Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spooky Food Round-up! -- Plus ZOMBIE instructions!


Halloween is TOMORROW! Can you believe it?? I'm a little sad I'll be practically missing out on my most favorite holiday, but I had a great birthday to make up for it and am in an amazing play, so it all works out in the end :) And who knows, maybe I'll get to don my Katniss costume once more! Or my zombie outfit...


Gahh I just love Halloween! Can we have a re-do of it next month? Please?

Anyway, here is a round-up of all the awesome spooky food I posted in the past week, plus some ideas for making non-spooky food with a Halloween theme. I hope they are useful for someone's Halloween party, as they were all a big hit at mine!

Recipes Posted in the last week:



Also, here are some great ideas for yummy food that's just been given a silly name for sake of Halloween!


Pigs in a blanket became "Mummy Toes"--buy cocktail franks and wrap with bits of crescent roll strips. They puff up a LOT in the oven, so you don't need much breading. One tube will cover about a whole package of cocktail franks.


Sangria can easily become "Blood Punch"--If you add a drop or two of blue food coloring, it will REALLY look like blood! Plus, Sangria is my absolute favorite party drink to make. It's cheap, delicious, and can be made with just about anything you have on hand. See my Sangria Recipe Here, or use your favorite :) I added some apples to be extra fall-themed.


Spicy Pork Meatballs became the most hilarious entry: "Dragon Testicles"! Hehe... I used this recipe for spicy meatballs and just stuck a silly name on them. These meatballs are always a huge hit at parties, and they're super easy and not too expensive to put together.


And what would a Halloween party be without a puking gourd? Seriously. Every party needs one of these.


The last thing I had for a quick spooky food was Quagulated Blood Dip--basically roasted beet hummus with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. It's fantastic and was one of the two things my vegan friends could consume. Adding a drop or two of blue food coloring makes it less pink and more "bloody" as well.

Also, in case you were wondering how I made that awesome zombie face, it's actually quite easy. I wish I had step-by-step pictures but I taught myself by reading various online how-to's and watching some videos. Basically, all you need is liquid latex (you can find pint sized ones at most Halloween stores right now), face paint, fake blood, oatmeal, and some one-ply toilet paper if you want to make some wounds. What I did was put a base of my usual makeup (I was kiiind of going for "pretty zombie" if that's even possible) but if you want more of a "gross" look, put on a pale base. Next, dab blue, purple, and black around your eyes to make them look bruised. Finally, mix about a 1/4 cup of liquid latex with a handful of oatmeal and enough fake blood to look dark pink (it will darken as it dries). Smear on your face where you want to look like you've been nomming on gore--I did from about my cheekbones down. Wait for it to dry completely, then layer with red and brown face paint, and dab on black and blue for depth.

For wounds like this: 
I did just about everyone's makeup that night

You basically layer one-ply toilet paper with liquid latex and then paint over it when dry. You can practice by building them up on a sheet of wax paper, which is great for experimenting with design, and then peel them off and adhere them to your face later, or just build them right on your face. What I do: start with a layer of latex, and let dry. Add another layer, and press a piece of toilet paper the size of the wound you want over it. Gently rip the paper and pinch the sides together to make some depth. Continue building by using smaller pieces of toilet paper and dabs of liquid latex. Once the wound is the size and depth you want, you can put bits of crinkled toilet paper or some of the oatmeal mixture listed above in the center to give it a realistic texture. Rice bits make great maggots too :) When everything is totally dry, you can use makeup to blend it into your skin and layer makeup on top. I did a layer of red, making sure to fill in all the creases, then dabbed on brown over all of the red, and then lightly dabbed black and blue on top of that. Cover with fake blood to give it the moist, pussing look.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Spooky Food -- Monster Fingers



It didn't dawn on me until about Sunday evening, while browsing my Facebook Newsfeed, that because of my show I'd missed out on most Halloween parties that would be happening. Thankfully, I had an opportunity to wear my costume for my birthday party: 

Katniss!

But I was a little sad, for a moment, that I'd be missing my favorite holiday and both surrounding weekends. I had hoped for another opportunity to wear my costume, but it would seem that Hurricane Sandy has other plans. 

However, the reason I'm missing out on dressing like Katniss and making a drunken fool of myself, is because I am in a fantastic play that is performing all through Halloween Week: The Rocky Horror Show --seriously, if you live in the area you DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS. It's the perfect fun Halloweeny activity and you'll be supporting local theater! We had a fantastic audience this weekend and hopefully the hurricane won't interfere with us having amazing audiences next weekend (and Halloween!) too! 

Oh! And I got a cat this weekend! Meet Finn:


I went to the local shelter with my roommate in search of a cat to bring home. I was feeling lonely on weekends that Christina and her adorable dog, Baxter, were out of state, so I decided to try to find a furry friend of my own. Baxter hasn't had wonderful luck with cats in the past, so we needed a very specific tempered cat to handle his overactive-ness.

I decided I wanted an old, female, short-hair cat. To be able to handle Baxter, we couldn't get a skittish cat. We needed a friendly cat with no fear. We trekked 40 minutes to a shelter and took out a few cats, played with some, but nobody was really winning my heart and Christina seemed pretty apathetic about most. They all were rather skittish and nobody wanted to cuddle or play, they just seemed eager to get out of that room. A nervous cat would not be a good match for a house with a hyperactive dog. As we were about to give up, a volunteer suggested we try another local shelter which we had never heard of. We got lost about twice trying to find it, but eventually we did, and we roamed the halls looking at the cats behind the glass and taking notes on which we wanted to see. After waiting in the waiting room for what seemed like forever, we were put into a room and this little guy was placed on my lap.

Immediately, he curled up into a cuddly ball and started purring. He didn't run, he didn't hide, and when placed on the ground he hopped right back up onto a lap. He didn't leave my lap the whole time and was purring like a revving engine. He won our hearts within minutes.

"I think this is the one," said Christina.
"I am already in love." I said.
This cat was under a year old, fluffy, and a male. Opposite of what I set out for, though I did think he was full grown and just small, but he is practically a kitten. The people at the shelter think he has some Maine Coon in him, and obviously he has the Manx gene because he is tail-less. They think he'll get up to 12-16 pounds at full size (this is probably why I assumed he was just a small cat--he is huge for a kitten!). I have always wanted a huge cat, I am excited to watch him grow!

Before even leaving the room, the cat had a new name (his former one was AJ and I decided he deserved better than a douchey frat guy name): Phinneus, or Finn for short. Then he was boxed up, and we made our way home. Halfway through the trip, we took him out of the box and he rode the rest of the way on Christina's shoulders. Adorable.

  
It's going to be a challenge to acclimate him to Baxter, but so far we've been working on the pup and he seems okay. He even let a friend's cat eat out of his food dish! We're going to let them sniff each other under the door for a bit, and then do some supervised visits where one or both is in a cage. Then we'll section off parts of the house with baby gates that Finn can jump over but Baxter cannot--so that he can escape if need be. Fingers crossed that these two will learn to love, or at least tolerate, each other!

Anyways, today's "Spooky Food" is wicked easy, and actually an appetizer I use at most of my parties. I called it "Monster Fingers" for purpose of the party, but I originally learned what they were from the receipe Pickles in a Blanket when I worked at Family Fun Magazine. It's super easy and strangely delicious. The flavors all just feel RIGHT together, if you can get over the fact you're definitely eating something a pregnant woman would crave...

Monster Fingers
(or Pickles in a Blanket)
  • 1 jar small kosher dill pickles
  • 1 container whipped cream cheese
  • 1/2 lb sliced salami


-Spread cream cheese on one side of salami. Roll up with a pickle. Serve!

(Told ya it was easy...)

Want more Spooky Food for your upcoming Halloween party? Check out my other recipes for Alien Eggs and Bloody Eyeballs!

And to all my friends on the East Coast (myself included!) PLEASE STAY SAFE. I am mostly convinced that Sandy is going to be a flop, but in case it's not I stocked up on non-perishables, bottled water and juice, and even bought a stupidly-marked-up flashlight and batteries. Plus, being a new pet owner, I made sure to stock up on pet food too! Don't get stuck unprepared. And an extra case or two of beer/wine wouldn't hurt either!

Remember the Nor'Easter last year? That sucked... two weeks without power. Let's hope this is nothing like that!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spooky Food for Halloween -- Alien Eggs


TWO POSTS IN ONE WEEK? WOAH. I know, right? Well, I figured since Halloween is less than a week away, and Halloween parties will be starting this weekend, I should throw another recipe at ya to go with the Bloody Eyeballs I posted on Wednesday.

Because I am awesome like that.

Again, the picture quality on these is lame because I didn't have time to really sit down and figure out how to make them pretty--plus, people were arriving and they were hungry. So I apologize for the sub-par pictures, again.

The spread, again, because I was so proud of it!


Anyway.

These have got to be my favorite "spooky food" I've ever made! They are seriously going to be a staple at every Halloween party from here on out, mark my words. At least five people commented "ewww, these look NASTY!" when they saw them. To which someone nearby would reply, "yeah, but they taste AMAZING!" I think someone even commented that they were the "best deviled eggs I've ever had!" Which made me all sorts of happy.

The coloring on the eggs is thanks to beet juice and vinegar, and adds a nice little zing to the egg white as well, which I think flavor-wise sends these over the edge. You could probably even avoid coloring the yolks and serve them for any holiday or gathering, the purple egg and yellow yolk would look lovely together.

Eerie Alien Eggs
(I did this from my own brain based on things I had found on the internet. There is a recipe here for pickled beet eggs and here for a basic deviled egg recipe that I re-read for sake of making sure this was an accurate recipe)

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs (for sake of time I bought them pre-hard-boiled, but it's definitely preferred if you make your own)
  • 1 can beet liquid (from a can of beets--reserve beets and add to hummus for a bloody dip if desired!)
  •  ~2 cups vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Sriacha sauce (or more, to taste. Sub for your favorite hot sauce if preferred)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • smoked paprika
  • 3 drops (or more) green food coloring


-Arrange whole eggs in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Cover with beet juice and vinegar, making sure they are completely covered. Let soak in the fridge overnight or for a few hours until eggs are purple.

-Carefully slice eggs in half and scoop yolks out into a small bowl. Mix with remaining ingredients, being careful not to over-mix or the mixture will get liquidy. Add food coloring until egg yolks are desired color. Pipe or spoon mixture into eggs and chill until ready to serve.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spooky Food For Halloween -- Bloody Eyeballs

The spread at my Halloween Birthday Party

For as long as I can remember, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. As soon as October hit I would count the days until that amazing night, collecting costume pieces or saving my pennies so I could buy a coveted store-bought costume, crossing my fingers that it wouldn't be too cold or too rainy to go out. I was one of those annoying teenagers who trick-or-treated right up until the first year of college.


Freshman year of college--can you guess who we were?


Maybe it was an extension of my love of theater--the night you can totally lose yourself into another character. And, wonder of wonders, you get rewarded with CANDY! It's just absolutely fantastic. No other holiday can compare, in my opinion.

One of my favorite costumes--under it was a Stars and Stripes bikini, heh...


As I got older, trick-or-treating was replaced with skimpy costumes and binge drinking, as one is wont to do in college. But even when I was dealing with little fabric, I tried to make my costume as unique as possible--I even refused to break character the entire night. Or I'd bring a strangely colored alcoholic beverage of choice and refer to it as my "blood" or "toxic sludge."

Also, the Northampton Zombie Pub Crawl

Cut to the now, when I'm a full-fledged kitchen mad scientist of sorts and what do you have? Awesomely catered Halloween parties by yours truly. Now when October hits, not only am I pulling together costume pieces, but I'm collecting and brainstorming spooky recipes.

Sigh. So pretty!


Since I'll be in Rocky Horror the weekend before and after Halloween PLUS on Halloween itself, I made my birthday into a costume/Halloween party. It was fantastic and I made way too much spooky food--spent over $100 on food alone, plus some punch. I've decided that I'll post the recipes every few days or so, so that anyone wanting to have their own Halloween bash can be inspired! I have new recipes, and some already-blogged recipes I will link to with the appropriate captions (example: my spicy pork meatballs became "dragon testes" hehe...) The pictures are kind of crappy since I didn't have the correct lighting, but it makes them a little spooky, no?

Katniss, a Capitol lady, and Effie Trinket!


I've been wanting to try to make these eyeballs for YEARS and I finally had the time to put them together. They didn't come out as gorgeous as the original pictures, and I couldn't find the correct circular mold to really make them look like eyeballs, but it was definitely the same idea and they went over well. Almost too well--people were too grossed out to try them! But those I did convince were pleasantly surprised. They're fruity and creamy and a lovely little dessert. I'm sure they could be un-Halloween'd quite easily :)



Bloody Eyeballs
(Adapted from this recipe, at my favorite go-to site for Halloween food!)
  • 2 packets (2 Tbsp) plain powdered gelatin in 1 cup tepid water
  • (or 8 sheets plain leaf gelatin)
  • 8 oz (one brick) cream cheese (can be Neufchatel)
  • 1 10oz jar marshmallow creme (or 1 cup mini marshmallows)
  • 1 cup cold pineapple juice
  • Lifesavers gummies or similar circular candy
  • Small chocolate chips
  • 3 tbs corn syrup
  • 8 drops red food coloring, 1 drop blue food coloring
  • Half-circle candy molds--I couldn't find these so I used mini muffin tins, and then regular sized muffin tins when that ran out

-Spray mold/muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. Press chocolate chips into lifesavers and arrange in bottom of your mold/muffin tins. 

-Bloom gelatin in water. Put cream cheese into saucepan over medium heat and stir until smooth--whisk furiously, it clumps easily. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Stir in the bloomed gelatin until completely combined. Add the cold pineapple juice and whisk until smooth. Pour into molds and chill in fridge until set. 

When eyeballs are firm (2 hours or overnight) carefully remove them from the molds--I used a knife to cut around and gently scoop out the eyeballs. Arrange on a plate and refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, mix corn syrup and food coloring to make "blood" and drizzle over eyeballs.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Falling into Fall -- Apple Beet Salad with Maple Dressing


So, listen. I'm going to tell you a secret. But, only if you promise not to tell.

You see, I've always said that Summer is the only season that I enjoy--Spring is too squishy, Winter is just plain terrible in New England (long, freezing, annoying to drive in), and Fall is unable to be enjoyed because it's just a segway into Winter. Summer is for sure the best season and by far the shortest.

This is a big reason why I have dreams of moving to Southern California--a gorgeous place with no winter? Sign me up! Sign me up right away!

But, the truth is, if I did leave my cozy little corner of New England for bigger and better things, there is one thing I'd actually miss.

Like, a lot.

Fall.

Okay, I know! I told you, you can't tell anyone. I do have an image to uphold! And years and years of whining I cannot back out on. But... it's true. Just look how utterly GORGEOUS my valley looks this time of year:

Taken from atop Poet's Seat in Greenfield. I took a hike by myself (something I NEVER do) with my
roommate's dog and this view just blew me away

Isn't that stunning? Like, seriously, stunning. Not to mention the smell of crunching leaves, the pumpkin-flavored-EVERYTHING, and all of the fun fall festivals and harvests. The last hurrah before winter comes.

Not to mention my birthday AND my favorite holiday both fall in the month of October. I've loved Halloween for as long as I can remember! So, maybe if I'm being truly honest, it's just October that I'll miss. September makes me sad because it's when Summer dies, and November is just far too close to December and the beginning of the holiday season.

Zombie Pub Crawl 2012

So, October it is. I'd miss the vibrant colors and beautiful countryside if I ever do make it to SoCal.

But, you didn't hear it from me.

In other news, this week begins Hell Week--the week before a show opens. Every night I'll be at the theater, running lines and dances and songs while changing in and out of costumes and helping to finish up any last set construction things. It's going to be a long, busy week. But the end result will be a fantastic play that I hope our little valley can enjoy--The Rocky Horror Show. I've wanted to be a part of this production for YEARS, and it's finally opening week. I'll definitely be posting pictures soon.



Until then, enjoy this awesome salad, bursting with all the flavors of fall. Apples, some root veggies, all beautifully tossed with oil and vinegar and maple. A great lunch, or side dish to a hearty fall meal. This was also part of my Johnny Appleseed party a few weeks ago.


Apple Beet Salad with Maple Dressing

(Recipe from Women's Day)

  • 6 small fresh beets, trimmed
  • cup(s) olive oil & vinegar dressing (I used a homemade one using balsamic vinegar and EVVO with salt and pepper)
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 1-3 apples  cut in thin wedges
  • 1 bag baby arugula
  • 1 large Belgian endive,  cut in strips
  • Croutons (original recipe has directions on how to make your own)


Microwave beets and 2 Tbsp water in a loosely covered shallow dish on high 5 minutes until tender. When cool enough to handle, hold under running water, rub off skins and cut in chunks. Alternatively, you can bake beets in tinfoil in an oven for 40 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees, but this way is faster.


 Pour dressing into a large bowl; stir in syrup. Add apples, arugula and endive; toss to mix and coat. Divide salad among 6 plates; add beets and croutons to each.

One more time--so pretty!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Settling Into Life -- Gruyère Apple Tart

Photos by a friend since I didn't have time!

Life got very busy very quickly. I moved into a new apartment, my workload at my job doubled due to some people leaving, I am in two theatrical productions at once, I keep going on dates that go absolutely nowhere, I turned 25 years old, and I keep having parties that may or may not be annoying the heck out of my new downstairs neighbor.

On top of Mt. Sugarloaf

It's one of those points in my life where life is an utter rollercoaster. There are ups and downs and my brain and heart never seem to get along, and I feel like I never have enough time. When I was a fresh-faced college graduate I had big plans for where I saw myself at this age that just didn't pan out: Move across the country with my then-boyfriend, spend the majority of my 20s in the warmth and excitement of Southern California while working whatever job I could find that was somewhat associated with my shiny new BFA in Publishing. When my relationship fell apart less than a year later and my student loan repayments kept me stuck at my parents' house, the plans changed: save as much as I could in the space of a year, go to Los Angeles on my own, continue with the plan. Then I needed emergency surgery, and despite having insurance, the amount not covered drained my savings.

So now, at 25, the only thing in my grand plan that I've accomplished is that I have moved out of my parents' house. I'm still single, and the lonely is starting to creep up at random times and bother me. The failed dates and broken promises seem to be the cherry on top of this mound of frustration and failed plans and every so often I need to just close the door to my office, or my room, and cry for a good ten minutes or so just to get it all out.

Sneak Peek at my Halloween costume!
And then I remind myself of the good things: I'm still young. I have a job that I love. I have my own apartment, a fantastic roommate, and an amazing group of friends who support me no matter what. Not to mention my wonderful family, who I feel like I'm growing closer with now that I'm out on my own. I'm growing up, I'm doing everything right, and whatever is supposed to happen for me, is going to happen. My situation could be worlds worse, and I should appreciate what I have in the meantime. Because it's pretty wonderful when I take the time to relax and see it for what it is.

High School friends at my friend's wedding

This blog is called Quarter Life (Crisis) for a reason, right?

Also, guys can be extremely stupid and this Gruyère tart is more appealing than half the men I've been on dates with lately anyway. I've been told that you find love when you're not looking--do you also find it when you're too exhausted to even look anymore? How about when you are stuffing your face with fantastic baked goods? I'll let you know.


This tart was something inspired by this recipe that a friend sent me. I was gathering recipes for a party I was having to celebrate Johnny Appleseed (who was a Massachusetts native! More apple recipes to come!) and wanted something fun and unique. I didn't have the patience for making my own crust, so I altered the recipe a whole lot and came up with this. The result is definitely a dessert, even if it involves a lot of cheese, but you could use it in small bits as a side dish or appetizer. It's creamy, smokey, and tart, and the flavors all combine themselves beautifully.

Apple Gruyère Tart

  • 1 pie crust (I used Pillsbury refrigerated, if you're fancy you can make your own)
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 block (8 oz) apple smoked Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 2-3 large apples (I used 1 Fiji, 1 Cortland, and 1 Mac), thinly sliced
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Handful of shredded cheddar


-Press pie crust into tart pan. Set aside.

-Create a roux by melting the butter over low heat and slowly whisking in the flour. Once combined, slowly add cream and milk and whisk until thick. Temper in the egg (whisk egg in small bowl, add spoonfuls of the cream until egg is the same temperature as the cream on the stove, then add). Add the Gruyère in handfuls until combined.

-Pour cream into pie crust until it is a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon and sugar, then arrange on top of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with cheddar. Bake according to pie crust directions, until set.

-Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. It's delicious either way.

If you live in Western Mass, come see this show!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Birthday to Meeee

Guys. I turned 25 today.

My Blog name is officially accurate, haha.

Yup I've disappeared again. I was Maid of Honor in a Wedding, check it out:


If I have time in the next few days I'll post some apple recipes!