The sky even put on it’s best spooky display for us that evening.
Remember back when we managed to sidestep the issue of a tiny house keeping us from holding a dinner party by renting the back room of a restaurant and the result was an awesome time? Well that experience led us to holding another gathering in a setting that I wish I owned — we held a bonfire party in the midst of a corn maze. And it was festive as hell. If you can manage to find something similar I highly recommend doing this. Heck, let’s all make it an annual tradition.
It was late September but the corn was really, really tall.
Last year Scott and I visited half a dozen corn mazes because I love them. We went to one night maze at Bob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm and it was spooky and fun but half way through the maze we were surprised to come across an area with bonfires and a little concession stand selling cider and s’mores kits and suddenly it was THE BEST THING EVER. Turns out? Bob’s Farm has totally dialed into my desires because they have small and large private bonfires areas that they rent out.
I thought about this for an entire year until Busywork was headed over for a visit and responded to my subtle suggestion (Can we do this? Let’s do this! Please!?) with a yes. So, we invited a bunch of people, gathered all foods that can be heated on sticks (hot dogs, s’mores), borrowed some commercial thermal carafes for hot cider (thanks again Maggi for the hook up with Caffe Vita!) and we were on our way.
We warned everybody to wear waterproof shoes and bring flashlights and we took care of the rest. The idea was to find your way through the first half of the maze, join us for warm sugary foods and head back through the rest of the maze. A few people became stuck in the corn maze for a while and we had to send Scott (former Eagle Scout) in to retrieve them which was a bummer. The corn maze was so much easier last year, I swear! If we do it again I’ll suggest joining us first to fuel up before heading into the maze.
You guys, if you can you should totally do this. It was great.
All photos above belong to Laura and are used with permission. Thanks Laura!
· comments  · 10-18-2013 · categories:events · halloween ·
Melting Wicked Witch Cookies at Juniper Moon Fiber Farm.
Spider Pinata DIY at Oh Happy Day. That is one meaty looking spider.
Easy Last-Minute Costume Ideas For Adults | Celebrations with Design Mom. This video has a few simple ideas that are low-commitment but still fun.
Pumpktris, A Playable LED Lit Game of Tetris Inside of a Pumpkin, at Laughing Squid.
Secret Horror – The Morning News. Six horror movies you might not know about but are worth watching.
skulls at Design Crush. A post by yours truly.
· comments  · 10-31-2012 · categories:halloween · links ·
Remember last year when I made a 3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree out of interlocking cookies so that the tree stands on it’s own? I had so much fun making it that I decided to do something for Halloween too. This time I made a tree from four pieces so that the eight branches resemble spider legs. Perched in a dish of candy it looks rather creepy.
To make this I used one batch of Gingerbread House dough from Simply Recipes that was divided into four equal pieces before chilling it. I roll it to 1/4-inch thickness and bake it until the edges are browning so that it’s as dry and strong as possible. Directions and templates are all below.
I think I have some changes to make but in the mean time I feel like I’ve figured out how to roll out gingerbread dough with as little swearing as possible. As much as I love making gingerbread for construction purposes I really dislike rolling it out. Here is my set up:
The Roll-Pat is an investment but it gives me a smooth surface to use. It grips the tabletop and keeps parchment paper from slipping. A nice, heavy and super wide rolling pin with handles also makes a huge difference, before this I only had a cylinder rolling pin but this one with handles makes the job a lot easier. I have a 15″ rolling pin and it is large enough for everything I’ve used it for so far. I have both silicone and rubber rolling pin rings (one set has 1/2 inch and the other has 5/8ths inch heights). I cannot fit the thicker rubber rings around my larger rolling pin so I switch to my narrower rolling pin if I need to use them.
[Read more →]
· comments  · 10-26-2012 · categories:food · halloween ·
· comments  · 10-22-2012 · categories:halloween · links ·
These Trick-or-Treat cookies have a surprise inside. Each cookie either holds a treat, like mini chocolate candies, or a trick, here they are small sugar ants. Which will you get? You’ll have to break one open to find out.
How to make Trick-or-Treat cookies:
Make one or more batches of cut out cookie dough (recipe below, or use your favorite) and after chilling it take it out of the fridge to warm up so it can be rolled out. Preheat your oven to 350 and clear a shelf in your fridge or a spot in your freezer large enough to hold a cookie sheet.
Roll out one half of your dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a 1/4th inch thickness. Remove the top layer of parchment and cut out your cookies, dipping the cutter in flour to keep it from sticking. We’ll be baking the cookies on this same parchment so space them about an inch apart.
Right now you are cutting two parts of each cookies (the top and the bottom) so if you have an asymmetrical cutter be sure to flip it over and cut half of them mirror image, as shown above.
Trim the parchment away from the dough so that it’s small enough to sit on your cookie sheet and slide the parchment onto the cookie sheet. Put this in the fridge or freezer to firm up so you can pull away the excess dough.
Later we’ll baking the cookies right on this sheet so trimming the parchment means they’ll bake flat. I keep the cookies on this same parchment throughout so they don’t have a chance to lose their shape.
Once the dough has firmed up pull away the excess from around the cut out shapes. You can save the scraps for more cookies later.
Before baking chill the cookies and the cookie sheet again for about 10 minutes before putting them in the oven. (You can roll out your second layer while you’re waiting, instructions are just under the next photo.)
Bake for about 10 minutes, checking and rotating the cookie sheet half way through. After that check often and remove once the edges of the cookies are just starting to look brown and the tops look set.
Slide the parchment onto a cooling rack and let them sit for a few minutes until the cookies are cool and strong enough to slide them off the parchment and right onto the cookie rack.
Roll your second half of the dough to 1/2″ or 3/8″ thick. You’ll be cutting the middles for you cookies so only cut half as many this time, so if you cut six earlier, you only need three now. (No need to make mirror image cut outs this time.) Use smaller cutters to create a hole in the center of each shape.
Trim the parchment, slide onto a cookie sheet and chill the dough as you did for the first round. When it’s firm remove the excess dough from the outside as well as the inside of your shapes.
Again, chill these very well on the cookie sheet before baking them. Check and rotate after five minutes and keep an eye on them after that. Remove when the bottom edges begin to brown and cool carefully, as you did for the first set.
While your cookie pieces are cooling mix up some glue from one cup of powdered sugar and four tablespoons of milk (as per the recipe below). Put this into a sandwich sized zip bag and clip a teeny tiny corner off.
Lay your cookies out so the bottom piece has the flattest side up, the middle and tops will have the flattest side down. When constructed the top and the bottom of your cookies will show the pretty side that was up while they were baking and they’ll look nice and tidy. If you have asymmetrical cookies here be sure all the bits will match when they are sandwiched.
Glue the middle part of your cookie to the bottom.
Fill the cookies with your trick or your treat. Be random, no cheating! Don’t overfill them and check to make sure the top of your cookie will fit on with no trouble. It’s much easier to do this not before more sugar glue is introduced.
I made four different shapes: pumpkins, ghosts, tombstones and coffins (my favorite).
A detail shot to show the middle layer of cookie is a bit thicker than the top and bottom layers.
Glue the top on, decorate if you’d like, and you’re done! Now, serve these and see how much fun people have breaking them open.
Important: Make sure anything you might put inside these cookies is edible, you don’t want somebody accidentally swallowing something like a plastic spider (which I really, really wanted to hide inside these).
These cookies were inspired by the Pinata Cookies made over at She Knows, which are genius. Since I didn’t need mine to be striped I used a cut out sugar cookie recipe instead and created a thicker middle layer. I did try to cut the cookies out when the dough comes out of the oven and is still warm, the technique that is in the She Knows recipe, but found it created an edge that was too crumbly.
I used a set of seven Halloween cookie cutters made by Wilton for the cookies you see here. I cannot seem to find the same set online, it came packaged in a coffin shaped box and it’s probably already 50% off at Joann. The middles of my cookies were cut out using my Ateco 12-piece round cutters, which I love and find myself using often.
I find rolling dough to be tedious so I invested in a Roll-Pat (that page shows it as Roul-Pat but mine says Roll-Pat on it). It’s similar to a Silpat but oversized and the bottom layer grips your counter top. This is lovely because I prefer to roll dough between two layers of parchment and this keeps the parchment from slipping on my counter top. Love it, especially as what I think of as gingerbread construction season arrives.
There are so many options for what tricks you can hide inside, here I used some black cake decorations made by Wilton, they are complete edible but don’t taste like much. I also considered some small flat sour gummy candies, salted licorice coins, various cake decorations (skull and crossbones!) and Pop Rocks. For the treats the only things could find that are small enough are mini M&Ms or (my favorite) Valrhona Perles Craquant. Sadly I found that Reeses Pieces or candy corn wouldn’t fit inside, I tried. A friend mentioned that mini-candy corn might exist in the world and if I’d managed to find some I definitely would have used that as well.
I’m also considering seeing if I can make the coffin cookies tall enough to fill with some sugar skeleton pieces I found. I’d also include the Valrhona Perles Craquant as graveyard dirt. And small gummi worms if I can find some.
Click more for the recipe. [Read more →]
· comments  · 10-18-2012 · categories:food · halloween ·
· comments  · 10-15-2012 · categories:halloween · links ·
· comments  · 10-28-2011 · categories:halloween · links ·
These are photos of the test Zombie Head Cheese we created, thus the poor lighting and the two kinds of cheese. But I wanted to show you the idea for a tongue that I decided to skip.
I carved the tongue from a block of Spam I had coaxed out of the can as a whole rectangular chunk. Know what? Spam is surprisingly easy to carve. It’s also very slippery.
The tongue was ghastly. And since the skull wasn’t secure in order to keep the jaw open it tilted to one side when we attempted to scoop some cheese off. Eeek.
In the end I decided to drop the tongue made of Spam in part because it was slippery and in part because it smelled too strongly for me to recommend. But, if you want to have a go at making a Spam tongue it is really effective.
· comments  · 10-27-2011 · categories:food · halloween ·
I made you something for Halloween. You can serve it a party. Or maybe make it as a snack for your viewing party of The Walking Dead.
These are both made of soft cheese spread on a plastic skull. Easy. Creepy. Delicious. That is, if you can get people to dig in.
You know that old trick of unwrapping a block of cream cheese and topping it with soy sauce and some sesame seeds? Yum right? I added some food coloring and a life sized plastic skull and called it Halloween worthy.
(This is version #1, a slightly easier version is just below.)
First get a life sized plastic skull (wash it really well), some soy sauce, one 12 ounce tub of cream cheese spread and some food coloring. Tint the cream cheese to a fleshy color, I used about 15 drops of red and 10 drops of yellow here.
I found a plastic skull like this one at a local party supplies store, but I really wish I’d managed to find a plastic skull where the top of the head is removable. Something really frightening could be made with that. Spinach dip brains anybody?
Then add just one drop of blue food coloring and stir only a few times until the blue appears streaky. Less is more here, it will further streak as you spread it. Now, frost your skull like a cake. Start with the tricky bits around the face first. If you can’t hold the crown of the head to stabilize the skull it makes it much more complicated. Try to keep the teeth clean.
A detail of the blue-streaked cream cheese.
I used a small flexible spatula to spread this. There is no need to be tidy here, the messier the grossier. Grosser? Grossest? You know what I mean.
You can also stick a few rectangles of parchment paper surrounding the head so you can be a bit messy while frosting and then pull them out after you are done, a trick I learned about frosting cakes. If you can putting the head on a smaller plate on top of a larger plate will be useful to catch the fake blood, and it will be easy to artfully arrange the crackers. Saltines are the traditional cracker for this but these more artisanal crackers I found looked like creepy bandages and still have that bland and salty taste you want. You can frost your head a few hours early and refrigerate. It’s amusing to sit nearby and observe as unsuspecting people open the fridge.
Cocktail onions create nice dead eyes.
Just before serving mix a bit of soy sauce with some drops of red food coloring and drizzle it over the head so that is streams down. I used a pipette but if you don’t have one handy a small measuring cup with a pour spout or a carefully wielded spoon will work just as well. If you can get the soy sauce to pool around the onion eyes, it looks extra creepy that way. Also sprinkle on some bugs, I mean, toasted sesame seeds.
It’s even scarier after it’s been eaten. Yikes.
This is version #2, it’s slightly less involved. You just need spreadable cheese, cocktail onions and a plastic skull. Let’s face it, just about any pink or orange tinted spreadable cheese will look suitably disgusting.
I used this cheese that has reddish port wine streaks in it. I didn’t manage to capture the reddish colors in these pictures as well as I hoped but I promise it was pretty gross looking.
I’m smitten. What should I name it?
(See also: The Outtakes wherein I attempt to carve a tongue from Spam and am entirely too successful.)
· comments  · 10-26-2011 · categories:food · halloween ·
· comments  · 10-20-2011 · categories:halloween · links ·
· comments  · 10-10-2011 · categories:halloween · links ·
· comments  · 10-31-2010 · categories:halloween · links ·
· comments  · 10-29-2010 · categories:halloween · links ·
· comments  · 10-26-2010 · categories:halloween · links ·
I had some trouble when I came to creating the Tentacle Pot Pies, all my own fault of course. Learn from these mistakes.
Originally I had intended to makes spider pot pies and use black peppercorns for the eyes. My first try, which I didn’t get photos of, had the legs dangling over the edges of a bowl. While they cooked most fell off. It was pretty sad.
Then I draped the legs down to a plate to keep them in place, only to discover that the dough I had rolled up to create a spider body (I wrapped it round a piece of hot carrot) didn’t cook on the inside, leaving a wad of uncooked dough on top of the pot pie. Effective to give the creeps but not really edible.
And I found that one of my spider heads tilted down while cooking. Poor guy.
Originally I had intended to make the pot pies from puff pastry and mention the use of crescent roll dough as an option but I had some trouble while photographing. First I lost my light by the time I got to the puff pastry batch, I struggle enough to produce good photos so when the clouds gathered I was rushing and it probably led to the next problem.
I forgot to brush the puff pastry with an egg wash, meaning that even though it was yummy it looked sort of pale.
And so, the crescent dough photos were the ones I used. I had run out of time to redo everything (I would have had to make another batch of pot pie filling). But for the record I like the flavor of the puff pastry far more. It also cooks slower so your pot pie had more time to get nice and hot.
The following weekend Scott and I made a batch of pot pie filling from the chicken pot pie recipe at Simply Recipes and divided it into zip top bags that we flattened out and froze. We can buy frozen puff pastry and the next dark night when we need some comfort food we’ll have pot pie components that we just need to thaw and assemble. I’m excited. Seattle winters aren’t snowy but they are long and dark. So dark. We take excitement where we can find it. One additional note: These should be baked at about 325 instead of the usual high heat that puff pastry asks for, if not the tentacles cook far earlier than the body. If the tips of the tentacles start to brown too much tent them with foil.
Why freezing flat in plastic bags? They are easy to store in the freezer, and when you want to thaw them you can run the still sealed bags under hot water and it thaws far faster than something frozen into a block. I first heard this tip on The Splendid Table, though I forget which guest it came from. I use this for bolognese and thai curry as well, all good to have squirreled away for winter nights when you’re too zonked out for chopping stuff.
· comments  · 10-25-2010 · categories:food · halloween ·