Savory: Ghostly Bruschetta, Mummy Dogs, Hot as Hades Chips and Salsa, Witch's Concoction Dip and Crudités, Sausage Balls, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and Deviled Eggs.
Sweet: Jack's Sinfully Sweet Sandwiches (Whoopie Pies), Slasher Cupcakes, Chocolate-covered Apricots, Edible Arachnids
Drinks: Glühwein and Philadelphia Fish House Punch
I'll go into a little bit of the decorations I chose as well to give you a more complete view of the party plan. Basically, I wanted to keep the decorations as affordable as possible, which limited me to recycling what I had and using paper and pens for the rest. I splurged on a package of sticky tack, which was a whopping $1.73 at Kroger, so all in all I think the decorations cost me $7...not kidding. I was in a notably creative mood, which meant some time-consuming drawing and exacto knife work, but if you have that artistic itch, parties are a great way to stretch those muscles a little bit. My two main projects were candle lanterns and Halloween silhouettes.
The candle lanterns were so simple to make and the effect was exactly what I wanted. I took jars that I had cleaned and recycled for storing other things like granola or refrigerator jams, and I covered them in orange tissue paper, adhering them with some trusty Elmer's Glue at the seam and on the neck and bottom. When they were dry, I just took a felt-tip pen and drew some "scary" silhouettes on them--you know, your typical witches, gravestones, scary faces, mummies, scarecrows, spiders...you get the point. Then you throw in a tea light candle and they light up those perfect Halloween colors. Win.
For the black silhouettes, it was a similar idea. Draw some scary outlines and exacto knife them out. I made a haunted house scene, went a little crazy with the bats (perhaps batty in this case?), some jack o'lanterns and some gentlemen skulls. Love them! With the left over tissue paper and black construction paper, I made a few streamers to hang off of the chandelier and mantle and in the archway between the living room and the dining room. All in all, it was a lot of fun to put together, and it looks great....I almost don't want to take them down. However, a good thing to keep in mind is that these guys save perfectly well for next year!
Let's get to a few more recipes, I'll give you my secret recipe for Glühwein, or mulled wine--a recipe I picked up in Austria, then we'll look at the Ghostly Bruschetta, and finally how about some Deviled Eggs:
5 Bottles of red wine
(quality is trumped by quantity in this one because of the sugar and spices. Don't go crazy)
2 Orange Peels (just the orange, not the white pith)
3 Cinnamon Sticks
5 Whole cloves
1 t Ground ginger
1 C Sugar
Optional: Brandy, rum, vodka, bourbon, your spirit of choice to spike this even more
This delightful drink is served hot in mugs, and is a staple of the Christmastime diet in the German-speaking world. This beverage is served in just about every booth of the Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt). For your purposes though it is going to be the dark red that reminds us so much of blood, and you can serve it up at your Halloween party! It tastes like holidays! You simply combine all of the above ingredients in a large pot over medium heat and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. You can choose to pour this through a strainer, or do what I do and ladle it directly into a mug and give it to your eager guests. You can keep this warm in a crock pot and serve it from there--imagine that, a warm punch bowl! Genius. Note: warm alcohol hits one faster than cold alcohol, so drink responsibly! I know, it is delicious.
Baguette cut into slices
Tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes), chopped
Black Pepper (optional)
Bruschetta is a wonderfully forgiving party food. It is easy to eat, it can be served straight out of the oven, and it is okay cold too! To set up the tomatoes, you should chop them into small pieces, I quartered small grape tomatoes if that gives you an idea, then you throw in a few cloves of fresh garlic, drizzle some olive oil in there and salt and toss it all together. I prepared the tomato mixture first and let it sit overnight to get those garlicky-tomatoey flavors working together. Then the next day all I had to do was drizzle the baguette with olive oil, spoon on some tomato mixture, top with mozzarella (you can get fancy and try to make them ghost shaped), and season with salt and basil and black pepper if you want. Heat it in a 350º oven until the cheese is melted and you can serve immediately.
1 Dozen hard-boiled eggs
2 T Minced sweet gherkins
1 t Smoked paprika (pimentón)
Finely ground black pepper
Optional garnish: Chives to make "pumpkin stems"
The original idea was to make these deviled eggs look like pumpkins with little stems at the top, but I decided just to go with what I had. The smoked paprika really adds something special to this, beyond what everyday paprika does in most deviled eggs recipes, the flavor packs a smokey punch. I primarily used it for the color that it gives, as you can see it gets a little closer to the orange of the pumpkins that I originally set out for. Anyways, the construction is pretty basic: cut the eggs in half and reserve the yolk, then whip up the yolk with the remaining ingredients and re-stuff the egg whites. I go with the taste and adjust method for the yolk mixture--you will have leftovers, so you can't taste enough.
If you want to make this ahead of time, here are a few notes--the hard-boiled eggs will peel cleaner after a day in the fridge, because it redistributes the water inside the egg and helps the membrane separate from the inside. Also, you can cut them in half and store the whites hole-side down in a covered container. They will drain their excess water this way. I made it ahead and prepared them as such, so all I had to do was fill the egg whites before I served them--this is a good idea because eggs shouldn't sit out too long unrefrigerated...you want your guests to remember your party from last night for other reasons. If you have a deviled egg serving platter at home (of which I am a lucky owner), then dust that baby off and let her do what she is meant to do! If not, find a serving dish with a lip on the side and leave enough room for your guests to get their fingers in there without too much fishing. They are delicious!
So gather up those decorations, fire up the kitchen cogs and get to work on this incredible party! Happy Halloween!!!