CARTHAGE, Mo. —
While the trees didn't cooperate and change colors in time for the Maple Leaf Festival, at least the rain stopped and gave us a clear morning for watching the parade. We had loads of fun and got to see many friends we miss through the year.
Halloween is still eight days away, and you might be planning a big party this weekend, so I didn't want to wait until the last minute to share some great party food ideas. "Frightfully Fun Halloween Recipes" is the only book you need to plan the perfect get-together for ghosts and goblins, or if you simply want to plan a ghoulish evening for your family.
Let's start with simple sugar cookies. Cut them out to resemble ghosts, witches' hats, bats and black cats. Round cookies make perfect eyeballs. Just frost them with white frosting, place a piece of black licorice in the middle, and make thin, squiggly red lines from the middle to the outer edge for that veiny look. Deviled eggs also make awesome eyes. Cut the sugar cookies into an egg shape, then frost with yellow, orange and white stripes to resemble a piece of candy corn.
Get out that bundt pan and bake up a pumpkin-shaped cake, then use a green frosted ice cream cone as the stem. Form a cheese ball to resemble a pumpkin, stick a large pretzel stick in the top for the stem, and decorate a face on the front with olives and peppers. I've included a recipe today for such a cheese ball that uses pumpkin as a surprise ingredient.
For ghosts on a stick, melt white almond bark, put a wooden craft stick into the stem end of a pear, and dip the pear into the melted bark. Place two chocolate chips for eyes, and you will think it's looking right back at you.
Any punch can be witches' brew, but it can be made even better by freezing colored water in a plastic glove, which can be used as an ice ring. Or consider freezing gummy worms in your regular ice ring.
Position candy corn, white end out, into a clear plastic glove to resemble fingernails, then fill the glove with caramel corn. You can even put a spider ring on one of the fingers.
For a spider web effect on your dips, cakes and cupcakes, use sour cream for the dips and a contrasting frosting for cakes. Make three circles around the dish and put a dollop of sour cream or frosting in the center. From center to edge, run a knife through the top six to eight times to make the webbed effect.
Serve up a dinner of mummy dogs, which are simply hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls with the top peeking out of one end. Dot with mustard and a poppy seed for eyes. These are just a few of the many spooky and creative ideas for Halloween fun.
Please allow me to set the record straight as to the fact that I know Ken Schramm does not live in Carthage. In fact, I can show you exactly where he and Dianne live in Joplin. Ken's name made it into my last column, as I found out when I visited the Rich Schramm house on parade day. I assured them I had just mentioned the Schramms and had definitely not put Ken's name in there. I'm not sure they bought the true story, but they were still very gracious. I walked away with a delicious breakfast burrito prepared by Jana Schramm.
All of today's recipes are from "Frightfully Fun Halloween Recipes." They are so good you won't want to save them for Halloween -- omit the faces and make these recipes all year long. Buy enough Halloween candy to ensure leftovers because next week I will share some great recipes using all that uneaten candy. Have a wonderful fall week and happy eating.
Halloween chicken pizza masks
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 English muffins, split
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
1 large red or green pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can sliced black olives, drained
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add first four ingredients. Cook and stir about 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink; set aside. Cover large baking sheet with foil and arrange muffins in single layer on pan. Spread 2 tablespoons pizza sauce on each muffin half. Cover generously with chicken mixture, dividing evenly. Cut 12 slivers of bell pepper into "smiling" mouth shapes and set aside. Chop remaining bell pepper and sprinkle over pizzas. Combine cheese in a small bowl and sprinkle generously over pizzas. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes or until cheese is light brown. Make face on pizza with 2 olive slices for eyes and pepper slice for mouth. Yields 12 mini-pizzas.
Jack-o'-lantern cheese ball
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup solid pack pumpkin
1/4 cup pineapple preserves
1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice and nutmeg
1 pretzel rod, broken in half
Sliced black olives
Red pepper slices
Beat first six ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Cover and chill 2 to 3 hours or until cheese is firm enough to shape. Form into pumpkin shape and place on serving dish. Using a knife, score vertical lines down pumpkin and place pretzel rod in top for stem. Decorate face with olives and red pepper. Cover loosely and chill until serving. Serve with crackers. Yields 16 to 18 servings.
Chocolate-dipped caramel apples
1 (14-ounce) package apples
1 teaspoon water
6 medium apples
4 ounces chocolate almond bark
White decorating icing
6 wooden craft sticks
Candy corn, gummy worms and assorted candies
Cover baking sheet with waxed paper. Combine caramels and water in medium saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Rinse and thoroughly dry apples. Insert sticks into stem ends. Dip apples, one at a time, into caramel mixture, coating completely. Remove excess by scraping apple bottom across rim of saucepan. Place on waxed paper. Place almond bark in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted. Dip apples halfway into chocolate. Return to waxed paper. Decorate as desired using a small amount of additional icing to secure decorations on apples. Chill until firm. Yields 6 servings.
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.