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The Blonde Cucina: Have a 'Spooktacular' Halloween

by on October 31, 2015 6:00 AM
State College, PA

OK, all you ghosts and ghouls, Halloween is here, and if you want to ensure you have a frightfully “spooktacular” time, take a few tips from this mummy and you’ll be sure to be a top scream queen.

Having a small or large get-together for this frightfully fun holiday doesn’t have to be hard — it can actually be very, very fun.

I have many ghoulish treats and, if you so dare, tricks for your partygoers.

Halloween is like the Christmas holiday, but for goblins. Your decorations don’t have to take a long time, nor do they have to cost a lot. You can go to a dollar store, complete some DIY items at home and you’re set.

For example, you can make tons of creepy cemetery head stones out of just a few items, including old pieces of cardboard, dark gray spray paing and a Sharpie marker.

To begin, use your marker to draw tombstone shapes on the cardboard. Remember, they're supposed to be old and creepy, so they don't have to be perfectly shaped.

Cut the shapes out with scissors, then use the spray paint to color the tombstones. Allow to dry, and once ready, use the marker to add “R.I.P.” or funny names such as “Barry A. Live” and “Emma Goner” to the fronts. Place them all around the house or yard.

You can also do a very simple do-it-yourself ghost walkway up to your house or in your hallways, guiding your guest to places such as the “Shrunkin’ Dead Head Punch” (we’ll get to that) or the “Bat-room.”

To make your walkway, you need clean clear milk jugs, your Sharpie marker and battery-operated artificial candles or strings of holiday lights.

Make sure each jug is clean and dry, then use a knife to cut a small hole in the bottom of each. Make ghostly faces using your marker on the front of the jug, then place your light source in the bottom. Line jugs along your walkway, hallway or up the steps, then turn your lights on to illuminate the faces.

Another great DIY and creepy decoration that can go anywhere is a “specimen jar.” You can make your table or kitchen counters look like a super creepy scientist lab gone oh-so-very-wrong. By tossing just about anything you can imagine into a glass jar with some food coloring and water, you can quickly create a super cheap and tossable Halloween décor item.

Begin by collecting a few old glass jars in different sizes, such as Mason jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc. You'll also need food coloring, water and your “specimens” — old doll heads, plastic spiders, rubber snakes, ping pong balls decorated like eyesballs, old meat gone bad, rubber rats, etc.

Wash and dry the jars, decide which objects to place inside, then fill each jar with the object of choice, the water and a drop or two of food coloring. Now you have some fine specimens!

You can get super creative and make labels for each jar, or take the fun to another level and make people guess what's inside, with the ghoul who guesses the most correctly getting a treat.

You’ll want to make sure you have delicious finger foods for your party, as well as a punch that will “wow” the crowd. Remember the “Shrunkin’ Dead Head Punch” I mentioned earlier?



4 cups apple cider
2 cups sparkling water
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup apple juice
2 sticks cinnamon
2 to 4 apples

Heat your oven to 275°F. While oven is preheating, peel the skin off all of your apples and slice them in half, removing the core. Cut faces into the apples using a paring knife. Place the apples on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake for about 2 hours, until apples have shrunk a bit and become wrinkly.

Mix ingredients for punch together and place apples and cinnamon sticks into the bowl.

If you’d like you can heat up this punch and it’s just as yummy, too. And, if you want to make it for adults, add some caramel-flavored vodka.



3⁄4 cup whipped cream cheese, room temperature

1⁄4 cup packed brown sugar

3⁄4 cup canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons real maple syrup

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients and serve with sliced apples, vanilla cookies, etc. You can serve this right away or chill it.



2 cups canned white navy beans, drained and rinsed 
3 roasted red peppers (jarred is fine)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Two bags bite-sized pitas

Combine beans, peppers, garlic and oil in a food processor. Purée the ingredients until everything becomes smooth. If your mix is too thick, thin it out with a bit of milk.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue blending until everything is well incorporated. Store in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, cut open a hole in the middle of the pita and stuff a spoonful of your creepy red bean and pepper mixture into the opening.

So gross looking, so yummy and so easy!

Happy haunting all you ghosts and goblins!

Ciara Semack is the owner of The Blonde Bistro in Bellefonte. She is the mother of one and a lifelong resident of Centre County. Her column appears every other week in the Gazette. Questions, suggestions and comments can be directed to [email protected]
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