Pre trick-or-treat parties are easy for tentative entertainers
Halloween is the holiday for tentative entertainers. As for the menu – the easier, the better. Dcor – guests come in colorful costumes. Anticipation – little trick-or-treaters have enough for everyone. Timeline – about an hour, just long enough to supply bewitching bites of sustenance before the inevitable sack full of candy.You can depend on the kids to arrive in an adrenaline rush, eager to show off their scary masks, spooky costumes, painted faces and carefully crafted accessories. Invite moms and dads to come adorned in a monster mask or witch’s hat. Asking each family to bring their own jack-o-lantern completes the dcor, and you can give a fun prize for the best effort.Start everyone off with a lecherous libation like the Vampires Kiss – a harmless, bright red mocktail garnished with gummy vampire teeth. Spike the beverage for the grown ups if you wish.Your menu needs only to be easy finger food, as guests are eager to get out into the nightfall for the best treats in the neighborhood. One platter of Pizza Mummies and another of individual Carved Quesadillas will have everyone complimenting your clever creativity. Be sure to have your creepy, crawling Spider Bites on display. “Kids will love these,” said Jen Menard, pastry assistant at Restaurant Avondale, “and moms will love knowing they are full of protein-packed peanut butter.”A ghoulish gathering before heading out to frighten the neighbors – you’ve created a spooky spirit of friendly fun, a magically memorable party.Pizza MummiesEnglish muffinsPizza sauceSliced Black olivesScallions or green pepperPull-apart Cheese sticksHeat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast English muffins. For each mummy, spread a tablespoon of pizza sauce onto half of an English muffin. Set olive slices in place for eyes and add round slices of green onion or bits of red or green pepper for pupils. Lay strips of cheese across the muffin for the mummy’s wrappings above and below eyes. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the muffin is toasty.Carved QuesadillasSix-inch flour tortillasShredded cheddar cheeseStack two quesadillas and carefully cut through both to create a jack-o-lantern face. Place shredded cheddar between the two tortillas and place in hot non-stick skillet. When cheese has melted enough to hold the quesadilla together, carefully flip and toast the other side. Keep warm in low oven. Repeat to create one per guest. Note: the tortillas can be cut ahead of time, keep in plastic bag, refrigerated.Vampire Kiss2 cups cranberry juice, chilled1⁄2 cup apple juice, chilled1⁄4 cup grenadine11⁄2 cups seltzer water, chilled1 tube red candy gel4 gummy vampire teethIn a pitcher combine the cranberry juice, apple juice and grenadine. Stir together then add the seltzer water.Squeeze the candy gel onto a small plate. Rim the edges of 4 low-ball glasses in the candy gel. Pour the drink evenly into the glasses. Garnish each glass with the gummy vampire teeth and serve. Makes 4.Spider Bites1 (12-ounce) package semisweet morsels1⁄2 cup creamy peanut butter6 cups pretzel sticks, broken into 1 inch pieces2 cup pretzel sticks, left whole1⁄4 cup red hotsPlace parchment paper on baking sheet; set aside. In a large glass microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate chips and peanut butter. Melt on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and stir until smooth. Reserve about 1⁄4 cup, then stir in broken pretzel sticks to the main mixture. Drop rounded clusters (about 1 tablespoon each) on prepared baking sheet. Dip the ends of whole pretzel sticks into reserved chocolate mixture and poke into the clusters to make spider legs. Adhere with a smooth drop of chocolate on the top. Press red hots into the clusters to make eyes. Place in freezer for 5 minutes or until to chocolate is hardened. Remove and serve. Makes 24.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. Avondale (www.avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 and features straightforward, seasonal American cuisine in a stylish, social setting with views of Beaver Creek Mountain and the Eagle River. Contact email@example.com.