Monday, October 24, 2011

Little Dinner Party of Horror

After the age of ten, it's considered inappropriate to trick-or-treat, I guess. Then you turn eighteen and it's like if you don't get trashed and humiliate yourself in a skanky costume, you just didn't do it right. After too many years in lame costumes at even lamer bars and parties, we were just going to hang the whole thing up but there came a  Halloween epiphany, which led us to change our minds about this October holiday. We have mended Halloween to suit our needs: drinkin', smokin', cookin', and craftin' all from the comfort of our one-bedroom, Chicago apartment. So please, stop planning your trite Snookie costume and pick up a spatula and some rubber cement and follow these simple steps for the best Halloween party we've ever been to!

Decoration is key to setting the mood!

 Dessert First!
   Not actually, but I find that it's always best to prepare your dessert first. That way, if you mess it up there's always time to run out to the store and pick up something better. In keeping with the cheap theme, we were going to make pumpkin cheesecake, but that was too difficult and expensive, so we decided to make Caramel Apples instead!

Step 1: Plunge popcicle sticks into Honeycrisp apples (Honeycrisps are very expensive, we suggest ringing them up on the U-scan as red delicious) Note: sticks are usually included in a bag of Kraft caramels.

Step 2: In a small sauce pan, melt a bag of unwrapped caramel cubes with two tablespoons of water, stir constantly! When caramel is completely melted, simply dip and slather the apple with a rubber spatula. Place finished apples on a sheet of buttered wax paper and freeze for 10 minutes. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Dinner for Two + A Third Wheel!
  When you live in a small apartment in a weird area of town, the only way to get people to come over is to promise them dinner and hope your cat behaves himself. For most twentysomethings pasta and cheapo sauce is considered cooking. We think that's depressing. Read on and see how you can prepare something that looks expensive but was half-stolen from your local grocer.  

Stuffed Chayote Squash:
3 chayote squash (cut lengthwise)
1 lb ground turkey
1 yellow onion (diced)
1/2 can tomato sauce
2 t-spoons pie spice
1 cup shredded Monterey cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Boil squash halves for 15 minutes. Once tender, scoop out the insides, dice and set aside. Your squash bowls should be very thin. Place hollowed out squash on an oiled baking sheet.

Step 2: In a skillet, saute diced onion until tender. Crumble in turkey and brown for 5 minutes. Add pie spice, salt, pepper,  tomato sauce and diced squash innards. Heat for 15 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. 

Step 3: Fill shells with meat. Sprinkle tops with cheese and place them in preheated oven for 15 minutes (or until cheese is melted and squash is soft.

Now it's time for a side dish! We chose to mix up our own unique version of mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes are very cheap and so are all these other ingredients. If you buy all the ingredients you'll find uses for them later on. 

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
1 lb sweet potatoes
1/4 c half-n-half
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dry thyme (easily pilfered from U-scan)
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350.  Get out your aggression by poking tons of holes into the potatoes. Shove potatoes into the oven for one hour, or until tender and oozy.

Step 2: Peel potato flesh from the skin. Mash in a mixing bowl. Throw the rest of the ingredients in. Mix thoroughly.

Plate everything up and serve! We enjoyed ours with an additional side of fresh green beans (because you can ring them up as cabbage which is much cheaper). We also split a demi-baguette too, they're usually less than a dollar.

Craft Your Own Costumes! (C.I.Y)
Is it just me or do all these pop-up Halloween stores kind of make you long for the old times? The days when your mom would spend six months sewing and fabric-gluing truly unique costumes. After going into a few of these temporary retailers, we got some ideas of our own. We crafted some simple and very chic accessories for the person who wants to show some Halloween spirit, but not get too crazy. None of the following costumes can be prefaced with slutty- because we're nothing if not tasteful. 

WARNING! Though kitty may love to cut and paste, always err on the side of safety and lock him up before crafting.

C.I.Y Paper Witch Hat!
For this craft you will need the following: scissors, an exacto blade, black construction paper, tape, some sort of circular pattern, a ruler, and a white colored pencil or crayon. 

Step 1:  Using your circular pattern and colored pencil, trace the same sized circle onto two separate sheets of black construction paper. Cut both circles out. 

Step 2: On one of the circles, find the middle point by measuring straight across from the top to bottom and then side to side. Mark the spot and use a ruler and pencil to trace a line from the side to the center. Try to be as exact as possible or the cone will not fold properly. 

Step 3: Cut along the line to the middle point, Don't cut past the middle point. Take the two corners and pull them together around the head of your partner in craft. 

Step 4: Now that you've established your lover's hat size, tape the cone down the sides and trace the base in the center of your other paper circle. Using the exacto blade, begin cutting the center of the circle out, leaving you with a black ring similar to a toilet seat. This will be the brim.  

Step 5: Cut small tabs about 1/8" into the base of your cone. Fold down the edges and slide the brim down your cone. Tape the tabs onto the bottom of the brim. Embellish the cone if you're feelin' frisky.  

Try it on and size to fit! (We put a cord on ours to keep it on during flight. Well, we don't fly around on broomsticks.)

C.I.Y Felt Cat Mask!
For this craft you will need the following: An orange and a black sheet of felt, scissors, an exacto blade, rubber cement, a white colored pencil or chalk and a needle and yarn. 

Step 1: Using your colored pencil, draw your cat face onto the black felt. Ours was drawn from life. With the exacto blade and scissors, neatly cut out your cat face. 

Step 2: On one side, slather the felt with rubber cement. Place the mask cement-side down onto the orange felt. Smooth out and rub away any excess cement.

Step 3: Again using both blade and scissors cut the mask out of the orange sheet of felt. Use the needle and yarn to create a strap around the back.

Carving Pumpkins!
We won't try to take credit for this age-old tradition, but it's still a lot of fun no matter how old you are, despite what some say. What you may not know is that pumpkin pie, bread, etc is actually made from the shell and not the goo. We recycled our pumpkin and pureed the shell shortly after these pictures were taken. Stay tuned for the Thanksgiving special to get a bitchin' pumpkin pie recipe. We also toasted the seeds. Be careful not to eat too many because though they are delicious they tend to make digestion..unpleasant. We won't say how or why we know that. 
 For this activity you will need the following: a pumpkin (better yet, steal your neighbor's jack-o-lantern and carve on the side they didn't, this way the hard part is done for you), a variety of sharp knives, a spoon, a seed bowl, newspaper (to keep your table clean) and tea candles.

Step 1: Using a bigger-than-necessary knife, cut a circle around the stem, creating a lid. 

Step 2: Remove the guts with a spoon or your hands.  Pull the seeds from the pumpkin afterbirth and deposit them into a bowl, set seeds aside. 

Step 3: Carve your favorite personal attribute into the pumpkin shell. Illuminate with a tea candle. 

Well, that about does it for us.  Hope this flattering Halloween Party guide makes yours a happy one!

Happy Halloween 2011!

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