Halloween treats liven party

Published 6:34 am Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By Staff
Lisa Tindell
Cook’s Corner
According to some folks, Halloween is one of the most popular holidays for throwing a party — next to Christmas, of course.
With the spooky holiday just a couple of weeks away I’m taking this opportunity to give you a few recipes that might scare up some happy appetites if you decide to throw a party of your own.
By the way, some of these recipes can be tweaked just a little and added to the party fare at any holiday party including the one in December.
This first recipe is fairly simple to prepare and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. The chance to use orange decorations makes it perfect for Halloween and the orange flavor would make it a delight for Christmas.
Orange Drop Cookies
1 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
3 tablespoons grated orange zest
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup margarine, melted
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine, sugar and sour cream until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 3 tablespoons orange zest. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture alternately with 2/3 cup orange juice. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. In a small bowl, stir together the melted margarine, confectioners' sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Mix remaining orange juice in 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Spread over cooled cookies and apply decorative sprinkles or colored sugars.
This next recipe is one that is a hit no matter what time of year. The decoration on these brownies is what makes them special for Halloween.
If you don’t have the courage to try brownies from scratch, use your favorite boxed mix and prepare according to package directions. Then proceed with the marshmallow crème and chocolate decorations as stated in this recipe.
Spiderweb Brownies
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow crème
1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate
In a saucepan over low heat, stir unsweetened chocolate and butter until chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat; stir in sugar. Cool for 10 minutes. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and nuts. Pour into a greased foil-lined 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (do not overbake).
Immediately drop marshmallow cream by spoonfuls over hot brownies; spread evenly. Cool on a wire rack. Lift out of the pan; remove foil. Place on a serving tray. For web decoration, melt semisweet chocolate and pour into a small resealable plastic bag. Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag; drizzle chocolate over crème in a spiderweb design. Throw on a couple of plastic spiders for additional detail.
Popcorn balls may not be the most popular of Halloween treats in 2009, but if you make them yourself instead of purchasing ones at the store, you’ll probably fall in love with this historic treat.
Caramel Popcorn Balls
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups unpopped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a 4 quart saucepan, and heat over high heat. When oil is hot, add 1/2 cup of popping corn. Keep pan moving constantly. When corn stops popping, remove from heat. Place popped corn in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all corn has been popped. Set aside. In a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer inserted, combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup.
Stir well and bring to boiling over medium heat. Stir in condensed milk; simmer, stirring constantly, until thermometer reads 238 degrees. Stir in vanilla. Pour caramel over popped corn and stir to coat. Butter hands lightly; shape popcorn into balls about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
Finally, here’s a recipe you can use to put those yucky pumpkin seeds to good use. Pumpkin seeds are a healthy alternative to many salty snacks available in the supermarket. This recipe will also give your children a chance to get their hands dirty without getting in trouble. I promise, if you let them help, they’ll eat these treats.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. This is easiest just after you've removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp has dried.
Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring
to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes. Let cool and store in an air-tight container.
I hope your Halloween party is a success. Chances are if you serve some good food and surround yourself with great friends it will be a “monster” of an event.
Look for more holiday recipes with upcoming recipes focusing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. My motto is that it’s never too early to plan.
Happy Cooking!

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