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My wife and I attended a Halloween dinner years ago prepared by my good friend, Jim Stanley, from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who continued this tradition for his kids and family until his untimely passing a short time ago.
Jim explained it’s “not really about the food as much as it is about the atmosphere you create and the presentation of the dishes and the implication of what they might be.”
Enhance the lighting with votive candles placed in carved-out pumpkins; garnish Halloween martinis with three candy corns speared through a toothpick, instead of the traditional olives; freeze gummy worms and other wiggly creatures into ice cubes.
For your centerpiece, serve up some “witches brew” from a black cauldron filled with dry-ice for a smokey “graveyard” effect. Ladle punch into cups without any dry ice and it will be perfectly safe. If you want cooler drinks, add ice to the cups, not the punch bowl. Smaller pieces of dry ice with more surface area produce a greater volume of fog and cool the water down much faster.
Use 1-2 lbs. of dry ice for each gallon of water. Keep the water warm using a hot plate or crock-pot some other heat source to produce fog for a longer time. Otherwise, when the water gets too cold, it must be replaced to continue the fog effect. If the container is completely filled with water, the fog will flow over the sides the best.
Caution: Keep dry ice away from children if they cannot be closely supervised at all times.
Dry ice temperature is extremely cold at -109.3 degrees. Always handle dry ice with care and wear protective cloth or leather gloves whenever touching it. An oven mitt or towel will work. If touched briefly it is harmless, but prolonged contact with the skin will freeze cells and cause injury similar to a burn.
I’ve added a few of my own “dishes” to our menu and I’m sure you can come up with a few of your own.
Question: What do skeletons say before eating?
Answer: Bone Appetite.
For a ghoulish side dish, fill a carved-out pumpkin with a steamed, whole cauliflower that has been brushed with diluted blue and red food coloring. Then, pour some “blood sauce” over the cauliflower and use the top of the pumpkin as a lid-when the lid is lifted off for serving; the cauliflower looks like the pumpkin’s “brain”.
8 oz. Velveeta cheese
4 oz. mild cheddar cheese
4 oz. Swiss cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 pt. milk or cream
1 tsp. garlic powder
In a large saucepan or double boiler, heat all ingredients until cheese is melted and combined. Keep warm, but do not cook any further. Just before serving, add red food coloring to the sauce; mix well.
4 lbs. chicken wings
2 cups ketchup
1-1/2 cups molasses
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
Hot sauce to taste
Black food coloring
Blue food coloring
Green food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large roasting pan, whisk together the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, hot sauce, salt and pepper until smooth. Add enough black, blue and green food colorings to the sauce to make a dark, black sauce. Add wings to the sauce and toss to coat evenly, poking the wings liberally with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes, and then increase the temperature to 450 degrees. Toss the wings in the sauce again to coat evenly. Bake until the sauce is thickened and slightly blackened, flipping the wings over occasionally, about another 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
4 medium-size Russet potatoes
4-6 medium-size red potatoes
3-4 eggs, beaten
Salt to taste
Boil peeled potatoes until tender. Mash potatoes with some butter and salt (no milk or cream). Add one beaten egg for every 2 cups of potatoes and mix in thoroughly. Place 4-inch diameter balls of potatoes on a greased cookie sheet. Use a fork to shape the sides of the ball into a volcano shape. Place a one-inch sq. piece of Velveeta cheese on top of volcano. Sprinkle the top generously with paprika. Place in 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes. The cheese should melt and run down the sides. The potatoes should have a slightly crisp, brown skin.
1-2 lbs. whole carrots, medium length
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 stick butter
Cut whole carrots into 4-inch lengths. Using a vegetable peeler, shape the carrots into finger shapes. Make sure there is a flat spot at the end where the “nail” should be. Carefully place carrots in water just to cover. Add salt, sugar and butter. Cook until tender. Arrange carrots on a serving plate, nail-side up. Place a sliced almond piece where the nail should go.
1 spice or German chocolate cake mix
1 white cake mix
1 pkg. white sandwich cookies
12 small Tootsie Rolls
1 litter box
1 plastic scoop
Prepare cake mixes and bake according to directions. Crumble white sandwich cookies in small batches in blender; they tend to stick, so scrape often. When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble into a large bowl; toss with half the white cookie crumbs. Put mixture into clean litter box. Microwave Tootsie Rolls on a safe dish until soft and pliable. Shape ends so they are no longer blunt, curving slightly. Bury a few in the mixture. Place the rest on top of the litter. To serve: Sprinkle litter over vanilla ice cream (don’t forget a Tootsie Roll) using a new pooper-scooper or an old one for added flavor.
Note: All recipes should serve 6-8 “ghoulish” friends.