Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween Entertaining For Kids & Adults Alike

Many of you have already been introduced to our friends at Family Eats.  Today we’ve partnered with them to create blog entries about Halloween Entertaining.  Please make sure to read the Halloween Entertaining: Slow Sundays Goes Halloween post on their blog.  It has great tips for planning party food, setting the mood,  and getting your kids involved in the preparation.  There are some great food tips & recipes.  Look for us to partner together again in the near future.

Halloween Décor
There are so many ways to decorate for Halloween beyond putting a jack-o-lantern on the stoop.  The natural beauty of the fall season is plentiful and easy to infuse into your décor.  Select beautiful gourds, squash, and fall leaves to adorn your home.  Haystacks, kindly scarecrows, and lush fall wreaths can also be added into the warm earth tones of the season.

Calacas, from Mexico
Around my house we have a somewhat non-conventional Halloween tradition.  Years ago I started bringing back Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) decorations as presents for my daughters when returning from business trips to Mexico.  I have always enjoyed teaching them about different cultures and traditions.  On one visit I picked up a few small calacas (skeleton figurines).  They really liked the cute and decorated skeletons, and each time I have returned to Mexico I have brought home a few more. Over time our collection of calacas has grown, and each year we mingle them with our other Halloween décor.

Consider adding in a multi-cultural theme into your own Halloween celebration.  Whether it’s the Celtic All Hallows Eve, Christian All Saints’ Day, Mexican Day of the Dead, or any other, all humanity shares similar fascinations with the beyond.

Tricks & Treats For Snacking
After the fun-filled Pumpkin Carving Party you partook in following the tips by Family Eats, save some of the pumpkin seeds for roasting.  They make great snacks for children and adults alike and are easy to make.

I like to use extra-virgin olive oil and fine sea salt.  Here’s my recipe:

Preheat the over to 250° F.

Put the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse and use your hands to remove all the orange pulp from the seeds.  The seeds will be very slippery.

Lightly coat a baking sheet with oil.  Spread the pumpkin seeds out on the baking sheet and toss to coat them with oil.  The seeds should not be floating in oil, just covered lightly.

Season the seeds generously with sea salt.

Bake for 2 to 3 hours, until golden brown, turning them occasionally so that they brown evenly.  The seeds should roast very slowly.  Remove from the oven and taste for salt.  If needed, add another sprinkling of sea salt.  Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Owl Cookies from "Coming Home"
Another recipe that your children can help you with in the kitchen is Owl Cookies.  Growing up, my mother made these owl cookies every Halloween.  Charming and delicious, they were always a hit with my friends.  The dough is a basic refrigerator-cookie dough that is made ahead of time and can also be frozen.  Children love to assemble and decorate these cookies, which feature chocolate chips for eyes and a giant salted cashew for a nose to make up the perfect owl face.  The Owl Cookies are perfect for Halloween school parties or can be done at home with the childrens’ help as part of their festivities.  (The complete recipe is published in my book Coming Home: A Seasonal Guide to Creating Family Traditions.)

Halloween Isn’t Just For Kids
Whether you have children at home or not, consider staging an adult dinner party around Halloween that sets the produce and bounty of the autumn season as the centerpiece of the celebration.  Serve baked squash, hearty roast chicken with porcini mushrooms, wild rice, and a delicious red wine.

For a less formal get-together, invite your friends over on Halloween to watch a classic scary movie and enjoy great finger food while you greet the trick-or-treaters.  My favorites are the 1979 version of Dracula and the 1963 version of The Haunting.  Choose some classical music to play when you’re not viewing the movie.  The “Dies Irae” of Mozart’s Requiem is appropriately spooky, as is “O Fortuna” from the Carmina Burana by Carl Orff or Bach’s Toccata and Fugue.  Serve a variety of foods that can be easily enjoyed during the movie.  Set out a selection of cheeses on a rustic cutting board.  Fill bowls with salted nuts, flatbreads, and olives.  (Family Eats also has some great snack food ideas including HomemadePretzels and Pumpkin Bread).  Drink a really great blood-red wine.  There is no better way to celebrate Halloween as an adult.

Whatever it is you decide to do, Halloween is a time of nostalgia.  Whether you’re continuing traditions of Trick-or-Treating started generations before, throwing an adult get-together or starting new traditions of your own, the magic and mystic of  Halloween has potential for spooktacular connections with loved ones.

For more tips on Halloween Entertaining for children's parties, as well as adult get-togethers, see Episode 3 of Rosanna TV, or listen to my recent Halloween radio interview with Amy Tobin, available on my YouTube Channel.

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