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Happy Halloween from Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!

If you missed the first 10 you can find them here.

Now get your haunt on and start cooking!

Jack-o-Lantern Quesadilla

Place a large flour tortilla on a dinner plate. Sprinkle evenly with orange sharp cheddar cheese. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut out a Jack-o-Lantern face from a second tortilla and place it on top of the cheese-sprinkled tortilla. Zap in the microwave until the cheese melts, about 8 seconds. Add a celery stem and serve.

Ice Scream Pie

Fill a prepared graham cracker crust with softened orange sherbet and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the pie in the freezer until it firms up. To decorate the top of the pie, gently press an open-backed Halloween cookie cutter, such as a black cat, into the center. Carefully fill the interior of the cutter with a generous layer of chocolate sprinkles. Remove the cutter to reveal a perfect replica. Return the pie to the freezer until serving time.

Crunchy Graveyard Bones

Dip pretzel rods into melted chocolate or brightly colored candy melts and decorate with Halloween sprinkles. Place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet until coating hardens, about 10 minutes. (Candy melts come in a variety of colors and flavors and can be found at craft supply stores, Walmart and large grocery stores.

Witches Purse

Spread an 8-ounce wheel of Brie with apricot preserves or your favorite fruit chutney. Center the cheese round in a square of storebought frozen puff pastry that has been thawed and lightly rolled out. Gather up the four corners of the sheet and bring together above the Brie, twisting slightly to form a bundle. Tie the bundle at the neck with kitchen string, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and brush lightly with beaten egg. Bake at 375 degrees until pastry is golden all over, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes and place on a platter. Garnish with fresh kumquats and grapes, if desired. Let guests serve themselves, cutting the purse into small wedges.

Snake-in-the-Lake Crudites

Freeze rubber snakes in a slab of ice to make a clever serving tray for broccoli florets, red pepper slices, carrots, and celery! To make the slab, fill a large sheet cake pan with water and arrange 2 or 3 long, rubber snakes, upside down, in the water. Freeze solid. When ready to serve, remove pan from freezer and let thaw for about 5 minutes. Turn the block of ice out onto a large, high-sided tray that will hold the water as the ice melts. (Or, just flip it over and serve it in the same sheet pan you made it in.) Arrange vegetables on top. Depending on its size, the block will last for 5 to 6 hours. The snakes become more visible as it melts.

Muffins From Hell

Make corn bread batter using one of the many mixes available. Stir in a pinch of crushed red pepper. Fill muffin cups halfway full of batter. Drop in a dollop (about ½ teaspoonful) of hot pepper jelly. Top off with more batter, completely covering the jelly and filling the cup almost to the top. Bake according to package directions. Serve warm with cream cheese.

Bat Bites

Mix together ¼ cup of prepared pesto, 8 ounces of softened goat cheese, and 4 ounces of softened cream cheese. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls and roll the balls in poppy seeds or coarsely ground black pepper. Insert a triangular-shaped tortilla chip into either side of each ball to make wings. (Blue corn chips make nice dark wings.) Add eyes made from slices of pimento-stuffed olives or black olive slices with a pink peppercorn pressed into the center.

Black Cat Sammies

Freeze thinly sliced dark bread, such as Pumpernickel. Let thaw partially, and cut out cat shapes using a cookie cutter. (Using partially frozen bread slices allows you to cut out the shapes more easily without tearing the bread.) Sandwich prepared orange “Pimento Cheese Spread” between 2 cat cutouts. Arrange sandwiches on a platter and keep covered with plastic wrap until just before serving.

Ghost Chips

Use scissors to cut corn tortillas into freeform ghost shapes. Punch eye-holes into each ghost shape using a wooden skewer. Brush a large baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange the ghosts on the sheet and brush them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. As they bake, the ghosts will curl up slightly before becoming crisp, giving them a livelier shape. Let chips cool before serving with “Satan’s Smokey Guacamole,” below. (For more spirited chips, add pinches of spices to the oil before brushing the ghosts. A combo of chili powder, paprika, cumin and cayenne works well.)

Satan’s Smokey Guacamole

Scoop the flesh of 3 avocados into a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in 2/3 cup each finely chopped onions and chopped fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped, and ½ teaspoon each cumin and salt. Serve with “Ghost Chips,” above.

Note: Some of these recipes are excerpted from past Halloween articles I’ve written for All You magazine



Spooktacular Halloween party food ideas,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets

With these culinary tricks up your sleeve, you can treat your guests to some devilishly delicious dishes. The sinfully simple party food ideas below are not just for kids. (In fact some, like the Sangria recipe, are inappropriate for kids.) They all have one thing in common, however. Unlike some Halloween concoctions, these dishes taste as great as they look!

Shortcut Candy Apples

Use fast-drying candy melts in bright colors, rather than caramel, to make fancy candy apples that won’t stick to your teeth. This quick, easy, and safe method insures instant gratification for young chefs and opens up a world of decorating possibilities. The melts come in a variety of different flavors and colors (I used peanut butter, chocolate and orange above) and can be found at craft supply stores, Walmart, and large grocery stores.

Insert wooden craft sticks, twigs or cinnamon sticks into the stem ends of apples. Place a generous cupful of candy melts in a microwave-safe, 2-cup (Pyrex) measuring pitcher, or a deep bowl. Zap in the microwave on medium for 1 minute. Stir, then zap in 15 second intervals, until totally melted. Holding an apple by the stick, dip it into the melted candy, swirling until the apple is fully coated. While the coating is still wet, add colorful sprinkles and/or decorate with small candies such as gummy worms, candy corn and red hots. Place the finished apple on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet to dry for about 10 minutes.

Grim Reaper’s Peepers

Slice the tops off of cherry tomatoes and use a small melon baller to scoop out some of the pulp. Push a halved bocconcini (mini mozzarella ball) into the cavity, flat side up. Top each with a pimento-stuffed green olive slice. Arrange in pairs on a large platter.


To make a bone, twist a knot in both ends of a rope of storebought, canned breadstick dough. Repeat with the rest of the dough strips. Arrange the bones on a baking sheet. If desired, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with an herb or spice of your choice such as sea salt, cayenne pepper, sesame seed, or finely grated Parmesan cheese before baking. Bake according to package directions. To serve, arrange bones in a brown paper bag with the top rolled down.

Black Widow Spiders

Using an ice cream scoop, arrange single scoops of vanilla ice cream (one scoop for each spider) on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the scoops get very firm. To make a spider, coat a hardened ice cream scoop with “hard shell” chocolate ice cream topping. (This topping sets and forms a hard shell shortly after it hits the ice cream. Find it near the ice cream cones in your grocery.) Just before the topping hardens, push 2 red hot candies into the spider to make eyes. Return to the freezer.

In a blender, puree a bag of frozen raspberries with a dash of sugar. To serve, make a puddle of raspberry puree on a dessert plate. Lay out black licorice lace legs, 4 on each side of the plate. Place the spider body on top and serve.

Voodoo Fondue

In a fondue pot, make a classic cheese fondue. Here’s a good, easy recipe.

Arrange the following dippers on a big platter for guests to eat with the fondue.

Apple Mummies Apple wedges wrapped in prosciutto

Bat Bread – Pumpernickel bread cut into bat shapes and toasted. (Freeze bread slices. Remove from the freezer and when the bread is partially thawed, cut bat shapes out with cookie cutter. Toast in a 300 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes.)

Speared Eyeballs – Grapes on fancy Halloween toothpicks

Blanched Brains – Blanched cauliflower florets

Stake-in-the-Heart Salad

Hot glue a plastic spider, lizard or snake to the center of each of 8 long wooden skewers. Cut a lettuce head in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 4 equal sized wedges, each with some core attached. Thread each of the 8 skewers with a lettuce wedge, piercing the wide part first and keeping the wedge close to the tip, below the spider. Add a cucumber slice and then a cherry tomato to each skewer. Arrange the skewers on a large platter and scatter a few more spiders around. Serve with a bowl of your favorite creamy dressing for dipping.


Open a round, wooden box of Camembert and poke a few holes into the rind. Sprinkle with a little white wine, replace the lid and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the cheese is molten. Meanwhile, cut a jack-o-lantern eyes, nose and mouth from an orange or red bell pepper. Remove the lid and arrange the features on the cheese round. Serve the cheese from the box, sprinkled with a little orange zest, and accompanied by “Gotcha Focaccia.” (Warm storebought focaccia.)

Ginger Snap Pumpkin Patch

Use a dab of canned frosting for glue to attach purchased mello-cream candy pumpkins to the tops of ginger snap cookies.

Snake Sandwich

Knead together 3 (1 lb.) loaves of frozen bread dough, thawed. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment. Form dough into a long, curvy snake shape and place it on the pan. With a sharp knife, cut shallow V-shaped slash marks down the back to make scales. Push 2 pimento-stuffed olives into the head for eyes. Brush with olive oil and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees until crust is golden, 30 to 40 minutes.

Use a serrated knife to slice the cooled loaf horizontally. Fill the sandwich with sliced prosciutto and mozzarella, roasted red peppers, olive relish and arugula leaves… or your favorite cold cuts. Replace the lid and slip a piece of red bell pepper cut into a snake tongue shape into the mouth. Use the snake as a centerpiece for the party table before slicing it into wedges for serving.

Satan’s Slap-Me-Silly-if-I’m-Still-Alive Sangria

Serve this refreshing drink from a large laboratory beaker so it resembles blood with body parts and guts floating in it. To make a simple Sangria, pour a bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Rioja) into a pitcher or beaker. Add assorted cut up fruits such as orange slices, fresh pineapple wedges, plum slices and seedless grapes. Add a shot of brandy (optional), and squeeze the juice of ½ lemon into the mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, add a cup or two of chilled seltzer or club soda. Serve ice cold. To make this punch super-spooky, pull the arms and legs from an inexpensive rubber doll and add to the beaker along with the fruits.

Note: Some of these recipes are excerpted from past articles I’ve written for All You magazine

DSC04453Wrap your candy apples in cello bags tied with pretty ribbon and decorated with spiders and lizards and snakes. Oh, my!