Here are some delightfully creepy nibbles for Halloween:
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
3 tablespoons finely chopped and peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 chilled bottle (25.4 ounces) sparkling cider (about 3 1/4 cups)
1 quart chilled cranberry juice cocktail
1 liter chilled club soda or seltzer
1 cup dark rum (optional)
In small saucepan, bring cinnamon, cloves, ginger, water and sugar to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Cool syrup. (Syrup may be made ahead up to 1 week and chilled, covered).
In punch bowl, combine remaining ingredients and strain syrup through fine sieve into punch. Stir punch and add ice blocks. Makes about 13 cups.
Give it an extra kick with this easy visual effect: Rinse and then fill two or three plastic surgical gloves with water, tie off the ends, place on a cookie sheet and freeze. Peel off the gloves and let the ice hands float in the punch.
Cheddar Moon Biscuits
2 cups unbleached flour, and more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In large bowl, thoroughly combine flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, sugar and cayenne pepper.
Cut butter into pieces, and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers, until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Stir in cheese.
Make a well in center of flour mixture, pour in milk, and stir with fork just until dough comes together. Do not over-mix. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently 10 to 12 times.
Pat dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out biscuits with moon-shaped cutter. Transfer biscuits to lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake until brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 20 biscuits.
Halloween Snack Mix
2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed blue corn chips
1 cup corn nuts
1 cup raisins
1 cup pretzel sticks
1 cup canned shoestring potatoes
1 cup cheese sticks
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts or peanuts
Put all ingredients in large serving bowl. Stir to mix with a wooden spoon.
To store, place mix in plastic bag or container. Seal or cover tightly. Store in cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. Makes 16 servings.
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
Red food coloring
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In medium bowl, mix together peanut butter, sugar and egg. Shape dough into "fingers" (about 5/8 inch in diameter) and place on a cookie sheet. Make indentations for knuckles with edge of spoon.
Dip almonds into red food coloring and place at the end of each finger. Press down to form nail. Bake in preheated oven 12 minutes or until set. Cool before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 18 to 20 fingers.
Spider Web Brownie Pizza
1 package (20 ounces) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted (see note)
Spread cookie dough evenly into greased 12-inch round pizza pan. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer or medium speed until well combined. Add eggs. Mix just until blended. Pour over cookie dough. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes or until center is set. Cool. Drizzle with melted chocolate into spider web design. Makes 12 servings.
Note: To melt chocolate, place unwrapped squares in small bowl and microwave 1 to 2 minutes or until almost melted. Stir until completely melted.