Why should kids have all the fun on Halloween? Whip up your own petrifying party -- for the adults. Take one haunted house, add ghoulish guests and stir in the following ingredients to yield hours of eerie enjoyment. Writer Sandra Lee, author of Semi-Homemade Cooking shares her ideas!
Halloween is all about atmosphere, so dim the lights or use black or red bulbs to set the scene. Line your walkway with Halloween luminaries to lure your "victims" inside. Cover the furniture in white sheets and rent videos of old black and white horror movies, like Dracula or Frankenstein, to play on the VCR.
To complete the nightmare, crank up the creepy tunes. The Monster Mash CD is frightfully fun, or buy a Scary Sounds CD. Don't forget the bathroom. For a touch of the theatrical, spatter fake blood in the bathtub and around the sink. For entertainment, tuck a fortune teller behind a black curtain and give each guest a 15-minute date with destiny.
Fiendish finger food
Show you're a gruesome gourmet with this menacing menu.
Make sandwiches on white bread using pimento cheese, chicken salad, ham, turkey or roast beef. Trim the crusts from sandwiches and cut into long, narrow "fingers." Carve a slice of tomato skin into a fingernail and attach it with mayonnaise. Place cuts at the bottom of the "finger" sandwich with a serrated blade that's been smeared with red food coloring.
For a heartier snack, hollow out a medium-sized pumpkin and use it to hold melted jack cheese. Use Halloween-shaped cookie cutters to cut chunks of French bread and cubed Del Monte' new potatoes. Serve with other fun foods for dipping, like sweet midget gherkins, figs, pretzels and ridged potato chips. Turn smaller pumpkins into serving bowls, and use them to hold trail mix, orange and black M&Ms and candy corn.
Caramel Apple Dip
Here's the adult version of bobbing for apples. Serve a big bowl of sliced green/Granny Smith apples alongside a bowl of caramel dip or caramel ice-cream topping and a bowl of chopped nuts. Guests can make their own bite-size caramel apples.
You'll get lots of leers when you serve these Creepy Crunchy Eyeballs, scarily simple to create with donut rounds, white frosting and candy. For a snack your guests will scurry to sample, make a Spider's Nest Dip, garnished with a wicked web of plastic spiders. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips and watch guests go for bite after bite.
Fire up the cauldron. Any of these potent potions will have your most bloodthirsty guests gushing.
Whip up a bubbling batch of brew by mixing lime gelatin and Mountain Dew or Canada Dry ginger ale in a pitcher. Add a vicious volt with a spike of vodka. Place a block of dry ice in a plastic cauldron and set a punch bowl inside the cauldron, on top of the dry ice. (Cauldrons are available at your local party or crafts store, and you can find dry ice at ice cream shops or ice companies. Dry ice will burn skin, so be sure to handle it with gloves and tongs and keep it away from kids and pets!) Entrap a sterilized rubber hand (available at party stores) between the cauldron and the punch bowl, squeezed tight so that it appears to be reaching out of the mist for help! Pour the pitcher of brew into the cauldron's punch bowl and grab your guests a drink -- or two!
To create a quick bar, drape a table in black fabric or paper, and lean a chalkboard with Specialties of the Haunted House against the wall or on an easel. List spirited concoctions, such as Bloody Marys, Zombies and Monster Margaritas, as well as fun cranberry and orange juice drinks, garnished with gummy worms or Grenadine drizzled down the side of the glass to look like dripping blood.
Creepy Hint: Chill drinks with creepy cubes. Simply freeze small plastic spiders in ice cubes. (Be sure to sterilize the bugs by placing them in a pot of boiling water for five to 10 seconds.) For blood cubes, fill an ice cube tray with water, drizzle in Grenadine and freeze. (Make sure not to mix the water and Grenadine, as this will diminish the "spattered blood" effect.)
Creepy Crunchy Eyeballs
Reserve unused chocolate. Place the jellied candies on top surface of donut holes. Refrigerate until set. Re-heat chocolate if necessary. Place a small dab of melted chocolate on the chocolate candies and stick them onto the jellied candies. Refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix two drops of food coloring with 2 teaspoons melted chocolate. Use a toothpick to draw "veins" on the eyeballs. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 20 servings. Prep time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes
Spider's Nest Dip
Drain the olives and layer over the salsa. Add a layer of the sour cream mixture. Add a layer of guacamole. To decorate the top, spoon a medium-sized dollop of sour cream in the center. This is the spider's "nest."
Spoon the rest of the sour cream into a zipper plastic bag. Cut a very small piece out of one of the bottom corners of the bag and, starting at the outer edge of the dip, pipe a thin circle around the perimeter. Create another circle half way between the perimeter circle and the center dollop, creating three circles.
Using a knife blade, toothpick or skewer, drag a thin line of the sour cream from the "nest" outward toward the edge of the dish. Continue making lines all around the "nest" to complete the spider web design. Position whole black beans onto the sour cream "web." Embellish with plastic decorative spiders. Serve with a bowl of blue tortilla chips, and watch your guests scurry to get a bite!
Prep time: 10 minutes.