When it comes to Halloween, adults can learn something from children, who anticipate the holiday for weeks. Everyone outgrows trick-or-treating, but you should never outgrow Halloween. It gives you a wonderful excuse to engage in a lot of fun and a little mischief.
Have a party, decorate your house or make homemade treats for your little goblins. Here are some ideas for making this Halloween a special one.
With ghosts lurking in doorways and peering out windows, your house is sure to be the most popular on the block. Made of inexpensive sheer polyester chiffon (available at fabric stores), the ghosts are easy enough to make with kids and can be saved from year to year.
Lay the fabric out on the floor or a work surface, preferably on top of plain paper from a big roll, which makes cutting the slippery fabric easier. Pin the fabric to the paper. Use a pen or marker to draw the outline of a ghost, as menacing or friendly as you like. Cut out the paper and cloth together, then remove the paper. Make more ghosts, with different personalities.
To put them up in windows or on mirrors, use dots of rubber cement. On wood, you can use a pushpin, or try a piece of double-sided tape.
Bobbing apple lanterns
Welcome guests or trick-or-treaters with floating candle holders made from apples. Here's how to make them:
First, place the apples in water to see how they float. Some will float upright, others may lean a little. Mark their tops with a dot. Place a tea light (the small candles in metal cups) on the dot, and trace around it with a utility knife, making the cut as deep as the candle is tall. Set the candle aside.
Cut the circle into sections, and scoop them out with a spoon, making a hole that's just the right size for the candle. Squeeze lemon juice onto the cut surface to keep it from turning brown, and insert a tea light.
Fill an old steel tub or other basin with water, place it on the porch, add the lanterns and light the wicks.
When you scoop out your jack-o'-lanterns, save those seeds. Roasted with herbs or sugar and spice, they make delicious snacks. The following measurements are for 2 cups of fresh pumpkin seeds, but you can alter the amount of flavorings as necessary.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
For rosemary-roasted seeds, grind 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Toss rosemary with the seeds, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to taste. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes, until crisp and brown.
For a more unusual flavor, replace the rosemary with 2 teaspoons each of ground fennel seed, ground anise seed and ground coriander seed. For sweet seeds, toss with 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Roast as described.
Try this delicious homemade version of the classic candy.
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter, preferably all-natural
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
36 paper candy cups (1 3/8 -inch), available at specialty kitchen and baking shops
Combine sugar, peanut butter and butter in electric mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed to combine.
Transfer mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 -inch round tip; set aside.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Keep it over hot water as you work. Use a small spoon or small paintbrush to coat the insides of paper candy cups thoroughly with melted chocolate. Place cups on a rimmed baking sheet, or in muffin tins, which will keep the cups from sliding about.
Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate.
Pipe peanut-butter filling into each chilled chocolate cup until three-quarters full. Spoon melted chocolate over to seal and cover. Freeze again to set, 15 to 25 minutes.
Peanut-butter cups can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three days. Serve them cold, straight from the freezer. Makes 36 cups.