Look, Charlie Brown! It's the Great Pumpkin patch!
When Flagpole asked me to share a couple of my Halloween recipes, I was happy to oblige. Anything to add even more Halloween to Athens. Except I don’t really do recipes when it comes to my Halloween treats. I don’t want to deal with anything too involved or pricey during this busy, fun time of year, and you probably don’t either.
In my book, if you’re going to make a spooky treat, keep it simple, but not lame simple, like just throwing the word “spooky” in front of it. (“Look! Spooky salsa and chips!” “And how is this different from last week’s salsa and chips?” “It has ‘spooky’ in front of it!”) Presentation is the first step—showing the spooky without telling the spooky—and flavor is all the other steps, because clever food stops being clever if it doesn’t taste good.
Halloween Bloody Mary
Drinks are a good place to start simple for setting the tone. Athens folk tend to prefer personal taste over spooky themes when it comes to our beloved beverages of beer and mixed drinks, so I usually keep the decorations outside the glass. This classic cocktail, however, invites a little crossover of my own design.
A pitcher of Bloody Marys (I use Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix and good vodka)
Set aside the pitcher of Bloody Marys until ready to serve. Using the knife, cut off the celery’s leafy stems (reserve for the It’s a Great Pumpkin Patch recipe), and carve one end of each stalk to a point until it resembles a stake. Repeat until you have a plate full of stakes that would make Buffy proud, and serve with the Bloody Marys.
It’s the Great Pumpkin Patch
Because there’s always someone at a party who wants to eat healthy—even on Halloween, which horrifies me—this festive decoration (picked up from the Interwebs) solves that problem. It’s also not bad for those of us whose tummies may have had one too many Almond Joys, and the Linus-in-the-Pumpkin-Patch theme is perfect for all ages.
Several peeled tangerines or clementines (any version of orange that sits flat)
A few peeled bananas
Chocolate chips, raisins, etc. for ghost eyes
Celery stems and leaves (or similar vegetation)
Set the tangerines on a large plate and decorate with the celery to make it look like a pumpkin patch: a celery stem in the hole of each tangerine, some stems and leaves on the plate. Cut the bananas in halves and prop them around the tangerines to look like rising ghosts. Stick chocolate chips into the banana for the ghost’s eyes and mouth.
Sweet-and-Salty Candy Bones
More time-consuming than difficult to make, this tasty, addictive treat is a popular "thank you for making this because I didn't want to" fave among my friends. Other people’s recipes call for white chocolate chips, parchment paper and double boilers. Bag that.
1 package of thin pretzel sticks
1 package of vanilla candy coating
1 bag of mini marshmallows
Wax paper or parchment paper (optional)
Tweezers (or reasonable facsimile; also optional)
Stick a mini marshmallow on each end of a pretzel and set the uncoated bone aside until you have as many as you'd like. Put the candy coating, broken into smaller pieces, in a deep glass bowl and set it in a microwave oven. Follow the directions on the packaging, but basically melt the candy coating on a lower temperature, stirring every 30 seconds, until it has a thin consistency, like queso dip. Dip each marshmallow-and-pretzel bone into the candy coating—I use tweezers to grasp it in the middle of the pretzel, but you can use a fork—and set it on a nonstick surface like wax paper to cool.
If the candy coating mixture cools and becomes too thick while you're dipping the bones, you can return the bowl to the microwave and even add more pieces of candy coating as you go. This also helps you work out the bones-to-coating ratio.
And if all else fails, order a pizza—just no garlic.