Halloween

cathy7.img.jpgIt’s officially autumn, and you can feel the magic in the air. While some are sad to see the summer weather disappear, I welcome the new chillier climate with open arms.

As the colors of fall slowly emerge, bold crimsons, brawny browns and golds, I find myself easily seduced by the changing landscape. The rattling bronze oak leaves – some already dark chocolate and crisping at the edges – seem to awaken and enhance my imagination. In one swirling breeze I am energized and inspired unlike any other season of the year.

However, it’s the dashes of unexpected brightness brought about by Halloween that give me my biggest thrill. I have always admittedly been a "Halloween junkie." I can’t remember a time I haven’t been up for a little Halloween hijinks, including some kind of playful hocus pocus, a pumpkin palooza party or trick-or-treat fun.

My irresistible attraction to this holiday overflows into my cooking. I enjoy creating fun Halloween treats from common, everyday foods. This creation takes a classic white cake and icing recipe and easily transforms them into these individual candy corn cakes with orange-cream Icing. 

 

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draculahorror.jpgWhen my brother and I were 4 1/2 we were taken to see a movie called X-76 Bloodrust. I can’t find a single living soul who has ever heard of this movie. Not even John Landis.  What I gleaned about the plot, which was observed through a space between two fingers covering my eyes, was that this undulating creature (that looked like vomit, by the way) was created in a Sparkletts bottle, and if it touched you, you would die. I think it might have been the poorer cousin of The Blob.

The denouement had this vomit creature trying to force its way out of a baggage hold in an airplane and the passengers freaking out. My brother slept with a nightlight for the next 11 years. His head wrapped tightly with the sheet and just the tip of his nose poking out so he could breath, because we all know that monsters can’t touch sheets or blankets. I on the other hand became fascinated with Science Fiction and horror.

Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi’s and Christopher Lee’s Dracula and Henry Hull’s Werewolf of London (definitely more sexy than Lon Chaney Jr.) I even remember an early Humphrey Bogart chiller called The Return of Dr.X. where he played a man who had been executed and was brought back to life by the laziest of plot devices: electricity. His line to the girl he kidnapped and brought to a remote cabin will stay with me forever: “Don’t bother to scream, no one can hear you”, as he pulls out the biggest fuckin’ hypodermic needle I’d ever seen. Thass what I’m talking ‘bout!

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dragqueen.jpgI live in West Hollywood, where Halloween is like a national holiday – arrangements for street closures have been made well in advance and people from all over will come watch the flagrant and the flamboyant, the political and the theatrical,  the absurd and the sublime march along Santa Monica Boulevard, from La Cienega to Doheny. Candy is not an integral part of this spectacle and frankly that's the only thing that rankles me about it.

One year, the Wicked Witch of the West wheeled along the Boulevard with an enormous crystal ball that housed terrorized miniatures – Dorothy, Toto, and the other Oz pilgrims were all cowering on the yellow brick road within her bubble. Another year, there were several Menendez brothers, wearing blood covered v-neck sweaters and conservative haircuts. Then another year, there were groups of huddled Titanic musicians playing desperately as their ship was sinking (or, I should say, as the parade was passing them by).

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alienpizzasquaresWhen 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.

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batcookiesChocolate 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.

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