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Tips offered for improving Halloween hijinks

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - This bloody hand meatloaf could be a spook entree for Halloween.

I absolutely love the spooky hijinks of Halloween. I love cutting jack o-lanterns, bobbing for apples, hearing eerie music waft through the darkness. I guess I enjoy a good spine tingling.

This is a simple holiday to observe; no cards to send or gifts to buy. You’ve got just three aspects to consider to ensure a successful Halloween. One, don’t give out lame candy; two, you’ve got to have the perfect costume; and three, you’ve got to plan a spooky Halloween feast.

Let’s address the candy first. It’s your treat, so you get to choose what to give out. I buy Almond Joy, Rolos, Dots or Snickers — candy my husband Mark and I like in case we have leftovers. Mark makes caramel apples for the neighborhood kids, which are a big hit.

When my kids were little I was naturally concerned about the amount of sugar they would eat as they plowed through their big haul of candy. I thought I would be a big hero by giving out sensible things, like Halloween pencils or yo-yos. Bad idea. Plain and simple, they want candy.

My favorite costumes are those you pull together from what you have on hand — big baggy overalls, flowing ball gowns, floppy hats — you get the idea. But part of the fun of Halloween is roaming the aisles of bloody swords, eye patches and ugly teeth at the Halloween super stores. You have to go at least once during October — it adds to the anticipation of the haunting holiday.

Now, about the Halloween feast. Many people have parties on the weekend nearest Halloween, and count that as the feast. I like to make sure we have something fun to eat on Halloween night itself, too. Traditional menus included Bloody Fingers (Little Smoky sausages cooked in barbecue sauce), Candy Corn Pizza (homemade pizza topped with pepperoni, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, which when sliced, look just like a piece of candy corn), Bat Wings (teriyaki chicken wings) and apple cider with ice hands, frozen in disposable gloves. Or black pasta, made with squid ink, and bright red tomato sauce.

Thinking it might be time to update the Halloween feast I browsed the Internet looking for ghoulish dishes to share with you. Here are a few I discovered:

These Puff Pastry Intestines look disgustlingly real.

Puff Pastry Intestines — these look disgustingly like the real thing. To make them, you will need a package of puff pastry thawed and sloppy joe mix. The instructions can be found online at instructables.com/id/puff-pastry-intestines/?ALLSTEPS.

Bloody Hand — This is simple and very gory looking, but tasty. Simply form your favorite meatloaf recipe into the shape of a hand. Serve it atop of bed of mashed potatoes or cauliflower. Notice the onion used as a wrist bone. Put that in when you bake the meatloaf.

Pickled Brains — This is another great visual treat. Pickle whole heads of cauliflower in clear glass jars overnight. Get the recipe online at marthastewart.com/print/318853.

Make this Halloween your best haunting holiday ever. The recipes shared today are intended to add a perfectly ghoulish touch to your Halloween feast. Try them this weekend so you are ready for the fun next week.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure.

Ladies Fingers are easy to make and tasty. Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com.

Ladies’ Fingers

Makes about 30

2 tablespoons red food coloring

30 blanched almonds

2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper, and set aside.

Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. Using a small clean paintbrush, color one rounded half of each almond. Set aside to dry.

Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, confectioner’s sugar, granulated sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg mixture, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into 15 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece back and forth with palms into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife. Transfer fingers to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

When all finger are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.

Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.com.

These Shrunken Heads will add a scary touch to the punchbowl. Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

Shrunken Heads in Cider

Serves 30

2 cups lemon juice

2 tablespoons coarse salt

8 large Granny Smith apples

32 whole cloves

2 gallons apple cider

2 (12-ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

2 cups spiced rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together lemon juice and salt; set aside.

Peel apples and cut each in half through the stem, remove seeds and core. Using a sharp paring knife, carve a face, as desired, on the rounded side of each apple half. Place apples in lemon mixture for 1 minute; transfer to paper towels to drain.

Place apples, face-side up on prepared baking sheet and transfer to oven. Let bake until apples are dry and begin to brown around the edges, about 90 minutes. Remove apples from baking sheets and press cloves into the eye sockets.

Combine cider, lemonade and run, if using, in a large punchbowl; float shrunken heads on top.

Recipe courtesy of MarthaStewart.com.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at brandall@lakeoswegoreview.com. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.

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