Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Dinner 2011

2011Directions for re-creating my Halloween Dinner Party with a limited time schedule:

I really enjoy crazy food ideas for Halloween, but especially this year, I seemed to be running behind. We didn't even get the Halloween decorations down from the attic until the 23rd. I usually do a  haunted house with my youth group, but I have semi-retired from Sunday School  (I hope I have retired, but I have trouble saying no . . .), so without that deadline, I think we just let time fly.  I had sent out a family newsletter inviting everyone to come to dinner on the Thursday before Halloween, when our town traditionally holds trick or treat. Well, this year it has been moved to Halloween, Oct 31, the first time I can remember this happening, not withstanding years when Oct 31 falls on a Thursday. So we had a "pre" Halloween dinner.
So, the "make it work" schedule. Leave work at 5 on Wednesday, leave grocery stores at 6, start cooking at 6:30. First I mixed a packaged brownie mix and baked it on a large pizza pan. Subtract 10 minutes from suggested baking time and check with a toothpick (it should come out clean). Let it cool. On Thursday, after I arrived home at 5:20, I put a spoon full of store-bought frosting in a sandwich bag, cut a small hole in a bottom corner (mine was a little too small) and try to draw circle from the middle to the outside.  Then draw the knife through the frosting, from the middle to the edge in pie wedges. If you use more frosting - this will look more like a spider web. You could even decorate with plastic spiders!
Now that I look at the photo - it really doesn't look like a spider web at all. Please check my archives for last  October - I have a better example posted there!
Next I got to work on the chicken. I buy enormous marinated boneless chicken breasts at my butchers. This year I bought (are you ready?) 20 pounds. Yikes. Two Halloween dinner party and more for the freezer. You don't HAVE to cut them into hands :)  - Any way. I usually cut them in half and eyeball where a thumb could be and then cut  in the fingers. Stick them under the broiler until done. I save the extra trim pieces and freeze them for future casseroles.  By the way you are looking at saved broth from Wednesday night. I was re-heating them at 5:30 on Thursday.
New this year: Mummy Meatloaf.  One of the salesman where I work had brought me a magazine for yuppers (those are those from the U. P. in Michigan) last October and the issue showed a mummy meatloaf. I kept the memory and recreated. I actually formed the mummy on a cookie sheet, put a sheet of foil on top, flipped in on the foil and put the foil back on the cookie sheet to bake it. I was thinking it might give it some "air" to help lift it off the foil when I tried to remove it after baking. Whether it helped or not, I don't know - but it came right off the foil!
 I re-heated it on Thursday with a little bit of the reserved broth, covered it with foil while warming.
When hot, I cut some strips for the cloth from slices of mozzarella cheese and stuck it in the oven for a minute or two. When I pulled it out, I saw it would really benefit from eyes. I think green olives would have been great and I will try to think ahead for next year. Or maybe pepperoni with olives? I am re-making this on the 31st for my grand kids; maybe it will turn out better.

 I guess you can see my guacamole spider web on the right. My daughter shared a great guacamole recipe with me: 4 avocados and 4 hard boiled eggs (run through food processor). Throw in one medium onion, 4 teaspoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of  Dijon mustard, 3/4 cup mayo and salt and pepper. Process. Optional - red chili pepper to taste.  I cut the whole bigger for the sour cream. This one looks more spider "webbie". My store is charging 1.89 for one avocado - so this dip was $8-$10, excluding chips . . .  I made the dip on Wednesday night, made it into a spiderweb on Thursday 5:50 p.m.
5:35 Thursday, cracked open a package of crescent rolls, wrapped them around the hot dogs and stuck them in the oven. Before:

Wednesday night (are you wondering what time I went to bed on Wednesday night, let me share that I really enjoy the reruns of the black and white Perry Mason episodes at 11:30 p.m.-12:30 p.m. on the MEtv Network). Anyway, Wednesday night I also made deviled eggs. I had planned to turn them into deviled eyeballs, but remembered at work the next morning that I really like the black olive spiders, too. So in between putting pans in and out of my oven (thank heaven for convection ovens) I made the spiders.
Only one guest came in costume - Meet Brutus the Banana! He is my grand dog.
And these are my treats for Halloween!
And here they are in disguise!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flea Market Finds

I used to spend every Saturday morning in the fall running up and down hills, across fields and panting to the finish line. No,  I was not a distance runner. I was a Cross Country Mom! My oldest son started running on the Cross Country team in his seventh grade year. Next we added my youngest daughter and then finished with my youngest son. I believe we spend at almost eleven years getting up early to put the runner(s) on the bus by 7:00 a.m., dashing home for one more cup of coffee, heading to whatever golf course or park was hosting the invitational that Saturday, shelling out $10, $20, or $30 for commerative t-shirts (depending on how many I had on the team that year). For each division, we would  position at the start, dashing to a hill top to see them go by and cheer, dashing across the field to see them go by and trying to dash one more time (if I could make it) and then heading to the finish to cheer them over the line, all while monitoring coffee intake - enough to keep warm, not enough to use the rustic or plastic facilities. And planning at which diner or country cafe the parents would stop on their way home to meet the bus. The first Saturday in September after my youngest had graduated, also the same week my husband changed his work week to Tues - Sat, I awoke wondering what to do with myself?


The photo above is the actual flea market I attend, about 30/45 minutes from my house. When gas was much cheaper, I was there almost every Saturday during the summer and fall. I am embarassed to admit that this was my first trip this year! And it almost didn't happen. My daughter had a week's worth of lesson plans to write and I had promised my Sunday School that I would get the halloween haunted house decorations from my attic; but when we woke up at 7:00 to 65 degrees and sunny skies, we couldn't resist jumping in the car and hitting the road.
 This basket wasn't the first thing I bought, but it was the smartest. It has a super sturdy wooden bottom and handles and was priced at only $5.00! I spotted it under a table while I was already juggling some random dishes. I think I will take it with me everytime!
 Yes, it is ANOTHER Hostess Set. I am obsessed with them. I finally have a plan. When I win the lottery and open my tea room, I plan to use them for a cup of soup and a half sandwich. I saw 10 plates with gold trim and six matching cups. The lot also incuded 3 mis-matched tea cups for $10.00. I decided to think it over. On our way out, I checked to see if it was still there. The price for everything had been reduced to $5.00 - so I snatched it up!
The mis-matched cups include two of the adorable flowered ones on the left and one ivy cup on the right.

Aren't these plates adorable? There was a set of four luncheon plates and four matching dessert plates.
 Here is the back.  I live near Cleveland so I assume they were unwanted family heirlooms.  They were only asking $8.00 for all eight. I was juggling all of them when I found the basket.
 Didn't they all just nestle so nicely in the basket? 
 Most of the blue canning jars were going for five to seven dollars without caps and ten dollars with the metal caps. I found a case of TWELVE for only $7.00 and some of them even had caps! I love to put them on my window sills and watch the light come through.
On Monday we went up to my daughter's house to visit with my grandchildren. I actually shot this picture through the dashboard window on my husband's truck while waiting at a gas station.  I love the Autumn leaves!

I haven't done any more tablescapes yet. Instead of saying "someday", I have mailed out invitations to an Autumn Tea Party to my daughters and daughter-in-laws. Now I have to set a pretty table! I will sure to take plenty of pictures to share.

Thank you all for visiting and for your sweet comments. I try to visit everyone, but for some reason blogger does not always let me share . . . Last week I visited very single one of the Tablescape Thursdays at Between Naps on the Porch and I think I had fourteen tablescapes that Blogger would not allow me to place a comment. (so maybe 15%)? I am sure the problem is me and I will try to work on it. I do want you all to know how much I admire your creativity!

Miss Merry