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Happy Halloween from Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!
Now get your haunt on and start cooking!
Place a large flour tortilla on a dinner plate. Sprinkle evenly with orange sharp cheddar cheese. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut out a Jack-o-Lantern face from a second tortilla and place it on top of the cheese-sprinkled tortilla. Zap in the microwave until the cheese melts, about 8 seconds. Add a celery stem and serve.
Ice Scream Pie
Fill a prepared graham cracker crust with softened orange sherbet and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the pie in the freezer until it firms up. To decorate the top of the pie, gently press an open-backed Halloween cookie cutter, such as a black cat, into the center. Carefully fill the interior of the cutter with a generous layer of chocolate sprinkles. Remove the cutter to reveal a perfect replica. Return the pie to the freezer until serving time.
Crunchy Graveyard Bones
Dip pretzel rods into melted chocolate or brightly colored candy melts and decorate with Halloween sprinkles. Place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet until coating hardens, about 10 minutes. (Candy melts come in a variety of colors and flavors and can be found at craft supply stores, Walmart and large grocery stores.
Spread an 8-ounce wheel of Brie with apricot preserves or your favorite fruit chutney. Center the cheese round in a square of storebought frozen puff pastry that has been thawed and lightly rolled out. Gather up the four corners of the sheet and bring together above the Brie, twisting slightly to form a bundle. Tie the bundle at the neck with kitchen string, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and brush lightly with beaten egg. Bake at 375 degrees until pastry is golden all over, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes and place on a platter. Garnish with fresh kumquats and grapes, if desired. Let guests serve themselves, cutting the purse into small wedges.
Freeze rubber snakes in a slab of ice to make a clever serving tray for broccoli florets, red pepper slices, carrots, and celery! To make the slab, fill a large sheet cake pan with water and arrange 2 or 3 long, rubber snakes, upside down, in the water. Freeze solid. When ready to serve, remove pan from freezer and let thaw for about 5 minutes. Turn the block of ice out onto a large, high-sided tray that will hold the water as the ice melts. (Or, just flip it over and serve it in the same sheet pan you made it in.) Arrange vegetables on top. Depending on its size, the block will last for 5 to 6 hours. The snakes become more visible as it melts.
Muffins From Hell
Make corn bread batter using one of the many mixes available. Stir in a pinch of crushed red pepper. Fill muffin cups halfway full of batter. Drop in a dollop (about ½ teaspoonful) of hot pepper jelly. Top off with more batter, completely covering the jelly and filling the cup almost to the top. Bake according to package directions. Serve warm with cream cheese.
Mix together ¼ cup of prepared pesto, 8 ounces of softened goat cheese, and 4 ounces of softened cream cheese. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls and roll the balls in poppy seeds or coarsely ground black pepper. Insert a triangular-shaped tortilla chip into either side of each ball to make wings. (Blue corn chips make nice dark wings.) Add eyes made from slices of pimento-stuffed olives or black olive slices with a pink peppercorn pressed into the center.
Black Cat Sammies
Freeze thinly sliced dark bread, such as Pumpernickel. Let thaw partially, and cut out cat shapes using a cookie cutter. (Using partially frozen bread slices allows you to cut out the shapes more easily without tearing the bread.) Sandwich prepared orange “Pimento Cheese Spread” between 2 cat cutouts. Arrange sandwiches on a platter and keep covered with plastic wrap until just before serving.
Use scissors to cut corn tortillas into freeform ghost shapes. Punch eye-holes into each ghost shape using a wooden skewer. Brush a large baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange the ghosts on the sheet and brush them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. As they bake, the ghosts will curl up slightly before becoming crisp, giving them a livelier shape. Let chips cool before serving with “Satan’s Smokey Guacamole,” below. (For more spirited chips, add pinches of spices to the oil before brushing the ghosts. A combo of chili powder, paprika, cumin and cayenne works well.)
Satan’s Smokey Guacamole
Scoop the flesh of 3 avocados into a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in 2/3 cup each finely chopped onions and chopped fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped, and ½ teaspoon each cumin and salt. Serve with “Ghost Chips,” above.
Note: Some of these recipes are excerpted from past Halloween articles I’ve written for All You magazine
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