· 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 ·
Know what happens when you search Google for “tentacle pot pie”? Not much.* Let’s fix that! I created this tentacle pot pie for Babble using store bought dough. Easy and a wee bit creepy. Even if you’re not up for tentacles I found this chicken pot pie from Simply Recipes to be most delicious. Babble has also posted a short interview with me, thanks!
* (At least not when you have safe search turned on, oh my.)
· comments  · 10-21-2010 · categories:food · halloween ·
· comments  · 10-20-2010 · categories:halloween · links ·
· comments  · 10-15-2010 · categories:halloween · links ·
I just wanted to give an update on a few things floating around as Halloween (the greatest time of the year) is kicking in.
All through October I’m collecting doable DIY projects and inspiration for Halloween over at Parents Connect. The focus here is on non-intimidating projects for busy parents and we’re covering the spectrum from decorations to books to crafts. We’ll be ending with Halloween cocktails for grown ups because, let’s face it, you’ll deserve one. Last Monday was an introduction, the rest of the month will feature heaps of links for you.
Holidash let me go a little crazy again and this time I made trick-or-treating bags that glow using glow sticks. (Psst, I made it so that the glow sticks light up the interior as well so your kid can check and see what candy they just got.)
And iVillage included my spider pumpkin pancakes in a round up of Halloween foods. Lots of great stuff there!
· comments  · 10-4-2010 · categories:halloween ·
I got this box in the mail the other day. Inside was this:
I sort of want the dress.
You can find instructions for this and a whole lot of decoration and costume projects here at the Value Village website. Most (all?) of them created by Blair of Wise Craft.
· comments  · 10-1-2010 · categories:halloween ·
· comments  · 09-30-2010 · categories:halloween · links ·
I have come down with a sneezy sort of cold. I managed to rally enough on Sunday to make this cinnamon swirl cake. It’s from a mix and I added some extra fancy cinnamon which was given to me by Cinnamon (thanks again!). The results: I can report that one boxed mix will make plenty of cake to fill both sides of the skull cake pan. Tastewise, however, you’re better off making a coffee cake from scratch, if you have the energy. And now I’m going back to bed where I can be pitiful and feel sorry for myself while eating cake.
· comments  · 09-20-2010 · categories:food · halloween ·
Ok, look. I know it’s maybe a bit early to be talking about Halloween but I myself think that celebrating Halloween for 1/6th of the year is perfectly reasonable. Also I want you to know about this so you can made as many skull shaped cakes as possible before Halloween because a mid-November skull cake is far less acceptable to take into the office than an early-October skull cake.
(Please excuse the crumbs on his nose, you have to trim the cake after it comes out of the pan and, this being my trial run, things got a little messy.)
This is a 3-D skull cake pan sold by Wilton. You can also find it on Amazon and at the usual suspects of craft stores, at least during the Halloween season.
I went through a serious crush on the 3-D pumpkin cake pan a few years back but never bought it, and I still look fondly at the giant cupcake pan when I see it but again I’ve never inspired to buy. But when I found this skull pan in I immediately grabbed it and carried it around the store with me while looking for all the stuff I came for, just in case all three pans on the shelf were gone by the time I came back around. Even though it was, at the time, August. At first I thought I might be overreacting but when I returned to the store a few days later all the pans were gone. It justified my crazy. A bit.
The back part of the skull is molded so that it sits at just the right angle to stare up at you menacingly from the plate.
The pan comes with a pumpkin spice cake recipe, and while making it I rediscovered how much I like the color orange.
Also, thanks to a wonderful girl who happens to be named Cinnamon, I had two types of cinnamon to choose from to use in the cake. The cake was good but too sweet for my preferences. I hope to change it a bit and then maybe add a cream cheese frosting brain surprise inside. Or, oh oh!, cream cheese frosting maggots. Ew.
The pan is nicely heavy and with a little Baker’s Joy I had no trouble getting the cake to slide out. (A tip from Alton Brown: spray it over the open door of your dishwasher, it won’t leave your floor or countertops slippery and it’s a surface that will be washed anyhow.)
I’m in love with this face.
What should I name him?
· comments  · 09-7-2010 · categories:food · halloween · things I think are neat ·
I hope you had a wonderful Halloween. Here is the result of our experiments with Blavod black vodka and strange ice, it was a lot of fun. (See also: my previous entry about creepy ice creations.)
The plastic skeleton embedded in an ice sphere was a lot of fun. In a drink it sort of rotated around on it’s own and showed different bones, creepy.
On the left are gummy eyeballs I froze in a swizzle stick ice tray I found at Daiso, these were creepy submerged in a drink that had gone opaque (see just below). On the right is black vodka and orange juice, which turned a nicely disgusting greenish beige when mixed.
It took a few tries but I finally figured out how to float vodka in a flute. I filled the glass with juice (or tonic and lime), put in ice, put the vodka in a OXO small measuring cup with a spout and slowly poured the vodka, aiming it towards the topmost ice cube. It usually worked.
On the left is cranberry and vodka and small sphere ice, created in a tray bought at Daiso. The right is blood orange juice and black vodka (which I failed to float properly). There is a gummy eyeball on the end of a cocktail pick. I like the effect of the eyeball at the bottom of the glass. (The gummy eyeballs were from Target and tasted horrible.)
Vodka and tonic before and after mixing. In person it looked a lot more gray than green.
These are Brains! cocktails made in small shot glasses. I had good luck using a pipette to dispense the Irish cream, I dipped the end in the drink and slowly squeezed the Irish cream into the drink while moving the pipette around. I found this technique at Folkinz, which used a straw to a nice effect. The glasses on either side were given small droplets, but didn’t look quite as spooky. They looked my like a cocktail that would be named Lymph Nodes!
Here is another skeleton layered inside of a squarish ice cube.
This is a White Russian made with black vodka, turning it a delightfully sickly gray/beige.
I attempted to capture the Frozen Smiles ice floating in tonic and cranberry, it looked creepier in person.
Trivia: the center glass is from Disgruntled Housewife and was aquired in a Smile and Act Nice gift bag from SXSW 2000 or 2001. If you’re a knitter you might know Nicole better as the author of Thrifty Knitter (a website) and Naughty Needles (a book), and co-owner of The Harveyville Project (two middle schools in Kansas turned into spaces to encourage creative output, a daring and genius prospect). I’ve admired Nicole from afar for as long as I can remember, Disgruntled Housewife was one of the first websites I read.
My friend Maggi made these amazing (and delicious) gravestone cookies.
And here is my Halloween mirror picture. I was wearing synthetic hair extensions for the evening, my hair isn’t nearly this long:
· comments  · 11-3-2009 · categories:food · halloween ·
Garlic Cupcakes to Keep You Safe From Vampires This Halloween ~ Cupcake Project.
What are some essential horror films for a movie marathon? | Ask Metafilter.
Make me deathly pale! | Ask Metafilter.
RECIPE: Breadstick Bones on Flickr. Cute idea for something savory to serve.
Halloween Food – Meat Head 2 on Flickr. I’m not sure if this is made by the same person but the meat head is one of the things I linked to way, way back in 2001.
earwax on a swab on Flickr. I could not eat this, but I like this idea.
Easy & Expert Recipes For Halloween Fingers | YumSugar. I love the way these are curled around a cup.
Note to self: buy Matthew Mead’s Halloween books Halloween Tricks and Treats and Monster Book of Halloween.
Blood and Bones at Joy the Baker. Red hot chocolate and meringue bones!
Ghostly Eggs at Serious Eats. These are so darn cute.
How to make fake blood, at Wired.
This melting head cake is astounding. The whole thing is edible, with cake brains, a royal icing skull, edible eyeballs that popped open and oozed, a layer of red jam covered by frosting skin and topped with cotton candy hair. It was set under a heat lamp and allowed to melt in the most dramatic and incredible way. You must read to the bottom to see the melting pictures, I insist, go go. Bravo!
Zombie jello mold at Geekologie.
Bloody Tooth Cocktail at Martha Stewart, another one to make using black vodka.
Three shrimp cocktail brains: one, two, three.
· comments  · 10-30-2009 · categories:halloween · links ·
This Halloween we are headed to spend a night with friends handing out candy to trick or treaters and playing board games (Zombie Fluxx and Betrayal at House on the Hill!). I’ve bought a bottle of Blavod, which you might know as the black vodka that Martha Stewart used to make Halloween drinks a couple of years back. I gathered a few options for making spooky ice.
First I found these gummy eyeballs at Target. They come in their own ice tray, you just add water and freeze.
I went to a Halloween store hoping to find white plastic fangs to embed in ice. Instead I found these teeth molds, called Frozen Smiles made by Fred. I think I like them even more.
I also found these plastic skeleton pieces which are small enough to fit into my ice ball mold from Muji. note: You should not ever put something small into ice that is intended to be put in a drink. Especially not if there are children present. Or drunk adults.
I layered it in the ice of the sphere, making several trips in and out of the freezer. Here is my trial ice sphere floating in a glass of water:
I’ve seen these same plastic skeletons used to decorate cupakes, here and here on Flickr.
(image from marthastewart.com)
And I intend to try out this eery Lychee eyeball garnish and see if I can freeze it inside of an ice ball. There is another Lychee eyeball at Martha Stewart along with a grape eyeball and this savory option of using radishes and olives. Yikes.
· comments  · 10-29-2009 · categories:halloween ·
· comments  · 10-28-2009 · categories:halloween · links ·
I made something gruesome and delicious.
No, really, it was good.
This is meatloaf.
Meatloaf with cheese on top.
And some ketchup.
The nails are made of onion.
The wrist bones are onion too.
Where are you going?
This is how I made it:
Since August I’ve had a post it note over my desk that simply said “meat hand”. I mulled over how to make it for a while. I realized that the old formed inside a plastic glove thing wouldn’t work since the fingers would cook so much faster than the rest of the hand. It wasn’t until I saw this hand gelatin mold that I had my plan:
I shot several angles to show how it has a base built in, meaning I could probably use it to mold meatloaf.
I made the basic meatloaf recipe from How to Cook Everything using a food processor to chop the onions and carrot to a very fine mince so I could fill in the details of the mold without trouble. One meatloaf recipe using 2 pounds of meat will make two hands.
I sprayed the inside of the mold with cooking oil spray and it came out fairly easily. I put it on top of a rack to allow the fat to run off as it cooked.
I did a few versions, learning as I went along.
The first one was straight meatloaf. I surrounded it with mashed potatoes and kale (or brain matter and swamp greens if you have kids, or just act like kids). It looked ok, sort of creepy:
The next time I tried adding fingernails made of onion, which were just like press on nails:
To make the fingernails I sliced a thin round off of a single layer of an onion, then used kitchen scissors to trim it into a nail shape keeping the lines in the onion running the length of the nail. I kept the thinnest end of the onion slice at the tip of the nail. (Shown here using a red onion as it’s easier to see details.)
I also covered it with ketchup before cooking:
It turned out gross:
This time to better define the fingers I piped mashed potatoes around the hand to define the shape. I just used a ziploc bag with a small corner snipped off to do the detail inbetween fingers, then I snipped off a larger corner to pipe around the hand. I smoothed down the mashed potatoes with a silicone spatula. The results where pretty creepy.
The ketchup covered hand made me pretty happy but… I had this idea. My mom used to throw a slice of cheese on top of her meatloaf before cooking it and the cheese always turned out browned and crispy. I wondered how that would work with my relatively delicate hand. I also had the idea to use the smaller inner layers of the onion to create a cartoon-y wrist bone sticking out.
I made two versions. The first used white onion and was simply covered in cheese. The second used red onion and was covered with ketchup and then cheese. I used slices of provolone cheese because I knew it wouldn’t slide off completely as it melted. (Maggi suggested it, thanks Maggi!) This time I used the version of meatloaf with spinach, again from How to Cook Everything. Here are some pre-cooked pictures:
I peeled an onion until I got to the smaller inner layers and simply pressed it into the wrist:
I trimmed the cheese to fit around the fingernails:
If I were to do it again I would have put less cheese around the fingers, or rather, I would have put narrower pieces. The cheese pooled inbetween the fingers and made it more difficult to diguise later on.
This cheese thing, it worked a bit too well. We couldn’t bring ourselves to actually eat either of them (though, we had been eating a lot of meatloaf lately). Here is a picture showing them side by side. They were cooked at the same time and the one with the ketchup beneath the cheese (white fingernails) browned a bit more. You can also see that piping the detail more carefully can make a difference:
The wrist bone of the white onion was pushed out a bit as the meatloaf cooked:
The smaller onion piece of the red onion write bone wasn’t as impressive:
The red onion fingernails were creepier, but the white onion fingernails might get the point across more quickly:
Here is a cute pumpkin pancake chaser:
Just in case you need it.
· comments  · 10-27-2009 · categories:food · halloween ·