tiful pictures to share with you and some frightly fun recipes but, for today, I'll show you how we haunted the place!

The Dining Room

Madame Lost Her Head


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wise Owl Cake

A recipe from one of my new favorite designers, Matthew Mead. It can be found in his new book, Halloween Tricks & Treats

Wise Owl Cake

30 Unfrosted cupcakes, store-bought or made from your favorite recipe. (I used Devils Food!)
1 Recipe Easy Icing*
1 Tube ready-made vanilla decorating frosting (to fill donut holes)
2 Chocolate-glazed jimmy-topped donuts
2 black jelly beans

Orange gel food color
Red gel food color
Decorating bags with couplers
#199 fine cut tip, #2 and #5 round tips
Offset spatula

To decorate the cake

1. Arrange the cupcakes in a single layer to fill a large round plate (ours is 16 inches in diameter).

2. Spoon 3/4 cup Easy Icing into a small bowl. Tint with 23 drops orange food color and 10 drops red food color, mixing until blended, for the beak. Spoon 1/4 cup frosting into a second bowl and tint with brown food color, for the accents. Tint the remaining 3 cups frosting with 30 drops of orange food color, 9 drops of red food color, and 6 drops of brown food color.

3. Fit decorating bag with the #199 tip. Fill the bag with orange icing. Cover the top of the assembled cupcakes with "feather" peaks as shown. For each peak, hold the bag straight up with the tip against the cake; squeeze the bag, keeping the tip in the icing until the peak forms; stop the pressure and reposition the tip for the next peak. Work from the center out, rotating the plate; refill the bag as needed.

4. Place the donut tops on the frosted cake for eyes, as shown. Pipe vanilla decorating frosting into the center of each and top with a jelly bean. For the beak, use a spoon to place 3 drops of frosting on the cake: start with a largish dollop near the eyes, then add 2 dollops below it, each smaller than the previous. Run the spatula under hot water until heated, dry thoroughly, and use to contour the beak as shown.

5. Fit the other decorator bag with the #5 round tip. Fill the bag with the brown icing. Hold the bag at an angle and pipe the brow outline onto the cake as shown. Change the tip to the #2 round tip and pipe on the squiggle details.

Easy Icing

They call this "easy" but it's just plain good! It's a pure shade of white so it's easy to tint.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioner's sugar

Beat the shortening, vanilla and almond extracts, butter flavoring, and salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add 2 cups confectioner's sugar, beating well. Beat in 2 tablespoons water. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups confectioner's sugar; add 1 to 3 tablespoons more water, as needed, beating to a spreadable consistency.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Recipe for Halloween

We had such a wonderful Halloween party over the weekend. Wish you could have been there! I cannot wait to show you pics of the fun we had. But first I'll share one of the terrorific dishes we enjoyed. I've promised lots of fun recipes for you this Halloween season and I promise there'll be more where this came from!

Frankenstein's Brain

3 lbs of frozen cooked medium shrimp (with tails), thawed and drained well
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 cup of chicken broth
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
3 cloved garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a 1 1/2-quart glass bowl (3 inches high, 7 1/2 inches in diameter), begin arranging shrimp, tails toward the center, in a circle to make a flat layer in the bottom of the bowl. (Only the round backs of the shrimp should be visible from the outside of the bowl. Repeat layers until bowl is full, pressing down every couple layers. As bowl fills up , tuck strips of the roasted red pepper in and around shrimp forming "blood vessels". (It helps to peer through the sides of the glass bowl to adjust as necessary.) When bowl is full, press down firmly with a plate that fits inside the bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine chicken broth and unflavored gelatin; let stand 5 minutes. Cook and stir over medium heat until gelatin has dissolved. Whisk in lemon peel, lemon juice, tomato paste, honey, garlic, salt, ginger and cayenne pepper until combined. Pour mixture over shrimp in bowl. Cover and chill at least 5 hours or overnight.

To unmold, set bowl in sink filled with warm water for several seconds. Invert a large plate and bowl together and remove bowl to unmold. Cover and chill until needed. (Up to 24 hours)

Tastes MUCH better than it looks! For those of you who are on the squimish side, I have a nice little Owl Cake coming up just for you! Enjoy!
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