Witches' Fingers. Plain vanilla sugar cookie dough is a good
starting place for all kinds of possibilities. Make your own or buy
ready-made in refrigerated tubes at the grocery. For the fingers,
pull off pieces of vanilla cookie dough and hand-roll into finger
shapes. (Not too fat, because the dough will puff in the oven.) For
a fingernail, press a plain, blanched almond firmly into place on
one end of each finger. You can "paint" the nails with diluted red
food coloring. Drape them over a wad of aluminum foil twisted into a
"snake" so the fingers will have a bit of curl. These look most
repulsive when poking out of a napkin-lined basket.
Skeleton Bones. Roll out plain cookie dough on a floured
surface or between sheets of wax paper. Cut with bone-shaped
cutters. Glaze with confectioners sugar icing. Repeat with witch,
ghost and bat shapes.
Witches Hair and Cat Eyeballs. Shred carrots or cabbage (or
buy a bag of pre-shredded carrots or coleslaw) for the hair. Add
green grapes for the eyeballs. Mix in a bowl and toss with salad
Simple Pimples. Scoop out the insides of cherry tomatoes and
core them. Lightly salt the cavity and set to drain for 10 minutes.
Pipe cream cheese into the center. Give a slight squeeze so the
filling comes right to the top.
Pumpkin Seeds with Eyeballs. When you carve the pumpkin,
scoop out the inner fiber and transfer the seedy goop to a colander.
Rinse it under cool water to get rid of fibrous strings, and pat the
seeds dry on paper towels. Transfer the seeds to a bowl and toss
with a little oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Spread the seeds on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until
crisp and golden in a preheated 350-degree oven, about 12 to 15
minutes. To serve, put seeds in cereal bowls and bury a couple of
plastic eyeballs in each bowl.
Wormy Pudding. Bury a few gummy worms in individual pudding
cups and arrange a few on and spilling over the edge, as if they are
trying to crawl over the rim.
Wormy Baked Apples. Core and bake apples. Arrange gummy worms
in the cavity.
Floating Corpse Hand. Fill a clean rubber glove with Mountain
Dew for a ghoulish-green color or with any colored juice. Fasten the
end and freeze. Float in a punch bowl.
Buggy Ice Cubes. Fill ice cube trays half full of water. Drop
a plastic ant or other insect into each section and freeze. Add
water to the rim and freeze again. Show these off when you serve
clear glasses of, say, iced tea.
Spiderweb Frosting. Spread vanilla frosting on any kind of
cake or cupcake. Using soft chocolate icing or a glaze, make at
least four circles on top of the icing. Start at the center and make
the last circle on the outer rim of the cake. Drag a toothpick from
the center to the edge, making about eight "spokes." If you can find
a black plastic spider, plop it in the center of the web.
Spooked Cocoa. Using a rolling pin or soup can, roll out
marshmallows as flat as possible. Using a ghost, witch hat or other
mini-cookie cutter, stamp out shapes. Float in cups of hot cocoa.
Eat the scraps.
Pumpkin, carrot or squash soup. Vibrantly colored and
healthful, a cauldron of this soup on the table is a good start for
the little goblins before they go out to trick-or-treat. An eyeball
in the bottom of each bowl is a nice touch.
Baked sweet potatoes or yams. Wash, slit the top and bake at
400 degrees for about 45 minutes depending on size. Serve in the
skin with a knob of butter, or mash in a bowl with butter, orange
zest and a few drops of ginger juice. To make that, put thin slices
of fresh ginger into a garlic press and press away. Garnish each
with a spider.
Mac and Cheese. Make it with the most orangey cheddar you can
find. Not to worry, the color comes from annato seeds, not dye.
Mini-Pumpkin Apples. Cut pumpkin face triangles into apples
for the pre-school set.
Blackened Fingernails. Pass a bowl of seedless California
black olives, and let the kids pop them onto their fingertips.
Oldest trick in the book.