Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday-always has been, always will be. I am hoping maybe one day to meet Mr. Right and even have a Halloween inspired wedding. Until then, I will keep creating insanely fun Halloween inspired dinner parties for my readers to enjoy. When I began to research ideas for this article, I asked many of you which creepy creature you would like to see featured, and the responses ran the gamut. Instead of choosing one, I decided to create a menu based on many of the monsters that haunt the deepest recesses of our minds: aliens, zombies, witches, werewolves, vampires and more. Enter, if you dare, the Dayton Holidays Examiner’s Monster Ball.
When it comes to hosting a Halloween inspired dinner party, the more creative you get, the better. Some people may be turned off by your creativity, but many more will appreciate the effort you have put forth in creating the perfect evening and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables, meats and desserts) of your labors. For those few stubborn holdouts, I recommend having your favorite pizza place on speed dial.
Appetizers set the stage for the rest of the meal, so you want to make sure you capture the attention of your guests without revealing too much. These recipes are a great place to start.
MUMMY TOES (Mummies)
- 24 cocktail size hot dogs or smoked sausages
- 1 can refrigerated bread sticks
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 24 sliced almonds
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut a wedge at the end of each hot dog to resemble a toe nail.. Unroll dough and separate bread sticks and cut into thirds (making 24 pieces). Wrap one piece of dough around each hot dog to the edge of “nail” so it resembles mummy wrappings. Place seam side down and bake for 10-14 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then spoon 1/4 teaspoon ketchup on each nail and place an almond slice on top. To serve Line a tray with black paper and unrolled gauze.
CHILLED BRAINS (Zombies)
- 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 4 ounces bleu cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fry bacon until almost cooked. Add garlic, stir a few times and drain on paper towels. Place bacon and cheeses in a bowl and mix well. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle nuts on top. Bake 30-40 minutes. To serve Place baked spread in a skull shaped bowl, which has been placed on a tray lined with various crackers and vegetables.
Tread lightly when making gruesome entrees. You want to pique your guests’ curiosity, but make it too believable and you will be ordering carryout for the entire party. Save the best for last and go all out on your desserts.
BEWITCHINGLY GOOD BEEF STEW (Witches)
- 3 pounds cubed beef stew meat
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound carrots, cleaned and cut into bite size chunks
- 4 large potatoes, cleaned and cut into bite size chunks
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 packages onion soup mix
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 large onions, quartered
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup red wine (burgundy or merlot works well)
- 2 small or 1 large packages fresh button mushrooms, halved
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Mix flour and seasoned salt in a large plastic storage bag and shake a few times to blend together. Add stew meat and shake to coat all pieces. Heat olive oil in a skillet. When hot, add the meat and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until meat is browned. Move meat to your slow cooker and add carrots and potatoes. Do not wash the skillet! Mix together the hot water and soup mix and pour into the slow cooker. Add butter, onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until clear, loosening the cooked bits of beef as the butter melts. When done, add to the slow cooker with the other ingredients. Add wine and mushrooms to the skillet, cook until the mushrooms are soft then transfer to the slow cooker. Place lid on cooker and allow to cook for 6-8 hours. Stew is ready when meat is tender. Twenty minutes prior to serving, whisk together cold water and corn starch then add to the stew. Stir well and allow to thicken for 15-20 minutes. To serve Place the stew in a cast iron pot so it resembles a witch’s cauldron.
OVEN BAKED BBQ RIBS (Werewolves or Cannibals)
- 4 cups sliced onions
- 4 cups ketchup
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 8 pounds pork spareribs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large skillet and set aside. In a large bowl, combine onions, ketchup, water, salt, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and mustard. Split ribs down the center, between all of the bones. Add a small batch of ribs to oiled skillet and sear over medium high heat until browned. Repeat until all ribs have been browned. Place ribs in a single layer in 2 large baking dishes (or 4 smaller ones) and coat with half of sauce. Turn and baste ribs with remaining sauce every 20 minutes as they bake for 3 hours. Once all sauce has been used, use sauce in pan to baste. To serve Place ribs on a large tray that has been adorned with plastic or rubber bones (be sure to wash and rinse bones well before placing them with food).
Sides are a little trickier to apply a theme to, so presentation is very important for this part of your meal. It easy to dress up a side with sauces or accessories.
MASHED POTATO BRAINS (Zombies)
- 7 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- dash pepper freshly ground pepper
Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Cook 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Drain then add remaining ingredients. Using a mixer, beat until light and fluffy. To serve Lightly spray a brain shaped mold with non-stick spray and pack mold with potatoes. Refrigerate until well chilled. Invert mold on serving plate and allow potatoes to unstick and slide out. Smooth any obvious damage. Microwave on medium until just warm to serve. If you desire gravy with your potatoes, use a dark red gel coloring to tint it a reddish hue. Where to buy-you should be able to get a brain mold at most Halloween stores once they open for the season. If not, visit Shin Digz online www.shindigz.com/party/Gory-Brain-Mold.cfm
Go all out and have fun with your desserts, that is what they are there for! Dress up a simple dessert, such as cupcakes, with gummi worms or candy eyeballs for a ghoulish effect. If you have the time, a haunted gingerbread house will make a unique centerpiece.
SPICED CARAMEL APPLE CUPCAKES
- spice cake mix
- ingredients to complete cake as directed (water, oil, eggs-measurements will vary based on the cake mix brand you buy)
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
- 50 caramels, unwrapped
- 5 tablespoons milk
- 1 small package chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside. Mix cake batter according to the directions on the box, folding in chopped apples. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 full and bake as directed. Allow cupcakes to cool on a wire rack. While cupcakes are cooling, add caramels and milk to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until caramels are melted. Stir until well blended then “ice” cupcakes with caramel topping. While caramel is still soft, sprinkle with chopped pecans. For added effect, insert a popsicle stick in each cupcake to emulate a true caramel apple.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cups molasses
- 4 eggs
- 8 cups flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the molasses and eggs. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger; beat into the molasses mixture. Gradually stir in the remaining flour by hand to form a stiff dough. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Lightly flour your countertop and roll out each dough section to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and gently place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes then bake for 8-10. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. While pieces are cooling, sift together powdered sugar and cream of tartar. Add egg whites and blend. On high speed, beat until mixture is thick and stiff, around 5 minutes. Keep covered with a moist towel AND plastic wrap while not using. When you are ready to build your haunted house, take your time and work carefully. To keep your house steady as the icing sets, you can use canned goods to keep the walls in place. Decorate your creation with ghoulish Halloween candy and enjoy your unique creation!
When shopping for decorations for your Monster’s Ball, leave no stone unturned! Joann’s (Miami Twsp on Miamisburg Centerville Road), Michael’s and Hobby Lobby (Springboro Pike in Miami Twsp) may be craft stores, but they carry a wonderful supply of items to make your night complete! Local thrift stores such as those on Miamisburg Centerville Road in Miami Twsp and Centerville may have surprising collection of decor. WalMart, Meijer and Target all have a great collection of seasonal items, as well and can be found at various locations throughout the Dayton area.