I was in my early 20’s. I had been invited to Dean Martin’s daughter’s Halloween party. Yes, at her father’s house. A big ass Beverly Hills home. I planned to be Elton John. The girls — Gina and Donna — who had invited me to the party were very close with Shaun Cassidy, and I was told Shaun owned Ziggy Stardust-style silver lame’ rock & roll boots. I didn’t know him or what size shoe he wore, but I boldly called and asked to borrow them: “Hi, I’m Fredde Duke, you don’t know me but….”
I picked up the rock & roll boots at his mother’s house on North Oakhurst. Found it on my Map to the Stars’ Homes. Kidding. I enlisted the wardrobe department where my dad had a studio deal to write “Elton John” in a sequined signature on the back of my satin, emerald-green man’s coat. A friend worked for Bernie Taupin and Elton at Rocket Records, and he gave me a stack of unsigned Elton John headshots. At the toy store on Beverly Drive, I bought a child’s baby grand piano. By now I’m realizing it would have been a lot easier to go as Pat Boone. Then I scored a man’s wig in Hollywood, but cut it at the crown to make me look like I was balding. The piece de resistance was the blacked out Elton gap tooth. Voila, I was suddenly a gay rock star!!!
My husband and I are not fans of Halloween. I hate dressing up - clearly I lack a sense of whimsy and the need to pretend to be something I am not. Or maybe I'm just content with who I am. You can be the judge. His birthday is three days before and his childhood parties were always black and orange-themed and required a costume. You'd think all the free candy would balance the drag of dressing up, but as the years went by his hatred only grew. Since we don’t have children avoiding this holiday is pretty simple…just turn the lights off and stay away from the front door.
Or go to visit relatives. We usually visit our families back East once a year and had the great luck, unbeknownst to us, to find ourselves in the quaint hamlet of Cooperstown, NY on Halloween in 2006. We honestly didn't even think about it. We were on vacation so the days just ran together. It was just the day we happened to be there. We didn't even realize it WAS Halloween until we entered the Baseball Hall of Fame.
We are big fans of America's past time and we were determined on this trip to actually take some time to see something new for once. If you've never been to the Birthplace of Baseball, well, you are really missing out. Walking around Cooperstown is like stepping back in time. It's small town America at its' best. No chains, no fast food, no big hotels. Just mom & pop small businesses - most with a baseball theme - centuries old stately homes and a fancy restaurant or two that have been providing fare since before our grandparents were born.
Rich, dark, devilish. Like a big Reese’s peanut butter cup. The recipe for these cupcakes sounded amazing, although once I started following it I had to tweak it a bit to get it to work. When they were finished, they were sublime!
I used two 12-mini muffin tins to yield 24 tiny cupcakes. They have a small mound of peanut butter frosting on top, then a glaze of dark chocolate and a Reese’s peanut butter candy on top. I know you will love these once you try them.
They are even great right out of the freezer!
With all the leftover Halloween candy over here, it was time to do something with it, something different than just mindlessly eating piece by piece. Unfortunately my biggest motivation for getting rid of the Halloween candy is because I want to buy the same candy but in red and green Christmas packaging. It just never ends.
I saw this cake around the blogosphere and knew I had to try it. Let me just say, it is the best darned dessert, I am shocked. I was worried it would taste like a bunch of mushy candy but the flavors were very distinct and VERY GOOD. Of course my kids thought I was a hero for chopping up candy and putting it in dessert, go figure.
The best part was discovering this terrific recipe for vanilla bundt cake, it's delicious. I mean really, delicious, light, tender and moist. I can see using this cake as a vessel for many goodies from now on, I loved it.
So get your Halloween candy out, even the ones not liked very much will taste good in this cake. I promise.
I am a person who remembers absolutely everything. I remember being sick when I was two years old and believed (one, hopes, due to fever and not psychopathology) that tiny men were marching out of my laundry hamper. I remember the first day of kindergarten, the exact words in the note from Eric saying he didn’t like me that way in fifth grade, the way the flap of skin looked after I jumped on a clam shell in Maine when I was ten, and the phone numbers of all my friends from high school. I remember the way the air smelled in Boston on a day when it carried the ocean into the City, and the diesel smell of the streets in Europe. I remember slights and offenses and try hard to forget them. I remember generosities and kindnesses, and try to cherish them. I remember to do the things I say I’m going to do, unless I’m under enormous stress. (That’s a whole different issue).
So remembering things about Halloweens past should be easy, right? All of the pumpkins, and costumes, and cobweb-covered porches should transport me back, like Proust in Rememberance of Things Past:
And suddenly the memory revealed itself: The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane.
No dice. I love Halloween; in general I prefer the autumn holidays because they don’t happen in summer (which I dislike) and I don’t have to buy gifts, decorate the house or forget to send cards again.
Chocolate sandwich cookies were my favorites as a kid. Though I haven't had them in years, I still crave them. To settle my sweet tooth this Halloween, I decided to create my own grown-up version with a peanut butter filling. They are far better than the ones I remember eating as a kid. And I'm sure if you give kids a choice between these and the store-bought kind, they will choose these. Don't be fooled though, these cookies may look whimsical with their fun cut-out shapes but they are just as much made for the adults as the kids.
This quick dough can be put together in minutes and made even a couple of days ahead of time. Rolling them may get a little sticky, so be sure to flour the board and then simply dust off the excess before baking. At the slightest sight of stickiness, just slip the dough back into the refrigerator or better yet the freezer. The best part comes when filling them. I like the cookies with just a bit of filling, but feel free to spread as much as you like. They go great with milk and if you're so inclined twist one apart and lick the filling. Sometimes it's great to feel like a kid again.
When I think of Halloween, I think hot dogs. People tend to find this association odd, some are even angered by it, but to me it feels perfectly natural. When I was younger, my mother used to grill hot dogs in our driveway for the trick or treaters and dole out beer in red plastic cups to the adults, providing a bit of a respite for parents whose kids were running around the neighborhood injected with copious amounts of sugar.
I was never much of a walker and I never got off on travelling in packs (why I live in New York I don't know), but even more importantly, I loved and still adore a good hot dog. Essentially, this ritual made my Halloween quite perfect.
The ritual ended, sadly, when I moved to New York to go to college. There are very few driveways in Manhattan, and there is a bar or a Gray's Papaya on every street corner, so if people need a beer or a frank, they are basically set year round. Nobody shared my passion for hot dogs at Halloween, unless they were terribly after drunk taking too many orange jello shots at some themed downtown party, in which case that little beef wonder became something of a valuable commodity, a bonafide savior in fact.
The countdown to Halloween is well under way and we are enjoying a few holiday treats! I celebrate Halloween all month because I love it!! I also love mason jars, which goes back to my love of glass storage containers.
And honestly, these couldn't be easier to make and will impress your little Hallow-weenies at home. My boys love anything for Halloween that is remotely gross, which is why the Kitty Litter Cake has always been so big around here. The idea of worms coming out of a pretend grave is also right up their alley.
I wish I could take these to their Halloween party at school, but we are no longer allowed to bring homemade treats. Such a bummer.
You want to make sure your mason jars are washed and completely dried before you begin. I used 1/2 pint wide mouth jars. They are the perfect size.
Jack Benny (who was a famously cheap and made fun of himself for it) gave out silver dollars on Halloween.
Lucille Ball used to answer the door herself.
A witch lived in the witches’ house on Walden Avenue and gave out apples on Halloween.
Don’t know the answer because “the witches’ house” was so scary that none of us ever made it down the walkway. But the witches’ house wasn’t really a witches’ house. It was really offices and dressing rooms at a silent movie studio in Culver City before someone (don’t ask me why) relocated it to a corner lot in Beverly Hills in the 1930s and moved in.
When my kids are having a playdate there often isn't time to whip up a batch of cookies or other type of treat. Since most kids like pizza in some form, this is always a big hit.
The possibilities for themes are endless since you can use any cookie cutter shape to personalize this pizza into any thing you choose. Hearts for Valentine's Day, Christmas trees, candy canes, ghosts, shamrocks, you can even spell your child's name with alphabet cutters. Like I said, the possibilities are endless and always welcomed by the young people in our lives.
To make the alien faces, I used a pumpkin cookie cutter. I used capers for the eyes and basil for the mouth.
My boys and their friends loved it and they always feel special when I make this very simple after-school snack.
Make your kids smile today by making them this simple treat.