FOR A PERFECTLY GHASTLY EVENING
Includes recipes below
Whether you plan to frolic or not on Halloween, it's still fun to enjoy a few tasty bugs and beetles that are spirited with a little touch of ghoulishness. As for us (unofficially known as those intolerably silly witches of the Southwest), Halloween is our very favorite holiday, and we simply wouldn't dream of missing a perfectly good haunt.
The cauldron begins bubbling at midnight, the bewitching hour, of course, and we do hope you'll join us for the festivities. We'll cast a spell to promise a full moon--that's standard lighting for our witch's den, you know, and we do so adore the eerie atmosphere! We'll toss a few goodies like black widow spiders, and rats and toads, and that sort of gourmet fare into our large black kettle so you know you can count on a positively ghastly menu. If you can't stay for the all of the merrymaking, do drop in for a skull-mug of Hot Spider Cider.
We're working devilishly on our guest list. This year we must include the new witch on the block--the one from Salem. She's a little green around the edges, but seems sufficiently skilled in proper spell casting. Then, we should have the Ghouls, the Devil, Mr. and Mrs. Casper, the Banshee Family, the Goblin triplets, the ill-tempered Trolls, the Warlocks on the corner, the Zombies, the Rattling Bones clan, and the rest of the neighborhood elites.
There'll be games galore and plenty of entertainment for the little spooks! We'll begin with our Parade of Ghost Floats and place a spooktacular crown of hissing snakes on the Ghoul Queen. Throughout the night the Skull Jugglers and Dancing Tombstones will perform to music by the Monster Mash Quartet and the Banshee Bone Band. The little monsters partake in games like Guess Who's in the Coffin and How Many Beetles in the Beetle Jar while the Mummies and Draculas can participate in the Vampire Hunt and the Rattlesnake Toss. And for the prizes, we know everyone will be drooling over the 5-pound Tub of Tarantulas.
And what's a party without delicious things to eat? So here's the light menu we've been planning for our frolic. We hope you find it as enticing as we do when we created our little tidbits of finger foods.
Cat Tails and Spider Stuffed Mushrooms
Yum! Those cattails really set this appetizer apart from the mundane. And a few freshly chopped spiders add the finishing touch! Party guests usually arrive ravenously hungry and eager to eat. The perfect appetizer is one you can make ahead and pop into the oven for a quick warming. And that is exactly why this recipe works so well. The mushrooms do not need to be cooked in advance, just stuffed and refrigerated if not served right away. Because the mushrooms soften in the oven, they can be a bit messy as finger food. Serve them on small dishes and offer your guests forks and knives.
CAT TAILS AND SPIDER STUFFED MUSHROOMS
(Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms)
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
1 13.75-ounce (375g) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained, divided
Note: For a dramatic presentation that may bring a few gasps or chuckles, garnish each mushroom with a small, plastic ant or spider just before serving. The critters can be purchased at a party shop or Halloween store.
This creamy dip is adaptive enough to serve at any meal, but for your Halloween bash, surround the dip bowl with a bountiful variety of fresh raw veggies of your choice. With a few creative cuts and pokes, your handy paring knife can put some ghostly personality on a few whole radishes and button mushrooms.
(Cheezy Tofu Spread with Pine Nuts)
Yield: 2 cups
1/2 cup (120 ml) pine nuts
3 tablespoons unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons red miso
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Serve immediately or thoroughly chilled. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, Cheezy Tofu Spread with Pine Nuts will keep for one week.
Note: Create a creamier dip by simply processing the ingredients with soft or regular tofu in place of the extra-firm tofu.
Hearty Zombie Lunch Sandwiches
Zombie Butter Pasta
When this spooky night brings you the shivers, reach for this delicious, lightly spiced, pleasantly sweet beverage to warm you and your guests. If you've stocked up on spiders, ants, and beetles at the party shop, add a perfectly frightful garnish to each glass of punch. The recipe serves only 4, but you can easily double or triple the recipe as needed.
HOT SPIDER CIDER
(Grape Pomegranate Punch)
Yield: 4 servings
2 cups (480 ml) pomegranate juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses or pomegranate syrup
2 sticks cinnamon
8 allspice berries
1 dash Tabasco Sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a 3-quart (3 liter) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly to medium-high and boil for 5 minutes. Strain into cups and enjoy.